Kicking off the day in the scriptures, we reminded each other what is the plan of God in Christ: that Jesus is building His church among the nations, having broken down the ‘dividing wall of hostility’ (Eph. 2:14). The gospel is for all people from all nations!
After this, we split into our various groups, some hitting the streets continuing the vox-pop series, some to mow a parishioner’s lawn, and a few to the senior’s home group.
The senior’s home group meet in a beautiful part of Forster, about 15 minutes from the town’s centre, feeling a little less coastal and a little more pastoral. We were warmly welcomed and as we were introduced to each member – one from Germany, another from the Philippines, and another a Jewish Christian – we were reminded of God’s plan: building His church from among the nations!
Tim first shared with us his testimony, which reached back a couple of generations to the life, trials and prayers of his grandmother from Korea. Seb then led the group through Luke 18:9-14. After having read the passage through together six times, with various national accents and approached with a different question each time, we were all reminded that we never graduate from the mercy of God but are forever dependent on it and reinvigorated by it.
The day continued with lunch at the lead pastor’s place, then followed by a session with Chris and his wife, Sharon, sharing with us the joys and struggles of church planting. They shared with us the joys of seeing God’s transforming power at work in the lives of so many through the Coast Church plant, as well as their experiences of generosity from partnering Christians near and far, not excluding a Christian backpacker who ‘scabbed’ (Chris’s words) food and accommodation while staying in Forster, only to return home, strike it rich, and then become one of the most generous supporters!
Notwithstanding the great joys, church planting brings its own struggles: the tireless work, the need to be on the lookout for ‘wolves’ attracted to new things and who might threaten the church’s health, and the drain of young leaders from Forster, who often leave the town for university or other work commitments. But, Chris sees gospel work as just so important (and exciting!), that even at the end of the hardest day, his head will hit the pillow and he’ll think: ‘living the dream!’