On Sunday we were back on the road and travelled back to Norfolk to be part of East Norfolk Youth For Christ’s youth event. We were working with Joys sister Ali Roberts and Unite youth working Matt Irwin during the day ready for an evening with the young people of the area. Their theme for the events is Planes, Trains and Auto mobiles and we were able to take the theme of Planes for our event. We knew there could potentially be not many Christian kids there so we planned to fit in our own songs so that they could get to know Tastes music. The group was a great bunch who were really interested in getting involved in our music and with the quizzes we did with them. I also shared my testimony and was interviewed by Andy about how in my life there has been a bit of turbulence which has felt like my ‘flight’ has been a bit bumpy but I shared that I have been getting through the turbulence with the help of God.
The venue for the event was upstairs in Park Baptist Church; upstairs meant we had to carry all our equipment to the venue! We found they had a lift and so it worked well on the way up although it was still a bit of a struggle. After the event we had a group of really amazing helpers who were transporting items up and down the stairs. It was going really well until the final load going down in the lift. The lift decided that it was tired and so began to move down, managed to get about an inch away from where it started, and then jammed to a holt. Unfortunately because the lift had already began to move, the doors at both the top and bottom where also locked because of safety reasons. This meant that some of our most important gear (like the multicore) was stuck in the lift! We had to continue to load the van with the stuff we had already managed to get downstairs, but there was a slight thought that without that stuff stuck in the lift, we would be unable to do our day in school the next day! God was great and we managed to unlock the doors and sort it out, meaning within half an hour everything was in its rightful place and we were able to be back on the road towards Lowestoft where Josh, Reece, Elliemae and myself were staying in my house with my wonderful family.
It was time to start our week in Benjamin Britten High School! How exciting for me because Benji was indeed my high school where I left back in 2011. I admit I was slightly over excited about going back and seeing my teachers again! An early start saw us in the school by 6:45. We had managed to get to use the drama studio which was the perfect venue in the school for us because of the space! We were setting up and I was remembering sitting on the seats listening to assemblies! Where as this week I would be part of leading the assemblies with my team! Over the course of the week, the school has an assembly each morning, one for each year. Our first group that we were to be seeing during the week was the year 11s.
Usually the way things work with Taste being invited into schools is that the local churches invite us in to work with them and they get us into the schools through their contacts. However, this week was a slightly different arrangement. My brother and sister are part of the school CU and of course, having a sister part of a Christian band who tour schools, they were desperate to get us in so that they could see their friends’ lives impacted. My brother went to the Deputy Head, David Park, and asked whether it would be possible for us to come in for a week. God was definitely in it because they managed to organise it all and we were invited in to the school by the school! It was great to have the students from the CU behind us from day one; such a lovely group of people! A big thanks to my brother James for all of his work towards sorting the week for us; you’re a star!
Throughout this week we had been asked to do some different lessons to what we have been used to. One of which was for us to be part of some year 10 and 11 Social Ethics lessons where were were going to be asked some questions about what we believe on certain topics. We split the group in half; Joy, Reece and Elliemae were in a lesson where they thought the focus would be on what Christians believe about blood transfusions and organ transplants. Andy, Josh and I were in a different two lessons where they were going to be focussing on conflict, bullying and war. The lessons were very challenging (but in a good way!) because we were placed on the hot seat in some ways. Some of the questions were difficult, some were easier, but it was a good opportunity for the older years to ask us anything that they had been wondering about the Christian faith. We stressed that for some opinions it is only SOME Christians who believe that idea, and I hope that it won’t have just helped them in their preparation for their exams but also in their views on Christianity in their own life.
The other lesson which we used throughout the week was looking at song writing and focussing on the story of the Prodigal Son. At Benji they have 100 minute lessons which provides us with a good amount of time to teach them. During their time in the lower years in the lower years in the school, the students are expected to have CBC ( Competence Based Curriculum ) lessons which is where they use music and drama to teach other lessons. We mainly had year 7 and 8 during the week for these lessons.
We began the lesson with a couple of Taste songs, and then we introduced one of our Taste songs called Hold Me. It is a ballad talking about how a guy Andy and Joy met felt so alone because he was missing his mothers love in his life after she had left the family. He turned to Heroine for comfort and he ended up living on the streets. All he wanted was to feel his mothers arm around him. Andy and Joy explained to him that Gods love is unfailing and God will never leave him. We told this story to the classes, and explained what happens in the verses before we sang it to them. In some classes it was very touching to see that some of the young people were singing along to the chorus.
