Simon Sim interviews Otago university student Jess Scott as she shares some of her faith journey.
Jess, can you tell us a bit more about yourself and about your spiritual experience or background?
I grew up in Queenstown and I’ve been in Dunedin since High School. It wasn’t until I came to uni that I experienced Christianity, though I did go to a Presbyterian High School where I had learnt some things and had started to ask questions.
So, you went to a Presbyterian High School and that was your first introduction to Christianity. Were your family Christian, or did you come from a more non-Christian background?
I think my Dad grew up going to church but my Mum is more agnostic.
And what about your cultural background?
I’m half Japanese, half kiwi so growing up that was a big part of my identity. Before I found another identity in Christ, my cultural background was what I identified with. My experiences and the people who I was surrounded really made me who was.
“A big thing was relationships and fellowship. I had just started uni and it was good to meet those people and feel connected because as a student you can feel lost and disconnected.”
So, what was it that first intrigued you about Christianity and Jesus?
I had lots of questions around how the world began, and where humanity came from, as well as what happens when we die. I had thought about those questions as a child and I just had this conviction that the world couldn’t have been created by coincidence, that there must be someone behind it, who made all the details of the world in nature and people. It didn’t make sense to me that there wouldn’t be an afterlife. Even before I would call myself a Christian I believed in heaven. I thought there had to be a God and I guess in times of desperation or when I felt worried or lost, even before I had that relationship with God, I would pray about my worries. Often the big questions can be the gateway to thinking about these things.
Tell us a bit more about when you started coming along to OCF. How did you start coming along?
I didn’t start going to church until the end of 2019. At the start of 2020 I started coming along to OCF because mutual friends were going and were some of the leaders there. I was really looking forward to plugging in to the group and it looked like lots of fun. Through OCF I met lots of good people and they were really helpful and patient in answering my questions. Throughout the year I learnt more and engaged with the Word and found freedom. I had thought Christianity was just reading the Bible and going to church. Through OCF I found the community of people that you could do everyday life with, because you share the same goals.
That is really encouraging to hear. What did you find most helpful about being part of OCF?
A big thing was relationships and fellowship. I had just started uni and it was good to meet those people and feel connected because as a student you can feel lost and disconnected. It’s hard at first to get used to new routines and everyone helped me find my way. Studying the Bible together and thinking about how we should use this in our everyday life have been helpful.
When you look back on your life before knowing about Jesus and knowing about Christianity and when you compare it to your life know, what do you think are the things that have changed most for you?
There’s a few big ones but I guess trust and hope stand out. Hope that there’s something after life and that there’s meaning in life. I try to feel secure in the knowledge that I might not have found the purpose in my life – but I know there’s a plan. So, I feel hopeful for the future knowing that I can trust in Jesus.