International Roaming ELIZABETH GUNTRIP SHARES PART OF HER INCREDIBLE STORY
Season of Hope
AMAZING STORIES FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE
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Give a gift of hope this Christmas...
You can help shape a child’s future by providing God’s Wo rd for just $10. “These children do no t have children’s Bibles,” says Tadu, a Su nday school teacher in Ethiopia. “Th eir parents cannot afford them. Ou r children will understand these Bibles and can read them for themselves.”
Dear Friend, Every believer needs hope… especially those persecuted for their faith. As you read through this year’s Gifts of Hope catalogue, I pray you will be moved to provide a gift for a persecuted brother or sister in need of hope today. Whether you put a Bible in someone’s hands, train a struggling pastor, help somebody learn to read the Bible, or provide practical help for a martyr’s family, you’ll find there are many gifts you can provide to bring hope where faith costs the most.
n he first read were s.
of beginning nd – Jesus,” g ALIVE arkness
While life can be painful and unjust, your gift sends this message: “You are not alone. You are loved and remembered by me.” Your gift helps persecuted believers grow strong and see beyond their present suffering to something better—in this life or the next.
d his her, and amily. So rom the gift that
You give them hope!
Thank you for standing with our brothers and sisters in their hardship and helping them endure, through discipleship, encouragement, biblical resources, and practical help.
Give the to a persecuted Christian dd 3
8/15/12 4:29 PM
Together, we are advancing God’s Kingdom where faith costs the most!
Craig Marsh CEO, Open Doors New Zealand
Search the catalogue online now at:
From the Editor...
elcome to the latest issue of Find a Christian Mission magazine. We are so thrilled to be bringing you the latest news and resources in organisations across the globe, many of whom are meeting basic human needs. One thing that strikes me as I type is the need that is still evident in the world today. It is so unimagineable that in this day and age we still have unspeakable poverty coupled with excess. As we draw closer to Christmas and the New Year I emplore with you to rethink your Christmas ‘needs’. Perhaps instead of that extra stocking filler, you could buy a chicken for a Compassion child for only $16! This chicken provides eggs (food) and fertiliser for growing fresh vegetables. Such a small gift can literally change an entire family for the cost of a DVD! Or perhaps you could provide a set of Sunday school materials through the Gift of Hope catalogue for only $12! Such small change for us but life changing for those who receive it. We also highlight ‘Nodding Syndrome’. Emma Mullings investigates this insidious disease taking lives in Northern Uganda.
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WHAT’S INSIDE 6 Season of Hope 10 International Roaming 14 Growing God’s Kingdom 16 The Gospel of Wealth and Giving 18 Mens Shed 20 Nodding Syndrome As you read through this magazine I pray your heart would be open and inspired to stretch beyond the comforts of western life and see ‘through God’s eyes’ at the need that is waiting for all of us in helping to meet. With blessings and Christmas wishes, Lynn Goldsmith Editor-in-Chief
s we venture into the season of golden tinsel, twinkling lights and miss-matched tree decorations, dug out from the back of the cupboard, it’s hard not to feel a bubbling sense of hope and anticipation for the festive months ahead. After all, Christmas is about hope: a child’s not-so-innocent inspection of their gifts under the tree, the promise of family holidays in the sun and the timeless reminder that God chose to send His son to Earth as a child to redeem our sins. In developing countries all over the world, millions of children will also be looking towards Christmas and the New Year with hope for their future, despite the very real poverty that many face today. Whether it is the dream of becoming an engineer, a leader, or a parent with the skills to provide for their family, God has placed hope in the heart of every child. Beguens’ Story When Beguens was a boy, he would walk the shores of his island home in Haiti and dream about his future. At the tender age of five, Beguens already knew poverty intimately, but he also believed that God had a brilliant plan for his life. Beguens’ childhood and teenage years were far from easy. However, with the loving support of Compassion and his sponsor, as well as his own determination to do God’s will, Beguens finished school and was enrolled in university to study a Masters Degree in Population Studies. “The suffering of our people was heavy on my heart. We have endured more than we can bear for so many years: earthquakes, fighting, riots, floods,” says Beguens. “I knew I needed to work
Earthquakes, fighting, riots, floods, poverty... real stories and a real God meeting needs...
