Summer Ministry in Australia

Recently, I began to read over my journal from this summer, and I started missing my Aussie friends from this past summer. It was quite a summer -- six and a half weeks in and around Sydney, Australia with three complete strangers, moving around almost weekly.

Originally, Youth in Mission had assigned Mark Elmore and me to a different team (Creative Access – Alpha). Then a health epidemic in the country where we were supposed to be going hit the headlines. When I was told that the country I had raised money for, read books about, and prayed over was no longer going to be my place of ministry, I was heavily disappointed.

Youth In Mission asked me to be a part of the Sydney, Australian team, but I had other options and I decided to save Youth In Mission for next summer. However, after praying and talking with friends, I began to feel a peace about going to Australia. I honestly did not want to go, but I finally made the difficult decision and said "yes." Then, before I hardly knew what hit me, I was in a country I knew little about and with a people who were different than me (or so I thought).

Trying to settle into our Australian home, our team ended up spending our first night in a pub playing trivia. We soon learned that our team was not going to be involved in “typical” ministry. We went to coffee houses, bowling alleys, walked to train stations (and missed our train a couple of times), played trivia, went to the movies, and basically just hung out in Australia like you would in America.

At first, this was frustrating and difficult for our team. We were in Australia to save souls, not to watch movies!. We wanted to see evangelistic results and there was nothing to be seen.

We went to our next churches and were in charge of Kids Club (equivalent to our VBS). This ministry was also very friendship oriented and focused on building relationships with the children/youth through bike riding, swimming, finger blaster wars and sleepovers. Slowly, we began to see our purpose.

By the end of the summer, three girls accepted Christ. I became extremely close to two teens. We had conversations about God and about life. That’s what ministry is about. Sometimes it can be frustrating when results aren’t quick, but we must be a people of endurance.

God was with us through our journey in Australia, from drinking hot tea to telling children about Gideon. He walked with us in our frustrations and walked with us in our excitements. He never left. This summer -- or winter as it was in Australia -- was about being Christ to others, and we learn from Christ to be there for people during every moment.

This summer I made relationships with people that I will never forget. We cried together, laughed together, gave each other wedgies, and shared in the community of Christ. That’s what life is about.

So, stop yearning for a big paycheck, the nicest car, the most beautiful home, the cutest outfit and the unending list of things. Every time we gain one worldly wealth we lose part of ourselves and then we yearn for more to fill the void.

Give your life in total surrender to Christ, yearn after Him, and you will find yourself more whole than you ever thought possible. It’s a hard journey to walk that I find myself still stumbling on, but thankfully, God is with us through it all!