A holistic vision for a traumatised people

Becky Sedgwick discovers Parenting for Faith principles are for everyone, everywhere.

Parenting for faith – for everyone!

It's 32 degrees outside the little dusty brick church in Arua, northern Uganda. Twenty delegates, their faces scrunched up in concentration, practise telling Bible stories from God’s point of view. Through the window, curious children stare at the adults sitting in small groups on bright blue plastic chairs, and no doubt at the strange mzungu (Caucasian) lady at the front smiling and encouraging her pupils. Outside, hump-backed cows amble across the grass, their welcome gifts of manure quickly scooped up by canny women, to be deposited on the maize beds bordering the tukuls (traditional mud huts) 100 yards away.

In September, Becky Sedgwick (right), one of BRF’s Parenting for Faith team, used her annual leave to visit northern Uganda with the charity CRESS UK. Becky’s home parish, St James’ Devizes, is linked with the South Sudanese Anglican diocese of Liwolo. 'Together with our partner charity, CRESS UK, we have been sharing God’s love and hope with the people there for ten years,' Becky explains.

Becky Sedgwick

A vision for spiritually strong families and communities

Children looking through church window

But in 2016 everything changed. The close-knit communities in the diocese fled as South Sudan’s vicious civil war erupted in the region. Now the refugees are spread widely, some still hiding in South Sudan but most living in and around the UN camps. Yet the change of location has done nothing to weaken the church’s commitment to its people. The challenges they face are great: acute poverty, poor soil for growing crops, lack of access to employment and widespread emotional trauma in both children and adults. In response, the diocese has put in place a holistic vision, which includes both practical and spiritual resourcing of their communities, to help them move forward, in anticipation of their return home.

So sharing resources such as BRF's Parenting for Faith course is an absolute joy. 'Speaking to the parents, church leaders and Sunday School teachers, it became clear that parents' and carers' desires for their children's spiritual lives are exactly the same as ours, and the challenges not so different either,' comments Becky. 'It’s just as important to the church there to create spiritually strong families and communities as it is to create healthy and self-sufficient communities.'

Parenting for Faith course

Tools for discipleship

Parenting for Faith course notes

Becky led a two-day conference on Parenting for Faith. At the heart of Parenting for Faith are the five Key Tools: simple skills and techniques that enable parents and carers to show their children the reality of life lived with God, and equip them to connect to God themselves in a vibrant, two-way relationship with him.

Over two days, Becky taught a strategically-selected group of twenty delegates each of the tools:

  • creating windows into our own relationship with God for children to see and copy
  • framing and explaining how God operates in the world
  • unwinding wrong views of God, and giving children a broad and balanced view of who he is
  • teaching children to ‘chat and catch’ with God as they experience prayer as a two way conversation with their heavenly Father, and
  • surfing the waves: how to spot and grow God’s purposes and passions in children.
These delegates will be able to take the teaching back and share it with their churches and communities.

The intention is that these delegates will be able to take the teaching back and share it with their churches and communities, supported by the diocese, and that it will become an important part of the discipleship programme there.

'I worked the delegates very hard!' laughs Becky. 'I had to keep telling them that they were learning in two days – and in their second language – what we normally take eight weeks to teach back home. It was wonderful to be able to share the best we have with them.'

'CRESS's strapline is "sowing seeds for life", and it really felt as if we had done that. I’m excited to see what those seeds grow!'

Becky Sedgwick, Parenting for Faith Local Coordinator

Four women in Uganda

Could Parenting for Faith help your church?

Find out what Parenting for Faith can offer your church

Only seconds to spare? Hear Rachel Turner, BRF’s Parenting for Faith Pioneer, introduce the five Key Tools.