Reverend Willie Liebenberg
I often like to begin each chapel service with a game. It’s a great way to break the ice and to help students relax.
Last week we played ‘Bean Boozled’ – a game that involves eating jelly beans. Contestants spin a wheel that determines what colour jelly bean they have to eat. There is a catch though – some jelly bean flavours taste great and some taste absolutely terrible. When I asked who wanted to play, hands rose immediately from various seats within the chapel. These students clearly had no fear – they weren’t deterred by the possibility that they may have to consume ‘canned dog food’ or ‘spoiled milk’ flavoured jelly beans!
While fun, the game prompted a deeper discussion about fear. It allowed us to talk about different kinds of fear and how it can affect us in different ways.
When asking students what they were afraid of, I was surprised by the myriad of responses. For some of our juniors, it seemed that ‘spiders, the dark and snakes’ were common fears, while our seniors shared some deeper insights such as a fear of rejection and failure.
After much discussion we determined everyone is afraid of something. To help students understand fear is something we all feel, I shared some of my own fears and frightening experiences endured during my time in South Africa. I recounted a terrifying cable car experience that saw a vicious storm roll through while I was suspended atop of a very high mountain. I genuinely feared for my life. Yet in that moment I took strength in a passage from Isaiah 41: 10 (MSG), “Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” I continued to recite the words while the storm rolled through that day.
Isaiah’s words helped me immensely and I think our students also took home some valuable reassurances that fear is a shared experienced and God is here for us, when we are feeling frightened, sad, happy, indifferent, or even when we are about to eat a jelly bean that tastes like a rotten egg.