A bright light of hope in Mallacoota

Janine van den Tillaart

Nearly two years on from the devastating bushfires of 2019/2020 Mallacoota continues to face challenges with housing availability and trauma recovery, but ministry goes on with Jude & Andy Benton reaching out to their community and providing a bright light of hope through the gospel of Christ.

Jude Benton in black pants and a blue clerical shirt and blue jumper in full preaching mode, suring an outdoor service. She stands in front of a garden and lrage piece of rock. The sea is visible beuyond this.Jude & Andy have been part of the Mallacoota & Cann River communities for three and a half years now (1.5 supported by BCA). They have recently put down roots, buying a property which has allowed the manse to be leased in what is a very tight rental market.

Moving from bushfire recovery to pandemic has created challenges for face-to-face ministry, but God has opened doors for Jude to continue preaching through radio church. She was given the opportunity to do a weekly radio broadcast during the first lockdown in 2020 and returned to the airwaves in 2021 during lockdown number five in Victoria. During her weekly spot Jude has worked through the book of James and even used books by Dr Seuss to set the scene. Last year she spoke a lot about bushfire recovery using the resurrection narrative. “I’ve tried to make it relevant,” says Jude. “We play four or five songs that are upbeat and have a time of prayer for the community, the wider world and we finish with the Lord’s Prayer.”

Jude is usually on the air for about 40 minutes each week. The live radio broadcast continues to be a wonderful form of outreach as there are many listeners who do not usually come to church, and it also reaches those who are unable to attend church due to age or a decline in health. One of her weekly listeners is Jude’s partner on the radio, Don, who happens to be an atheist.

“When we went back to face-to-face church last Christmas, Don kept that morning spot, with a service called ‘This is not radio church’ so if I ever needed to come back, he would be there for me, and as soon as restrictions occurred again, we were back on air together. When the songs are playing, we get a chance to talk about what I’ve been speaking about. It’s a great outreach not only to Don but to all the non-church goers who mention in passing that they’ve heard the service and they liked ‘this or that’. I love doing radio church."

Recently the station began broadcasting live on www.3mgb.org.au and so people in Cann River and further afield can now listen. Jude was blessed to receive encouragement from one faithful BCA prayer supporter who tuned in one Sunday from locked-down Melbourne and really enjoyed the program.

Please pray for Jude & Andy as they continue serving Christ in Mallacoota and Cann River, especially as they continue reaching out into the community. “Mallacoota is a great place to be. I believe a selling point for remote and rural ministry is this… if you have to live out a pandemic, this is not a bad place to do it.”

 

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