Scripture Union joins with other Christian ministries to bring hope after COVID

This week SU QLD CEO and Scripture Union Australia Transition Management Executive, Peter James, joined with Christian leaders from across Australia to meet Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Opposition Leader Anthony…

This week SU QLD CEO and Scripture Union Australia Transition Management Executive, Peter James, joined with Christian leaders from across Australia to meet Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and other key leaders in Canberra, to discuss Australia’s post-COVID recovery.

The meeting comes on the heels of a recent joint letter from Christian leaders to the Prime Minister, which pledges their support to the recovery of communities across the country.

“We believe that God knows our challenges and is merciful. The Bible, our great charter of faith and practice, was written for such times as these, and discloses good news that speaks to our hearts now in this season of great need.

“In all of the previous disasters of Australian history, the Christian church has stepped up as a key national contributor to stabilisation and then restoration, and we seek to commit to this once more,” the letter says.

Peter James says the meetings with government leaders, including the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, were a great first step towards what he hopes will be a promising partnership to help all Australians.

“While we’ve fared better than other countries around the world, we still saw many families impacted by COVID-19 last year and those effects continue today,” Peter explains.

“Last year I was inundated with stories from our school chaplains and frontline support teams concerning the hardships families were facing. But I was also encouraged by the stories of hope amidst hardship that came from that time. These stories were made possible because of people in our communities who modelled the love and compassion of Jesus to those in need,” Peter says.

In his conversation with the gathering of Christian leaders the Prime Minister encouraged the group and thanked them for stepping up in this time of need.

“I really like the idea of what you are doing. The country is trying to rebuild… I want to thank the church groups all around the country for the role they play in holding things together.”

Speaking at Parliament House, Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese also addressed the group, stating that COVID-19 has guided us back towards the truth of Jesus’ teaching in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

“We shouldn’t walk past those who are in need or suffering… Our care for others should be neither conditional nor transactional… “And that is the lesson that can light the path that lies before us.”

Other signatories to the joint letter included Compassion, World Vision, Catholic Social Services, the Bible Society, Christian Heritage College, among others.

We’ll keep you updated on this important work as soon as we have more information. Please join us in praying for God to lead us as we all work together to bring hope to our nation.

Posted: 25/02/2021

You’re deepening the bond between mums and their daughters

The pre-teen years for girls are often a time of rapidly changing hormones, friendship pressures and self-consciousness. They’re also the years where healthy mother/daughter relationships can become strained. Chappy…

The pre-teen years for girls are often a time of rapidly changing hormones, friendship pressures and self-consciousness.

They’re also the years where healthy mother/daughter relationships can become strained.

Chappy Cassie from Rochedale South State School saw this was affecting families in her community and decided to do something.

She started a small camp on Coochiemudlo Island, just off Brisbane’s east coast, and invited 15 mothers and daughters to spend some intentional time away together.

“Some parents were struggling to connect with their kids, particularly as they were entering their teen years. This camp was to show the daughters and mums they’re actually on the same team,” says Chappy Cassie.

“We talked about changes in their body and brains at this time in their lives, and were really intentional about making sure everyone felt they could talk and be heard.”

“There were sessions with focused topics such as ‘love languages’ and ‘managing conflict’, but also lots of time for beach walks and a wonderful art workshop.”

“We sent the pairs off with ‘conversation bingo’ to support talk around their relationship. It’s not always easy to be vulnerable so these prompts were a healthy way for pairs to talk heart to heart.”

On the last day, Chappy Cassie led the group to the ocean and they wrote words of truth on their arms and legs using the red rocks of Coochie – as has been done by Indigenous women in this place for thousands of years.

“We painted words like ‘worthy’, ‘beautiful’, and ‘valuable’ – it was a really special moment of saying we will remember these things about ourselves.”

In her experience as a school chaplain, Chappy Cassie walks alongside many pre-teens who have difficulty connecting with their parents.

“If they [the parent] had a distant or emotionally disconnected mum growing up, often they won’t know how to connect with their own daughter because they haven’t been shown,” Chappy Cassie explains.

