Children's, Youth & Families
As I write this, it is really hard to remember what life was like in ‘the real world’ when we were seeing children and families face to face.
Puddles was booming with 30+ families attending every week. It was lovely having Esther there as she was able to have relevant conversations with the parents and was getting to know lots of them. We are really grateful to Margaret and Carol who made Puddles happen faithfully every week.
Over the year we looked at several Bible stories including The Parable of the Sower, Noah, The Lost Sheep, The feeding of the 5000 and of course Christmas. We also sang ‘Our God is a Great Big God’ every week and this became our Puddles theme song with most children and parents joining in, singing and doing the actions.
One of the last things that we did before we closed was to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We talked about how special we all are and how much God loves us. We gave each parent a rose with a Bible verse attached. Most were so touched that we cared. I hope that they will remember during this horrible time that they are loved with an everlasting love.
I have been texting our families regularly, just to keep in touch and to offer any help if they need it and to let them know that we are praying for them. Fortunately, everybody seems to be OK, a few responded to say thank you.
We were so sad when we had to close, especially as we didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye and we don’t know when we will be able to reopen, but we have sown seeds into those beautiful children’s lives and we just have to place them into God’s hands.
Family Fun Events
Another Family Fun Event was held at Christmas. We had a really lovely time doing lots of Christmas crafts. We then finished with the Christmas story and carols. The children were able to dress up and join in with the story. This was an amazing whole church effort and we really appreciate everybody’s support.
We had a special Easter event planned which, unfortunately, was cancelled.
Messy Church has continued to grow and God has really been moving in the lives of the families who have been coming and it has been such a blessing to see what he has been doing.
Messy Church has now moved online and most families have asked me to forward the Messy Church/Kids Church email to them. We have then done a Messy Church Zoom.
Kids Church has also moved online and you will have seen the Kids Church section in the ‘Home is Where the Church is’ weekly email. I hope you’ve been having a look at what we’ve been doing as there is, hopefully, lots there for everyone.
Drayton Junior School
Open the Book has been going really well. Staff often commented that the children said that the OTB assemblies were their favourite. It was such an honour to be able to take the Word of God into school and share with 350+ children every fortnight. We have an amazing team of story tellers, Laura, Maureen, Anne Thomas and Margaret. Again, we’re not sure when we will be able to return to the school but we’re praying that those children will not forget what they have heard.
J Club was still the best attended lunch time club, according to Mr Olden, the head teacher, who often came and sat in for the story. Rev. Marc Palmer, Anne Thomas and I ran it together. We usually had a game, a story, a memory verse and a craft all in 25 mins. It’s been a lovely time to just chat and get to know some of the children but also to talk just a little bit more about Jesus with them. We’re not sure when we will be able to resume J Club at the school but we have moved online! When the school closed, one of the teachers decided to start an on-line school magazine to keep the school community connected and asked if Marc and myself would be able to submit some ‘Church’ stuff! I have written three J Club sessions which have been included. What a privilege!
Children led collective worship - as you know I was asked by the head teacher to work with groups of children to plan and lead some whole school assemblies. This has happened four times over the last year. We’d spend a Friday afternoon with the children talking about their ideas. We’ve had the most beautiful conversations. They have written their own prayers, poems and dramas, which they then shared with the rest of the school the following week. Every time they have been amazing.
I am still a school governor, although my term is almost up and I am in the process of filling in the forms again. This has been a great opportunity to have a say about the Christian distinctiveness of the school, a responsibility I don’t take lightly.
Anne and I had been spending Friday afternoons listening to children read. This is something that the staff really appreciated as not all children get to read much at home. We also helped out in classes at other times as well.
I just want to share something that happened the last time I was in school.
I was asked to do an assembly. The whole Covid thing was hotting up and lots of the children and staff were very anxious. The theme for the week was ‘trust’ so I decided to tell the story about Jesus calling his disciples. They didn’t know what their future held but they knew that they could trust Jesus with their lives and I told the children that they could too. I then prayed a prayer from the Open the Book material:
‘Thank you God that we can trust you when we’re fearful and anxious. Wrap us up in your love and peacefulness. Amen’
I then prayed ‘The Blessing’ over them. You could hear a pin drop. The presence of God was in that hall and I really felt his peace. I believe that it was a divine moment. As I left the school the call came through that they had to close. It was their last assembly before ‘lock down’ and the children heard about trusting God, no matter what happens! Only God could have planned that.
Last summer we, along with Matthew and Abi, took 9 young people to NEWDAY, a Christian youth festival at the Norfolk Showground. This event attracts thousands young people from all over the UK and the world. NEWDAY is such a brilliant event offering activities for all ages and interests from; sports, to dance, music cafes, fun fair rides, creative spaces as well as morning sessions for the 12-14 years and 15-19 years. Each evening everyone gathers in the Big Top for a night of worship and an inspiring message.
As we have a small group of young people NEWDAY is a great opportunity to connect with other young people and be part of something much bigger than ourselves.
This landmark event gives our group time together forming friendships, we as leaders get chance to really engage with each young person individual and have a great time together.
This summer due to COVID-19 NEWDAY isn't happening, but Joel and Priscilla are launching Youth Alpha online so that we can create space to hang out and create a sense of community even though we are apart.
Our children's ministries have had to change dramatically over the last three months in a way that we couldn’t have even imagined, never mind planned for, but God has been gracious and has provided new ways to reach our community.
· Please pray for all the children and families that we have been in contact with over the years that they will remember what they have heard about Jesus and that they will turn to Him especially during these difficult times.
· Please pray for the staff and children at all the schools in Taverham and Drayton as they start to open up, that God will keep them safe.
· Please pray for our Puddles families that God will give us ideas about how we can safely be in contact with them again.
· Please pray for us as the Family and Children’s workers that God will give us fresh vision and inspiration for the online Kids Church, Messy Church and J Club. We want Him to speak through us to the families who read the emails and the school magazine.
· Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in our community.
· Pray for our young people as they gather online to do Youth Alpha.
Thank you for all your love, prayers and support. What we do is just a small part of a whole church effort and we can’t do any of it without you.
Andrew and Rachel - Family Workers