Hello there, and welcome to our blog! We are the Sonchasers – chasing the Son…get it!? Very cheesy, I know, but it’s true. We are, in any case, going on an adventure in just a few weeks and this is the place to read all about it!
Week Five - Happy 2020!
Happy 2020 friends!
This week began with the end of our time in beautiful (but very windy) Taupo. A big part of it we spent exploring the area and enjoying the place – looking at the Huka falls, swimming in the lake, wandering around the town, watching sunsets, eating ice cream, hanging out in the thermal hot pools under the stars (two nights in a row) and paying a visit to the truly incredible redwood forest outside Rotorua on our way back to Tauranga. We had lots of great quality time in our team, but we also did some ministry, even though there was nothing really planned for us. Besides talking to people in our hostel, we went out onto the streets of Taupo one afternoon with trash bags and plastic gloves at the ready to pick up trash. It was an amazing opportunity for us to serve practically and to take care of our planet, and it sparked up some good conversations with people who saw us and wondered what we were doing. One guy even gave us money! Taupo was really good to us all in all, and we were sad to leave on Tuesday morning.
Back in Tauranga we rang in the new year, watching the fireworks by the water in the city center and cheering with sparkling grape juice. Time has gone by crazy fast – can you believe it’s already been a month since we started? We also took the time as a team to have a monthly debrief, to talk about how we are feeling, what’s going well and what we could do better and so on. We are at the halfway point now, and that means taking a stand about what the rest of outreach is going to look like. We have done a lot during this past month, but we want to see more, and we know God has so much more in store for us and the North Island!
It feels good to be back in Tauranga again. It has really started to feel like home to us even though we are at a new hostel now – Apple Tree Backpackers. We absolutely love this place, and this week we have continued building relationships with our fellow backpackers, both new ones at this hostel and our old friends from the Art House. On Thursday the people from Steiger invited us for a beach day with them, and we gladly accepted the invitation and brought one of our Art House-friends with us! It was a relaxed day full of lots of fun, and some of us even got to try surfing (super fun but super hard!). On the first of January we also shared a worship night with our Steiger-friends – is there a better way to begin the new year? We are so blessed to be surrounded by these amazing people!
On Friday night we did our very last Street Help. Out on the party streets in Tauranga and the Mount with hot pies, hot drinks and a van ready to give rides home we talked to the homeless and the drunk until the streets ran out of people. This week we also got to drive around in our vans wherever we felt that God was leading us and look for people in need of our help instead of being parked at just one place, which was a lot of fun! We got to give pies and prayers to a whole bunch of homeless people, as well as to a couple of fishers under a bridge. Later, parked at our usual spots at the city centers, we had a lot of really good conversations with the people we gave pies and hot drinks to and gave a few people rides home. Few of the people we talked to went away without being prayed for. Since it was our last time being out like this, there was a determination over the whole night to make the most of it, to take chances and really step out, and so we didn’t have many regrets when the night was over. Street Help has been one of the best parts of our ministry here in Tauranga. We have been so blessed to be a part of it, and we have loved just helping the people on the streets just as much as talking to them and praying for them.
“During Street Help this week, as we were driving through Tauranga and offering hot pies and hot drinks to the people we saw, I thought I spotted this girl we had walked past another time when we were out praying for people, without getting the opportunity to pray for her, and this time I again felt really strongly to go and talk to her. As soon as we parked the van me and two others went out on the streets to look for her, and in the end we found her laying on the ground outside a movie theater. We told her what we were doing, she asked if we could give her a ride home, and we walked with her back to the van to drive her. On the way I talked to her a bit, I even asked her what she thought about God, but she was kind of difficult to have a conversation with. In the van we kept talking with her and got to share the gospel. There was a theme of giving your burdens to Jesus and letting him give you rest, and one of us felt to share a song about that with her. I don’t know how much of what we said she took in, but we all had the feeling God was doing something big in her. Before she went in to her house we all prayed for her, and it was amazing to see how God spoke to her through us. It was so cool how God used us for the sake of this girl, and how we were all really listening to what God was saying to her, keeping the conversation going or praying. We don’t know what happened to her after, but I had the feeling like God did something very important during that car ride, and that it was not over when we left the scene.”
“So a week ago during Street Help, one of the sercurity guards ran over to me, Philip and Kelvin and sat beside us asking what we were doing and why we do Street Help. At first the conversation was very minimal and not that deep but then all of a sudden we started to talk about our faith and we began asking what he believes. It was a good conversation but then the conversation turned again and he became very interested in our beliefs and he began directing the conversation rather than us and he was actually very aware of what was happening. It was crazy how a light conversation switched and all of a sudden this sercurity guard wanted to know more about Jesus and we wanted to know more about his background. Turns out he was born Catholic but raised Muslim, but because religion was forced on him he got a bad view of it and turned away from everything and kind of made his own view. It was really cool to see him directing the conversation and asking for more about our faith. By the end of the talk he said that if a miracle would happen and he could see it with his eyes he would believe that God is real and that Jesus is his son. So we prayed for him and it was funny because right after the prayer he was like “That was so strange” and he began looking around for a sign that God is real. We just continue to pray into his life and pray that he can have a radical encounter with God because he is so close but just needs eye proof.”
On Saturday we spent the bigger part of the day helping our friends at the YWAM Furnace with weeding their community garden and cleaning for their soon-to-come new DTS students! It was awesome to get to help them out, especially since it made a huge difference to them. It was also a nice variation from our many Holy Spirit days this week, where we don’t have anything specific planned in to do and it is up to us to follow what God tells us to do. Sometimes during these days we end up with amazing testimonies of God moving, like this Sunday after church when we went out to the Mount and prayed for people, but other days we end up not really doing much at all, which can be frustrating and make us feel a little pointless. This has honestly been a bit of a challenge over the course of our outreach, but we just need to remind ourselves again and again of who our God is. God knows what he’s doing, we just need to trust him and keep leaning into him. The truth is that God is doing a lot in and through us even when it might not feel like it, and the more we trust him, the more he is going to do!
As we’re moving into the new year and our second half of outreach, we do it with a renewed spirit and fresh energy. It really is up to us what we make of this outreach – how much we see and how much we grow. No one else can make the choice for us, and so we are determined choose Jesus again every day, to step out of our comfort zones and be open to what God wants to do! We want to go home tired.
Tack och hej och gott nytt år!