The weather used to be a safe topic to start a conversation with. In recent days, it leads too often to stories of destruction and disruption to the familiar routines of life. This has been the case for Global Mission Partners’ partners both in Australia and overseas and God has been making a way for Global Mission Partners to be part of a restoring and renewing response.
In Australia, Global Mission Partners is increasingly being called on to host appeals for responses to local weather emergencies like the flooding in northern NSW. We are forming a community of practice to help conferences and churches respond to natural disasters in increasingly effective ways. Please get in touch if your church is interested in being involved.
Across the world, evidence of a changing climate is everywhere. In South Sudan, communities learnt conservation agriculture techniques to preserve water in hot, dry climates, only to find their crop washed away by flooding. In the Bandarban Hills of Bangladesh the worst recorded flooding inundated the conference office as well as the homes of many families. Two COCOA staff members went to visit our partners in Vanuatu only to spend the time listening to the watery winds of Tropical Cyclone Judy and then Tropical Cyclone Kevin whistle past their doors barricaded with soaking towels. Borehole drilling in Zimbabwe was also rearranged by unseasonal rains.
Disaster responses are an increasing part of our work, and we are glad to have a growing repertoire of strategies to respond. Our partners have received disaster response training, and the Community Advancement Forum in Bangladesh and Conference of Churches of Christ in Vanuatu have initiated responses recently. Our membership with ACT Alliance, which enables us to respond to climate and other disasters in places where we don’t have a partner, has been in constant use, ably managed by our newest staff member Eva Ntege-Dhizaala, who brings loads of experience in humanitarian work from her previous roles.
Last month, we added another disaster preparedness and response string to our bow by joining the Church Agency Network Disaster Operations Consortium. This will enable us to work with eight other Church Agencies in preparing communities for anticipatable disasters, and respond in a coordinated way when disaster strikes. This is a significant investment for Global Mission Partners and while we don’t ask for more disasters to make it worthwhile, we do ask that God will make it an effective tool for preserving lives.
On a different note altogether, Jan Bayliss, COCOA Partner Education Officer, retires this month. Jan began her time at Global Mission Partners when she responded to an advertisement for administration help. But we noticed her missionary and teaching experience and she has headed up our partner education function for most of her time with us. We have enjoyed Jan’s contribution to the team so much throughout the last 10 years and wish her every blessing in what is looking like a busy retirement.