Saturday, May 4, 2013

Godly Play Outside of the Church: Part 3

A long time ago, I became convinced that Godly Play shouldn't just be for kids growing up in the church. The fun that children have with Godly Play and the linguistic and critical thinking skills that they learn are something that all children can benefit from. This was the motivation behind starting the Godly Play clubs at our local elementary school. I have also had a desire to share Godly Play with children in some of the less well-off parts of Berlin. Their spirituality needs to be acknowledged and nurtured as well.

Through Serve the City, I came into contact with a like-minded organization that is helping children in an area of Berlin predominantly made up of immigrants. The wonderful children's workers there are incredibly sensitive to the children's needs and offer them everything from tutoring to art and outdoor play.

On my first visit, I was asked to tell the Parable of the Good Shepherd. I was thrilled at how the children responded to the story and how animated and open they were during the Wondering, even though they had no prior experience with Godly Play. I was also struck by their openness and trust in me, a complete stranger.

This child wanted to explore the materials a little more after the Wondering was over.
For security reasons, I have blurred his face. 
Meeting these kids coincided with my beginning to read the book, From the Ground Up, by Kathryn Copsey. This book is about the author's journey in encouraging a healthy spirituality in inner-city children. She writes that all children are naturally open to others,  unless they have learned or been taught otherwise. They are are naturally open to the world and open about their feelings. Being taken seriously in these things, along with a healthy dose of play and laughter, helps them on the road to developing their own spirituality. 

I found these three types of openness to be true in these children, and it has made me want to be a part of their journey and learn from them as well. Melinda, my co-teacher, and I will be doing an art afternoon with these kids next week.  We also hope to be able to share more stories in the future. But right now, I am excited just to get to know them a little more and be a part of their day.: )

For other ways that I have used Godly Play outside church settings, see these links: 
- at school 
- with women involved in prostitution

If you are a Godly Play Storyteller, please be open to how you can share this gift with others. Jerome Berryman pioneered the development of Godly Play as a play therapist at a children's hospital and by using it with senior citizens at a retirement home. Who knows where God might direct your path?

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