Our Creator and Father, you have made and fashioned us and so we ask that you keep working in us, giving us understanding to walk in the way of your commandments. Please do this for us at JCU and beyond. May our hope be so evidently in your word that others around us see and rejoice. We know you are truly good and that we fall far short, so please correct us. We are so glad that you relate to us with faithful love and mercy, and that we can truly stand before you with blameless hearts. Thank you that in Christ we have the Word incarnate, the centre of our thoughts; in whom we hope; and through whom we shall never be put to shame.
Amen (Ps 119: Yodh)
This is what I’m praying for our group here in Cairns, please join me as you read it. If this is as far as you get in this update then it will be of great value. Feel free to dip in whenever to this blog site to pray along with me for JCU Cairns and beyond, even for yourselves.
We’re currently at the end of week 5, but at the end of week 3 we held a weekend camp. It was at a half way point between Townsville and Cairns (Kennedy). This was an opportunity for students to come and be taught from God’s word, have fun together and get to know each other before uni becomes too hectic. It’s an important weekend for helping students see that they are not alone as they stand for Jesus at uni, and in fact, there are plenty of ways we can be doing that together throughout the year. Wendy, Bryn and Erin came along too and had lots of fun (though Bryn was pretty sick with conjunctivitis). Three Cairns people came down, which is always such an encouragement for them – I wish more could have come along. Phil Morrow (an old JCU grad, now studying at Moore Theological College) preached through the book of Jonah and spurred us on to keep speaking of the hope of Christ to a world that is facing his judgement.
The start of semester for me in Cairns feels pretty slow. I’ve been running some Bible studies twice a week, which is the same as what had been happening in the past. However, it looks like I will need to make one at a different time slot as hardly anyone can make it along to it. It feels like I have less and less connections with students as the weeks go on and the assignments increase. Upon reflection, I think that am due for a change of tack – a lot more effort on my behalf in setting up catch ups. I’d love for most of these to form into regular 1-1’s where I can invest some time in “gospel mentoring” and reading the Bible together. Pray for creativity and perseverance. I’m also planning to set up some regular prayer times and some social get-togethers. The challenge in all these times is how to, not just meet together, but be shaped by God’s word and spurred on to reach out to others with the gospel.
At home and abroad
We feel like we are settling in well at Cairns. We’re so thankful to God for our house we have to rent. There is plenty of space with a nice back yard, a spot for a veggie patch (which I’ve appreciated) and space downstairs (which Wendy will soon commandeer for sewing). It’s right next to the shops and close to uni. We’re still looking for a Kindy for Brynley, and he is very excited about it … hopefully it stays that way when he starts going as Wendy is equally excited (mostly about the break in the clouds of parenthood). We’re both finding parenting difficult at the moment as we figure out how to navigate raising people who are still figuring our how to deal with emotions and forming rational thinking. I.e. lots of tantrums and “I want.” On the upside, it has made me think about how much of my own life is essentially “I want.” Pray that I learn patience and contentment. There are many moments of joy though, and we need to keep these in our focus. Above all, we are aiming to be a family who forgives because we know we will fail and that God has forgiven us.
Although not really “abroad,” I was able to get down to Brisbane for my graduation from Queensland Theological College. It was such an encouraging evening. Mark Dever preached, reminding us how God’s kingdom is like a seed that grows up through God’s own power. We celebrated as many students completed different courses that will help us serve Christ well. I caught up with old friends and shared our joys and struggles together. I was able to stretch out my joy a bit by hanging around for the “Resilient Church” conference at QTC where Mark Dever encouraged us again. I will certainly miss QTC and have really treasured my time there.
We’ve enjoyed connecting with different churches to talk about AFES. It has been really encouraging to see the gospel unity that exists despite some differences of opinion. This is something I’d love to see continue to strengthen as we labour side by side for the sake of the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Cairns Presbyterian is our new home church and it has been good to sit under God’s word and the service of his people there. We’re making friends and thinking about how we can be serving others also. I’m very thankful for the elders and ministers there who have been very supportive of the uni ministry. I’m praying that God will continue to build up his people through their service.
I’ve really enjoyed connecting with you all and hearing how I can be praying for you also. It has been a real comfort to know that we are serving Christ together and can share our struggles and efforts together. Financially, I’m almost at 60% of my target in regular monthly giving. This means that I can be on campus three days a week, so thank you to all who have been able to support this way. In the coming months it would be great to increase to 4 days if possible. Please keep praying along with me for JCU and beyond. I post a short prayer most days (aiming for every day) which you can echo for us and yourself. It has been encouraging to have people prod me along in this task when I slacken off a little. Let’s keep calling on the name of the Lord together, to fulfil what he has promised in Christ, for his glory and our benefit.