It was through his remarkable journeys and travels all across the then known world that the good news of God in Jesus was broadcast far and wide and enabled the transformation of society in his day. St Paul suffered greatly for his work; in one of his letters to the urban Christian community in the city of Corinth in Greece he wrote:
“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
St Paul’s incredible missionary journeys were not just about preaching the gospel though, as important and life-giving as that was, he was also seeking to serve some of the Christian communities in Israel, particularly Jerusalem that he knew to be struggling during a time of drought and famine. St Paul devoted a considerable amount of time and energy during one of his great adventurous journeys to collect food and money to support the undernourished and famine stricken communities of Jerusalem and Judea. St Paul’s appeal to the well-endowed and wealthier Christian communities in Rome, Greece and Asia Minor was well received and their generous response alleviated the suffering of thousands of their brothers and sisters in Israel.
Saint Paul launched the appeal with these words from 2 Corinthians:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
These are beautiful words for they speak of how we can respond to the needs of others but also that our response should be from the heart and not forced upon us; whatever we gauge to be an appropriate response to the needs of others is also met with the reminder that we are loved by God when our giving is done with a sense of grace, freedom and cheerfulness. Such words and sentiments have sustained and underpinned Christian acts of generous giving and charity for almost 2000 years.
For several years now, following in the footsteps of St Paul, our own St Paul’s Collegiate School has explored and subsequently acted upon many different ways to engage with the needs and issues faced by members of not only our own community but also within the wider community in which the school sits. The aptly named “Over the Fence” Ministry of the school has been a remarkable success for all those involved; both in our school and within all the schools involved. This year we have seen that ministry developed further across a number of fronts in a variety of different locations.
The other morning I was writing a paper to share with another school from the North Island who wished to learn something of our service programmes. It would not be an exaggeration to say that once I had put pen to paper, and eight pages later, I was quite staggered by the diversity and quantity of service opportunities that exist for students and staff. I was not only surprised by the numerous opportunities, but also how well they are managed and noted that they seem to operate as a programme that is not too onerous for any involved. With the participation and leadership of a number of our very dynamic staff and student leaders, alongside the huge support and encouragement of our Headmaster, Mr Lander, the school has been able to engage with a multifaceted, life changing and life-giving service programme.
Opportunities range from:
- Over the Fence Ministry at Bankwood and Fairfield Primary Schools
- Bankwood School Ukulele Club
- Bankwood School Dance Group
- The Community Gala
- Year 11 Service Programme with Refugee Orientation Centre Trust
- Waikato Hospital Chaplaincy
- St Joan’s Ukulele Club
- St Joan’s Art Club
- The Serve Community Trust
- Flame Cambodia
- World Vision 40 Hour Famine
The list is extensive and has been extended further with the development of a new project that was launched just over a month ago in chapel at the instigation of one of our remarkable Year 13 service leaders: Genevieve Scott-Jones. Let me introduce you to the Community Fridge:
The Community Fridge
A partnership has been formed with the Fairfield Community Project “Te Whare O Te Ata” with the establishment of the Community Fridge. This project has already been remarkably successful and aims to ensure the delivery and provision of fresh vegetables, fruit and meat products to local families who live in the communities surrounding the school, who are in need of additional food bank support. Hundreds of families across the city of Hamilton rely on support from a number of food bank providers, but there is a real shortage of fresh produce in that provision: hence the Community Fridge. Staff, students and school families, on a weekly basis, are invited to stock our “Community Fridge” located in the chapel and that food is delivered to the Fairfield Project, who assess the needs of those requiring food support and they distribute accordingly. This project is already proving to be highly successful by all those who participate, both as donor and receiver. This project is also well supported by the St Paul’s International Student Department who regularly supply large quantities of fresh vegetables on a weekly basis purchased from proceeds of their Monday food stall.
So far, without any significant announcement or broadcast, we have been collecting fresh vegetables, fruit and meat for several weeks for delivery to the Fairfield Project, who then identify families and individuals in need as recipients. We now have a large fridge freezer located in the chapel, generously donated by one of our parents, ready to receive any fruit, vegetables or fresh or frozen meat products you may wish to donate to this remarkable project. We collect all through the week and the products are collected from us on a regular basis. I would like to ask you and to appeal to you to consider how you might support this project. We have been particularly encouraged by a number of our rural community members and farmers have indicated that they might be able to provide from their “rural surplus” to assist with these “urban shortfalls” in vegetable and meat products. We are able to receive donated items at any point during the week, but wish to encourage our boarders to bring items on a Sunday night and for all others to give as and when they can.
The Community Fridge is an exciting extension of our “Over the Fence” Ministry and I commend it wholeheartedly to you for your consideration and support.
Thank you everyone for your wonderful support of our school and its transformational service programmes.
In His service
Revd Peter Rickman
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