Tell us a bit about yourself…
I split my time between London, where I’ve grown up, and Durham, where I’m studying for a degree in Modern Languages. I love to travel and meet new people - studying languages affords me the wonderful opportunity to spend next year working and studying in Austria and Italy, which I’m very excited about!
Alongside my degree I fence for Durham, pursue art history, literary and photography interests, and I’m part of the university Christian Union. I love relationships because I think they can be such a reflection of the Father’s love for us, and I’m passionate about seeing my fellow students come to know Jesus. Last year, myself and another student organised a carol service in Durham’s thousand year old cathedral where 2500 students heard the good news. Over the last seven months I’ve been part of organising ‘Story’ - a week of events hosted by the CU. This year we’re doing it a little differently than it’s been done in the past, and inviting students to explore the Christian story by asking them ‘what’s your story?’. I’m running the social media campaign and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.
What does it mean to you, to be a leader/influencer?
They’re almost two different things. You can be a visible leader and have influence, but each one of us is an influencer - even if we’re not ‘leaders’. We have spheres of influence, mission fields, areas where we can shape the atmosphere with how we speak and act. We are each surrounded by people who - whether we know it or not - are impacted by the way we carry ourselves, and that to me is being an influencer - recognising that and wanting to effect change in environments I find myself in, by constantly modelling myself on Christ, living out of His love for me and for every person I meet.
The Bible beautifully encapsulates what it really means to be a leader. Jesus came as the most powerful and revolutionary portrayal of leadership ‘not to be served but to serve’ (Mark 10:45). Being a leader means being humble, and not merely being willing to serve but desiring only to do so; embracing your weakness because in doing so you embrace His strength.
A year or so ago I was challenged by how much I conformed to society’s view of leadership - that is, the ideal of having some kind of position or platform and the power that accompanies it. Matthew 5:14-16 says ‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.’ I love that final sentence because it captures what it really looks like to lead, or be an influencer, for Christ - yes, being a city set on a hill for all to see. But that everyone who sees you and knows you is pointed straight to Him. Often we get enchanted by leadership opportunities and the chance to shine for ourselves, but in truth I don’t want to ever be leading someone anywhere but Jesus, because He alone sustains me and is my joy and my salvation - I’m nowhere near perfect but He is! So, being a leader is using my voice for God’s glory and not my own.
How have others invested into you?
People have invested in me by creating opportunities in my life. My parents, teachers, family and friends have all in turn opened doors to enable me to study, travel, experience ministries and explore many different interests. I’m so thankful for the experiences that I’ve consequently had that by God’s grace have shaped who I am and the enthusiasm I have for so many things today.
Who would you say you look up to and why?
A great number of people! If I chose three they would be:
My parents - earlier I said that leadership to me meant being humble, and I have never met anyone so humble before God in positions of authority and influence than my parents. They exemplify what it looks like to live lives of integrity and selflessness - my mother in the courts and my father in the arts and ministry, and as the parent who stayed at home as my siblings and I were growing up. Both my parents have during their lives given so much for others and, supremely, God. Before I was born they led a church and ran a halfway house in Soho, London. Prostitutes, rent boys and drug addicts that they took in are now leading churches. What a story of grace!
Heidi Baker - the little daughter in the dirt whose constant, utter reliance on the Father I admire and aspire to emulate.
C.T. Studd - my great-great-grandfather and founder of the Worldwide Evangelisation Crusade. He went from being a student at Cambridge - my age - to the mission fields of China, India and later Africa, forsaking family fortune and England cricketing fame. He said, ‘Before the world, we will dare to trust our God, we will venture our all for Him, we will live and we will die for Him, and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts’. Whenever I read his writings I’m both challenged and encouraged, and rightly so; his life was that of a man so trusting in God that he gave up all for Him, and in turn saw the transformative power of Christ in magnificence across the world - and still today, through his ministry.
‘If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.’
How do you invest in others?
I live in a house in Durham with three other Christians and from the outset we felt called to make our house one of refuge and restoration. We host church small groups, prayer meetings and are hoping to turn our shed into a prayer space. Over the last few months, we’ve seen people healed and situations in people’s lives transformed - none of it the work of us ourselves but of God working through us, just through our welcoming everyone into our home and spending time with them. That’s what investing in others looks like to me; showing absolutely that everyone is valued and endlessly precious to God - I think encouraging someone to understand the truth of their secure identity in Christ because of His absolute love for them is the most powerful way you can invest in anyone.
I would say, also, that investing in others doesn’t always involve a huge commitment - particularly in the uni world, where students are focused on getting grades and often on their outward appearance to others, it can be as simple as meeting someone once a fortnight to spend time listening to what’s going on in their life to talking and praying with them. This year I’m seeking to have God’s perspective - trying to always look with His eyes, and love with His heart - and that means that whenever I see someone and spend time with them, I want them to come away seeing themselves more in the way He does; loving themselves because He does.