Young people the agents of change

kingston youthNIGEL TAPP

Sometimes it is easy to forget that when it comes to putting meat on the bones of faith-filled missional activity, children can be just as effective, and committed, as their elders.

At the Kingston Uniting Church, about 15 km south of Hobart in Tasmania, that lesson is clearly expressed.

Following a visit in May 2016 from Ugandan minister and teacher Rev Justus Miwanda the congregation’s young people decided they wanted to see more girls in the impoverished African nation receive an education.

Mr Miwanda is the director of Christian aid organisation International Needs Uganda which offers education, development and income enhancement projects throughout the country. He told the congregation many of the children in his school were orphaned due to the AIDS epidemic sweeping the country and spoke about the cost of an education, which was beyond the reach of many people.

Rather than waiting for adults to consider ways of supporting the cause, the young people organised a roundtable to look at fundraising initiatives they could undertake to help Mr Miwanda’s efforts.

Adults were co-opted to offer advice but it has been a project driven by the young people.

One of those initiatives has been a five cent drive on a Sunday morning when the young people collect spare change from congregation members prior to the regular offering.

This initiative has become so popular that some members come armed with loose change collected during the week. Some weeks more than $30 is collected. These weekly collections have been bolstered by the takings from a church garage sale which garnered another $200, taking their total collection to date to more than $500.

The young people are currently deciding, in consultation with Mr Miwanda, how the money could be used best as well as looking at ways to provide ongoing support.

Grade 10 student Emma Webb is a driving force behind the group. She is keen to see Mr Miwanda explain his vision on a video which could be used to encourage other local church congregations in Southern Tasmania to become involved.

Emma said she was touched by the struggles young people in Uganda – particularly girls – encountered just to get an education.

“I don’t enjoy school sometimes but I have never complained about learning and many young people (there) do not even get that opportunity,” she said.

Church member Bev Gibson said she was proud at how the young people had sought to make a difference to the lives of girls in Uganda.

“They are the ones who are leading this and we, the adults, are happy to support them.”

The young people’s efforts have also won the admiration of Kingston minister Colin Gurteen.

“It is really gratifying to see the enthusiasm and the way they have been thinking about their faith and putting it into action,” Mr Gurteen said.

“Being part of the Christian community is not just thinking about taking action but it is also about actually doing something.”

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