hard, become educated and focus on God if I was to fulfil my dream of being a leader for the people.” After graduation, Beguens became a professor and later a Program Facilitator for a Compassion child development centre. But although he loved his work, Beguens decided to step out in faith and pursue a role in government that would allow him to achieve his dream of leadership. “I knew the Lord had more in store for me,” says Beguens. “There is so much we must do to make things right in Haiti, and I believe it starts with our children.” Today, Beguens is serving in Haiti’s parliament as a congressman, using his role to improve the lives of children in poverty and give them the chance to see their hopes and dreams realised, just as his were. “It’s my vision as a government official and man of God to save our little ones from the horrors of poverty,” says Beguens. “The Lord has blessed me in so many ways; I was freed from the chains of poverty and given the chance to live out my dreams as a leader. It is because of Him that I am here today.” Cho’s story Cho remembers his childhood in Korea vividly. His parents ran a store that sold charcoal, rice, vegetables and fish. Though he didn’t realise it at the time, his family were steeped in debt that eventually left them bankrupt. Even when they started a small business, Cho remembers days when he would go to school without lunch. But throughout this time, Cho remained hopeful for the future. Every month he received letters of love and encouragement, as well as financial support, from his Compassion sponsors—the Enzou family—as part
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of Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program, run in his local church. Their words gave him the confidence and self-belief to enrol in the School of Commerce once he graduated from school, and later, to gain a job at the Bank of Korea. “I treasured the pictures of my sponsors,” says Cho. “Every time I organised my photo album, I took special care of the three pictures I had of my sponsor family.” Years later, Cho married and began a family of his own—a family that included a Compassion sponsored child. “My wife brought home a Compassion leaflet she’d received at a concert,” says Cho. “I realized it was the organization that linked me to my sponsors, so I decided to sponsor too.” It’s been 30 years since Cho went to school without money or food for lunch. Looking back, he is thankful for the hope that his sponsors instilled in him during his childhood and believes their positive influence has helped shape who he is today. “The Esau family shared a part of their life with me, and, gradually, little pieces of them are showing up in me. I feel blessed,” says Cho. Ramesh’s story Ramesh had always felt more at home at the Salvation Army boys’ hostel in Tirunelveli, India, where his father left him after his mother died when he was three, than in his father’s home. It was the hostel staff who nursed him back to health from the childhood illness that almost killed him, when his father refused to take him home. And it was the hostel staff who registered Ramesh with the Compassion Child Sponsorship Program in Valliyoor. “When I was in tenth grade, Appa
Canâ€™t find it here? Try searching online www.findachristianmission.com.au | 7
“...ebay reports that by early 2013, there’s likely to be upwards of $1 billion in unwanted gifts resold on their website alone”. [dad] remarried,” says Ramesh. “But I hardly go home because it causes fights between my dad and my step-mother. I go to the hostel where I grew up; it is my home.” From a young age, Ramesh’s dream was to become a doctor. But without his father’s support, Ramesh believed he had no option but to leave school and get a full-time job that would pay for his university fees. However, when Compassion staff learnt of Ramesh’s dream, they encouraged him to apply for Compassion’s Leadership Development Program, a program that supports students through university. Though Ramesh’s dream was to become a doctor, he was accepted into engineering at Jeppiar Engineering College in Chennai. “I applied for both engineering and medical colleges and I got a seat here,” says Ramesh. “I quite like engineering and I plan to specialise in nanotechnology. That way, I can get back into the medical field.” Though his lectures were conducted in English—his second language—Ramesh grew in academic ability and confidence with the help of his Leadership Development Program sponsor, Mike. “What encourages me the most is that Mike is an engineer himself,” says Ramesh. “He and his wife Sherry write to me and encourage me to do well in my studies.” Ramesh hopes to study nanotechnology one day, but for now he plans to find work in the software industry and use part of his income to support his stepsister through university. “It is expected of me, and besides,
I want to do it,” says Ramesh. “I am grateful to God, who has given me all my heart’s desires and for having taken care of me all this while. I know that were it not for Compassion, I would not be who I am today.” Give hope this Christmas! Did you know that in 2010, the average Aussie spent $662 on Christmas gifts? That’s a total of $8.5 billion nationwide! And yet, despite the generosity of our gift giving, ebay reports that by early 2013, there’s likely to be upwards of $1 billion in unwanted gifts resold on their website alone. Though Christmas gifts are an incredible way to show someone they’re loved, maybe it’s time to shift the way we think about what we choose to give. Giving gifts through not-for-profit organisations like Compassion at Christmas not only avoids the chaos of shopping centres and postChristmas financial hangovers, it also gives you and the special someone you are buying for the assurance that your gift will also give the best gift of all to a child and their family—hope. This Christmas, giving a friend a Gift of Compassion could also give a mosquito net to protect kids in Kenya from malaria, or veggie seeds for families in the Philippines.
Visit www.giftsofcompassion. com.au or call Compassion Australia on 1300 22 44 53 to order yours today.
