Many torches shine bright at edge of the world

When we join together and work as one, we can achieve positive outcomes for vulnerable people in our communities.

This is the truth for an outreach group who have been making a difference to the lives of a struggling community west of Brisbane.

In October 2017 Mission Action Partner Justine Cadena made her first visit to the community of about 40 families. For Justine, it was a confronting sight entering into the community for the first time and seeing the living conditions that she thought didn’t exist in our prosperous nation.

“Dogs bark behind every fence in protection of possessions strewn around the old caravans and their tatty annexes. The boundary between trash and treasure is completely blurred and hap-hazard disposal of broken furniture, electrical goods and cars provides a playground for the many children that roam the park,” Justine said.

Men and women of God respond to His call

Today, an outreach group visit the community each Monday for afternoon tea, ready when the children get off the bus from school. The outreach group is led by Pastor Greg Muller from our Fernvale Community Church, with a group men and women of God who responded to His call to love these people.

“Pastor Greg formed an outreach team who were committed to providing a weekly afternoon tea and an opportunity to form relationships and share the grace-giving love and hope of Jesus,” she said.

Residents live with poor sanitary conditions and there are plethora of social issues condensed in one small place. But Justine has seen some light for the residents as the outreach team continues to attend each week, and it is this consistency of attending each week that has won over the community.

“‘You keep turning up’ they said. And what started with sausages and bread evolved into large scale afternoon teas ready for when the children get off the school bus every Monday.”

During these afternoon teas, many life stories of how they ended up in the park have been shared.

“Most stories involve a series of poor decisions, addictions, and problematic mental health.

“But I have been so encouraged by the willingness of our local churches and other not-for-profits to give time, energy and resources so generously to this community.”

Support from Churches of Christ in Queensland network

Support from the wider network of Churches of Christ in Queensland was sought to help the residents, and God’s hand was clearly felt, with a number of parties coming together to provide a helping hand, including:

  • Children, Youth and Families donated a no longer needed trailer with a built-in barbeque plate to the Church and Community Engagement team who were able to donate it to the Atkinson Dam outreach effort.
  • Whitehill Church of Christ put together 40 large Christmas hampers that were delivered to the 40 families in the park.
  • Easter this year was a highlight with the outreach team holding a very well-attended Easter service in the park. The Christian message was shared as well as testimonies and food, and the Lowood Church of Christ gave the Fernvale church money to purchase chocolates for Easter hampers.
  • With cold weather at its peak, a number of new residents made it out to the park. Many came without possessions. A call-out for blankets was placed and Whitehill Church of Christ and Boonah Church of Christ responded generously with doonas, blankets, sleeping bags, warm clothing and money for the purchase of food for the outreach.
  • The outreach team began a collaborative effort with Angels of Somerset, who provide food for the weekly afternoon teas and food hampers for those in dire need.
  • The charity Share the Dignity provided the outreach team with close to 30 handbags full of sanitary items for female park residents.

For this important and impactful outreach to continue however, more support is needed.

“Not all people, and not every church is called to work on the front-line, but there are many other forms of support that is required. Prayer is the first. We need prayer for soft hearts ready to receive the gospel message. We need prayer for the health and protection of the outreach team. We need prayer for provision of resources that will allow this outreach to continue and relationships to delve deeper.

Then we need resources: material and financial. Petrol for the outreach team, resources to make the afternoon tea process more efficient. We need people available to be part of a working bee to renovate the communal area,” Justine said.

If you are interested in any aspect of this endeavour, please contact Justine Cadena on 0423 479 649 or Justine.cadena@cofcqld.com.au.  

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Posted September 21, 2018 in Networking blog