Camping, worship, Bible teaching, random encounters and a whole lot of fun. For many Christians growing up, this was the quintessential way to spend your summer. And Soul Survivor was one of the biggest ways to do it! With thousands of attendees every year, Soul Survivor became a household name for young Christians. But it’s now sadly time to say goodbye as the festival has reached its final year. We spoke to Megan Prosser and Abi Alsop who both shared some farewell reflections with us:
Megan found community and the unexpected…
I’m sure many of us could write paragraphs full of testimonies and tales of our time at Soul Survivor. That’s part of what makes it so amazing and unique. When I think about Soul Survivor I think of; unforgettable worship sessions, hot chocolates piled with whippy cream, wellies and toilet queues, big piles of chips from the food court and a week of figuring out the comfiest position to sit on the floor in seminars and main sessions. I have journals filled with scribbled notes from seminars or big top talks. The scribbles of a teenager anxious to absorb all the wisdom, advice and knowledge she could in that week, in-between a whole lot of card games and running around. Soul Survivor taught me to expect the unexpected. While I was guaranteed a week of fun, I never knew what else the week would entail.
Over the years it included everything from trips to the onsite A+E for crutches, spending hours after a seminar talking and praying with strangers, to Holy Spirit encounters during the evening service. It was at Soul Survivor I got both my AS and A-level results and found out I’d got into University. It was even the first time I met my future husband (though we wouldn’t properly meet for another 2 years!) And I know thousands of people have more stories like this. Stories of faith, relationship and encounter. And stories of games played, food eaten, tent escapades, mud and wellies. Altogether it showed me to never underestimate God and to always remain expectant. I’ll always be thankful for that muddy Shepton Mallet showground for all it taught me about myself and my faith.
Abi found a passion for justice
A core part of summer has always been a pilgrimage back to Soul Survivor. A week of worship, teaching, and survival in the elements. I have many festival memories that will never leave me (namely floating airbeds after torrential rain and the splendour of a hot chocolate mountain). But I also hold dear memories of friends meeting Jesus for the first time, seeing people healed, encountering the power of the Holy Spirit, and learning that God has a greater plan for his world. I’ve attended the festival while feeling good, and other times when family or personal situations have been tough. The great thing is that Soul has always felt like a community. It’s like a big family reunion, where it’s okay not to be okay. I’ve found sanctuary in Late Night Worship, danced the night away in Blueprint, and discovered a new freedom in worship at the Big Top.
Much of how I live as a Christian now was catalysed at Soul Survivor, listening to amazing teaching sitting at the feet of spiritual parents (like Mike Pilavachi, Andy Croft & Ali Martin). My justice journey wouldn’t be the same without Soul. I first prayed the dangerous prayer ‘I want your heart God, I want to love your people the way you do’, during ministry time for those who feel called to serve the least and the lost. And from a random chat in the Toolshed with a Just Love staff member I went on to start a group with friends in Manchester, equipping Christian students to pursue the Biblical call to social justice at uni.
Soul Survivor has a lasting legacy of countless lives changed and thousands drawn into greater intimacy with God. The enormity of its impact would be almost impossible to measure. And it was all born out of the faithfulness of a few youth workers who felt God leading them. So what’s the lesson I’ve learnt from this transition season and emotional goodbye to the highlight of my teenage years? That God is waiting for us to wait on him. Because he will use us to do greater things than we can ask or imagine if we are obedient to his call.