A time to Listen & Learn
Sharing of diverse ideas and hopes will lead to new innovations for our Church and more prosperous working relationships as we journey together in Gods world.
Recently I was in a space of emerging leaders sharing their thoughts on how they engage when in new communities. One minister told our group, when stepping into the unknown “I go their eagerly with one goal to Listen and Learn”. Even as excited as he was, it is a challenge. As we know new things can be scary and daunting at times. However he knew the sharing of ideas and hope would lead to new innovations for our Church and more prosperous working relationships as we journey together in Gods world.
Cultural diversity is an important topic for kids at any time, but children of primary school age are especially receptive to these conversations. During this period, they are forming lots of opinions about themselves and the people around them. This also is when their natural curiosity about differences in appearance and cultural backgrounds can peak.
Aside from being developmentally able to put cultural and racial differences into perspective, they also can learn to appreciate traits that make others different from themselves. Here is what you need to know about teaching your kids about race and cultural diversity.
As the Uniting Church we come together as many peoples under One God and prioritise that we journey along side each other with our own stories, cultures and we learn to grow together. The ethnic and Aboriginal congregations are a sign of the diversity of the cultures of the members of the Uniting Church. Orgainsation of the Church in ethnic congregations enables us to worship in familiar languages, to hear the Gospel in terms of our several identities and cultures, and to provide pastoral care for all our people.
How to Talk about Diversity?
Here’s the beautiful thing about kids—most are born with a natural sense of justice and fairness. As well they ask the BEST questions! Unless they are taught to be hurtful and cruel, most children know that it is wrong to attack others either physically or with words. As a parent, caregiver or leader, it is important for us to nurture this natural love of people. Here are some things to keep in mind as you talk to your children about the value of differences.
If you are uneasy or uncomfortable around people of different backgrounds, your child will pick up on it and emulate this in their interactions. Also, consider the way you talk about people or describe them. Do you mention their race first rather than other characteristics? If we need to change ways in which we interact with each other, how can we learn to journey together with all the joys and challenges we meet?
Let continue to be intentional about messages we are sending through your everyday words and actions. Be honest with yourself about where you need to improve. It is common for people to assume they are accepting, but then use words or actions that say something else.
Being Multicultural is not easy to say the least, but a time where we think and care for everyone around us and not just ourselves. Looking forward and making sure we journey all together even though then it might feel like a snails pace, but it might be the right option if it means we journey together.
Ask for Advice, its the best way to equip yourself if there is a time we need to learn ways to journey with the diversity around us. Be willing to be courageous and ask questions on things we do not understand about diverse cultures as a way of wanting to be the whole community of God. It can be challenging, not knowing what someone maybe saying and meaning something different to what we believe and understand, but that’s the beauty of being different! Knowing that everyone is unique and loved by how they are.
The Bible tells us that God made us in His image. We are His most prized creation! He loves us and values us, so much that He sent Jesus to die for us. And Jesus died for all people. Not just people from a certain country or people who look a certain way. He died and rose again so that all people everywhere can have forgiveness. And when other people are in God’s family, they are like our brothers and sisters. Even if you’re an only child, you can have a whole family of fellow believers in Christ.
And if God loves us that much, what do you think it means for us?
We ought to love one another, too. It’s important for us to remember that Jesus died for each and every person on this planet, and He wants them all to know and love Him. Sometimes people do things we might not agree with or appreciate. Sometimes people appear to be quite different from us. But we can look at them and see people that Jesus loves, that God made in His image, and someone who can be our brothers and sisters in Christ. Everyone we meet needs love. Of course, God’s love is necessary, but we too need to reach out and demonstrate that we care for other people.
Regardless of how they look or sound, God calls us to love and serve one another, and to share the Gospel. This is not always easy! But you will find that loving others and recognising that Christ cares for everyone and will ultimately bring you great joy and blessing.
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Joyce Tangi is the Children’s/Family Ministry Lead and Field Officer (South) within the PULSE team.