It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the world that the next generation will inherit. How do we raise kids and young people who care about others and who respond to poverty and injustice? We spoke to some experts in the field to get their take on why it’s important and how to go about it.
Sally Darlinson is a junior and middle school art teacher at St Andrews Christian College in Melbourne. With a group of enthusiastic students, Sally runs the garden club, overseeing a thriving vegie patch. Every Tuesday, the club sells its produce and buys vegetable garden gift cards from TEAR’s Useful Gifts Catalogue. Sally says: “I think that children need to learn from early on that faith and the way we live life are linked. I believe that we need to make them aware of others. Also, the sense that the money we have is not ours, but God’s. The idea of tithing our sales funds was to model a way of an understanding of money, from a Christian perspective. I also head up the sustainability program at school, so I am looking for ways of connecting the students’ understanding of caring for the creation, justice and faith. This was a small way of beginning to do this.”
Lara Cooper is an artist from SA who, with her husband Brett, has three kids aged 9, 12 and 15. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Intercultural Studies at Tabor Adelaide. With a long-standing passion for faith and justice, Lara wants to raise her kids with “a robust faith which is not scared to look at the costly aspects of faith and the unpleasant parts of life”.
Together with her family, she is on a journey that has included living and working in the hill tribe region of Thailand, creating justice-related art, growing her own food and attending events such as Surrender in Adelaide and Melbourne.
“We talk a lot… sometimes while making art or in the car… about life and justice and faith.”
She says: “My kids are seeing me wrestle with study on justice, and creating paintings connected to issues of justice. They hear me speak about the kingdom of God and advocate for the poor in my role as mission leader at my church. They see me give art away to raise money for the poor or in the name of reconciliation. We talk a lot, sometimes while gardening, sometimes while making art or in the car… about life and justice and faith.” Lara encourages parents to be learners themselves and to teach through real and right relationship with kids. “If I don’t make time for deep relationships with my children… to talk through their questions and their relationships at school, then my quest to participate in justice issues becomes a clanging symbol,” she says. “I don’t always get that balance right, but I hope I am modelling, as God does, that the best kind of justice comes through right relationships. That it’s not just something we do for others, but rather, with others.”
Di Jeffs was on staff at TEAR Australia and is also a grandmother of five. She believes it’s crucial to engage the next generation with justice issues. “They are the future politicians, voters and leaders of tomorrow who will be shaping our world.”
“Our lives are very privileged and with privilege comes responsibility. I want my grandchildren to know what the Bible says about injustice and how they should respond to it. When Jesus said, ‘Love others as yourself’ – that is my hope for them – to live their faith authentically, and to do that they need to be nurtured on their journey.”
Giving at Christmas time
As we approach Christmas, there are always opportunities to instil in children the generosity and hope that this season of giving brings. In 1994, TEAR Australia’s Useful Gifts Catalogue was born out of the idea that giving more ‘stuff’ isn’t what the world needs. Giving more usefully is.
Our new Build a Village product is just one example of the way that giving as a family can be inspiring and educational. Each gift is a contribution to a long-term development project run by TEAR Australia and our partners. And best of all, your family can share a discussion around how to live more generously during the Christmas season.
Caroline Illingworth, TEAR Australia