Page 1

September 2013

Steph Miller & Ashlee Planck (pictured), together with 5,000 others attended a Rally for Refugees in Melbourne in late July to say we welcome those seeking asylum in Australia. We lament over government policies that deny this basic human right. Photo: Hirsch & Sons Photography

red-rope wristbands help us remember Ash Barker, UNOH International Director On July 6th, over 300 people joined together in Melbourne to celebrate UNOH’s 20th Anniversary. During the evening, I was inspired to see and remember how God has used us to help transform people and places for over two decades. Yet, at the same time, I felt consciously aware of who, from the past twenty years, wasn’t there with us, as a result of premature death and disappointment; and mindful of what we didn’t get to do and see happen over the past twenty years. Indeed, the art of lamenting the past is as important as celebration in seeing hope emerge for the future. Over the past twenty years, we often felt disappointed and even angry when good plans and intentions fell short. We lived with the consequences. When a neighbourhood child died unnecessarily, or a team member let us down, or especially when we weren’t the people we knew we should be – where were we to go? Absorbing and accumulating more anger simply isn’t healthy and can actually make us sick. Instead, in these moments, choosing to express prayers of lament, along with the Psalmist, has helped us find hope.

As we begin to express lament, crying out to God in frustration, something mystical can happen to us. We find God lamenting with us and through us. We find that Jesus feels even more angry and disappointed with the happenings in the world than we feel. We can give him even our most

poisonous or vengeful feelings. After a while, our lament can be found within a new, broader picture perspective. As we finish Psalms of laments, we can start to pray Psalms of hope, as something authentic begins to bubble up from within us.

More than just wishing things will get better, Biblical hope, which comes out of lament, can be a transformative power in the present. This Hebrew word hwqt tiqvah is translated “hope” in Psalm 9:18, but it can also be literally translated “rope”. This idea of “rope” is used twice, helping us to make sense of the context. First, Rahab helps Israeli spies escape down “red ropes” (Joshua 2:18). Then, these “red ropes” are used as a sign wrapped around Rahab’s windows to save her family once Jericho falls to Israel (Joshua 2: 21). Thus, biblical hope can have the metaphoric sense of a rope that connects and pulls forward the good future God intends. This metaphor of hope as a rope is taken up in the New Testament, too, when the writer of Hebrews encourages readers to “hold fast to the hope set before us”, which is the risen Jesus (Hebrews 6:18). We experienced a powerful moment together, when on the night of our 20th anniversary, a redrope was tied onto each UNOH worker’s wrist. We wear this symbol in remembering to express our laments, as apart of seeking to pull forward the good future God has for us, our neighbours and indeed the whole world. We hope you can keep joining us too, as our future unfolds together.

20th Anniversary and launch of “Voices of Hope” Founded in Springvale in 1993, UNOH celebrated 20th years of service during a celebration evening at Truth and Liberation Concern, Melbourne, on July 6th. There was so much to give thanks to God for as UNOH’s story was told from the perspectives of UNOH workers, as well as special guests Vox Congo, Mick Duncan and Darryl Gardiner. A real highlight were the stories shared with tears and laughter from our neighbours featured in the latest UNOH Publication, which was launched that evening: “Voices of Hope: Stories from our neighbours”. All eight UNOH teams, consisting of forty-three UNOH workers, renewed their covenants together and received red-rope wristbands to be reminded of hope and lament. We are grateful for all who contributed to our first twenty years and look forward to seeing what God does with us in the future. If this night was anything to go by, expect not to be bored as the next twenty years unfold!

The whole tribe gathered Was this the craziest, yet deepest UNOH retreat in 20 years? Probably! July 10-13 at Adanac Camp in Melbourne, we saw around 100 people gathered from Bangkok, Melbourne, Sydney, and Auckland, including UNOH workers, support staff, and key local leaders. Each UNOH city team led worship, shared their laments and joys, enjoyed time with comrades and were inspired by Bible scholar Wes Howard Brook and native North American leader Terry Leblanc. Perhaps the highlight for many was the annual skit night as we let our hair down to show that while what we do is serious at times, we don’t need to take ourselves too seriously.

