"Try to do what is good for others, not just what is good for yourselves" 1 Corinthians 10:24
Have you ever wondered why you have ended up where you are? Why life turned out this way, when you had different ideas of what it would look like? I had a romantic notion of being an earth mother and making jam and preserves, as well as having a career in the Diplomatic Core. A bit of an incongruous notion. I also ask Brenton (husband), why on earth didn’t we buy up in Colonel Light Gardens in the 80’s? Those halcyon days of mortgages less than $100,000. Instead, we moved around the state living rurally for a number of years. However, what I sometimes reflect on is why this path has been the one I find myself on? Has God had a plan all along and I didn’t realise it?
Often, I don't feel good enough. It has taken me most of my life to work the answer out, to get over the guilt and not feeling good enough, and an attitude of faith to take it on board. My answer to this is that I am who I am, situated where I am, to be a witness to the gospel in exactly the place I find myself. As we all are. As we all serve the great commission from Matthew 28 of "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations."
So how did a girl who grew up in Elizabeth come to have the passion she has for people and the importance of education? Maybe because that childhood gave me the insight and empathy for the people I grew up with. It grew the heart for others in me when I learnt of the peculiarity of social prejudice we have in all Australian states. You are defined by where you live. We don’t have class based on birth, like our European cousins, we have prejudice based on location. I went to school with migrants’ children and their dreams of a better life, as well as those who were born without the opportunities that I had despite where I lived. Similarly, I have had the chance to help teenagers and adults in some of the most disadvantaged schools in SA to gain the chance to a better life through education. It was and is a privilege.
This passion for social justice fits perfectly in the Christian school context of Emmaus. What a privilege to help our students in both their education and their faith. But even better it means that through our focus on service to others we can partner together to make a difference in others’ lives. And even better – we can talk about Jesus and Christian service.
So, what do we do? ECCO (Emmaus Christian College Outreach) is just one part of the picture. One that focuses on local, national and international causes, that is refugees, Pitjantjara Bible translation and Justees and World Vision and Compassion. We have a staff component and a student one who focus on mission, outreach and fund raising. At Year 10 we introduced a Social Justice camp – students get to think about how working as a team can make a difference, and who in our community is already making a difference. That is the churches of all denominations in nearly all cases. There is also the Vietnam Cambodia trip, which has been missed for a couple of years, but also looks at the impact of war and migration, as well as the beauty of cultures different to ours.
CCAPPs (Christianity, Careers and Pathway Planning) classes extended the Year 10 Social Justice camp idea last year and a number of Year 10 students engaged in fund raising to help those in need. This year the Middle School is running to raise money as part of Rite Journey, and blankets and soft toys are made for children through Child Studies and students work with community groups on projects, as in the case of helping out at Iwiri Community Centre. Senior school leaders have also contributed in a meaningful way and started the Forbes Primary School lunchtime program, which has morphed into a weekly reading program. We also love sharing Easter joy both at Forbes and at Brooklyn Park. One of the most significant parts of Emmaus’ Senior School experience is the Lands Trip and the connections to our Ernabella community this provides for our students and staff.
This term, our Senior School Home Groups are planning to engage in service activities, including: visiting Vermont Estate Retirement Village; making biscuits for Kyrios prison ministry; quilts for the Homeless centre; working with junior school students; sausage sizzles raising money for Lions and Breast Cancer Research; washing cars and a bake sale to raise money for charity; organising sports competitions to raise money for charity; writing to elderly pen pals; a can drive for a local charity; Backpacks For SA for children entering foster care. The list continues as we encourage our students to look beyond the school gates into their community. To unfurl in the grace of God. As Paul reminds us in Colossians 3: 23-24:
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."