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St John's College, Nottingham - Discipleship, Mission and Leadership in a World of Change

Heulwen Evans


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Romans 8:28 says this: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). This verse has been my anthem for the last year as I have begun walking out my freedom in Christ alongside finishing the final year of my degree.

Back in 2015 my life took a downward spiral. Things hadn’t been great for long before then, however it was only at the start of my second year doing my BA (hons) in Youth Work, Communities & Practical Theology with CYM that my issues were becoming more prominent. My mental health was far from stable and this was eating into every aspect of my life. Growing up with lies being spoken over me deeply impacted the way I lived my life – I never felt worthy or valued and constantly questioned my work. So when I was finally diagnosed with anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder in early 2016, my self-destructive patterns finally made sense. Unfortunately, knowing the cause to my ill health made no difference in my ability as a youth worker or as a student. I had to take time out from my placement at the time and after things getting even worse, it was evident that I wouldn’t be able to carry on with completing my degree if I didn’t seek help. However, I had been on medication for 18 months at this point with no signs of improvement, and I didn’t feel counselling was helping either. But it’s at this point I decided to take a year out of my studies to focus on gaining my freedom.

This is when I applied to attend Mercy UK’s residential home in West Yorkshire where they offered a six month Christian discipleship programme for young women who were dealing with life controlling issues. Here I learnt about the steps to freedom and the keys to freedom – or rather, the Key to Freedom, and that Key is Jesus Christ. I learnt what it truly meant to be free. All the darkness that had plagued my mind since the age of 10 was released. Since a doctor’s appointment in December 2016 I have not had any symptoms of any of the mental health issues I was previously told I had. I have not been self-destructive because I now know the value of who I am – especially who I am as a daughter of the Most High King.

I came back to finish my degree in September 2017 a different woman. I left after 2nd year a broken, fragile and insecure girl but returned a strong woman of God. I left after 2nd year with an average mark of mid-50’s, but returned with more headspace and a better ability to concentrate, meaning my average mark sits in the 1st bracket – that’s a whole 2 grades higher!

God is a God of the impossible. I never thought I would finish my degree and now I’m only days away from handing in my final assignment. I never imagined I’d be able to face being rejected from applying for jobs and manage to reapply for others, but I’ve been rejected from 4 and applying for three more! Romans 8:28 is my song – because all the rubbish that I have faced in my life will be used for good. I will use my experiences to support and walk alongside young people in similar situations. Because that is what God called me to do.