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Not a Holiday!

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the experiences of the apostle, Paul, when he was shipwrecked off the coast of Malta.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available a large world map on display so that the location of Malta can be seen.

  • You will need to be familiar with Paul’s experiences in Malta, which can be found in Acts 27-28.

  • You will also need two signs showing the words ‘Fortunately’ and Unfortunately’, and two volunteers to hold up these signs at appropriate points in the assembly.


  1. Show the world map.

    Invite the children to point out places where they have lived or that they have visited on holiday. Ask if anyone has ever visited Malta and point out where Malta is located. If children have visited Malta, ask them to describe their experiences.

  2. Explain that the apostle, Paul, visited Malta. However, his visit wasn’t a holiday; it was full of danger!

  3. Paul, who was one of the first Christians, spent his life touring the Mediterranean region, telling people about Jesus. However, this greatly annoyed some people, so they had Paul arrested and put on trial. Being a Roman citizen, Paul demanded the right to be tried in front of the emperor in Rome. It was on his way to Rome by boat that Paul stopped off at Malta for an unplanned three-month visit.

  4. Ask for two volunteers to help you tell the story of Pauls trip to Malta. On this trip, many good things happened to Paul, but he also had more than his fair share of unfortunate events.

  5. Give each of the volunteers one of the signs ready to hold up. Ask the children to shout ‘Fortunately’ or Unfortunately’ when the correct sign is held up.

  6. Read out the following script, indicating to the volunteers when they should hold up the correct sign.

    Unfortunately, for preaching about Jesus, Paul was put in prison in Jerusalem for two years without trial.

    Fortunately, as a Roman citizen, Paul could not be left in prison forever and had the right to a fair trial.

    Unfortunately, this meant that he had to go to Rome in a boat, guarded by Roman soldiers.

    Fortunately, the leader of the Roman soldiers was a kind man called Julius and he looked after Paul well.

    Unfortunately, Julius didn’t know much about sailing and, ignoring Pauls advice, he gave the order for the sailors to sail into a huge storm.

    Fortunately, after two weeks of being blown around the Mediterranean and enduring terrible sickness, the crew spotted a bay that had a gentle sloping beach, where they managed to run the ship aground.

    Unfortunately, the ship hit a sandbank and started to break up.

    Fortunately, everyone on the ship, including Paul, managed to reach the shore of the island of Malta.

    Unfortunately, it was raining and cold in Malta.

    Fortunately, the survivors of the shipwreck were able to make a fire.

    Unfortunately, when collecting wood for the fire, Paul was bitten by a snake.

    Fortunately, the snakes poison had no effect on Paul.

    Unfortunately, because of this, everyone thought that Paul was a god and started to worship him.

    Fortunately, Paul was invited to stay in the house of the islands governor.

    Unfortunately, the governors father was sick in bed.

    Fortunately, Paul placed his hands on him and prayed for him and the man got better immediately.

    Unfortunately, all of the other sick people on the island came to the house.

    Fortunately, Paul prayed for them all and they all got better. The visitors gave Paul lots of presents.

    Unfortunately, after three months on Malta, Paul had to leave the island and set off again on his journey to Rome.

  7. Thank the volunteers for helping you to tell the story before asking them to return to their seats.

Time for reflection

Remind the children that during all of the events that befell him, Paul never panicked or despaired because he trusted in God. Christians believe that God can be trusted and that he will never leave them, no matter how difficult the situations in which they find themselves become.

Dear God,
Thank you that we can go on holiday and discover new places in your world.
We ask that you protect us from harm during our holidays.
Please help us to remember that you are with us wherever we go.
Please help us to remember that you will never leave us, even when things are hard.


Be bold, be strong (Kidsource (Kevin Mayhew))

I do not know what lies ahead (Junior Praise, 92)

Publication date: August 2022   (Vol.24 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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