As it's Christmas I’m posting a few more stories with a spiritual flavour than normal. It’s good to pause from the rat race and think about the bigger picture. The birth of Jesus points us to the love and presence of God in the world and the world sure does need some more of that.
We got an email update from Fusion today that had some good stories about the work they’re doing in different parts of the world. The Heir even got mentioned in dispatches.
UK DAYTRIP…THE LATEST!~ Well hello all, 0nce again another Daytrip and again that feeling of relief and satisfaction as you realise how privileged you were to be a part of having a significant impact on young peoples lives. We took a bunch of young people into the middle of Oxford and did a whole lot of team challenges and activities, with our feature activity being a photo scavenger hunt around Oxford. In their groups, they had to take photos of different things like 3 of their team members in a police car, all of their team in a skip bin or taking a series of 5 photos that tell a story of a romance, thriller or horror. It was a fantastic day with one of the local youth leaders here, Paddy, as the MC, he was more 'out there' than any Aussie I know and did a great job a building community and giving a really fun feel to the day. One of our staff, Zac Holt said, "It was the strongest sense of community I've felt on any Day Trip.” I am delighted to say that we had our first young person come on the Breakout through contact with our youth cafe. She has been coming since we opened the youth cafe and has found profound sense of belonging. It's been really special as the team have got to know her over the months and last week when the team invited her to the Breakout and she said she really would like to come but didn't have the money. So one of our team decided to sponsor her for the day as a Christmas present. She was really pleased and so excited to be able to go. She enjoyed herself so much during the day and got right into everything. And then at the end of the day as she heard the talk, something went off in her heart and she's now made a commitment. Praise God hey! She said to me on the bus on the way home, “It was such good day, I'm definitely coming to the next one in February!" I'm so thankful for all that God did on this breakout. I think there were about 6 or 7 that made commitments but I think most of them have…quite a few young people who were significantly impacted by the day, and many turned up at the Youth Church 'Mosaic' the next day and will soon be going into one of out Talk n Tucker groups. Thanks for all your prayers guys, we are all so thankful for all God has done and just the fact that we have completed 5 Day Trips and seen over 40 young people come to faith since we started in April is a massive boost for the work here. God bless, Timbo. (Tim Shaw)
The email came with a sad byline:
Please pray for Tim, he has just had news of the death of his mother in Sydney- he is returning as I write- it will be a sad Christmas for the family.
Over the last few years Fusion have become involved in a number of countries around the world, including Jamaica. Here’s a lovely story of faith in action from the Jamaican team leader, David Campbell.
Some of you would have received a short message last night to say that the day trip was wonderful, but that I was too exhausted to write about it and would write tomorrow morning.
This day trip was an adventure even in the whole preparation process, starting about ten days ago when I had my usual Thursday night meeting on the Internet with Matt Garvin (Fusion Victoria state director). I was very unsure about whether we should go ahead with it, seeing as I had not raised any money, we hadn't found a good venue and the two planning meetings I had tried to organise had fallen through because people had double booked themselves. As I tried to justify why it might not be right to do it, all my reasons sounded pathetic and it was one of those moments when you know your spirit will just not let you get away with giving up in favour of the "easy road".
I said to Matt, "Don't you just wish you could shut your spirit up sometimes?!" Thankfully you can't, so we prayed that God would just make it possible to go ahead. During the next week I spoke to several people from the team individually and got some ideas from them. They were all willing to come (some of them even giving up other important plans) and they began to put in what they could for the day to happen. One of them had suggested several places that we could go, and when I went to the Tourist board to get contact numbers they suggested another place that I had not even thought about. That one turned out to be the most suitable, so we went ahead and booked. The young people were starting to get excited, and we got a few donations from churches to help with the costs. The most touching of these donations was that some of the young people from Majesty Gardens (a very poor inner city community) had put together to buy 6 loaves of bread so we could make snacks. On their income, that kind of gift is a sacrifice.
However, the main source of support I had been relying on was unable to help in the end, so the money we had was still only about one third of the budget. Once again we had to try and work out if it was right to go ahead or not, once again I had lots of reasons why it was difficult to know ... and once again none of them sounded very convincing because my spirit was at it again!! Matt quoted "Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you." He then asked two questions; "What does the Kingdom of God look like here, going ahead or calling it off?" and secondly; "What is the worst that can happen?"
