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Meeting the Family – Laura Amatt

Last week we learnt all about the flyfishing habits of Ed Millais – this week we’re venturing further south to Kingston and chatting to Laura.

Laura tell us a little about yourself…

I’m Laura Amatt, 22, and an apprentice at Cornerstone Church Kingston.

So how did you become a Christian? Were you brought up in a Christian family?

I became a Christian while at university in my first year. Before going to Royal Holloway I'd basically decided that Christianity - as I'd seen and experienced it - was for weak-minded people based on nothing but their own traditions. I'd been to a Catholic secondary school and by my second year there was convinced that anyone who believed saying a Hail Mary could somehow absolve you of 'sin' wasn't worth taking seriously. So when I came to uni I had already made up my mind about religion and was reluctant to let anyone know my own beliefs.

In Freshers week I met a guy on my History course and in halls, Bunyan, who was apparently a Christian. He went to Church three times on Sundays - something I couldn't get my head around - and we spoke infrequently from then on. The course, however, got me thinking. During the first term we covered post-modernism and talked, amongst other things, about objectivity as Historians amongst. It threw me into a bit of a crisis of mind as I suddenly found myself working logically through concepts of truth and morality and realised that for these things to have any tangible value they would have to come from something outside myself.

In January then, Bunyan invited me to church to hear his own testimony. I went as a 'good friend' - to be politely supportive - and hated it. He spoke wonderfully, but seeing people in church so happy and confident that their God could be real was hard to swallow and I found myself growing angry. I resolved never to go back to church again, but at the same time was curious to find out what made this place different. It wasn't like the Christianity I'd heard of. So I headed to an early morning service with two friends to see if it was more like what I was used to, in the hope that I could then soon dismiss it. But although more formal, the one thing I couldn't get away from was this message of Grace - I'd never heard anyone before make the rather offensive suggestion that I wasn't good enough myself and I certainly wasn't capable of making myself good; instead, God in His mercy would offer to do it for me!

Well after that I set about trying to disprove it. I went back to church, tried out CU (which again I hated), began reading the Bible instead of revising over Easter and generally spent hours putting all the questions I could think of to Bunyan. And he answered them: for the first time ever I had real, factual, historical, honest answers which met every attempt of mine to prove it wrong. He brought me books to read and I looked into ancient records and archaeology and psychology and even Biblical evidence. The more I tried to tear Christianity down, the more it stood up to my testing and so eventually I was convinced that I could no longer ignore it's truth. I wanted to be a Christian.

But it wasn't until April that year that I actually became one. Listening to a Christian song, I was hit by the words this guy was singing - words from the Bible. It was at that point, and not before, that my heart caught up with my head and I no longer wanted to simply be a Christian because it was right, but because of the amazing message it proclaimed: Christ, the Son of God, had died for my sins to rescue an enemy and make me His child.

Wow that’s exciting – what book has had the greatest impact on you as a Christian?

There were three key books that influenced me in becoming a Christian and therefore in my walk since then:God's Big PictureWhy Trust the Bible and The Case for Christ. As a Christian though, Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis has particularly shaped my faith, not necessarily because I agree with everything he says - that's not what books are for, but for it's simple, rational and yet thoroughly Christian foundation.

So what made you want to be an apprentice?

A few months after I became a Christian I joined the Reading Festival Outreach team: handing out drinks, chatting to people about Christianity on the streets, offering people Gospels and answering their questions by the river outside the campsites. I got back I think from the fourth day and felt utterly depressed that there wasn't another day of it! At that point I knew I wanted to do that sort of thing full time. So when the Youth Pastor I was working with at uni suggested (quite possibly joking), that I look into an apprenticeship at the church he was moving to I was thrilled by the idea!

Every apprenticeship is different what do you spend your time doing?

Everything from teaching Romans on a Sunday morning youth group to buying toilet rolls to studying theology on a Wednesday morning to meeting for coffee and one-to-one Bible studies in Kingston. It's fantastic! There is literally never a dull day and it's such a humbling way to serve.

What are you reading at the moment?

Our FatherSeven Basic PlotsLove Wins (awful book - don't read it!), Death by Lovethe God Delusion,Systematic TheologyKing's Cross, Every Good Endeavour, the Envy of Eve, Wise Words, the Book that Made Your World, Symphony of Scripture, Children of Hurin, When God's Patience Runs Out, Game of Thrones, The Rights of Man...

That’s a lot of books -  what have you been learning in the apprenticeship recently?

Recently God has been encouraging me to pray. The last few weeks have held a series of challenges for me, but it's always exciting to remember that God is growing me through these things and making me more like Christ! So He's once again reminded me of how completely dependent I am upon Him and because of that He's renewed my delight in prayer!

Our last interviewee enjoyed Fly-Fishing what do you do in your spare time?

Saturdays are my regular days off, along with Monday nights, (I'm still getting my head around the idea of what a Sabbath looks like in ministry). Because coming to Cornerstone has meant moving churches as well as location, my main priority has been to keep in touch with those who became my wonderful Christian family while I was at uni. Unfortunately I'm not very good at it, but I try. If I'm not catching up with people back 'home,' I'll be seeing my new family here, walking or reading.

Let us know if you work out what a Sabbath looks like in ministry – I’m sure there are quite a few apprentices, myself included, who are eager to know. You said you’re an apprentice at Cornerstone Kingston – most of our students have never ventured that far south! Can you tell us a little about the church?

Cornerstone is a gospel church right in the middle of Kingston. With the university nearby we have a lot of students and recent graduates coming along so we're quite a 'youthful' congregation. On the whole we have maybe 120 who regularly attend Sunday services, with a core of 60 or so fuelling Cornerstone's ministry at our monthly prayer meetings

What has been going on at your church that we can be thanking God for?

For me, the most exciting thing recently has been witnessing the way in which God is growing our youth group. They're a fantastic bunch of kids and I've loved getting stuck into the Bible with them! This year we've started meeting every Friday for 'Hub Nights' (games, tuck and teaching), and have had a few new youth join us for both Sunday and Friday meetings which has been awesome. Please be thanking God for this growth - in number, in depth and in opportunities, but especially for the wonderful team of leaders we have here who give up so much of there time to dedicate themselves to this ministry.

That’s really exciting! Praise God! But ministry is more than just church growth – what are some of the discouragements that you have at Cornerstone?

I work in an office of just guys so for me the main danger is being put in a box and kicked down the stairs. In a church context though, the thing I've found hardest to adjust to has been the lack of a permanent building. We have an office where we work and run most of our events, but it's not a huge place and our meetings on Sundays take place in a school hall. That makes access in the week more difficult and means that our service rota is just massive! Still, it's a privilege to see the servant-heartedness of the members here as they seek to provide their time, skills and resources to continue reaching Kingston.

How can us here at Christ Church be praying for you and Cornerstone?

The next few months are going to be manic! We have both our Youth and Children's Mission Weeks coming up in mid February and sandwiched either side are two Mark Drama performances (essentially a dramatic version of Mark's Gospel done as theatre-in-the-round). All three of these major events in our church calendar are exciting opportunities for people to be bringing friends and family along to hear the Gospel declared without reservation and so we're pouring all we can into these dates. Of course, our efforts are all meaningless and ineffective if God's not working both in our hearts as we prepare and in the hearts of those who hear so please be praying for that!

Thanks Laura.