Kyla Steinman is pictured at far left, back row, with a group of teens in Cargacreevy, Northern Ireland, along with a couple of her fellow CCU missionaries. Steinman’s group partnered with Salt Factory Sports in their youth ministry outreach, connecting through sports before going deeper in their conversations.
Steinman evangelizes in Northern Ireland
Known as a place of religious tension and past violence between Protestants and Catholics, Northern Ireland might sound like a questionable place to insert an American college mission trip.
Not if you ask Kyla Steinman, who recently returned from her June 8-25 trip to the region with 21 other students from Colorado Christian University.
Steinman is the daughter of Jeff and Tricia Michael.
Despite the deeply ingrained “Catholic versus Protestant” cultural elements of the region, Steinman, a 2016 Haxtun graduate, soon learned that it was more a matter of difference in title than belief.
“The kids we worked with were very blunt,” said Steinman. “They’d say, ‘I go to church, but I don’t believe in God.’”
Partnering with the Northern Irish organization Salt Factory Sports, Steinman’s group spent two weeks engaging youth and encouraging churches, driving home the message that Christianity is about a person’s relationship with God, not their cultural title.
They worked in three churches and five schools, running vacation Bible school-type camps, giving talks at the churches and working with students of all ages in classrooms.
In both church camps and schools, the group was mainly prepared for working with children in the primary grades, ages 5-12. In both settings, however, their abilities were stretched when they unexpectedly encountered teenagers.
“The first camp we did, a bunch of 14-15-year-olds showed up unexpectedly,” said Steinman. “We pretty much had to create a program for them out of thin air.” She said there was no way those teenagers would be doing any choreographed dancing with the elementary-aged children.
Their adaptations must have worked, as some teenagers even returned to help run the next VBS camp.
Steinman said the churches were extremely appreciative of their work. One church had a congregation of only 60 people, but the CCU group’s camp attracted over 100 children.
Visiting schools, the group’s routine was to teach the students to play a sport, then split up for “team time,” getting to know students and using sports analogies to help talk about God.
“There’s no separation of church and state there, so you can say whatever you want,” Steinman explained of their work within the schools.
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