Monday, August 10, 2009

Godly Play in Malaysia

I won't be returning home for some time after my trip to Germany (see previous post). The very day I get back from Cologne, I am due to lead a residential weekend training event (25-27 September) near Madrid which aims to help Godly Play practitioners become more familiar with the parable stories (details here, in Spanish, and in the Agenda on this page).

Then, a few days later, I'm off to Malaysia!

The initial encouragement to make this very long journey came from Pauline Hoggarth & Wendy Strachan, members of the Scripture Union International team, who are both involved in the Forum of Bible Agencies International (FOBAI) and in the planning group behind the upcoming World Wide Scripture Engagement Consultation, which will take place in Melaka (or Malacca), Malaysia, from 4 to 9 October. The theme for the Consultation is 'Hearts Burning: Exploring Scripture Engagement for the 21st Century'. "The aim is to gather 150 – 200 people from around the globe into a community of practitioners who together create a compelling experience of Scripture engagement. And, who go on to collaborate in the future." There will be 4 'tracks' in the Consultation, one of which is 'Scripture Engagement among Children and Youth', coordinated by Wendy Strachan. This will consist primarily of 8 workshops, including one on Godly Play. Here's some background information related to it:
Ready to Play?
Godly Play® is a way of encouraging children to engage imaginatively with Bible stories. This method is being used in many different countries, denominations, contexts and age groups. Following an 'action-reflection' approach, the workshop allows participants a hands-on experience of Godly Play® and a chance to reflect on its implications about how we 'are' with children and how we offer them a 'language' in order to help them meet God through Scripture.
So, I was asked to consider leading this particular workshop.

However, I confess that my first reaction was one of reluctance. For two main reasons:
    1. It seemed an awful long way to go for the sake of a single 90-minute workshop, and
    2. The very day that the Consultation in Malaysia finished a strategic 3-day Godly Play meeting would be starting in Madrid - for which I was responsible! So, how could I possibly do both within such a short span of time?
It was, therefore, very helpful that the organizers were willing to move the Godly Play workshop up to the first full day in the programme and thus allow me to book a return flight back to Spain a couple of days before the Consultation officially finished. This will now give me a whole day to recover from jet lag before the start of the event in Madrid.

However, what has especially changed my reaction from initial reticence to one of sheer delight about the prospect of the trip to Malaysia has been the outcome of correspondence I have had with Dr Sunny Tan, dean of the Malaysia Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS), and his wife Rosalind Lim, who directs the Holistic Child Development Institute (HCD) in Penang. Both the MBTS and the HCD are connected to the Child Theology Movement, Sunny being one of its directors.

The result is that I now have further opportunities to present Godly Play in Malaysia, through two separate 4-hour seminars. These seminars will take place on the days immediately before the World Wide Scripture Engagement Consultation starts in Malacca, and the venues are the main MBTS campus, in Penang, and an extension centre they have near the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Click on the poster for full details.

So, I am now very excited about where all this may lead to, and I'm looking forward very much to learning a lot from my first visit to Asia!

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