Fairness, shame and racism – how Covid-19 fears are stoking a dangerous fire

I’m not sure about other families, but my children definitely have a finely tuned sense of what is fair and what is not. “His slice of pizza is bigger…

I’m not sure about other families, but my children definitely have a finely tuned sense of what is fair and what is not. “His slice of pizza is bigger than mine!” “Why do I have to go to bed earlier than her?” “But I cleaned up after dinner last night!”

As parents we are constantly under pressure to make sure each child is being treated with complete fairness.

Last week we heard the news here in Queensland that three young ladies were found to have caught the Covid-19 virus in Melbourne, and then lied about their whereabouts when returning home. Naturally this put the state under great pressure to ensure we didn’t see a surge in the pandemic locally.

Soon after the identity of the girls was released, with their photos and names shown on the frontpage of our state newspaper, under the headline “Enemies of the State”, there was no hiding. They had done wrong and they had put us all at risk.

After the images and names were released, the comments on social media started rolling in thick and fast.

In these extraordinary times, when emotions are high, it was no surprise to see these young women recieve a lot of criticism. Sadly, it was also no surprise that the women, who happened to be of African heritage, started receiving a steady stream of vitriolic comments based on their race, which had nothing to do with their actions.

When I checked in with a Sudanese friend he confirmed that he and others of African heritage were having to cope with hurtful comments, as a result of the actions of these three women. He said “It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.” No it is certainly not fair!

We call it racism, when people are treated unfairly because of their skin colour or background.

One of the rules I have adopted in learning how to engage well with people of a different background, culture or faith than my own is: Do not judge a person by what other people of their faith or community do.

This reminder helps me to look at a person and acknowledge that while they may come from a people group who share some similarities, they are also unique and special, and need to be treated as an individual.

So yes it is right that someone is challenged and held accountable for their actions. This is justice, and if they have done the wrong thing they need to receive the consequences. That is fair.

However it is not fair to then transfer their behaviour onto all other people who look like them. Personally, I do not represent all men, or all Christians, or even all coffee-drinking-Brisbane-dwelling-right-handed-amateur-runner-Christian-men. So I should not need to answer for the actions of another person who shares any of my traits – be they spiritual, physical, cultural or otherwise.

Let us take steps to overcome the temptation to fall into racism or any other -ism that doesn’t see a person for their inherent value as an individual created by a loving God. And let’s help our children do the same.

About the author…

Tim works in Cross-Cultural Innovations for SU, seeking to foster vibrant ministry with people of minority cultures and other faiths. Prior to this Tim spent 8 years with The Feast in the UK, engaging youth of different faiths, and 10 years in various roles with SU Qld.

Posted: 7/08/2020

Leading through change and raising up the next generation

As a young SU Camper I recall looking up to my camp leaders as people I wanted to be like one day. They inspired me in my faith and…

As a young SU Camper I recall looking up to my camp leaders as people I wanted to be like one day. They inspired me in my faith and encouraged me to grow and develop my skills to one day lead others as they once led me.

A few weeks ago I was reminded of my own faith and leadership journey as I led a group of young people who were the children of the leaders I once looked up to. I was reminded of the legacy their parents passed on to me.

As Christian leaders we are called to serve those we lead and to empower them to carry on the legacy that was laid down for us so future generations can be blessed.

In this year where we’ve come to expect the unexpected, I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned about leading through change and equipping the next generation. I hope you find my experience and learnings helpful for you in your own journey.

Earlier this year I faced the challenge of not being able to run one of our most popular training events – an event that has been running for 40 years. Covid meant we couldn’t run the event as a ‘traditional camp’ – we had to adapt and move online.