“For this camp we really wanted to talk about the importance of nurturing relationships. I planned this camp to have a lot of freedom, because you need time and space for these bonds to form and strengthen.”

Camper Amelia, now in her first year of high school, says she got so much out of the experience.

“It was really nice to spend time with Mum doing fun things without any distractions. I also liked that I could share these experiences with other girls and their mums too. We made some good memories together.”

Through your support SU QLD camp experiences are building into the lives of young people and their families.

You can help keep this vital work going, head to suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 24/02/2021

You’re lifting up the next generation through Chappy Nykocha

Did you know that your support for school chaplaincy continues to multiply? It’s like a ripple in the water that continues to spread from one generation to the next….

Did you know that your support for school chaplaincy continues to multiply?

It’s like a ripple in the water that continues to spread from one generation to the next. Nykocha and David’s stories are just two examples of how the impact from your support continues to grow.

When Chappy Joey first met Nykocha in 2012, she was a shy young girl, lacking in confidence. But Chappy Joey and the teaching staff could see great potential in her.

“I could see that [Nykocha] needed someone to believe in her, and as a chappy, I could be that person.”

From Grade 7-10, Nykocha joined many chaplaincy programs that helped her grow in confidence and resilience. By Year 10, she became school captain and proudly represented her school.

Fast forward to 2020, and Joey was sitting at her desk at Tannum Sands State School, where she is now school chaplain.

She got the surprise of her life when the door opened and Nykocha was standing there!

Nykocha was now an accomplished young woman, a graduate from the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts, who had represented her culture and country by dancing at the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony in 2018.

And now Nykocha was running the Deadly Choices program at Tannum Sands State School to help inspire young Indigenous students.

“I sat in on one of her lessons, and could see the confidence with which she delivered the material and the rapport she had with the young students,” says Chappy Joey. “I was overcome with pride to see her teaching others.”

Nykocha’s story wouldn’t be possible without your support.

Chappy Joey’s husband, Geoff (also a chaplain) worked at a nearby school and saw great leadership potential in a charismatic young Indigenous man named David.

David had faced a lot of injustice in his young life. He battled with anger management as he tried to make sense of the world around him. In 2010, he joined Chappy Geoff’s ‘Rock n Water’ program.

David soon became a role model for other students, and helped Chappy Geoff manage unruly students on the school bus route between Woorabinda and Baralaba.

“I can still remember Chappy Geoff making everyone laugh with funny voices like Scooby Doo and Shaggy,” says David.

David now also works for Deadly Choices running programs for Indigenous youth in Central QLD.

Thanks to you, Nykocha and David had someone who believed in them, and influenced the legacy they will leave behind for others.

Your support today could change not just one young life, but a generation.

Visit suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 24/02/2021

What Michael Jordan taught me about ministry

Over my recent holidays I watched The Last Dance, a documentary about the Chicago Bulls basketball team that dominated the NBA (the highest-level basketball league in the world) throughout…

Over my recent holidays I watched The Last Dance, a documentary about the Chicago Bulls basketball team that dominated the NBA (the highest-level basketball league in the world) throughout the 1990s.

At the heart of this story about one of the most successful franchises in basketball history, there lies another story – the story of their star player (and arguably the world’s greatest ever basketballer) Michael Jordan.

I have to confess, I’ve never been a big basketball fan, but I love sport. It took me just one minute of that first episode and I was hooked.

What stood out to me as I watched was the relentless determination that Michael Jordan had to be the best. It was this pursuit of excellence that led Michael to put in hours and hours of training.

“I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.” Michael Jordan

As I kept watching I couldn’t help but think of my role as a camps specialist with SU QLD. There’s a lot of fun when it comes to camping and schoolies events, but behind all that I spend a lot of time training people.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard camp leaders say, “but I did training last year” or “I’ve covered this material before” and “do I really need to do this again?”.

When I hear these questions, I certainly understand the frustrations behind them. We don’t get involved in camps to do training, we do it because it’s exciting, fun and a great way to help young people grow in their Christian faith. But without training, without preparation, we’re not setting ourselves up for success.

