Wonder and mystery of Christmas in Norfolk schools
With a remote-controlled star, flame lights and a machine pumping out the aroma of frankincense, Andy Jones, founder of Raise Kids Work, is creating an unforgettable experience in Norfolk schools this advent for almost 1,200 children to discover ‘The Wonder and Mystery of Christmas’. Jenny Seal reports.
In the month before Christmas, Andy Jones, from Wymondham, and a small team of volunteers, will take their creative energy, and a van loaded with props, to nine primary schools in Norfolk and give almost 1,200 children an immersive experience of the Christmas story.
Andy, 39, is the Founder of Raise Kids Work, a new charity that works with 5-11 year olds to advance the Christian faith. He leads RE experiences, assemblies and RE lessons in 28 schools across Norfolk – from Harpley in West Norfolk to Banham in Breckland.
In ‘The Wonder and Mystery of Christmas Experience’ children journey in groups through four zones, each zone exploring part of the Christmas story.
They start in a ‘Wonder and Thank you’ zone, where they hear the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah as an ultrasonic mist maker infuses the area with the scent of frankincense.
The children then encounter Mary and Joseph in the ‘Mystery of the Birth and Journey’ zone and are encouraged to sit in a cardboard box to think about people who are forced to leave their homes today. After a trip to the shepherds’ zones, the experience culminates with the wise men. Andy said: “We have a blacked-out gazebo with a star curtain and a remote-controlled star. The story is read over music and then we stop and the children get to smell frankincense and myrrh and hold a gold brick.”
Andy designs and uses a whole range of creative encounters like ‘The Wonder and Mystery of Christmas Experience’ to achieve what he calls the ‘foot-drop’. “There is a distance of about a foot from the head to the heart,” he said. “I don’t want kids just to know Bible stories; I want them to really know what it means for them. It’s not about head knowledge; it’s helping them know what it means to be free and what it means for God to love them.”
In July 2018, Raise Kids Work became an independent charity and in mid-November they held an official launch party. “I’m so excited to have the opportunity to really do what I’m meant to be doing,” Andy said.
Andy’s own experience of hearing from God in his life has clearly led him to want to give children the same opportunity. “I want to encourage children to understand that the supernatural is really the natural and where we are meant to be,” he said. “Getting them to that place where hearing from God is natural is what I love to do.”
As well as schools work, Raise also works with churches leading praise parties, helping to lead holiday clubs, running Prayer Spaces and Encounter Spaces and leading residential weekends.
Andy also runs training for churches giving fresh ideas for children’s work and helping churches think through their vision for this age group.
To find out more visit: www.raisekidswork.org.uk
Pictured above Andy Jones and colleagues at the Raise launch party in Wymondham.