At the end of February Helen and I had the opportunity to visit Scripture Union in Germany, to share about our approaches to schools work, leadership development and strategy.
‘Bibellesebund’ (SU Germany) has an office and a holiday centre in Marienheide, West Germany where they focus on publishing resource material, hiring out the holiday centre, running summer programmes and co-ordinating schools work.
One of the things that struck me most was how blessed we are to have the openness that we do in schools here in N. Ireland and the great number of schools workers we have compared to the size of the population! It was interesting to hear how difficult it can be for Christians to reach into schools in Germany, because of a wariness that comes from the country’s history, and encouraging to learn how they are starting to reach into schools with ‘Schullbeweger’ groups and the Bible Shuttle – bringing children and young people on board a multi-media bus and using various programmes to teach about issues from a Biblical perspective.
We were really impressed by their resources, particularly a children’s Bible dictionary and some other really practical resources for helping children, young people and adults to engage with the Bible e.g. ice-breaker card games for young people, symbolised stickers for the books of the Bible and colouring pencils with questions on them that could be used for a ‘Scribblearound’.
It was great to get to know some of the staff from SU Germany and there was such a sense of ‘togetherness’ as we shared and learned from each other. Delia, SU Germany’s only full-time schools worker, commented that she could see that a lot of our programmes in SUNI are focused on heart knowledge of the Bible. This was a great reminder of all that we have in common and the bond that being part of the SU family brings. Together we are all part of God’s wider family together!
One comment from Christian, the General Director of SU Germany, has really remained with me since we came home. As we debriefed at the end of the 2 days together, he said that one thing he had been struck by was that ‘you guys can really make a difference.’ He commented on the thousands of lives that are impacted through our camps, missions, school SU groups, staff workers, resources and noted that they would love to be in the place of influence that we are in. What a reminder! Through this work, God will really make a difference!
Leanne Dunlop – Bangor E3 Schools worker