Having been called by God into youth work 13 years ago, Nina Batley is ready for a change once she is licensed as a Reader in October 2017.
Nina, who lives in St Keverne with her husband Darren, has been a Christian all her life, attending Sunday school at the local Methodist Church and attending a youth group as a teenager.
At 19 she met her future husband Darren, who became a Christian just two weeks before their wedding. Nina says: “Darren had joined me, my parents and my sister and her husband at a Billy Graham evening. During the night, there was a moment when members of the audience who weren’t Christians were asked to give themselves to Christ and Darren turned to me and asked me to accompany him to the front. I couldn’t believe it but he gave his life to Jesus that night, although he’d say he came back to Jesus because unbeknown to anyone else, Darren had given his life to Jesus as a teenager, but he had then not told anyone!”
Nina says it is Darren’s story that she thinks of during her youth work. “Darren’s story taught me to never judge and to not be discouraged because you just don’t know what’s going on in the young people’s heads.”
Nina says her foray into youth work came from God. “Darren and I had joined a local Bible study group and because of that decided to become members of the local parish church. Once we had children we became concerned that as they grew older there wasn’t enough to keep them in church. We decided to try somewhere else for a month and quickly we felt that God was saying our new church didn’t really need us but St Keverne did. I can remember saying to God, ‘do you want me to do something?’ and the rest is history!”
On their return to St Keverne’s church the first thing set up was a Friday night youth club, which this year marks its 13th anniversary. As well as the youth club, there are now youth groups and Bible study groups. Nina said: “We’ve run three Alpha courses. Then four years ago we had a South West Youth Ministry intern join us.”
The arrival of Mike, the SWYM intern, was fortuitous for Nina as a year previously she had felt a calling to Reader Ministry. “As much as youth work and young people and sharing the Bible has always been my passion, I’m not a youth worker and I knew that my Ministry wouldn’t continue to be within youth but that God still wanted me to continue serving him, the church and my community within Reader Ministry.”
With Mike on board, both embarked on their separate training. “We would both finish at the same time meaning I could step back from the youth work. I gave the PCC two years notice to say I would be stopping alongside a proposal that they should employ someone. My plan was that Mike would want to do it, but we didn’t know.”
Three years on, both have now finished their training and Mike has agreed to stay and develop the role across the benefice.
And for Nina? She says: “I’m very excited about what God will use me as in Reader Ministry here in the parish and benefice. I know I will be used in the Sunday morning services but I am really at God and the community’s service. I’m interested in pastoral ministry, nurturing and teaching those who have been saved and brought into the church and encouraging and teaching those in church about the Bible. There are so many people in church who don’t know the good news of Jesus Christ.
“I had never been told about my identity and freedom in Christ, I learnt that preparing a Freedom in Christ course for the young people. There was nothing new in it, but I had never been taught what it meant. I had never been told about the Devil, about who he is, what he is and what he’s done or what authority in Christ we have over him.
“I have that passion for teaching about Bible prophecy because I don’t think we are hearing enough about what the Bible has to say about what comes next. It’s time we stopped arguing over what type of service we prefer.”
Nina says of her future and her Reader Ministry: “At the moment I don’t see myself being ordained, it’s not on my heart at this time. It will be a privilege to still be here in St Keverne serving God and serving the people around me in the Benefice as a Reader.”