"Providing a voice, telling the story" is a theme of presenters at Australasian Religious Press Association's annual conferences.
I recall the Adelaide ARPA conference back in 2011 when Dr Steve Taylor a Baptist who co-ordinated the post-graduate programs at the South Australian Uniting College for Leadership and Theology.
Since we as Christians have a voice, the question raised is applicable in all Christian ministry and service: "How might we, in our every day experiences, have that voice released into our communities?"
Of course, as Steve Taylor explained, every person has a voice. He spoke of the film 'The King's Speech' which portrayed how the stuttering King George VI learnt to use his voice with the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue.
He also gave some other diverse examples of people using different strategies to allow their voice to be heard. One strategy is employed by a young Christian New Zealand singer named Brooke Fraser, who never personally says anything about her faith, but allows the secular media do.
He gave examples of passive land rights protests by an indigenous population. The Maori of Pariheka in New Zealand in the 1890s used passive resistance to retain their presence on their ancestral lands, leading to many of their members being incarcerated by the dominant white Government, and sometimes dying in the poor conditions.
(Similarly, we here in Australia can speak of the famous strike in 1966 by the Gurinji aboriginal tribe of 'Wave Hill' station, led by legendary Vincent Lingiari, resulted in the first 'land rights' granted by the Australian government in 1975, after a prolonged period of similar passive resistance.)
However, this led to the third example given by Dr Taylor, in that others can give voice to the oppressed. This particular land rights story has now been immortalised in a song written around 1990, by two extremely popular country singer-songwriters Kev Carmody (of aboriginal heritage) and Paul Kelly (of Irish and European background), who were musing about aboriginal land rights round a camp-fire during a camping trip.
The clear challenge presented by Steve Taylor was for each of us to find our own unique ways in which our voice, too, can be heard. He suggested that being creative is part of the secret; whether this occurs in service, in ministry, in word, or indeed in song or art.
It is in this same vein that, I have found a voice for 105 young writers who are writing a column once every 5 weeks for Christian Today Australia.
In 2008 Christian Today Australia invited Mark Tronson to become a columnist and a year later I came on board as an Advisor. Shortly thereafter Christian Today sought his assistance on providing a daily sport article and this led to the invitation of five young sport writers.
Within twelve months this was expanded to include young Comment writers to submit a monthly article and now a mass of such young people had been incorporated into this program. They range from across Australia to New Zealand and 23 international young people from England to China to Mozambique.
These people are not reporting news; they are initiating ideas through Comment pieces whereby their original voice is being heard. The very thing that Steve Taylor at that 2011 ARPA annual conference in Adelaide was promoting had already been initiated with Christian Today Australia where these young people had been encouraged and supported to have their own voices.
Once the articles are published in Christian Today Australia, those article links are then circulated to Australia's Christian media along with a weekly international internet feed, which gives them a hearing as international voices.
It’s been my immense privilege to mentor these young Christians and provide them with an opportunity to tell their own stories.
You are welcome to follow these young people in Christian Today Australia: www.christiantoday.com.au
Alternatively you can follow these young writers on their own site: https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html