A Very Important Partnership
Back in 2015, The WeBelong Committee, which helps churches start their own Jesus Clubs, brainstormed ways to expand the network of disability ministry in Australia. We asked:
"How can we spread the movement of disability ministry, so reaching out to people with intellectual disabilities will become as natural to churches as running youth groups or kids' church?"
It soon became apparent that an effective way to spread the mission would be to engage the next generation of ministers - Bible college students. Since the students will eventually disperse to different parts of Sydney and Australia, they will become the ideal candidates to influence the direction of future disability ministry.
With God's blessing, a partnership blossomed between Jesus Club, Moore College, and a local church, Newtown Erskineville Anglican Church (NEAC).
Four years on, the Newtown Jesus Club, WeBelong, is a thriving club with seven members. There is a real sense of community, and the members and leaders delight in helping each other learn from the Bible. It is also fulfilling its strategic purpose to equip Bible college students with first-hand experience in ministering to adults with intellectual disabilities. Since 2016, about six college students have volunteered at the club, assisting and leading the fortnightly program.
Leanna Fox, the Newtown club coordinator, sees it as a gentle lead into the world of intellectual disability.
"Newtown club is a bit different to some of the other clubs, in that most of the guys coming are high functioning. They might work full-time in a supported employment role, or they might live independently with some sort of drop-in support. So, from that perspective, it's a nice introduction."
Besides practical experience, the Newtown club is also demonstrating to the students the power to connect in God's love.
"One of the things that the Moore College students see is that we are providing these vulnerable members of society with an opportunity just to feel loved, and to be accepted for who they are."
Jesus Club is grateful for this ongoing partnership and especially thankful to current Moore College students, Mike and Reuben. They are leading the way in moving their Jesus Club online during this challenging time, watch one of their remote teaching videos here.
Please pray for this ministry and the Moore College students who have committed to being part of the Newtown WeBelong service team. Pray that they will walk away from this year's training inspired and confident to lead. May God use them in the future to reach people with disabilities and share the good news of Jesus Christ to more regions in Australia.