Trish Hahn, our Regional Coordinator for SEND Messy Churches sent us this blog. If you’d llike to get in touch with Trish, you can contact her on email@example.com
Saturday 19 September will see the very first Special Educational Needs & Disabilities Messy Church Essex style. (Who needs Gangnam Style when you have Essex Style?) Those of you who are involved in Messy Church in a leadership role will understand the high level of prayer and planning which goes into the preparation of Messy Church on a monthly basis.
My hubby and I have spent twelve difficult months seeking the Lord in prayer, overcoming many obstacles on the way and becoming a family of five from four last December. We have required large dollops of (dark) humour through the ups and downs of our new life in ministry within a community characterised by some of the highest rates of poverty, disability, unemployment, crime, drugs and social deprivation in the UK.
Leaving behind our church family and friends in Hertfordshire last year to move to Essex was difficult on many levels not least because I had to cut emotional ties with my dedicated team of volunteers but also of our Special Needs Messy Church families. Seeing those families find fellowship within our church community as well as with each other and to see spiritual growth in many individuals, including the children, over three years, was an amazing blessing to me personally.
Whether you are a veteran of Messy Church or a newbie, no doubt September has seen you gearing up for the start of your Messy Church Service. I am using the book of Matthew Chapter 13:1-23 to tell the Makaton story of the Farmer and the Seed using sensory stimuli to provide our additional needs children, teenagers and adults with an entertaining and fun way of accessing God’s word. (It will be entertaining if I forget my Makaton signs). I am frequently asked by our new volunteers how many families we will have on the day, ignoring the looks of mild panic across their faces when I have to say I don’t know. Most importantly, though, God knows who and how many will come through the door. We just have to open the door and welcome them in with open arms and friendly smiles.
This week has been about tying up loose ends, finishing the shopping for craft and catering supplies, bagging and tagging the crafts and being reminded on a daily basis what an awesome God we have. Not only has he opened doors and given me his favour with local people in our community but he has given me his strength to keep going when sleep deprivation with a teething 9 month old baby had sapped my energy levels. Never have the verses from Isaiah 40:29-31 been more appropriate for me to ponder on.
Doug Horley wrote a song called “Put Your Hands in The Sky” so I am going to take his advice and do some silly dancing to it round the kitchen in a spirit of praise and worship while singing out of tune. It should keep my 9 month old entertained for a while.
May the God of New Beginnings bless you with his strength when you are tired, give you his power when you are weak, as you seek to serve him in your local communities through your Messy Church services.