Grace Lutheran Church Bridgewater in the Adelaide Hills is thinking outside of the box when it comes to bringing love to life for people in need at Christmas this year.
And the hope is that the Hills church will soon be ‘alive’ with a range of hand-made ‘animals’ representing the congregation’s donations to Australian Lutheran World Service’s Gifts of Grace program.
Pastor Michael Dutschke said two members, who had for many years organised the congregation to support another aid and development organisation, approached him wondering whether Grace could do something different in 2018 as it prepared to recognise God’s greatest gift to us in Jesus. The criteria was that they would support something that would be a ‘hand up’ to people overseas in difficult situations; that the project would inspire members to become involved; that it would be something they could do together and that it would be a bit of fun, Pastor Michael said.
‘We brainstormed some ideas that would fit those categories, and decided to support the work of ALWS through “Gifts of Grace”’, he said. ‘ALWS knows what
is the most beneficial for families and communities.’
Church members built a farmyard display and pen, and made piñata-style papier-mache animals to represent those that could be purchased for needy families overseas through Gifts of Grace. When members donate or fundraise money, they put that money into a money box, and place the appropriate ‘animal’ into the pen.
ALWS Community Action Officer Julie Krause, who recently helped launch Bridgewater’s appropriately named Gifts of Grace campaign, thanked the congregation for ‘thinking outside the box’. ‘Many things sent to people overseas – despite being sent with kind hearts and great intentions – never get to those people or are not appropriate to their needs’, she said. ‘Through Gifts of Grace, gifts such as chickens, pigs, clean water and long-drop loos not only help a family have a livelihood that goes on and on, but can also save lives.’
Grace church will tally up the animal projects funded and send the donation
to ALWS just before Christmas. Pastor Michael said he didn’t have a set amount in mind as a fundraising aim for the project. ‘How much do we hope to raise? I don’t know, but my hope is that members will be inspired to get involved, and that when Christmas comes, we will have enough money for a large farmyard of real animals!’
And they really will be gifts of Grace!
ALWS is the overseas aid and resettlement agency of the LCA. It is fully certified by the Australian Council for International Development. For more information, go to alws.org.au/grace or call 1300 763 407.