Laurie Carleton - Field Staff Norfolk Island
Norfolk Island is a place like no other. It is a beautiful slice of paradise in the middle of the Pacific, with a beautiful culture and one whose heritage is steeped in prioritising God’s word. So, although there are still many people who have yet to accept Jesus as their Lord and saviour, the culture allows those conversations to happen. From seeing the things God has done on Norfolk Island in our whirlwind start, we are excited to see what He will do here through His Spirit over the coming years.
The church community has been unbelievably welcoming, warm, and generous. When we stepped out of the airport, we were greeted by a dozen church members, all wanting to welcome us to the Island. We arrived to a beautifully presented home, with pantry, fridge and freezer stocked and people kept arriving on our doorstep with meal after meal. It truly is a church that puts others first in love.
The Island community is also one that is very welcoming and friendly. People are always up for a chat. For such a small place there is so much to get involved in, which makes it really easy getting to know people. Public events such as Foundation Day, ANZAC Day, Bounty Day and Thanksgiving, along with weekly radio spots, newspaper articles and regular events, are a great way to proclaim the good news of Jesus to people who normally might never step foot in a church.
Our first three months on Norfolk Island have been filled with a lot of firsts for our family. We experienced drought on the Island, a lack of fresh food supplies, torrential rains, a cyclone and then the whole family contracted COVID before Easter. It has been exceptionally busy and tumultuous, and there were times when we questioned our own efforts and began to wonder if this was the right decision. Tears were shed as we tried our best to adjust to a new way of life in such a remote location. But time and again we were reminded of God’s loving care for us, as He provided for our every need. We were reminded that we are not here to do works for ourselves, rather to live in faithful obedience to Him, doing the good works he has prepared for us. And we have certainly felt the love and generosity of His people as Islanders selflessly continue to care for us and the people back home and around the world diligently pray for us.
While we had some struggles through our first three months, there has also been so much to celebrate. Within the church there is a deep trust in God, knowing that He is able to bring many people on the Island into His kingdom. There is a deep desire to build each other up in their faith and there is a love of sharing the good news of Jesus with those who are lost. So, we walk alongside them, as we do life together, encouraging the faithful in their walk with Christ. For the lost, we look to build meaningful relationships through which we can witness our love of Christ and share the good news of salvation through Jesus.
During our first few months it has been a blessing and encouragement to have welcomed visitors to the Island. These have included the BCA Christian Fellowship tour, visitors from one of our partner churches – Sylvania Anglican, and National Director Greg Harris and his wife Karen. We were reminded of the dedicated prayerful support from the BCA network and our partner churches. Also, almost every week we have visitors to our services who mention they are praying for us through their connection with BCA.
We are so thankful to God for answering all our prayers since we made the decision to come to Norfolk Island, and He continues to answer them daily. God has provided all of us with good friends on the Island. We would love supporters to pray that we would trust in His plan for Norfolk Island; that He would give us wisdom in how to best witness and minister; that He would strengthen His people on the Island and open the hearts of those who do not yet know Jesus.