Friday, 29 September 2017

A sense of belonging

For the South Sudanese Nuer Faith Community in Brisbane the main focus is to bring people together.

Pastor Moses Leth says one of the joys is seeing the connection to community help people cope with the challenges they face.

“Many people may feel that in my home my problem is very big,” said Moses. But when they go to Church and share with people there, they look at their problem and it is very small because there are lots of challenges in other families too.”

“You need people to come together, when they do, they love to talk all the time.”

The faith community meets several times a week at St David’s Uniting Church in Coopers Plains with programs for mothers, fathers and young people. Once a month, they host a combined service with other South Sudanese communities from different denominations.

They also reach out to other South Sudanese families by going from home to home and inviting others to join them.

Around 20 members of the Nuer Faith Community attended the South Sudanese National Conference in Melbourne from 22-24 September. Their trip was made possible with fundraising efforts supported by the Queensland Synod and their home congregation, St David’s Coopers Plains.

Half of the group were young people who led the worship over the weekend with joyful singing and dancing in different languages.

Moses feels that one of the group’s successes has been bridging the gap between the older and younger generation.

“Young South Sudanese people are quick to adopt the culture of Australia,” said Moses. “This often pushes the older and younger generations apart.

“At Church, we come together. There is unity.”

Part of this success is a strong focus on youth ministry. Three times a week around 20 young people aged 5-17 take part in Church activities. These include classes in the Nuer language, guitar lessons, singing and bible study.

When they meet on a Saturday they put everything together by singing and playing songs in their language.

Moses’ daughter Nyaluak, 19, who is in her second year of a Public Relations and Media Communications degree, said coming to Church with her South Sudanese friends had provided a strong sense of belonging throughout her school years.

“All of these kids (in the Nuer Faith Community) live in different neighbourhoods. Church brings us together. It gives you a sense of inclusion. It’s a good feeling.”

“You get a sense of belonging in a culture and in a people and achieving something with your own people,” said Nyaluak.

“You might not be necessarily doing well at school or sport, but you come here and smash language classes with your friends. It’s pretty awesome.”

At the National Conference in Melbourne, the discussion included the need to support and grow young leaders both in the Church and the wider community.

In a sign of their commitment to do this, a decision was made to include three young leaders (under 30) on the South Sudanese National Conference Executive.  

We look forward to seeing this approach bear fruit at the next South Sudanese national gathering in two years’ time.


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