There’s an African proverb that goes like this: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Our TEAR Groups, which are dotted all over Australia, are a testament to this strength in community – the beauty of doing justice together.
In the face of the vast poverty and injustice in our world, it can be overwhelming to explore these issues and respond at an individual level. Through seeking God’s kingdom vision of a just, compassionate world together, we can be encouraged by one another, learning together and spurring each other on to take collective action.
TEAR groups are a great way to get started with other like-minded people!
We recently had a chat to Thérèse Duirs, co-coordinator of the South Perth TEAR Group, the longest running TEAR group in Western Australia.
I co-coordinate with Kat and we meet on the third Wednesday of every month. We have a quick cuppa then get into some prayer and discussion.
Our group consists of eight people aged 30 - 55, coming from a variety of denominations and professions including teachers, nurses, post grad students, librarians and community workers. If people can’t commit to our regular meetings, we still connect with them at the TEAR WA gatherings!
We had a recent change of focus – we are now thinking more of ourselves as advocates/ambassadors as we seek to engage the church and community in conversations of change.
We plan out the six months ahead, using TEAR resources to guide what topics the group wants to consider and work on. We have just completed TEAR’s 'Renewed Way of Living' study.
We were excited to see Jo Knight launch the 'Rubbish Campaign' in Perth recently and we aim to put this learning into practice.
For example, recently Kat had an innovative event instead of a traditional birthday celebration. She held a birthday in a community garden where former addicts work and learn. We were all invited to tend to the gardens fortnightly. Kat set up a display table of ways we can lessen plastic and pollution impact on God's earth.
In September, we ran practical sessions on making natural hand wash and writing advocacy letters to Nestle, Pepsico, Coca Cola and Unilever to stop their single-use plastics production.
I have been very encouraged by others' statements and discussions. It has guided me in studying the word, praying and applying it. I especially found it beneficial when I studied to lead a session - these are lessons I never forgot. I think it helps with understanding and calling things to remembrance more readily and it’s good to recognise that we are a small part of a much bigger picture of TEAR in WA
I have found it really worthwhile and enjoyable. It’s good to be challenged on your own cultural norms that you might not even realise exist. The best thing about joining a TEAR group is working with each other to help bring God’s Kingdom to earth, so that everyone may experience his peace.