Both originally from London, Tolu and Aidan moved to Manchester in September to join our Academy course. We caught up with them to find out more about their experience so far.
Why did you apply to join Message Academy?
Tolu: I was working as a youth pastor in North West London and was blown away by everything I saw The Message doing – from the bus ministry to Lift events to Eden teams. I loved the idea of using music to reach young people and The Message has an amazing culture of excel-lence. I saw Academy as an opportunity to dive deeper into this culture, while receiving theological training and more youth work experience at the same time.
Aidan: When I lived in London to be honest I felt like I was drifting away from God and I didn’t have any Christian mates. For me, Message Academy was a way to kickstart a new lifestyle, with structured days that would help me develop my understanding of God. I spent a year raising the money I’d need to do the course. I’m passionate about working with young people and using my life experiences to help others.
What has been a highlight of the course so far?
Tolu: Spending time with the others on Academy has been a key highlight for me. We’re a group of creative people looking to grow in faith and skill and Academy allows us the space and time to do that. It’s great being able to go on a journey with other people who share a hunger for faith and growth, being able to be trans-parent with friends and sharpen each other.
Another highlight has to be seeing the young people impacted through our mission placements. I’ve seen them step into their own gifts and begin to shine as they go further in their spiritual journey.
Aidan: There are so many great things happening at The Message. I’ve really enjoyed working with ex-prisoners, hearing their amazing stories of transfor-mation. I’ve also loved getting involved with youth work, especially teaching young people to play the drums. Seeing the students progress has been a great experience and seeing some of them having an interest in my faith and watching their behaviour be changed by it has been a highlight. I love music and so having the opportunity to perform on stage and spend time in a production studio, learning and improving has been my biggest highlight so far.
I also really appreciate spending time with the other Academy students. We always have a laugh and I feel comfortable to be myself around them. Everyone’s willing to give support where and when it’s needed – it’s like one big family.
What are your hopes and dreams once you’ve graduated from Academy?
Tolu: After Academy, I hope to use the gifts I’ve been developing over this year in music and arts to get involved with The Message’s work across the UK.
Aidan: After Academy, I hope to go somewhere with my music. That’s the plan. I’m just relying on God to take me to where I need to be.
We’re recruiting now for the 2019-20 Academy course. Find out more at message.org.uk/academy