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Out of the mess 1b

Out of the Mess

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2020 disrupted so much of what we took for granted. What we called “normal” was turned on its head, and our lives – and in some cases our faiths – were shaken. Yet in the midst of this, we know that Jesus walked with us, and that through his life, death and resurrection we have an unshakeable hope for the future. Here are some insights from the Tearfund community on how their faith has been reset, and their hopes for a better normal.

Taminka Hanscamp

Young Adults Tearfund Action Group and former associate board member, VIC

Out of the mess Taminka Hanscamp

On one hand my faith became smaller: the normal rhythms shrunk from the busyness of programs, people and places, to just me. I was grateful for Sabbath and traditions of lament that value pausing, to rest, grieve and note things not right without having to hurry to fix them. My friends and neighbours lost their jobs, I had to move to protect my family’s health and housemates’ jobs, my dad died, the news was on; it was too much for me to bear. But I was reminded that it isn’t mine to bear alone and that God offers the still peace of mercy and rest.

I was reminded that faith needs to go deeper than quick fixes, good advice and easy answers. It is good news for our neighbours and world. It can’t rely on the hype of busyness, or individual contribution. It isn’t a formula to be unaffected by life, others and the world. It’s a call to venture into uncertainty and sit in the mess.

I have great hope that in realising the fragility of the everyday, in learning our limits, we may learn to rest in the connection that we have to place, our physical selves, our homes, and the people we have been given, rather than pursuing never-ending increases in consumption, production, security and meaning. Maybe we’ll realise humans cannot be, and should not be, unaffected by the world and other people around us. Maybe we’ll be called into relationships of connection, dependence and repentance.

I hope we can continue some of the benefits of access and inclusion offered to people with a disability, and those who need flexible work and life options. My hope for next year is that we would continue to notice and include the lonely, vulnerable and at-risk, and that we would be aware of how our “normal” isn’t normal for most.

Phil Lindsay

Tearfund International Program and Effectiveness Coordinator, WA

Out of the mess Phil Lindsay

There’s been a lot of talk about the opportunity to “reset” and change fundamental ways that we think about what’s important to us as individuals and as a society, how we do life and hopes for the future. The sudden and dramatic changes to our lives show us what can be possible if we see a problem that needs a clear-cut response. What could we do about climate change if we had the will to be just as radical in our actions and thinking?

It’s possible that a COVID vaccine will bring about a “reset” back to what life was previously and the valuable lessons we’ve learned – about life’s priorities: being together, relationships, caring for those in need – could get lost. As I reflect on the Christmas just gone, I think about the cosmic “reset” that Jesus’ birth brought, and still brings today. Jesus’ birth brings hope for a world renewed, not a mere “reset”. The birth of the King brings us hope of a new Kingdom, and if we choose, it brings lives of purpose for those who are followers as we work together to restore relationships and point the way to the Kingdom yet to come.

Jacinta Trang

Tearfund Ambassador Cohort, NSW/QLD

Out of the mess Jacinta Trang

The effects that the crises of 2020 have had globally have been unsettling and heartbreaking. Yet, amidst the uncertainty, I have found clarity – about who and what truly matters, about the nature of God and about the desperate need for us as the church to share our hope and be the light in our communities. I have been particularly encouraged through volunteering at a community shelter that continued to care for people experiencing homelessness while trusting God for provision, despite the challenges brought by the pandemic.

My hope is that as things begin to settle, we will be people who continue to set our eyes on Jesus, who is a lamp for our feet. My hope is that we would be people who strive to build meaningful relationships with those around us, and that we would not only consider, but reach out to our neighbours both near and far.

Joanna Lee

Tearfund board member, QLD

Out of the mess Joanna Lee

The crises of 2020 have reminded and refocused me on the fact that the only thing that is sure in this world and for eternity is God – who he is, and his deep abiding care and presence. I learned this while serving as a Tearfund fieldworker in Zimbabwe from 2013-2016, and as the crises of this year hit, I realised I had lost some of that perspective.

I have valued the reset.

I have been reminded that in times when everything seems dark, God is light (Isaiah 9:2). The Bible refers to light as dawning and rising, always chasing away darkness. It is my hope that we continue to place our trust and focus on eternal, Kingdom things, rather than holding on tightly to the things and plans of our earthly life.

Asher Van Wollingen

Tearfund Ambassador, WA

Out of the mess Asher Van Wollingen b

This year I have learnt to have lament as part of the rhythms of life. I had an oversimplified view of the world, thinking that it’s all getting better. I’ve realised that living in the “now, but not yet” requires space to lament and to grieve.

I have recognised the hope that we have in the simple things – showing individual people care and love, in smaller ways, rather than hoping for massive large-picture restoration. This year has also brought a recovered sense of what it means to be the church. When things were taken away, it deepened the reality that the church is the people, not the building or a program.

I’ve also had the blessing of increased global connections, meeting online with people from 30 different nations, learning together, encouraging each other and praying together. These networks existed before, but the pandemic has drawn us closer as a global church. My hope is that these things continue.

Tricia Bawtree

Bayside Tearfund Action Group, QLD

Out of the mess Tricia Bawtree b

I spend a lot of time with young people who are struggling to hold onto hope in what appears to be an apocalyptic world. One way that I’ve demonstrated hope is in my gardening. During lockdown I dug up a whole area of my garden. I composted it, watered it, watched it grow – and so did the young people. We watched the growth of the herbs and flowers that I had planted. But what surprised us was the tomatoes! We didn’t plant tomatoes. They came out of the compost, out of the mess that we had tried to get rid of. Out of that mess grew something delicious and life giving for us. My message for resetting your life is to start with one seed, water it and trust God.

Elise Mason

Tearfund Digital Content and Campaigns Coordinator, VIC

Out of the mess Elise Mason

My phone’s screensaver at the moment is a piece of artwork by artist Morgan Harper Nichols that says “even in the waiting, keep creating”. This has been my motto for the year. It’s felt like I’ve been waiting for so many things. Waiting for my best friend to finally be able to get married. Waiting for borders to open so I can be reunited with my family. Waiting for the ring of steel to come down so I can go for a surf. The list goes on. Yet this quote has reminded me of the beauty that can come in a season of waiting.

My heart has been stirring as I meditate on the words of Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” This scripture reminds me that the waiting season is not a waste; God is preparing a way for better things to come. Now, my prayer is that we hold steadfast to the hope that God has for us, living into a new normal full of faith and hope.

Greg Hewson

Tearfund, Australian Programs Director

Out of the mess Greg Hewson

Like so many others, I’ve found the past year a deep struggle, yet woven through this have been moments of incredible joy and contentment. The struggle for me, for the most part, has been internal, wrestling with personal expectations about life, work, aspirations and freedom. The word that sums up this struggle for me is “fidelity”. Automatically we reflect upon this word in terms of relationships, especially marriage. However it is to the wider meaning of the word that I’ve been drawn, stemming from Old French “fidelite”, (fidelis “faithful”, fides “faith”).

Grounded at home, my life has in many ways become smaller, localised and day-to-day. Stripped from the “scaffolding” and assumptions of freedom that I previously felt were essential, I’ve been challenged to see God’s faithful, sustaining provision all around me and to acknowledge, as a Wendell Berry poem so eloquently describes, “all we need is here”.

I hope and pray that I won’t rush to return to the marketing promises of freedom of yesterday: that life is found in limitless travel, freedom of movement and unbridled consumption. Instead, reflecting on the light glimpsed even in the darkest days of lockdown, I pray that we may each begin to grasp that God’s fidelity to us, in sending Jesus into the world, is “more” than enough.

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