Our blog series on families and members that go out from Trinity and work in many different countries continues as we learn a little bit more about the work of Sam and Silvana and their young family.
Although Sam had given his spare time for a couple of years prior, working for Godshandiwork Puppets became a full time role for him in 2000. There is also some joint work with the Agape Puppets overseas, and from later this year with Simply the Story. The goal is simple – to share the good news of God’s story and a personal relationship with Jesus, using puppets, storytelling along with any other creative ways that can be thought of. They also train and equip others to use puppets, storytelling, balloons etc., to share their Faith in Jesus. There is a simple rule that if asked, if at all possible they will go, and work with everyone.
As Sam explains “We are getting more opportunities in places that as others describe them, are “that it is hard for you to understand”. Knowing what is meant when others say this I always find funny. What I find interesting are the places we struggle to understand why would they let us come? Places that might appear to have no time for the Christian faith, but are willing to let us come”.
So let’s learn a bit more from Sam:
When did you first know you wanted to do your current role?
During 2 years of doing it in my spare time, I waited for someone who knew what they were doing to come along. I gradually realised that God was actually calling me for the job, when no one else ever showed up.
Give us a highlight from your time in current role.
This past summer at the Féile an Phobail, while sharing with people who were at a fun day in Dunville Park, beside the Royal Hospital. It was brilliant fun for me personally, the way people were responding and listening. You got the feeling God was really speaking to people through all that was going on. You just wished you could stand back and watch what He was doing. But you had time for nothing, Silvana was singing with the band we often work with and I was making balloons when I wasn’t telling stories.
What is a major challenge to you carrying out your work?
Sometimes we can feel a bit discouraged and alone. But it is amazing to see how God carries us through these moments.
Tell us about a funny moment that happened to you at work.
My favourite funny stories to tell are the toilet stories of which we have many; Silvana would kill me though if I told you the best ones! One thing that made us laugh recently was what a friend shared with us. He had been asked to speak to young people at a large retreat in his tradition, as he makes films. After the event, he was speaking to the youth worker, asking why did you get me? You should get someone with puppets. At this moment another youth worker walks by and says yes you should get the puppet guy. When someone else walking by overhears and says definitely get the puppet guy. It is always nice to get recommended, but to have 3 people not from your tradition, be able to recommend you at the same time, doesn’t happen very often. This event had been mentioned to us this year. For many it would fit into the category of opportunities that are hard to understand. Silvana and I laughed so hard about it. Please pray that something would come off it for next year.
When have you witnessed a real impact that your work has had in someone else’s life.
When I listened to a young man speak with a clergyman friend of his about the impact of the work we have been part of for many years in his village. I had just popped in to say hello to the young man at a fun day. It just blew me away the door God opened for us that day; it has been a huge support.
What is it that gives you the drive to keep doing what you do?
Simply we love what we do, sharing God’s story with people who are interested is so much fun. We see such a need now for people doing the kind of things we are doing, to communicate scripture and the Gospel to those who do not know it, in a way that they can hear it. It is often brutally hard. I ask myself from time to time is it right to bring my family with me into these situations? At times it is a precarious life, where you more often see criticism of your methods than any results or support for what you do. We cling though to the knowledge that we are not called to be successful, or popular, we are just called to be obedient, to share God’s story, to make disciples.
Is there anything you would like to say to your supporting congregation at Trinity?
Thank you for your support and thank you for your witness, it encourages us to see what God is doing at Trinity. We often find ourselves sharing in places where the church is turning inward instead of reaching out. Keep doing what you are doing, keep supporting what God is doing. You are an encouragement to us in that.
What are the biggest challenges facing your organisation just now?
We have many major challenges, from getting enough help, to practically how we set ourselves up, to wondering is there enough support for what we do. The biggest challenge I always find is with my own attitude. I find it hard when places I would be theologically comfortable with generally give you very little support for your work, they sometimes just want you to “entertain” the children. We have found when working with churches that we may not agree with, that they understand the cost and importance of the work we do much better, I don’t understand this. Sometimes there is no support there for what we need to do, you just have to step out in faith, hoping God will sort things out, that never gets any easier. Wisdom in what we say is also a challenge, we are always seeking how to present things in a way people can most easily hear it, and this can be anything from the words we use, to how we identify ourselves, to what we wear. Perhaps the hardest challenge is when we can’t do something for someone, and we are asked do you know of anyone else? There are precious few people sharing Jesus in creative ways that I know of, or know of like ourselves who will work with anyone or along with a couple of other groups as well. A couple of years ago, I was unable to do something for a friend, there was no one I could recommend to them, I would love not to be in that situation again.
Find out more here www.godshandiwork.org