September 2011 I recently came across the account of a spiritual encounter Catherine Bramwell Booth* had experienced as a young child. She had a dream where she was taken into a forest near her home. In recalling her experience Catherine writes... “...the wind was sighing...when a tall pine tree asked: ‘How long?’ At last an answer seemed to come, murmured from every side: ‘Until the service is completed.’ The pine tree was unsatisfied and continued to grieve for its constant struggle with the winds, its endeavor to provide shelter for the birds and shade for the animals. Instead of growing old to rot and decay it wished that it could have been felled and treated with loving attention. It could have been shaped and polished, treasured and cared for, instead of caring for others. As the tree continued its complaint, the wind rose and the words were drowned by the noise of the storm. Next morning, the pine had fallen, though no other tree had. The birds and beasts that had depended on that tree for shelter were lost and sad. In due course the tree was taken away, leaving an empty space with only scrunched fern fronds to reveal where it had lain. The other trees listened, anxious to hear, as an old oak at the centre of the wood brought them his wisdom. He told them that the ancient law of the forest was to serve rather than to be served, to protect and nourish, to stand firm and strong from year to year, offering shelter and a home to all the birds and beasts that trusted in them. The pine, he said, had ignored the ancient law of the forest to stand firm ‘until the service is completed.’ ” During my season of serving as National Ministry Leader for Youth Ministries Australia, I can recall several specific occasions when God has captured my attention, using the imagery of trees to get His message across. Once during a time of personal retreat in a Sydney park, God revealed a fresh vision for the YMA Movement through the natural surroundings of the park. As I wandered around I became acutely aware that God was calling YMA to invest in two types of trees – tall trees and an emerging understory. The tall trees represented those followers of Jesus who had been around for a while; standing firm in their calling – they were mature and faithful in making disciples. Their roots went down deep into Christ. The emerging understory represented those younger, less experienced emerging leaders who were being raised up and empowered under the shelter of the tall trees.
by Dave Huddleston Since that time, YMA has been cultivating partnerships with local churches, denominational groups, bible colleges and high schools using creative bible-based equipping and learning experiences to sow into the Australian youth ministry landscape. In more recent years the Lord has provided some fresh revelation, still consistent with the imagery of trees. This time the context was whilst serving in Thailand, when I was drawn to Isaiah 61. In verse 3 the prophet refers to God’s people as “oaks of righteousness…a planting of the Lord.” The passage goes on to express God’s plan to involve His people in the process of bringing about the rebuilding, restoration and renewal of that which has been devastated (vs 4). It has been further reinforced to me that it is God’s desire for YMA to play a part in contributing to the restoration of the lost and broken lives of the young people of Australia – many of whom are simply not even contemplating spiritual things, let alone their need to know Jesus and experience his transforming work in their lives. I will conclude now by saying that a significant season of my own ministry journey is also about to conclude – once again the Lord has caught my attention, this time calling me to transition out of my existing YMA leadership role to enter a new season; serving as Member Care (HR) Team Leader with CCCA. I’m looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. My prayer is that I might remember to abide by the ancient Law of the Forest – desiring to serve rather than to be served, standing firm ‘until the service is completed.’ This law reminds me of the words of Jesus, when he said; “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” John 17:4 *Catherine Bramwell Booth was the granddaughter of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. Catherine’s encounter featured in “Stairway to Heaven” by Mary Batchelor (Hodder & Stoughton).
Dave is presently serving in a part-time capacity as Member Care team leader, with Travis Johnson acting as National Ministry Leader for YMA. Both Dave and Travis will formally assume their new roles from February 2012. Dave will continue his oversight of Thailand mission projects and partnerships.
A Splash of
WHAT I’M DISCOVERING THROUGH THE IMMERSE PROJECT - Trav Johnson
WHEN STREAMS CONVERGE
A MEANDERING PATH
The technical term is “confluence” (that’s a new word for me!). I can’t think of a better way to describe the moment when I sit across the room from a young person who says, “this camp has changed the way I think, it’s changed the way I live, and it’s changed everything I knew about God for the better.”
