“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