|Wonderful circle of special children!|
However, Saturday was when the fun really began, starting off with an amazing breakfast at an Indian restaurantt! I was then taken to the Breakthru Enrichment Station (BEST), a school for children and young people with learning dificulties and challenges, where Phoebe and Yu Chiet are directors. This was where I was asked to present Godly Play to a group of the children, with staff, volunteers and family members observing! I was very conscious that this almost one-to-one ratio of adults to children was not at all the Godly Play way of doing things. So, while the children were looked after by some of the staff members in an adjacent play space, I briefed the adults on the background of Godly Play, explained to them that what was about to take place was not normal practice, and ernestly asked them to be as quiet and unobtrusive as possible during the session with the children.
I needn't have worried too much... when the children arrived, we began to form the circle and they focused immediately on the story ('The Exodus') and remained so throughout the wondering, response time and feast. Only a couple of members of staff had to draw near to one or two of the children to help them re-focus from time to time. Altogether, the children, as well as mums, dads, grandmother, staff and volunteers, did amazingly well!
|Sweeping up the desert sand!|
After the children had left with their family members, I was able to debrief the members of staff and volunteers, and listen to their own observations and reactions to the session. The comments were all very favourable. Here is a summary of what was later posted on the 'BEST' Facebook page: «It's amazing how the children were so engaged throughout the Godly Play session on 'Exodus'. Our team had a great time watching how the session was conducted for children who have various learning abilities, discussing our observation and learning after the session. We are thankful to the Lord for this wonderful opportunity»... «Thanks for your sharing in Malaysia especially with the children in Breakthru Enrichment Station.»
|BEST directors: |
Yu Chiet, Lian Ai and Phoebe
Following Godly Play with the special needs children, it was time for lunch at another restaurant -- this time Malay! (The range and variety of cuisine was amazing!) Then Phoebe and Lian Ai (the third director at 'BEST' and a former school teacher) drove me to another excellent Christian ministry centre that I had contacted before I left Spain. It was only a few kilometres away, but neither group were previously aware of the other's existence, which sadly is so often the case in big cities. After negotiating the heavy KL traffic and monsoon showers, we eventually arrived at the Harvest centre, run by the Dignity for Children Foundation in Malaysia, a ministry to the urban poor in Sentul, a district to the north of KL.
|Revd. Elisha and Petrina,|
founders of Dignity for Children
Petrina showed us the vast stock of wooden and rubber (!) figures she and her volunteers had made. As they had had no ongoing training or handbooks to guide them, they began to create stories in the style of Godly Play, especially adapted for Muslim children, which they call 'Bible Play'. The materials they have produced are intended not only for their centre in Sentul, but also for the 10 partner schools they have established in Sabah and Sarawak! Petrina and her team of young teachers were really thirsting for further training in Godly Play, and I was informed that a dozen of them had already signed up for the workshop the following Saturday.
|Some of the 'Bible Play' materials|
produced at Dignity
Later, Phoebe and Yu Chiet drove me south to the other side of the city, to the hotel where the Scripture Union Living Hope conference was to take place. But not before another meal at yet another restaurant - this time Thai. Evidently, in Kuala Lumpur, variety is the spice of life, in every sense of the word!
More photos here