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With everything going on in the world, it’s easy to feel powerless. The challenges are huge.  

But here’s the thing: by supporting UnitingWorld, you’re part of a global movement working together to change lives – including yours! Because when we work for change, we ourselves are changes. 

Lent is coming. It’s a 40-day season to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, seeking to practice a life focused on prayer, simplicity and generosity. It’s a precious opportunity to step back from the noise, take some intentional time to fix our hearts on what we can do to love our neighbours and heal our hurting world. 

Join us for Lent Event 2023

Pray – Use our prayer guide to pray alongside our partners as they address the challenges facing their communities. 

Live simply - Give up something in solidarity with people who have less. 

Give - Donate or fundraise to help our partners fighting poverty and injustice.   

This is the difference you can make

$25 can provide nutritious food to kids in Timor-Leste. 
$50 can help a family start pig breeding in Indonesia. 
$100 can provide job opportunities and education for a person with a disability in Sri Lanka. 
$500 can send a girl to school in India. 
$1,000 can supply clean water for a village in Papua New Guinea.

Join Lent Event

 


Kim’s Story

Kim is a youth leader and champion of bringing clean water and sanitation education to where it’s most needed in remote Papua New Guinea. 

“When we build clean water infrastructure on our church or school properties, we always try to put it in the middle of the island so people can stop by on their way to town to get water,” Kim told us.   

“We try to do things in ways that ensure everyone in the community benefits.”  

Kim is making waves in his community with the support of people like you. Read his full story here. 

This is what happens when we choose to walk hand in hand with our neighbours. Together, we can change lives. 

Will you join us?

Make a difference

“When I was a child, I would sit on my mother’s lap and she would tell me the stories of our people. It meant that my whole life I’ve known who I am because I know my story. 

“I’m so grateful for it because today it’s fading away. It’s harder for young people because of the noise of modern life.” 

Ever since I heard this from Kim Allen (pictured), a youth leader with our partner, the United Church in Papua New Guinea, I can’t get it out of my mind. I think it’s because his words transcend his culture and speak into our current moment in time.   

At just 28 years old, Kim is responsible for around five thousand youth across almost ten remote islands. He acts as a facilitator to connect youth to the work of the church.  

“The challenges we’re facing are school dropouts, unemployment, early marriage and the impacts of climate change,” he told me.  But the underlying problem affecting young people today is what he describes as ‘noise’.  

“Young people are exposed to so much noise, with the internet, mobile phones, drugs, peer pressure, music. They can’t focus.”  

I asked Kim how he and his church are addressing it: 

“The first step is to help them be aware of themselves and their lives as children of God,” Kim said. “With that awareness we can then meet them at a practical level, training them to be good citizens, to work against violence, to build up their communities. The church gives them hope and a solid foundation to be human. We see that as intrinsic to spiritual development.”  

I think we can all relate to that feeling of too much noise in our busy, modern world. I love that Kim’s antidote is having greater awareness of who we are as children of God as a first step to refocusing our lives.   

I know I don’t have to tell you how powerful that idea is, but I always find the reminder encouraging. When we see ourselves and others as created children of God, infinitely loved and valuable, our hearts are changed. We can’t ignore the cries of people suffering in poverty and injustice. We long to make a difference, and through God and God’s people, we find the power to do it.  

I hope, like me, you find strength and encouragement in that thought, because it’s a critical time to play your part, however you can. Here at UnitingWorld and across our church, we do that together during Lent with Lent Event. We reach out to others through prayer, living more simply and practising generosity.  

It’s such a powerful time! 

Pray – Use our prayer guide to pray alongside our partners as they address the challenges facing their communities. 

Live simply - Give up something in solidarity with people who have less. 

Give - Donate or fundraise to help our partners fighting poverty and injustice.   

Every prayer, action and gift make a difference, and not just for people overcoming poverty. Because when we work for change, we too are changed.  

I hope you’ll join us for Lent Event this year as we seek to refocus our lives through prayer, simplicity and generosity.  In 2023, Lent is from 22 February to 6 April.