In the field of children’s ministry and youth work, training can sometimes look similar or cover similar topics. But what I’ve discovered over the years is that every situation, small group and circumstance requires different adaptations of the same skills.

When we attend training with a group of peers, we have the opportunity to share ideas and challenge the way we currently support the next generation – so we can do it better.

If you already have the perfect youth and children’s program, please send me a copy. But if you’re not there yet, I’d like to share my top reasons for making training a priority:

  1. Every setting requires something different. There are many ways of doing youth and children’s work and each organisation you are part of will have different reporting systems and ways of doing things. We may feel the content is the same, but the outworking could be very different
  2. Look for ‘the new’ in each training. As we grow in experience we tend to understand concepts on a deeper level. Your training from three years ago may have a completely new outworking when you hear it after you’ve had three years of experience to bring to the table.
  3. Training is done better together. Sometimes the most important part of a training event is not the content delivered, but the conversation you have over a biscuit and tea with another team member about what you have just heard. Fellowship with other leaders can be a huge growth contributor.
  4. As people who work in children and youth ministry, who understand that each and every young person matters deeply to God and deserves a safe and meaningful life, we need to be passionate about training and ensuring that our young people are safe (it’s also a requirement that has come out of the Royal Commission).
  5. Your experience will add to the content. Whenever I deliver training material I always assume there is someone in the room who could know something about our topic that I don’t know. Your input, stories, and wisdom in training is just as valuable to the group as the content from the person delivering the training.

Michael Jordan’s relentless pursuit of excellence led to his name being known by millions of people around the world. But how much better would it be to know that through your relentless pursuit of excellence that you could make an eternal and life-transforming difference in the lives of the young people you lead on your next camp.

Get trained in 2021 by attending Amplify Conference on Saturday 6 March. Click here to find out more: www.amplifyconference.com.au

 

 

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: 18/02/2021

7 life lessons I have learnt from jig-saw puzzles

An unfinished jig-saw puzzle has always sat on the table at my parent’s house. When we visit, it doesn’t take long before we are gathered around the table, absorbed…

An unfinished jig-saw puzzle has always sat on the table at my parent’s house. When we visit, it doesn’t take long before we are gathered around the table, absorbed in the emerging picture, examining the puzzle pieces and trying to match them and fill the available gaps.

My father and mother had a very practical approach to teaching their six kids important life skills. They rarely ‘lectured’ or ‘preached’, rather they excelled at finding aspects of activities or situations where they could get us thinking about what we could learn from what we were doing.

Thanks to the hundreds of jig-saw puzzles we have done over the years, I’ve learned a lot about problem solving. In fact, I’ve used these learnings as ‘guide posts’ to help me meet the challenges I have encountered in life.

So today, I would love to share these insights with you in the hope that you’ll find these helpful when facing your own challenges.

1. Start with the end in mind.

Most jig-saw puzzles come in a box that shows a picture of what the finished product will look like. There is a clear goal we are working towards. If we know what we are trying to achieve, it is easier to map out steps to achieve the goal. It is important to keep looking back at the picture – to see where the parts fit into the whole.

2. Put boundaries in place.

When doing a puzzle, we usually start with the edge pieces. This sets the boundaries around the project. It is important to be clear about boundaries, what is in, what is out, what is my responsibility, what is not, what is within my control, what is not!

3. Only bite off what you can chew.

The biggest puzzle I have done was 1500 pieces, the smallest was eight pieces. There are factors to consider in choosing the size of the puzzle. It is important to assess your environment, your ability and the resources you have available before making a decision. While there is limited fun to be found in an eight-piece puzzle, starting a 500-piece puzzle over a 30-minute lunch at McDonalds is just silly!

4. Match your approach to your situation.

Different parts of the puzzle benefit from different approaches. Sometimes matching colours is the best strategy, or matching shapes, or sometimes trial and error is the only way! Trial and error is the most time consuming and least rewarding. It’s really a last resort.