I need to feel your arms around me
I want to know that you are there
I need to feel your love surrounding me
And showing me you care
The idea was then for us to take groups and to read the story of the Prodigal Son to them and to get them to act it out within their groups to that they understood the story. The story of the Prodigal Son is similar to the story of Hold Me, because the son was missing the love of his Father when he had gone away from him and he wanted to be back in his arms. They acted the story out really well and it sparked ideas for us to use when it came to writing some lyrics which could be performed in a rap, song or poem. Each group I had was different which made it really exciting doing those lessons. Each time I had a great bunch of girls who came up with some really brilliant ideas for lyrics. It took a lot of courage for them to perform them to the class but each one I was so impressed with! One group even came up with a tune and sang their song. It really made them think about how the characters were feeling during the story and I made sure that I stressed how the Father had forgiven the Son for what he had done wrong and he accepted him back as his son again.
We had a really good response from these lessons and a few comments were made that the pupils had really enjoyed our lessons. Some of my old teachers also came and thanked me personally and told me how great it was to see me there! My brother James even managed to get an extra two lessons for us on Thursday so we were able to have some more questions such as our views on Abortion, Homosexuality, what we do as a daily routine as a Christian and many more!
Lunchtimes were really fun for us. We stayed in the drama studio during lunchtime but by the end of the week we had gathered a big group of a mixture of year groups who wanted to see us perform a couple of songs. We even got them involved in the intros and adverts quiz to entertain them! This time with the pupils at lunch time also offered us the time to spend with them getting to know them more personally; some of them even had a go on the instruments and we had a performance from a young lady with a beautiful singing voice! I think the time with them during that hour each day was really valuable and when it came to the concert on Friday night, pretty much everyone who had been joining us at lunch time showed up to support us.
When it came to the concert we really had no idea who would be tuning up as often the students say they want to come but they actually can’t make it. We were praying before the concert on Friday night and rumours were that there was already at 6:45 a big queue to get in forming outside! We ended up getting around 125 who came to the concert; one of our biggest this year! The atmosphere was incredible. The screams as we came on were literally hurt my ears! Friday night was an AMAZING way to end the week in the school. They were all on the dance floor having such a good time. Some girls were actually so close to me that I was worried that they would knock the microphone into my mouth when they jumped! Josh shared his testimony which I really hope spoke into their lives. I was excited to see quite a few year 11s who had come; often we attract the young years to gigs (judging by who we have had coming to our gigs so far this year) but this time there was quite a few of the older years who came! The whole atmosphere in the drama studio was buzzing and we were so pumped after such a fantastic night! Thank you God!
We had to say goodbye to Elliemae on Friday night as she headed back to Essex ready for a meeting about her mission trip to Sri Lanka with her church on Saturday. Me and the boys were buzzing after we got back to my house, but the next morning we were going to have to be up reasonably early to go and set up at Christ Church in Great Yarmouth ready for Unites (East Norfolk Youth For Christ’s) AGM where we would be leading worship. It was great to be working with Ali and Matt again and to see some familiar faces, and to be back in a church where I used to be part of the Springboard worship team which was a youth service happening once a month a few years ago. The AGM was very encouraging and I was able to thank Unite for their contribution to my GAP year this year.
We had a very funny moment when we turned up at the venue only to find that it wasn’t actually Christ Church… we had infact walked into the town hall!
Our final event of the week was on Sunday night at Christ Church in Lowestoft. They had been brilliant in supporting us financially in our week at BBHS. They have an evening service at 6:30pm and so we headed there at 1:30pm ready to set up. A few years ago I actually went to that church so it was rather strange being back in a familiar building where I had been brought up in Sunday School! We were under the impression that they would be expecting quite a few people that evening. We planned to look at the story of the Prodigal Son and to do it similarly to how we did ID Worship in Gorleston two weeks ago. We kicked off the evening with myself and Andy presenting the adverts game and then we did our song Freerunner because that is what the follow up group at Benjamin Britten was going to be named after. Christ Churchs’ youth worker Markus really wants to follow up from what we have achieved in the school during our week there and so wants to create a group where the pupils who have questions can come and get some answers. Please pray that the group will be fruitful and they will be bursting with questions!
We led some worship and Reece shared his testimony which was very touching again! Josh spoke about the Unconditional Love that God has for us and talked about the Prodigal Son again, using the song Hold Me as an illustration and my brother James read the passage from Luke over a Hold Me instrumental. It was very powerful!
It would be really cool to pray for this new group starting in Benjamin Britten High School this week. Thank God that He provided us the way to get into the school and there has been so much positive feedback based on how well this school went..from both students and teachers! I absolutely loved being able to be back in my old high school and to have such an impact like we have done!