I told a story in my last update of a moment when some young men had turned up unexpectedly at youth club a few weeks ago, were behaving in a negative way and refusing to leave, and then when Adrian gently escorted the ringleader to the door … the young man threatened to shoot him.
The day before yesterday I received this message from Adrian:
“A wee encouragement for you. The youth who threatened to shoot me a few weeks ago appeared this afternoon to apologise. He’s going to come to Youth Club later tonight.”
When they first told me about having been threatened, we had paused to pray about it, and had prayed that God would soften the young man’s heart. So this is an encouragement to hear, as well as an encouragement to keep praying for him.
In the same meeting I asked Adrian to write a bit about the work that they have been doing in the schools, this is his update:
My wife and I have been in Jamaica since June 2018 preparing to lead the work of Fusion while David & Liz are on sabbatical. We officially took over in December on the day David and Liz left which also happened to be Tara’s birthday! We have continued to run the Kids Club and Senior Youth Club on a Thursday as well as the fortnightly Fusion Fellowship for our volunteers. In addition we have started a Junior Youth Club on a Wednesday night for young people aged 12-14 and we have also begun working in Boys Town All Age School. We started running Restorative Playtimes there one day a week and, in addition to the playtimes, we now help pupils with their literacy three times a week. We have really found the staff at Boys Town, and in particular the Principal and Vice Principal, to be very welcoming and supportive. We were trained to run the playtimes by Jeanne Williams who is a psychologist and has been visiting Jamaica for the past couple of years. The playtimes are designed for children to work through any traumatic experiences they have had and it’s fair to say that a lot of the children in the school would fall into this category.
One of the boys that took part in the playtimes was aged around eleven and was very cold and distant when he first attended. He always had a hard expression on his face with a demeanour that suggested he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. During the playtimes he wouldn’t look at me and barely spoke. Any eye contact was definitely out of the question. As the weeks passed he learned that he was in a place where he was accepted and safe and as this realisation grew he became more communicative and engaged. He was able to process his feelings through the play and was even inviting me to join in. His time of participating in playtimes has now come to an end however I still see him regularly when we visit the school. Whenever he sees me he greets me, sometimes with a hug, is friendly and amenable. The hardness on his face is no longer there and his demeanour is much improved and is much more appropriate for a boy of his age.
This is just one example of how the playtimes have helped the children involved work through their feelings, emotions and experiences. This allows them to process difficult issues in a healthy way and as Jeanne would say, gain mastery over the things that scare them.
(Back to David writing) What strikes me about Adrian’s stories, both of the young man who made the threat, apologised and was welcomed, and of the boy who took part in the Restorative Play Times; is grace.
Grace finds us when we are lost and reaches us when nothing else can … grace uncovers strength in us that we wouldn’t otherwise know was there … and grace gently restores us to health in our inmost self.
It is the subject of one the the most famous songs ever written (Amazing Grace), and the last sentence of Paul’s remarkable letter to the Philippians. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” Philippians 4:23
I hope you are as encouraged as I am by the way grace is at work in the lives of these young people.