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

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

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

6 online safety tips for the ‘new normal’

Are you or your child back at school? The eSafety Commissioner has released this great article outlining 6 ways you can prepare for the ‘new normal’ online. Lockdown restrictions…

Are you or your child back at school? The eSafety Commissioner has released this great article outlining 6 ways you can prepare for the ‘new normal’ online.

Lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted across Australia, but things have not returned to the old ‘normal’ yet and probably never will — more time online is likely to continue to be part of life.

Click here to read the article: https://bit.ly/3f2lc3m

Posted: 9/06/2020

How to talk to teens about George Floyd.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly…

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8

This week the world has again witnessed injustice and cries out for restoration.

Many of us will have experienced a visceral response to the events broadcast on our screens and devices over this past week. I feel; grief, anger, disappointment, guilt, hope, anxiety, and remorse as I try to comprehend what I have seen and heard and determine how I should respond.

You may be wrestling with similar concerns. I know many young people are.

So how do we help teenagers make sense of George Floyd’s death and the unravelling events of the past week?

We create opportunities for young people to express and talk about their thoughts and feelings in the safety of relationship. Teens look to trusted adults for guidance on how to respond in traumatic moments such as these.

The expectation is not to have all of the answers (I am well aware that I don’t), and it’s not to be a professional helper. You just need to care enough to listen and to ask them some questions. Be willing to have a conversation.

Here are some guiding principles to help you talk to your teens about George Floyd.

Make time and do not rush. Time = Value. As a parent or caring adult, we demonstrate the value of our teens by the time we give to them. Difficult topics of conversation require extra time to allow each person the opportunity to understand and be understood.

Acknowledge and normalise feelings/responses. Teens are forming their identity; they are looking to trusted adults, and peers to gauge what is “normal” and where they belong. Creating a non-judgmental space for teens to express themselves reinforces their sense of belonging and identity.

Be honest. It is okay not to have all the answers, and to process your experiences. The best way for teens to learn this is to have it modelled by those closest to them. Teens need to see and hear you do the journey. Note: you may need to measure your level of disclosure depending on your teen’s mental/emotional capacity.

Encourage empathy and compassion. Identifying with another and seeking to understand their perspective helps us build relationship and work more effectively with others. Compassion (acting from empathy) is a powerful tool in addressing trauma and injustice.

Draw focus from concern to areas of influence. There is a lot in the world to cause worry and some of it is outside our control. The good news is, Our teens often have a very strong sense of justice and they have an extraordinary amount to offer to the world. Actively engaging our young people with people and projects who are currently bringing hope, will in turn bring them hope. Maybe you could join them in making a difference by getting involved in a local project? Organisations such as World Vision, TEAR and ZOE are just some of many which have youth focused campaigns that may be of interest.

If you are unsure how to start or have a helpful conversation with your teen here is a question roadmap. Feel free to reword questions to suit your personal style.

  1. What have you seen/heard/felt/experienced? (Break these down into separate questions.)
  2. Of your answers to the above questions, what has affected/impacted you the most?
  3. What might you think/feel if you were in …’s (insert different roles, e.g. police, protestor, witness, victim) shoes?
  4. What could we/others assume about the situation/people involved? Are those assumptions correct? How do we know?
  5. What do you think this all means?
  6. How does that (refer to Q5) apply to your life/work/school/community?
  7. Now what can/will you do?
  8. How can I help you?

It is important that we all have an opportunity to process what we experience and find a way to make that experience mean something. My hope for this moment is that we remember what is required of us as sons and daughters of God – to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God.

 

About the author…

Tess is a former school chaplain and youth pastor with 15 years of experience in youth work. She now serves as SU QLD’s Children and Youth Program Team Leader, delivering training and professional development to chaplains and youth workers. She holds a bachelor of communications and diploma of youth work.

Posted: 3/06/2020

NUA Vlogs are answering some of the biggest questions teenagers have about Christianity! With vlogs!

Scripture Union Ireland have launched a new web series called Nua! It focuses on some of the big questions in life, which are explored through episodic vlogs. Some of…

Scripture Union Ireland have launched a new web series called Nua! It focuses on some of the big questions in life, which are explored through episodic vlogs.

Some of the questions they talk about include…

  1. How did we get here? The origins of human life
  2. Is Jesus a factual or fictional character?
  3. Investigating alternative theories for Jesus’ empty tomb

These videos are great for teenagers – we loved watching them!

To find out more info and watch the Nua film series, click here: https://nuafilmseries.org/episode-guide

Posted: 2/06/2020

How my personal experience drove my love of camps

People often ask me why I love camping so much. Camps are super fun, they create amazing memories and allow people to build incredible friendships. Going deeper, at the…

People often ask me why I love camping so much.

Camps are super fun, they create amazing memories and allow people to build incredible friendships.

Going deeper, at the centre of every camping journey is your personal experience – and my experiences with camps growing up inspired a love for them as an adult.

I remember going on my first Beach Mission as an assistant leader when I was 15. We started each day with worship and a devotion together before going to the beach to show God’s love through various community programs. Spending this week with a strong Christian community of leaders showed me what it is to be a Christian.

After that camp, I became more engaged with church and started reading my bible to keep growing. It was my experience on SU Beach Missions as a teen that led me on a lifelong journey of faith. This is why I’m so passionate about camps.

Camps give young people the opportunity to get a glimpse of God’s Kingdom. Camps are not an everyday experience.

Research from McCrindle and The Christian Venues Association shows Christian camps have significant positive impacts on faith formation*.

