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Author: UnitingWorld

Up close, you can see the brush marks in the walls of Attika’s house. The rendered concrete has been painted by hand – pink inside, bright blue outside.

All over Ambon, Indonesia, the houses are a defiant dazzle in a place where you might easily expect pain to have completely stripped the colour from life. It hasn’t.

Conflict between Muslims and Christians here in 1999 killed 5,000 in hand-to-hand fighting and left 70,000 people homeless. Attika, who fled her village during the conflict and lived for years in a refugee camp, could scarcely imagine ever speaking with a Christian again, let alone working beside women who have since become her closest friends. The transformation is the work of the Protestant Church of Maluku, who’ve been running projects in Ambon that bring Muslims and Christians together to beat poverty and build peace. Their story is one for the ages.

Attika’s smile is radiant as she shows us the home she built with $5.00 a week saved from a business built as part of a group of Christian and Muslim women run by UnitingWorld’s partner in Ambon, the Protestant Church of Maluku. Expressed differently but closely held, the women’s faith in God bound them together as they rebuilt homes, lives, each other’s churches and mosques.

Rev. Jeny Elna Malupane, who coordinates the project in Ambon, says that the work of peacebuilding is central to our identity as God’s children.

“I see the way life is changing for people in the community,” she says. “This is how I see God at work in humanity. It is incredible, actually. It is like nothing else, this grace of God bringing people together.”

A month after we return from Ambon, a series of devastating photographs arrive here in our office. They show Attika’s home completely destroyed by three earthquakes that hit the island in September; in one photo, Attika sits among blue and pink rubble, still selling her home-cooked snacks.

We gaze in silence at the two sets of images of Attika’s home, side by side, and I struggle with the idea that in both, God is present – in and through the relationships that have been built. Jeny’s team, through the Church’s Sagu Salempeng Foundation (SSF), is already on hand providing supplies to people living under tarps in the forest, too frightened to return to their homes. Jeny’s own family are among them.

“People are resilient,” Jeny says. “They dig deep. And they see God providing for them, even in this tragedy. The women’s groups have already been there for one another, sharing their food and resources: Christians, Muslims. They have become like family.”

And again, I’m reminded that in a world of pain and suffering, God’s intimate and powerful act was to come close as a child named Emmanuel: “God with us.” Born into the reality of our lives, sharing our existence, experiencing our hunger, sorrow and even our death. This is the God who is ever-present. This is the God who also, ultimately, overcomes.

God does not do this work alone. ‘God with us’ calls us alongside in partnership as we work toward the love that conquers death. For Attika, for Jeny, for every person digging deep to rebuild a life of dignity: please join us in giving the hope that holds us together this Christmas.

Everything in Common gifts change lives by ending poverty and bringing hope

They’re available at www.everythingincommon.com.au and you can send digital gift cards to loved ones right up until Christmas. Call us on 1800 998 122 to order gifts or donate this Christmas season.

Read about the work of our church partners in Ambon helping communities recover from the devastating earthquake that hit in September; an update about how your donations are supporting our Pacific church partners in their work to address inequality and violence against women; the unique fundraising efforts of Adamstown Uniting Church to support disaster readiness in Tuvalu and other small island nations; updates from Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Timor-Leste; a ‘Prayer During Times of Disaster’ and lots more.

Click to read the latest UnitingWorld Update

Download Update Newsletter as a PDF

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Every Christmas, we release a catalogue of gifts that represent many of our projects with overseas partners. It’s called Everything in Common.

In it you can find great poverty-fighting gifts like goats, pigs, clean water, education and livelihood opportunities, as well as gifts that support peacebuilding gender equality and climate action.

Check out our new gifts and shop online!

You can also read about the impact of the gifts here.

New Christmas card Designs!

We also release new Christmas card designs every year that support the work of our overseas partners fighting poverty and building hope in their communities. Sending our Christmas cards to your friends, family and loved ones is a great way to support people striving to be free from poverty and also inspire others about the work of our overseas partners.

Just $12 for a pack of eight!

Send Christmas greetings

Mum / Dad / grandma / loved one happy

Fight poverty

 

Click here to order online

or call 1800 998 122 (business hours only)

Are you a passionate advocate for justice?

Do you like telling stories and building relationships?

UnitingWorld has an opening for a Sydney-based person to help us grow a movement of people who are committed to supporting the global church as we fight poverty and injustice. Work with passionate supporters across NSW and build strong relationships with individuals and groups who financially support, advocate for and prayerfully connect with UnitingWorld’s partners and programs.

