This last term we have been studying how Saul became Paul and how his life changed after an encounter with Jesus. We had 5 meetings to cover this subject and so split the story into sections that were short enough for us to communicate well and learn from. Each session would build upon those gone before and we would remind the group each week what had happened so far.
Each session has a main teaching objective. This really helps us focus on one simple truth and for the sessions to flow from one to the other even though each one is taught by a different person. It looks a bit like this…
image from http://www.gardenofpraise.com
- Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:1-19) “Only God can change your behaviour.”
- Paul’s life is in danger (Acts 9:20-26) “Working for God can be unpopular.”
- Paul travels to spread the Good News (Acts 13:1-3) “Working for God can be demanding.”
- Paul’s plans change (Acts 16:1-18) “Working for God can be different from what we planned.”
- Paul’s jailor hears the Good News. (Acts 16:19-34) “Working for God can be surprising.”
Then each person leading is given free reign to present it and teach it how they want. We all use pictures on the big screen, drama or puppets and have one of our group read from the Easy English version of the Bible. Our prayer trees and bowls (http://wp.me/p2MVJu-8b ) are working really well and more and more of our group are speaking or contributing personally to prayer times.
So we have learned that when we encounter Jesus we are changed. We heard testimony to this and gave an invitation to accept Jesus like Paul did. We learned what the word ‘persecution’ means. We looked at Syria and how Christians are being persecuted there and we prayed for Syria. We saw how Paul was put in prison for his faith and how he sang praises to God even in that situation. We then learned about an Iranian man who is in prison right now for his faith. We learned about how he had written a letter full of praise for God from his prison cell and we prayed for him too.
On a practical front, our members are getting involved in serving and often offering to step in if someone hasn’t turned up. They are inviting their friends (we’ve had to ask for another large table to be set up for our meeting) and we have arranged a Makaton training day at the end of March with Prospects (www.prospects.org.uk) This training day is open to everyone, not just leaders and we have had a fantastic response. It’s going to be a great day.
I have been interested for a while in setting up a North West Network so churches who have children and adults with disabilities can come together, share good practice, support each other and find ways of helping other churches through training and resources. With that in mind I tagged along to Through the Roof’s (www.throughtheroof.org) Liverpool Disability Network to see how it all works. They are having a special day in April where they are asking churches to come and see what inclusive church looks like and how they can find support for their church to become more inclusive. It will be hosted by the Network and L’Arche in Liverpool and some of our Good News Group will be going along to share some of what we do.
Other exciting news is that we have been invited to do a presentation to pastoral assistants from our diocese about including adults with learning disabilities in church. Bob and I as leaders and are going to share our story and passion about how people with learning disabilities can be part of every church.
We prayed for opportunities to reach out and help other churches at our last team meeting and here we are. God is good and is opening doors for us. I am so glad we already feel part of a network across the country (mainly in the Additional Needs Alliance – check them out on FB (https://www.facebook.com/groups/additionalneedsalliance/ ) & Twitter
We hope and pray we can link with other passionate people in our area to develop a support and equipping ministry for adults, children and families to get a better welcome and inclusion in our churches.