Tricia King – Tunbridge Wells, UK:
Together with my husband, David, I am very involved in the work of New Life Church, Tunbridge Wells in Southern England, which we started about thirty years ago. My greatest passion is sharing the good news of Jesus.
When I was about five I decided to follow Jesus so I know first-hand that God speaks to children. In the past I led our children’s activities in the church, and still take them away for weekends. I love seeing them encounter God and being filled with the Holy Spirit.
I teach seven and eight year olds three days a week in a large Church of England primary school where I have worked for many years. I am privileged to have a job that I love and where I can share my faith so freely! My aim in life is to be the same person at school that I am at home and at church, and to openly live out my faith in a way that is not religious but happy and normal! I ask God to give me up-to-date stories of answers to prayer for me to share. I am naturally chatty and friendly to everyone, whoever they are. Our Polish cleaner appreciates my friendship and came to church at Christmas.
I love sharing the Gospel through the Alpha Course which I help lead in the church. I have had four classroom assistants, a teacher and a parent join us on a course so far. Three now attend our church sometimes. Last term a teacher who I would never have considered asking, suddenly told me that he wants to come to my church.
My job-share developed a serious eye problem so I often pray with her. She has come to several church events and is now wanting to do Alpha. If someone has a need then I offer to pray for them there and then and they rarely refuse. I was recently chatting with our Hindu financial secretary and she asked me for a copy of the bible that I give to the children. I am responsible for our assemblies, have written the plans for others to use and get to lead one most weeks. I aim to make these as exciting and memorable as possible. We have about 25 minutes every day for Christian worship which usually includes a song, prayers and a bible story. The staff have to come so they are a captive audience!
Every year I plan and run special days for Christmas and Easter for all 630 children. I ask God for creative ideas to make the days special, with a clear gospel focus. My aim is to create lasting memories. I believe the Holy Spirit will take these seeds and bring them to life in the future. Activities have included such things as sliding the children through paint; sitting with the shepherds around a real campfire; journeying through an assault course to find Jesus; mixing mud to represent our sin, then pouring it on a cross; following a very long yellow ribbon around the grounds and through the woods to represent God being with us throughout our lives, and so on. Playing a game called ‘stuck in the mud’ helps children understand that salvation is about us being rescued. Staff have to spontaneously perform the Christmas story which the children love, and one year we even had a real donkey!
A number of years ago God challenged me to stop thinking that I am just a part-time teacher, but to expect him to open doors for me to have influence. This means that whenever a door comes along, I push it to see if God will open it. I was invited to join a working party to help rewrite parts of the Primary Curriculum. I also ran a number of courses on doing Religious Education outdoors, and these were full of ideas to bring the gospel alive, practically. I have already written my school’s curriculum for children up to seven years. I developed ‘Treasure Hunting Journeys,’ with treasure at the end of each unit. Each term explores a key question such as ‘Who is Jesus?’ ‘Why do Christians trust and follow Jesus?’ and so forth. I have just been given a scholarship to rewrite our Junior curriculum (7-11 year olds), and will be working on it for this coming year.
I want our school to stand out for our care of each child so I was given a key role in setting up Forest School. Every year each child has a term of sessions in the woods on the school grounds. Our final focus is always to give God thanks. Two key members of this team are from our church, so we have recently started an occasional staff prayer meeting.
Like any job, teaching is not always easy, but I know that for this time, God has put me here for his purposes and I love it.