Children in Kenya will be playing fun, faith-led games thanks to the support of members of the worshipping community in Bisley.
All Saints’ Bisley has partnered with Project Touchline and the Diocese of Mumias in Western Kenya to provide sports equipment and training to enable schoolchildren there to engage with faith through play.
Chris Andrew, who runs Project Touchline and is a Licenced Reader at Holy Trinity, Wickwar and a CoE Archbishop’s Evangelist, first began speaking online with Bishop Joseph Wandera when they met via X (formally Twitter) in 2020. Bishop Joseph had become interested in the work Chris, a UKCC Level 2 Rugby and Cricket Coach, had been doing through sports ministry.
Project Touchline is a Gloucestershire-based company, founded by Chris in 2015, offering sports/PE education with Christian values. The programme offers a mission opportunity, as the games demonstrate values of respect, love and perseverance.
Chris says, “We are very excited to be working with Bishop Joseph and the Diocese of Mumias. He was really excited about the opportunity for Project Touchline to work with the diocese there, and through ongoing discussion we decided we’d meet in the summer and do some training.
“Bishop Joseph has 100,000 children in his diocese and it’s a very rural and poor part of Kenya. They have chaplains who go in and support these children, so I gifted two days to them to train the chaplains remotely in the work we were going through sport, faith and values. Bishop Joseph really feels this is a prophetic partnership – these things just don’t happen unless God is working.”
Chris has worked closely with John Cowen, a Licensed Reader at All Saints’, Bisley and long-time friend. On 21 and 25 August 2023, Chris and John met with over 20 school chaplains in Mumias via Teams.
“This was a wonderful gathering, but from that we needed to work out how to go forward. Project Touchline is all about having equipment to be able to do the programme, so we needed to raise funds to provide this.”
John says, “It so happened that All Saints’ received a generous donation and we felt it offered a wonderful symbol of hope for both our parish and the Diocese of Mumias to share that with the project by funding the sports equipment. We are getting the rugby balls printed with the Diocese of Mumias logo – so there is a real visual link to our partnership, which will help to excite the children. The plan is to ship them out to Kenya at the end of November.”
Chris adds, “Sport transcends all boundaries. You can have nothing, but you can have a ball and there can be hope, love and joy spread through that. Project Touchline is unique in that it has a programme of games – based on faith, sport and values – which have been specifically developed to help children engage with faith through the fun of sport. We look at the values in Bible stories, which the children understand and relate to the games they are playing. It’s been wonderful to see the transformation of children and schools through this programme. Bishop Joseph sees this as an opportunity of developing the children’s spirituality and connecting with children who are hard to reach.”
Bishop Joseph says, “We are a largely youthful diocese and the opportunity to partner with Project Touchline through sports ministry will strengthen our outreach and discipleship for children and the youth in a manner they can easily connect with. This partnership also demonstrates our connectedness as a global Anglican family, seeking to love and serve the Lord.”
The team are in the process of filming training videos which will be shared with the Diocese in the next training session in January 2024, meaning the project can be piloted in Kenya and has the scope to go worldwide.
Read more about Project Touchline here: ACK Diocese of Mumias – Project Touchline