This year was the second year that Niamh Conlon from our Oroua parish whānau had served as a children’s ministry leader at New Wine Festival, and it was observing the “literal meaning of child-like faith” in action that brought her back.
“In Kids Zone, we create a fun and positive environment in which the children can encounter Jesus, and encounter the Holy Spirit,” Niamh told us. “But I was surprised by how much God moved.” The Bible teaching for the Kids Zone focused on how full of life and colour the Bible is, and children also learned how to pray for each other and hear the voice of God. “Each group had a chance to pray and ask God what His favourite thing is about their team mates, so they could share a word of encouragement,” Niamh told us. At one point, some children asked for prayer for healing, so the whole zone engaged in prayer ministry.
The atmosphere amongst the children was full of excitement throughout, says Niamh. This year, the usual Kids Zone facilities were turned into a construction zone, so the New Wine team built a relationship with the primary school next door and were blessed to be offered their facilities. But that meant a slightly longer-than-usual walk from the main meeting place at Kāpiti College across the fields to Raumati Beach School. So this year, the children established the New Wine walking bus – a chain of hundreds of children holding on to the same rope, led by their group leaders, and walking from the festival camping village to the Kids Zone venue. “The children loved it!” Niamh shared. “We got really good at singing their favourite song – ‘My Lighthouse!’”
Watching as the people come nearer to God is clearly a joy to Niamh. As a worship musician at St John’s Church in Feilding with her father, Rev Graham, she is used to serving and ministering to her fellow Christians, and the New Wine experience is clearly no different. She says that some children made decisions to invite Jesus into their lives “to be their friend, as we call it,” for the first time this year, and this brought her a lot of joy. For those in the adults’ meeting place who heard from MC Rev Julia Coleman, they would not be surprised by the faith input that New Wine has for their children. Julia shared about how her children came to faith at New Wine many years ago and are now leaders in the festival.