30 May 2018
Last week I stood with my four year old son in front of his school class and said, “We believe that the Bible is absolutely true” before reading them a Bible story and teaching them the song “My God is so Big.” For the sake of my son, his classmates and his teachers, I’m so grateful that I was given this chance. In case you ever get a similar opportunity, let me tell you how this happened.
My children’s school is not a faith school; it’s an inner-city, multicultural state school. My son is one of two white British children in his class. Last week they were celebrating “International Week”, and each parent was invited to come in and talk to the class about their family’s culture. The children heard talks from a Russian/American family, a Swedish/Italian family, a Portuguese family and a Polish family.
So what could I talk about? We’re very English. We could talk about the weather. We could talk about football. But what is our culture, really? We’re English Christians. We’re Christians, who happen to be English. So that’s what I told them.
I made a giant timetable of our week, so that I could talk to the children about our routines, the types of food we eat and what we like to do at the weekends.
As you can see, I am not the best artist. I could have done with some white card and bigger writing. However, this is what I used and the children loved it.
I talked them through our week, saying things like, “When we eat our dinner, we thank God for our food because we believe God gives us our food.” I explained what we do during Bible times and when we’re praying for people. I kept explaining why we do these things, “We read the Bible because we believe that the Bible is true, and that God speaks to us when we read it.”
I explained that, “We pray for Christians in other countries where it’s dangerous to be a Christian, because we believe God can help those people.”
I told them, “We pray because we believe God listens to our prayers.”
I took with me the book, The Storm that Stopped. I said, “This is a story taken from the Bible, and so we believe it’s absolutely true.”
I chose this book because it’s a story about Jesus, it’s a super engaging story and it’s beautifully illustrated. I skipped some bits to make it shorter. The children were completely transfixed.
In my experience, if you hold the children’s attention, the teacher will be happy. I was very conscious that I was there to serve the teacher and the children, so I asked her afterwards if she was happy with what I had done. She loved the whole thing, and said it was wonderful!
In the question time, I was expecting questions about teeth-brushing or scooters. Instead I was asked, “How did Jesus stop the storm?” and “Why was Jesus asleep during the storm?” I was pleased that I had thought about the Bible passage beforehand, as that second question is actually quite hard! But don’t be put off. If you are reading this, then I’m almost certain you can do it too. It doesn’t matter if you’re shy or quiet. Just be yourself. You might need to practice a few times in front of your bedroom mirror. I did. That was odd.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” Colossians 4:5-6
So if you get an invitation to read a traditional story from your culture or to read your favourite story or to tell us about your family or to taste your culture’s food or indeed almost anything else, then consider whether you can talk about Jesus. Because he is the most important part of your culture. This might be the only time those children are told about him; at least from a Christian who is trusting in him.
My top tips from a total amateur:
Pray for the children and for the adults there that you would make the most of the opportunity.
Prepare well, in the time you have. I’d have liked more time, but I did what I could.
Use a story with good pictures if possible, and practice reading it. The more enthusiastic you are, the better. You’ll feel silly, but that’s how to engage a young audience.
Show respect to the school by sticking to the brief and checking that they are happy.
Pray, and ask your church to pray. And let them know how it went!
Guest blog by Catherine Brooks.
Catherine lives in central London with her husband and four children. She blogs about Biblical parenting at muminzoneone.com
For tips on how to encourage your children to invite their friends to church click here.
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