There is a well-known African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. It helps draw us back to the meaning of community and how important it is to get help and support from others in raising your own children. This isn’t to say that parents don’t have the skills, but rather that children learn from a wide range of sources and if personal experience is anything to go from, often listen to these voices rather than my own!
At east to west, we seek to foster this community sense to learning, with a greater focus on working together, pooling our resources, relying on each other’s experiences and wisdom and trusting in a shared humility that means no single person has all the answers regardless of how young or old they may be.
When it comes to supporting young people, we recognise that we are one of many voices supporting each individual. Our role in this young person’s life is simple. It’s to listen. It’s to challenge. It’s to correct misbeliefs or falsehoods. In short, it’s to help them experience hope. Ultimately, the hard work of change and growth needs to be done by the young person themselves, if it is to have any chance of being effective and successful. For all the amazing things, east to west can do, we’re not a silver bullet which will miraculously change or alter a young person’s life. It takes a village to do this.
Say what you like about Harrison Ford’s acting, but in Han Solo and Indiana Jones he has created two of the most iconic cinematic characters of the last 40 years. Many of us will have seen him on the big screen and moments in his movies are likely ingrained on our collective consciousness. In Witness, arguably a lesser-known role, (yet the only one he’s been nominated for a best actor Oscar in!), he plays a US police officer forced to go undercover within the Amish Community to protect a young boy who is the sole witness to a murder.
Within America, the Amish community are often viewed with a sense of ridicule, given their simple living, plain dress, Christian pacifism and reticence to adopt modern technology. Their values are based on their Swiss German and Alsatian Anabaptist heritage, rural and manual living, humility and a sense of ‘Gelassenheit’, the submission to God’s will.
One of the more well known aspects of Amish living is their tradition of barn raising, where the whole community gather together to engage in a ‘frolic’ – a work event that combines socialising with a practical goal – in this case raising a barn for one of the community members.
Led by one or two ‘master engineers’, all the resources, tools, livestock etc… are provided by the community to support the community. This produces a deep sense of security amongst the Amish, who know they are part of a favour that will be repaid if they ever find themselves in need.
The film Witness highlights this process of community working, with Harrison Ford’s character, an Amish outsider, being brought into community with everyone else and lending a hand to raise a sizeable barn. We watch a process outworked where collaborative working, a lack of ego and common goal all work together to ensure the structure is completed quickly and effectively. Perhaps most amazingly about the whole process is that no modern technology is used. Each barn is held together with wooden pegs and ancient traditions! Everything is lifted by hand and horses, and everyone contributes in some way, regardless of age, gender or ability.
So, what does this have to do with east to west I hear you ask? The links to community are obvious – a collection of people working together towards a common purpose: Bringing Hope to Young Lives. But this month, I wanted to focus on something slightly different… maybe a little less obvious! It’s the word, you may never have previously heard - ‘Gelassenheit’’, the submission to God’s will. As a faith-based organisation, we believe that we’ve been called to serve God’s creation in the ways east to west works. We have an ethos: Community; Compassion; Selflessness; Devotion; Integrity and Fun which underpins all we do. We speak about these words during the interview process, we focus on them in things like wePRAY and our weekly devotion and we hold each other accountable to them. We believe and talk about God calling each of us to serve in this place, regardless of whether we have a faith or not.
‘Gelassenheit’’ is a challenging concept and one as humans, we can find hard to achieve – sometimes we need a community to help us raise this particular barn…
April Prayer Requests
This month we’ve asked Clare, the Head of Schools for our Bourne Education Trust (BET) partner to share prayer requests from these projects. We also wanted to share the answers to prayer that happened when BET was our November focus:
Please pray for the new Safeguarding Lead at Twickenham school – Alice – as she settles into her new role and the big challenges she’ll face. Alice has been in post for 6 months now and doing really well – thank you so much for praying for her, she’s doing a great job.
Continued prayers for the new team in schools, who’ve made a great start and integrated well. Pray that they’d continue to thrive and continue to be a real blessing to the schools their based in. Our new team have had a brilliant 6 months and have settled in amazingly well. They continue to grow and learn together bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to make our wider team even better.
For Sue on the pastoral team at Teddington, who’s been ill. Pray that as she returns to school and that this transition would be managed well.
Pray for the students who are facing their mock exams in the coming weeks, especially those who’re doing their GCSE assessments. Thank you for these prayers – these are always stressful times for young people and they appreciate the additional help and support they receive.
Give thanks for the staff we’re blessed to work alongside. Pray for safety and wisdom for them in their roles. We continue to love working with these skilled practitioners and partnering closely with them in bringing hope across each of these projects.
Pray that God would give strength and energy to the team as they head into the second part of the Autumn Term. This is a long term and can be really draining especially as the nights begin to draw in. God has been so gracious in keeping our team safe and well over the past 6 months. As the sun continues to shine, so they continue to be a bright spot in the darkness some young people are experiencing.
Pray for the team as they rest over the Easter holiday ready for the start of the Summer Term
Give thanks that Natalie has joined the team working at Hampton High – pray that she would settle in well and quickly adjust to working in a new setting.
Pray for Margaret (Goldsworth Primary) as she departs east to west to live in France.
Thank God for the opportunities He’s providing across the Bourne Educational Trust primary schools – Also give thanks for Ian and his role in meeting with and securing new school partners.
Pray for those preparing to interview for new roles with east to west – pray for discernment as we seek the right people for the right projects.
Give thanks for our school partners, for all they do and all they’ve done over the past term.
Pray for our Year 11s as they prepare themselves for their GCSEs after Easter.