Church 4 Life Clothing Collectors – (Contact: 0466 842 101)
A Brief History by Pastor Richard Nash
Being raised in Africa and visiting countries like Sri Lanka, India and the Philippines made me acutely aware of the abject poverty that multiple millions of people live in without any possible hope of a helping hand.
In 1991 I was burdened to send clothes to Mozambique. Within a 15 year period the country had faced three serious military conflicts and a devastating drought followed by a hurricane. I learned that people were dressing themselves in tree bark because there was nothing else. I prayed to God for help and brain-stormed with family, friends and church colleagues.
During a season of prayer and fasting in January 1991, I was in the Charlestown Office of World Vision and shared my heart with the manager. He had just returned from Zimbabwe and said the Australian High Commissioner had AU$20,000 for humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. I applied, and the funds were granted in January 1992!
I was widely known in the Christian Community. Many congregations caught the vision and the clothes started flowing in. In weeks we had sufficient to fill a shipping container, and within months the clothes had been distributed to around 8,500 people. A contact in the fabric industry valued the clothes at AU$200,000. About two years later we enjoyed a repeat event.
Around the year 2000 my wife Lesley started a free regular weekly community meal in Windale. Beginning with a handful of men it grew to feeding anything up to 120 people at Christmas. It was called ‘Pete’s Kitchen’ after the name of the person Lesley asked to cook the meals.
In 2011 the Second Pete’s Kitchen was opened in Tanilba Bay led by Church 4 Life with the support of all the Churches in the Tilligerry Peninsula. We continue to share a meal as part of our Friday night church service also held at the Baptist Hall. Everyone from the community is welcome to join us on Friday nights at 5.30pm for dinner.
In 2014 the Third Pete’s Kitchen was opened in Boolaroo where Church 4 Life rents the Baptist Church at the corner of Main Road and Sixth Streets, just up from the Lakes Cinema. This is held Wednesday nights from 6-7pm and provides free meals to between 20 and 40 people each week.
2004 saw Church 4 Life start a new congregation at Tanilba Bay some 50 kilometres from the mother congregation. Our second Op Shop opened there in 2009. Discounted food was introduced for those on government assistance.
By request of a few agencies outside of the Tanilba Bay area food hampers for people in crisis became part of Church 4 Life’s on-going community care.
The clothing program sprang from a Mission Trip to Fiji in 2011. I visited an ex-Zimbabwean friend and discussed the possibilities of assisting the development of business opportunities in Fiji which could help the poor there. Many ideas later second hand clothing was discussed and contacts made. Further discussions led to more substantial plans. In January 2014 the first clothing collections were made. Responses were very promising and the first shipping container left our warehouse in July 2014.
So far containers have been sent to Fiji, Bulgaria, Malaysia, Philippines and a number of African countries. At the time of writing we are about to complete our 14th container. As we develop our skills we hope to be able to assist more countries and more people.
To sustain the long-term survival of this program we seek to maintain a win, win, win situation. We wish everyone in the chain of delivery to win. As the collectors we charge as little as we can to sustain our program by minimising costs wherever possible including using volunteers. Our intermediaries are expected to do the same so that the end of the line purchaser (the poor) can afford to buy good quality second hand clothes at very reasonable prices. Where possible any processing is done in third world countries to provide employment.
As Church 4 Life has been involved in various community care activities we plan to continue providing food hampers, free meals, and supporting Youth Camps for Australians. When funds accumulate we will seek other worthwhile community needs to support.
Thank you for helping this win, win, win opportunity.