The Crossing UNOH’s first camp directly engaging young adults with God’s passion for the least, the last and the lost, was held this past June at Adanac camp. It was exciting to see 60 young people with a desire to join with Jesus in responding to issues of injustice in their own neighbourhoods, cities in Australia and throughout the world. Our hope is to see more young people committing to a life of radical discipleship and being willing to go wherever Jesus leads. We are grateful for the support and leading of Andrew Menzies, Terry Le Blanc, Pastor Ray Minniecon, Lynette Leach and Jess Hammond.

Manurewa Our young leaders have decided that they, and the youth of Randwick Park, have the right to be safe. In May, their voice became a loud thumping drum, calling the city to protest against the sale of legal synthetic cannabis in our shops, demanding a change in legislation, insisting that our city will care for those that are most vulnerable on our streets. By quietly serving the young people of Randwick Park, and by personally becoming the change that is needed in the neighbourhood, Warriors of Change members have gained the respect of peers, adults and the leaders of our city. But at the end of the day, when the glamour of the protests are finished, what really matters, is the beaming smiles of children participating in the crazy activities of a holiday programme. They smile, not because it’s fun, but because they know that young adults in their neighbourhood care. It’s the beaming smiles of a safe child that brings warmth to a heart and that makes the shouts of a protest worthwhile.

Springvale The Free Burma Cafe has had some exciting developments recently, including Rohingya Asylum seekers using the cafe as a base for settlement support, a growth in business due to nearby train track works and most exciting is the release of “Kha Re Mar’s Kitchen” - a range of Chillies and Spices made by our Cafe Cook and available for purchase in the cafe.

Broadmeadows Life is still tough for those who have recently been released from detention on “bridging visas” with very limited resources and rights. What a privilege to love and support these vulnerable families through hospitality, friendship, english tutoring and accessing services. Praise God for our new team mate Ange Weekes! Ange brings many great skills and gifts to our team. She will be a blessing to many. Photo: Hirsch & Sons Photography

Lok 3 We welcomed our newest team mate, Jo Stroud all the way from UK this July, so house-hunting has been high on the agenda to house our growing team! We are so thankful that through one of the ladies from house church we were given a golden opportunity right in the middle of our thriving slum neighbourhood. The space is big enough to use as a community hub… it’s so exciting to have the space to dream!


Bidwill It has been a joy seeing the team grow and develop and see some great ministry flowing out of this amongst children and families. Our men’s group continues as “MADD Disciples”. We lament the tragic death of a young man in a joy ride, and the way it tears families apart. This time of grieving was interlaced with the beauty of the way neighbours have responded to work together to comfort the grieving.

This past month our team has sensed a renewed vision for the neighbourhood which has resulted in the growth and development of our kids club, as well as the start of a new ‘youth group’/ after school club at the local primary school aimed at grades 5 to year 7’s, initiated by our Submerge Intern, Abby and UNOH Novice, Steve. We currently have about 16 kids coming along to our Saturday morning kids club, which makes for much fun, mayhem and a little madness! We are truly thankful for the opportunity God has given us to connect with these young kids weekly and to be a part of their lives.

Noble Park (a lament)

Rom Klaow We felt some months ago God wanting us as a team to slow down, set aside time to be present in our neighbourhood and going to those He wanted us to spend time with. We have been overwhelmed by the number of frail, lonely, abandoned, sick, disabled and elderly who have needed someone to laugh with, cry with, talk with or even needing practical help or prayer for healing.

Noble Park We celebrate with Jono and Steph Bailey on the arrival of Azaria Marie, born August 10. We praise God for this new life that has come into the world!

“Why, why, why…?” I ask God as I lean on the side of Mamer’s bed in the hospital. He’s brain dead and we are only waiting until it was “official” before life support is to be stopped. “Why does he have to die like this? Why did he have to struggle so much? Why God did you get me to care so much for him over the last 5 years just for this?” I was one of the only close friends at the funeral besides his family. As I shoveled dirt into his grave with the other men I could only feel numb inside. This is the third young South Sudanese man I have been close with to have an alcohol related unexpected death. Why, why, why? Jono Bailey, Noble Park Team.