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ELIZABETH GUNTRIP shares part of her remarkable story with this extract from Inspiring Stories from the Field...
s I stepped outside the airport concourse into the milling crowd waiting for families and friends to disembark, a Pastor colleague from Australia spotted me and waved. I was here in Lahore in response to his invitation to teach a two-week intensive course in the Pakistani Bible College of which he was Principal. In anticipation of this trip, I’d had numerous needles to protect me from various lurid-sounding diseases. As a white female travelling alone I felt very vulnerable at times and was therefore surprised when my entry into Pakistan passed uneventfully. My flight from Brisbane arrived in the small hours of the morning and I expected it to be scary! The scars of 9/11 were only two years old and security checks, seldom enjoyable experiences, had escalated. I tried not to feel intimidated and was comforted by the thought that I was being prayed for! Still, that first trip early in November 2003 was memorable. The tangled streets of Lahore were quiet as we negotiated our way to the home of Pastor Daniel where I would spend the rest of the night. Several people greeted me by candlelight, ushered me into a room with a double bed with ensuite bathroom, then without further ado quietly wished me goodnight. Jamila, Daniel’s wife met me when I emerged later in the morning. Her name means ‘beautiful’ in Urdu and she certainly has a beautiful spirit. The rest of the family, including four grown-up children, had already left for work or ‘uni’. I had never met them before, but when Daniel heard I was coming to Pakistan he invited me to preach at a weekend Conference he was organising. In anticipation, Jamila undertook to dress me appropriately and took me shopping for a ‘Shalwar Kameez’, the baggy trousers and tunic top complete with colour coordinated ‘dupatta’ or shawl commonly worn by women. She is an expert bargainer – I just left the purchasing to her. The shop had no fitting room so I was obliged to hide amongst the racks to try on outfits. I can still visualise the look on Jamila’s face as
The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed. HUDSON TAYLOR she removed the first pair of complicated looking shalwar trousers from my hands with a ‘tut’, turned them round and handed them back. I was trying to put them on back-to-front. At the end of day one, I moved across the road to the home of a Christian family. They had a spare room upstairs specifically built with visiting ministry in mind. Their inspiration was the Prophet’s Chamber the Shunnamite woman in the Bible built for Elijah. They have four children who were quite young when I first met them and I have enjoyed watching them grow up. They were sleeping when I arrived from the airport which is why Daniel and Jamila as good neighbours took me in - so as not to
disturb the little ones. The children were hugely excited at the prospect of a visitor and had told everyone that ‘Auntie’ was staying in their house. As with all kids, long before I arrived they kept asking, “When is Auntie coming?” For some years now I have been a beneficiary of this family’s wonderful hospitality. I am always spoilt rotten. I ate the delicious food they made and felt fortunate because I love curries and spicy food. I hoped to collect some recipes before leaving. “Please make us an Australian meal,” I was urged. Without my recipe book this was an untenable situation for me. I measure everything! I felt quite hamstrung, limited to top-of-the-stove
cooking and unable to shop for groceries myself. In desperation I coated chicken pieces with crushed potato chips and fried them. My hostess rang her husband telling him delightedly that we would be having ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ for dinner. Mmmmmm! Very Aussie! And yes, there is a franchise in Lahore, as well as a McDonalds which was bombed a year or so later. The lectures at the Bible College were set for three hours every week night. The prayer in my heart was that the students would receive everything God has for them, despite the fact that I would need to work through an interpreter. This is a major hurdle with which travelling educators must contend. Long-term
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CONVERSIONS ARE ILLEGAL IN PAKISTAN, BUT
