A Sense of Belonging

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I’ve found you start looking at society a whole lot more closely when you move somewhere new; noticing the different ways strangers interact, judging the efficiency of the traffic systems and analysing your own (very British) communication skills.

But there comes the challenge.

To look at everything different and new as a reason to celebrate cultural diversity and the way God’s created us uniquely and beautifully.

As a person who fills their time with work and people, it’s been a journey for me to enjoy and be content with the company of Jesus.

In my first few weeks, I had a lot of time to myself which I chose to cherish. This choice was not always easy as I find my comfort in family and friends. But I tried using the time to familiarise myself with this city and study for my theology course. My love for Helsinki has grown as I’ve wandered the streets and marvelled at the beautiful architecture and coastal views. As a person who fills their time with work and people, it’s been a journey for me to enjoy and be content with the company of Jesus.

One of my biggest concerns, when I was preparing to move to Finland, was the thought of having no friends. Ironically, it seems like the bigger the city, the higher the risk of loneliness. Knowing this was a worry for me, I asked my supportive community back in Norwich to specifically pray for friends. In James 2, James teaches that faith should produce good works. Likewise, if you’re earnestly praying for something, I believe it’s right to be proactive in seeking a break through. Therefore, as I knew God’s faithfulness was behind me in this, I had the confidence to put myself out there and attempt to make friends.

And God delivered.

I’ve organised social events with people from church, I’ve attended different Christian events across the city and joined a book club I saw advertised on social media. Along the way, I’ve made some brilliant friends from all different backgrounds and I’ve started to help lead the International Christian Students group. Loneliness has not gripped me because I haven’t let it (shout out to everyone praying for me, thank you!). Of course this experience of making friends in a foreign city has not been without bumps. It’s taken a lot of energy and learning through mistakes but God keeps giving me the courage to love this city and everyone who’s part of it.

My sense of belonging in Helsinki has been mainly founded in the church I am part of. Never have I felt so loved, welcomed and valued than by the church family at Risen Light. Strangers have become friends quickly; generously praying for me, letting me house sit and blessing me with belongings they no longer need. This is a church which is small yet fiercely filled with God-loving, caring people and I feel honoured to be part of the family. I’m excited to see God move this year as we step into opportunities of making Jesus’ name known in Helsinki.

Charis Parker


First posted on 18th October 2017.

If you would like to follow Charis' updates directly, you can follow her blog here.

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