5. Celebrate your successes.

We tend to start with the edge, then the sections of the puzzle that will be the easiest. The flowers of the field with their varying colours and shapes are formed fairly quickly under our busy hands. We stop often to admire our achievement and happily chatter away. Then we come to a solid block of blue sky only discolored by the occasional puff of white cloud. Nerves become more frazzled as the tedious ‘trial and error’ method must be employed, we celebrate our successes with an exclamation of ‘got a piece in’ which, when the going is slow, warrants a cheer and congratulations.

6. Start with what you can do, not what you can’t.

With a puzzle one tends to work on patches that seem easy. If you are stuck, move to a different part or simply look at what you are working on from a different angle. Sometimes it is best to put the puzzle on hold and come back afresh.

7. Know when to walk away.

This last ‘lesson’ is one that I have found particularly difficult. Recently, for the first time ever, we actually gave up on a puzzle. We pulled apart what we had done and put it back in the box. After many hours working on it my mother and I made a decision that it was just not worth continuing. As we solemnly packed it away, we reflected on times when we have pushed forward in what we thought was perseverance when time showed it to have been simply obstinance. While never giving up is a great catch cry, sometimes the struggle and fall out of continuing is simply not worth it

Most activities we engage in with kids lend themselves to ‘lessons’. So whether it is soccer, swimming, monopoly or even a computer game, it is worth taking the time to join in and help your kids discover their own life lessons through the activities they do.

Posted: 11/02/2021

What is ‘Ordinary Time’ and why is it important?

Well, it would seem we’re back into it for another year… >  Christmas – Done…! >  New Year’s – Done…! >  Back to work… Done…! >  Back to school……

Well, it would seem we’re back into it for another year…

>  Christmas – Done…!

>  New Year’s – Done…!

>  Back to work… Done…!

>  Back to school… Done…!

And now it’s “2021 – Here we come, ready or not”…

In the Christian liturgical calendar, this time we’re in now is called Ordinary Time. It’s the in-between time between the celebrations of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. In this season, we step out of special times of celebration and commemoration and step into the business of living our everyday lives.

But don’t let the title fool you. Ordinary Time isn’t meant to highlight how mundane, tiresome or uninteresting everyday life is. Instead, it’s supposed to prompt us to appreciate how sacred our oft taken-for-granted daily schedules and movements actually are. Sounds good doesn’t it?

But let’s be honest… for a lot of the time, our ordinary time can feel pretty, well, ordinary – and we find ourselves looking to the next distraction or celebration to get us through.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to live in Ordinary Time in a more extraordinary way?

Recently, I came across an article called The Eucharistic Life. I was intrigued by the title but had no idea what it could possibly mean. I knew that “eucharist” was another name for communion or “The Lord’s Supper” as my tradition calls it, and I understood that this vital ceremony expressed a deep truth at the heart of the Christian faith. But I’d never heard the ceremony linked to a way of living in the world.

So, I looked into it…

Towards the end of Jesus’ life, he celebrated Passover with his disciples. You may have heard of this. It’s often referred to as “The Last Supper”. As part of this meal, Jesus took bread, gave thanks to God for it, broke it and shared it out (Matthew 26:26; Luke 22:19). This process of taking, giving thanks, breaking and sharing, when applied to our own lives, is a template for living a more extraordinary ‘Eucharistic Life’.

It looks something like this…

First, we take hold of our lives. We recognise that our lives are ours! That they are precious and worth grabbing onto with both hands. We need to own all the good and bad bits of our lives and take responsibility for what we can.

Secondly, we give thanks for our lives. Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank you’, that would be sufficient.” When we understand each ordinary moment as a gift from God, our gratitude transforms those successive moments into a more extraordinary life.

Thirdly, we allow our lives to be broken. We need to accept, even embrace, that we haven’t got it all together and that’s okay. Some of our best life-learning will come from humble openness to this reality about ourselves. I love the Leonard Cohen song line, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Fourthly, we share our lives with others. Frederick Buechner said, “The place God calls us is where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” When we take hold of our lives, living them with a deep gratitude and humility, we position ourselves to make the difference in the world that only we can make.

