Want to be a Young Ambassador for Christ?

At SPEC, you will understand your own faith, you will journey towards God, you will set the foundations of your life to come – a foundation based on love, inner joy and satisfaction, purpose and success.

The SPEC community (Photo: WYM)
The SPEC community (Photo: WYM)

Right through history, being an Ambassador for your country has been one of the most cherished postings in the civil services, more specifically in the Foreign Office. You begin from the bottom, with years of hard work and commitment till you reach the point, when your country sees you fit to represent its ideals, ethos and interests in another country, to another people.

Being an ambassador is a huge privilege but an immense responsibility at the same time. You must first imbibe the core values of your country before you can represent it to others. You speak on behalf of someone else. You personify your country. Even the Vatican (being a recognised sovereign state), has its own ambassadors, who are called Nuncios.

SPEC volunteer missionaries sharing a laugh (Photo: RCDOW)
SPEC volunteer missionaries sharing a laugh (Photo: RCDOW)

How about trying to be Ambassador for someone much higher, someone much greater than every sovereign on Earth? How about being an Ambassador for Christ? You’re kidding right?! Wrong! In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret… You already are!

Saint Paul tells us that we are already Christ’s ambassadors, but most of us are probably more potential ambassadors than actual ones. Well, how can I learn to become a real ambassador for Christ… A young one at that? Start at SPEC.

Enjoying a barbeque on the SPEC grounds (Photo: SPEC)
Enjoying a barbeque on the SPEC grounds (Photo: SPEC)

What’s SPEC and how will that help me become a Youth Ambassador for Christ? We’ll get there in a bit. There comes a time in each one’s life when they pause and wonder “Now what do I do with my life?”, “What is God calling me to do?” Some take a year off to try their hands at many different things to feel what suits them; others take a trip around the world.

But sometimes what’s missing is a strong place deep inside oneself – a foundation once set, which can prove to be a starting point for true success in life, a life lived through the eyes of God. If you have ever felt the need to search for yourself, to serve God, and to work for the community, there’s no better place than spending a year as a Volunteer Missionary at SPEC.

The SPEC chapel (Photo: WYM)
The SPEC chapel (Photo: WYM)

SPEC is the Diocese of Westminster’s residential retreat centre for young people. You can read everything about SPEC on the website, but what is particularly interesting and ground-breaking is the ability to spend a year full-time at SPEC as a Volunteer Missionary joining the core resident family at SPEC.

Every year, a group of young adults aged 18-25 are invited by the SPEC community to spend a year at their campus at Pinner in formation, evangelisation and a life of holiness. Not only do they journey towards holiness individually and communally, but they witness to and accompany hundreds of children and youth who arrive at SPEC each year.

SPEC volunteer missionaries (Photo: WYM)
SPEC volunteer missionaries (Photo: WYM)

As a young person, if you’ve had a happy place for the Church within you, if you’ve felt closeness to Christ through the local parish community, if being around and working with young people has usually brought joy to your heart, then COME… Spend a year at SPEC. You may travel around the world in search of something, but you may come back feeling emptier within than when you started.

But isn’t this a big step? What will this do for my personal life? Well, that’s a lame question to ask. Precious things are usually hidden in places where they aren’t immediately apparent to us. We have to go searching for that pearl of great price.

Part of the SPEC Retreat Centre (Photo: WYM)
Part of the SPEC Retreat Centre (Photo: WYM)

I’ve always felt that I want to do something special, something different, something that would help others, something that would make others happy, something that would make the world a better and happier place. The greatest happiness is achieved in bringing others closer to God, in helping them find themselves in the process. The greatest lives are those who have taken a risk.

At the World Youth Day in Poland, Pope Francis told the young people gathered there, “… in life we need to take a risk, for the person who does not take a risk never wins.” He also said, “Today’s world demands that you be a protagonist of history because life is always beautiful when we choose to live it fully, when we choose to leave a mark… As he did on Pentecost, the Lord wants to work one of the greatest miracles we can experience; he wants to turn your hands, my hands, our hands, into signs of reconciliation, of communion, of creation. He wants your hands to continue building the world of today.” SPEC will teach you how to do that.

The building site at SPEC (Photo: SPEC)
The building site at SPEC (Photo: SPEC)

There’s more! The new residential retreat building at SPEC is under construction in the heart of the magnificent grounds at Waxwell House, Pinner. This will enable SPEC to recommence its residential retreats from next autumn 2017.

So if you join the family for the next year at SPEC as a Volunteer Missionary, you will be a part of the co-founding of the new SPEC experience. You will journey with us to envision what SPEC will become in the future. You will be laying the foundation stones of life at the SPEC residential retreat house.

SPEC volunteer missionaries at the beach (Photo: WYM)
SPEC volunteer missionaries at the beach (Photo: WYM)

Being at SPEC gives you the opportunity to be absorbed into the numerous events and activities conducted by Westminster Youth Ministry. Many past Volunteer Missionaries have gone on to do a second year at SPEC. Some have found a calling within the Church as Youth Chaplains in schools, parishes and university.

At SPEC, you will understand your own faith, you will journey towards God, you will set the foundations of your life to come – a foundation based on love, inner joy and satisfaction, purpose and success. How can anyone say NO to all that?! Did I forget to mention that SPEC alumni have a special, fast-track queue at the pearly gates? Now that has to be a clincher.

A SPEC volunteer missionary reading and reflecting (Photo: WYM)
A SPEC volunteer missionary reading and reflecting (Photo: WYM)

If you’re still unsure, come and see for yourself. Invite yourself to SPEC for a day and see what it feels like.

I’ll let Pope Francis have the final word again, “He (the Lord) wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different. For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different. This is the challenge.”

The challenge begins at SPEC!