Janine van den Tillaart
Have you ever thought about touring around Australia and meeting BCA Field Staff? Many of our BCA Nomads do just that on their travels but if you are looking for a guided holiday, then a Christian Fellowship Tour (CFT) is for you.
CFT have been running BCA tours since 1976 following a deputation at CFT Director John Cronshaw’s church. After hearing about the work of BCA, John came up with the idea of taking BCA supporters on tour so they could meet the Field Staff that they encouraged through donation and prayer.
“After praying on the concept and offering to help organise the first coach tour in 1976, a unique form of outback ministry support was born – the BCA Outback Tour,” says John. “That first BCA tour, travelling through Western NSW and the Flinders Ranges, met with such a positive response that two trips had to be operated to cope with demand.”
Forty-six years later, BCA supporters as well as other CFT passengers continue to book annual outback tours for the unique opportunities they offer to travel our beautiful country and meet with local Christians in remote and rural Australia.
In 2022, tours will be running to North West Australia in August, Tasmania in October and Norfolk Island in November.
Long-time BCA supporter and volunteer Joan Lester (pictured above) has been going on CFT tours since 2007. “My husband died in 2006 and about six months on I decided I needed to travel and the way to do it was on a BCA tour,” says Joan. “I thought if I can’t travel with Christians who can I travel with? That was a turning point for me.”
Joan’s first trip was a three-week adventure which took her through Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales.
“What really struck me doing CFT/BCA tours is that the Field Staff get so involved in the town,” says Joan. “We visited Winton in Queensland where Dennis & Lois Quinn were at the time, and I got talking to Lois who was working in the museum shop.”
That first trip Joan also met BCA Field Staff in Alice Springs, Coober Pedy, Roxby Downs, Broken Hill and Lightning Ridge. It was in Broken Hill that she met Neville & Kathie Naden who were in their first year serving with BCA.
“Wherever you go on a CFT/BCA tour you have an evening meal with Field Staff,” says Joan. “It is great to get to know the Field Staff and see the conditions that they work in, and the isolation of bush ministry. The seven tours I’ve been on have really informed my prayers.”
It was CFT Director John Cronshaw who led Joan’s first tour and she has not looked back. “There were 18 of us on my first tour and John told us we could sit wherever we wanted on the bus,” says Joan. “At the time I was still grieving so I went up the back and made a nest for myself. Everybody was so caring and made sure I was alright. I made several long-term friends from that tour.”
Over the past 15 years Joan has also gone on tours to the Cook Islands, China, Mongolia and Russia as well as a tour to Oberammergau and in the Steps of St Paul. “But mostly I’ve done BCA tours,” she says. “The best part of a BCA tour is meeting the Field Staff and members of the congregations who keep those churches going when the locations are vacant. It is just so amazing.”
Another bonus of going on a CFT tour according to Joan is the time of prayer and worship. “When you get on the bus in the morning, the first thing they have is a devotion time and when it’s a BCA tour they pray for the person of the day in the Prayer Notes. You also say grace at lunch and dinner, and you always go to church on Sunday. I cannot recommend a CFT/BCA tour more highly.”
If you would like to know more about CFT tours visit their website: christianfellowshiptours.com or call 1300 635 358.