Norfolk children's worker a complete one-off
Gunge tanks, drama, puppets and wigs! Andy Jones continues to hit the gospel trail with fun and creativity to impact the lives of thousands of youngsters across the region through his new ministry Raise. Sandie Shirley reports.
The former children’s worker at Hope Community Church Wymondham for eight years is passionate about seeing youngsters relate to God through prayer and worship. “God is awesome, and with Him they can have fun and be His masterpiece” explains Andy.
Raise continues his cutting edge message for today’s culture. It comes with passion, imagination and experience borne before he was a teenager when he helped with the children’s club at his church.
“God has created me with a sense of fun and through that I can present his truth. I believe he has made me creative with the ability to think big and messy,” said Andy who has used his degree in public relations to find his niche.
“Sharing the good news of Jesus, I get to play with gunge tanks, dress up, become different, crazy characters and do messy games; I could not ask for a better job,” said Andy Jones whose work includes school lessons and assemblies, holiday clubs and all-age services.
“It is important to have opportunities to tell children about Jesus especially in our multi-cultural and multi-faith society where Christianity often gets pushed out for fear of offending someone,” he said.
“Whether it is about our God of love and forgiveness or about caring for one another or our world, I use a variety of things in my school work from multi-media to songs to magic tricks to wigs, drama and puppets. I also give God’s perspective on subjects that affect children such as bullying, friendships, telling the truth and standing up for what is right.”
Andy finished his work at Hope in August so that he would be more available to others. He recalls some amazing times including the interactive ‘prayer stations’ and ‘encounter stations’, that help youngsters engage with prayer and worship and other activities with all their might.
“I love hearing them sing the songs we do and seeing God’s awesome presence have a visual impact with staff and children,” said Andy.
Launching Raise has been a faith adventure. “It has been exciting to see God’s blessing and faithfulness already. North Breckland Youth for Christ have taken Raise under their wing as one of their projects to help me as I find my feet. I am committed to helping them develop their primary schools’ work while being available to develop Raise beyond the borders of North Breckland. And churches are already using me for kids’ work on their residential weekends and special one-off events,” he said.
“God has been putting many amazing people in my orbit and we are having conversations of how to dream big together. The more volunteers I can recruit the more Raise can do. So far it has been amazing to go into new schools in the wider area and give them prayer spaces and I am already looking at giving them a ‘Christmas Experience’.
“Over the years I have learnt that children are so much more accepting of the things that God can do. We are encouraged to have faith like a child and if we truly learnt that I think we would have a better world.
“I believe that God is our creative creator God and he also created fun – so it is ok to have fun and fully rely on him,” says Andy who is currently working on a new praise party and planning to write more holiday clubs and residential weekends.
“Some of my favourite verses in the bible include: ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’ (Psalm 8:2) and Psalm 78:4 talks about not hiding what we have learnt from the next generation. But I truly believe we cannot take people or children on a journey with God if we have not been there ourselves – whether it is a journey in worship or another area of our faith.
“From an early age my parents gave me the chance to choose and learn for myself who God was,” said Andy.
“I understood the truth about Jesus when I was young; he has been my best friend throughout my life – a life that comes in all its fullness with faith,” adds Andy who has also been involved with Scripture Union, Norwich Youth for Christ and regular youth events in the past.
“I first met Andy when my children started to attend a club he ran at their local school. To say I was bowled over by his energy, enthusiasm, commitment and amazing connection he had with each and every one of the children in his care is an understatement.
“He is a complete one-off and I am so proud that my children have had the pleasure of knowing him. Anyone who is lucky enough to have him support their kids’ work will not be disappointed. He has a unique skill of ensuring his sessions are engaging and fun, whilst ensuring they deliver a key message relevant to the group he’s working with. He is quite simply a gift from God and I know he will go on to do great work with everyone whose path he crosses.”
(Helen Jordan – mum to Charlotte 10 and Angus 7)
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org www.raisekidswork.org.uk