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 One - The Beginning
Outreach has officially begun! Our first week is over and we’re starting to get into what life on outreach looks like. We arrived in Tauranga on the North Island on Monday after an epic two-day road-trip featuring a night in Wellington and sights like Lake Taupo and actual Mount Doom (much to the excitement of us Lord of the Rings fans in the group). We’ve been living in tents at Papamoa Beach Resort, just next to a beautiful sandy beach, working with a number of different local ministries and organizations. This week has largely been about getting to know the city and the people we’re going to be working with for the next few weeks. We went for a prayer walk and explored Tauranga and the Mount area, which was really fun. We’ve also been introduced to a lot of new awesome people and got to start helping with the actual ministries for the first time. We have a good mix of practical and relational things to do, which we love since both parts are important parts of what Jesus calls us to do. Practical work is character building, and relational ministry gives us life. Some of us appreciated one more than the other, and because our group consists of very different people it’s great that we have many different ways to live out the Gospel.
The more practical organizations we’ve worked with are Goodneighbour and Pregnancy Choice. Goodneighbour is a local organization that goes into the community to help the people in Tauranga who can’t necessarily do it themselves – gardening, painting, cleaning and things like that. We spent an afternoon weeding and fixing up a family’s garden, which would have been way too much for them to do themselves, and so it was a real blessing to them that we were there to help.
Pregnancy Choice is a ministry that offers free counselling for young pregnant women with a big focus on loving them well no matter what. They also run an op-shop and a koha shop, which is a kind of secondhand store where people can take what they need and leave what they can. On Wednesday we helped them with the enormous task of sorting clothes for the koha shop as well as some other odd jobs. We had a fun afternoon doing that, but it was also a bit difficult for some of us as we didn’t really get to interact with people. It didn’t feel like we were doing something that actually mattered, even though we helped the op shop a lot. Through this, however, God really showed us that even though it may not have felt like we were doing much, by doing this manual task we made less work for the people who actually do work with the girls, so that they can focus better on that. We helped them help people. Serving is something Jesus put huge value in, and so it was great to be able to bless the people at Pregnancy Choice.
Our more relational ministries include Steiger and Street Help. Steiger is an international organization similar to YWAM that focuses on reaching young adults in ways they relate to, and creating environments where people feel like they belong no matter what they believe, a safe space where they can just ask the hard questions and have the big conversations. In the Wharf Community House they host backpackers coming to stay and as well as various events, including a potluck open to anyone who wants to come every Thursday and open mic nights every month. This Thursday we got to be a part of the potluck, which turned out to be a really fun time. We met so many interesting people, had some great conversations and ate good food. A very good evening in other words.
On Friday night we went out with some people from Steiger to do creative evangelism. We walked around town in groups of three with a camera and interviewed young people for a documentary about global youth culture. We would ask them about what they thought about the meaning of life, God, right and wrong – the big questions – and even though some people had closed attitudes and were unwilling to talk to us, there were some very interesting conversations had. We loved getting to hear people’s views on things, and it felt like we really got some people thinking. Some will possibly come to the community house to keep the conversation going.
This week has, however, been a very intense one. For some of us it was hard to find times to rest recharge our batteries, and perhaps made it harder so focus on and appreciate all the social things we did. We struggled sometimes with feeling cloudy and distracted, but as the week went on this got better. You learn more and more how to rest well when you have the time, and how to really walk in the opposite spirit when you notice those feelings coming. Having each other to lean on, go to for prayer and to talk is also very important.
Saturday night with Street Help was the highlight of the week for many of us. Every weekend a team goes out to the busiest party-streets in Tauranga with a van full of hot pies and hot drinks and talk to the drunk and the homeless people – anyone on the streets in the middle of the night. It’s kind of undercover evangelism, and this week we went with them. There were many of great conversations happening as the night went from late to later, and we got to pray for a lot of people. Celeste even shared the Gospel with a bunch of drunk girls. One really encouraging thing for both us and them was when we would ask the Holy Spirit for words for people, and the things God told us seemed to really mean something to them. God can really use us when we are bold and step out in faith, and that’s something we will probably grow a lot in as outreach continues. We’ll get bolder and bolder, and more confident at hearing God and knowing what to say to the people we meet.
We also got the opportunity to spend some time in YWAM Furnace’s prayer room, where people can worship, pray and just be in the presence of God. We have a lot of connections at this base because of our amazing outreach leader Celeste, and so getting to work a little bit with this YWAM base is awesome. God does some truly incredible stuff in this room. There’s the kind of atmosphere that makes everything else disappear for a while, and a really powerful peace in the air. For many of us the hours we spent in the prayer room this week were very important to refill us and keep us grounded in God and the things that really matter. You can’t be a light in the dark unless you’re filled with light. God always has to come first, and when we’re full of his love we can let it overflow unto other people.
So that was more or less what we did this week. We’ve also spent a lot of time at the beach, taking walks, sitting in the sand or having the time of our lives jumping in the waves, by day or in the evenings under the stars. Once we move into the hostel during the second week we will also get started with our backpacker ministry more – talking to the backpackers we meet, building relationships and just spreading God’s love. We are a backpacker’s DTS after all. This week has been intense, with hills and valleys, but the hills have been more than the valleys and God’s hand has been over it all. We’re off to an amazing start of outreach, and it’ll be exciting to see what more God wants to do in us and through us in Tauranga. He has some great things in store for us, that’s for sure.
Tack och hej, leverpastej!