Both were easy to answer: the decision based in the Kingdom of God would be to go ahead, and the worst that could happen would be that I would have to spend money that Liz and I have for our honeymoon in order to cover the expenses. I told him I could not make that decision without talking to Liz, but was willing to pray for the trip and finalise whether we would go ahead after getting in touch with her. So we prayed. I then sent Liz an sms to ask her to call, and when she did there was only a minute left on her card so I told her what the situation was and then got cut off. Anyway, in a few moments I got an sms saying, "if you are asking if you can use the honeymoon money; that's fine." God really has given me an AMAZING woman hasn't He?! I went out to get a phone card (even though it was 11:30) because I just had to call her back. So we talked, and once again prayed for the trip.
On Friday morning I had a call from England, to say that someone was putting some money into my account to help cover the expenses. Also, when I had bought the wedding rings, the jeweller had been so touched by what we were doing for his nation that he said any time we needed help, we should get in touch. I called him and he told me to come and collect a donation that evening. I then spoke to two church leaders and they both were very willing to help support and also made commitments to give us some money.
We collected the young people from the different communities, and then made the values for the day very clear. The journey was longer than we expected because of getting stuck behind several slow moving vehicles, and the driver then making a reckless overtaking manoeuvre and being stopped by the police (who had been two cars behind). They were extremely officious about it. When I came to talk to them they were insisting that they had to lock the driver up, and they took him and put him in the back of their van. Despite my protests they drove down the road with him, then stopped and he climbed out of their vehicle again. It turns out that they wanted a bribe but did not want to do it in front of the crowd. It was another sad reminder of why we need to instil better values in young people here.
Still, when we did eventually get there the venue was just perfect. There was a beach, a large play area, volleyball and a lot of space just to run around. We started with swimming and generally just exploring the area…straight after lunch we had a game of volleyball followed by "Ultimate Frisbee", before dividing into teams for some messy games. The two group games brought a wonderful sense of community, as leaders, older and younger children all played together. It started to rain during Ultimate Frisbee, and if there is ever a sign that Jamaicans are enjoying themselves it is that they stay outside in the rain! In fact as people slid about and got muddy the laughter level just increased. It was lovely.
All the games went down very well, as the young people continued to be so free in each other’s company. Kevon, one of the leaders, came up to me in the afternoon and said; "This is the best trip I have ever been on." As he said it another leader remarked that he had never been on a trip where all the boundaries had come down between people like that. He then said, "It is what you guys would call an open crowd." (Which is a term used in the Fusion training to describe what happens when the boundaries are gone and people are free to engage with each other - obviously it is making sense to some of them).
We then had a final swim to wash off, before changing into dry clothes for snacks and the "Bible Time". Tommy (one of the leaders) shared his story of being someone who was always ready for a fight, who just listened to his friends and followed their attitudes rather than thinking for himself and was constantly getting into trouble at school and in his community (Majesty Gardens). He was offered a gun by a friend in one of the gangs several times, but while thinking it through he was invited to a church meeting and was so impacted by the story of the person who spoke, that he decided to open up his heart to God. It is not always easy to keep the attention of young people from the inner cities (understatement of the century) but as he spoke they all listened closely and took it seriously. I then spoke briefly, and offered them the chance to make that same decision and show that they had, by raising their hands. It was one of those moments when you realise that people have realised what it really means to ask God to take control of their lives, and initially nobody raised a hand, although it was clear by the pregnant silence that some wanted to. I encouraged them not to worry about their friends, and three people raised their hands ... but others were looking at each other nervously to see if each other would do it. The most obvious of these were four guys from the basketball club, who clearly wanted the life that Tommy was talking about, but were not sure what each other would think. I just asked everyone to close their eyes and bow their heads and said one last time that if people wanted to make the decision they should raise their hands. In total 7 young people responded, 3 of them were these young men from basketball. It was a very significant step for them
So all in all it was an incredible adventure, and as we offloaded the buses in Kingston, people's faces (although tired) were visibly more at peace. