Back in Birmingham

In June the Youth Team is bringing GSUS Live back to Birmingham schools. For many summers now this classroom resource has been provided to us by Christian charity Counties.

GSUS Live gives students the opportunity to explore the themes of 'Rejection', 'Fear' and 'Forgiveness', and Jesus' teachings on them, through the lens of a fictional character. They look at how Jesus himself experienced these problems during his life and hear about what Jesus’ death and resurrection mean to Christians.

The resource not only aims to improve religious literacy, but to inspire and encourage students amid the problems they may be facing. During the programme they hear from well-known figures from history and modern day, about how they dealt with the problems they faced.

For example, Dr Martin Luther-King Jr talks about how his faith and courage enabled him to stand for the equal rights of Black Americans in the 60s. He famously wrote, 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.'

Malala Yousafzai was courageous in standing up to the Taliban in her region of Pakistan when they tried to prevent girls from going to school. As a result she was shot while travelling home from school in 2012. After receiving medical treatment here in Birmingham she recovered and is now a human rights activist. She said, 'There is a moment you have to choose whether to be silent or to stand up.'

PC Robin Oake's son, Stephen, a Special Branch officer, was killed by a terrorist while on duty. At a press conference, when asked, 'Mr Oake, what do you think about the man who killed your son?', he replied, 'I don't know the man or the circumstances but from my heart I forgive him.' PC Oake’s Christian faith enabled him to forgive his son’s killer.

Students often say how they are challenged about the importance of forgiveness in relationships, about dealing with anger in healthy ways, the importance of talking to trustworthy others and to God about worries, and about including and not rejecting people.

They frequently acknowledge the importance of forgiveness in terms of ‘letting go’ and ‘being free’ from bitterness that only harms yourself. It is always evident that so many students face anxieties and that they are desperate to be accepted and included by peers.

Last year a student came to us following a GSUS Live session wanting to share that she was being called names by peers. We were able to listen to her, give support and link her up with pastoral support staff within school.

Another student responded, ‘I have learnt a lot about Christianity. It’s made me think... that miracles do happen and that God and heaven are real. I once was afraid of death. Now that I know more about Christianity I barely worry about death.'

John Platt, Youth Team Co-ordinator