We immerse ourselves in the life of neighbourhoods facing urban poverty, joining the risen Jesus to seek transformation from the bottom up. Living and serving as small, responsive neighbourhood based teams in urban Thailand, New Zealand and Australia, we have a vision to multiply UNOH teams in cities across the world.

DYING Chris, UNOH Klong Toey, Thailand


I’d never met Uncle before this day. Little did we know that Jesus, using two unlikely drunk men to lead Rod and me to Uncle’s home, was inviting us

grace. We left him clean and sitting comfortably in a wheelchair in

all into a sacred moment to comfort him in his great

his doorway, promising to return. His wounds were dressed and there

suffering. We found Uncle, who was nothing more

was life once again in his eyes. I returned a couple of hours later, Grace

than a skeleton in skin, lying on a rough concrete

in tow, with a pillow and clothes from the Second Chance op-shop.

floor, in a small dark shack – one of many thousands

What we discovered was totally unexpected. Still in his wheelchair,

of shacks people call home in Klong Toey. He was

but now outside, Uncle was surrounded by people. As we walked up

alone, naked; apart from the adult diaper that

to him people who’d seen us earlier, including the two drunk men,

clearly had not been changed since the hospital staff

told us the tragic news: Uncle was dead! I took his hand in mine

dropped him off so that he wouldn’t die in hospital.

and prayed a spontaneous prayer of lament, “Why O Lord does this

It was a devastating image. It wasn’t just the state

happen? How long O Lord will this continue to happen? Where is the

of the shack, nor that he was delirious, covered in

comfort for the least, the last and the lost?”

his own mess, and had infected bedsores covering

There are so many reasons for us to lament, too many in fact. Yet

his body; it was that there was no one to comfort

it is absolutely necessary to enter into this difficult place. Walter

him. Surrounded by thousands of people, yet alone,

Brueggemann comments in his book, ‘Journey to the Common Good’,

completely alone. There was no one who came to

that Israel knew that loss created opportunity for new beginnings.

bathe his filthy body. No one to tend to his infected

In denying the lament process, it created social dysfunction and

wounds, or even pass him a cup of water.

eventually led to violence. He implores that lament is critical in

Yet, moments after discovering his plight, Uncle

enabling us to see an alternative world. It’s from within our despair

was being bathed and wounds dressed with absolute

that hope rises up, giving birth to a new vision that mobilises the

tenderness and compassion by Jodie and Oi. While

forgotten and those in despair to new possibilities.

Jodie scrubbed his fingernails, Oi washed his feet,

Even after the destruction of Jerusalem and the people of God being

a gesture in Thai culture that is reserved only for

led away to Babylon, Isaiah, after a period of lament, is able to hope

people of great worth. Tears rolled down Uncle’s

in the Lord doing new things in their midst “bringing good news to

cheeks, deeply moved by this act of honour and

the oppressed, binding up the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives…” My prayer for those like Uncle is that from the depth of sorrow, hope will rise up and together we will find ourselves heading into the city full of peace and joy, “where the mountains and hills before you burst into song, and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands”. Together we will know the Lord has not forgotten us and comforts us in our great suffering.

Denise, UNOH Manurewa, New Zealand As a child, I remember a story told by my

back here to live.” As I stand in one of the poorest communities in Auckland, I

grandmother, “When I went to school

am aware of how hard he worked to ensure I would not live in such a place and

in the 1920s we had Native Schools just

I hold back the tears that well up inside me.

for us Maori, and the teachers used to

New Zealand is a country not exempt from implementing unjust laws. As

hit us with the cane if we spoke our own

one studies the history of this country, a discovery into injustice chained to


the indigenous people of this land will be found. Injustice is never something

In 1867, Parliament set up schools with

anyone likes to look at. However, in order to understand why our neighbours

the objective to help control Maori and

and friends are struggling, while those of us who are privileged take much

teach them Pakeha (white man’s) laws.

for granted, we need to be willing to look deeper, beneath the surface, and sit

As I stand on my doorstep and look down my street, at furniture dumped on

in the pain. We must realise that this is a chain that has deeply scarred and damaged a people group.

the side of the road, and see homes with

But there are signs of hope. ‘Te Wananga o Aotearoa’ (NZ’s largest

bare front yards, and look at the simple

Indigenous Maori led Tertiary Educational Institution), established thirty

houses that lack adequate insulation and

years ago with Maori wellbeing and development at its core, is transforming

heating, I know that about 35% of my

lives. Yet for me, as I walk out the gate of this establishment with a friend,

neighbours are of Maori descent and I

I hear her say, ,“Kaua e kuri, e noho” and I am reminded again of my own

lament over why this place has become

poverty as I hear the language of my ancestors spoken, a language of fluency


lost to my own voice.