We have a flexible opportunity in the UnitingWorld supporter relations team. With the right passion, leadership skills and experience, the role could extend to include the oversight of our nationwide team of relationship managers. Your goal would be to develop and implement strategies to deepen people’s understanding of the transformative work that God is doing through churches in Asia, Africa and the Pacific; inviting them into a deeper engagement with UnitingWorld.

Click here for the Position Description

How to Apply

Please email your resume and a cover letter to info@unitingworld.org.au

Applications close 30 Nov 2019

80 dozen lamingtons walked out the door as part of North Rockhampton Uniting Church’s Market Day recently, central to a fundraising effort that will see $1,000 sent to support women in Kiribati.

The friendship between the two churches has been growing since early 2018, when North Rockhampton committed to helping UnitingWorld provide resources for women dealing with issues of poverty and domestic violence in the Pacific. The church was especially keen to provide money to build raised gardens in Kiribati so that women could grow vegetables untouched by increasingly salty soil. By the end of 2018, street stalls, ‘Bring and Buy’ stalls at women’s meetings and a Market Day had yielded $2021.75 to assist the work in Kiribati.

“Our recent event was wonderful,” co-ordinator Ros told us. “The ladies sold a cuppa and two slices for $5 and made $210. Our craft stall made $299. When we sell the left over lammies, we’ll have more than $1000. Most importantly, the event was happy and fun. We are really pleased.”

We’re right in the middle of a Campaign to boost funding for our women’s work in the Pacific, and we’re inspired by stories like these from our congregations. Thank you! While the work in Kiribati continues, we’re excited to begin rolling out gender equality workshops in Tuvalu, where the ordination of women is yet to be approved.

Thank you to everyone who has already given to our ‘Achieving Equality and
Ending Violence’ appeal

Find out more and make a donation at www.unitingworld.org.au/pacificwomen

Theology can’t prevent disasters, but can help people and communities prepare for them and lessen the impact. That’s why we’ve been supporting our Pacific partners to develop a theology of disaster resilience and share it across their churches and the wider Pacific. Our church partners work among communities who have been taught to believe that natural disasters are an unavoidable punishment for personal or societal wrongdoing.

This understanding of the nature of disaster sometimes means people haven’t thought through the practical steps they can take in their communities to avoid and lessen their impact. These new resources are written by Pacific theologians and designed to be shared as Bible studies as widely as possible with people in their own language. They teach about the nature of disaster and suffering, God’s call to care for creation, our role as stewards, and preparedness and advocacy as acts of discipleship. The Bible studies will work alongside teaching about evacuation plans, risk assessments and the provision of pastoral support.

The Framework paper was the result of a Working Group of twelve Pasifika theologians and practitioners gathering in 2018. Rev Dr Seforosa Carroll was lead writer.

The Bible studies were written by Rev Koloma Makewin (PNG), Rev Geraldine Wiliame (Fiji), Dr Afereti Uili (Samoa) and Rev Dr Seforosa Carroll (Fiji/Australia).

In the face of increasing threats from drought, fire, flood and storms in our region, we’re doing everything we can to equip our partners to respond with determination and hope, starting with foundations of faith.

Read more about the project and access the resources here.

This project is made possible with funding from the Australian Government through the Disaster Ready project of the Church Agencies Network – Disaster Operations (CAN-DO).

*Header pic: Theology of Disaster Resilience Working Group meeting in Fiji, August 2018


How can you support this work?

Give a Christmas gift card to a loved one! The Whole World in Your Hands gift card will support our partners to prepare vulnerable communities and reduce disaster impact.

Buy it now online.

Shop online for other gifts that fight poverty and build hope at www.everythingincommon.com.au

Timor Leste is still one of the youngest nations in the world. Officially formed in 1999, 42% of its population is under the age of 14 (18% of Australians are under 14). That adds up to lot of young people to be nurtured and guided, all of them the children of parents traumatised by years of conflict during the fight for independence.

Timor Leste’s Protestant Church is building the future from the ground up by nurturing and protecting her young people. With UnitingWorld’s support, they’re giving groundbreaking insights into the nature of child protection, implementing new policies in schools and churches, teaching leaders to spot the signs of neglect and abuse, and standing up for the victims of family violence.

The workshops have been funded by your recent gifts through Lent Event and are dramatically changing the way children and young people are cared for.

“There were 60 people at the recent workshop in Dili from churches, schools and the community,” says UnitingWorld’s South East Asia Coordinator Debora Murthy. “For most, this is very new information. Culturally, children tend to be overlooked, especially when there are added pressures like family trauma or poverty. If a child has a disability, they are even more vulnerable. We’ve been looking at the special place Jesus gave to children and the way Jesus stood up for those who were badly treated. In many places, if abuse happens it is covered up; both pride and shame prevent crimes against children from being reported.”