Now that we’re back into it for 2021, let’s make the most of our Ordinary Time…

 

About the author…

Steve has over 30 years experience in school, community and church-based youth work. He is currently working as the Training & Development Manager at SU QLD, overseeing teams that deliver training and produce resources for SU QLD staff and volunteers. He holds post-graduate qualifications in Social Work, Politics & Government, and Christian Studies.

Posted: 4/02/2021

Can our differences on Australia Day help bring us together?

Tuesday 26 January 2021 – a day that divides a nation. Where do you stand on our national day? Do you celebrate with pride, or shun due to the…

Tuesday 26 January 2021 – a day that divides a nation.

Where do you stand on our national day? Do you celebrate with pride, or shun due to the date’s association with our colonial past? Or do you just enjoy the public holiday to kick off a new year, and try to avoid the background noise?

In this post I am not attempting to unpack the arguments behind Australia Day and the date on which it is held, though maybe I should someday. (Check out the link below for a little additional reading.) If you do want to talk it over, then let’s sit down for a coffee.

The reason I am writing is because I believe that it is possible to retain friendship with fellow Aussies, even if we disagree.

Australia Day is as good an opportunity as any to actually work out how we can come together, as fellow Australians, to rediscover the skills of giving and receiving dignity, respect and a good-old-fashioned “fair go”.

The fact is that each of the different perspectives are all right.

  • This is a remarkable, prosperous and beautiful country and we have so much to be thankful for – true!
  • This continent was the home of the First Australian peoples for thousands of years, before colonisation and the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships on 26 January 1788 in New South Wales – true!
  • The day is a public holiday at the very end of the long Summer break, and right before most schools commence for the academic year – true!

This is of course oversimplified, but depending on our own personal life journey, many of us have come to stand on our view as THE truth, which means we will often see those who disagree as wrong. We gather with our own kind, who reinforce our view of the truth, and refine our arguments against the other.

This pattern happens on so many important issues, leaving modern society highly and emotively divided. This is a huge problem, but I believe we can do something about it.

Do you mind if I propose a couple of steps we can take to overcome these chasms in the social discourse, and become agents of soothing change, both for ourselves and for our whole country?

1. Articulate what Australia Day means to you – each of us have a unique and special story. Some of us have an ancient connection to this country, while the vast majority of us have cultural stories that originate from lands beyond these shores. But if you now call Australia home, what do you love about the place? Look for the positives, talk to others and post on your social media feeds these best things. Explore and articulate what makes you feel thankful that we have a day to celebrate Australia.

2. Listen to different perspectives – the reality is that most of us are surrounded by our own kind, who share our own views of Australia Day. I admit this next step might be a challenge but take the initiative to seek out and listen to the views of those you do not agree with. Remember they may not be right as you see things, but their views are entirely valid. The best way to do this is to ask others questions about what they love about Australia, and what their views on the day are. And be sure to listen, and not launch into an argument why they are wrong. This step will be hard when you first do it, but it actually becomes therapeutic and enlightening the more you practice it.

3. If you do, protest with compassion – protest, or at the very least promoting your perspective, is not only healthy for you but it is vital for a strong society. But do this after acting on steps 1 and 2 above, and so recognising that those with differing views are fellow Australians who love this country and who do not like being yelled at (coz, you know, none of us do!) Who knows, if you take time to listen to their views and treat them with compassion, they may even hear what you are saying and come to your way of seeing things?

4. And in the end, mark the day – finally I have come to the opinion that despite the division and conflict, that it is actually really important that we do mark the day, somehow. You may have an impassable problem with 26 January, so you may choose to celebrate Australia Day on another date (like 8 May … or May 8 … or “mate”!), but no matter what you do, do gather with fellow countrymen and women, who hold views like your own as well as different views, and raise a glass to the things that Australia Day means to you!

We are an imperfect nation and people, but we can be a nation and people who enjoy peace and hope and who can learn to work together for an even better future, for all of us!

