When Andrew joined us for one of our Awareness Trips, visiting the project The Way of Joy in Romania, he had no idea that his life would start on a new path from that day. We often tell people who are interested in Awareness Trips that their lives will change, read Andrews story to see just how true that is!
Journey to Ordination: From the Laboratory to the Sanctuary via the Streets of Iasi
“Back in 2009, having started sponsoring a young Romanian boy and his family with People against Poverty, I embarked on one of their Awareness Trips to visit the church and project in Iasi, Romania. I knew Romania well from previous sporting expeditions to the mountains, and treated this as something of a fact finding mission. Yet a wise person at my church said before I went, “Andrew, you know your life will never quite be the same again”. I guess I was unprepared for the emotional and spiritual impact of that trip for me personally. It kick started a passion for social justice, inspired by changed lives and the hope which the work of the charity was bringing to so many living in extreme poverty.
Over the next three years I volunteered to return to the project in Romania and assist in leading the summer camps in Dobrovat, where over 100 children that are involved in the project get to spend a few days of fun and adventure in the countryside. At the same time I felt God was calling me out of my busy secular job as a Commercial Manager in a scientific research company, to some form of full-time Christian work, which developed into exploring a vocation to ordained ministry. Returning each year to Romania and seeing the role of the church and transforming power of the Gospel worked out in practical service, pastoral care, meeting basic needs, education and medical treatment, really crystallised for me that this was the right path to follow. One particular moment will always stay with me: I was attending the Sunday gathering of regular church members and local volunteers, a shared Holy Communion service with large loaves of bread, when after the service some local street children came forward and the team simply shared the purposely large remainder of bread, a poignant illustration on many levels of the nourishing ministry of the church.
In 2012 I finally left my job, my friends and neighbours and my home in Manchester and went to train at St. John’s Theological College in Nottingham. Many times I reflected upon experiences in Romania as I worked on my theological assignments. Then in June I was ordained deacon by Peter Forster Bishop of Chester in a wonderful and truly inspiring service. Over fifteen hundred had gathered to support the twenty one of us deaconed that day, and seeing the crowds reminded me of the countless people who have supported, prayed for, encouraged, guided, befriended and inspired me in my Christian journey, some of which were associated with People against Poverty. Yet as the excitement and challenges of curacy starts, it feels like my journey has only just begun!
As I aspire to fulfil the role of a deacon this year, I frequently refer back to the Bishop’s charge in our ordination service, which includes the words to “search out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, reaching into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible”. My time in Romania has been some of the best training grounds for that aspect of my role, and I do believe my on-going connection with People against Poverty’s work in Romania and Eastern Europe will continue to shape my future ministry.”
Reverend Andrew Knight.