Head to www.lentevent.com.au today to get started.  

In hope and gratitude,  

Dr Sureka Goringe
National Director, UnitingWorld

We know that the power to drive development belongs in the hands of the local communities, and that churches are powerful partners in the delivery of effective and sustainable development led from the grass-roots.

As a Board member of ACFID*, I was able to carry this message into consultations with the Foreign and International Development ministers of the new government, to briefings with the new Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and even to a briefing with US government officials as USAID plans to reengage in our region. The USAID Pacific strategy paper now identifies churches as key parties.

As members of Micah Australia, I accompanied South Sudanese/Australian UCA minister Rev Amel Manyon with other prominent UCA leaders to Canberra in a delegation to meet with members of the new government and advocate for international aid. Amel spoke powerfully about the famine affecting her homeland:

“I’m asking the government in Australia, please do something now. People are dying because of hunger and it’s not good for us to sit and listen to their  stories and not do something.”

$15 million was provided to urgently assist the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. The Australian Government’s commitment in October to increase life-changing Australian Aid by $1.4 billion over the next four years was a really encouraging shift in government policy. And the energy in Australia’s leaders for fostering genuine and stronger relationships in our region goes beyond just funding. We’ve also been able to connect DFAT more closely with our Pacific partners.

We supported the Pacific Conference of Churches to become accredited to receive DFAT grants, and helped DFAT set up a Pacific Church Partnership Advisory Network – a group representing churches across the Pacific and Australia raising issues of shared concern to the Australian Government. Development aid and Pacific migrant labour have been subjects of fruitful discussion between churches and DFAT in this forum.

Our partners are formidable leaders, changemakers, teachers, scholars, peacebuilders, advocates. But more than that, they are disciples of the one who calls us all to this life of love, compassion, and generosity for all creation.

Thank you so much for helping us to bring their voices to the tables of power, and holding them in your prayers.

Dr Sureka Goringe
National Director
UnitingWorld

With the right support, girls in vulnerable communities can go on to have higher incomes, healthier families and become leaders in their communities.

That’s why with your help, we’re working with partners to help more girls access the education, shelter, food, clean water and emotional support they need to set them up for life!

Girls like 13-year-old Jaya.

With her family struggling to support her studies and provide her with the healthcare she needed, Jaya struggled to keep up with her peers and often fell sick.

But after she connected with local UCA partner the Church of North India (CNI), everything changed.

With the support of her family, Jaya was moved to new accommodation to help her reach better education and healthcare. More than that, she could now be immersed in a caring community, supporting her studies and providing her with the emotional support she was missing.

“(Jaya’s) health has also improved due to the monthly medical check-ups and regular health education sessions at the hostel,” one of the project managers said. “She now dreams of becoming a policewoman when she grows up and is working towards it in her studies.”

All of this was made possible with the support of supporters like you.

This Christmas, you can give a gift on behalf of your loved ones to help more girls like Jaya.

Click here to order online

or call 1800 998 122 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri)

✅ Christmas greetings to your loved ones

✅ Send joy to the world

Fight poverty!

Christmas card sales represent a donation to UnitingWorld and are tax deductible in Australia.

 

New Everything in Common Catalogue 2022

The new Everything in Common gift guide is here!

Give your loved ones a meaningful gift that stands out from the rest.

These are gifts that won’t be left collecting dust but will transform the lives of those who need it most.

 

Our new Everything in Common Gift Catalogue is on its way, with brand new Christmas card designs to order. So we’re having a sale on what’s left of our current stock!

Usually $15, our current stock of Christmas cards are now $12 for a pack of eight designs (see pic above).

Or get three packs (24 cards) for $30!

Sending our Christmas cards to your friends, family and loved ones is a great way to fight poverty, build hope and inspire others about the work of our overseas partners.  Sales of our Christmas cards represent a donation to support our work helping people lift themselves out of poverty in the Pacific, Asia and Africa.

Order while stocks last!

