Tim Blagg, Youth Pastor Trinity Church Adelaide
One of Trinity Church's convictions is that we are involved in God's mission to all nations; Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). And for us, one of our practical ways of expressing this is through partnerships with mission organisations, including Bush Church Aid. As the Youth Pastor at Trinity Church Adelaide, I've been eager to see our youth engaged in this partnership and exposed to life in a different part of God's world.
Together with a fellow pastor from Trinity Church Modbury and two lay leaders, we took 11 youth from our church network to Roxby Downs to partner with Glen & Beth McDonald in the September school holidays.
Our partnership with the Roxby Downs Christian Community Church was all about supporting them in their mission to their local community, and by God's grace we saw families connect, who previously had little or no link to the church. On the Monday, we helped run It's Music Time for pre-schoolers (and their families) – a regular outreach program run by the church. From Tuesday to Thursday, our team ran Epic Explorers – the Christianity Explored kids’ program, and on Friday night we ran a youth program for those from the church and community. We also did a bunch of stuff in their church services over a couple of Sundays, connected with the local community, heard from church members about life in the bush and shared meals in the homes of church members.
One church family gave up their home so that our girls had a house to stay in. Many families pitched in to provide us with amazing meals throughout the week. Some families also financially contributed towards the mission trip. Many of our youth reflected how much the locals welcomed them and how people seemed really happy that they were in the church. Zac, a local youth member, shared how thankful he was to spend time hanging out with a group of Christians his own age – many of his mates in Roxby aren't Christians, and it's easy to feel isolated. Since our visit, Zac's family has come to Adelaide, and he came along to our youth groups to hang out again!
Other locals who aren't involved in the church were pretty blown away that a group of teenagers would give up a week of their school holidays to run a program for their kids! We started with about 18 kids in the program and finished with 25 by the end of the week. One family who had only been in Australia for three weeks came along and even though their child hadn't learned much English yet, was fully embraced by everyone.
One of the kids shared that his parents didn’t like church but was planning to ask them to bring him along that week. Kids in the Epic Explorers program asked questions like, "So Jesus really died for me?" and "You mean Jesus was a real guy?" – there were kids who had never heard about Jesus before who came and met Him for the first time.
God was at work as we connected with the local church community and saw how even separated by 600 kms, God is building His church together.
Our memory verse for the week in Epic Explorers was Mark 10:45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many". And it was a true privilege to watch as teenagers lived out this servant-heartedness for themselves, following in our Saviour's footsteps. Youth who hadn't led a small group discussion at church were given opportunities to lead kids from 4–11 years old through conversations about who Jesus is and what He has done for them through dying on the cross. It was incredible! So many youth stepped out of their comfort zones to love and care for kids who they had never met before.
God willing, we will return to Roxby Downs this Easter for another mission week but this time a bit more deliberately Easter themed!