How we missed having holidays and missions in person in 2020! But thanks to your faithful support and with the determined efforts of many amazing volunteers, this summer things started getting back to a semblance of normality, enabling hundreds of children and young people to encounter the God who loves them!
At Polzeath Family Mission, SU Mission Enabler Toby Chant and others from the south west took on the organising, following on from former leaders Alison Withers and Matt Smith who stepped down after many years of faithful service.
"We wanted to focus on children and young people who don’t have a church connection."
‘It had its challenges!’ says Toby. ‘How do you plan when constraints keep changing? In the end, we decided to work within the existing restrictions as it was likely that these would be the worst-case scenario for the mission itself. However, that meant we could only accommodate 40% of the usual team, and half of that much reduced team was new. Thankfully the other half really knew the ropes!
‘We also had to change the activities. We couldn’t do the usual afternoon stage show because it might draw a crowd. Instead, we set up sports and activities spread out in small groups across the beach. It worked really well, particularly as we wanted to focus on children and young people who don’t have a church connection.
It meant that our team were able to chat with individual children and bring faith into the conversation naturally. We started building relationships that we can build on next summer, as most of the children and young people and their families come back to Polzeath every year.’
Each day started with Bible-based sessions for three different age groups. Toby says, ‘Initially, most of the children and young people coming to those sessions were from Christian families. But as we got to know other children we met at the beach activities, we invited them too, so the numbers coming to hear more about Jesus grew during the week
An openness to faith
‘Many of these children without church connections were so open to exploring faith. At one morning session we discussed the day of Pentecost and offered to pray for children individually. These youngsters wanted prayer too. On another day, we discussed God’s forgiveness. We invited the kids to take a stone from the beach, pray for forgiveness, and throw the stone far out into the sea as a sign that God would remember their sins no more. The children without church links took part just as enthusiastically as those from Christian families.
"The children without church links took part just as enthusiastically as those from Christian families"
A Tubestation volunteer was on the team and the 15 to 18s Bible sessions took place in the church garden, which was also where the church hosted a BBQ one evening. Toby recalls, ‘They had an impromptu worship session. As I looked around, I saw a lad in his early teens – we’d met him on the beach, invited him to the Bible sessions and he had come every day. Now here he was, absolutely transfixed, his eyes closed as he drank in the words and music – perhaps discovering for the first time that God is real.’
Looking ahead to next summer
If you’d like to volunteer to help on one of our 2022 holidays or missions, or to book a place for a young person you know, keep an eye out at su.org.uk/holidays-events.
Details of next year’s programme will be available soon after Christmas.
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