Click here to order online

or call 1800 998 122 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri)

✅ Christmas greetings to your loved ones

✅ Send joy to the world

Fight poverty!

Christmas card sales represent a donation to UnitingWorld and are tax deductible in Australia.

 

New Everything in Common Catalogue 2022

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 gender equality and care for creation. Our new Christmas cards will also be available soon.

Get a sneak preview of the 2022 catalogue here.

 

“When a tree falls in the forest, you hear the sound. When a tree is growing, you hear nothing.”

This wisdom was shared at the Pacific Church Partnership Advisory Network (PCPAN) meeting in Canberra recently, where I had the great pleasure of listening to Christian leaders from across the Pacific region as they expressed their hopes, joys, struggles and dreams for the future. It was the first meeting of its type in-person, where the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) facilitated the gathering but allowed the agenda and conversation to be guided by the participants, particularly Pasifika and First Peoples.

Naturally, it followed a “talanoa” and “yarning” process of dialogue, which meant deep listening, reflection and then speaking. The government representatives mostly listened in from the sidelines. The conversations were rich and comprehensive, expressing the need for the sector to move away from paternalistic interventions based only on human needs and towards partnerships that allow families and people groups to determine their own futures.

There was an outpouring of compassion about the injustices suffered by Australia’s First Peoples after reflections from Rev. Mark Kickett and Alison Overeem from the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) and ‘Aunty’ Pat Anderson, co-Chair of the Uluru Statement. I looked around and there was barely a dry eye in the room. It reinforced the desires of Pasifika church leaders to centre the voices of First Peoples in all their engagements with Australia. We can each learn from that approach as our nation continues to grapple with issues of justice and reconciliation.

I also recently made a visit to meet three groups of amazing UnitingWorld supporters in Queensland. Meeting face to face for the first time in years, it struck me anew that the Uniting Church is filled with people whose lives seem ordinary, yet are utterly extraordinary.

It brings me back to the quote I picked up at the PCPAN meeting. The dozens of people I met on my trip are not public or loud. They dodge acclaim and recognition, but the depth of their commitment to leaving our world in a better place than they found it is truly inspiring.

Quietly but surely, people are making positive change, big and small, local and global, through community outreach and supporting our international partners. Though we may not hear it or perceive it, the tree is growing. It is a hopeful and motivating thought.

With thanks for all you do with us.

Dr Sureka Goringe
National Director
UnitingWorld

 

The last pieces of corn from a family’s harvest, laid out on a table set with love: that’s what I see when I think of people I’ve visited over the past ten years with UnitingWorld.

Gifted by a family fighting tuberculosis and hunger in Timor-Leste, the cobs are a sweet yellow symbol of the generosity and faith I’ve felt at so many tables around the world. Fresh coffee brewed for us in the highlands of Bali, simple prayers, mud crabs dug from the river and offered up on an island in Papua New Guinea, hymns in many languages, hot sweet tea in India. Always, the smile that says: “We have enough to share, and even if today is hard, tomorrow will be better.”

These are the people I think of when global news rests an icy finger of fear against my ribs. I remember communities that lay bare their grief together and then get up, hands and hearts steadied by a faith that calls them to pray and work in equal measure. They believe in the mystery of God, yes, but they live out love and sacrifice in ways that are sweat, flesh and muscle.

They are truly ‘the salt of the earth’ – ordinary and everywhere, unspeakably valuable: preserving life, adding flavour, fertilising the soil for new things to grow.

For ten years, it’s been my privilege to introduce these people to you in stories, pictures and video. And it’s been a joy to see you light up in response. Time and again, you’ve stepped up to help build things both physical and less tangible – toilets and water tanks; faith, hope, wisdom and knowledge. I’ve seen our friends take hold of what you’ve offered with both hands and work tirelessly to make life better for themselves and their communities.

Collectively, it’s your stories and those of our partners that I summon when life feels dark. Over the past ten years, you’ve worked with
us and our team of smart, creative partners to confront poverty, respond to the changing climate, elevate women and girls, open minds and fight hunger.

