2020 has seen a significant rethink for Urban Saints Groups but discipleship has remained the central focus throughout.
Over half our Groups have been meeting on Zoom. A number of other Group Leaders have kept regular weekly contact with young people in their Groups, via phone calls, closed Facebook groups or through dropping resources to young people’s houses on their daily walks. Fairly soon into lockdown, the Impact Team Leaders began producing weekly resources for Group Leaders to be able to use via Zoom, as well as follow up resources for parents to use, and activities for young people from groups that were unable to meet on Zoom. The Impact Team Leaders have also been in weekly contact with the Main Leader of each Group during lockdown, in order to offer extra support and guidance. This has been through a mixture of emails and calls.
Tony Adegbenro leads the Skelmersdale Urban Saints Group, who have been part of Urban Saints for 28 years. He spoke with us about how COVID-19 had impacted his Group but, first, he reminded us how his Group had started.
“For me, being involved in Urban Saints was never just about volunteering. Discipling young people is a calling! Back in August 1992, there were six of us adults in a community centre doing a Bible study when there was a knock on the door. I opened the door and there were some young people there. I heard the Spirit say to me, ‘Open the door and bring them in’”.
Those young people were invited in, and the Group was started. Tony went on to say:
“From that day, the Lord said ‘I have sent you to reach out to children and young people’ and He just opened the door. We’ve not gone out to look for them. From that year, the door opened to schools – assemblies, playground mentoring, RE classes – hundreds and thousands that have been ministered to in all those years”.
When asking Tony about the experiences with his Group of the impact of COVID-19, he says:
“Our Impact Team Leader, Anna, called to ask us how we were doing, and she told us about Zoom. So we started meeting online. Our numbers grew from 11 to 22 to 33 and kept increasing with families logging in from all over the world. One week we had about 80 children attending. The children and young people’s ministry is the greatest mission field ever. This has opened a wider door. So the doors are not shut – they are opening wider and wider, and to God be the glory.”
What an encouragement, both for Skelmersdale and also for other Group Leaders - the doors are not shut, they are opening wider and wider!
Thank you so much to all of you who lead or help in a Group or Camp, who pray, donate or support in many other ways. As we continue to venture into unknown waters, let us keep looking to Jesus and hold fast to our God as we do all we can to bring children and young people closer to Him at this time.