Plugged in! – The power of connection

The word ‘connect’ is bandied about like cardboard coffee cups – used too frequently and then thrown away, its value rarely appreciated. For, like the underrated cardboard cup, the word ‘connect’ contains something deliciously addictive.

‘Connect is all about relationships and all the potential that lies within them. To connect is to make contact, be in harmony and communicate. It’s about joining, linking or uniting – and it’s one of the main ingredients in Christian mission. For without connections, how would people hear the good news of salvation and the message of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:19)?

A group of young people from South Australia are discovering first hand some of the synergies that exist within the word ‘connect’. They have buckets of love inside them – love for God and other people. But where you see their love truly coming to life is in the way they make a difference in the lives of others, purely through connecting.

The Spring Head, Woodside and Lobethal Lutheran Youth (SHWALLY) are based in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. They run on high energy and involvement, often helping others through donations of time, effort and money.

In the past, the group have had to have faith that their donations have made a difference. So, when choosing a new project on which to focus on, they looked for something a little more substantial: something on which they could follow through, something to which they could give more than just money, something that would allow them to be a part of God’s mission in the world. SHWALLY member Erin Kerber, said about the group’s desire to be involved in mission work, ‘well Jesus said we should look after others’. It sounds quite simple when you put it like that, but really, where do you start?

The young people sought help from Glenice Hartwich, who put them in contact with the National Youth Ministry Program of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia, whom were equally keen to have a partnership. And wow, what a connection! It’s almost as if the two were just waiting to be plugged into each other.

Both are outgoing groups, with something to offer the other, and their partnership has hit the ground running. They’ve created a strong bond through the sharing of photographs, stories, blogs, websites, newsletters, experiences, worship and each other’s company.

All of this positive connection spearheaded SHWALLY’s decision to get involved in the Malaysian youth ministry’s work with the indigenous people of Malaysia, the Orang Asli. The two youth groups have been raising money to help establish libraries in Orang Asli villages, and a computer room in the Cameron Highlands – all with the goal of providing much-needed places for Orang Asli children to study and learn.

In 2012, seven members of SHWALLY travelled to Malaysia where they worked directly with the LCM Youth Ministry group. They also worshipped in many Lutheran churches in Malaysia, climbed mountains and visited an Orang Asli community on Bandang Island. They’ve met other enthusiastic youth groups from around the world, while participating in a Lutheran Youth International Mission Night and further strengthened relations with the Lutheran Church of Australia’s partner churches in Malaysia.

Talk about synergies…so many connections will be made within this one single trip, but most importantly, SHWALLY young people will be connected with God in his mission and will bring to life the essence of servant love: ‘Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others’ (Phil 2:3,4).

If you, your school or your congregation, would like to know how you can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email For more information, go to

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