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17 March 2021
Finding your place in a world where everyone belongs
Words Sandra Pawar
I have two little girls, aged seven and four. They are beautiful little girls, already with a heart for others. They are also very much the beneficiaries of a globalised world. They have two passports, are currently living in their third country and they have family all over the world.
We have talked about how, once upon a time, it would have been illegal for their dad and I to be together because we are different shades of colour, and we come from two very different worlds. We have talked about how they, as sisters, are even different shades from each other, and how sometimes people might judge them based on their skin colour.
They have probably been exposed to a lot more than most kids their ages, but my heart still desires every day for them to develop compassionate hearts, and hearts that seek justice on behalf of others. I want them to be part of a generation that is about justice and equality and compassionate action.
I have been reading a book called Just Church by Jim Martin, and it shares three tools – encounter, explore and engage – that I want to use with my girls, and any other young people I work with in the future, as they learn about the world and issues of justice and injustice.
Encounter is about “meeting the God of justice in an unjust world” (Martin p.107). I want to teach my girls in such a way that they begin to know and understand the heart of God and his heart for his world. One needs to truly encounter God in the world before one can ever know his heart for the world. I pray that they have that encounter and then use what they have learned about God to explore what is happening in their world.
I share with them about situations occurring in the world. I want them to understand current events, and I want them to be excited, joyful, hopeful and “angered, sickened, fascinated, horrified, inspired, and challenged by all they have learned” (Martin p.140). I want them to be able to explore their own feelings about what they see going on for them, and to come to their own conclusions about right and wrong.
I want my girls to begin to explore where they stand on issues and the people and the situations they identify with as citizens of the world. As they get older, they will need to explore who they are – Australian, Indian or American, white or brown? Where do they belong, or do they belong? What do they believe? They will need to explore issues of poverty and racism due to their own skin colour and the life circumstances of their family members around the world.
ENGAGING IN THE WORLD
Lastly, I want my girls to engage in what is happening around the world, not just read about or think about it. I tear up a little bit writing this, as my greatest desire is that they will begin to understand and know that they have a part to play in the world around them, and they can make a difference even at this age. I want them to know they belong in this world, no matter their age, the colour of their skin or what country they come from. And I want them to know and believe that every person they come across also belongs and has a place.
Captain Sandra Pawar is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in New South Wales.