Social Justice & Outreach: Paying It Forward Letters

Contributed by: Jeremy Harris, Diocese of Auckland

LettersSPaying It Forward Letters – paying it forward by writing anonymous letters to strangers with Bible verses, poems, quotes, and words of encouragement.

Our youth really got into this! The awesome thing was that, through doing this, they grasped that the good news – that they have been hearing about and were writing down – is as much for others as it is for them.

One week before

Let them know what’s going to happen and got them pumped on the idea with a talk about paying it forward.

Inspire them by showing them one or both of these true stories:

2013 Kindness Challenge Winner – Hannah Brencher, More Love Letters

What happens when 400 people #lovebomb Auckland City

Say: “Next week we are writing our own letters to strangers. We won’t know who, exactly. We won’t know what they need to hear, for sure. But we will write. And we will share words of encouragement, peace, hope, love, life, strength, and anything else that God might want us to.”

On the night

Set up stations around the room with inspirational poems, Bible verses, quotes and words of encouragement for the youth to contemplate. Also set up letter-writing tables with paper, envelopes, pens, as well as colouring pencils, felts, stickers and glue so they can decorate their letters.

Invite your youth group to spend time moving round the stations then, when they are ready, to move to the tables and write letters to strangers. Encourage them to write letters full of love, life, and God.

When they’ve finished writing, spend some time praying about who to give the letters to and for whoever will receive them. Then head out to your local community to deliver the letters to strangers (you may need to organise parents/leaders to provide transport, and plan to go to different areas). When we did this, one group left theirs behind items in the supermarket. One guy, the youngest in our youth group, gave his directly to a worker at Burger King. That was awesome to see and he was really empowered by that!

Finish by gathering back together in your youth room to share your stories, celebrate together, and to pray again for those who received the letters.