Freestyle Part 2








Part 2 of our Easter Freestyle Series
By Project Worker Julia Leech

The Owner of the Donkey

As with many parts of the Bible, the Easter story has several ‘behind-the-scenes’ moments which are only mentioned in passing, and not fully explained.

One of these moments happens when Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem, and he tells his disciples to go on ahead where they will find a donkey, which they should untie and bring to him, and if anyone asks they should just say “the Lord needs it”. Sure enough, they find the donkey and say this to the owner, who then willingly lets them take the donkey off back to Jesus with no further questions.

Why does the owner do that?? It’s the kind of thing that’s easy to gloss over in a familiar story, but the owner has just given away a valuable animal to the people he found ‘acquiring’ it simply because they gave a good enough explanation. None of the gospels fully explain the owner’s thinking, but there are several possibilities.

Did God tell him? He might have had a word from God beforehand, saying that he’d find some people untying his donkey that afternoon because ”the Lord needs it” and that he should let them. If that was the case, he might have dismissed it at first, thinking it was an unlikely and strangely specific scenario and he was probably making it up. It might have been quite a surprise when it actually happened – a surreal moment, but at the same time very real, a tangible realisation that God knew who he was and had a plan for him. If that’s what happened, it was a pretty significant day for that man.

Or maybe it wasn’t that the owner knew it was coming beforehand – maybe it was the moment when he realised who the donkey was being taken for that brought out the best in the owner, when he realised he had enough faith and trust in Jesus that he would gladly give anything Jesus asked for. If that was the way the owner felt, he must have felt honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to God’s plan. If that’s what happened, then what a beautiful gift it was when God enabled that man to give.

We can’t really know how accurate these possibilities are, or whether there is a whole other explanation entirely. What we do know is that God involved the owner of the donkey in his plan, and subsequently the owner was given a fundamental part to play in the Easter story. We don’t even know the man’s name, but whoever he was, God did a wonderful thing for him that day.

Perhaps this is similar to when John says, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:15). There is always more to stories of God’s action and love in the world, because God’s work is much too extravagantly detailed to summarise in a paragraph, and touches far more people than we can comprehend.

Luke 19: 28-40
Matthew 21: 1-11
Mark 11: 1-11
John 12: 12-16

Freestyle Part 1







Part 1 of our Easter Freestyle Series
By Trust Director John Froud

Recently, I was asked to talk about my role models, my heroes when I was a teenager; the people I looked up to and tried to be like. It’s quite a long list, but I settled for Martin Luther King, a man who stood up for the lowest in society but without violence, Denis Law, a footballer admired and respected for his genius and Bob Dylan who writes songs that change minds.

Although I read a lot about them and kept albums full of press cuttings, I never actually met any of them and I have only seen Denis Law and Bob Dylan from the cheap seats at the back, from where, it must be said, neither of them look like giants.

When Jesus was arriving in Jerusalem everyone wanted to see him because they knew he was something special. He did amazing things with bread and fish, not to mention water; he fixed people who were in a bad way; he talked so well people forgot to go home.

Have you ever thought how much trouble the young people, particularly, of Jerusalem were risking on that Palm Sunday, as we call it today?
Asking parental permission to go to the city and stand with the crowd was not ever likely to go well. I would not recommend ignoring your parents’ wishes but I know it happens…
Arriving without something to wave may lead to a hasty decision to strip branches from trees…
The cheering was sufficiently loud for the “posh” people to tell Jesus to stop those children making so much noise (not that he took any notice, other than to quip something smart about shouting stones)…
And then there’s the coats. It’s one thing putting your coat down for royalty to walk on (Sir Walter Raleigh famously did so much later for Elizabeth I), but for a King riding a donkey? Really? Donkeys are famous for leaving things behind – from their behinds in fact. Imagine having to explain that to your mother.

“It was a donkey – but Mum, Jesus was on the donkey.”
“And where were you?” Angry Mum eyes, met with embarrassed, found-out hesitation.
“You’re a disgrace. The lady next door saw you pulling branches off the trees. I thought I told you not to go…” And so on, towards the inevitable punishments.

Not good.

But were those risks worth taking to be able to get close to your hero? How much effort should we make to get a good look at Jesus?

Luke 19: 28-40
Matthew 21: 1-11
Mark 11: 1-11
John 12: 12-16

Be There…

Be There
© John Froud 2000
First featured on the Be There album, recorded by John Froud & the PKs in 2000

Let me tell you, love can be hard,
Let me tell you, love can be hard,
There are times you don’t want to go there,
Times you don’t want to care,
Let me tell you, love can be hard.