“Why is IMMERSE so long?”
When Allan said these words at our recent “Immerse West” event in WA, I couldn’t help but think, “this is why I do what I do”. When I hear a young person reflect that kind of personal transformation, it’s as though his story and my own story align in some way – like two streams converging. Confluence. Recently I’ve been thinking through WHY that might be, and if you’ll permit me to “stretch” the image of river or stream, I want to use it to help answer three of the most frequently asked questions around IMMERSE.
MANY HEAD-WATERS “Who is IMMERSE for?” That’s the number one question - and fair enough. People want to know who we think should experience IMMERSE. Is it for youth or young adults? Is it discipleship for those following Jesus, or is it evangelism for those not yet following Him? And my answer is “YES!” - not to be smart, but because the prerequisite isn’t where they come from, but who they come with. If there was a “pre-requisite” for those who participate in IMMERSE, it would be that they trust the person or community that brings them. I think ministry is like that anyway. It isn’t just about who we’re targeting, but who we have relationship with - allowing for “flow” to come from a variety of sources - recognising where “confluence” has already taken place, and trusting God’s story to carry us to a greater understanding of God through the “streams” He has brought together.
“You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights.” Psalm 36:8 NLT
You guessed it, that’s question number two. Admittedly, a six day youth and young adults camp is not an easy sell, but the reality is, journeying through the narrative of the Bible can’t be rushed. Neither can we expect to see someone’s worldview shift over the course of only two or three days. Sometimes I wonder whether we’d prefer to dredge canals over riding the natural current of the story of God. We see where we think people need to end up, attempt to fast-track them there, and in the process bypass the potential impact of the view God gives them along the way. No doubt, we should want to see young people make decisions of faith, but shouldn’t those steps of faith be informed, emotive, and long-term? More often than not, this will mean a meandering path.
A RICH DELTA “Why does IMMERSE take so much work?” There could be a lot of ways to answer this question, but I think the most important response is this: we value discovery. We intentionally go to great lengths in providing environments for reflection, space for discussion, experiences for interaction, and opportunities for response, because the learning that comes from discovery sticks. It’s not hard to see this toward the end of IMMERSE where students and leaders alike share their learnings in the camp community. It’s not unlike the fertile landscape found near the mouth of a river - a delta of streams, green trees, irrigation and healthy fruit-bearing crops. So, when someone like Allan responds in the manner he did, and we get a glimpse of the rich delta of a shared experience around God’s story, I can’t help but want to see more of that. Gotta love CONFLUENCE!
WHAT DOES IT TAKE to see a truly following JESUS?
This is the question at the heart of the movement of Youth Ministries Australia – asking and answering this question fuels us in the mission of our parent body Campus Crusade for Christ Australia to “build spiritual movements everywhere so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.” For over 30 years we’ve been passionate about equipping youth leaders and high school students to influence a generation for Jesus. Our equipping initiatives include creative learning experiences & camps, consulting, coaching, resources, internships and mission projects to Thailand. YMA thanks Optus and Network Communications for their partnership and support – through this investment YMA is further empowered to sow into the lives of leaders and students across our Nation and beyond!
YMA MOBILE PHONE PLAN How does the YMA Mobile Plan work? It’s simple – when you sign up or renew your existing Optus plan with Network Communications, you can nominate support for YMA at no extra cost to you! Optus have kindly agreed to donate 5% of your monthly mobile phone account total towards supporting YMA. And, you’ll also receive a bonus month’s credit! Today, mobile phones are such an essential means of our communication with others. We therefore invite you to make a choice that will practically support the ongoing work of YMA as we seek to do whatever it takes to see a generation of young Aussies truly following Jesus!
1300 735 377 www.network.com.au
Australian Youth Spirituality •
major influences on their lives are relationships, music, media, education and employment.
life through their eyes is all about enjoyment, feeling good about oneself, sharing excitement, having good friends.
they are determined to make up their own minds - they are actively constructing their own lives but are not sure what to believe.
there is an increasing rate of mental illness evident.
many do not have many suitable forms of community to ‘grow into’ beyond school.
only 4-5% regularly engage with the Bible. 70% never read it.
less than 7% currently attend a church of any tradition monthly or more.
