social spark Aisling Beatha: Getting The Full Attention of a Room Full of 15 Year olds

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Getting The Full Attention of a Room Full of 15 Year olds

This is my day nine post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.


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Last week I did 3 assemblies for Operation Christmas Child at a local secondary school.  It is the 4th year and I didn't know how to make this assembly different than the previous years.  In the end a teaching assistant at a local primary school came to the rescue when he wrote a shoebox rap for us.  A group of children at the secondary school performed it as a poem to camera and I was able to share this with the whole school.

On Thursday I was to have only the year 11 group in for assembly.  As the oldest students in school, I wanted to change the assembly up a bit to give them a bit more of an age appropriate challenge to get involved.  As they were entering the room I got an indication of how tough some of them were going to be as an audience when I heard one girl say to another "Oh no, it's her again."

So I ran through all the stuff about how to pack a shoebox and what to put it in and then I said this:

I understand that You are all looking forward this year.  Planning your futures, looking forward to college or even thinking about university eventually.  And I understand that a project like this might seem far removed from your lives, but I want you to put yourself in the place of a group of young people who received shoeboxes from us a few years ago.

I want you to imagine that you are your age and living in a large polluted industrial city in Eastern Europe.  You have no family left, for whatever reason, except maybe a younger brother or sister you have to look after.  You're homeless so you sleep on the streets, finding whatever shelter you can.  You beg during the day for food or money or maybe pick up some casual jobs that are messy and dirty and pay a pittance.

Then things begin to change in that city and gangs of adults decide they are going to "clean up the streets" and now armed and violent gangs are on the streets at night and you don't know if you will wake up in the morning.  So, you make the only decision you can and that is to sleep in the sewers.  You find a manhole cover, open it up and climb down into the sewers.  You find a dry ledge above the water line and that is where you will sleep from now on.

Because that is a group of young people who received shoeboxes from us a few years ago.  Young people who don't have a bright future to look forward to.  Young people just like you who have no hope, who think they are forgotten, who think that no one cares.  And your gift, your shoebox, can communicate to them that someone, somewhere around the world knows about them, knows and has not forgotten, and cares.  You have the opportunity to send that message with a simple gift.

And I tell you, the whole room, every single one of them was quiet and thinking, I had their full attention, not a one was fidgeting, not a one was talking, not a one was ignoring me, every single one of them heard that story and listened.

Young people are not uncaring, they do want to help, they just need things presented to them in a way that they can relate to!

Come back later in the month for the story I finished my assemblies with this year, about how these gifts might not be to people you will NEVER meet and why it's important to include a photograph in your shoebox.


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1 comment:

  1. That is amazing. I'm so glad the Lord spoke through you to them, to their hearts.

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