What a delight it was to have our visitors – (from far right) Dr Debora Murthy, Jane Kennedy, Irene Deborah & Hindra Sulaksono- from Uniting World South East Asia area join us for worship on Sunday!
We at Engadine Uniting Church have pledged to support the Uniting World Timor Leste project, focusing on Leadership & Child Protection. Dr Murthy is the regional coordinator for South East Asia and brought us a greeting from the people of Timor Leste & said how they looked forward to our partnership & support to come.
Preaching from the Gospel reading of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) Dr Debora Murthy'opened our eyes' about life & the people of this tiny island and asked us “Who is our neighbour?” When Jesus asked (V36) “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Debora then pointed out the 'wounds', the dreadful conditions of the 1.5 million population of our neighbour, Timor Leste. 70% are under the age of 30 & 1.3 million live below the poverty line, living on $1.25 a day with $2 a day income.
They have a very basic & limited diet - in rural areas often just living on what they grow. Many are malnourished with poor living conditions with very limited medical & hygienic services.
Abuse is widespread, especially of women & children. 50% of adults are illiterate & children have little or no access to education facilities. Many people have low esteem & a poor regard for themselves, lacking confidence due to years of past conflicts & occupation by foreign powers.
Today the local people worry about the increasing numbers of outsiders (Chinese & Indonesians) settling on the island & becoming powerful & controlling.
Debora & the Uniting World team work to support the Timor Leste people in building up their confidence to seek a more abundant & productive life for themselves.
In Timor Leste during the training of leadership groups they are challenged to 'be leaders', to be protectors of the people especially women & children. In many areas there is already in place written 'policies of behaviour & protection' that have 'come out of the local situations' and not imported from Indonesia or Australia.
Leaders are encouraged to become involved & commit to creating safe situations, bringing a confidence to their people that life can change - old ways can become new opportunities for education & behavioural change, led by the community.
So how can we love, care and have mercy for others as we do for ourselves? Not only difficult in the Timor Leste situation but a challenge for us too.
May we in our ACTIONS as well as prayers add our support to this young developing country who is our neighbour.