In the 1930s, many people did not have

For those who have never lived with the daily reminder of pain, it is like

jobs so the government gave money to

a chain that remains shackled to one’s ankle. For those that really want to

help unemployed people. Pakeha got

learn and be bound with those in the pain, then a teachable spirit and heart

double the amount of money than Maori.

of vulnerability is needed to walk sensitively as a minority in another world:

It is 170 years after the signing of the

watching, listening and learning.

Treaty of Waitangi, and my grandfather’s

Australian Aboriginal Elder Lilla Watson expresses this better than I can:

words echo in my ears. “Whatever you do,

“If you’ve come here to help me, you’re wasting your time. But if you’ve come

get educated and do well in the Pakeha

because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

world, learn their ways and learn them

The beauty of being a Follower of Jesus is that we know Christ understands

well, so that you will have choices and

what it means to suffer injustice and pain. He is the one who takes us on a

opportunities that will take you out of

journey of forgiveness and hope; transforming a human heart injured and

these places of poverty. Don’t ever come

scarred by injustice.

Brad, UNOH Broadmeadows, Australia I sit with ‘Sivan’, sipping the sweet tea that he has prepared

Just be there to feel some of the helplessness. Just be there to

for me in the visitor’s room at MITA detention centre in

feel some of the frustration. The anxiety. The despair. Just be

Broadmeadows, Melbourne. This afternoon is quieter than

there to know together that the way things are is not the way

usual. Probably Ramadan is keeping a few regulars from

things should be. Just be there to cry out with the psalmists

coming in to visit. I know at least a few of the guys who I

and prophets, “How long, O Lord?” How long will it be until

normally visit have not made it out of bed yet, having had

God turns His ear from heaven, like He did for the Hebrew

another restless night, sleep seeming further away with

slaves in Egypt? How long until He will bring justice?

each new wave of anxiety.

Yesterday three more Tamil

These are questions that I must carry, but I can’t answer.

refugees received news that they would remain in detention

There’s another question though. “How long”, I ask God, “will

indefinitely, their adverse security assessments being upheld

it be before our hearts of stone turn into hearts of flesh?” How

by reviewer Margaret Stone. Sivan has been held in detention

long will it be before we Australians see that we are locking

for four years now, in a legal limbo where because of his

up fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons

adverse security assessment, he can neither be sent back

and even children? How long will it be before we see that

home nor be released into the community. He is effectively

they are just like us? I lament the injustices perpetrated in

imprisoned without charge, trial, legally binding review, or

my name, just as I lament with my friends the injustices they


suffer. But in my lament, I must continue to raise my voice on

As we talk about the past week, Sivan tells me that he hasn’t been going to church, one of the few outing opportunities

behalf of those who cannot speak, and to hold fast to the hope that one day our great cries of “How long” will be satisfied.

available to them. “I don’t feel like going now,” he says. “I don’t know where God is.” We have prayed together many times before. We have talked about Bible stories and God’s hope for those who are oppressed. This time, I have no words to say, no message of comfort. All of the words that I can think to say seem trite in the face of his situation, and I feel like all I can do is just be there.

* For more information on refugees in indefinite detention, join the facebook group ‘AID Network: Advocacy for Indefinite Detainees’

Jon, UNOH Bidwill, Australia When someone has the courage to bring their hurt and trust me with it it’s a great honour to sit and receive it. I hasn’t always been that way. A young man with a beautiful smile just began to pour out his

Lament is a conversation which is a refusal to

heart, attempting to let years of frustration spill out all at once

endure suffering alone. Listening to someone truly

through too narrow an opening, it was a little too much too soon

share is joining with them in their refusal.

for him, so he eventually just sat and sobbed. Even well into my second decade of doing this I’m still not quite

Of course there are others that just like to have a good old whinge.