You gotta be there when the one you love’s in pain,
Be there when the one you love is in pain,
When the tears are falling down,
You still gotta be around,
Be there when the one you love’s in pain.

You gotta be there when there’s nothing you can do,
Be there when there’s nothing you can do,
When they just don’t wanna know
‘Bout the love you’ve got to show,
Be there when there’s nothing you can do.

You gotta be there when the one you love lets you down,
Be there when the one you love lets you down,
When the slap comes across your face
It’s time to show some grace,
Be there when the one you love lets you down.

Let me tell you, love can be hard,
Let me tell you, love can be hard,
There are times you don’t want to go there,
Times you don’t want to care,
Let me tell you, love can be hard.

He was there and the nails tore through his hands,
He was there and the nails tore through his hands,
Taking all the pain
So I can live again,
He was there and the nails tore through his hands.

Posted Good Friday 2014



The simple constant message…

It was a struggle, but I eventually conquered the urge to call John ‘Mr Froud’. I first saw
the Zeph team – or some of them – in my primary school assemblies, and I loved everything in them. I remember one Thursday morning how the rumour went round that it was going to be ‘A Mr Froud Assembly’ (we were that excited it needed capital letters), and as my class walked in the whispers went back along the line that it was true…

Those assemblies were amazing: everyone had fun, we sang songs I know people still haven’t forgotten, and the simple constant message of God’s love always came through. I don’t have a particularly dramatic conversion story, but it was things like these assemblies that taught me enough about God to be able to decide, one day, that I wanted to follow him for myself.

So you can imagine how happy I was to get stuck into working with Zeph as a teenager, having experienced first-hand the good stuff they did. They always seem to have something on – holiday clubs, Re:wind and Fast Forward, the Light Party, Refugee Voices – always something to join in with and have a bit of fun while shining God’s light.

I have to admit though, this last holiday club was not without its hazards. Firstly, a child taped me, by my hair, to a cardboard time machine, requiring three different leaders to attempt to free me before eventually cutting off some of my hair. Later, I was asked to be in a drama, told I was to be a German solider and had to sing in German, before being handed a very large sausage. The sausage was never explained. I feel these experiences somehow sum up the wonders of working with Zeph: laughter, the unexpected and the downright odd, all in the name of sharing Jesus with kids in ways which will make sense to them. Because really, that’s what Zeph is all about, and they do it brilliantly­ – and hopefully will be for a long time to come.

Rosemary Leech is, as her blog testifies, willing to do just about anything to share God’s love with children, which is a quality we greatly admire. She is currently studying at Trinity College Oxford but has already proved more than happy to revisit Zeph in her holidays – about which we are very happy! She’s a sucker for a cup of tea and a cake, and an all-round lovely lady.

Truly Inspirational…

 My involvement with the Zephaniah Trust started four years ago with work experience, but my memory of them takes me back to primary school days, sat in the hall on a Thursday morning! The excitement in the playground on those days over the sight of John’s van was amazing!


It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be able to work with John, Julie and the team over the past few years. Their enthusiasm is infectious, whether its leading assemblies, holiday clubs, workshops or lessons – their ability to bring the Bible alive to young people who may not hear it anywhere else is amazing.

75846-dscf6950The Zephaniah Trust is truly inspirational to me and their achievements and work over the last 20 years is immense… Here’s to another 20 years of inspiring, touching hearts and opening up the Bible to so many more young people!!


Dan Breeze is another of our wonderful volunteers who began working with us as a work experience student. He is also an inspiration to us, as possibly the only person we’ve met who approaches re-setting chairs to the scarily specific instructions of different churches with the same cheerfulness as eating a curry. Dan, we salute you!

Hilarity & Hope…

When I was in primary school, some of the most beautiful mornings were when Zephaniah Trust came in for assembly.  You’d know as soon as you heard the sounds of a guitar striking up some catchy and ambitiously fast-paced song coming from the hall, and along the line every child would confirm to every other child that “IT’S MR FROUD!”.  And then we would sing and we would do actions and we would hear stories and we would be happy.  I liked those times.

I did not know that a few years later I would get to befriend these wonderful people and get involved in what they do. It turns out the children’s holiday clubs that they run are equally fun when you’re a “grown up”, and you get to drink tea! I have now spent many a hilarious hour involved in such events, preparing activities for the kids, perfecting actions to “My God shall supply”, praying, eating, and generally enjoying the unique and often slightly odd sense of humour of the other Zephaniah workers and volunteers.

