Soft hearts, sharp minds: The 11-year-old who could change NSW

Who inspires you? Wherever we are, whatever stage of life we’re in, we can impact the lives of people around us. Let me introduce two wonderful people from our Wesley Mission family who inspire me – they have incredible stories to share.

The first is Sophia, who attends our Wesley CityHeart congregation with her family. Earlier this year, Sophia entered the 13th Bear Pit Public Speaking Competition for primary school students in the Manly electorate. The topic was, ‘If I were Premier for a day, I would…’ As a member of CityHeart, Sophia had heard all about gambling harm caused by poker machines and about Wesley Mission’s emerging advocacy campaign to reduce that harm. Fired up by her own faith and this new knowledge, Sophia’s speech was titled, ‘If I were Premier for a day…I would ban all pokies.’

Sophia is a very smart and articulate young woman. She was a finalist and finished as runner-up in the competition, giving her speech in NSW Parliament House in person in September. Then Sophia kindly recorded her speech for us to be used for our ‘Put Pokies in Their Place’ gambling reform election platform, which we launched the week before last in the Jubilee Room, again at NSW Parliament House. It was the highlight of our launch, generating spontaneous applause from everyone, including Members of Parliament, bishops, media, and dignitaries. I reckon you should watch it. It’s three minutes that will inspire:

The second voice I want to introduce is that of Mick. Like Sophia, Mick is a member of our Sunday CityHeart congregation, he also serves at CityHeart mid-week and at Wesley Connect as a volunteer. With a deep and earthy faith, Mick is a frequent and much-loved presence in and around the Wesley Centre. He has been a part of Wesley Mission for around seven years, first engaging with us as a resident at our Wesley Edward Eagar Centre crisis accommodation centre in Surry Hills. Mick has his own place now.

Along with four other members of our congregations, Mick recorded some of his story as part of our MOVE vision series. We showed Mick’s story last week at our combined celebration. Like Sophia’s video, it generated spontaneous and heartfelt applause. Hearing Mick’s story, I am blown away by his courage and resilience and by God’s amazing grace. It’s a bit longer than Sophia’s video – but it’s worth every moment you invest in watching it:

Mick was also honoured on Saturday night, taking out 2022 Volunteer of the Year at our Volunteer Celebration Dinner. Mick received two awards on the night for his service to others as part of the Wesley Connect team, providing care to people who are vulnerable and living on the margins. It was a magical night and an opportunity to celebrate all our amazing volunteers.

If you enjoyed Mick’s story, there are four more amazing stories from members of our congregations from the same series.

I hope that you, too, are inspired by the voices of Sophia and Mick. There are so many great stories and wonderful and wise voices across the breadth of Wesley Mission, and it’s a privilege to share just two of them with you.

Every blessing,

Rev Stu Cameron
CEO and Superintendent, Wesley Mission

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