Recently I co-coordinated an Afternoon Tea for Australian Aid for my electorate Warringah. We ended up having fifty people come to show their support for Australian Aid, including local church leaders, council members, school representatives, local businesspeople, not-for-profit representatives and five of Warringah’s federal candidates.
This was my first time organising an event like this, and though I was initially a bit under-confident, I was really happy with how it went and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Hopefully I can pass on a few little insights from all that I learnt, to encourage others to become involved in something like this in the future!
My biggest lesson was in the value of persistence. We had a list of about forty churches in Warringah to invite, many of whom we didn’t have personal contacts with. We began by emailing each church an invitation, then following them up with a phone call (and sometimes another one!). While this did take quite a bit of time, I think it was really worthwhile. We had several church leaders attend because of it that have never been involved in a Micah event before.
Persistence was also key with one of our independent candidates. He was contacted by me and five others via email, Facebook and Twitter, but what finally caught his attention was a Facebook post by one of the high-schoolers from my church, in which she very outspokenly expressed her disappointment in his lack of response! With only two days before the event he then RSVP’d that he was attending. Hearing his strong words of support for Australian aid at the event made our proactive following up all the more worth it.
I also found working with others really important. The ‘we’ I’ve been referring to mostly included Vikki Howorth, the Social Justice Pastor at my church. We worked together throughout which made the experience far more enjoyable and doable! It made such a difference getting a second opinion on thoughts or ideas from someone with far more experience than me. I was also very thankful to have others from my church community help in different ways, especially on the day, using their diverse gifts. You definitely don’t have to do it alone – though I did find that when asking for help, asking in person (or over the phone) and giving a clear idea of what was required was really beneficial.
You can also make use of what’s available from Micah and the coalition members. For example, we had Gershon Nimbalker from Baptist World Aid come to give the presentation on Australian Aid and how we can do better. It was excellent and I felt it really strengthened the event. Micah was also really great with providing a comprehensive event guide and answering any questions I had.
The final tip I would give would be the best advice that was given to me – get everything you can done the day before so that you don’t have to worry about anything on the day! This meant I didn’t feel stressed, and gave me a nice amount of time for prayer. This was really helpful in that it reminded me of the kingdom purposes of the event.
Organising an Afternoon Tea was such an enriching experience. It was so incredible to see a diverse group of people join together, learn, pray for the candidates and for the poor, and raise their voices in support of Australian Aid. I really felt like it was a powerful witness to the community and to the candidates of our loving, compassionate and just God, and I left deeply encouraged.
And so I encourage you to consider taking part in something like this in the future – not only is it achievable, but I am confident that you will leave with a sense of excitement about what God can do when we create spaces for people to raise their voice with others!
Cherry Johnson is a Development Studies student and is currently a volunteer intern at Micah Australia.