It was that time of the year! I was so excited about journeying back to my old high school Benjamin Britten for another schools week this year. Last year I absolutely loved being there, seeing old teachers, witnessing to people who recognised me and seeing the amazing things God did throughout that week, and I was anticipating just as much fun this year!
So to kick start the week we led the worship at Lowestoft Community Church for the two morning services. It was great to be back amongst familiar faces as I had been involved in a youth cell group there several years ago and been to Newday with the youth for a couple of years back in 2009. LCC is Paul’s home church so it was great for him to be there with his church family. The services were both so encouraging to us as a team, and they all prayed for us and for the week ahead. I had also been struggling with a pulled muscle in my leg and as one of the Elders heard about it, he asked for people to pray that it would be healed and within that same day by knee was feeling so much better and by the next morning it was practically back to normal! Thank you Jesus!
After spending the afternoon with some lovely friends Phil and Heather Stoddart, we went home for an early night as the following morning promised a very early start! Our aim was to be at the school by 6:30am, which meant the alarm was set for 5am! Ouch!
Each morning during the week we had it planned that we would be taking the assemblies for each year group. We started the week with Monday morning year 11 assembly and sang 2 of our songs to them and told them who were were. It was great because most of the school saw us last year and therefore remembered us and some of our songs.
And also, this week in Benji was slightly different to the other schools weeks we do. Instead of our normal lessons we use on forgiveness/friendship/definition of a Christian etc we had a lesson written for this school specifically from last year which we were asked to do again. Their lessons last 100 minutes at Benji, and also the year 7s are part of a programme called CBC ) Competency Based Curriculum. We had used the historical story of how ‘Minstrels’ would wander around the towns, telling the local news or stories through songs, and we compared that to telling stories in some of our songs. Looking at the story of Hold Me, we shared that and then sang it to them. We then took a bible story, the story of the Lost Son, and told it to them in groups, and asked them to act out the story to gain a better understanding of the feelings and actions that went on with the particular characters. We then discussed these feelings and actions and encouraged them to, like the song Hold Me, create their own rap/poem/song based on the Prodigal Son story.
I had remembered how amazing that lesson was last year and it was really exciting to have the opportunity to tell them and discuss so deeply this Bible story. The other Tasties all took groups and were great at helping them to be creative. Some of the songs/raps were really good, with beats or tunes or there were just the spoke words which were also really powerful. I would then explain to them the significance of the story, that it is a parable which is a story with a meaning. I said how Jesus wants to illustrate to us that God is like the Father in that story, and whenever we mess up and make mistakes, we can still come back to him, because he loves us with a never ending love, and he will welcome us back into his arms just like the Father in the story does to the Son.
I am really praying that the story from the Bible will have spoken to some of the pupils in those classes. It is an amazing message that I would hope would change their life!
The other side of the week was to do some year 10/11 lessons basically getting questioned about our opinions as Christians about certain topics. We would be given groups of 4/6 and the students were encouraged to ask us questions about our faith and some of the topics which often came up were abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, creation, church, marriage. I often found myself quite out of my depth, because I wasn’t even completely sure what I believed on some of the questions, because they were topics with so many answers and so many opinions! Some groups tended to be a lot quieter, some with more burning questions. Even though I had been part of lessons like these last year it was still quite a scary thing to enter in to! I rose to the opportunity of sharing testimony as much as possible. Particularly about questions like divorce, healings and suffering. They all really listened to me when I explained what I felt and one of them even looked like I had stirred some emotion when I was talking about cancer and the goodness of God through the situation.
Every lunch time we attracted a large number of pupils to the drama studio, from all year groups, who wanted to come and spend time with us and hear some more of our songs. Each lunch time we did 2 Taste songs and also had time for some quizzes, which my sisters group seemed to win every one of them! It was great fun building the relationships with the lunch time group especially, as they kept coming back each day and they were also familiar faces from last year who had come and seen us play.
Friday night was the concert! I was anticipating it to be a great night with loads of people like last year. This was actually our first gig in a school after a schools week so it was brilliant for the new guys to experience it and be part of such a great night! We had a few people come in from LCC to help with the running of the evening which we were all so grateful for. The kids came and we think there were around 70 young people there that evening which was amazing. I was also so thankful that my whole family, even little Matthew, were able to come and see me in action! We had a BRILLIANT night on friday night, the students loved getting involved with our songs. I was given the opportunity to share my testimony, which I didn’t do last year at Benji. They all really listened to me and I made sure I was really open and honest but also wanted to get the point across that they are not alone in their situation, God is the perfect Father and he will never let us go. I got a massive cheer as I finished and then we went into our song called Always. Andy also shared the message towards the end of the evening and said they could make a decision to follow Jesus. We finished with our newest song called Turn Back, which talks about the chance we have to turn our life around, even when we make mistakes, it’s not too late to make a change.
I was so thankful for the way we were received last week in Benji. We had been praying for the school because of the hard time both the staff and pupils had been having recently and as we left on the friday night after the concert, one of the cleaners came up to me and told me how much of an impact we had had on them this week, and that having us here had changed the atmosphere and brought a breath of fresh air to the place. It made me so happy to know that God was using us in ways we weren’t even expecting!!
And so to finish the week off, we headed to Cliff Park Community Church on Sunday morning to lead the worship there. My amazing home church! It was a privilege to lead the service and also to have my brother playing with Taste that morning too. Thank you for your encouragements and support my wonderful home church! It was great to be with you all again.