published in Hope Spots 2024 on June 24, 2024

Hope Spot 23 – First, not Forgotten

You go first to those who are forgotten…

You probably saw on the news the violent incident and evacuation at Marion Shopping Centre in Adelaide on Sunday.

My wife Julie and I were in the cinema when the warning came through.


The loudspeaker was muffled, but we heard:


Emergency. Emergency.


Weapons in use.




If you can’t, hide.


It took a while for the message to sink in, but then you could feel the fear amid the confusion. A young boy crying:


“I don’t want to die Mum.
I don’t want to die.”


People became mostly calm as they left the cinemas through emergency doors, and then down the fire exits to safety …


… except for people with disability.


They had no way of getting down the stairs.


David, in his mobile bed. 


‘Susan’ in her electric wheelchair.


A senior lady on a mobile scooter.


Julie and I decided to stay with these people, and their carers, ‘just in case’.


We gave what support we could – mostly me telling bad Dad jokes to ‘Susan’ to distract her as she muttered over and over “I’m scared of the bad man, I’m scared of the bad man.”


It reminded me of how easy it is for people with disability, and the elderly, to be forgotten and left behind.


What you do for others through ALWS is different.


You go first to those who are most vulnerable, and in danger of being forgotten. The sick. The elderly. People with disability. Children. Mums on their own.


You do this, just as Jesus did.



After two hours in the cold, we were last off the roof, down a service elevator, the police led us to. (It was like a movie as they cleared the area, as you can see in our photo.)


Ironically, at exactly that time, Julie and I were supposed to be on our way to Ethiopia.


Our job was to gather stories to report back to you on the work you are doing in the Amhara and Tigray regions, and look at how we can expand our ALWS action.


However, late Friday, the Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa contacted us:




As discussed over the phone today, please note Tigray and Amhara Regional States are at a Do Not Travel (level 4 of 4), your health and safety are at extreme risk in these locations. We continue to receive reports of possible high threat of armed conflict, violent social unrest, infectious disease and critical levels of violent crime. If you travel to these locations, you are at a high risk of death, imprisonment, kidnapping or serious bodily harm.


If you get into trouble, the Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa may be unable to help. In most cases, our ability to provide consular assistance in these destinations is extremely limited. You should not travel to these locations. 




This is the front line you work on.


You are there where people need you most.


Between that message from Ethiopia on Friday, and what happened at Marion on Sunday, ALWS held an Asante event in the Barossa Valley in South Australia.



We had the chance to thank more than 100 people for all they do through ALWS, and show them the difference they and you make in people’s lives.


In my little bit, I shared this message from Ivan in Ukraine, (another place where you work on the front line through ALWS). Our ALWS support, through our partner LWF, helped renovate Ivan’s apartment after it had been bombed. This is what it meant to him:


“You are now part of our family.
I cannot believe where you are coming from.
Thank you for visiting us.
Thank you for not forgetting about us.”


Today, I just want to pass on that ‘thank you’ to you.


For not forgetting.


For putting people who are forgotten, first.


Your courage to keep on caring, even when things are tough, blesses people in ways that last a lifetime, far beyond simply the practical help you give.


This is why you are a blessing not just today, but ALWayS!



PS: Another place you work on the front line for people who are forgotten, is Myanmar. The new 5:1 Australian Government Grant for children of war in Myanmar is still available to increase the impact of your donation SIX TIMES. Your donation is fully tax-deductible, and if you donate before 30 June, your donation is tax-deductible this financial year. DONATE 5:1 NOW! Thank you!




Your 5:1 donation is used wisely


♥ You help with practical care

Every donation you make to this project will be combined with funding from the Australian Government to reach more people. ALWS has committed to contribute $1 for every $5 received from the Australian government. The total Australian Government Grant that ALWS has allocated to Myanmar projects is $440,500.

Therefore, ALWS must raise $88,100 to fully match this 5:1 Grant. ALWS aims to do this by 30 June 2024. Should ALWS receive income beyond this amount, those funds will be used to support other ALWS projects that attract the 5:1 Government Grant, and other life-transforming ALWS projects.

Your donation will allow us to extend ALWS programs.


♥ You give ‘no strings attached’ aid

Information in this communication is based on data correct at time of writing, and may change. Funds and other resources designated for the purpose of aid and development will be used only for those purposes and will not be used to promote a particular religious adherence or to support a political party, or to promote a candidate or organisation affiliated to a particular party, or to support welfare activities as defined by DFAT. For more information, call: 1300 763 407


♥ Your kindness goes to work carefully

In 2023, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 15.43%. The 5 year average is 15.77%. A copy of the most current ALWS Annual Report can be viewed at or requested: 1300 763 407.


♥ Your privacy is important to us

ALWS collects personal information about you in order to process your gift. A copy of the ALWS Privacy Policy is available at If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to

Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is The Overseas Aid & Development Agency of the Lutheran Church of Australia – ABN 36 660 551 871

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