Not so long ago, a woman bailed me up as I made my escape from a church where I’d been preaching.
“I’ve given to places like UnitingWorld all my life,” she said. Her voice shook a little as she spoke; I could see it had been a good and long life.
“But there’s still so much poverty and suffering in the world! Sometimes I really wonder if it makes any difference.”
Recently, news broke that global hunger has begun growing again for the first time in decades. Social media is awash with broken lives.
“I wonder that too, sometimes,” I told the woman, because I do.
You can’t visit places like India or Papua New Guinea without being overwhelmed by the sheer, unrelenting pain of humanity.
“But I’ve concluded that for every single person, one at a time, who comes just a little bit closer to a hopeful life – for them, we’ve made all the difference in the world,” I said to her.
That may sound trite, but at last count that was 202 305 individuals during this past financial year. Each life has changed, in some way, forever. The woman in the church smiled at me. She told me she likes to imagine the people she reads about in our stories, feeding their goats and going to school. It’s what keeps her going, keeps her giving, year after year.
Jesus entered the world as a child, helpless. A single infant in whom the hopes of humanity somehow resided. A boy, an adolescent, a man cut down just as it seemed possible something really big might happen.
It didn’t end there.
Today, the motley lot of followers who believe love is stronger than death continue to grow. Through the work of UnitingWorld, the Uniting Church in Australia’s international partners in South Sudan, the Solomon Islands and everywhere in between are sowing the seeds of the Kingdom: love powerfully wrought through peacemaking, overcoming poverty, the training of leaders and the fight for justice for women and girls.
For them and for us, changed lives hold up a mirror to the face and hands of God.
This Christmas, as you contemplate gifts for those you love, consider the work of these partners and your place beside them. You can support this work by purchasing gifts for your loved ones from the UnitingWorld Everything in Common catalogue.
As you select your Everything in Common gift, representing projects like clean water, education or animal breeding opportunities, imagine not only the individuals receiving the gifts, but the transformation you bring through God’s people to God’s world.
That’s the kind of difference that matters.
Find out more at everythingincommon.com.au
Cath Taylor, UnitingWorld