Anna Krabbenhoft is one of a number of our Impact Team Leaders, who work in different areas launching and running Groups, engaging with Camps and working with Volunteers.
This coming weekend (October 13th), she'll be running the Manchester Half Marathon to raise funds to help launch one of the new Urban Saints' Groups in the city. Earlier this year, we asked Anna to share a bit of her story and how she came to be serving with Urban Saints. It makes for very inspiring reading, even if we do say so ourselves...
"My name is Anna. I'm originally from Germany but I have lived in the UK since 2011. In March I moved to Manchester. I love how relational the UK is but also just the wealth of green natural beauty!
I grew up in a loving home, where my family were not Christians. We never talked about God, occasionally going to church for Christmas. In my village young people attend confirmation classes, having a huge celebration at the end at which you get lots of cards from people in the village with money in them! I went along and got to be with my old primary school friends. During that time my parents split up and it was the first time I experienced what it means to be broken, not being able to fix something. God is so good though. My youth workers cared for me and helped me explore who God is. During one event they explained that God wants to help us get back up, that we could take His hand and let Him help us. I decided if anyone was able to heal my brokenness it would be God, but I also felt strongly that if I wanted to "give God a go" it was either all or nothing. And God has been so good and faithful. Since then, God has challenged me, provided for me, and He has helped me do things I never thought I could. He saw my potential and used every day people to nurture it.
I started to understand work with young people when I became a Christian as a young person – what it meant to share faith with my friends, learning to lead a small group and making Bible stories relevant to their lives. Everywhere I have been, God has opened up doors to work with young people. When I worked with OM (Operation Mobilisation) on the Logos Hope, I learnt how drama and fun events can impact young people. In Montenegro with OM I got to teach young people how to read and write. It was all about building relationships with these different young people. While studying, during one placement I got to learn what it means to start a youth ministry from scratch; balancing expectations versus reality, and at another placement I learnt more about what it means to serve the local schools (school events, prayer room in schools, day camps, supporting students, fundraising events, weekend camps and weekly clubs). The heart of what I have done with young people has always been discipleship - walking with a small number of young people one day, one week, one year at a time.
Last year I was working as a regional administrator at a Christian outreach organisation. God challenged me to look at the gifts are He has given me and things that give me life - to re-evaluate if I was still in the right place. I loved the people I worked for but did a lot of things out of my own strength rather than relying on God. Having studied youth work and theology, my previous role felt one step removed from the ministry God has given me a passion for. I'm so grateful for the things I learnt as an administrator, but knew it was time to step into a role that supports volunteers as they invest in young people. As I was processing this, a friend directed me to the role Urban Saints was advertising – an Impact Team Leader.
"Groups are important because they are not about entertainment, but about young people experiencing the love of God in a tangible, persistent and consistent way through the amazing volunteers who give their time."
An Impact Team Leader’s role is to find and work with volunteers within an area to reach and disciple young people for Jesus, mainly through new Groups. But it's more than that, it's being someone who listens to what God is saying and someone who tries to look at the area that they have been assigned to, asking "God where are you up to something?". We want to invite volunteers and young people into an exciting adventure – being discipled themselves and discipling others. It is breaking through perceptions of who is a suitable volunteer as well as unifying different churches to stand in the gap with young people together.
Groups offer a consistent safe place for young people to belong, to explore who they are and an opportunity to explore who God is. We want young people to know they are loved, no matter what is happening. It's not about the space or activity, it's all about relationships. Groups are really about adults saying, "I'm in, I'll walk with you, I am for you, I see you, I love you". Groups are important because they are not about entertainment, but about young people experiencing the love of God in a tangible, persistent and consistent way through the amazing volunteers who give their time.
Just recently I had a vision night (bringing people together who have a heart for young people) to look at starting a new outreach group in East Manchester. We talked about the story that is been told about young people, and what it would look like to change that narrative. We discussed the amount of opportunities and young people in the area. Currently, I am following up with people who expressed an interest in volunteering as well as following up with churches. It is looking hopeful that we will have at least seven people which means we can start meeting regularly to go through training and praying together!
I would love to see young people in Manchester thrive, especially in places where aspirations are low. Thrive in terms of life choices, but also character. Wouldn't it be great to have young people say "Wow, I never thought I would be able to that!" I would also love to see churches come together and be one as we look at how to love young people well and to walk with them no matter what their response to Jesus, while giving them space and opportunities to discover who He says He is."
It's not too late to give a little to support Anna (and encourage her for her run) - click here for her giving page. It's never too late to find out more about getting involved with a local Urban Saints' Group - or even consider starting one near you?!