missionaries spend many months grappling with language study, but short term missionaries are seriously hampered in this regard. I have learned to make praying for my interpreter a priority, but was fortunate that those I had at both the College and the Conference were good. There were only one or two glitches where they were confounded by my choice of words and raised their eyebrows with a bewildered “Excuse me?” I wanted the students not only to learn some interesting historical facts which occurred in another country/culture/era, but to be available to God in encouraging a passion for the Kingdom of God. The hardest thing was trying to gauge how much they already knew. Only one student in the group of forty men was a lady. Rapport between us developed easily and she shared with me her desire to be an evangelist. The subject I taught was ‘Revival Principles and History’. I strove to emphasise aspects of the Church Universal, how believers in Pakistan are part of the worldwide Body of Christ despite being an isolated minority group where they live. In addition I drew connections between the Sialkot Revival (led by ‘Praying’ John Hyde) with contemporary movements in India and Australia, right back to Azusa Street. Sialkot is now part of Pakistan and I found from their feedback that this was an aspect the students, as Pentecostals, appreciated. I set the exam questions and the Pakistani Pastor who translated for me had the joy of marking the exam papers. Thankfully, all students passed the course. As far as I know, I only disgraced myself once during lectures. Social blunders are always a possibility when one is in unfamiliar environments. In this instance I had forgotten to allow the interpreter time to speak. When I noticed the students gazing at me uncomprehendingly, I laughed and I playfully slapped the interpreter on the shoulder. Because he was propped against the pulpit and unbalanced, I succeeded in sending him flying. He barely retained his footing and his dignity. Ladies are not even supposed to touch their husbands in public, let alone other men. Oooops! Pakistanis are very conservative, so the students were goggle-eyed and unsmiling. The Principal arrived just in time to see the incident and wonder to himself, “What’s Elizabeth doing?!” No one else saw the humour in the situation, and it was with some difficulty that I controlled my amusement, apologised demurely and wound up the lecture. In time I came to value such experiences as intrinsic to my cross-cultural education. Everyone called me ‘Sister’ rather than ‘Pastor’ (despite my credentials). I take this to be a cultural convention in a country where female Pastors are not in vogue. I have found the way is eased if I prime my 12 | Find a Christian Mission Magazine 2013
OFTEN THERE WERE NOMINAL CHRISTIANS IN THE AUDIENCE AND MINISTRY TO THEM IS LEGITIMATE.
audience by telling them I have come with my husband’s sanction and my Pastor’s blessing – all of which is strictly true, of course! Independent womanhood is not esteemed highly here, unless you’re Marilyn Hickey. She is a popular figure. Interestingly, everyone here seems to have Masters Degree or Doctorates. The Principal told me it is the ‘in’ thing to have a degree and he couldn’t imagine where most of them came from but suspected they were available from the internet. This trait unfortunately devalues genuine degrees, but it did strengthen my desire to teach at a good standard to keen students. The weekend Conference was held in a huge colourful tent on a vacant allotment in the Christian enclave. It was a success in the opinion of the organisers,
but precious in my memory are the five salvation decisions and various healings that by God’s grace occurred. I prayed it would be ‘fruit that remains’. My sermon text was John 14:6 - Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me - a very pertinent statement in any part of the world. Conversions are illegal in Pakistan, but often there were nominal Christians in the audience and ministry to them is legitimate. God is amazing! On Sunday afternoon there was a baptismal service and I took photos before being asked to pray. It was a delight to share in the celebration. Due to my shopping trip I was turned out acceptably in one of my four new shalwar kameez each time I spoke. I wore a shocking pink outfit of Indian paper
silk the first evening and felt rather like an oversized party balloon, but everyone was delighted with me for wearing their national dress. It is such a pleasure to show them honour in response to the pressing love and respect they gave me. It was my first encounter with the subcontinental custom of welcoming guests with a garland of flowers, usually fresh roses or marigolds. To read more of Elizabeth’s story, pick up your copy of Inspiring Stories from the Field instore now or visit www.arkhousepress.com to order.
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We, God’s people, are a people of diversity. Each one of us is an individual, a unique inhabitant of a globe that sustains countless lifestyles, languages, religions and cultures. In the midst of that diversity, we as His people must strive to live as the body of Christ, that it might be His instrument of change in this world.
