David (Tabz) and Hettie Taberner, who work for SU Local Mission Partner SASW Trust in Southport, were among the first people to sign up as Faith Guides in 2020. Three years on, their work with schools is flourishing and they have three Grow Communities!
‘We were already connecting with young people in schools and helping them to explore faith,’ recalls Tabz. ‘But we wanted to help take them further on that journey. Being Faith Guides, using the Revealing Jesus mission framework and having support and advice from SU have all helped. And the schools want more and more of what we’re doing – we’ve got waiting lists!’
‘Yes, things are really happening,’ Hettie says, ‘For example, we host a wellbeing initiative, “Safe Space”, at five different schools on consecutive lunchtimes. Pupils can come and talk about life and faith, which is how we connected with three particular Year 7 girls. They then joined our After School club at that school to further explore faith.
‘Then they started helping out at Hero Academy Kids Club, an after school Grow Community for younger children which we hold at a local church. I’d say that was their response to faith. Finally, they joined our evening Youth Group at the same church – it’s a Grow Community for young people, mostly without church backgrounds, who have come to believe in God. So we’ve journeyed with them through all four stages of faith formation!
‘Youth Group starts with us all sitting down together for a meal, cooked by some lovely church volunteers. We ask the young people how their week has been, and they’ve really started to open up – it feels like a proper family catchup! Then we worship together, we pray together, we do Bible study – they read their Bibles at home too.
‘They’ve also started to invite their friends. Now we get up to ten young people a session!
‘One week, our theme was the Holy Spirit. We played some calm music and invited the group to sit and ask the Holy Spirit to come in. Afterwards, I asked if anyone wanted to share anything. A girl who was there for the first time said, “I was feeling really anxious, so I asked the Holy Spirit to fill me with peace – and he did!” Several of the group experience anxiety, so we regularly allow time for the Holy Spirit to move. They say they do that at home too now.’
A simple and sincere faith
Amazing things have been happening too at Hero Academy. Tabz says, ‘These younger children have such a simple and sincere faith – it’s awe-inspiring. They have prayed for healing and been healed. They’ve asked God direct questions and he’s answered them. One girl asked what his favourite animal was, and said God told her it was the eagle. She had no idea how prominent the eagle is in the Bible!’
The third Grow Community, Sweaty Church, is an after school club at a church primary school. Hettie says, ‘Recently, some Brazilian missionaries visited. The children asked them questions – how they became Christians, what their favourite Bible verses were, how to say phrases in Portuguese. Then the children gathered round these missionaries, put their hands on their shoulders and prayed out loud for them. It was so moving that the head teacher was almost in tears.
‘This generation don’t carry any baggage about spirituality – and what God is doing through all these children and young people is amazing and so beautiful!’
We’d be great together!
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