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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 Two - Hello Arthouse

Week two of outreach began with us leaving the camp ground at Papamoa Beach and moving into our first hostel – the Art House in central Tauranga. This is where we’ll be staying until the end of December, and we could not be more excited. During just our first week here we’ve met a whole bunch of travelers from all over the world and made some awesome new friends. It feels great to get started with this part of our ministry at last. Our main focus for this outreach is, after all, backpacking.

We have continued working with Goodneighbour and Pregnancy Choice as well during this week, helping out with practical things. Besides being a great opportunity to serve and love people practically, it’s been a lot of fun at both places. On Tuesday and Thursday we split up so that half of us went to Pregnancy Choice and worked with the op shop and half went with Goodneighbour and helped a family move into their new home, helped another home with some pruning, stocked wood for an older couple, whom we also got to have coffee with and pray for. We also had the chance to talk to the coordinator about all the different things Goodneighbour does for the community, which was really encouraging.

This week with Steiger we helped set up for their outdoor Open Mic Night, even though sadly we weren’t able to be there for the actual event, went with them doing street interviews and evangelizing, and attending their weekly community potluck. For the street interviews we walked around the Mount with a camera again and asked the people we met questions about life, and again it was so interesting to hear what people had to say, and so fun to just talk about everything and nothing with them.

The potluck on Thursday evening was an absolute blast, filled with good conversation, a lot of food, Jenga and even some singing and going crazy around a piano. A bunch of our new hostel friends came as well, which made it even better!

Our Saturday night out with Street Help by the bars and pubs of Tauranga handing out free hot drinks and hot pies to the people out on the streets was absolutely incredible. We got to talk with so many people (we even met a Swedish person for Caroline!) about both trivial and deeper things, about travel, culture, faith and God, and there were so many amazing conversations happening throughout the night. Street Help is such a great way to meet the practical needs of people and really love them well. It is also a challenging thing, since talking to strangers and praying for them really takes you out of your comfort zone, and also just seeing how broken people can be.

“On Saturday night we worked with Street Help and I got the opportunity to talk to this man who is in a local gang here in Tauranga. I started first by asking if he needed prayer for anything, such as healing or just general prayer, and he replied by saying he could use prayer for his knee that has been in pain. So I asked for God to heal his knee and he said the pain went down from like a 6 out of 10 to a 3 out of 10 which was so cool! I knew at this moment God was working in him because he couldn’t stop laughing. He covered his face and asked me if that was a conversation between me and God or if he was included in the conversation. I answered that it was a conversation between the three of us. I knew God was going to heal his knee so I told him if I prayed for his knee one more time it would be healed. He agreed to let me pray for him again and afterwards he said he couldn’t feel any pain anymore. Hallelujah! After this he began to tell me about himself and about how he is trying to fix how gangs are viewed, and trying to change his gang’s focus to helping the community by teaching the youth in his gang about God and how we should treat others the way we want to be treated! This sparked my interest so I began telling him about YWAM and what we are doing. This ended with him wanting us to speak to his gang about God and our lives, so Celeste gave him her contact info. He hasn’t reached out yet but I am praying that he will soon. That night I could see how God was changing his heart, how he really saw the good in the world and how he is bringing God to Tauranga. Before saying goodbye I prayed for him one more time and he started to cry a little bit. Then after the prayer I gave him my hat that says “Redeemer” on it and explained to him that Jesus is our Redeemer and that everything is already won in Jesus. He got out of his truck and walked with no limp and gave me a hug and began crying and thanking me. It was so awesome to see how God is working in him and I pray that he reaches out so that we can continue our conversation and see how God works in his gang and the others in Tauranga.”

– Josh

This week we also began setting goals for each day. Every morning each of us would pray and come up with something they want to do or accomplish that day, and then throughout the day go out and do that. This has also been a great way to kind of force ourselves out of our comfort zones, and to really step out in faith. One day, for example, some of us had the feeling that we should go and pray for people, and so we actually went out to town and to pray for some strangers, and though it may have been a bit uncomfortable to go up to random people on the streets, it turned out really great.

“On Wednesday evening we went out to Mount Maunganui to hike the summit, watch the sunset and pray over the city. The view was awesome and so was the sunset. After we reached the top we started to intercede for Tauranga and bless this place with peace. We prayed that we can continue being a light in this place and that God’s grace and love can overflow here. During this hour the thought that God put even more effort into creating me than into creating this beautiful sunset struck me. After God created Adam and Eve he “saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). Only with Adam and Eve did he say very good. It probably took me the whole time we were on the Mount to realize what a gift this is – on the one hand that God created these beautiful views just for us to gaze at, but on the other that we are worth it all and that it is all for us. This week God reminded me again that I am worth it all. That I am worthy of being here, to marvel at his creation, but also that I am worthy of loving myself.”

– Pauline

“On Sunday when we had a day of sabbath, I had a great plan for my day – coffee and Christmas shopping. As I was walking around I kept thinking I wanted to go to this specific outdoor store. I’d never been in there and I didn’t really need anything but I figured I’d go ahead take a look. As I walked into the store I turned the worship music I was playing on my headphones up. I wanted to make it clear that I didn’t want help finding anything! As I was wandering around I decided there wasn’t a point in me being there so I’d just go back to our hostel. As I was leaving I heard a comment saying,” I like your tattoo!” I was quite confused until I realized that the night before one of my teammates drew a flower on my foot. This started a really cool conversation about why I was in Tauranga, where I lived, what I did for work. I told him all about YWAM and that I was a backpacker but a missionary at the same time! As I talked he seemed to agree with things I was saying so I decided to straight up ask him if he was a Christian. He said he wasn’t but all of his friends are Christians and he likes the idea of it a lot. He told me that the only thing holding him back was the fact that Christian’s always give God the glory for everything. He was telling me about how he believed we weren’t robots and we make choices and we should get the credit for those choices. I then told him the story of that day, how I had no reason to be in that store, that I really felt and almost knew I had to go! I gave God the glory for us meeting because I wouldn’t have gone in on my own. I explained that we get a choice and we can choose to do what God asks us to do or we can ignore what he’s saying. When we obey we get to be apart of a story God is writing, we’re not the author we don’t get the glory for the book, but we do get to help the story move forward! I then got to pray for him and we exchanged contact information. It was such a blessing that even though I had a plan for my day, that God used it for his glory and I got to be a part of it!”

– Celeste

Our second week of outreach was full of volunteer work, hanging out with fellow backpackers, evangelizing and having a whole lot of fun together (including watching Frozen II at the movie theater!). Some sad things this week, though, were the fact that this was our last week with the prayer room at YWAM Furnace as they’re closing down for Christmas, and Alec leaving us on Friday to spend Christmas with his family. But mostly this has been an very good week – outreach truly is a wonderful time!

Mā te wā!

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