8000km is a long way! On the 29th September 2006 I jumped in a bus in Newcastle with 18 other people and returned 2 weeks later having travelled 8000km. So obviously I can’t tell you everything that happened and I won’t expect you to be so interested in my life that I will tell you what I had for breakfast each morning but I will let you know some of the highlights…
The time we spent on the bus was one of the highlights of the trip. People look at me strangely when I say that but it is true. Spending hours and hours with people on the bus was what made the trip for me. It was an absolute privilege getting to know the team and watching them grow as Christians in the 2 weeks we spent together. Close quarters, intense environment, being exposed to situations and community issues you’ve never seen before, being confronted with your own sin as you learn to love people you are sharing every moment of the day with, considering the prospect of mission work I think are some of the things that made the bus time such good time. Whilst there was lots of frivolity and fun to be had on the bus there was also stacks of time spent talking about all of the above. At the end of each day I was exhausted just from talking…
The kids of Woorabinda
How to do ministry in Woorabinda?
1. Play footy on the road and wait for kids to appear. Usually you’ll get between 30-40 kids in the space of 20 minutes. The seem to appear from cracks in the walls…
2. Invite them to come to church that night.
3. Sing a few songs (they love singing) and then tell them all about Jesus.
This is pretty much what we did. We had an absolute blast during the day with the kids and then one evening a whole stack of them came to church and we had the opportunity to sing with them and so a short talk about Jesus calming the storm. It wasn’t terribly planned or organised but as a team we talked to kids about Jesus all night! Wow! Pray for the kids of Woorabinda as the social issues in that place are pretty full on.
The Elders @ Tennant Creek
Tennant Creek was so very different to Woorabinda. The church was bigger, they had a solid eldership team, the missionary was not the pastor of the church but rather worked behind the scenes to train the elders. The elders (Cedric, Tasman, Richard) and a guy called Unanimous told us their testimonies one afternoon. The striking thing about their testimony was that all of these guys once spent their days drinking in the local park in Tennant Creek and now they go to that same park to speak to people about Jesus. It was remarkable to see the work of God in the lives of these men who were all committed to preaching the Word in Tennant Creek.
Richard’s story was particularly amazing. Richard became blind after becoming a Christian and he didn’t know how he would be able to serve God as a blind man. Amazingly, God has given him a remarkable memory and he preaches once a month at the church in Tennant Creek. The way he prepares his sermons is by listening to the Bible on cassette. Listening to talks on the passage by other people. Speaking to his friends about the passage and then memorises his talk in his head and preaches. Most of us would use blindness as a way out of serving God. Richard works hard at knowing God better and preaches the Word in the most difficult circumstances.
Sightseeing was tops! I went to the centre of Australia in 1988. It was great to go back and remember all the places we went to as kids. I’ll just put some photos up for this bit!
The challenge from Jono
Jono was the missionary in Camooweal (about 400 km east of the NT/QLD border). We had a very brief chat at one point about his decision to move to Camooweal and one thing he said as part of this conversation was very challenging. I commented on the difficulty of getting people to move from their comfortable places to do ministry and his reply was… “For people whose home in not here but in heaven we sink our roots down really deep in this world”. It was challenging to see him and his wife Grace ignore the social norms in Christian circles and live the biblical truth that we are exiles in a foreign land waiting to go home.
1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5