Sources: Shaping Australia’s Spirituality (2010), Bible Engagement among Young Australians (2010), P Hughes - Christian Research Association, Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (2009), A Evans - Australian National University.
by Stu Brownscombe
Each week, like at many schools, students from Muirfield High gather together at lunch to learn from the Bible and grow together in their knowledge and faith. Every now and then it is good to step back for a moment and look at the bigger picture of what’s going on beyond the weekly happenings. As I do this I can see that Muirfield High’s Christian lunch group, The Core, isn’t just a place of learning and fellowship, but a place of transformation. A couple of years ago I was on a year 7 camp, and as I was chatting with some students they asked me about what I do and how I got involved. I explained my role as a youth worker and also shared how God led me into it. One of the year 7 boys was interested in what I had said and kept asking more questions about what I do and what I believe. A few months later I came across him sitting by the school oval and so I sat down with him, then out of nowhere he said to me, “I was told that Mary never sinned, but I don’t believe that.” For the rest of the year we continued to (and still do) have regular conversations about Christian faith. This student also came along to The Core each week and at the end of the year decided to follow Jesus. Another story of transformation comes from my first year working at Muirfield. We ran a camp for The Core, where they had a great time swimming and building sandcastles at the beach as well as hearing from God’s word. I remember noticing at the end of the camp that there was something different about one of the senior students Stu serves as a YMA schools worker in Muirfield High School, Sydney. He has been discipled by Shayne Hamilton from his days as a student at this school.
who had been there. We continued to connect with her during her final year of high school, and then the following year she decided to serve as a volunteer with YMA, which included serving at Muirfield High and being part of running The Core. Toward the end of last year this volunteer and the year 7 boy I referred to (then in year 8) shared their testimonies at The Core. After hearing them share, another year 8 student approached me and asked how to become a Christian. We discussed what he already knew and what Christianity is all about. It was great to see the joy that came from him after he had made the decision to follow Jesus. It is also wonderful to see how two lives that had been transformed by Christ impacted another. But The Core isn’t just a place of learning, fellowship and transformation; it is also a place for developing leaders. Both of the boys mentioned are part of The Core’s student leadership team who take part in planning and running each week. I really enjoy being able to guide this team in their development and see them take initiative in a number of different ways. One idea they ran with was to answer any questions students from The Core had about God, the Bible, Jesus, etc. These questions were then emailed to local youth pastors, youth leaders and Christian teachers who were willing to come and be guest speakers. As these different topics were being answered we saw the number of students coming along increase each week. Some of the hairier topics even created a stir outside The Core, with many students and staff wanting to know what was being said. The Core and camps are not only a great way to help develop the student leaders but also a great place to give people interested in youth ministry an opportunity to gain some leadership experience. The different things run for or by The Core provide us with an opportunity to invite people to be involved, and as we connect with them we can explore many possibilities. The Core is a place of learning, fellowship, transformation, leadership development and connection, but most evidently a place where God is working. Students and leaders come and go, many different topics are approached and challenges happen along the way, which can leave us wondering, as we look at the bigger picture, how has it all turned out so well? The answer is clear: it is by God’s hand, for God’s purpose and for His glory, and He chooses to let us take part in it.