Here are some of the things I learnt along this journey…

  1. It’s important to partner with excited people: When I suggested the opportunity to the senior leadership group of running a virtual program, it quickly became evident some were excited and others not. Rather than try and take everyone on the journey, I gave freedom to the group to either join the journey or jump off and what was left were those passionate about doing something new.
  2. Enthusiasm is magnetic: The passion of this group of leaders brought their peers on the journey. It was so encouraging to watch them bring together a team of people and show them how their existing excitement could be applied to a new environment. The leaders were not only taking an opportunity to lead but bringing others into the space with them
  3. Model Faithfulness: My role was to get out of the way of the programming and take on the enabling role. I was guiding a team full of ideas, my role could be to look at ways for them to outwork these ideas and then throw in some suggestions when appropriate.
  4. Pressure creates great disciples”: We were doing something brand new and let’s be honest not everything went to plan. What was so encouraging is that along the entire journey, everyone was willing to adapt to change and accept there would be some bumps in the process. Mark Sayers says “Pressure creates great disciples” and trying something new certainly puts everyone in leadership under pressure and prompts a reliance on God.
  5. Honour the builders: In the midst of so much change, I was challenged to acknowledge the people who built the foundation for these young leaders. I was able to invite parents and supporters of our new generation of leaders to hear their excitement about what was happening now in their young people, but also thank and acknowledge their time and leadership before that helped shape the young leaders in the room.

In a season of change, there is so much potential for us to allow a younger generation to step in and be the leaders of something new. My experience of the last three months is there is great fruit in getting out of their way and guiding them on their journey.

About the author…

Beavs is a former High School Maths and Christian Education Teacher who has been working and volunteering with SU QLD Camps for almost 20 years. As Camps Specialist he supports volunteers and chaplains run camps and community outreach events throughout Queensland, reaching over 4500 young people. Beavs is married with 3 children, and loves coffee and watching sport.

Posted: 30/07/2020

The Lens – a free Bible study from Morling College

Have you ever wished you could study the Bible in depth without formal study? Morling College believes in making biblical foundations available to everyone who wishes to deepen their…

Have you ever wished you could study the Bible in depth without formal study? Morling College believes in making biblical foundations available to everyone who wishes to deepen their understanding of God and the Bible outside a formal setting. The Lens is a free, online course designed to give you access to the study you desire. The Lens is free, fun and flexible. Simply complete the enrolment form for The Lens and you are ready to get started!

Click here to find out more and register!

https://www.morling.edu.au/apply-now-the-lens/

Posted: 21/07/2020

BibleProject Podcast

Have you heard or listened to the BibleProject Podcast? Each episode, hosts Tim and Jon invite you into theological, application-based and honest discussions around certain aspects of, and stories…

Have you heard or listened to the BibleProject Podcast?

Each episode, hosts Tim and Jon invite you into theological, application-based and honest discussions around certain aspects of, and stories in, the Bible.

The podcast can be listened to for free on their website here: https://bibleproject.com/podcasts/the-bible-project-podcast/

Posted: 15/07/2020

PrayerMate is a FREE app that brings your prayer points together!

Prayer is an amazing privilege, but it’s also really hard work (the apostle Paul compares it to a wrestling match!) PrayerMate is an award-winning Christian prayer app that seeks…

Prayer is an amazing privilege, but it’s also really hard work (the apostle Paul compares it to a wrestling match!) PrayerMate is an award-winning Christian prayer app that seeks to help you actually pray for all the people and causes you care about.

PrayerMate brings all your prayer points together. Whether it’s your personal prayer points for friends and family, regular updates from some fantastic mission organisations, or the latest PDF prayer letter that just arrived in your inbox, PrayerMate puts it all together in one place and helps you get on and pray.

It’s available for free on iOS and Android. Links below! 🙂

iOS: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/prayermate-quiet-time-organiser/id434815549?mt=8&ls=1

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.geero.prayermate&pcampaignid=MKT-Other-global-all-co-prtnr-py-PartBadge-Mar2515-1

Posted: 13/07/2020

Guardians of Ancorda – free app game for children that brings the Bible to life!

Guardians of Ancora is a free-to-download game for children that brings the stories of the Bible to life. It is an amazing, free tool that you can use to…

Guardians of Ancora is a free-to-download game for children that brings the stories of the Bible to life. It is an amazing, free tool that you can use to engage children with the Bible in an exciting new way.

This e-book is filled with ideas on how you can use Guardians of Ancora for family faith building time – or just enjoying time together.

