Ballinderry Parish hosted its fourth annual teenage event, #Explore, over the summer, reaching out to young people in isolated rural areas.
Andrew Tuft, a member of the organising team, said: “The aim of this event was to provide innovative ministry and teaching in the rurally isolated areas in Ballinderry and its surrounding areas – Aghalee, Maghaberry, Glenavy and Crumlin – and to share the gospel within a cross-community setting.
“More practically, we also hoped to build relationships with the teenagers who would attend the event with the hope of introducing teenagers, their family and friends to a local church family and to attend upcoming meetings within our Youth Fellowship programme.”
The programme ran over a three-day period and included fun-filled activities such as NERF Wars, inflatable assault course, archery and a roller disco. At each meeting one of the leaders shared their testimony and opportunities were given for the teenagers to ask questions.
On the final night the young people and youth leaders heard a closing message from Joel Hutchinson, E3 Schools Worker for the local area within Scripture Union.
Andrew said: “The success of this outreach has encouraged us as a leadership team to prayerfully consider the possibility of hosting a regular Youth Fellowship programme in these rurally isolated areas, having seen the potential that has been evident the last four years.
“Youth work in rurally isolated areas continues to be a challenge for all of us and after seeing teenagers come from far and wide to attend this event we are left with huge excitement and hope about what could be.”
He said young people were not only actively involved in each session but left feeling more empowered and connected to Christ.
“Each session was uplifting and we wanted our young people to understand that they play an important role not only in today’s church but in the future of the church,” Andrew added.
Building on #Explore, the parish hopes to further enhance its teaching programme by using innovative ministry to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus within the local community and to run events that are not only fun but that encourage and equip the teenagers in their relationship with Jesus.
Andrew said: “Please keep the teenagers in rural communities such as the parish of Ballinderry and neighbouring villages in your prayers.”