Thank you very much St Mary’s church for your prayers, support and encouragement over these past 35 years. This is greatly appreciated and it was lovely to be able to share again at your recent St Mary’s Evening. Thank you also for the opportunities at your Mission BBQ and the cards we receive from members. I am so very thankful for you and for your partnership in the gospel of Jesus.
Today 99% of children and young people are in our schools and this is one place where we have an opportunity to make Jesus known – that has been my heart, calling and passion and remains so today.
I started visiting local schools in September 1988 to help ‘make Jesus known’ as sadly most children and young people are not in our churches (in 1904 it was 56%, today it is 4-5%). This is my 36th year in our local schools and in that time there have been both a mix of very challenging times as well as many encouragements with conversations with children, young people, staff at occasions like school proms, sports days, productions and other events. One of the toughest occasions was when a mum asked me to read out her eulogy for her teenage daughter in 1996 who was a pupil at Newlands who sadly died. She would be in her 40s if she was still alive today. That was very tough!
‘Easter Cracked’ and ‘Christmas Unwrapped’ was the vision of the late Rev. Jem Sewell. The first event happened in March 1995. This has remained the most significant area I have been involved in as a school’s worker because of the way it has developed both locally, including starting at St Mary’s in 2012, and nationally. Currently 10 local churches are involved and over 40 schools.
For those who don’t know, one of the lessons I do is ‘People Jesus Met’ and part of that is sharing a rap written by three pupils who were at St Mary’s Church in the 1990’s (including Katie Croft). They wrote the rap, gave it to me and on this link is what I have been sharing in churches; schools and proms for over 30 years now.
Some of you at St Mary’s have been helping with ‘It’s your Move’ the sessions I do with year 6 children preparing to go to secondary school. We unpack the story of Jonah: Changes – Challenges – Choices and parallel this with the situation these pupils face in the lead up to moving schools in September. All pupils receive a free copy of the ‘It’s Your Move’ book (3300 last year including over 20 Maidenhead primary schools). We hope to do that again in June or July.
As I close, please may I ask for prayer for 3 things: 1) Christians in our schools every day and their witness there. 2) Christian groups in schools like ‘Revive’ at Newlands and ‘Chat and Chapel’ at Altwood. 3) Wisdom and sensitivity with ‘HAM’ (hanging around ministry). There are so many opportunities such as Exam Attack, Illuminate with LZ7 and Saintz, inter-school soccer sevens – please get in touch if you would like to know more. There is also an opportunity to make Jesus known via Lighthouse, which could start in a local school in July or August 2025 if there is sufficient interest from local churches. Thanks very much for your time. Take care. God bless.