SISTER ACT, AND WHY I WILL FOLLOW HIM
In one week I move to LA, and as I sit on the 39 from Clapham to Southfields, after a pre-LA haircut, I find myself reflecting on the last 4 years of my life. Ever so slowly, Whoopi Goldberg’s voice creeps into my mind. ‘I will follow Hiiiiiim’, she sings, and I find myself agreeing.
I’ve always wanted to move to LA. I remember the first time I visited my brother in Florida, my heart screamed “YOU NEED TO BE HERE” with a yearning I’ve never felt before (or since, really). Even on the opposite side of the United States, there was a profound rightness about my presence out there because I was just THAT MUCH closer to California. I was studying Film at the time, so I guess LA made sense. It is the heart of the film industry after all! And so, after finishing uni in 2010, I moved to London to pursue a career in film and get myself to Hollywood as soon as I could.
For 2 years I wrote and directed short films. For 2 years I struggled to progress to a point where I could relocate. Then, one Sunday, God asked me to do something I’d never once considered. He asked me to join the children’s team at Holy Trinity Brompton. I’d never wanted to work with children (unless they were in a film I was making), but I found myself signed up and serving regularly on a Sunday morning. The funny thing is, I discovered I loved it! The longer I served, the more I wanted to serve, and that’s when the wonderful woman who led the ministry started asking if I wanted to join as staff.
Naturally, I said no (repeatedly). I wanted to be a filmmaker! I wanted to move to LA! I wouldn’t let anything get in the way of that! But, as the weeks drew on, I began to suspect that it was God calling me to the job, so I followed obediently. I mean, sure, it took the emptying of my savings to force my hand a little, but still, I followed!
I very quickly found my feet as the children’s team intern. I was still writing and trying to make shorts, but I found my passion for children’s work equalling my passion for film, so I happily juggled both. Until I lost all my equipment, and stopped hearing from the people I was working with.
It’s a funny thing having so much stripped away from you. You begin to ask why. And when you believe in a God like ours, you tend to get your answer. “Because I want you to focus on this!” Those were the words He whispered to me. That, and “Trust me.” So I did. I handed Him the dreams I held, and took the ones He did. I think this sums it up nicely:
So with film and LA surrendered to God, I followed His call to children’s ministry and found myself distinctly happy. Those that knew me as a filmmaker couldn’t believe it. How could I be truly happy when I’d given up on my dreams? But that’s what they couldn’t understand. I hadn’t. I’d merely given them to someone much better suited to look after them!
Over the next 3 years I moved up through the ranks of the children’s team – from intern to pastor to acting head – never once regretting my choice to let film, or LA, go.
Then, in a way only God can manage, the two worlds collided. In one week, I move to the US to work as a children’s pastor in Santa Monica – all expenses paid. Not in a million years did I think that following God down this path would end in LA. Not in a million years did I think it would be as a children’s worker. And not in a million years did I think that, from now on, my only desire would be to follow Him, wherever He may go.
Throughout my complete career u-turn, I kept coming back to the words of Jerimiah 29:11. When it comes to our dreams and goals, God is by far the best person to follow, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He’s not saying that He will give us what we’ve always wanted (I’m still not making movies), but He does promise to give us a desire to follow Him – which is, ultimately, a better desire than our other desires could ever be.
So why am I writing this all down? Because I want to encourage you. I want to implore you to follow God wherever He calls you – even if it’s in a totally different direction to where you want to go – because you never know where you’ll end up. I’m not saying the journey will be easy – mine certainly wasn’t – but I guarantee that, by the end of it, you’ll be happier than you ever thought possible.