2023 News

Made in God’s Image

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

GMP Relief and Development program COCOA hosted their first Made in God's Image workshop in Fiji.

The pilot is the first of many workshops that will be implemented throughout the Pacific region, and eventually across all GMP partner countries. The project seeks to influence local understandings, attitudes and behaviours towards vulnerable groups across their communities. The first participants to receive the training were local pastors and their wives.

Church leaders have a unique position to help lead cultural change. When we realise that we are made in the image of God, it shapes the way we view ourselves and others. Looking closely at what the Bible says equips us to maintain healthy attitudes and care for the most vulnerable in the world. The workshop emphasised the importance of valuing women, children and people living with a disability.

Sadly, in the Pacific region 68% of women and girls experience violence in their homes and communities. While child protection policies do exist among some churches, there is a need to connect such policies more deeply into these communities. There are also approximately 1.7 million people struggling with disability in Pacific Island countries. People living with disabilities in these areas have limited access to education, employment and other social services which leads to exclusion, prejudice, discrimination and rejection.

In the workshop, pastors and their wives became aware of those in their congregations with disabilities and possible definitions of disability. “We thought we didn’t have anyone with a disability but now we are thinking of each individual and the difficulties they have,” commented one pastor. Participants also identified some unfair attitudes and practices in their communities and even among church members. One person said, “It is unfair to expect women to do household chores, for example. Cooking and cleaning, where both [partners] are working.” Another said, “Men are often controlling. Women are sometimes devalued and disrespected.” 

Following the workshop, the participants determined what action they could take in their churches. One person said, “I have three sermon ideas from this. Thank you so much for this teaching.”

We are all Made in God’s Image. With the resources provided in the workshop and this biblical principle clear in their minds, church leaders can better engage others, start conversations about gender equality, disability inclusion, and child protection in their communities. They can become agents of change.

To find out more, or donate toward the Made in God's Image pilot project visit www.gmp.org.au/madeingodsimage

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