Thank you for trusting us and our partners with your vision of a better world. From our joined hands, scattered salt works its simple magic across the globe.

It can’t always be seen, but its impact is unmistakable. Stay salty.

– Cath Taylor

*Cath has been writing for us and shaping campaigns like Everything in Common, Lent Event and Seven Days of Solidarity since 2011. Last month she moved on to another role with a Christian organisation and offers her heartfelt thanks for your love, prayer and giving. 

Our partner staff from the protestant Christian church in Bali send you their love for Christmas!

To be Balinese is to be Hindu: more than 90% of the population practise a uniquely Balinese form of the religion. For those who’ve chosen to become Christian, the decision jeopardises family relationships and land ownership. But in spite of the cost, Christianity in Bali is growing, and this Christmas the message of God born into the world feels more real than ever.

“We can’t wait to celebrate this year- Christmas to me is all about God coming to us to share our lives in human form, and I think we’ve seen that strongly through the pandemic,” says Irene, Project Officer with our partner, the Protestant Christian Church in BaIi. “Last year it was just me alone in my house watching the Christmas service on line, but this year we’re hoping to be able to return to our family villages to go to church together and visit our ancestors in the graveyard before lunch with our families.”

Bali’s vaccination rate is now higher than anywhere else in Indonesia and the province is set to re-open to tourists. The economy is on track for recovery over the new year, and this will relieve some of the strain on families who’ve found it hard to put food on their tables for much of the past two years. 60 to 80% of the local workforce have traditionally relied heavily on tourism, and since borders closed in March 2020, the number of visitors has dropped from six million down to one. As part of Bali’s recovery, our church partners have spoken out about the importance of vaccination, shared health information, provided hope and innovated barter services and links between rural and urban communities to trade essential items. The church has punched well above its weight supporting people throughout the pandemic and are looking forward to going into the new year stronger and more resilient than ever.

Thanks for praying for our friends across Indonesia and Southeast Asia this year, and from the whole team, Happy Christmas to you all!

Make God’s love for the world known this Christmas and give a gift to bring hope and beat poverty:

www.unitingworld.org.au/sharelove

“Star of wonder, star of night.”

As we draw nearer to Christmas, I find myself reflecting upon the rich metaphor of light and dark within the story of Jesus’ birth. The first century, of course, was a place only sporadically lit by fire and torchlight, so stars were a source of intense interest. Matthew’s tale of an unusual celestial light in the night sky not only heralds the birth of a king, but the inbreaking of a new way of seeing and being in the world.

For so many people, the last two years have been dark. In the midst of this black night, our partner churches have been torchbearers, providing moral, spiritual and practical leadership in their communities. They’ve communicated vital information about hygiene and physical distancing; preached against fear, misinformation, and domestic violence; reinforced medical and public health messages; delivered soap, masks, and food to those left jobless and isolated; sourced oxygen tanks for hospitals; and set up livelihoods projects and barter systems to help people survive lockdown.

As a global church, we are responding in a powerful way to the call for love and justice, even in the face of a pandemic, and with war, cyclones, and climate change ever in the background. Thank you for being with us every step of the way.

In July 2020, I was preparing for a loss of half our income. But we thank God that through our faithful supporters’ unstinting generosity; our government stepping up to support our region; and a welcome investment return, we didn’t have to cut back support to our partners.

In 2022, we look forward to sharing with you our new strategic plan. We know that we face serious global uncertainty, but we remain firmly rooted in our identity, with you at our backs and our partner churches calling us to exciting new work. We will adapt and respond to this evolving context, but the light we share in God’s service will not change.

My best wishes to you and your family for Christmas,

Sureka

Dr Sureka Goringe
National Director
UnitingWorld

P.S. We’ve just finished preparing our Annual Report for the 2021 financial year. It shows what we and our partners achieved together with your generous support. Thank you so much for making it possible!