Recognising Frederick Douglas’ suggestion that it is “easier to build strong children than to repair broken (wo)men,” the Church in Timor Leste is determined to chart a future of peace, compassion and hope by providing the best possible care for its next generation.

Your gifts are
making it possible.

THANK YOU to everyone who gave so generously to Lent Event this year, making it one of our best supported fundraisers in recent years.

We’re looking forward to doing it all again next year! www.lentevent.com

We’ve set a goal to raise $25,000 on Giving Tuesday (Dec 3)

Giving Tuesday is a day to harness and amplify generosity worldwide, giving people the opportunity to give back to the communities and causes close to their heart.

With nearly half of the world’s population (3.1 billion people) living on less than $2.50 a day, ending global poverty is a priority for UnitingWorld.

There’s much to do, so join us on Dec 3 and help raise $25,000!

    • $150 can train community leaders in the Pacific to better prepare for disasters
    • $110 can help provide access to clean water from taps and tanks in Papua New Guinea
    • $50 can provide a family with a goat or pig to help establish a small scale business

Be part of a wave of generosity this #GivingTuesday by supporting causes that truly make a world of difference.

Click here to donate now.

When the Uniting Church in Australia was formed in 1977, we made a statement to the nation that included this commitment:

“We are concerned with the basic human rights of future generations and will urge the wise use of energy, the protection of the environment and the replenishment of the earth’s resources for their use and enjoyment.”

Caring for creation is in our DNA. It’s a long legacy that inspired our decision to join the Global Climate Strike in solidarity with students and young people who are scared but holding onto hope as they advocate for a better future.

More than a thousand of you were right there with us. From Sydney to Perth, Darwin to Hobart, Adelaide to Brisbane, Alice Springs to Melbourne and dozens of towns across Australia; faithful Uniting Church members, UCA-affiliated schools and UnitingWorld supporters were a visible presence of hope to their communities.

In Sydney there were more than 360 people in our group. Starting in the morning with worship and prayer at Pitt St Uniting, we heard a challenging sermon from Tongan-Australian Rev Alimoni Taumoepeau, Minister at Strathfield Homebush Uniting Church. “Why do I join the climate strike? God gave me—and each of us—the responsibility to take care of this world, not to destroy it,” said Rev Alimoni.

“Ultimately, I am here because Jesus calls me to be. In Chapter 4 of Mark’s gospel, after Jesus calms the storm, he asks his disciples, ‘where is your faith?’ Do we believe God is with us? Walking with us? Calling us to love one another as God loves us?”

“Well, already the impacts of climate change are hitting the world’s poorest. This moves me to act in faith.”

Led by the Pasifika-Australians in our group, we headed out of the church to join to the wider community for the largest public demonstrations in our nation since the peace marches to oppose the Iraq War in 2003.

We joined with people expressing solidarity with rural Australians struggling through an unseasonably early fire season and the most severe drought conditions in 120 years; people fighting to save the natural wonder of our Great Barrier Reef; children and youth who want a safe, healthy planet to grow old in (with parents and grandparents who want that too!); and our partners in the Pacific who are already leading change in their communities.

A group of Tongans, Fijians and Niueans sang the Fijian hymn Eda sa qaqa (‘We have overcome’) and Kepueli Vaka, a Tongan-Australian ministry candidate of United Theological College, blew a deep note on a Kele’a (conch shell).

“With tears rolling down my face, I realised that the voices of the voiceless, the people of the South Pacific were present through the ringing vibrations of the Kele’a. It was crying and calling for people to unite for all of God’s creation,” he said afterwards.

We were so encouraged by the turnout and messages of support from people in areas too remote to get to an event but wanted to express their appreciation that the church was involved.

And we were moved by messages of thanks and support from our international partners, many of whom are on the front lines of climate impacts and looking to developed nations to take the lead in reducing global emissions.

At a time when our partners in the Pacific and Southeast Asia have been stepping up their disaster preparation and climate justice work, it’s been a joy to follow their lead and act in solidarity for the whole creation.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop with our work on climate change.

 

Read our Quarter 3 Update Newsletter about why we joined the Global Climate Strike, what your gifts are achieving in Timor-Leste; the launch of our Theology of Disaster Resilience in a Changing Climate, North Rockhampton Uniting Church’s fundraising activities to support women in Kiribati, and lots more!

Click to read the latest UnitingWorld Update

We also launched a supporter survey 

The information is useful to us in getting to know you better, helping us communicate better with you and informing us about the kind of projects you’re most interested in supporting. Please take the opportunity to add your voice!

Click here to complete the survey

 

Download Update Newsletter as a PDF

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