We have recently had the privilege of reconnecting with Bob Chambers who was a Crusader in his youth, and has now started supporting the ministry financially. We asked him to share his story.
Why was Crusaders important to you as you grew up?
I started attending Crofton Crusaders when I was at junior school. My parents and grandparents were all churchgoers and so I was used to Sunday School, but Crusaders was quite different: things felt more ‘real’ somehow, and I was challenged to apply what I heard to my own life in a more direct way. It was also more fun, with some great and very committed Leaders, a wider range of activities on a Sunday afternoon and at camps and special events through the year, and a sense of being part of a fairly large and diverse group of young people.
In terms of stand-out memories, there are several but there’s also an over-riding and lasting impression that Crusaders left on me. My strong, fond memories include summer Friday evening Podex matches in my local park; the adventurous pre-camp overnight hikes; some hairy widegames (with little regard for health and safety!); and my first experience of a developing world context when I spent a month in Bolivia with CRUSOE.
The dedication of the class’s main Leader – Guy Gowing-Scopes – is something that will never leave me. He commanded respect in such an unassuming and gentle way, and imparted such godly wisdom with grace and humility, investing hugely in the lives of many, many young people over the years – a significant number of whom continued in their Christian faith, with good few in full time ministry.
What led you to reconnect with Urban Saints?
Urban Saints was never totally off my radar but my involvement had become rather distant over the years. I then saw that they were looking for a new ‘Chief Mission Officer’ and I had a little look to find out more about what the organisation was up to! I spotted something about the ‘Crusaders Reunited’ Facebook group and thought it might be interesting to see who else was on there and what was being shared. As I read the various threads and other material on the Urban Saints website, I was reminded of just how much Crusaders meant to me – and how much it still means to me today. I am enormously thankful for the teaching, fellowship and discipleship I gained from my years of involvement through my teens. I can honestly say that I would attribute much of my faith today to the foundations laid during my years of involvement with Crofton Crusaders.
Why do you support Urban Saints financially?
I’m well aware that there are all sorts of valuable and impactful mission agencies out there, and of course no- one can possibly support them all; each of us will have different priorities for various reasons, and we might choose to support all sorts of organisations for certain seasons through our lifetime. My own children are now in their teens, which I suppose has given me a fresh appreciation of just how formative those years are – and therefore how vitally important it is to have relevant, accessible, Christ-centred and Bible-based gospel ministry for that age group. I’m grateful to Crusaders, and thankful to God that I’m currently in a position to be able to support the work financially.
What would you say to encourage others to consider supporting through prayer or finance?
I rarely hear or read anything about people’s memories of Crusaders without there being mention of a sense of indebtedness to the Leaders who made it all possible. We all remember with gratitude the tireless and selfless commitment of those who led local groups, and the work of others behind the scenes. Whilst volunteers were – and still are – an essential component, the whole thing is ultimately dependent on God, which is why a faithful commitment to prayerfully seek His leading and protection is so important.
But I also recognise that it is simply not appropriate or realistic to ‘just’ pray and expect that things will happen when there are real, practical needs to be met that we could contribute to. Ultimately the storehouse is of course the Lord’s and all resources in it, but we are each individually responsible for the way in which we steward what has been entrusted to us. I readily acknowledge God’s provision in so many ways, and am therefore prompted to reflect on how/when/where I should perhaps make a contribution of some sort to Christian ministry such as the work of Urban Saints.
Today’s world is very different from even ten years ago – how do you think Urban Saints should recognise and adapt to these changes?
The world has indeed changed markedly – that’s indisputable. But I don’t believe certain core elements of our human identity have changed so much, if at all. The example of Jesus Christ is as relevant and as much needed today as it ever has been; the right-handling of God’s word is arguably even more important today than it has been in the past as levels of Christian literacy in the UK continue to fall; a Christ-centred and biblically- rooted confidence in our Christian faith is something to be cultivated from as young an age as is possible in order that we might ‘stand firm’ in the face of increasing challenges from a prevailing liberal culture; Ephesians 6:10-20 (ref. the old Crusader badge and logo) are as pertinent today as they ever have been!
Many young people are wrestling with big questions of identity, belonging and purpose, buffeted by all sorts of confusing messages from myriad sources in a virtual world. I believe Urban Saints has a central role to play in working alongside the UK church to engage, inspire and equip young people to follow Jesus boldly, confident in their relationship with Him. That’s a mighty work!
Once a Crusader, always looking to Jesus!
Were you a Crusader, just like Bob? Did you go to a weekly class or group? Did you go on Crusader camps or holidays? Did you go on Crusoe or other overseas trips?
If so, we'd love to hear from you and there are a variety of ways you can reconnect with others in Crusaders and get more involved in the continuing mission today: