Tearfund Adelaide Gathering July 2022: "God uses us all differently, yet powerfully, together"
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A recent gathering in Adelaide was a wonderful opportunity to meet other Tearfund supporters and be inspired and challenged by Tearfund’s work in areas like climate justice and First Peoples, writes Megan Cox.
I was asked to photograph a Tearfund supporter gathering held in Adelaide at the start of July 2022. As a new supporter and volunteer, I didn’t know what to expect from this event but I was interested to hear more about the work that Tearfund has been doing. The opportunity arose through meeting Ben Clarke, my former tutor who also happens to be Tearfund’s Supporter Engagement Officer for the First Peoples Program. It was nice to see a few familiar faces, as well as new ones, all with a shared passion for God’s work through Tearfund.
As this was the first supporter gathering in South Australia since COVID-19, it was an opportunity for people to connect and be encouraged by one another. Church and Community Engagement Officer Carrie Philpott travelled from Melbourne to lead and present. She shared updates on key campaigns such as Hard Places, which is Tearfund’s commitment to working in some of the world’s most challenging communities. Tearfund’s International Program & Effectiveness Co-ordinator, Phil Lindsay, shared about his recent trip to the Dhading District in Nepal to visit long-term partner Shanti Nepal. This region is often inaccessible due to rain and landslides, so working alongside this community requires planning and thought. Phil reported a number of encouragements, such as a mothers group that meets to discuss and address community issues and support one another. There have been improvements in water, sanitation, health care, financial stability and education around agriculture and disasters. Beyond these things, Shanti is regarded positively in the community for the love and care they are showing their neighbours, demonstrating Christ’s love through word and deed.
...The ability to connect with like-minded followers of Christ and the encouragement she gained... is a reminder that God uses us all differently, yet powerfully, together.
We heard updates about the First Peoples project from Ben Clarke, who spoke about the work of Tearfund’s partners Moorditj Keila, Strong Women Talking and Nungalinya College. Moorditj Keila is an organisation in the south of Perth that, among other things, assists people to get their driver’s licence, empowering them to gain their independence and support themselves into the future. A man named Alain not only regained his driver’s licence but had his driving fines paid by Moorditj Keila, and was able to find (and travel to) work. It gave him “an opportunity to reset” in life, and to experience Jesus’ love and grace from his own people.
We also heard about Tearfund’s work in the area of climate justice, particularly the comprehensive study commissioned by Tearfund that considered the attitudes of young Australian Christians towards climate change and the role of the Church. It found that 86% of young Christians want action to address climate change, while three in four people thought that creation care should be an essential part of the mission of the Church. This was insightful information that may provide opportunities for conversations between young people and their churches.
Carrie then led a panel where we got to hear directly from some supporters and how they are working in their communities to promote a more just world.
Gill and Peter Caunce are leaders of a Tearfund action group in South Australia. They are a passionate and dedicated couple who have been running the group for roughly 30 years, led by their faith to heed God’s call. They believe that God has called us to care for the poor and needy, not as an aside to our faith but as an integral component of it, and as one way that Jesus asks us to “love one another”. As they set up and managed a Useful Gifts Shop for attendees to purchase from, Gill expressed an appreciation for the ability to connect with like-minded followers of Christ and the encouragement she gained in hearing about the contributions and passions of others. It is a reminder that God uses us all differently, yet powerfully, together.Start your own Useful Gifts shop
Finally, Lydia Burford shared about her role volunteering remotely for Tearfund as a travelling musician with her husband. She contacts Australian church leaders who have previously committed to partnering with Tearfund, with the aim of developing relationships that can provide support and guidance to these churches as they explore their role in this space.
After some prayer, everyone had a chance to grab some afternoon tea, connect with one another, and buy some cards or a Useful Gift. Overall it was very encouraging to meet like-minded people who are equally passionate about addressing poverty and social inequalities as a way of showing Jesus’ love and care. It highlighted not only the value of every man, woman and child seeking justice in the world, but the value of every supporter who is willing to engage with these hard issues.
Megan Cox is a volunteer with Tearfund’s communications team.