Over twenty weeks into a global pandemic, Melbourne has entered into a six-week stage 4 lockdown and for those of us living here, it has been a whole new experience! Mandatory masks, 8pm curfews, stay-at-home orders and travel permits required for work commutes has made us appreciate the freedoms we as Australians have always taken for granted.
In virtually every way, this season has been extraordinarily challenging. Yet in a time of uncertainty, I am compelled as a person of faith, to see situations such as this from a position of hope and of thinking beyond myself, to the needs of others. This conviction is strengthened being part of a Church, that fundamentally recognizes the inherent dignity, value and worth of every individual and that regardless of your circumstances, we are here to help. It’s been humbling and beautiful to see our church, stepping up in this time of crisis.
As CityCare Manager for Victoria and Tasmania, our team has had to adapt to new processes and protocols to ensure the safety of our staff and everyone we are helping in the community. We have also observed that those reaching out for assistance are from significantly more diverse communities than at any other time, with people who have generally been financially secure for most of their adult lives now finding themselves in a position of need.
I recently had a call from a young lady in a pretty desperate situation, she had lost her job and had been told it would take several weeks for government assistance to kick in. She had close to no food and we were the fifth community service that day she was contacting as those she had phoned had already exhausted their resources. The strength of our CityCare team is that our work in the community is funded and supported by a generous church. This enabled us to immediately organise provisions of pantry staples, fresh produce from our Melbourne Storehouse and frozen meals through our Melbourne West campus.
Apart from the people we support through our CityCare Emergency Relief program, we also provide supplies to other charities and agencies in our local community. These organisations are providing invaluable support for those living in the margins of great need in our city.
As we soldier on and do all that we can, I’m not going to pretend that this season has been easy. Mental health services are inundated with calls, social isolation is really challenging and a seemingly unavoidable wave of bad news hits us every day. As a man of faith, husband and a father there have been discouraging moments. But God is still good, He is still faithful, and He will bring us through. This is a pivotal time in history and we, as a church, have the ability to shine, and truly be that which Jesus has called us to be!
CityCare State Manager – Victoria