Things are changing for Para Marcia. When I first joined with Geoff, Lucinda and the team to set up an organisation for the work going on in Timor, it was to join my business, logistics and IT skills with the work they were already doing, to consolidate the support and add a bit of structure and profile to what was already happening. I said to them that it was for a season. That when I found someone to replace me I would move on to focus my “spare time” for the region where my heart was really burning, the Middle East.
It’s not that I don’t have a heart for the Timorese, I do, and I still am determined to see that small-scale chicken farming and ecommerce website going. But God makes our heart beat for certain things. Of course, family and work are first but then some of us have this stirring to change the world, to make a difference, to make our time count. Usually we have a place, a people, a passion where this is centred. After a recent visit to the Middle East I knew that I couldn’t see how the Syrian children were living in exile and not act.
There is a scripture in Mathew 25 where Jesus holds people responsible for not visiting him in prison and when he was sick, feeding him, giving him drink, clothing him and welcoming him as a stranger. When I looked into the eyes of a little begging Syrian refugee girl in Lebanon, I knew that instant that God was going to hold me responsible for my response. In the parable, the people ask Jesus “when did we SEE you hungry and feed you?”. The scripture is about nations and how they see need of the least and how they respond after the seeing. Lebanon is seeing its neighbour and welcoming it, but it is straining under the pressure. I saw Jesus in this little girl and I need to act. So, there are some projects I have been supporting privately, and I began to wonder if Para Marcia could help. I approached Geoff and Lucinda and asked how they felt about expanding Para Marcia to replace “Timor Leste” with “developing nations and war affected regions” in the constitution. I was ok to move on and just keep my jobs going until we found someone else to do what I do. But they were happy to expand. That doesn’t mean that any money donated to Timor will go to these projects, I have to go out and find new people to hand over their hard-earned cash. We don’t intend to dilute the funding base for East Timor. And Geoff and Lucinda still have a primary focus and call to East Timor. There will be no change to the work there, in fact our work in East Timor is expanding as well.
The problems we are looking at in the Middle East are massive but I have found some people who fit with the same objectives we have at Para Marcia. They are staffed by independently supported volunteers and there have very low admin expenses. I have added one objective to our constitution, education. It is a key area of concern for every development agency in the word and the focus of our first Middle Eastern project that you will hear about soon. I hope you will continue to support and pray for our work in Timor Leste and enjoy hearing about what is happening in the Middle East.