Mixed emotions prevailed in a day largely centred on housing commission ministry, but somehow we always ended up back at the grace of God.
A morning doorknock of the large block of flats immediately opposite the Redfern church yielded only a handful of face-to-face conversations, yet one these culminated in the resident being taken through ‘Two Ways to Live’, and several more accepted offers of prayer and follow-up. Geoff, Matt and the team are patiently chipping away at this challenging and confronting mission field, where too many are debilitated and scarred by addiction, mental illness, and abuse.
One of the wonderful testimonies to God’s work in this community is the regular band of volunteers from the flats who now gather at the church on a Friday afternoon to serve a meal and hand out groceries (courtesy of OzHarvest) to their neighbours. Some of the volunteers already profess Christ as Lord; the rest are committed to attending a Bible study before the food distribution. Between 50 and 70 residents will turn up on any given Friday to fill their shopping bags and enjoy a cooked dinner. Today, they heard a short talk from Topher on the power and compassion of Jesus to bring healing both in this life and for eternity.
We trod carefully at dinner, having been advised that the housing commission folk are easily intimidated by those they see as ‘professionals’ (subtext: ‘look like they have it all together’) – yet as Matt reminded us all in his words of welcome, regardless of background, education or life circumstances, each of us is on level ground when it comes to our standing before God.
I spoke to B who lives with a drug-dependent, abusive partner. She knows she needs to leave, but is afraid of the consequences. Matt routinely offers to connect her with a women’s refuge where she can find safety. “Not tonight,” is her nervous response. It was hard to see her walk away. Please pray that God will rescue B from this hopeless and devastating cycle; and pray for courage and strength for those who steadfastly minister in the midst of such brokenness, seeking to shine Christ’s light into the darkness of human depravity.
Yet the day also brought moments of great rejoicing. A man from the housing commission who has been studying Christianity Explored with Matt this afternoon prayed to receive Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. The young Chinese lady I met at Wednesday’s international dinner contacted Andrew saying she would like to find out more about Christianity. And our team expanded from within as Keith and Kate Hill welcomed baby Zoe into the world!
Truly a day to reflect on the depths of sin, and the depths of grace.