It was my mother’s loving care for our abused next-door neighbours. This was when I was 9, until perhaps the age of 12. When the screaming and yelling started next door, my mother would take herself over and stand up to that drunken bully. She was just a small Welsh woman, but she went over in wrathful indignation. After she went over, sometimes he would leave, sometimes she would bring the wife back to our house, and the children might stay with us for days. To me, this was the hands and feet of God. There was never any question of it. We were a housing commission, war widow family with nothing – and we gave everything away.
I am usually motivated by the immediate, by what is happening in the moment, rather than the long-term. My passion for justice has led me to small things and big. In the early 1980s, it was the Free Lindy Chamberlain campaign. I was very involved in supporting her family and campaigning for justice for her. It was a terrible time. In the mid-1990s, my church formed a community support group for refugees and this was an immense joy – I loved it. We helped families settle, we gave them practical support. Two years ago, I spent six months crocheting dying coral for a major display that toured around Australia to highlight the plight of the Great Barrier Reef. There was live coral in the display too, but I only crocheted the dying stuff.
I got involved with TEAR in the late 1970s, I read the first TEAR bible studies and found that in them the two aspects of my life found synergy. My Christian biblical life and my practical life. The bible had shaped what I was, but TEAR helped me to understand that God’s justice could be lived out in an individual life. The video Under the Mango Tree was an amazing experience. We ran TEAR simulation games for churches. I introduced one as a welcome game for year 7s in Kormilda College. There was great creativity and energy in these responses.
As we set up the manger scene, ready for midnight, we suggest to the audience that there are, perhaps, some things missing. “Could we buy some goats for the manger?” I ask.
I’ve been doing Useful Gifts Shops as long as they’ve been around. At the Cathedral (Christ Church in Darwin), we run a children’s Christmas Eve Service. In the last 5 years we have become very creative in this space. As we set up the manger scene, ready for midnight, we suggest to the audience that there are, perhaps, some things missing. “Could we buy some goats for the manger?” I ask. The response has been phenomenal. Last year we asked them to buy some schools. It was wonderful! They want to set the manger scene well. The donations to the Cathedral UG Shop primarily come from this one service, from the parents of the children.
Love. As the Most Reverend Michael Curry said in his sermon at the British Royal Wedding (for Prince Harry and Meghan), if we truly loved each other with the love of God, no child would go to bed hungry. This is acting out God’s desire for us as humans. This is how others know that we are Christians, it is how others will know God. We carry the vision from John 17, when Jesus prays for his disciples, for the world to be brought to complete unity. To do this, we must reflect the total nature and concept of Jesus’ love.
I don’t want it to sound glib, but I would like to sit down opposite Jesus. There are others who have brought me to the feet of Jesus. There are those at TEAR, like Tony Thorpe, Lyn Jackson, Ross Farley and Dave Andrews – they have been the ordinary people who have inspired me and kept me going. They have shown the difference that small acts of kindness can make.