Starting Small, Growing Tall...

Posted by Colin Corbridge on Thu, 26 Feb 2009 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

In an interview originally published in the Spring 2009 Edition of inMission magazine, Colin Corbridge caught up with CMS Ireland’s Youth and Children’s Coordinator, Julie Currie.

Julie had just finished a month of country-wide training for the 2009 Annual Project, ‘Start Small, Grow Tall’ and took the opportunity to reflect on why project was so important to her work.

When Ronnie Briggs made a recent visit to Torosei Primary School in Kenya, and announced that he was going to show a film, his visit was greeted with squeals of delight. But this wasn’t a chance for the pupils to watch the latest Holywood blockbuster- it was an opportunity to see themselves! Filmed 12 months previously, these were the very children featured in CMS Ireland’s 2008 Annual Project, ‘Footsteps’.

CMS Ireland’s Youth and Children’s Coordinator, Julie Currie, smiles as she recalls the story – the Annual Project is clearly significant in her efforts to encourage young people in mission.

“It’s a fun and informative way to help children and young people find out a little bit more about the wider world and see what God is doing”, says Julie, as she enthuses about the project.

We want to see young people and children moved on in their faith and empowered to share that faith with others

“Not only does it inform youth groups about what God is doing through His church but it helps them get involved in very practical ways. The project gives us a glimpse of life for God’s people in another country – their hopes and joys, their struggles and frustrations. As we see these people engaging in His mission, it can inspire us to do the same.”

But as Julie explains, the benefits of the projects aren’t just felt in Ireland. “It means a great deal to our Global Partners that we care enough to get involved in supporting local programmes and projects. They feel that they are not alone and they have our prayers and support.”

Following the ‘Broken Butterfly’ project, Julie led a team of young people to Zambia in the summer of 2007. During their visit the team spent some time in one of the villages that had benefited from the initiative. Julie laughs as she thinks back to this visit.

“The whole village had been waiting for us to arrive for eight hours – we were somewhat delayed!” But the singing, dancing and welcome that greeted our arrival was overwhelming. The people’s thankfulness and joy at the fact we had come to see them meant so much. They made us promise that when we went back home we would thank everyone who took part in the project…and that’s a lot of people!”

“As a direct result of the Annual Project the people of this village had food for their families and seeds to plant. They were also encouraged to dig a well for the three surrounding villages to share. The men told us that their wives spend so much time chatting at the new well that they never see them anymore! The project had made a real difference to this community.”

With more than 100 youth and children’s groups taking part and over €35,000 raised in support of our Global Partners each year, it’s easy to see why the project plays such a central role in CMS Ireland’s support of the church – globally and locally.

Julie has just finished a three week tour of Ireland, launching this year’s project pack Start Small, Grow Tall in 18 different locations.

“This year’s project focuses on the farming community in Kibungo Diocese, Southeast Rwanda,” she says. “The Diocese is working with local farmers, to deliver a programme that will provide training, jobs and an income-generating project in the form of a maize growing co-operative. It’s a fantastic way for the local church to help people stand on their own two feet.”

“For the church in Ireland, the ‘ready to go’ Start Small, Grow Tall resource pack is bulging with great ideas, activities and worksheets – as well as a very informative background booklet on Rwanda and a series of three ‘lesson plans’ or ‘session outlines’. The DVD that accompanies the pack takes us on a journey to Rwanda, where we can see for ourselves what life, home, church, school and farming look like for the people of Kibungo. We hope it’s going to be a really useful resource.”

Julie is keen to stress that the project isn’t just a promotional tool. Whether it’s encouraging the very young to learn about mission through the Annual Project or inspiring teenagers and students to volunteer in Kenya, the vision is exactly the same – transformation.

“Each area of my work hopefully opens doors for children and young people to explore, respond and reflect on mission in some way. We want to see young people and children moved on in their faith and empowered to share that faith with others, here in Ireland and in the wider world. Isn’t that what a mission agency’s youth work should be about?”

If you would like to learn more about CMS Ireland’s youth work, or would like to get involved, contact Julie Currie through our Belfast office.