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hat exactly does that mean? Consider someone who uproots their life and replants in a foreign culture; the experience is unsettling yet is often born out of a desire to grow God’s kingdom. The temptation is to hit the ground running, pioneer new initiatives, hand out social aid and pour financial support into the local church (which, praise God, now exists in most places). Yet in a restricted-access country, these approaches are neither so wise nor sustainable, as you might well imagine! The limitations of working in a restricted environment come with a silver lining. We are forced to think outside the square as we do not have the freedom to publicly declare God’s love. Instead, we must recognise that we are united with the national church as the body of Christ. The question becomes: ‘How can we get on board with what God is already doing here? What can we do that will equip and empower local believers to be kingdom builders?’ Although one branch of the local church here exists above ground, the approval of the government does not exempt that community from struggles. That very stamp of approval curtails freedom and dictates how the church can interact with international workers. Official partnerships are inherently difficult, as often those who invest money and those who co-ordinate a project hold strong and differing opinions, or the church’s need for financial input biases the decision-making process. Granted, there is a place for some
to invest money and resources into the national church, but this often comes at a cost. In a nation with an ingrained culture of suspicion, to acquire resources without working for them fosters the scepticism and doubt of other locals, and it nurtures an expectation of favouritism and handouts amongst those who believe. For many local believers, the very act of association with foreigners invites social exclusion and prejudice against their faith community. Take, for example, a woman known as ‘Aunty’. She is a faithful believer and runs a hostel near the city where she cares for about fifteen young people, many from backgrounds of drug addiction. Her investment in these young lives is both practical and spiritual. Supporting so many is backbreaking work, yet she will not open her door to foreigners, nor openly accept practical support. To do so would set her apart; it would arouse suspicion, jealousy and judgement from the neighbours. Her witness depends on her integration with her community. Integration enables her to stand, to acknowledge her faith, and to let the results of her hard work and of God’s grace speak into the community. For the desperate parents of drug-addicted kids in a nearby village, sending their children to live at her hostel is considered a last resort because of Aunty’s faith, yet is respected as a sure way for them to find freedom. Where official partnership and public associations fail, one thing prevails: the pure simplicity of enduring friendship. Friendship,
discipleship, mentoring – these are personal investments that may develop into rich and fruitful relationships with the passage of time. In reality, Aunty doesn’t stand alone – she has international support in the form of a friend: a friend who, with grace, must accept that she can never visit Aunty at the hostel, who can never openly admit their friendship, yet who stands by her in solidarity of purpose, who slips her the extra cash when bowls are empty, who prays with her throughout the joys and tribulations. For the body of Christ to live with integrity there must be a dynamic and mutual investment in both development (social and economic) and in the growth of God’s kingdom. The local church must take initiative, must demonstrate their care for the people of their nation. Over the past 20 years, the church here has learnt key lessons about what it
means to live, not just as individuals who believe, but as a community of faith. They recognise that physical and social ministries are required, that they can’t focus only on the spiritual. This journey, albeit a slow one, is sustained and nurtured by the encouragement and advice of international workers who have journeyed alongside church leaders for a decade or more. These international workers have overcome the culture of suspicion through their faithfulness over time; they have not forced the hand of local believers but have patiently waited for the impetus and passion to emerge amongst local leadership, so that Christ’s body here might be an agent of change in a country that has abundant needs. Many international workers have established examples: they’ve pioneered initiatives to train the unskilled, free the addicts, love the neglected, rescue the trafficked and feed the hungry. Yet
only when initiatives such as these are taken on by local believers can they be undertaken to the depth that is needed. The mission of Christ’s body in this broken and hurting nation is to stand up and declare through actions that the people of this country are worth loving, and to show people that they are loved. International workers must model that love as they journey alongside local believers as disciplers, mentors and friends. On a practical level, this may seem like a drop in the ocean, yet it allows local believers to learn by experience how to disciple the future generation: it prepares the church for growth – the growth of God’s kingdom. The author has a heart for medical education and development, and is currently serving as a teacher in South East Asia.
Published in Interserve NZ’s GO magazine, Issue 2, 2012. www.interserve.org.nz
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The gospel of wealth and giving
