Monday, June 24, 2013

Children's Ministry Experts

Since coming back to work, I have been blessed to work alongside brilliant children’s ministry experts. It has been a pleasure to team up with them, in their environments, and watch them shine.

On April 22, I spent the morning with Lilydale Academy Chaplain Hayden Petersen. After speaking to the High School students for chapel, Hayden and I chatted for over an hour. If you’ve met Hayden, you have most likely experienced his creativity, passion and heart for the Gospel. My boys both attend Hayden’s school and have a deep respect for him. Thank Hayden!

On April 27, I helped Katherine Darroch run a workshop for parents at Victoria’s Adventurers Camporee. I am always impressed and inspired by Katherine’s Ministry. I have been blessed by her assistance many times over the past few years. This was my first time assisting Katherine! Again, I was amazed at Katherine’s excellent organizational skills. I have so much belief in Katherine and her abilities that I recommended her to replace me while I was away on sick leave. When I returned to work, I resigned from the Children’s Ministry directorship and Katherine continued. I believe, Katherine has been raised up for such a time as this!

From April 29-May 3, I joined Sheri Gray and Anthony MacPherson, chaplains at Victoria’s new school Gilson-Mernda, for the school’s first Week of Worship. Each morning, the children (most of whom are not Christian) sang songs of worship and I told them stories about people who met Jesus and the impact He had made on them. Our theme for the week was, “I Want to See Jesus!” I was so impressed to watch the ministry of Sheri and Anthony. Their impact in the lives of these children has just begun and already the kids love and respect them. It is clear why - they have a heart for the children!

During the next week, I visited the other Gilson campus for both High School chapels (Monday) and both Primary School chapels (Friday). With nearly 800 students, the Chaplains at Gilson have their work cut out for them! Mau Tuaoi and Chrissie Cooper are the chaplains to the High School students and Samantha Ridley chaplains the primary students. I had a long chat with Samantha and Chrissie on the Monday and was overwhelmed with the immensity of the task and impressed with their passion to meet it head-on! 

In the final week of May, I had the joy of visiting Prescott Southern Primary School in Adelaide. I had been invited over by school chaplain Lili Panozzo. Each morning I spoke twice - first to the younger kids, then to the older kids - for their Week of Worship. On the Sabbath morning, I gave a final presentation for the students, their parents and the church family of the Morphett Vale Church. During the week, I was amazed by Lili’s ministry. She has been chaplain there for six years and her connection to the families and community are very evident. The kids call out to Lili from across the playground and she calls back. They are like a big family. I owe particular thanks to Lili for the relationship she formed with my daughter Rachael, whom I had taken to Adelaide with me. They became fast friends and Rachael still talks about Lili. Thanks Lili! In Lili’s office I noticed a stack of unopened nappies. I made a joke about them and she told me the story. This stack was only the remnant of thousands of nappies which were once piled here. she had been giving nappies away to new parents for years. Lili is connected, from birth to graduation - and beyond!

This last weekend I joined a fantastic team in Canberra for the SNSW Conference Adventurer Fun Day. And what a fun day it was! I was absolutely blown away by this event.  The theme was “Jesus is the light of the world.” The kids were colour-coded in five groups and rotated through activity areas. I was looking after one of the areas where I blindfolded the kids and told them the story of the man born blind. In the middle of the day we had an absolutely delicious lunch. There was a worship service at the beginning and end of the day in which I told a story. Even though I totaled 7 stories told by the end of the day, my part was simple compared to the organizational gymnastics required to make the day run smoothly. That was the task of SNSW Children’s Ministry Director Andrew McCrostie. The sheer number of volunteers and the excellence of each was impressive. Then, watching them work like a well-oiled machine was beautiful. Such teamwork and expertise can only be the result of consistent and faithful leadership. Well done Andrew, and team. A big thanks to Andrew and Jossee for looking after Rachael and I for the weekend. You are truly generous hosts!

So, home once again, I am encouraged as I reflect on the excellence of ministry to children that I have witnessed in the past few months. May God continue to bless each of these people as they continue to change the world - one child at a time!

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