2012-08-09 13:49:09

New Evangelisation: Ark the Great Race

(Vatican Radio) It’s New Evangelisation Aussie style. As we approach the October Synod on New Evangelisation and local Churches worldwide submit their thoughts, opinions and ideas on how New Evangelisation can be enacted on a pastoral and practical level, four ordinary Dad’s from Queensland have gone one step further. They have produced a fun packed, family sized tool for evangelisation, in the form of one of the most popular family activities world wide: the board game. Emer McCarthy reports Listen: RealAudioMP3

“We’ve been working very hard over the last seven years to develop a new resource for Christians, to help them reach out and connect with children and teenagers and we have based it on a board game of a very well-known story from the Bible, Noah and the Ark”, says Peter Maynard, one of the hardworking fathers’ who in his ‘spare time’ worries about how to bring children and teenagers to God.

As Archbishop Rhino Fisicella, President of the Vatican’s Council for New Evangelisation delivers the key-not speech at a landmark three day conference Proclaim 2012 - on the hot-topic of New Evangelisation - in Sydney’s business district, the Queensland Dads are launching their challenge to Christian families: Ark the Great Race.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the concept. From the high quality design of the board, players pieces (small Arks), cards (the animals of the world, colour coded according to their natural geographical habitat complete with fun facts) and the iphone app (where players can access more facts and the animal sounds) nothing has been over-looked in an effort to make the game as interactive as possible. Players have to build their Ark and travel across the world filling it with as many animals as possible – two by two of course – defend their Ark form the onslaught of unpredictable termites and icebergs, and all before the great flood. But before they begin they have to read the instructions for use. The original story of Noah and the Ark. Because, as Maynard points out, it’s not just about family entertainment:

“Its about giving Christians the opportunity to reach out to people through positive experiences. Getting together and playing a game based on a Bible story is an excellent opportunity for us to introduce someone to the Bible and also the message in the end that they can reach out if they want to know more about God”. “The inventors of Noah’s Ark-the Great Race, are four Christian guys with four families and kids and we see that the biggest task before us is bringing children and teenagers to God. We were fortunate enough to have had that experience, we wanted to find ways to not only tell other Christians to go and do it but to give them a resource to go and do it. That’s what the board game is for us and that’s what it is for all the Christians out there”.

It’s all about families, he says because New Evangelisation is not just up to clergy and religious:

“I think this is the call. I think once we have been blessed with an understanding of what’s been provided for us, its our responsibility to let other people know about that. A lot of the time it’s easier said than done. I know I have struggled myself with how do I start a conversation. It’s one thing to lead by example, but that doesn’t actually deliver a message and the great thing about the game is that we can bring families together and give families a resource that is a great segue into a conversation. For me it’s the best way I can contribute”.

But producing the game in Australia, a nation that is very secular in its nature, is no easy task:

“It’s always a challenge I think a lot of the time you just need to stand by what you believe in and demonstrate what you believe in. What we are trying to do is provide an experience that gives an opportunity to cut through. Australians can be tough to cut through to, there is no doubt about that. Its become very evident to me, travelling through Europe, some of the advantages that exist by history in itself. There are so many landmarks and monuments that really cement Christianity as the core in Europe. Australia being a new country we don’t have that, so we really have to fight the fight a different way so to say. And that’s what can bring out the best in Australians. We need to innovate and we need to look to ways to do it differently and sometimes that’s our best offering”.

Interestingly enough, because Ark the Great Race was designed as a tool for the domestic and local church, Maynard reveals that it will be sold directly by the local church and all profits will stay in the community. Its about keeping it local he says:

“The game is not going to be sold through traditional commercial outlets. Its’ only going to be provided to Christian NGO’s and churches. We want churches to use the tool as a fundraising resource as well. So a church would come on as a partner and they would sell directly to their congregation and they would receive all of the profits, instead of it going to a commercial company. So the two wins, you’re buying a Christian resource to use as an evangelical tool and at the same time your Church is generating funds to continue with other pastoral work. Community and family that is where the strength is and if we can build that up and make it stronger the world will be a better place”.

You can find out more about Ark the Great Race by visiting the website www.arkthegreatrace.com

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