Hilarity & Hope...

The thing that really makes Zephaniah Trust special isn’t just what they do – it’s the spirit they do it in. Every story, action song, short film featuring a butternut squash or similar or in fact any Zephaniah event is done with a beautiful sense of joy for life, and a passion for spreading light and hope. I have participated in and been introduced to many things through Zephaniah Trust – dramas, building time machine forts, great stories, and the discovery of bizarre Gaelic cartoons – and I think all it points to the happiness and joyful abundance of life at the heart of the Christian message.

Julia Leech is studying theology at York St John University. She combines her own odd sense of humour with a warmth and openness that make her an excellent Zeph volunteer. She is a dab hand with a ukulele and has an extraordinary talent for dancing around dressed as a cyberman. She would probably never forgive us if we ended this blog post without pointing you in the direction of “bizarre Gaelic cartoon” Fraochy Bay, broadcast on BBC Alba…

A Great Day!

We had the most wonderful day at our 20th birthday party on Saturday – thank you to everyone who joined us, joined in, affirmed us, prayed for us, donated – you’re all wonderful! We wanted to make sure you enjoyed it too, so we asked some of you to tell us what you thought…

“So pleased we were able to join your 20th birthday celebrations on Saturday afternoon. It was great to mark and celebrate the tremendous work you do in schools and with children in this area. Thank you Zephaniah Trust for inviting Stewart Henderson – I’ve been a fan since I first heard him perform when I was at school, so it was particularly moving for me to fast forward several decades and now see my six-year-old son enjoying and engaging with his poems. All in all, a lovely occasion and of course, I’ve had John’s fab songs going round my head for the rest of the weekend!”
Michelle Waterworth

I was dragged along by my daughter; however, it was lovely to see so many people I knew and I thoroughly enjoyed much of it! It was a “one of a kind” type of experience; just as Zephaniah is unique.”
Alison Dennison

I really liked the children’s comments on the video – showed their energy and humour which is such an important part of the work which Zephaniah Trust is involved in.”
Stephen Lamb, Associate


 “The highlight for me was Julie’s story. Very powerful.”
Elaine Schack

“My review might be slightly biased but for me the best things of the evening were those provided by John and the band, but particularly the story that Julie told, which was for me a kingdom moment. Keep up the good work! Also it was interesting being in the film as the straight man – a first for me!”
Colin Blake, Trustee

“The highlight for me was watching so many children singing and doing the actions to the songs & watching the video of the children in school, It was a wonderful afternoon with so many people enjoying themselves, well done Zephaniah.”
Pamela Hartley

 “I was introduced to Zephaniah Trust in October and learnt so much more on Saturday about the great work you are doing in the schools. Really looking forward to Zephaniah ‘bringing the Light’ into my school next term, when you will have your first assembly with us. The highlight of Saturday has to be the amazing children speaking with such enthusiasm about your work in their schools. Thank you so much for what you are doing amongst the children in our city. Look forward to seeing what the next 20 years brings!”
Karen Yates

“A super event ! Well done Zephaniah Trust team, thanks to Mark Greenwood and Stewart Henderson for their contributions.  A great evening celebrating all Zephaniah Trust has achieved over 20 years!”
Keith Jones, Trustee

 “It was great!”
Pauline Grant

“Fantastic and keep up the good work! God bless you all.”
Louise Le Parmentier

“Fantastic evening out, God bless you all.”
Pat Greenwood

“Praise Party in Bradford Cathedral was great fun – I’ll get you back for getting me up to do the actions to Don’t you know!!”
Mark Allison

“Really enjoyed this aft and tonight ’twas rather fab!”
Katie Jones, Associate

“Fantastic evening.”
Caroline Whitehouse

“That was a fantastic Praise Party this afternoon. I had a great time. And it was great to meet up with the whole team. BUT: THAT WILL BE THE LAST TIME THAT YOU EVER SEE ME IN A FLIPPIN’ FROCK!!!!”
Kevin Russell

“It was great to come on Saturday afternoon and see not just the kids but the mums and dads (and grannies and granddads and aunties and uncles!) as well. It reminded me of how much joy you bring into the life of so many in the district. Now if you could only get rid of some of the “earworm” songs that keep going round my head at 3am it would be wonderful! With grateful thanks to John, Julie, Sheena and Jenny for all that you do.”
Sharron Arnold

If you’d like to make a donation towards our work as a 20th birthday gift, you can donate securely online here –