Our last session of Youthwork the conference 2013 has arrived.  During the last Big Room session we will hear from Gavin Calver who is the national director of Youth for Christ, a charity working with over 300,000 young people a month in schools, prisons and churches. He is a theology graduate, ordained evangelist, regular public speaker and author. Gavin is married to Anne, they have two children. He loves curry and is a passionate AFC Wimbledon supporter.

As usual as this is a live blog please excuse typos and spelling mistakes!

DJ Steve Leach’s tunes are helping us all to get ready for this last session (check out his sound cloud page for more tunes), alongside all your tweets on the big screen, do’t forget to use #YC13 to join the conversation and banter.

We’re kicking off with worship from Pete James and his rocking band.

Marc Gilgen our legendary photographer has taken our annual family photo.

Reading Philippians 2:25-30:

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier,who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

Damian invites his great friend Gavin Calver onto the stage.

Can’t help but think, want to take his hat off to Spring Harvest for producing this event.  Want to encourage you to come and be part of Skegness with him, or go to Minehead if you don’t want to be with Gav.  We are becoming consumers not grateful recipients.

Been surrounded with misunderstandings for the last year, first when launched Newham Youth for Christ – realised he wasn’t cool – he used the word sick as a good thing, but was told off by a young person for being too old.

Too old to shop in River Island, praise the Lord for Next, and thank God that M&S is a decade away!

Baby George is not a royal name but the little on in Peppa Pig.  Misunderstanding by previous Archbishop of Canterbury in saying the church is one generation away from extinction, in one sense correct, but why give bad publicity when we aren’t that bad.

The biggest misunderstanding, if it wasn’t so tragic it would be awe inspiring, we have taken the God who says follow me, the dangerous Jesus and we have made it sound boring.  We’ve taken the most incredible, awe inspiring Jesus and make Christianity sound mundane.

Epaphroditus is the only person called a balanced Christian by theologians.  Philippians 2 is famous for the Shine Jesus Shine of their time!  But Paul saying Epaphroditus is evidence of living out this hymn, here is action.

Get to go to lots of Christian mountain top experiences, but they mean nothing if they don’t impact how we live in the valley.

He is faithful

Paul calls him my brother in verse 25.  We are not a faithful society anymore.  Marriage means so little nowadays in the church and society.  We live in an instant society where we throw away everything.

Wife wanted a baby, she is surprisingly pretty, but after a couple of years nothing had happened.  Gavin decided to go along with the plan. After a while felt sorry for Anne, but they went for testing, discovered Anne was fine but Gavin was not quite sterile but nearly. Gavin was happy to take one for the team and try as often as possible, a month later his wife was pregnant.  Parents were round, and came back with curry.  Came back and wife said I needed to talk, and went and told him she was pregnant,

  • Just pretend you can see it
  • Even though it looks like a mushroom and a sultana

It was dead in the womb, left the room thinking what is going on?  Be grateful for what you have is what he felt God said.  It was so tough, but Jesus is true, there is no Revelation

18 months later pregnant again but baby was too small, at 18 weeks told he had 5% chance of survival, did a 50% blood transfusion. After 3 hours they would scan, Anne slept, and Gavin was asking where is God when you suffer – a profound sense of God holding his hand. If this baby lives you are good, if this baby dies you are good. Anne had 9 blood scans, 38 scans, never complain about taxes, the system has done well. At 31 weeks they delivered by caesarean, by the same Doctor who had done all the transfusions, held the baby up, who weed on the doctor, and then attached him and put him into a incubator. The power of prayer carried us through in such an incredible and powerful way. A few weeks after he was born they were allowed to hold him, April 9th he was born, August 31st he was declared fine. He is now 3 and is fine, looks like he’s eaten a baby.


A dying women wanted her two relatives to hear the gospel, Gavin met with her and heard this and was challenged afresh about the need to share with words and deeds the gospel.

Grew up in the Christian mafia, and so tried to cause problems for his parents, got banned for 6 months, even his mum couldn’t make him go to church.  Thought he’d take it to the next level, so went out with this girl whose dad was an Imman, she found him 20 years later on YouTube preaching the gospel and now she is going on Alpha.  People want to know whose you are, we are children of the king, yes we are cracked pots but we do our best.


Epaphroditus was serving Paul in Ephesus or Rome – five books on amazon debate this and none of them come to a decent conclusion so go with Rome.  When you love Jesus you can’t help but serve others, if you love God with all your heart, mind and soul you can’t but help to love others.

Children was when they learnt to serve.  You take a pet home they do all kinds of checks, you take a child from the hospital and it’s fine.  After 9 months Anne goes away for a night, and she worries leaving children with Gav!  It got to bath time and the Teletubbies were having a good time, all washed, and then she poohs in the bath!  Running to bedroom to collect a glass from Anne’s bedside table to scoop the pooh into glass and then the loo and then put the glass back.

Children wake him up, you do things to serve children like you would never serve others. It is time to serve others like we care for our blood relatives.  We need to reach out more love.  Don’t see them as projects, they aren’t, live amongst people.

Risk taker

The Church has become risk averse, we have become comfortable, we have focussed on inward looking than outreach.  The church is the only organisation designed for those outside of it – why on earth are we not taking more risks to reach those people.

Went on holiday and the town had lots of posh shops – Jack Wills isn’t possible on a YFC budget!  Found Poundshop and said to children they could buy whatever they want – Amelie picked out jewellery, and Daniel picked three plastic soldiers with parachutes.  Went to the cliff to throw it over there, it went about half a metre down the cliff, no way to get it, Daniel cried, can’t leave him there, a soldier never leaves a man behind – learnt from Toy Story 2.  Let’s not leave a young person behind – easy to reach the young people who sound and smell like us, let’s not leave others.

In verse 30 Epaphroditus almost died, identical to the words used for Jesus on the cross with his side split open.  The Greek word parabolani calculated risk, decided to give everything he was for the glory of Jesus, he went all in.  The Parabolani Army were famous for sending lepers into leper colonies, you don’t come out when you go into those colonies; used to go into the jails for those with life threatening illnesses.  In 252AD Cyprian the Bishop of Carthage was being lost by the plague.  People didn’t want to clear up the bodies because you would catch the plague.  Cyprians asked the Parabolani Army to go and save the city, they buried the dead, they healed the sick, told people about Jesus.  The City of Cathege was saved, but the biggest revival in the first 500 years happened.  Sometimes it is a calculated risk, the church isn’t finished, it has stopped for a cocktail on a deckchair.  The evil one isn’t creative but is persistent, he will have a go, we need to be persistent.

Had enough of saying that Britain is not going anywhere, it is ripe for a harvest.  But it needs a post-modern Parabolani Army people who believe in a mountain moving God, how will we see the world changed one post-modern Christian at a time.  Giving my everything so others may meet you – how to change a nation one balanced Christian at a time.

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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