Sebastian Rodwell, or Bas as we know him, has recently moved into a share house with a bunch of mates. We stopped by his place recently to chat about what’s been happening in his life. We were greeted by two of his faithful friends – Buster, a 9-year-old pug and Pepsi, a 14-year-old Maltese, who wanted to get in on the camera action!
Interview:Aimee Cowan Read:5 mins
I know sport has always been your life – you wanted to be a professional cricket player growing up and are currently working as a personal trainer. Yet, you’ve recently accepted a role as a missionary with Youth for Christ. What will that look like and what prompted you to make the change?
I’ll be involved in a ministry area called ‘What’s Normal?’, which involves going into schools and challenging the sexual norm by talking on things like pornography, culture, and sex at an early age and bringing light as to what God’s heart for those things are. God’s put on my heart a desire to help lead people through the journey of making a decision to follow Him. I know how much this decision transformed my own life and am just keen to love people and help them understand how they can experience the same transformation in their own lives.
You didn’t grow up in a Christian home but found Jesus during your high school years. Why do you think the teenage years are so important in forming beliefs about God?
I first encountered God when I was around 14. I wasn’t sure if it was Him straight away but kept trying to find out more about what I believed over the next few years. It wasn’t until the end of Term One in Grade 12 that I really turned away from the life I was living and gave my life to Jesus. I had made all sorts of choices that weren’t great and really needed to clean my life up. I think one of the biggest obstacles for teenagers coming to know God is that it’s so easy to get lost and distracted by things in the world. I struggled with so many things that were enjoyable in the short term but was never fully satisfied until I came to know God. It’s the peace and fulfilment in my life that I now have that has made all the difference.
High school can be a pretty challenging time for teenagers with lots of peer pressure and new things to navigate. How did knowing God help you through those challenges?
Jesus literally reminds us in scripture that we will have trials in this life, but to take heart because He has overcome the world. For me, it is so good to know that Jesus is so much bigger than anything I’m facing and my reason for waking up in the morning doesn’t have to change depending on what’s going on around me and my situation doesn’t determine who I am or how I am.
There are times, particularly as teenagers, when we can really start believing stuff that we’re hearing other people say about us. If there are lies that I’m believing, I turn straight to God’s Word. I find that when I bring truth to a situation, pray into it, and choose to believe what God says instead of the lie, I can leave it up to God to change the rest.
You definitely live that out Bas – you’re always quoting scripture! I know you serve on the youth team here at Riverlife. Why do you love being a youth leader?
I love getting to see the youth walk in a relationship with God. Rather than just making Christianity about coming to church or going to youth group, I love seeing them make it a lifestyle where they walk with Him every day.
When I see people acting out or going through a hard time, God always gives me a picture of how He really sees them. That totally transforms your perspective on someone and makes me want to share that picture with them and encourage them that God can transform their life just like He did with mine.
So how do you stay spiritually healthy, not just physically healthy?
I think it’s really important to stay connected with God. If you’re driving in the car and you have a friend with you, it would be weird to drive 30 minutes and not talk. But if we’re in the car by ourselves, God is actually still there and we can talk, sing and just be with Him. When I understood God was everywhere with me all the time, I started spending more time with Him. I love reading God’s Word not just to know about him but to know Him personally.
Jesus means so much to me and is the one who has completely transformed my life. He is and needs to be our everything, and if we’re following Him fully, we’ll really live a healthy life when we demonstrate the fruits of the spirit. Something like Easter used to just be a story to me, but now I realise the enormity of what He did and the price He paid to bring us back to relationship with the Father. Christianity isn’t about praying a prayer to go to heaven; it says in the Bible that Jesus came so that we could have eternal life, which is to know Him. We get the privilege to know God during this lifetime and really live life to the full as we walk each day with Him.
To watch a short video version of this interview, click here.