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Feature Story, News

Volunteering fulfils a calling and is deeply satisfying

There is a common misconception that a leader is someone who is outgoing, loud, charming, commanding, extroverted and bold. Yet in a world that seems to celebrate extroverts, it often underestimates the introvert advantage.

Emily Fernandez (24) is one of those self-described “introvert leaders” at Scripture Union. She’s one of SU’s homegrown leaders, rising through the ranks after starting as a camper at sailing camp in year 11.

“I was actually very hesitant to go on this camp. I don’t like massive groups, but my friend needed someone to hold her hand. So, despite feeling unsure, I went, and nothing was really the same from there”.

At the time Emily was on a faith journey of her own, trying to work it all out. She had what she describes as an intellectual faith: it all made sense to her on paper. However, she was lacking in experiential faith.

“That’s where camp came in and took my faith to the next level. I didn’t just know what being a Christian meant, but I actually got to experience what following Jesus is.”

Fast forward to now, Emily has been an SU leader on more camps than she can count. Initially she kept going on them for fun, but over time she realised something more was happening.

“Despite my love of the outdoors, camp offers more than a kayak down a river. It actually allows young people to try out a new, better version of themselves empowered by Jesus.”

That is where Emily’s strength lies, fostering a safe space to have conversations about who we are, why we’re here, our purpose, and who created it all. For Emily, it is an honour to lead campers through these questions, and help them to explore and challenge themselves spiritually, physically, and psychologically.

There is more to Emily than being an SU leader though. She is actively involved at Red Door Community Church, studying to be a Doctor at UWA, and on the board of SU. Emily is passionate about helping people, especially young people.

“Young people are the future! I have seen a lot of my friends fall away from faith and I think this will continue to happen if churches don’t change what they are doing to meet the needs of young people. I want to help people feel connected, help them to read the bible, and help them enter key conversations.”

If you want to help start key conversations and lead young people towards Jesus, then we would love you to become a camp leader like Emily. Adventure is calling, just step out!

Matt McNulty (38) is another one of our amazing SU leaders. Don’t let his gentle demeanour fool you though, he is fiercely passionate about guiding young people towards Jesus. Originally from North-West London where he was a youth pastor, Matt decided in 2016 that it was time for a sea change. After arriving down under, Matt reached out to SU having previously worked with the organisation back home.

“All my SU experience was in the UK. I grew up doing outdoor activities over there. As a youth pastor back then, camps were always a part of what I was doing. Being able to take people out of their normal experience and giving them time to focus on God is a fantastic opportunity. It made sense then to get involved with SU in WA”.

Young people are vital to any Christian organisation. They provide insight on the ground and have a unique opportunity to view the world around them with a different perspective. Matt wants to see more young people involved in churches and Christian organisations across Perth.