Heroes of the Faith – Paul
Note: This assembly was designed for a 25 minute slot so you may need to adapt it or take out bits depending on the length of your assembly slot.
Introduction: Introduce yourself and explain what you do
Explain: This afternoon we’re going to be looking at a hero of Christianity who can be found in the bible and actually a hero who didn’t start off as anything like a hero!
Ask: Who’s heard of Paul? Can anyone tell me what He did?
Story: Tell the story of Paul using the Brick Testament (4 mins)
Then Saul began to destroy the church. He went from house to house arresting men and women and sending them to prison, uttering threats of murder to the Lord’s disciples.
In Jerusalem he put many of the holy ones in prison, and when they were executed, he cast his vote against them
Saul was so insane with rage against them, he pursued them to foreign cities.
While traveling and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven more brilliant than the sun shone all around him, and he heard a voice saying, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
The men traveling with Saul stood speechless, for though they could see the light, they could not hear the voice. Saul fell to the ground and said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he replied, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’
‘Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what to do.’
Saul stood up, but when he opened his eyes, he could not see anything.
They led him by hand to Damascus, and for three days he could not see, and he did not eat or drink anything.
Then a disciple who was in Damascus named Ananias entered the house and laid his hands on Saul, saying, ‘I have been sent by the Lord Jesus so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.’
Immediately Saul was able to see again.
He spent a few days with the disciples in Damascus.
And then Saul immediately began preaching in the synagogues, ‘Jesus is the Son of God’.
Explain: So Saul was someone who didn’t like Christians at all…to the point where he went round killing them but in the story we’ve just heard he becomes a Christian and completely changes his life.
Ask: Who has ever done something wrong, said they won’t do it again and then done it again?
Explain: It can be a really really difficult thing to change ourselves but Saul managed it and actually even changed his name from Saul to Paul because he had completely changed who he was and become a Christian.
But this isn’t the reason that Paul is a hero of Christianity.
Hold up a bible
Ask: Who knows what this is?
Explain: Yes, it’s a bible and in the bible we have lots of different books written by different people and we have two main sections, the old testament which is all the stuff before Jesus and the New Testament which is about things that happened after and a lot of our New Testament is made up of things that Paul did.
Ask: Who has a hobby? Who likes to play football or rugby, go dancing, play a musical instrument? (Alternative- can ask a few students what they like to do)
Explain: Paul isn’t automatically good at what he does and he knows it. Like anything we do, such as all those hobbies we have, it takes years of commitment to be really good at it. It can sometimes be tough to start at the beginning knowing we’re not great yet, and to carry on with what we do instead of giving up.
In his First letter to the Corinthians, who are a group of people living in ancient Greece that Paul visits and makes friends with, Paul reminds people that they’re nowhere near the best!
Remember, the greeks were famous for being really clever (eg. at maths and making big scientific discoveries), as well as being really fit and sporty; they invented the olympics! Paul tells them to 26-31Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families.
Paul reminds these people that they’re just normal people; regular people like you or me, or him! But this doesn’t mean they’re no good. He isn’t pretending to be better than them either; he knows you have to start somewhere, and in the beginning, it was hard for him too! He says
When I first came to see you.. I was unsure of how to go about [talking to you], and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it!
Just because you’re normal, doesn’t mean you’re can’t be great. Paul knows he has a job to do, and while he could be scared he’ll be rubbish at it and just walk away, he keeps trying. While he reckons he was rubbish at the start, in the end, he turned out to be an unexpected hero! Out of 27 books in the New Testament, Paul wrote 14, which is over half!
All the stuff he had to say gets read and talked about by millions of people all over the world every day. As well as that, at the time he was alive, he became something of a celebrity.
Ask: Who here has a favourite celebrity, someone famous that they really like? Maybe a singer, or a footballer? Someone you want to be a bit like, or dress a bit like? (alternative- can have pictures of celebrities and see if children recognise them)
Explain: At the time, loads of people got to meet and hear about Paul and all the great stuff he was up to, and that made them want to be just like him. He knew God had given him something important to do, which was talking to all these different people about Jesus, and even though he wasn’t sure he was up to the job at first, he trusted God that he could succeed in the end.
Do you remember the bit where Paul told his friends they ‘weren’t the brightest or the best?’ Actually, Paul doesn’t write to make them feel bad- he writes to encourage them to be the very best they can be, and never stop trying.
There are loads of things we can just give up on or put off doing, like tidying our room when mum or dad asks us to or being nice to our brother or sister when they’re really annoying us, putting the effort into learning stuff like maths when we think it’s too difficult, or give up a sport because we don’t think we’ll ever be as good as our favourite player.
Paul is a great example of how we should always try our best, even if what we’re up to seems hard or too much effort, because what we do will be worth it when we know we’ve done well, and to other people who benefit from our efforts.
Short prayer to close.
Dear God, I pray that we can all learn to become heroes just like Paul by never giving up, even if things seem difficult, and to have the faith that we can be good at them. I pray that we can be thoughtful and do kind things for other people even when we can’t be bothered. Please help us to do all these things, and remember that even though we think we’re normal, you have given us lots of talents and think we’re really special. Amen.