By Lee Caspersonn – BCA Co-Workers in Hay, NSW
In 2007 Peter and I packed up our motorhome and set off on our first trip to outback Queensland.
We had just retired from teaching and had registered as VISE tutors (Volunteers for Isolated Students’ Education) so we were travelling to our first placement – a property between Charleville and Cunamulla, where the children were being schooled through the Charleville School of Distance Education. After our six weeks on the remote property, tutoring five energetic and delightful children, we continued touring through Queensland.
One Sunday morning we found ourselves in Winton and attended the local Anglican and Uniting church where we met Dennis and Lois Quinn, serving with BCA. We were very warmly welcomed by the Quinns and the small congregation of faithful, elderly women.
We hadn’t previously heard much about BCA, but Dennis and Lois soon filled us in and told us of the great work done by the BCA Nomads – ordinary Christian people who combine Christian service with travelling around Australia.
When we returned to Sydney after four months away, we enquired some more and eventually went through the procedure to become Nomads. With a little organising, we were able to combine our VISE work with helping out as BCA Nomads.
Peter used his computer skills to make some videos which Field Staff used with their deputations and I helped with preparation of Religious Education material, cleaning and cooking. We really enjoyed our time combining voluntary work on the farming properties with BCA Nomading as we travelled around the eastern half of Australia.
After four years of travelling for four months, and living in Sydney for eight months, God spoke separately to each of us about the possibility of moving to a remote area and supporting an ordained minister in his parish.
We had been worshipping in a large parish in suburban Sydney where there were many workers for all areas of ministry and we could see the great need in many of the little country churches where there were few parishioners, no children’s or youth ministry – very often there were no children or young people – no regular Bible studies and no ladies’ or men’s work.
After talking together and praying about this exciting but scary idea that God had given us, we spoke to Ron and Crystal Spindler, past BCA Field Staff at Broken Hill, and they suggested we speak to Bishop Doug Stevens, the then Bishop of the Riverina.
As a result of much prayer and discussions with the parties involved, the decision was made for us to move to Hay and support the Lay leaders and people in the church in their ministry.
Shortly after arriving in Hay, we began Scripture classes (RE) at Hay Public School where there had been no Scripture classes for many years. The school community welcomed us warmly and we continue with weekly lessons for all children in Years 3 to 6. A lovely Catholic lady has lessons with the Kinder to Year 2 children.
An after-school programme on Tuesday afternoons was commenced about a year ago for children in Years 3 to 6. We have an average attendance of 15 exuberant children, mostly from unchurched families. This is hard work and we know that unless some more leaders come forward, this programme may not be able to continue next year.
We have just scratched the surface of ministry to children in Hay. There is a great need for more workers – Christian people of all ages to minister alongside the children, youth, young families, seniors and the list goes on.
In the September school holidays an enthusiastic team from Engadine Anglican church travelled to Hay to conduct a week of activities – Kids Club, Coffee and Chat time during Kids Club, Youth Café, Ladies’ afternoon tea and a community BBQ. There was an amazing response from the people of Hay to all these activities, praise the Lord!
But, the big ‘but’ - how do we follow up with just the two of us and one or two helpers from the Baptist church?
If you are thinking of a ‘tree change’, or wondering how you will spend your retirement, please consider service in a small church in a rural or remote area of this great land of ours. With God’s help and the prayer support of the BCA prayers, you can be part of His work planting, watering and/or harvesting.
It hasn’t been easy for us, perhaps we moved to Hay with unrealistic expectations, and we have had much to learn. As many in ministry can tell you, it can be lonely with many frustrations, hurts and disappointments. We regularly need to ask God for grace, humility and patience – and we certainly aren’t ‘there’ yet, but we know that this is where the Lord has placed us and we have His peace.