There’s so much about Newtown that’s familiar to me. The smell of Thai food as you walk down King St, the abundance of good coffee and over friendly baristas, the diversity of the people you see around, the fast pace of feet shuffling along the sidewalks eager to be where they want to be. It’s all familiar, but this week is providing the Newtown Mission team with the opportunity to see the suburb we dwell in through different eyes… Through God’s eyes.
And I suppose it’s what every mission team is doing, but today as I walked along the streets my feet know so well, I found myself pausing and considering what was around me afresh, and seeing opportunities where previously I’d seen just another sign, just another person, or just another obstacle in between myself and where I wanted to be.
Newtown needs Jesus. Newtown needs Jesus so much. It sits in this strange tension between the old and the new – signs carved into walls of businesses closed long ago, and shiny buildings alongside them that reek of multitudes of money. Camperdown Cemetery is this strange assortment of graves with words written by grieving family members who have since died themselves but a wall is all that separates it from the park that half of the dogs that reside in Newtown descend upon each evening. It’s so alive, this place we live in. But it’s so dead. It needs Jesus.
Today we met a lot of people. We met a comedian who is trying to make ends meet, and has a tattoo from his early twenties that reads ‘of the earth’ and was borne from his love of pagan literature back then, but now he’s not so sure what he thinks. We met an old Italian man who sells tennis balls for a dollar to make ends meet. We met bookshop owners who want to know more about the story of this Jesus we spoke of. We met some who wanted nothing to do with us.
There isn’t much structure for us, but in the act of simply looking up and engaging with what’s around us, we’re all seeing more and more what it is that God sees in this suburb we’re so over familiar with. We’re seeing His power at work as we fumble through conversations, and we’re seeing places where His compassion is needed.
For all that is familiar to us as a team – these pathways and this place – we’re seeing that God is working here, and honestly? It’s humbling to think that if we just look up and look around, we can be part of what He’s doing. Please pray for us as we continue seeking for opportunities to introduce people to Jesus, that we wouldn’t shy away from any chance to speak His gospel, and that we would be bold in our search for ways to share.