On Sunday evening the youth team and I arrived home from a weekend in Wokingham. I had about 7 different colours of nail polish splashed all over my nails. My shoes were muddy, my hair grubby and my eyelids heavy… but my heart was full!
Together with youth ministers from 5 neighbouring churches, the youth ministry team at Christ Church and I took 50 young people age 10 to 14 away for a new residential weekend. We called it The Big Weekend Away.
We had two aims for the Big Weekend Away: to have loads of fun together, building relationships across the local area, and to provide young people with an opportunity to spend quality time with God, knowing the lasting impact it has on our lives.
We certainly had lots of fun together. The young people were given the opportunity to have a go on high ropes, crate staking or archery. As well as that, we played a homemade version of paint balling, involving science lab coats, water pistols and bucket loads of paint! In between sessions and main activities, we played wide games, painted nails, decorated t-shirts, played table tennis and much more. At one point on Saturday evening I walked in to discover an impromptu disco. The young people had plugged their music in, turned it up and were busting out their best dance moves. It was heart-warming to see how comfortable and confident they were in each other’s company.
In the main sessions, we followed a series on Joshua and Caleb. In the first session we looked at the whole Bible in 10 minutes (!), giving the young people a context for where Joshua and Caleb fit into God’s bigger story. The other three sessions were called ‘Whole hearted & fearless’, ‘A leader made in God’s presence’ and ‘Steadfast to the end’.
The weekend was significant spiritually. After spending much of the weekend talking about what it means to follow God, on the final morning the young people were given the opportunity to give their lives to Jesus. We think between 25 to 30 young people responded! I took the young people outside to find a quiet spot where we could pray. There, gathered around a picnic bench shivering in the chill of the breeze, I had the privilege of leading these young people in a prayer of commitment to Jesus. Some of the young people who responded have been coming to our outreach groups for the last two and a half years. I could have cried with joy!
Church family, thank you so much for all that you invest in young people. Few people get to see, as clearly as I do, the fruit of your investment – of the money you give, the prayers you say, the interest you show and the time you spend with young people – but please know that God is working powerfully in their lives.
With much love and thanks, Fiona Green (Youth minister)