We recently ran a paintball Encounter with East London Baptist church, where we were joined by 3 Christian young people from the church, and 4 Muslim/Bengali young people from a youth club which the church staffs.
I was really encouraged by how quickly the two groups gelled and began to get along. Usually we have our faith discussions after the young people have had some time together over a fun activity – like paintball (which is what happened on this day), but actually, this group would have been ready to dive right in after a few ice breakers.
Although the two groups are ‘housed’ in the same building, they had not had an opportunity to cross paths, so it was great overhearing a conversations on the side-lines (without the input of the leaders) where some of Christian boys were asking about the Muslim boys’ football evenings, and saying that they would come (which has since happened!).
Our event was led by Andy Mossop (who leads the youth work for both groups), Abu Khan who is a Tower Hamlets Youth Worker, and myself. Andy had this to say about our event:
Our paintball day was our first encounter event with The Feast and it was excellent. Everybody thoroughly enjoyed not only the activities, but also eating together and meeting and getting to know new people. Right from the start the ice was broken between the 2 groups of lads, and within half an hour they were happy to split themselves into 2 mixed groups. At lunch it was great to see them chatting over their chicken and chips, as they discovered they had common interests such as football and FIFA. The paintball got us all pumped up and working together, and then comparing bruises and stories of heroics afterwards!
By the time it came to the faith discussions part I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough energy left, but it went really well in my small group; I was really impressed and pleased at the way all the young people talked openly about their own faith – it was the first time I’d heard several of them do this. Plus they showed a genuine interest in each others’ faiths too – asking great questions of each other and clearly thinking and learning about how other people practise their faith.