There is such a responsibility for us to give to Christian Missions and there are lessons we can learn from the Jewish tradition of giving... Lynn Goldsmith Christ’s Teaching on Wealth and Giving There was a time when the words concerning the rich man entering the kingdom of heaven were regarded as a hard saying. Today, it would be true to say that this standard of faith receives the most liberal interpretations. The startling verse has been relegated to the rear to await the next kindly revision as one of those things which cannot be quite understood, but which, meanwhile, is carefully to be noted, but not taken literally. However, it is improbable that the next stage of revisionist thought will restore the doctrine in all its pristine purity and force, as being in perfect harmony with sound ideas upon the subject of wealth and poverty, the rich and the poor and the contrasts everything seen and deplored. In Christ’s day, reformers were certainly against the wealthy. It is also none the less evident that we are fast recurring to that position today, as the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ widens; and it will not be surprising to the student of sociological development if society should soon approve that oft quoted text which has
caused so much anxiety, “It is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” The ‘gospel of wealth’ echoes Christ’s words. It calls upon the millionaire to sell all that he has and give it to the poor by administering his estate himself for the good of his people. So doing, he will approach his end no longer the ignoble hoarder of useless millions; poor, very poor indeed, in money, but rich, very rich, twenty times a millionaire still, in the affection, gratitude, and admiration of his fellow-men. But, sweeter by farsoothed and sustained by the still small voice within which, whispering, tells him that, because he has lived, perhaps one small part of this great world has been bettered just a little. The Importance of Learning to Give-The Jewish View Reaching out to those in need is central to Jewish being. Jews are commanded to give at least ten percent of their net income to charity. Tzedakah boxes for collecting coins, for those in need, can be found in central places in Jewish homes. It is common to see Jewish
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youth, in Israel and in the Diaspora, going door-to-door to collect money for worthy causes. Judaism holds that people in need have a legal right to food, clothing and shelter that must be honoured by more fortunate people. According to Judaism, it is unjust and even illegal for Jews to not give charity to those in need. Thus, giving charity in Jewish law and tradition is viewed as obligatory selftaxation, rather than voluntary donation. So, giving charity in Jewish law and tradition is viewed as obligatory selftaxation, rather than voluntary donation. Importance of Giving According to one ancient sage, charity is equal in importance to all the other commandments combined. Tzedakah is the Hebrew word for charity; giving aid, assistance and money to the poor and needy, or to worthwhile causes. It is the responsibility to give a portion of one’s personal substance for the common good. But it is more than giving money to the poor; done properly, tzedakah requires the donor share his or her compassion and empathy along with the money. Judaism teaches the belief
“Every charitable act is a stepping stone towards heaven.” Henry Ward Beecher, American Congregational preacher (1813–1887)
that donors benefit from tzedakah as much or more than the recipients. The duty to give is so important in Judaism that even recipients of charity are obligated to give something. However, people should not give to the point where they themselves become needy. The highest level, of which none is higher, is where one takes the hand of an Israelite and gives him a gift or loan, or makes a partnership with him, or finds him employment, in order to strengthen him until he needs to ask help of no one. Concerning this it says, “And you will give strength to the resident alien, so he may live among you,” as if to say, strengthen him until we will not falter or need. Moses Maimonides devoted ten chapters in his Mishneh Torah to instructions on how to give to the poor. One can fulfil the obligation to give tzedakah by giving money to the poor, to health care institutions, to synagogues or to educational institutions. Supporting grown children and elderly parents is also a form of tzedakah. The obligation to give tzedakah includes giving to both Jews and Gentiles. Beneficiaries: Recipient, Donor, World According to Jewish tradition, the spiritual benefit of giving charity is so great that the giver benefits even more than the recipient. By giving charity, Jews recognise the good that God has given to them. Some scholars see charitable donation as a replacement for animal sacrifice in Jewish life in that it is a way to show thanks to and ask forgiveness from God. Contributing toward the welfare of others is a central and fulfilling part of one’s Jewish identity. Jews have a mandate to improve the world in which they live (tikkun olam). Tikkun olam is achieved through the performance of good deeds. The Talmud states that the world rests on three things: Torah, service to God, and deeds of kindness (gemilut hasadim). Tzedakah is a good deed that is made in partnership with God. Our Duty as Christians and World Inhabitants Poverty, homelessness and lack of food can only be described as the major and most pressing and insidious malignancy affecting today’s society. This festering malignancy is becoming an ever increasing social problem that has now reached the
stage of being the greatest tragedy facing human society in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the number of poor, hungry and homeless is increasing exponentially everywhere on our planet, as is that oft quoted widening disparity between what we call in western society , the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. Governments everywhere have and are being forced to abandon or reduce welfare-state strategies even in Australia, yet questions on how to deal with poverty and deprivation are still highly placed on the social and political agenda of all political persuasions and societies throughout the world, no matter whether the society is developed or developing. In the midst of all the above, Christian organisations have again become important participants in defining and implementing welfare policies that have been abandoned by governments and civil society. Our urgent and most pressing duty as Christians now is to make ourselves more aware of just what our crucial Christian duty is to the needy in our society. This duty must now assume the same importance in our spiritual walk as evangelism, prayer, mercy and discipleship.
