Staggered days off over Wednesday and Thursday saw half-strength teams continue full-strength mission aided by double-strength coffee!
More letterbox drops in the morning, followed by a chance to hear from Geoff, one1seven’s chaplain to the Redfern housing commission community. Geoff’s wide-ranging life experience includes working on a dairy farm, managing a Christian conference centre and setting up a software company; he reckons he is the only Anglican minister in Sydney without a degree to his name, but he has a deep passion for the marginalised and vulnerable and has worked hard to earn the respect and trust of many who might once have felt unwelcome and out of place in a church building. Geoff has a warm and earthy sense of humour, citing industrial deafness as one of his greatest gifts in ministry, because it limits the amount of disturbing detail he can hear from people’s stories. We’re looking forward to serving with Geoff at the ‘one4food’ ministry tomorrow night!
Mid-afternoon it was back to our pitches at Coles (Zetland and Surry Hills) to continue the Anglicare Winter Appeal. More wonderful displays of generosity from local shoppers and several conversations that we trust the Lord may take further. At least two people expressed an interest in coming to church. A lovely Jewish lady delivered a whole small trolley’s worth of goods to the table, commended us for our hard work, and apologised that she wouldn’t take a flyer because she didn’t believe in Jesus. Pray that her eyes will be opened to know that her Messiah has come!
Also, we made some sculptures.
Along the way, we encountered some interesting knock-back lines that included “I don’t do charity!” and “sorry, we’re foreigners”. Team Surry Hills got straight on to that one and duly produced a bilingual sign for the benefit of local Chinese speakers!
Andrew and Jess host a Wednesday evening Bible study group aimed at internationals who are new or settling in Sydney: tonight was ‘bring a friend/bring some food’ night, and Topher and I had the privilege of joining the gathering. We feasted sumptuously on dishes from Chile, Mongolia, Thailand, USA and more, and rounded off the evening with the classic Australian/New Zealand [*delete according to affiliation] treat of a pavlova. Andrew reflected with the group on how, in God’s providence, each of us had a different story that brought us to the same table that night. A number of those attending were presently not believers; I chatted with a young Chinese lady who was intrigued to hear of my theological studies. “To be a Christian, do you need to know a lot about the Bible?” she asked. I assured her that while the Bible helps us know God better, all that is truly needed to be a Christian is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who rose from the dead. This seemed a new concept to her. She is feeling the stress of her high-pressure degree and unsure where her long-term future lies: pray that she would be drawn to the only One who can give true peace and hope.