June/July 2013 - Vol. 68
A Slice of Life in University Christian Outreach
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Growing in Faith and Brotherhood
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by Ryan Corr

I grew up in West Belfast, Northern Ireland and got involved in Youth Initiatives (YI), a cross-community youth work organisation that's very active in Belfast and Northern Ireland. Through YI, I got connected to University Christian Outreach (UCO) in Belfast two years ago and started attending UCO meetings regularly. I also took part in a UCO small group. I'd like to share a bit about my experience in the small group this past year and how it helped me grow in my faith and become a better person.

There's 5 of us in the small group - Steve, Gavin, Noel, myself, and  Andy who leads the group. We regularly meet every week. My experience of the small group has been that it's a safe place where I can comfortably talk about anything with the other guys without being judged by them. I feel that I am understood and that the other guys are there to help me grow, especially by through  giving me advice and input. One of the things that has helped a lot is that it's just men in the group rather than a mixed group, which means we can relate more naturally as brothers  to one another. It also makes it easier to be open with each other as brothers. Hearing others share and open up deep areas of their lives also encourages me to do the same in turn. Many times several of us would be passing through similar experiences and knowing that we are all together in the same boat is a big support.

I've been in quite a few small groups in YI and UCO, but I felt this year's small group was one I have benefited from the most. I had a strong experience of Godís presence with me during a trip with YI to Romania last summer. It was there that  I decided to give my life more fully to the Lord. But when I came back from the trip, I realized that this decision was going to be challenged every day and I needed regular follow up to keep going. Andy, my small group leader, did a very good job helping me, first of all through pushing each of the guys to be faithful in coming to the small group meetings. There were many times I wouldn't have come if not for his encouragement. And I always left the small group meetings enriched. Andy is also good at challenging us in a way that incites change for the better. He's the first man in my life that I experienced as wanting to know all the challenges and difficulties I pass through and help me get past them and improve my character.

Looking back this past year, I clearly see that I have built deep relationships of brotherhood with the guys in my small group. I barely knew Steve and was good friends with Gavin and Noel, but now we're all brothers striving forward shoulder to shoulder. I thank God for the blessing the small group has been for me throughout this year and for the gift of brotherhood and support that comes from it.

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