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Just do it

To challenge students about their response to need when it is presented to them, using a well-known event from the life of Jesus and Bob Geldof’s experience with Live Aid.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To challenge students about their response to need when it is presented to them, using a well-known event from the life of Jesus and Bob Geldof’s experience with Live Aid.

Preparation and materials

  • Three readers.
  • The Bible passage used is Matthew 14.13–21.

Assembly

  1. Leader: What is your reaction when you see a need before you? It may be a homeless person begging outside your favourite shop. It may be a news report about an earthquake or tsunami. It may be a documentary about slum children in India. It may be a Comic Relief video about AIDS orphans in Africa.

    When you see a desperate need in the world, do you sometimes feel the desire to respond? We all may feel the desire to respond, but how many times do we actually do something about it? The truth is, we often do nothing at all.

    So what holds us back? What stops us responding?
  2. Reader 1: I have to admit that I like all the fun and dressing up on Red Nose Day and for Children in Need but the truth is, I don’t actually give any money. Well, it’s mine, isn’t it? I need it for clothes and going out. I don’t have that much. Let someone who has loads of money give to the poor. It’s not my responsibility really. I do feel a bit bad about it at the time but I soon forget and get on with my own life.

    Reader 2: I was really moved when I saw a documentary about homelessness in our big cities here in the UK, and really wanted to do something to help. I didn’t, though. I guess I was scared. What if I’d tried to raise money and it had been a complete disaster? What if I’d tried to get involved in a project for homeless people and was no good at it? What have I got to offer? I’m just an ordinary person. I didn’t want to fail, so in the end I did nothing at all.

    Reader 3: I watch the news every day and natural disasters seem to happen more and more frequently with more and more devastating results. I really want to do something, to give something, but I don’t. I’m scared of what my friends might say. Can you imagine it? They would call me a goody-goody. They would just laugh in my face.
  3. Leader: Let me take you back over two thousand years to an event recorded in the Bible, in chapter 14 of the book of Matthew.

    This new teacher, Jesus, was on the scene and there was a real buzz going on. His teachings were different from anything the people had heard before and there were stories of him performing miracles – healing people from all sorts of illnesses, and doing other weird and wonderful things. Crowds followed him just to get a glimpse of him and hear some of his tales. They walked far from their homes with no thought of what they would eat or where they would sleep. They were caught up in the excitement of it all and nothing else mattered.

    This particular evening, Jesus looked around this crowd of over five thousand people and saw how tired and hungry they were. He told his followers to feed them. How on earth were they going to do that? They had no food. They had no money. Anyway, there was nowhere to buy food from. Maybe some of the crowd had brought some food with them that they could share . . .
  4. Reader 1: You must be joking! Why would I share my food with the rest of these people? I’ve brought enough for me and my family. The others should have done the same. If I started to share my picnic out, imagine what would be left for me and my children! Let the others go home hungry. We have what we need.

    Reader 2: Are they really asking us to share what we have? No one else seems to be moving. What if I take my food to the front and they don’t like it? They might refuse to use it. I prepared food for myself, not for it to be assessed by others. It doesn’t look particularly good and the bread is a bit hard. I’m too ashamed to get it out. I’ll just pretend I haven’t got any.

    Reader 3: To be honest, I have a bit more food than I need just for me, but I can’t face walking up to Jesus in front of all these people. My cheeks are burning red at the thought of it. What will everyone think of me? My small amount won’t feed everyone. They’ll just laugh at me, I’m sure they will.
  5. Leader: Fortunately, someone did respond. Someone took five loaves and two fish to Jesus. It’s often said that this was a young boy. A young boy who was not selfish, who was not afraid of failing, who was not afraid of being laughed at. And, somehow, everyone was fed that night. Maybe others followed the example of this young boy and shared what they had. When everyone had finished eating, there were twelve baskets full of food left over. Incredible!
  6. Leader: Let’s move on in time now, to less than twenty years ago. In 1984, Bob Geldof saw a need and responded to it. This changed him from being lead singer of the rock band The Boomtown Rats into a significant international figure.

    Along with the rest of the nation, he had watched as thousands of people starved to death in a severe famine that had swept across Ethiopia and other African countries. Like the rest of the British people, he saw the television news reports of the plight of starving children. But unlike the rest of the British people, he decided to do something about it. He raised awareness of the need for humanitarian aid in a way that had never been done before.

    With Midge Ure, he got together 40 of the best-known names in pop music at the time and together, as Band Aid, they released the single – ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ The single became an instant best-seller, selling a record 3 million copies.

    In the summer of 1985, Bob Geldof was one of the main organizers behind the Live Aid event aimed at raising money and awareness for Africa. . It was a 16-hour rock extravaganza comprising two massive concerts that took place simultaneously on two continents: at Wembley Stadium in London and at the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia in the US. Nothing like it had ever been done before and it captured the imagination and attention of the world. For one day – 13 July 1985 – an estimated 1.4 billion of the planet’s 5 billion people stopped and watched Geldof’s ‘global jukebox’, and were treated to one of the biggest, most ambitious concerts ever staged. At one point, according to a stage announcement, 95 per cent of the world’s television sets were tuned in to Live Aid.

    Let’s be clear. At that time, The Boomtown Rats had passed the peak of their success and Bob Geldof was not a particularly influential figure. He had no money. He had no powerful friends. He had no experience of pulling this sort of thing together. With a phone in his hand and an overwhelming desire to respond to the need he had witnessed, he got world-class acts to perform for free in a show that was organized from scratch in under six weeks. Incredible!
  7. Can you see the parallels between the achievement of Bob Geldof and the feeding of the five thousand?

    Bob Geldof saw the hunger of the people in Africa and responded to it with compassion, giving the little he had. He was not selfish, he was not afraid of failing, he was not afraid of being laughed at.

    And then the miracle happened. When he set an example by giving of himself and his time and passion, other musicians followed suit and gave of their time and talents. When the people of the world saw these musicians give their time and talents for free, they gave of their own resources. And their money bought food for the people of Africa. Incredible!

Time for reflection

Please listen to the words of this meditation and if you would like, make them your own.

Reader 1
I saw a need and I did not respond.
I did not respond because I was selfish.
I feel bad that I did nothing.
Next time, I will respond.
Just do it!

 

Reader 2
I saw a need and I did not respond.
I did not respond because I was afraid of failing.
 I feel bad that I did nothing.
Next time, I will respond.
Just do it!

Reader 3
I saw a need and I did not respond.
I did not respond because I was afraid of being laughed at.
I feel bad that I did nothing.
Next time, I will respond.
Just do it!

 

Leader
Just imagine what will happen if each of us sees need
and responds to the desire to do something about it.
Just imagine the miracles that will take place when we all just do it!
JUST DO IT!

Music

Play one of the Comic Relief or Live Aid hit singles.

Publication date: June 2011   (Vol.13 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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