"One messy night, a 3-week concussion and an invitation to Church - changed my life’

Will didn’t grow up in a Christian household and never really considered faith despite sitting through ‘mind-numbing’ termly CofE school services. Who would have thought? Instead, it was rugby that truly captivated Will’s attention, leading him to play throughout his teen years as a front prop at Dorchester Rugby Club. 

In September 2019, upon arrival at the University of York, Will envisioned two stringent rules of life for the forthcoming chapter. The first, to obtain an Economics degree. The Second, to indulge in as much fun as possible. As such, ‘this work hard play hard lifestyle’ resulted in Will spending a substantial amount of time with the politics society and rugby team.

On a Friday November night, Will headed to a local halls of residence where his teammates were gathering for the club's famous initiation pre-drinks. It soon became clear no one would be leaving in a hurry for the town’s nightlife, with disproportionate amounts of drink flowing and risible challenges in full swing. As the chaos continued to unfold, out of nowhere, Will was sent flying backwards off his bar stool courtesy of a well-built teammate looking for the men’s facilities. Such a landing served Will with an alarming concussion that lasted 3 weeks. 

In a moment of panic, rather than escorting Will’s lifeless body to A&E, a few of the rugby team sent him for an early bath via a taxi home. Some time later, Will made it back into his student flat and was deep in battle with the laws of nature. Having thrown up on countless occasions and knocking himself out again on the bathroom sink, Ben and Emma, Will’s flatmates, mercifully waved his white flag by dialling 999.

In the ambulance, on the way to hospital, one-cheeky yet well-meaning paramedic remarked to the three students, “I wonder what Will should do in return for your help?” Emma, jokingly said, “I guess a bottle of Prosecco and a box of chocolates will do”. Ben followed, “Perhaps he can take up an invitation to church?!”. After being discharged on Saturday morning with no recollection of the previous night, Will sheepishly went along to York Community Church that Sunday morning. 

As chalk and cheese entered the building, Will’s eyes widened, quickly realising this was going to be a FAR different experience to the dull interactions growing up. Why did everyone look like they wanted to be here? Why are the people normal? Surely churches don’t have a band? What about the organ? Wow, this community is truly making a difference to the city and the message is purposeful!

Subsequently, Will tried church for the next few months before the Covid lockdown commenced. At this point, the pandemic could have stopped all forms of engagement. However, Will’s desire to learn about the Bible and how Jesus’ teachings could practically apply to his life 2,000 years later, only increased. To note, Ben was a pivotal friend during this period, offering to help Will read through all four gospels over zoom and during their return to York. Will was totally struck how Jesus spent a lot of his time helping the poor and lost; a vast contrast to how he was living. Eventually, something clicked. Will recognised the rising conviction to change. He began volunteering at YCC’s youth group and started making steps in showing compassion to his university mates. Although the final year pressures were there, choosing to live a selfless life in relationship with Jesus, was a joy and a relief. 

Since graduating and moving to Southampton, Will got baptised! Recently, when asked, "Where do you think you would be if you had not been invited to Church?", Will replied: 

“Before, I was a pretty self-centred student who had zero interest in people and empathy for their problems. But since trying church, reading the bible and finding faith in Jesus, I’ve felt a gradual shift that has now completely changed my perspective of the world. If someone is thinking about going to Church, I’d say, give it a go! It is such a welcoming place no matter whether you have faith or are exploring what’s out there. For me, a messy night, a 3 week concussion and an invitation to church, totally changed my life forever".

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Will Reavell

Partnership Developer

Will’s personal experiences at university led him to know and encounter the Father’s heart in all its fullness. This love ignites his passion to resource the local church in reaching, discipling and empowering the next generation of students to share their hope and faith in Jesus. Revival come!

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