Click here to read the Annual Report 2021

With your help, we shared hope and dignity with 464 495 people, including:

229,310 Women

134,026 Children

6,783 People with Disability

What we achieved together:

Ending poverty and fighting for justice: 383,847 accessing poverty alleviation & social empowerment programs

Critical support during emergencies: 44,957 received care and health education during the pandemic and other disasters

Local leadership and capacity strengthened: 13,803 people participated in training to take control of their own futures

Equality for women and men; lifting up women and girls: 23,109 men and women engaged with our gender equality program

It couldn’t have happened without you.

We received 11,212 gifts from donors

15 people chose to leave a legacy for life through a bequest

We visited 39 churches to pray and encourage congregations

God’s love for the world began with one life, born in the most humble of places among the most ordinary of people. This is how it continues: one person at a time; one life lifting up another.

Thank you!

Late on a steamy afternoon in Ambon, Maluku, the invitation to visit the pig pen feels a bit overwhelming.

I’m here in Indonesia to meet people who are part of projects run by UnitingWorld’s partner, the Protestant Church of Maluku. My day started at 5am, soaring in over the archipelago after 12 hours in transit via Jakarta, and we’ve been on the run ever since.

The pigs, though, turn out to be well worth it.  And this is why.

“Owning and breeding the pigs changed our lives,” declares a young mum as she and her daughter usher us into the enclosure.

They sit beside a banner that proudly reveals they’re part of a project run by the Protestant Church of Maluku, funded by UnitingWorld.

“Especially because we are women, its good to be able to contribute to the household income and be responsible for making the money we need for school, oil, clothing, that sort of thing. We work hard to look after these animals because they give us so much.”

Like most places in Indonesia, it’s not easy to be a woman in Ambon. In such a patriarchal culture, women are often seen merely as home-makers without many options to make decisions. Girls aren’t always encouraged to dream big. A third of Ambon’s people live on less than dollar a day, and this deeply entrenched poverty hits women hardest.

The pigs are helping women push back.

“It’s not just we have the pigs – we are part of Women’s Groups that teach us all sorts of things,” Lianne explains. “We find out how to make a budget so we can buy more pigs. We each invest some of our savings into the group and then people can take out loans to build up their herd. We learn to make financial decisions too about when to buy or sell the herds.”

This brings genuine freedom and respect – and it doesn’t end with individual families. UnitingWorld’s partner have whole-scale transformation for the community in their sights.

“It started with the pigs, but it’s a support group for us all now,” Lianne acknowledges. “And the thing is, we are also meeting women from places we would not have shared things with before.”

Those ‘places’ are close at hand and have a painful history. The island of Ambon literally caught fire in conflict between Muslims and Christians two decades ago, the port choked with people trying to flee the fighting. 5,000 people died and half a million more were left homeless.

Lianne’s family lived for weeks in the hills, collecting water from plants, the sound of gunfire in their ears. “Religious violence” was likely a cover for political dissent, but rebuilding trust between the communities is long-term, painstaking work.

“We are Muslim and Christian women together in the groups,” Lianne says. “We work together to find creative ways to make a living. We would not have met each other before, but now we are friends.”

Friendship is a deliberate by-product of the livelihood projects run by UnitingWorld’s partner in Ambon.

The church is aware that a new generation of young people are keen to learn about one another’s faith. In response, they’ve initiated forums about peacebuilding as well as practical opportunities to rub shoulders with each other on projects that change lives.

“This is why we run our peace workshops in schools,” explains Rev Jeny Mahupale. She’s a minister within her own congregation as well as coordinating the peacebuilding and livelihood projects of the Church.

We talk about conflict resolution, human rights, how to listen to one another and accept difference. And we put that into action through the groups – hydroponic gardening, breeding animals, support for people with disability. All of these are bringing Muslims and Christians together.”

Pigs, it seems, are a deceptively simple intervention – they’re part of far-reaching work that looks to the future.

If that’s the kind of change you’re keen to support, click here to gift a pig this Christmas. It goes a whole lot further than you might imagine.