Adventures with God
‘Adventure’ sums up Stuart Waddington’s journey of Bible College in 2007-08. Here, as part of our #studentstories project, he tells Lizzie Hollow of some of the things that happened, from unexpectedly giving up his job to study at Bible College, to parties in the mountains of North Africa.
Stuart, how did you come to study at KBC in Oxford?
In September 2007 I took a four-month sabbatical from my work as a housing manager to join KBC for one term. I had been involved in setting up new supported-living housing projects across SE England for the previous decade. As a member of Oxford Community Church, I’d heard plenty of people talking about Bible College, and it seemed a good use of the few months I had available.
Fast-forward to Christmas, and I sneaked into the office to quietly look up whether I was allowed to resign whilst on sabbatical. The atmosphere, and the new friends I had made, captured me, and I really wanted to see out the year.
I worked my notice during the Christmas holidays, and dashed back to my studies in January. It was a fantastic decision!
Tell us about a highlight of your time at KBC
At that time, KBC led a trip to Morocco, for a fortnight of prayer, adventure, and personal growth. Groups of students were challenged to pray and head off into the mountains, with only some emergency funds in our pockets. We left our wallets behind in the safe.
Initially the taxi driver in the town square refused to take us to the town we wanted to head for – it was too remote, the roads were dreadful, and why would we want to go there anyway? After negotiation, he dropped us off at the end of the tarmac. We got out and walked in the heat of the day towards the place I felt God had spoken about. Eventually a dilapidated mini bus picked us up. It was already rammed. 3 of us squeezed inside, 2 got on the roof.
After striking up a conversation, a fellow passenger invited us to a party that his friend was hosting. It went on all weekend. We were given the warmest of welcomes – accommodation, food, a tour of the town and its geology. All in a jumbled mixture of French, Arabic and sign language. We were even taught how to slaughter a goat!
After hours of joyful time together, we sat around in the cool of the house, drinking tea. The conversation turned to faith, and we talked about bible stories, compared stories, watched the football together and left with a sense that these Muslim men were genuinely interested in our faith, and that whilst governments posture and argue, at grass roots we could build friendship across races and faiths.
The memory of welcome and hospitality we received stayed with me a long time, and were made all the more poignant with the news of the earthquakes which shook the region in September last year.
What did Bible College give you?
It gave me freedom to turn my spirituality into actions.
I loved being around younger, radical people. They encouraged me to be creative, to trust that God was speaking to me, and to turn my ideas into reality.
It has led to a career as a freelance housing worker, initiating a church homelessness project, linking investors to church and charity housing projects, and participating in projects to house vulnerable women, a church minister and two Afghan refugee families. Repeatedly, God has connected people in unexpected ways, provided resources and enabled ideas to come to life. It’s been an exciting 15 years since those mountains in Morocco!