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MUCH MORE THAN A MERE BUILDING
or 130 years, Churches of Christ in Queensland has been equipping and inspiring generations of people to bring the light of Christ into their communities. Through a range of missional and community care services, Churches of Christ assists families, the elderly and people in need through its church communities and care division, Churches of Christ Care. Chief Executive Officer, Dean Phelan, said that with over 200 services in more than 100 communities, Churches of Christ in Queensland touches tens of thousands of lives each year. “We have been so blessed by God and pray that over the next decade we will become even more recognised for the love and light that we bring into each community,” Mr Phelan said. “We hope to empower others to do the same Christinspired work.” One way in which Churches of Christ in Queensland is doing just that is through its Men’s Sheds, which, in some cases, have completely changed people’s lives. Eddie is one evergreen man who’s found a home away from home at Churches of Christ in Queensland’s Nambour Men’s Shed. Eddie, a 73-year-old nicknamed Aldi due to his fascination with buying bargain priced tools at Aldi, is an excellent craftsman who just potters along all day, most days of the week, and ends up with some outstanding results for his efforts. “The Nambour Men’s Shed has changed my life because I can once again be myself,” Eddie said. “I sold my last house with a great shed and moved into an over 50s complex. I found myself stuck inside for two and a half years rebuilding computers. “Before I found the Men’s Shed, I did not think I would ever have a shed again – I gave most of my good tools away. I now have the joy of rebuilding my tool collection to store in my shed locker. “Having a shed once again is fantastic. In the Men’s Shed, I have the freedom to come and go as I please within the company of a great bunch of fellas.” 18 | Find a Christian Mission Magazine 2013
Eddie (aka Aldi) In May, Nambour Men’s Shed celebrated its first birthday. A testament to the shed’s success, more than 100 men are almost as much of a regular fixture as the wood-working machines they put through their paces, and as such the shed was relocated to a larger property in August. Nambour Men’s Shed Coordinator, Mark Wall, said the impact the venue has had on the men it welcomes can be enormous and that Eddie’s story is not uncommon. “The difference the shed makes in the lives of these men is incredible and a real, tangible thing. The most common phrase I hear is, ‘If it wasn’t for the Nambour Men’s Shed, I don’t know where I’d be’,” Mark said. “When guys retire they’re not necessarily doing anything or having the connections they had in their workplace. For them to work with other guys and towards community projects makes them feel important and needed. “Guys are also a lot more reserved about talking openly about their feelings: we tend to bottle them up. In the shed, guys meet other guys with similar concerns such as loneliness, isolation, depression, male health issues or whatever it may be. When men find other men in similar situations they talk and they realise they’re not alone.
Men traditionally aren’t very forthcoming about health issues and trips to the doctor, but in the shed they can access information in a way they want to receive it and, should they choose to, they have plenty of listening ears to share with.” “For the guys who may be isolated and don’t have any family around, the shed guys become their family. We are building communities, and it all happens so naturally, which is what is so unique. “Then there’s the health aspect, particularly mental health, which is massive. Men traditionally aren’t very forthcoming about health issues and trips to the doctor, but in the shed they can access information in a way they want to receive it and, should they choose to, they have plenty of listening ears to share with.” Smaller sheds are also located at Churches of Christ Care’s Golden Age and Sanctuary Park Retirement Villages on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, and
there are plans to introduce more colocated sheds in Townsville, Mackay and Bribie Island, as well as a potential Mobile Men’s Shed to further support people in other communities. “The potential for expansion is very exciting,” Mark said. “Following the success in Nambour, Churches of Christ in Queensland is eager to reach out to vulnerable men in even more communities throughout the state, and build environments where people are dignified and respected. “We have identified a fundamental community need and, in line with the organisation’s mission to bring the light of Christ into communities, we’re going to do something about it.”
A group of mainstream Christian churches which has been an active part of the Queensland community for 130 years, Churches of Christ in Queensland has grown to become one of the largest, most diverse not-for-profit organisations in Australia, active in the areas of ministry, early childhood services, child protection, social and affordable housing, retirement living, community aged care, residential aged care and dementia care.
For more on Churches of Christ Care visit www.cofqld.com.au
“Equipping and inspiring you to bring the light of Christ into your community” Dean Phelan Chief Executive Officer Churches of Christ in Queensland
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Nodding Syndrome Wife and mother, EMMA MULLINGS visited Northern Uganda and witnessed a generation suffering an insidious disease...
ar, murder, torture, rape, cannibalism. Welcome to the aftermath of ‘Kony’ and his Rebels. As the recovery from the war continues in Northern Uganda it seems this fragile nation has been delt another blow. ‘Nodding Syndrome’ is sweeping through the region, literally taking out a generation with it. Let me tell you about ‘Nodding Syndrome’. It is a disease that only has recently made itself known, the first case in this area being recorded around 2007. It affects children between the ages of five and 15; symptoms include nodding uncontrollably when presented with food, also nodding off in a dazed kind of state. Seizures, similar to epilepsy, elephantiasis symptoms, limbs not growing, erratic behavior, dental abnormalities, uncontrollable drooling, vacant facial stares, elephantitus and retarded physical growth to name a few. A lot of the children with Nodding Syndrome present with severe burns to their body, they have either had a seizure and been burnt by the family’s cooking fire, or they have (in a state of daze) thrown themselves into the fire. Children erratically have run off into the bushes and stepped on animal traps, breaking and splitting their legs open. Children have also drowned after throwing themselves in the river unintentionally during a seizure or whilst in a ‘dazed state’. As the child is in a ‘daze’ and ‘out of
Clockwise from top: Emma Mullings and a child; Children outside the Nodding Syndrome clinic; A baby (bottom right) and child (above) with Nodding Syndrome.