Click here to download the game, access the e-book and find out more! https://content.scriptureunion.org.uk/resource/guardians-ancora-family-activity-bank

Posted: 10/07/2020

How to build resilience into our children from a young age

Resilience (noun): the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity (Dictionary.com) This definition of resilience resonates with me….

Resilience (noun): the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity (Dictionary.com)

This definition of resilience resonates with me. It’s action-based, visual and doesn’t sound like it comes from a psychology textbook.

My time in school chaplaincy has given me the opportunity to meet many young people who have been ‘bent, compressed and stretched’ by life’s circumstances. Some amaze me with their ability to recover from adversity, wiser, stronger and more competent. There are also children with seemingly ideal lives who are not yet managing to deal with the more commonplace “stretching” that life provides.

While resiliency (or lack of) is the subject of many discussions in school communities, the good news is that resilience can be learned – and where better to learn about it than at home.

To develop resilience our offspring (notice the word spring) need to hear about it, see it modelled, and have the opportunity to practice with support. You don’t really notice the difference between a length of elastic and a piece of string until some stretching is attempted.

Karl Ronke’s three-zone approach to learning is helpful as we consider developing resilience. We can view the process of learning life skills as a set of three concentric circles, the Comfort Zone, the Stretch Zone and the Panic Zone.

The inner circle, the Comfort Zone, is ‘known territory’ and relatively challenge-free. There is no “bending, compressing or stretching.” It’s an important space in which to do some, but not all of life – as keeping kids protected, happy and comfortable at all costs is not doing them any favours.

Rarely does the God of the Bible go before His people to ensure everything is smooth and easy; the epic stories of faith did not take place in a relaxed, suburban lounge room. When we rescue too much or protect too much, we disempower young people.

In the Stretch Zone we learn, grow, interact with the unfamiliar, and experience challenges. This space calls for initiative, risk-taking and introduces the potential failure. Allowing or encouraging our children to be in this zone, at a level suited to their age, can empower them. Sometimes we do more by doing less.

When a child is struggling and growing, we need to be cheering them on and validating their emotions. Supporting children through uncomfortable feelings and acknowledging their difficulty communicates both love and confidence. Stepping out can be celebrated even if the result looks like failure.

After a period of stretching, our kids need to return to the Comfort Zone to rest. Appropriate time in the stretch zone develops confidence and resilience because too much stretching will take anyone to the Panic Zone.

In the Panic Zone, stretching is beyond manageable to the point of inducing fear and a sense of being overwhelmed. We can put our families there, through unrealistic expectations, overscheduling and not planning to play, laugh, eat and sleep well. There is simply not much space to recover when life is overcrowded.

Sometimes however, life involves a huge amount of stretching – ending up in the Panic Zone is unavoidable. When we find ourselves in this space, there are some important things to remember. Resilience is a team sport – it’s about community and has potential for growing our faith. A significant study by Werner, found that connection with religious beliefs provided stability and meaning in times of adversity.

There is no doubt that parenting is a high wire balancing act – and one of the challenges is to prepare our children for the inevitable ‘bending, compressing and stretching’ that life will throw their way.

With God’s help, let’s empower the next generation by teaching them resilience. Let’s build spring in our offspring.

 

About the author…

Andrea is a former secondary school teacher and counsellor. She has worked as a school chaplain for over 19 years and now also serves part-time on SU QLD’s Children and Youth Program Team, delivering training and professional development to chaplains and youth workers. Andrea and her husband are parents to three adult children and grandparents to two.

 

*Karl Rohnke developed the zone model from the Yerkes-Dodson law (1908), which explored the relationship between performance and arousal.

*Werner, E. E. (2005). What can we learn about resilience from large scale longitudinal studies? In S. Goldstein & R. Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of resilience in children (pp. 91 -106). New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Posted: 9/07/2020

Daily Bible Notes from Scripture Union UK

Did you know Scripture Union UK release daily bible reading devotionals? They’re full of great bible verses, notes and reflections – as well as questions to ponder as you…

Did you know Scripture Union UK release daily bible reading devotionals?

They’re full of great bible verses, notes and reflections – as well as questions to ponder as you start your day.

