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Jim’s passion for helping people break the cycle of poverty

by ervte

If anyone sees the importance of education, it’s Jim Rawson, a long-time Compassionist. Based in Queensland, Jim has been investing in the lives of youth and young people for over 50 years. With four degrees under his belt, including a Ph.D. in Veterinary Medicine, Jim has channeled his personal experience witnessing the power of education to create the same opportunities for children in Australia and the developing world.

In addition to serving as the state director of the Scriptural Union for 28 years, Jim has introduced school chaplaincy to the state school system in Queensland. Still, he has also operated on Power to Change for 22 years, ten of which as board chairman. On a personal level, Jim was a foster carer and mentor to numerous university students and some refugees in Australia. He has seen firsthand the power of education and discipleship to help children reach their full God-given potential.Jim's passion for helping people break the cycle of poverty

“In my 50 years of ministry, I have found that the most effective way to serve is to sow seeds in the lives of children and youth,” says Jim.

Jim Rawson

Jim explains that when a child is young, they are open to change and new ideas. He says that laying a solid foundation for a young mind is critical to helping them break the destructive patterns of thought and behavior of generations. The cycle of poverty keeps children physically imprisoned with a lack of opportunities and resources and limits them mentally and emotionally. This ‘poverty of the mind’ results in helplessness and hopelessness and is passed down from generation to generation, limiting a child’s ability to dream and reach for a future beyond what they can see. Jim believes that education is the game changer.

“If you’re not educated, unless you’re remarkable, you don’t get out of poverty because you have limited options in what you can do.”

“If you’re not educated, unless you’re remarkable, you don’t get out of poverty because you have limited options in what you can do,” Jim says. “Once you have been trained, the possibilities are open to you. Kids are seeing that they can do better than Mom and Dad. Education is the key to creating these opportunities.”

Jim recalls his shaky start in education, dropping out of high school and his first year of college. However, once Jim started investing in his education, he learned skills that served him throughout his adult life and career.

“When I became a committed Christian and started diving into education, it started training my brain,” Jim says.

“So when I became the head of the Scripture Union in Queensland, it meant training my brain in organizing thoughts, thinking through problems and problems, solving theological problems, solving problems with staff, and so on. †

Even if a child doesn’t go to work in the industry in which they were trained, the life skills they learn through training, such as problem-solving and healthy thinking patterns, will provide long-term benefits for a life well beyond the classroom.

Jim has funded three education and training-related initiatives with Compassion in Thailand, Bolivia, and other projects. These initiatives ranged from funding student vocational training to spiritual development and tertiary education programs, all of which are beyond the scope of sponsorship. In such situations, the additional support received through education and training initiatives can be life-changing for vulnerable children worldwide.

Compassion’s education programs work hand in hand with youth discipleship and mentorship. “Nobody made me disciples,” Jim says. “I could, but I needed someone to guide me through my young life. I did not come from a Christian family. Being able, I had many opportunities, but few resulted in good results. I have now seen many young people disciples and marvel at the spiritual and professional, positive results.”

Jim also remembers the life-changing story of Jay, a young man he accompanied from Rwanda. Jay had lived in eight refugee camps before coming to Australia at age 13. He spoke no English when he entered Australia, but in three months had learned enough to go to school.

“The principal took Jay under his wing and opened the door for him,” Jim recalls. “Jay eventually became a school principal and studied for a degree in process engineering. I started mentoring him, and Jay eventually became a Christian.”

Along the way, the young man, whose goal was to one day punish and kill the 40 people who murdered his parents, transformed his heart and mind. Jim remembers that Jay’s priorities changed when he met the love of God.

“Jay said I should spend my time blessing and helping them. So he has already invested $40,000 of his own money in the trip. He is not yet 30, but he has invested in buying land for a school in Rwanda.”

“We don’t want dependence on the West. It is not convenient for people.”

That is the power of education and discipleship coming together.

While other projects providing physical resources, such as food, clean water, and healthcare, have immediate and obvious results, Jim believes supporting education and training initiatives is important.

“There’s a very old saying that you can give people a fish, but if you teach them to fish, they’ll be much better off because they won’t depend on you,” Jim says.

“We don’t want dependence on the West. It is not convenient for people. They are incredibly skilled and highly intelligent, but they just never had a chance to break out of the poverty cycle. And so, if we can teach them to “fish” with education, they will eventually become national leaders. It will make a huge difference.”

As a parting commentary, Jim encourages investing in education and training projects to allow children to make a difference in their own lives and the communities around them.

“A person who is uneducated in many ways is hindered from ever achieving the results in their life that they could achieve,” he says. While he acknowledges that some children will eventually rise above it, he has generally seen that the lack of education puts children at a disadvantage.

“Educating a person at least opens up opportunities, rather than never getting the opportunity. And you never know the outcome, maybe a future Nelson Mandela!”

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