If you would like to read more check out these links:
Home ‐ Australia Day (https://australiaday.org.au)
Australia Day | What Is Australian Day | History Of Invasion Day (https://australianstogether.org.au/discover/australian-history/australia-day/)
Australia Day Grace – Ethos (http://www.ethos.org.au/online-resources/Engage-Mail/australia-day-grace)

 

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: 25/01/2021

Sam is paying forward the support you gave…

It is often said ‘to err is human’. It’s something we can’t escape. We all make mistakes – we all fall short of perfection. However, as Christians we also…

It is often said ‘to err is human’. It’s something we can’t escape. We all make mistakes – we all fall short of perfection.

However, as Christians we also believe in redemption, and many of us have our own stories to share.

For Sam Fillery, his story is a powerful example of this and the vital role that your support has played in his life and in the lives of many like him.

But first, let’s rewind the clock back to Sam’s high school years.

“I wasn’t a ‘naughty’ kid at school, but I had made one or two bad decisions and had been suspended,” Sam says.

Deputy Principal at Beaudesert State High School, Sheryl remembers Sam well.

“Sam was a student that was somewhat disengaged – he wasn’t really a big troublemaker, but he didn’t engage with school a lot and did some silly things,” Sheryl recalls.

After leaving school Sam worked as a chef for five years, but found no satisfaction in that life. Sam was now volunteering at church, leading on youth camps, and had found a sense of purpose in what he was doing.

It wasn’t long before his friends encouraged him to get into youth work.

“While I was studying I came across my old chappy, Jamie Sharp. I was looking for somewhere to do my 100 hours of study placement – so I asked if he’d be interested in taking me on.”

Jamie took him under his wing, and as Sam undertook his placement he saw the difference Chappy Jamie was making – it inspired him to become a school chaplain.

After completing his qualification, Sam was ready for his first interview – and what a surprise that turned out to be…

“When I walked into the interview I saw one of my old deputy principals [Sheryl],” Sam recalls.

“She started the interview by asking me “didn’t I suspend you once?”

Sheryl immediately could see the change in Sam – and he was offered the job!

“He’s obviously had people invest a lot in him. He’s had strong mentors and role models who have developed strong values in him.”

As a chappy, Sheryl says the positive impact Sam is having on the school is massive.

“He has out-stripped all of our expectations – he is amazing”, Sheryl says.

“Working in conjunction with the rest of our support services team, he is really connecting with our young students who are disengaged in the classroom – the ones who struggle to make friends and don’t really want to be at school.

“From that young person who was probably a bit lost as a student, he’s had adults feed into his life, and I think that’s fed his passion to feed into the lives of young people today. He wants to see the change in them like he experienced.”

Your support changed the course of Sam’s life – and now he’s being a positive presence for the students, staff and parents at Beaudesert State High School.

If you love working with children and young people, and you’re looking for a career with meaning and purpose, or you know someone who is, then school chaplaincy may be calling you.

To learn more, visit suqld.org.au/morehands

Posted: 21/01/2021

A parent’s thank you to you: Gabe’s Story

Written by Casey S. We know each and every child is fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God – and they are all unique. As a parent of…

Written by Casey S.

We know each and every child is fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God – and they are all unique.

As a parent of a child with autism, this well-known biblical reference resonates so deeply with me.

But as much as we believe this when we look at our child, our greatest fear is that our unique, wonderfully-made child will not be accepted by those around them because they view the world through a very different lens than their peers.

Thanks to the heartfelt and selfless support of wonderful friends like you, nine-year old Gabe from Bohlevale State School near Townsville has been supported by his big-hearted chaplain, Amie.

Through this support he has gone from struggling to find ‘his place’ to now feeling connected and supported in his tight-knit school community.

Gabe’s great-grandma, affectionately known as GG, is incredibly grateful for the transformation she’s seen in her great-grandson, who used to spend most of his time playing alone at school.

“Gabe just loves coming to see Chappy. Each year we see a difference in where Gabe was at and where he’s getting to. For a while he would sit and do lego on his own – now he’s interacting with others,” says GG.

“I know it’s because of the support that he’s receiving.”

“Gabe’s interactions with Chappy Amie transfer over to the classroom and his teachers have commented on it.”

