Cathy Williams is a student worker dedicated to her calling. This month, we have the pleasure of sharing her story – hearing how she is stepping out in faith, overcoming fear and embarrassment and advising the next generation of teenagers on living fearlessly for God.
This summer I went to Soul Survivor, a Christian youth festival in Somerset. There, I had the incredible experience of meeting a lot of radical, empowered people, passionate to see God move in this country and do whatever they can to see it happen. This is where I met Cathy Williams.
Right in the hub of activity, Cathy was manning a stand in the exhibitors centre for Festive; a national charity providing Christian support to students and staff in Further Education colleges (FE colleges) and Sixth Forms. Here she was connecting to young people, inspiring youth leaders and engaging individuals to seize their influence in their schools and colleges to make a difference!
Cathy has been involved in student ministry ever since she was at school. As a brave, young Christian at secondary school, Cathy and and her friend were keen to set up a Christian Union. When their request was refused, they were not put off: their faith and determination drove them to arrive early to school each morning to pray behind the bike sheds. They prayed fervently for their school and friends, seeing God move in ways only He could through their faith and belief.
After being involved in her university Christian Union, Cathy went on to marry a student worker. Together they worked in student ministry in Madagascar for 17 years. She now works for Festive, organising and events, running an advice line for students and representing Festive at different events like Soul Survivor. Cathy is also a part time Chaplain at an FE college, where she is able to chat, support and pray for staff and students. She holds a staff prayer meeting each week and from this she receives prayer requests from staff and students.
Is there a defining moment that’s shaped who you are?
There are so many! But without a doubt, the moment I gave my life to Jesus. I was 11 and Jesus became real to me, suddenly I met him and it completely changed the direction of my life.
There have been other key moments in my life. My husband and I lost two children and that was definitely a time that shaped us. Even in the darkest times I was able to focus on the power of God, only He has the ability to sustain us in those painful moments. Even when there seems to be nothing else to live for, Jesus is worth living for. He becomes so precious. He became so much more precious to me.
And also our time in Madagascar. We knew God was calling us overseas and He revealed to us that he wanted us in Madagascar. With it being such a different social and cultural context, how we would normally do ministry did not fit and we had to change our approach. We had to get right down to essentials, back to basics. Madagacar had nothing, these people had nothing yet their faith in God was so profound. When there is nothing else to live for, Jesus becomes so much more precious. Our house was raided three times, at one point we were held at gun point – yet it only deepened our faith and dependence on Him.
What barriers have you overcome on your Christian journey in sharing your faith and how have you overcome them?
Fear and embarrassment. It is so easy to stay quiet, we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves or rock the boat. When you speak out you put yourself out there for others to disagree and the response can be harsh and painful. I have experienced this so many times. But I have to consciously give it over to Jesus, to take them to Jesus. It is Jesus they are against, not me. Jesus is our fortress, our shield and our protector – you have to remember this when people say painful and nasty things to you. This is what will help you overcome the fear of talking about Jesus. I have learnt not to take their words personally, to not judge them for their response but to keep the door open, so whenever they do want to open up discussion again I am open and willing to share Jesus with them.
What encouragement would you give to our Miss Activate girls (14-18 year olds) who want to step out for Jesus and tell their friends about him?
Trust that Jesus has gone ahead in every conversation! He is already working in that person, this is not unknown territory to Him! Do not approach them so you can tick your ‘sharing the Gospel’ box, but listen to them. Listen more, talk less. Ask them questions, because this is what Jesus did. Listen to their thoughts and response to God, but also listen to God as to what he wants to say. And if you are asked a question you can’t answer it is perfectly OK to say ‘I don’t know, but God does and I trust him’. This way, you are able to display your faith. As a chaplain I am not allowed to proselytise – I have to ask questions and tell others what Christians believe. Yet God is in every conversation.
And lastly – keep praying! Keep praying for opportunities. Embrace the opportunities that are in front of you and whenever God speaks to you through a story, a verse or a word, then share it!