Towards the end of 2016 Anglican Overseas Aid commissioned a survey to find out more about our supporters. The survey showed that 96% of our supporters are regular church attenders, and almost all worship in the Anglican Church. This supporter profile is not something we take for granted. We count it a privilege to represent Anglicans from many parts of Australia, and from differing traditions, in the important work of international development and humanitarian emergency relief.
Most of you would also know that our work is usually carried out through Anglican partners around the world, so an added benefit is building up the capacities of Anglican organisations in many very challenging situations.
Given that most of our support comes from Anglicans and their churches there is a particular responsibility on Anglican Overseas Aid to explain what we do and why we do it as an expression of our shared faith. In the last few years we have deepened our connection with supporters and their churches. We have done this in a variety of ways: through our church ambassadors, by speaking in churches, through this magazine, and by preparing resources such as Bible studies and our Advent and Lenten reflection booklets.
Another connection with churches is in seeking prayer support. The discipline of prayer is vitally important to keep us centred on the power and providence of God. A recent staff Strategy Day began with a reflection on the story of Moses and the burning bush. Like Moses, we pondered why the bush did not burn (Exodus 3:2-3). Our conclusion was that the bush, like all creation, depends for its existence on God – the great ‘I AM’. God does not rely on the bush in any way and this is why it is not consumed. For us it was a metaphor about our own dependence on God in all that we do.
At present, there are several prayer points which are exercising our hearts and minds. Please join us as we wrestle with some big issues:
- Helping our partners in the Pacific prepare for foreseeable natural disasters.
- A sustainable and just peace in the Middle East.
- The inestimable human suffering from the protracted crises in Syria and northern Iraq.
- Raising enough funds to sustain our work.
- The launch of our ‘Biotisho’ maternal and child health program working with nomadic Maasai women in Kenya.
- More effectively using church networks to help bring about social change, especially with sensitive topics like gender-based violence.
- The emerging drought in many parts of southern Africa.
These remind us about the complex nature of the work we’re involved in.
Another way Anglican Overseas Aid engages many supporters is through our Lenten reflection booklets. People often talk of ‘giving something up for Lent’ which is a part of its rich tradition of penitence and sacrifice. While there are many aspects of Christian discipleship that do involve a turning away or self-denial, our discipleship may also require a ‘turning to’ or a ‘taking up’. Some argue that this perspective will make our discipleship more sustainable. This year’s reflection is entitled Giving Up, Taking Up.
As another busy year unfolds, please accept my thanks for your faithfulness to Anglican Overseas Aid and for your many words of encouragement. Don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions or feedback at any stage.