Pursuing God has its challenges, especially when the opportunities He presents you with don’t seem to align with the earthly hopes and dreams of our society.
Born in far-north Queensland, Helen Buchholz grew up not attending a church. As a young child, she was very close to her grandma who was a Christian, but did not realise the important influence she would be until years later as a young adult.
After a number of relocations, her family settled in Sydney where Helen started Year 9 at Abbotsleigh. Being new to the school, Helen didn’t have many friends, so she was excited when a friend invited her to a youth group at Christ Church St Ives. Admittedly, she initially continued attending just because her new-found friends kept her going. But eventually, bit by bit, her heart was softened to the gospel and she kept attending the youth group of her own accord.
Helen shares, “Eventually, I came to realise who Jesus was, that He’s real, and that He’s a personal saviour for me. And if that’s all true, then that means really big things for my life, now and for eternity.”
At school, Helen began attending the CRU® Group and felt particularly welcomed by those in the older grades. She speaks fondly of her CRU Group, “By the end of my time at Abbotsleigh, we had over 40 students attending CRU Group. The cross-year relationships were really great.” She continues, “Every now and then, Claire Wimble (CRU Schools Ministry Staff), would visit my school and run training on how to do bible studies and how to teach the bible to other people.” Helen recalls this training as being one of the most helpful things in her walk as a Christian. She also believes CrossTrain was a turning point in her faith, “Getting to know Christians outside of my church and school context was encouraging and eye-opening.” It was also where she experienced the unique joys of fellowshipping with other Christians and says, “The small-knit community built over the five days was a glimpse of heaven.”
When Helen was in her final year of high school, she always thought she would take a gap year travelling in England before studying at university, but she soon discovered that God had other plans for her.
During her HSC trials, she received a recruitment email about the CRU Summit Fellowship Program, something she had never heard about before. After some counsel from her assistant youth minister and a Summit Fellow graduate, she was prompted to apply and see if God would open doors – He sure did. After her first trial camp in the recruitment process, Helen was certain Summit was what she wanted to pursue, exclaiming, “I was sold!” Now that Helen was convinced, it was time to convince her parents that her decision was wise.
“The small-knit community built over the five days was a glimpse of heaven.”
Her loving parents had worked hard as accountants to provide the best opportunities for Helen and her sister, ensuring that they could live a comfortable life. This also meant that their hopes for Helen after school was to pursue similar goals of studying, earning a stable income, and having a career that would enable Helen to one day provide for her own children. To her parents, doing the Summit Fellowship Program seemed like a waste of time.
Out of love and respect for her parents, Helen set out to provide them with confidence about the Summit program. It was the formal qualifications in outdoor recreation she would receive at the end of the program which reassured them and gained their support. She also believes her grandma’s outward declaration of following Christ greatly softened her parents’ hearts to accept the decision – for this, Helen was thankful to God.
The Summit experience for Helen was “phenomenal”. She says, “Summit equipped me in ways I didn’t know I needed to be equipped. It prepared me for a life living for Jesus.”
“Seeing people’s lives transformed by Jesus and seeing them come to an understanding of who He is, definitely gives me hope.”
It also gave her clarity that she had a heart for kids (plus she thinks they’re hilarious!). She recognizes that she’s gifted at teaching and has been blessed with having the capacity and energy for it, and this is also why she decided to study Primary Education at Sydney University once she graduated from Summit in 2016.
When asked how she perseveres in her faith, Helen shares, “Seeing people’s lives transformed by Jesus and seeing them come to an understanding of who He is, definitely gives me hope.” Having mission minded friends praying for her also helps her feel supported, “It’s good to be surrounded by a [spiritual] family who believes”.
While speaking to Helen, you can see that her passion for teaching kids about Jesus is infectious and tangible, and that it brings her great joy. She sums it up, saying, “I know that God has blessed me with a huge amount of joy in Christ. And I love using that as a witness to other people.”