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Standing with our neighbours

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Three things we have learned from the past year

Over the past year, and in the midst of huge challenges for the work of Tearfund and our partners, there are three things that have stood out as important lessons for us to learn.

To be fair, they are not new lessons, but I think they have been made real to us in new ways and have played an important part in shaping Tearfund’s For All Creation campaign.

1. Health is a cornerstone for community development

I have been part of several debates over the years about what type of community development projects have the biggest impact in the lives of people facing poverty. Should we prioritise water or job creation or political rights or …? It is, of course, an overly simplistic question and there is no such thing as a one size fits all solution to poverty. However, we have been reminded this year just how much health matters. Like the proverbial pebble in a pond, we’ve seen that a health pandemic ripples out to impact education (schools closed), economics (markets shut down), faith communities (churches were unable to gather), food security (trade routes closed), and it goes on. Every aspect of life seems to have been significantly impacted by a pandemic – and the painful impacts of a health crisis are significantly accentuated for people who were already struggling.

One of the biggest barriers Tearfund’s mission faces in Australia is cynicism... however, COVID-19 has given us a very painful but constructive lesson that big global systems CAN actually be changed.

Matthew Maury CEO, Tearfund Australia
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2. Change is possible

I believe that one of the biggest barriers Tearfund’s mission faces in Australia is cynicism. People who (misquoting scripture) say things like “the poor you will always have with you” and thus rationalise that there is no point in trying to bring about change. However, COVID-19 has given us a very painful but constructive lesson that big global systems CAN actually be changed. The way we work, the way we travel, the way we spend, the way we steward creation – we have seen that all of this can be changed quickly when there is enough commitment and political will.

3. We have enough resources to tackle poverty

A common myth that I hear repeated just about every time I meet with our political leaders in Canberra about our budget commitment to tackling global poverty is that we cannot afford to be more generous. In other words, there is not enough to go around and we need to care for ourselves before we help others. The argument trickles down into our own lives as well – if only we had a bit more we could afford to be more generous. Scripture is pretty clear that we are called to sacrificially - and joyfully - share what we have when we see someone in need. The level of resources that have been directed towards COVID response are unprecedented globally and give us proof that we can in fact find ways to be more generous.

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For All Creation

Tearfund’s For All Creation campaign, has been created in response to these learnings and as a way to put them into action. We particularly want to stand with our neighbours and support them to end the pandemic. One way you can join us in this is by adding your voice to The Call For All Creation and asking our government to continue to do more – funding COVID response, ensuring vaccine justice, and working to #ENDCOVIDFORALL. Another part you can play is to partner with us and support our work to address the growing hunger crisis.

Matthew Maury is Tearfund Australia's CEO