Leaders' Notes: Women of Faith

Introduction

The session outline provided serves as a guide for exploring faith; the way it impacts all aspects of our lives and the various expressions it finds in our work and relationships, private and public lives. Visit writing reviews for the most reliable writing services reviews

The purpose of the session is to get the girls talking about what their faith means to them, the challenges they face as young women seeking to be faithful followers of Islam or Christianity, and the strength and encouragement they can draw from knowing that having a faith is something that unites them.

As a leader, you might want to take a little time ahead of the session to consider how your faith impacts your life. A good way to prepare for this would be to devote some time to studying what the Bible and Qur’an say about Faith. As it’s such a huge theme – here are some starting points:

Scriptures

  • Proverbs 3:5-6 – trust in God leads to a change in attitude which results in a change of circumstances.
  • Habakkuk 2:4 – faith is a mark of righteousness being lived-out.
  • Philippians 2:1-18 – faith is an expression of worship and an out-working of Christ’s work in us, as we live our lives in the pattern he has marked out for us.
  • Romans 10:10-11 – faith starts from within and works its way out.
  • Ephesians 2:8-10 – faith is the acceptance of God’s grace, which was given freely. Its out-working is in the ‘good works’ that we have been called to.
  • Hebrews 11:1 – Faith draws our focus from what ‘is’ to what ‘will be’ (see also 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
  • Hebrews 12:2 – Jesus is not simply the focus of our faith, he is its embodiment – the initiator and completion of our faith; its “author and perfecter.” Again, faith is a call to action – a call to righteousness, as.
  • James 2:14-26 – faith is shown in works (note – it’s not established in ‘doing’ good works, but faith is filled-out in what we do).

Quran

  • 2.178 – focusing on God, God-consciousness (taqwa), and the actions and behaviour (‘good works’) which stem from that are what distinguishes the believer
  • 5.9, 6.135 – faith is a mark of righteousness and justice being lived-out, it flows into our dealings with others
  • 13.128 – faith and spending time with God brings comfort to the heart
  • 6.97,98; 20.2,3 – the signs within Creation, and especially the Qur’an are a pointer to the Eternal

Practical Points

The session timings serve only as a guide – the activities could easily be spread-out over a couple of days with additional games, chill-out times etc.

There are parts of the session that may require more time and preparation in advance, here’s a list of ideas and resources that you might find useful to get things planned ahead of time, helping things to run more smoothly on the day

Activity
Aim
Suggested Resources
Speed-dating

To get the girls chatting to one another informally, setting a fun tone and open atmosphere for the day as a whole.

Ask your leaders to work on a list of questions ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous! Try to avoid questions that might make girls uncomfortable, like ‘embarrassing moments’ – it should be kept fairly light-hearted, but of course you’ll have a fairly good idea of what the girls will be up for!

To avoid the girls being asked the same questions, use a different list of questions for the two groups and have the girls pick a different number each turn so they’re asked the relevant question on their partner’s sheet.

Double date

To get the girls into the groups in which they’ll work for the rest of the day. Following on from the first activity, this should be a fun way of the girls getting to know one another a bit better and establishing a sense of trust.

If you feel the girls have exhausted the questions on their sheets in the first part of the session, it might help to have a few deeper questions for them to work with – maybe venturing into aspects of faith, like: ‘what do you enjoy most about being a Christian/Muslim?’ or ‘is the most important thing about your faith, for you?’

Show and tell

For the girls to have a point of focus for discussion about the significance of their faith.

It can sometimes be hard to put faith into words, especially given that faith is not just about what we say, so ask the girls to bring something with them that can act as a point of reference – something that is a visual reminder to them of an aspect of their faith. Things like the hijab or cross are good examples. Ask your leaders to bring a few things with them for the girls to look at and discuss during the breaks and, especially, in case anyone forgets to bring something.

Video-Diary

To provide a glimpse into how faith impacts not only on our own experience of life but on our involvement with others and our daily activities. We want to get the girls talking about what it means to live a life of faith and finding common threads in what that means for both Christians and Muslims.

This is something which will need a bit of preparation in advance, and quite possibly the help of a video/computer whiz to help edit the raw material! Ask two women, from the Church and Mosque represented by your group (preferably younger women who hold some area of responsibility within their worshipping community) to record a video-diary for a day, giving a flavour of how a ‘woman of faith’ spends her time and how her faith affects each aspect of her day.

Challenging faith

Following on from the previous session, which will hopefully have established a basis for understanding one another’s faith a little better, we want to encourage the girls to share their perspectives about what they’ve discovered so far during the day. What have they learned about the challenges they each face? What encouraged them from the videos they watched?

One thing that will be true for all the girls is that for all of the freedoms we enjoy in the UK, being a follower of any faith is tough – people will often stick to stereotypes. And we all have things that can be a distraction to following a life of faith. You may want to provide something for the girls to write notes on during this session to use as a point of reference for the next activity.

The Art of Faith

The idea of this activity is create something that is a celebration of faith and the things that encourage us in our faith.

You’ll need loads of space and resources. A number of local recycling facilities run arts project where you can source materials for the girls to use for their creations. Try to offer a range of resources: paints, fabric, leaves and flowers, paper, card etc. Some of the girls may want to compose a poem or song rather than a sculpture, collage or picture, so bear that in mind in your preparation.

You might want to provide sheets with Scriptures from the Qu’ran and the Bible that speak about faith and faithfulness as a point of focus or inspiration or even as something to be incorporated into their works of art.
Be sure to allow time for the girls to show or perform their creations and describe what inspired them.

Showing faith

As the focus for the day is faith it seems appropriate to close with an act of devotion and worship. And given the intention of the day, it would be fitting to offer the girls the opportunity of observing one another’s forms of worship. Obviously this has to be dealt with sensitively as our worship is something that is both very personal and reverent so be sure that leaders and girls alike are happy with the idea. If planned carefully and openly a joint act of worship might be possible.

This is something which will again require forward planning – your leaders might want to discuss with the leaders of their Mosque or Church what would be considered appropriate to include in a closing act of worship. You’ll need the use of two rooms so that neither groups’ worship will encroach on the other – this is particularly important when considering the use of music as you wouldn’t want the noise from one group to disturb the other. It might be nice to allow the girls to participate in this in some way such as offering prayers or reading scriptures.

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