There’s also a Facebook group where you can discuss each day’s devotion with a community of like-minded followers of Christ.

Click here to read the daily bible devotional for today! https://content.scriptureunion.org.uk/wordlive/

Posted: 7/07/2020

The Lumo Project – the four gospels in feature movie format

Redefining the standard of visual biblical media, LUMO is a visual translation of the four Gospels produced to engage people with scripture in a new way. Taking each of…

Redefining the standard of visual biblical media, LUMO is a visual translation of the four Gospels produced to engage people with scripture in a new way. Taking each of the New Testament Gospels unedited and unabridged as the script, LUMO offers four feature-length films with breathtaking visuals to paint an authentic portrait of the life of Christ. These stunningly innovative films, currently available in dozens of languages, are easily adapted for a global audience.

To check it out, click here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjiDMt6Lm1jYQvSp4BROWVw/featured

Posted: 6/07/2020

Living well with different neighbours

In 2010, I relocated with my wife Merryn and two-year-old daughter Rosie to Birmingham in the UK. We moved to join a new ministry called The Feast, which was…

In 2010, I relocated with my wife Merryn and two-year-old daughter Rosie to Birmingham in the UK. We moved to join a new ministry called The Feast, which was founded by SU England and Wales.

The goal of The Feast is to foster and encourage dialogue among young people across religions and ethnicities. I was so excited to join this movement, which is about celebrating differences, collaborating together and authentically learning from one another.

Little did I know that the opportunity to “love my neighbour” would present itself so soon!

Our family found a terrace house to rent in Chestnut Road; a suburb where around 70% of the population were devout Muslims from Pakistan. I must confess, we were a little nervous about moving into the neighbourhood and wondered if we would be accepted.

On the day we moved in, our next door neighbour (whose front door was literally 1m from our own), came out to welcome us. Her name was Rosie Hussain, and she told us she was so happy to meet us and was glad we had chosen this street to live in. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Over the next eight years, Rosie and her extended family proved to be the most incredible neighbours. They lavishly blessed us with gifts of food. Rosie’s husband, Jumshed, serviced our car, they invited us to celebrate Eid with them and joined us for Christmas. What’s more, their kids became best friends with ours’. It was a special time.

Back in April of this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its scariest, the whole world seemed to be talking about togetherness. Sadly, this unity has not lasted. We’ve recently seen the ugly depths of our social divisions.

The human race is made up of immense variety. Every single person is unique and special, and I believe, hand-crafted by a creator God.

We know as Christians we are called to love all people, regardless of our differences. But talk is cheap. We are called to put these words into action. In the case of Rosie and her family, it was easy for me. They welcomed us into their home and their hearts. I learned so much from the Hussains about what Jesus meant when he asked us to love our neighbour – and I am so thankful for that season.

The challenge is, how do we still follow this call to love our neighbour when others do not welcome us, or even persecute us? Or how do we love those who make us feel uncomfortable?

The Good Samaritan is a well known story which Jesus told to help his followers grapple with this teaching. The Samaritan man reached out his hand to help his neighbour at a time of great need. He did so, despite knowing that the man he helped most likely despised him for no other reason than his ethnicity.

For my good friend Rosie and her family, they reached out their hands in friendship to my family and I, despite our differences. They reached out, not knowing how we would respond, and yet they did anyway – and I’ve not been the same since.

The way forward with racism is complex, and I feel I could never capture all my thoughts in a single blog post. Instead, my hope is that a personal story with reflection on personal change will inspire you to learn, listen and understand more about the cross-cultural turmoil and unconscious prejudice across our society today.

 

About the author…

Tim works in Cross-Cultural Innovations for SU, seeking to foster vibrant ministry with people of minority cultures and other faiths. Prior to this Tim spent 8 years with The Feast in the UK, engaging youth of different faiths, and 10 years in various roles with SU Qld.  

Posted: 3/07/2020

What is Family Space?

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Family Space seeks to support children, teenagers, parents and churches through practical resources, activities and expert advice.

We’re all about nurturing healthy families and creating healthy communities.

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