Last year the Chapman family celebrated ten years in the NT. Bruce’s ministry has touched many young people across Darwin and beyond and in this article, written just before his passing from Melanoma on 6 May 2019, he remembers how his work has all been part of God’s grand plan.
God’s gracious plans for the world all revolve around people like you and me. All ministry is therefore about people and joining in God’s plans as He builds His kingdom for His glory. We think of God’s promises to Abraham to bless all nations:
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation…; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1–3
We also think of God sending His Son Jesus into the world to save people like you and me (John 3:16) and the great vision of a new heaven and a new earth with Jesus living with God’s people worshipping Him (Revelation 21:3).
The last ten years has been our small part in God’s grand plan and we’re so thankful for the privilege it has been.
As we think about this time there are the youth we have had contact with at St Peter’s Nightcliff. I recently baptised a former youth couple’s first child and another youth member is preparing for ministry training in Ireland. It’s exciting to hear of others serving in ministry in their local churches and going on trusting and growing in Jesus. At St Peter’s Nightcliff we have also recently seen the fruit of natural inter-generational ministry taking place with all ages mixing, and older Christians discipling and encouraging our youth.
I have also enormously enjoyed partnering with all our NT churches and leaders including remote Aboriginal churches. People like Craig, Darren, Mandy, Marlene, and Veronica have taught me so much as they welcomed me into their lives and communities. Together we have sought to build up young people and point them to Jesus. Amidst enormous challenges these leaders have demonstrated patient perseverance and a firm trust in Jesus. Their lives challenge our western materialism, individualism, spiritual world scepticism, and assumptions about the nature of biblical maturity and discipleship.
Perhaps one of the more surprising aspects of ministry has been opportunities to proclaim Jesus in Darwin. This has included preaching in different contexts, taking services in Dondale youth detention centre, working across denominations to encourage and train youth and youth leaders, running camps with Scripture Union Northern Territory, and pastoral ministry with parents and families.
Challenges & Opportunities
There are ongoing challenges in the NT to do with transiency, large distances, limited resources, different languages and cultures, and a mindset of receiving missionary help rather than engaging in mission. However, these challenges are also great opportunities. We need to keep working hard to give Aboriginal Christians a voice in the NT and national church. We need to learn from them and their unique insights. We need to keep working hard in all our churches to engage and identify future leaders. Small, regular investments in young people can reap enormous future gains with God’s blessing.
Like all ministry we entrust the small weak efforts we have made in Jesus’ name to our heavenly Father to use for His glory. We know that God’s word is active and always achieves His purposes (Isaiah 55: 11). God continues to build His church (Matthew 16:18) and work out His good purposes.(Romans 8:28–29).
We’re extremely grateful that we have had the BCA family to support and partner with us in this decade long ministry. We are all seeking to serve God wherever we live, and the BCA family has partnered with us in so many ways: praying; through financial support; practical care in emails, phone calls, cards and visits; mission trips like Church by the Bridge running an annual youth mission in Darwin for eight years; Cherrybrook Anglican and others helping run the Katherine Christian Convention youth program since 2009; and the sharing, hospitality and caring for our family when we have visited your churches. Thank you all for your godly, caring and generous support.