In December of 2023, Pastor You-Sin Houe hosted all the Nazarene churches in the Perth, Australia, area for a Christmas celebration where volunteers passed out backpacks and school supplies to local children at Cullacabardee Aboriginal Community Church of the Nazarene.
“Backpacks for Christmas” has become part of the rhythm of the Christmas season for Nazarene churches in Australia. For several years, churches from the Australia Southern and the Australia North & West Districts have partnered with Pastor You-Sin’s Aboriginal ministry to provide backpacks and school supplies to First Nations children in Western Australia. In 2022, 194 children received backpacks. This year, Pastor You-Sin passed out nearly 250 backpacks.
Pastor You-Sin began this year’s celebration in Cullacabardee with a Christmas service and feast. The following week, he and a team traveled 300 kilometers from town to town around Western Australia to celebrate with 400 children from the Aboriginal ministry. Not all the children need backpacks and school supplies, but they all experience God’s love through Pastor You-Sin’s ministry.
Pastor You-Sin tells the children in every meeting, “You are special! You are lovable! Jesus loves you!” He wears a shirt that says the same thing, and signs around the halls say the same. But Pastor You-Sin says that while he tells the children they are loved, “these backpacks show them.”
“Backpacks for Christmas” began several years ago with a prodding from the Holy Spirit. Jo Cousins, who serves with her husband, Adrian, in Maryborough — thousands of kilometers (and miles) from Perth — sensed God was calling her to provide for First Nations children in Western Australia. She contacted Pastor You-Sin, and “Backpacks for Christmas” was born. From the beginning, the ministry has been a collaborative effort.
For the first couple of years, Jo and the ladies from the Nazarene churches in Queensland sewed backpacks, filled them with school supplies, prayed over them, and then packaged and sent them to Western Australia. In the last two years, churches around Australia have raised money and sent it to Western Australia to save on postage and to give as much as possible. The churches in Western Australia, in turn, have done the shopping, packing, and passing out.
-Church of the Nazarene Asia-Pacific via Church of the Nazarene website.