Experience of God
by Jess Bracegirdle
“Called”, what does it mean to be called? It is a word often applied to missionaries or people we think are better than ourselves; a “SuperChristian” of sorts. I am not a “Super-Christian”, but I know I have been called and as I have been exploring what it is to be called and God’s calling on my life, my understanding has deepened. I thought I knew when God first called me, but as I have been sharing my journey with my parents, I have discovered it goes back beyond what I will ever know. Here I will share a little of what God’s calling is on my life. Jess and Simon live in Perth. Their home church is Woodvale Baptist.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:28-29)
I felt God’s calling on my life before I even committed my life to Him. My parents, the school I went to, playing the clarinet, the church I ended up going to, the pastors at that church, my husband, a camp. All these things and many more put me in the right place to hear God’s challenge to stop living a double life. At home and church I was the “good little Christian girl” and at school I rebelled. Thankfully God kept me from numerous dangers and terrible things that I could have gotten into! Although I believed in God, it was only head knowledge and my parents’ faith, not mine. I was sitting on the fence of indecision and indifference. I clearly remember the day, as a 14yr old, and the conviction in my heart when God called me to jump off my fence. As I now know, the fence isn’t neutral territory, it is owned by the Enemy. Since then I have had times of closeness with God. One such time was as a 16yr old on a mission trip to South Africa. I had quiet thoughts, almost suggestions that perhaps God had called me to the life of a missionary. However, when I met Simon, who is now my husband, I let go of these thoughts as he did not sense this same calling. I have also had times of drought. I had a period of almost 2 years that I felt dead in my spirit due to sin and guilt that I would not let go of, and avoided dealing with. This affected every aspect of my life, but I started to call out to God. I called out for a way back to Him. For me there wasn’t a defining moment that God used, instead it was small steps over a period of time that I came to know more of who God and Jesus really are, and was renewed in Him. I came back to serving in youth ministry. Though I still don’t know why I agreed, I decided to go on an Immerse Camp. Simon and I also went on a tour of Israel. These experiences were stepping stones on my journey to where I am now, bringing me back to God and changing my life forever. I have learnt that my story is a part of God’s story, and I have been called according to His purpose. Over the last year, I have been exploring God’s calling on my life to work in fulltime ministry. I desire to partner with God in reaching youth here, in the mission field God has already placed me, to see a generation truly following Jesus. During Immerse this year in Perth, I was accepted to join with YMA to do just this. So the next chapter in my story means gathering a team of people whom God has already called, to partner with Him and myself, in spreading His story and expanding His kingdom. I ask you the same questions I ask myself: What does it take to see a generation truly following Jesus? And, what is God calling you to?
by Dave Huddleston
Since 2002, YMA has been serving in partnership with pastors, youth leaders and students in the city of Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima), located 260km North East from Bangkok. Korat serves as the gateway to the North Eastern “Isaan” region, with a population of 20 million; the vast majority (less than 0.1%) who do not know anyone who is truly following Jesus. Over the years we’ve mobilised short-term mission teams of youth and young adults from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to provide high school English teaching, translated training and resources. We’ve also co-facilitated Immerse (Story of God) residential English camps for Thai young people, with up to 150 students and leaders participating each time. It has been wonderful to witness God changing hearts as students find their place in His Story and are compelled to respond. Our key contact in Korat is a young man named Tong – he is God’s person of peace in his city, where he works with World Vision. Tong is well respected amongst adults and students alike and has a clear sense of calling to influence a generation with the transforming love found in Jesus. Following the April 2011 Immerse English Camp, Tong and his team were burdened to plant a youth church in Korat. They desired to provide a safe place where young people could gather in a loving community to worship and receive instruction in their emerging faith. After a time of prayer the Lord provided Tong and team with an ideal building, in a central location. The name of this new church would be called The Light House. Regular worship, teaching and outreach activities have since commenced. Six local high school students have come to faith in Jesus – the light of Christ is shining brightly for all to see! Preparations are now under way for the next Immerse Thailand Mission Project, running from 3-17 April 2012. Please let me know if you are interested in providing some camp sponsorship funds to enable Thai students to participate in next year’s camp – we’re believing God for great things!
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house..” Matthew 5:14,15
YMA Immerse HQ Shop 4, 930 Marion Rd STURT SA 5047 www.accessthestory.com Travis Johnson – National email@example.com 0407 778 184 Shayne Hamilton – Sydney firstname.lastname@example.org 0416 271 255
Matt Fricker – Perth email@example.com 0412 203 505 Dave Huddleston – Thailand Projects firstname.lastname@example.org 0409 687 587
National Mission Centre Unit 1, 8 Anzed Court Mulgrave Vic 3170 P: 03 9014 7584 F: 03 9561 9626 YMA is a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ Australia ACN 002 310 796