‘All the way to WA’ was a trip that took our family for, what we heard others on the trip call, ‘the lap of Australia’, focusing, however, in WA. We started through central QLD, the Red Centre, the Top End, and into WA, returning via the Nullarbor, the Great Ocean Road, North Western Victoria, Central NSW and back into the Northern Rivers.
It was a three-month journey across our country to WA and back. Many long days of driving, early starts to pack bags and swags, and many new people met. Here are three reflections:
- Australia is vast. It is BiG, really BiG! Many days over our trip, we would travel 700km between stops and not really see a great deal in between. This did present opportunities for reading on long straights and allowed me to finish two Australian classics: We of the Never Never and The Harp in the South, written by Jeannie Gunn and Ruth Park. Jeannie’s work was particularly pertinent as we travelled through the top end and moved through many areas she sought to capture. However, as we moved through that Northern part of Australia, we felt like we met a side of Australia that we didn’t really know existed or had ever read about in these remote outback towns. To be honest, we weren’t too sure how to understand the needs that were present or appreciate some of the societal factors at play, particularly for our Indigenous sisters and brothers. We were, however, especially encouraged by a number of Christian leaders we stayed with who have a vital work in some of these communities, which takes me to my next reflection…
- Gospel ministry looks the same. We had the rare privilege to stay with many gospel partners, particularly in WA, which would often coincide with their Sunday gatherings. Some of these gatherings may have had fifteen to twenty people, others fifty or sixty and others over two hundred. Though their contexts were often very different, the same gospel message came shining through. It was exciting to know the same gospel we proclaim at Southern Cross is the same one being proclaimed across the country. I realise a trip around the country is to see many of the fascinating and rare landscapes, and yet seeing this gospel partnership was the highlight for me.
- Staying calm is harder than it seems. It can get a little tense living out of a car for three months! We were eager to be inordinately patient and calm, but sadly and somewhat predictably, we struggled in this space. I even read a new book, A Non-Anxious Presence: How a changing and complex world will create a remnant of renewed Christian leaders, which I very much enjoyed but somehow, I was the most anxious presence as I harried and chided our family towards a camel ride in Uluru!! We pray that for our children’s sake, we have mentored them in: how to fight well. What I mean by that is; how to engage in the inevitable conflict that will emerge in such confined quarters. We pray that we tried to display how to remain patient, consider others’ needs and just step back and take some deep breaths. Prayer, of course, still needed and appreciated.
We certainly felt removed and remote for much of our trip, and my mind was driven by survival mode! Therefore, coming into the planning season of Southern Cross with Vision Sunday not far away, please pray for my renewed and refreshed mind, that I can now turn my thoughts with our team of brilliant elders in the Leadership Team, to plan well for the adventure that will be 2023.
As I continued in my Bible in a year journey for 2022, here is a section of the Bible that inspired me and my interactions with new campers and people we met. How cool were Paul and his companions, ‘daring’ to share the gospel? Love it!
You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-4