20 | Find a Christian Mission Magazine 2013
it’ the cases of sexual violence against the young girls suffering Nodding Syndrome is very high. Resulting in numerous cases of (on average) 14 year olds pregnant and unaware of what happened or who the father is. Nodding Syndrome also affects their memory so there is no hope of identifying their rapist even if there was an opportunity to do so. It is common to see a child tied up at the family’s hut or out the back like a dog. This is done by the parents to keep them safe as many of them will have burns or other injuries caused by their erratic behavior. Because food seems to be the catalyst for reactions some parents have taken the measure of depriving their children of food. What is a better death, Nodding Syndrome or starvation? Should we even have to ask such a question in 2012? In my medically untrained mind I immediately place it to be related to some kind of chemicals used in the war. The war finished six years ago, it had gone on for just over 20 years meaning these children were all conceived at some point during the war. However, medical experts, (of the few that have done any research the northern regions of Uganda), think differently. In saying that, their ‘differently’ is ‘we have no idea where this has come from or what is causing it’. On a recent trip to Northern Uganda I was able to interview the Kitgum Regional Health Development Officer, Dr Asuman Lukwago, who is on the front line in this bizarre medical conflict. It’s clear even he and his team are not convinced of the watery excuse of ‘black flies’ that the Ugandan government has currently chosen to stand on. Black flies being around for so many thousands of years and never having had an affect like this before. I considered, having witnessed the extremities of human degradation that it could it be somehow related to stress levels that have not been measured on our planet before – as many of the women were forced to fight in the war, often being forced to kill their own family and even cook and eat their
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The realisation of how blessed I am just to have a hot shower, electricity, running water and a bed is one epiphany I never want to lose. flesh (yes you did read that correctly). Is it related to severe malnutrition? Is it a spiritual oppression that manifests itself physically? When I entered the ‘Atanga’ clinic that has a ward for Nodding Syndrome the doctor saw us with a camera and was keen to chat. His eyes bled desperation. “Take your pictures, tell the world we need help.” The ‘hospital ward’ was an old tin shed with mattresses on the floor. It was filthy and smelt strongly of feces and vomit. The mothers hold their children with tears in their eyes. The footage we took speaks for itself and there are no words I could use to give it justice. One child I will always remember, he’d had a seizure and in the process had fallen and smashed his jaw. It is clearly broken. There is no medical assistance there to help mend his jaw; he is one of the lucky ones given anti-seizure medication to prevent a seizure happening again (at least while he is at the hospital and on the medication available there). I’m picturing our driver whose leg was shot in the war and after seven months bed-ridden it has healed in a somewhat ‘mangled’ state. I’m praying this young boy’s jaw does not have the same result. Someone asks me how I feel. Wow what a question. I feel
P.S. All of a sudden buying a house doesn’t seem that high on my desires list anymore when I think of what could be done with those funds. The realisation of how blessed I am just to have a hot shower, electricity, running water and a bed is one epiphany I never want to lose.
*Keep an eye on www.albertinenation.org This is a non-profit organisation currently being set up by Sarah Rudolph to provide the resources from top health experts from around the world, to research and create programs for holistic health to equip the next generation of Northern Ugandans.
♦ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗
22 | Find a Christian Mission Magazine 2013
overwhelmed that in 2012 this scene before me is actually happening. The sheer injustice. I feel desperation for these beautiful children of which some are in physical agony yet there is no pain relief coming, in fact they will be lucky to even get a meal today. Anguish overwhelms me and I just want to cry, but I am there to be their strength, this kind of work is not accompanied by tears. I want to empty my pockets, give them my clothing, sell every piece of excess material items I have back in Australia to be able to give more, to do more. Surely I have to do something about this. I’m thinking of my last trip with my toddler to the doctor back home in Australia where we sat in an air-conditioned waiting room, a roof over our head, medicine readily available and I actually had the nerve to feel frustrated at the length of time we had to wait. So what helps this condition of ‘Nodding Syndrome’? On a practical level warm clothing does, the children seem to have more severe reactions when they are cold. Good nutrition also sees an improvement and physiotherapy has shown positive signs. One girl we saw who was jumping around erratically and couldn’t sit down at all two weeks ago can now sit (although it takes a bit of convincing she sits down to show us for a minute) after only two weeks of physiotherapy. So where to go from here? As the doctor pleads, “tell the world, we need help…”
Beyond has just launched a program which is run through CCF that is supporting families with children with Nodding Disease. It will provide them with blankets, food, anti-seizure medication and care. To donate visit: www2.myc3church.net/beyondinternational
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