Thursday, September 11, 2008

How do you reach these with Jesus?

A friend of mine took this photo that is the view directly from my front door step. This is one of the many gian public housing apartments that make up Redfern and Waterloo. They are pretty horrendous. As you walk by you notice many of the windows are broken, and the insides are full of graffiti and vandalism. After he took the photo, he said "How do you reach that?"
The majority of succesful evangelism in Sydney has been out in the suburbs, to white middle class families. They are the people who make up the majority of our churches. I wonder why it is different with those living in apartments. Is it the demographics or their social environment that has made it difficult to reach?
How do we reach these?


missmellifluous said...

Hey Geoff!
Found you here through some other blog - that you made an insulting comment on! - while I was trying to get my hands on a copy of Mark Driscol critiquing the Sydney diocese...

Anyway, in response to your post...when I was studying Social Work at New South, I worked with a professor (Tony Vinson) who wanted to a start a community centre in this area. We did some research on the demographics, crime rate...etc.. and discovered that pretty much people are massively isolated in these buildings (aka the suicide towers :( ) due to age, fear, and $ or lack of.

Our aim was then to research interests and start up small community interest groups in the area linking the people with the resources in the uni and also with each other. People seemed open to interest groups and conversations - once they realised you were not going to mug them for their pension. So I guess my answer would be chat. People are living packed in together and exist without talking to each other. It's heaps sad and lonely. Chat to them. You're good at that! But don't be too scary!

Oh and in response to demographic or social environment - mostly environment, I reckon. People were skeptical when we approached them to chat and survey them and they were really fearful and lonely. They loved to talk when we got started though. But also we found that there was an aging, immobile population in the buildings and they considered the young people to be the druggies or thugs. Sometimes they were right. So people were stuck in their apartments unable to get out because of immobility, age and lack of $. That was a while ago...not sure what it's like now. They can be reached by chatting though. Having a cup of tea...starting a club of some sort...

Great to hear you have a heart for these people!


geoffc said...

insulting comment? Really? I try not to do that. Which blog was it?

I used to work in a community centre just around the corner on Raglan St, The Factory Community Centre.

I do have a heart for these people, I love the redfern/waterloo area. If there was a job for me after college I'd definately stay!

missmellifluous said...

Nah, more of a jest. It was here:

What was it you did at The Factory? Did it help you make any kind of inroads to the area, do you think?

geoffc said...

I ran the After School Program for kids aged 5-12. It made incredible inroads to the area. I know heaps of families in the area now, and a lot of those children I looked after now come to my youth group that I run at St Saviours church (and these are all non-churched kids at our youth, too).

So yeah, living and working in the area has made inroads that wouldn't have been otherwise possible. And being a local (as much as I can be) helps build trust. They see me alot, with my wife and son, they know we live here and aren't just another outsider coming in (well, hopefully they think that anyway)

Anonymous said...

two words rang in my head when i dorve past today Jeff.

gospel community.

keep doing what you're doing.
love Jesus, love them, show them what it's like when love comes to town and changes things, and invite them them into that desperately needed reality.

1 cor 15:58

Benita said...

Interesting to know.