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The mark of a true ambassador

The mark of a true ambassador

posted by Gill Robins  Thursday 24th April 2014
 
What an Easter break. There were the predictable union calls for industrial action. There were declarations that Easter is all about caring for the poor: it isn’t, of course, it’s about our glorious salvation from eternal death as a result of which we should, as the Pope encouraged, take the gospel to the ends of the earth.  It’s a gospel for the poor and disenfranchised, and rich, self-sufficient power brokers alike.  And then there was the moment when the Prime Minister decided it was time, in the infamous words of Alistair Campbell, to ‘do God’. 
 
Was this political expediency to capture middle England from UKIP?  A shrewd move to distance himself from atheists Ed Milliband and Nick Clegg in advance of the election?  An encouragement to Christians to pick up the pieces of broken Britain, neatly aligning with the Lords Spiritual and simultaneously improving care for the destitute with no expenditure from the public purse?  Or a genuine statement of embryonic faith?  Well, as God told Samuel when he was looking for a kingly figure to anoint, ‘the LORD looks at the heart’, 1 Samuel 16:7 and despite the many column inches devoted to its analysis, we don’t actually know what motivated David Cameron to say what he did.
 
Into the midst of these utterances from the great and the good, there came an article from Lynsey Wilson, Head of RE at The Redhill Academy in Nottinghamshire.  It recounts her four year journey with her students from rookie teacher to the selection of her students by the Religious Education Council as Young Ambassadors for RE.  She tells her story with a vibrancy and passion that I won’t attempt to describe – it’s best to read the article yourself.
 
What struck me was her students’ enthusiasm for examining values and belief systems in order to understand people.  And in doing so, they learnt to challenge their own thinking and what they thought they knew, learning much more about themselves in the process of understanding others.  The quality of the students’ work has led to appearances on BBC Radio 4 and a chance to visit Westminster to address MPs on the All Party Parliamentary Group on RE. 
 
It’s a shining example of excellence in RE teaching.  It’s not confessional.  It doesn’t proselytise.  It teaches students to think, analyse, evaluate and challenge.  And in doing so, it also provides a shining example of best practice in teaching itself, nurturing the spiritual, cultural and emotional development of young people alongside their academic growth. 
 
If you ever wonder what difference you’re making as a Christian in education, ponder on the content of this article.  Jesus never forced his opinions.  He shared.  He discussed.  He cared.  Then he let people decide for themselves.  Living out kingdom values in front of students and colleagues every day, whatever subject or age group we teach, is what marks us as true ambassadors for God.
Gill Robins
 

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