A Weekly Message during Lockdown – this week from St Peter’s Youth and Children’s Worker, Rachel McGirr
It is Rachel writing this week and I’m sending you all a very warm hello! I miss seeing you, which will make the time when we can meet again even sweeter. I’m grateful to John who gave me the opportunity to write this week’s message to you all. The following are some insights into the children’s and youth work since the pandemic and some things that have been encouraging and inspiring to me and I hope they encourage you too!
• Zoom: There’s weekly Zoom Risen which consists of a game + catch ups + prayers + a Bible study. We’re currently on the book of Romans in which Risen say they see repeated themes of God’s unfathomable grace and the need to trust Him. Remember the backdrop that these young people have experienced both a pandemic and the tragic loss of a peer in the summer. Their faiths are inspiring, and a big thank you to Matt and Julia – who were friends with 18 year old Emma too – and have supported and encouraged our youth to keep growing in their faiths, and most importantly praise God for working in this way and that Risen recognise His goodness.
There are also regular Zoom youth game/activity nights attended by youth from Youthie, St Petes families and Risen which have included activities based on; ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, ‘Bake alongs’ and ‘Disney’ and many other themes with optional dressing up some weeks (a funny one was when I dressed up as a Mario Brother – all for the sake of the children of course!!) We have also been invited to Zoom events with other Leeds and Bradford groups with fun activities, worship, teaching and response times where we’ve seen youth commit their lives to Jesus and speak prophetic words – awesome stuff!
Another great outreach opportunity was when Saltaire Primary were very accommodating to enable the annual Year 2 Christingles to be done via Zoom.
• Video broadcasting platforms like Facebook Live and Youtube: When we’re not having Picnic Church inside, me and a range of volunteers have literally been all-singing and dancing – and crafting and ‘gaming’ and teaching and praying and doing whatever we can and believe God has been putting on our hearts to aid all ages in connecting with and worshipping God! This has been through Family Worship, a monthly Messy Church video, Jesse Tree stories throughout December, toddler singalongs, at one point in time, and an online Crib service. I also made a church-wide ‘Project Inspire’ video at Easter full of examples of people, including children and young people, being ‘lights’ in the darkness and more stories could have been added since.
• Posting: Jessica has kindly continued leading Messy Church and See and Know which has included posting a monthly MC activity box and occasional gifts and treats for S&K families. These have been well received and sometimes guardians have said that they were delivered at the ‘perfect’ moment which seems like a ‘God thing’ to me! Many guardians of course have had a very tough road especially with redesigning home life around restrictions and home-schooling and trying to support children emotionally and spiritually whilst feeling scared, frustrated, lonely and many other emotions themselves. I’ve been inspired by their courage, diligence and constant care and love for their families, and serving others around them too if able to, including through volunteering with us and/or encouraging others in the faith. They are definitely God’s lights in the darkness whether they always feel like it or not.
The youth have also received occasional ‘pick me up’ boxes which might support a Zoom activity but also posting has helpfully enabled us to keep connected with some youth who find Zoom calls hard.
In December, the Ashmoor nursery manager warmly said that she looks forward to when we can do ‘lovely’ activities together again and she allowed us to gift every child with a Christmas storybook!
TLG gifted us funds and guidance to make ‘Boxes of Hope’ which are food parcels with activities for families in need and we haven’t been inundated with requests but have been able to bless several families we already have contact with as well as a couple of others through a local school.
• Early Intervention: Over the years we have seen that children coached really do benefit from one to one ‘cheerleading’ from a caring adult which normally lasts a year. Our coaches have faithfully kept supporting pupils whether by socially distanced coaching when able to, or remote coaching through calls and post. The 14th February is the deadline to apply for the next TLG coach training (online) and more training will be in April. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a coach, you can watch a video about it here and do get in touch with me to talk about your interest.
• Outside Activities: At Christmas there was the Jesse Tree, Christmas star project and a Nativity Trail which many families walked past and enjoyed seeing and participating in. I also had the odd amusing and good conversation with passersby about the strange and wonderful Jesse Tree items families made associated with people in Jesus’ genealogy!
A huge thank you to many who have helped and/or prayed. There are plenty of opportunities still for volunteers including many behind the scenes tasks these days (like delivering, activity prepping, admin and sharing ideas), please contact me if interested in volunteering in some way (and please pray about it!) and I’m open to your ideas for activities and supports too! I will leave you with a sneak peek prayer Mandy says in this week’s family worship service, after she wrote on a butterfly picture things she would like God’s help with. This is my prayer for all the above things I’ve mentioned and associated situations; as well as, I’m sure, a relevant prayer for all of our lives always and especially during these times.
With my love and prayers,
Dear Jesus, these things on my butterfly are the things that are on my heart today and I bring them to You, and I ask that You would transform them like You did with the water into wine, and I leave them with You now. Amen.