TEAR friends from around Australia share how they are finding hope, meaning and encouragement in this challenging season. Hear how they are being the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities during this challenging time. We hope you are as inspired as we are by their stories.
"Offers of help are a powerful reassurance of solidarity, but need to be relational. An awkward tension seems to arise with one-sided offers. I've found it useful to ask for a genuine favour first, such as borrowing a wheelbarrow. With the conversation open, wonderful actions of neighbourhood generosity become possible. For three months last year I looked after Sid the snake, for a neighbour, despite thoroughly not liking snakes!
These days, two different neighbours voluntarily mow our nature strip, giving me a great sense of gladness. I would argue with anyone dismissing the importance of small neighbourhood actions, that they are quite possibly life changing, and part of the good news experienced for the individual.
I’ve also found that time spent in a visible space, such as in the front yard, promotes more than a waving relationship between neighbours. I spend lots of time gardening in this space. Last week, after talking across the street with a neighbour, I suggested they should pick tomatoes from our garden. It's a tiny act of generosity but it's worth a lot more than its weight in food value."
“I have a heart for young people during this season who may be suffering from loneliness and confusion and may feel they have lost so much in terms of school, social activities and life rhythms. I particularly feel for young people who may be experiencing increased family violence or drug/alcohol abuse due to isolation.
I have loved partnering with a local church who help vulnerable young people flourish mentally, physically, socially and spiritually. As a ‘penpal’ to a young person, I have been writing weekly letters, providing assurance that someone is thinking about them and that they have a trustworthy adult to talk to and share their feelings with. We also send along small projects, such as kits to make terrariums and scones! This is a really special way to share the Gospel in a way that meets young people where they are.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a voice in her life. As you read this, I wonder whether there is a (young) person that comes to mind? How can you be a positive voice in their life right now? Every small act of love makes a difference.
We can spark joy from the smallest of actions - even as simple as giving a smile to those you meet. We can contact friends who we’ve been out of touch with. A single message goes a long way. I speak from experience when I say that hearing a familiar voice over the phone can bring such comfort and joy when enclosed by loneliness.
While acting locally is important, I recently felt so rebuked for limiting my scope of vision to my immediate circle of friends and family, forgetting that there are those who are marginalised or forgotten in every city, in every part of the world. I’ve realised how disconnected I’ve been from the global community. I was ignorant of the realities in some countries where fake hand sanitiser has been sold and patients have been escaping from hospitals in fear of what will be done to them if they test positive for COVID-19. We’re often consumed by news from within our small bubble of the world. Let’s be intentional in remembering our shared global network called humanity. “
Tom says: "Living on an urban farm, I have well-worn habits of suburban food production and a low dependence on the supermarket or cafes. While this has helped me feel personally prepared and be resilient throughout this time, I’ve been keen to share my sense of confidence and hope with others.
This has included facilitating online check-ins with the community, making posts on social media and putting a lot of creative and physical energy into supplying vegetables to my neighbourhood.
I have a lot of already isolated elderly and vulnerable people in my neighbourhood, and balancing the dangers posed to them by COVID-19 with the dangers of disconnection and loneliness is a tough one. I have been putting a lot of effort into chats across the road or the fence.
I've been blessed to join an amazing group of young men who check in weekly via Zoom. We follow a simple structure with a few important rules. Everyone checks in on how they're feeling, stating whether they're open to reflection from others. We emphasise "I" language. So rather than saying "You know when you're in lockdown and you feel…”, it's worth trying to say "In lockdown currently I feel..." This has been a powerful example of how to stay connected, and I've come to really look forward to my Sunday morning men's group!"
"Throughout this time, I’ve continued to maintain my church attendance, reading of the Bible and praying. The sense of calm that I’ve had throughout this season has stood out to me. I was on a flight, sitting a few rows in front of a fellow passenger who was found to have COVID-19. But after discovering this, I didn’t find myself getting anxious.
My calmness throughout all of this has come from knowing God is in control. I’ve been putting my trust into practice, even when I could have been in a position to be a bit concerned. This is something that I have taken out of this situation, and I hope that this experience will hold me in good stead for future things I’ll face."