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Spiritual toolkit supports families suffering because of the war in Ukraine

A contemplative toolkit developed to support families and schools in the Diocese of Oxford will now be used by those affected by the conflict in Ukraine. 

More than 150 schools in the diocese have received training to use the Space Maker resources, which invites pupils to explore and nurture their everyday faith. One of those schools, in Bicester, is being supported by Christian worker Penni Davids-Austin, who also spends time in Ukraine. A passing conversation with a pastor Sergey in Kyiv during one of her visits led to Penni suggesting the kit to help those suffering as a result of Russia’s invasion.

Chaplaincy adviser Charlie Kerr, of the Oxford Diocese Board of Education which developed the toolkit, set about finding a translator for the resources and trained Penni to use the kit in the war-torn country. When she returned to Ukraine, Penni led a session to train 18 pastors and lay people.

Penni has seen first-hand the difference this course has made. One testimony comes from an elderly Ukrainian babushka who had been made homeless due to Russian bombs destroying all she had, who turned to Christ after being given a ‘container’ home by Sergey. This lady was the first to volunteer to take part in Space Makers. 

Penni explains: “This woman said there is no way she could see a way forward without forgiving people for what they had done, destroying her home, wrecking everything that she had. She was able to forgive her mother-in-law who is Russian, he wanted to leave that in the past and to fill her life to overflowing with the Holy Spirit so she could impact the lives of the people in her community.”

She added the toolkit was easy to use in areas where people don’t have a lot as the sessions can be flexible and adapted to different needs, and do not need any specialist equipment. 

Opportunities are now being explored to provide the training to more pastors and adoptive parents. This will enable them to deal more effectively with those suffering from the trauma of the war.

Charlie explained: “The toolkit was developed as a Christian response to the mental health crisis in young people. It uses a combination of mindfulness and prayer to encourage people to be more contemplative. The resources are for all, of faith and none, to promote taking time each day to reflect on what is troubling them and how to understand it better.”

As well as being translated for use in Ukraine, Space Makers has also been shared with other dioceses including York, Lichfield, Birmingham and Southwark and has gone as far afield as South Africa and Australia.

Listen to Penni share her experiences of using Space Makers in Ukraine.

If your school is interested in using the Space Makers toolkit, you can find out more on our website.

Notes to Editor

For media enquiries and high-res photos, please contact Rebekah Sharrock on 07880 716761.

Page last updated: Wednesday 8th November 2023 1:53 PM
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