Directions made me realise that we are all striving towards the same goal, on the same path

Mike Armstrong attended last year’s Directions course. He shares his experience here

Why did you decide to take part in the Directions course?
My Vicar, Clive Doran was very instrumental in me applying and ultimately attending the course.

I had gone to him with a sense of that I was being "called" to something more than what I was already doing. I have been a volunteer in the Spiritual Care department at Whiston Hospital for some years now, doing ward visiting and also taking Holy Communion to the bed sides of people who were too ill to attend the Chapel for the Services that are held there.

Whilst training for the role, the Chaplain who led the training had hinted to me that he felt that there was more to me than met the eye as it were, I had been surprised at the time, about 8 years ago or so, but had subsequently put it on the "back burner", being content, or so I thought, to carry on in the volunteering role. I may add, always did, and still does, fill me with a great sense of comfort that I was bringing the people I was seeing closer to God through the ministering of the Eucharist and feeling very humble that God was using me in this way.

I attended the New Wine Gathering in 2015 along with Clive and a couple of other Church members.  There, in one of the worship sessions, I basically stood before God, as David Pytches stood on the stage and just simply said "Come, Holy Spirit" And I thought "Why not? If you are real, then do something to me, and use me as you will" The feeling that then came over me was indescribable, and still exists to this day, I have a yearning to serve my Lord, in whatever capacity he would have me do, and to the best of whatever ability I may have, although why me? I haven`t a clue!

I have had regular meetings with Clive since that time, and it was on one particular occasion, he gave me some literature regarding a discipleship course he was running, hidden amongst which, was the leaflet for the Directions course.  This I read avidly and with some excitement as I realised that this could go some way to explaining the feelings I had and also hopefully answer the many questions I had. Anyway, I went back to Clive and said I would like to go on the course and would he sponsor me? His reply was "I knew you would!" Sneaky or what?! Haha! 

What have you gained from completing the Directions course? How has it helped you?
I learned a great deal from the course, through the modules, I gained a deeper insight into God and His son, the Risen Lord Jesus, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, about Faith, and the importance of ministering in different situations and so on. I gained comfort from sharing my experiences with other people from the diocese, worshipping with them, praying with them. The varied mixture of people, from some of whom had attended BAP, some who were about to attend BAP right down to someone who was confirmed shortly after completing the course, made me realise that we are all striving towards the same goal, on the same path, we are just at different points along the journey, but most of all, through the exercises on the course, Spiritual Shape for instance, I learned about myself, that where I was, along the journey, that you don`t necessarily need a dog collar to be a disciple of the Lord, I learned how to listen to the "still small voice", to go with my instincts and not to force anything, to trust in God, and that, if it is going to happen, it will.

I have as a result, changed Churches, I have changed my job to enable me to devote more time to God, both in the Church and the hospital, but most importantly, it feels right, and the Directions course has given me the confidence to do this.

Would you recommend the Directions course and why?
I would recommend the course to anyone who wants to have a more personal relationship with the Risen Lord Jesus, anyone who has a niggling feeling of being called, that won`t go away, and are seeking affirmation that they are doing the right thing. And anyone who is seeking fellow minded Christians to walk alongside on their journey through life, for the friendships I made on the course were many, and sometimes unexpected! The Course Leaders make sure that no one is left out, the support from them is awesome, I wear hearing aids, and was provided with a portable loop system to ensure that I didn`t miss anything, and was provided with transcripts of some of the sessions for added support when I needed it. I came away with an enhanced vigour to follow my Lord, and I truly did not want the course to end!