After a two year gap due to COVID-19, the GSUS Live trailer returned to Birmingham schools in June, visiting 5 schools in 5 weeks. Pete, James and I were ably assisted by a team of committed volunteers, including one or two local church partners. Thank you if you’ve prayed for the project – we know that many have.
Altogether over 1,850 pupils and their teachers came onboard the classroom to experience the high-tech, interactive project. Students were able to consider Jesus’ teaching on fear, rejection and forgiveness and their own thoughts on these matters. They got to consider how they would advise someone who is facing one of these issues.
At one point in the programme students can enter how they feel if and when they experience rejection, fear or the need to forgive. We always read their responses later to look out for disclosures and safeguarding concerns. The students’ responses are always interesting but sobering – the extent of the problems that our young people face is quickly evident.
At the end of the session we have a time of class feedback when productive discussions often take place. We look at Christian themes and Bible verses related to fear, forgiveness and rejection and how Christians believe that God understands our problems because Jesus himself experienced them while he was on earth.
Students (not to mention teachers, site staff and the lorry drivers) are always curious about why a project about Jesus is called ‘GSUS Live’. So, we unpack the meaning of the letters of GSUS Live.
G = God, the loving creator of the world and of people.
US = us, people created by God, special and unique, but who aren’t perfect.
S (between the ‘G’ and the ‘US’) = ‘sin’, the bad things people say, think and do, not loving God and one’s neighbour; and the good things that people should do but don’t do. But the ‘S’ also stands for the ‘solution’, the saviour, Jesus.
LIVE = that Jesus was raised to life from death and is alive today offering forgiveness, friendship with God and eternal life to those who trust in Him.
Staff and pupils were delighted to see the trailer come to their school! The sense of wonder and excitement on the faces of the young people as they entered and saw the retractable monitors ascending out of their desks was something to behold (most pupils had been confined to one or two classrooms for months).
Students questioned: ‘How do you pray?’; ‘Do you read the Bible?’; ‘Do you believe the Bible?’; ‘Did Jesus know what was going to happen to him (shortly before his death)?’
Christian students were emboldened in their faith through the project and shared publicly about their experience of prayer and faith. One Christian student exclaimed, ‘We should always pray to God and trust in Him.’ ‘It’s so important to forgive even when it’s hard’, said another.
Countless students heard from the Bible about who Jesus is, possibly for the first time in some cases. They also heard words of hope and help in an everyday sense – vital in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The fact that so many students came though the doors was an answer to prayer. One school said that had the unit come a week later then we would have had very few students onboard (with so many being sent home to isolate). Clearly many prayers were answered and we are thankful for a hugely worthwhile tour.
John Platt, Youth Team Co-ordinator