Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I was wondering if you would consider serving in kid’s encounter this year.

The above line is from an email I received from Kristen back in February, asking me to help out at Cession Church’s children’s group, and my immediate thought was this:


Despite having helped to take cubs camping in England, shown cartoons in orphanages in Romania, helped lead a Youth Fellowship group in Twickenham, helped teach illiterate kiwi kids on a camp in Arapohue, puppeteered for them in Auckland schools, worked as a schoolteacher in Highland Park for over a year, and, oh yes, actually been a kid for most of the last 36 years, they are still not my preferred company.

Still, I knew the pattern of these challenges from God. I’m invited to do something I’ve never really done before. I accept. I worry. I have to work hard to make it happen, even though I’d much rather back out of it. I bite the bullet. It goes brilliantly. And afterwards I make certain that I credit this to God.

Oh, and somewhere along the line I pray, too.

So, although I couldn’t really grab the passion for it, I figured it would still be a good experience and add another string to my bow. Setting the process in motion, I replied positively and volunteered. By April I’d been assigned a definite day for my first outing as a ‘Creative Communicator’ – October 21st, 6 months away.

Whew! With any luck my whole life in NZ would crash down around me well before then, and I’d never have to actually go through with it.

Well, today was the day, and as is so often the way, God made me fight to do something that I might rather have run away from.

I’ve had a bad back for a couple of weeks, so I could have easily used that as an excuse to cancel, but that’s just not the way I crumble cookies, so I left my flat for the church.

Next I missed my bus. Boy, now I really wanted to phone ahead and blame my no-show on this, but instead I sat there waiting the half-hour for the next one. Of course, I’d procrastinated all week with regards to the prep work that I was supposed to have done by now, so with a half-hour unexpectedly free, I sat there at the bus stop busily cutting the text for the story out and pasting it onto the back of the pictures that I would be showing to illustrate it.

When I finally walked in about six minutes before I was supposed to start, Megan (regular kids’ leader who I’d be doing this with) greeted me with a big smile and said she’d thought I wasn’t coming. Well, that of course implied that she had been all ready to do the thing without me anyway, so that was another opportunity to pike out, but I didn’t. I quickly used those few remaining minutes to shovel some food inside of me, then gritted my teeth, and strode in, knowing full well the reputation that kids the world over have for never doing what they’re told.

I’m used to having authority in my own classroom at the school where I work, but that’s usually with adults. Here I was entering territory where these kids were perfectly at home, but I was unfamiliar. Perhaps I was overthinking the whole thing.

Still, as if to prove the point, we kicked-off with some songs to a cassette, which they all knew the actions for, but I didn’t, so I had no choice but to simply follow them.

Then we moved onto some songs for which no-one knew any actions, so I had to make some up. Suddenly those who were taking part were all deciding to follow my lead.

The irony about this - the only worship session that I’ve ever led – was that I was very quickly feeling at home. Jumping up and down and doing actions to music was something that I really hadn’t expected to be doing… and yet it was extremely similar to the aerobics classes I’ve attended.

There were a few kids who didn’t want to take part, and this seemed to be normal, so I didn’t pressurize them.

This would be an appropriate point to mention that I spent a lot of this evening glancing over at Megan in order to check what ‘normal’ was here. Although as the guest ‘Creative Communicator’ I was supposed to be driving proceedings, she was the one who seemed to be continually cleaning up after me, in terms of retrieving kids who ran away from the group, and filling in the blanks about exactly what I should be doing next. It seemed to me that I had the cushy deal, while she was the one doing all the real work.

And they were a bit of a rowdy bunch, although not really troublesome. Just before the end however, they all fell dead silent. The closing item was the story Kristen had given me to tell them.

As I produced the pictures and began to read the text that I had so painstakingly glued to the backs of them at the bus stop, a complete and total hush descended upon the room. Even Megan was now getting to sit-down too, with no-one to run after and fetch back, and holding one of the kids next to her as that seemed to calm them down. I really had to be impressed at the effectiveness of the words that I had been given to say. The story was one that spoke to me personally, (I admit I hadn’t even pre-read it at home) and you literally could have heard a pin drop.

And then, after the final prayer, it was over. One of the kids spotted that I had the story and the prayer written down for me, and that I had in fact just been reading it. They seemed to think that I had on some level therefore been misleading them, but I happily showed them all the notes I had been working from. One thing that I do feel quite strongly about is not patronising them. They might be doing this stuff themself one day.

Afterwards I thanked Megan for all her help, honestly stating “I couldn’t have done it without you”, and we tidied up.

I felt it had gone extremely well, they seemed to have had a good time, and while my words to Megan had been truthful, I was in no doubt about who I reckoned had really looked after us all that evening.


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