A growing team never stays still and that is particularly true for Thrive! Dara Sousa is our Operations Assistant but is leaving the staff team at the end of July. Her story is exciting and so we asked her to share it with you…

Dara writes:

When I first joined Thrive in September 2021, I knew I was making the right decision. At the time, I had been praying so much for something new and God surely answered – as He always does!

I felt so blessed being part of this amazing organisation that had the same values as me, and above that, understood the importance of youth work and wanted to make a Kingdom difference. I remember thinking that, hopefully, I was settled for many years to come. However, things didn’t exactly turn out that way because God had other plans for my future.

Fast forward to February of 2022, I booked a flight to Portugal to visit my family (which I haven’t seen since 2020 due to COVID-19). For those who don’t know, I am Portuguese and have been living in England for just over 4 years, and I missed my family a lot. So I was finally able to book a flight and had all the intentions for it to be a holiday.

After arriving in Portugal and Sunday came around, I did what every christian does and I went to church. I visited a few different churches in fact. I was shocked to see the state of youth work in some places. My heart broke for the young people, for the leaders and for the church. It was devastating. There were barely any young people in the churches I visited. I had the opportunity to speak to a few of the leaders and they all struggled with the same issue, they didn’t know what else they could do to bring more young people to the church.

I remember mentioning to Andy that our Manifesto would be a breath of fresh air in Portugal. They needed help. But I never thought that I could do anything else besides pray for them.

My life was in England, my job, my church and friends. Nonetheless, God spoke to me, loud and clear. He was calling me to come back to Portugal and help with youth work. And for a while I kept it quiet and prayed a lot about it. I was at a crossroads – I could either stay in England and continue to live my very comfortable life on my own terms OR be obedient to what God was calling me to do and see first hand the wonderful things He was going to do in Portugal. I was reminded of Romans 8:28 ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose’. Suddenly the answer became clear, and I knew I had to go. I knew that I had to put into practice what I have learned in my own experience as a Youth Leader and at Thrive.

I spoke to Andy and the team and they were so supportive. Actually everyone in my life was supporting me in this decision. I feel like I’m taking the biggest step of faith I ever experienced so far, and I feel blessed and grateful for the time I had at Thrive.

It’s important to mention that just because I’m moving back to Portugal, doesn’t mean that all my connections with Thrive are over. Quite the opposite actually. We will be in touch, Andy has offered to mentor and support me as much as possible, and I will for sure reach out to the team for advice!

My prayer is that as you read this, you will feel inspired and will start to desire to go after God’s calling for your life. Don’t be afraid to try new things and to take a leap of faith. God will provide everything you need and will set your path straight. And who knows, ‘perhaps you were born for such a time as this’ Esther 4:14.