sure of what to do. But I’m learning to shut up. Sitting in a place of

Yet being with and not fixing provides the rare

great honour is wonderful at a meal, but a little more demanding

opportunity for an encounter between two people

in a neighbourhood - yet it is a position of far greater importance.

to occur in the presence of God, which always

Being alongside others in times of pain and suffering is an art form I’ve yet to master. That is because it is a daily exercise in being vulnerable and being content not to fix, but to just be with. Everything within me resists being vulnerable, yet to truly be present with someone suffering there seems to be no other way of assuring them that they aren’t alone.

leads to a change. Sometimes the change is positive and we leave with renewed energy and enthusiasm filled again with hope for a better future right now like the young man who walked away a little lighter. Other moments break your heart, like another

There was a time when this wouldn’t have felt like enough.

young man whose father keeps promising to

I would be driven to question, pester and advise, all in the hope

show up “this weekend”, but “this weekend” never

of providing some comfort or “an answer” for God. There are too

arrives, but his hope never diminishes and so does

many people I have to apologise to for doing this to them. This

his despair increases. “That’s ok dad, next week’s

stems from the belief that I picked up somewhere along the way

fine” he keeps lying to him. His heart is broken, as

that the life of faith is one that provides all the right answers.

is mine I when I hear his story.

However life doesn’t run on a straight set of tracks. Life as it comes to us all contains a range of experiences. Lament gives authentic expression to the real experiences of life. It resists the tendency to withdraw into the world of romance and permits us to face life head on and invite others to do the same.

I can’t control this kid’s heart response, because, as Parker Palmer once wrote, a heart can break one of two ways. It can break apart, which can be messy, requiring much care and attention to heal. A heart can also break open, and lead to a deeper

c i t n e h t u a es v i g t l ea men r a L e h t o t n expressio of life . es c n e i r e p x e

love and compassion that we never knew was possible.

When this happens we are opened to a deeper

pain, but perhaps now we know that God does not abandon us in it. That provides us with the hints of being led into

a better tomorrow.

ISUM news Join us in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the International Society for Urban Mission (ISUM) Summit: Signs of Hope in the City. ISUM seeks to facilitate collaboration between a variety of urban Christians, including Ecumenicals and Evangelicals, Majority and Western world thinkers, activists and leaders, Church movements and development agencies. This interactive summit will include keynotes from Dr. John M. Perkins and Dr. Jayakumar Christian, in addition to hands-on immersion opportunities, working groups and panel discussions. Outcomes from the summit will include published recommendations and calls to action. Save the date: June 28th-July 1st, 2014.

Seeking Urban Shalom:

Integral urban mission in a new urban world (coming early 2014) With slums on the rise (or sinking away), where would Jesus be found today if not alongside activists standing in the gap for the most marginalised and vulnerable people on the planet? With a foreword by Tony Campolo, Seeking Urban Shalom offers the best of the 2012 ISUM Summit exploring neighbourhood development, advocacy, trafficking, church planting, dialogue and leadership development. It will open your eyes and expand your mind about relevant biblical, strategic, demographic, humanitarian and global justice issues for integral urban mission in our increasingly urbanized world.

E-Briefing Papers ($2.99) available now at, or from Amazon, and the book coming soon in 2014.

For more UNOH Publishing titles and electronic versions of publications, go to:

a reflection from Tim

Earlier this year the Bangkok team had Shane Claiborne share with us the importance of breaking down the walls in our life; walls that prevent us from engaging with those on the margins. And I feel like that’s exactly what God has been doing to “my house” throughout the past six months; tearing down some of the unnecessary or unhelpful walls that I have built. One of the first walls to come down was my need to be in control. Since working with those on the margins, I have had to learn to go with the flow and let my life be interrupted. When I try and control things too much, I lose the ability of allowing the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit to move and work through me. Another wall I am still chipping away at, is the fear of putting myself out there; the fear of rejection. Something I am forced to deal with every day when learning a new language and embracing a new culture. But it hasn’t just been demolition; there has been some construction as well. I have started to see hope, and other ways of constructing my spirituality. I have also begun to recognise the image of God in some of my neighbours, whether it’s the life-giving smile on a forgotten child’s face, or an act of love shown by those whom you’d least expect it. I hope God continues to do His work in me, helping me pull down the walls that are keeping me from living according to his will, and encouraging me to construct other walls that can give this house the support and stability that it needs.