As camp leaders and church congregations, it’s important for us to understand the flow of a camp – there are three main stages…

1. The lead-up
As campers get ready to go on camp, they can go through many emotions – ranging from excitement to anxiety. It’s important that parents and camp leaders are aware of these emotions – and able to set realistic expectations for the child so that they are not caught off guard when they arrive on camp.

2. Not an ‘everyday’ experience
Camps can start off relatively similar to the ‘everyday’ we know, but when they get rolling and the camp’s community starts to grow, many campers experience God’s love – something they might not feel in the everyday.

3. Heading back to the ‘everyday’
When camp is over, leaders, parents and churches can support their young people by helping to welcome them back into the ‘everyday’. Life after camp can be a bit dull – so youth groups and social activities are a great way of helping young campers transition back.

Overall, the sense of community that develops over the course of a camp, and the time spent learning and growing in faith is transformational. My experience on Beach Missions at age 15 changed the course of my life, and I’ll forever be grateful for that.

Due to COVID-19, our normal SU Camps were not able to run in the Easter Holidays. For the Winter Camps Season we have moved to an online model – which we are so excited about!

We believe that having online camps will create an online community that will allow our kids to still have a peak experience – you can find out more at our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sucamps/

*https://www.christianvenues.org.au/impact/

 

About the author…

Jane has been involved with SU Camps and Community Outreaches for 15 years. She has experience as working as a chaplain and has a background in nursing. Jane currently works as the Camp Specialist for SU QLD, overseeing the camps and missions across Queensland.

Posted: 28/05/2020

Enage Daily Bible Reading App for teens

Scripture Union New Zealand have released Engage App – a new way to get into daily bible reading! New audio Bible readings, along with discussion questions you can follow…

Scripture Union New Zealand have released Engage App – a new way to get into daily bible reading!

New audio Bible readings, along with discussion questions you can follow with on-screen, are released every day. A young Kiwi reads the scripture to you, and at the end of each reading they ask you a few thoughtful questions and they finish with a prayer. You can listen as a group or by yourself, and can link to a Facebook page to share your thoughts about the questions. Click here to view the Engage App Facebook Page

The app is available on all mobile platforms – to get it click here: https://www.sunz.org.nz/youth/engage-app/

Posted: 27/05/2020

FACT SHEET: Managing your Mental Health during Covid-19

COVID-19 has brought rapid changes to our daily life, together with uncertainty and dramatic news headlines. Some people may be feeling worried or depressed at the moment, especially if…

COVID-19 has brought rapid changes to our daily life, together with uncertainty and dramatic news headlines.

Some people may be feeling worried or depressed at the moment, especially if they already have some mental health problems.

There are many services that can help without the need to leave home. During this crisis, Australians can use Medicare to talk to health practitioners about mental health.

There are also other ways to get help on a phone, computer or tablet.

The guys at eMHprac have produced a fantastic fact sheet to collate some of the places you or someone you know can get support in the mental health space.

Click here to download the FREE FACT SHEET: https://www.emhprac.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-19-Factsheet-1.pdf

Posted: 11/05/2020

A ‘vaccine’ for days in isolation!

I live on a bikeway next to a park. Once upon a time (3 months ago), foot and bike traffic was always very light past our home. Today we…

I live on a bikeway next to a park. Once upon a time (3 months ago), foot and bike traffic was always very light past our home. Today we need our own set of traffic lights!

Interestingly, the majority of people walking and riding past are families rediscovering the joy of doing something physical together. There’s a lot of shiny new bikes!

As this season full of home restrictions was beginning to take place, leaders from six global movements met in South Africa. Through conversation around the opportunities of this challenging season, a partnering initiative was birthed to create the first faith-based fitness strategy for families at home. Family.fit was launched just 2 weeks later – an antidote for frustration and boredom.

Family.fit is a holistic fitness project designed for the whole family regardless of shape or size. It is suitable for all ages, abilities and cultures – and points people to the Bible. Each week a new Family.fit resource is released – jam packed with activities based around a theme and a big life question. Simple visual videos are provided to illustrate these concepts.

Family.fit is…

  • available online and as a PDF version designed to fit on the screen of your phone
  • FREE, no membership or sign up necessary
  • available in 10 languages (and counting)
  • flexible so as to be used in a house, apartment or local park
  • for anyone and doesn’t assume you know much about fitness.

Week 5 is complete and a full schedule for 52 weeks has been planned.

Getting involved is easy – here’s what it involves…

As a family, do some physical exercise 3 days a week (though even once is helpful!). If you can do it more often, then do other types of exercise too – walking, jogging, riding, skating, or swimming. Each week is built around a theme that is explored through a 7 step process.

Anyone in the household can take the phone and lead a different step in the adventure.

  1. Warmup
  2. Talk
  3. Move
  4. Challenge
  5. Explore
  6. Pray
  7. Play

So, why not download Week 1 today? Get fit and healthy, stay connected, grow in character and faith, have some fun together, and build some positivity into your family that will leave a legacy beyond this stressful season. (Don’t forget to share this resource on your social media).

Click here to visit the website and access Family fit plans! www.family.fit

 

About the author…

Terry trained and worked as a teacher in primary and secondary schools before joining the staff team of Scripture Union Queensland, where he has worked for 36 years as a specialist in ministry with families and children. For the last 12 years Terry has shared half of his time with the SU International staff team. Terry is married to Margaret and they have three adult children and five grandchildren.

Posted: 30/04/2020

What is Family Space?

Family Space is a resource-based website that’s all about nurturing the family unit.

Our mission is to equip, empower and nurture family households and church families across Australia.

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.

See how your support impacts young lives
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