GG was so inspired by the difference she’s seen in her great-grandson that she became a volunteer, handing out fruit and toast at the Brekky Club each week.

“Now I jump out of bed in the mornings! I love seeing the way that Chappy Amie knows all the kids. She never puts them off and she makes time for everybody. She’s fantastic – a real treasure,” says GG.

Having a trusted and trained person to look out for the wellbeing of our children during their hours at school is vital.

But having someone who knows and understands that each child is uniquely created, and has inherent value, and therefore deserves a safe and meaningful life; that’s precious.

School chaplains provide support to our most vulnerable children – and having Chappy Amie at school has made Gabe’s school experience infinitely brighter.

“I feel happy when I come and see Chappy. She’s my friend,” says Gabe.

As a parent myself, knowing that our children have a safe person who believes in them and cares for them in our school communities means so much. To know that friends like you are helping to make that possible through the sacrifice of your time and finances, thank you so much. You are truly a blessing.

You can keep the transformational work of chaplaincy going by visiting suqld.org.au/donate

 

Posted: 21/01/2021

Christmas Day 2020 – a reason to hope

Christmas Day has a few extra feels in 2020, at the end of what has been an *unprecedented* (had to get in one more time!) year. Even now as…

Christmas Day has a few extra feels in 2020, at the end of what has been an *unprecedented* (had to get in one more time!) year.

Even now as I write, we are watching aghast as NSW closes down with what seems to be a new outbreak, and Christmas and summer plans for thousands and thousands of people are being wrecked. The nightmare of Covid-19 lingers on.

In Australia we have charted the year better than most countries, graciously, but even here we have experienced huge doses of fear, frustration, isolation and disruption. As if this was not enough, we have also seen vast bush fires, global racial conflicts, and fierce divisions over politics, vaccines and almost every issue of importance.

So we come up to Christmas, surrounded by the familiar and strangely comforting trappings of carols, decorations and shopping. In such a different year this public holiday is looming with extra meaning and value.

As I ponder why I am feeling Christmas more than in past years, I have been struck with three reasons that the season brings me hope:

  1. Simplicity – there is much that we normally do that we’ve been forced to give up (which changes depending on where we’re located), like travel, parties, going to the movies, avoiding crowds at shopping centres, and not being able to see some people we love. Our world has shrunk, as we have spent so much time at home. For many of us, Christmas will be smaller, local and with just the basics. This pared back experience initially felt like a loss, but as it gets closer I am finding it special and wonderful. After all, that very first Christmas was a simple, yet wonderful and meaningful affair.
  2. Family – or more specifically, the people I love and who love me. I sadly concede that not everyone has or relishes time with their own family, but whether it be one person or a crowd, Christmas presents a time to find and hold onto those who are yours. We are social beings who share a bond with our flesh and blood, or tribe or mob or gang, or those who we feel at home with. Especially in a year of so much separation, Christmas invites fresh connection – in person if we can, or virtually – if necessary.
  3. Gifts – I cannot shake the weird wonderfulness of giving at Christmas, the selflessness of finding and buying things to give to others. This entails spending hours at the shops (or online), spending our money, wrapping our presents and placing them under a tree – all so we can hand them out so that our special others can rip off the paper and discover the treasure they have received. This is quite literally a gesture of national generosity, unlike any other single time in our lives. Ok, so it is capitalism gone crazy, but still, isn’t the giving of gifts amazing.

It may not surprise that each of these reasons also remind me of the background story of Christmas. As a follower of Jesus, this man-made celebration is based on the truly remarkable story in the Bible of the arrival of a baby to earth.

The creator of the universe came as a mere baby, in a most simple and completely unremarkable fashion. While fully God, this baby came to a young family, Joseph and Mary, under social and moral clouds because of a virgin conception. They were without a home due to a government ruling and a threat to the life of their child. This baby came as God’s gift to our world, to reveal in human form his character and teachings, and to ultimately offer a sacrifice that would save the world from our sin and struggles.

I do love this time of year. And this year maybe more than ever before in my life. May you and yours find new hope in this Christmas season, and may your 2021 be full of joy and blessing.

 

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: 24/12/2020

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