Solidarity with a UNOH worker makes a difference To stand in solidarity with our neighbours, UNOH workers voluntarily limit our income to the Henderson Poverty Line. This amount varies according to family unit size and is adjusted lower by some teams according to their location. The Henderson Poverty Line is calculated quarterly by the Melbourne University’s Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. For further details about these calculations, please see the March 2013 figures: UNOH workers do not receive any government funding, but rely on God to provide through people who know us, trust us, and believe in what we do. Standing with a worker and giving a regular donation trimendously suports UNOH. Raising the level of our workers’ regular support makes a huge difference to our stress levels. Additionally, if a a tax-deductible receipt is not required, we will have more freedom to respond spiritually and educationally too! You can give securely online (by credit card) at Note: website donations are in $AUS, and Australian taxdeductibility is available if required. Other ways of giving in Australia: • Cheques payable to “UNOH” - send to PO Box 2711 Dunearn LPO Dandenong North Vic 3175 • Direct Banking - our details are as follows: BSB 033084 Account 188418 (UNOH Inc). Please make sure that your name and the purpose of the donation is included in the reference field and/or email with details of the donation. For other countries: USA: Contact CMFI (5525 E. 82nd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46250) or to find out how you can donate to UNOH, and receive US tax-deductibility. New Zealand: Cheques payable to “UNOH” - send to PO Box 75-218 Manurewa Auckland 2243; or direct debits to UNOH’s ANZ Bank Account (060991 021605555). Please make sure that your name and the purpose of the donation are included in the reference field. NZ Tax-deductibility is available. UK: Visit the Stewardship UK website at or phone 020 8502 8560 or email Thailand: Urban Neighbours Of Hope Foundation; Bank: Bangkok Bank; Branch: Maleenon Tower; A/C : 014-0-13616-9 We are so grateful for all who stand with us so we can give our best time, energy and creativity to our Christ, teams and our neighbours.

UNOH Equipping 2013 UNOH is committed to equipping people to go deeper and

Missio Dei Discernment Retreats:

find ways for more meaning-full living. It doesn’t matter if you

check out or send your enquiry to

This two day retreat is an invaluable and sacred experience. Through individual and group exercises, we explore the important questions of where you have come from and where you are going. If you sense it would be good to carve out time and space to listen to what God is up to in your life then Missio Dei could be for you.


Sydney, Australia: October 11th -12th contact:

are just starting out, or have much experience, these course are great opportunities to go deeper. For more information on any of our equipping opportunities,

The Triune God and Community Building This September Mary Fisher, Andrew Menzies, and Ash Barker will be exploring the topic “The Triune God and Community Building”. God is by nature community. How can this theological reality inform the way we engage fractured and alienated individuals in our neigbourhoods. This unit can be taken for credit. At UNOH Centre for Urban Mission, 2/6 Airlie Ave, Dandenong, Melbourne. Date: September 27th-28th (+3 days Monday September 30th - Wednesday October2nd if studying for credit) For more information or registration email

Finding Life is the newsletter of Urban Neighbours of Hope Editor: Jodie MacCartney Proof readers: Hugh MacCartney and Carter Quinley Design: Les Colston -

Urban Neighbours of Hope Factory 2/6-12 Airlie Ave Dandenong VIC 3175 PO Box 2711 Dunearn LPO Dandenong North VIC 3175 Phone: 03 9701 7114 Fax: 03 9701 7115 Email:

Auckland, NZ: September 20th - 21st contact: Melbourne, Australia: October 4th-5th contact:

Sub-Merge For those wanting to Sub-Merge into a life among the urban poor with UNOH, this 12 month, live-in, mission formation year may be for you. The year focuses on three key areas; Neighbourhood engagement, Spiritual formation and academic study. The course commences with an intensive in Bangkok (January 13th - 27th inclusive). There is an application and interview process, places are limited and there are different conditions for different locations. If you are interested, contact us to find out how you can start the process today!

Findinglife september 2013 issuu  

Finding Life is the newsletter of Urban Neighbours of Hope

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you