inform - inspire - unite
Story Telling by Gordon Hogan, Camp Gidawarra, QLD, Recent Bushfires Bairnsdale, VIC, Cancellation of Camp Challenge.
Toowoomba Lectureship, QLD
Story Telling by Gordon Hogan
In June 2019, I was privileged to be invited to a ‘Godly Guys Getaway’ in the Dandenong Hills, Victoria. A group of Christian men gathered to ponder the difficulties of raising our young people in the church in today’s often toxic society. We spent two nights and three days sharing stories, sharing sadness, sharing joys. Participants varied from young bachelors through to one venerable grandfather.
Some men wept openly as they shared their stories. I came away from the event thoroughly convinced: we need more events like this!
In August, Gordon Hogan came to Australia. This great man – a former missionary in Asia – has so many inspiring and encouraging stories to share of his experiences in Singapore, Pakistan, USA, New Zealand, and Australia. A true soldier for Christ, Gordon is now 91 years old.
Using a similar story-telling method I learnt in Victoria, Ray Walker and I decided we should share Gordon’s experiences with others. So we ferried him around at gatherings – called ‘Let’s Share Stories’ – which feature Gordon telling stories of his experiences following Jesus, and some others sharing their stories too.
Over several weeks, we held meetings in more than 16 different locations in southeast Queensland and northern NSW. The emphasis was always on sharing stories. Several one-on-one meetings were also held. What an inspiring and rewarding series this turned out to be! It was a time for each of us to reflect on the efforts of others and also to contemplate upon our own current efforts.
We need more of these kinds of story-telling sessions. Some of us are now contemplating organising more such events where Christians can open up to others and help encourage one another to follow Christ. How important it is to follow! (1 Peter 2:21 & 1Corinthians 11:1)
Martyn Wolstenholme, QLD.
Camp Gidawarra, QLD
It’s that time of the year, just after celebrating the New Year—it’s Camp Gidawarra time! My family (my wife Caroline, daughter Caitlynn, and son Christian and I) love camps. We attended two camps while living in Melbourne. We’ve also attended Camp Challenge in NSW a few times. Since we moved to live in sunny Brisbane, over the last three years we’ve attended Camp Gidawarra.
Like all camps it’s a time to spend with Christian family, share and listen to life stories, as well as be fed with God’s Word at regular sessions. Spending days with Christian families from across Australia and some international visitors gives us a glimpse of what it’s going to be like in heaven. Another highlight is the picturesque location of the camp: rolling hills, clouds like mist on the hills, birds singing, green grass, trees and waterfalls.
Besides the company and the scenic location of Camp Gidawarra, hearing God’s Word and the praise and worship gives you a feel that you’re in heaven. It takes your faith to a higher level when you are praising and worshipping and looking at your Christian family: those who have grown up in the church, some kids living out their faith, and the babies and toddlers of Christian parents. What more can one ask for?
This year we studied the book of Luke in light of how Jesus put people above situations, cultures, and traditions—from healing on a Sabbath, to being in the company of people who were shunned and scorned by the so-called righteous of the day.
Our camp speaker, Ross Cochran from Harding University, gave a great illustration of a double bass instrument. One side has to be pulled tight to the keys while the other side is pulled towards the bridge. This tension between the two sides gives the string the pitch that makes music. When the double bass is played correctly, it sounds great. Likewise, we Christians must keep ourselves close and connected to our Christian families on one side while we stretch ourselves to the world reaching out and touching them with God’s saving grace and message on the other side.
I conclude by encouraging Christian families to continue to attend camps where they currently attend. I also offer a warm welcome to Camp Gidawarra. To God be the glory, great things he has done!
Clifford Snell, QLD. email@example.com
Recent Bushfires, VIC
Many are aware of the bushfires affecting various regions of Australia and which are having a major impact on people and the environment. Lives and property have been lost.
One fire-affected area is East Gippsland at the eastern tip of the state of Victoria. Within East Gippsland is the Bairnsdale Church of Christ. Located approximately three hours east of Melbourne, the Bairnsdale church is made up of 14 members plus children who live in Bairnsdale or nearby towns. Bairnsdale, with a population of about 15,000 was mostly spared from the direct impact of the fires. But a lot of other people have suffered, losing their homes and businesses, including two church members, Greta Perry and Tessie Cochrane. Greta & Kevin lost their home, while Tessie and Ian lost their home as well as their business of growing and selling native wildflowers.
It has been a tough time for the Perrys and the Cochranes, as well as other Bairnsdale church members who had to evacuate from their homes – some were not expecting to see the homes again. Thankfully, at the time of writing, all other church members’ homes have been spared (the fire front coming to approximately one kilometre with respect to one home). We’re all thankful to God for our safety.
The fires and the ongoing recovery are expected to continue for some time. This can be stressful and we’re grateful for the prayers and support from fellow Christians around Australia. Many individuals and congregations have been generous with sending financial support. But it’s the faithful prayers of many that can accomplish much – so please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
Rod & Barbara Poynton, Bairnsdale, VIC. firstname.lastname@example.org
Camp Challenge, NSW
For the first time in 51 years, the annual Camp Challenge in NSW was cancelled due to the catastrophic fires in Tahmoor and Bargo. The fires – which erupted six days prior to the commencement of the camp – encircled the campsite on three fronts. It destroyed much of the beautiful bushland, but the buildings were spared.
With water and electricity lines cut down, roads blocked, and the country town needing urgent evacuation, the camp – which normally provides inspiration to many Christians and their families – had to be cancelled. The director of Camp Challenge, Peter Tickner, reported that many campers were travelling from interstate and the cancellation was extremely disappointing to all affected.
However, due to the widespread nature of the fires in NSW, finding another campsite at short notice was impossible. On the other hand, although the fires have caused so much suffering and loss for many Australians, many Christians and congregations have been able to express their compassion through donating funds and offering practical help. For that we should give thanks.
Jenny Ancell, NSW. email@example.com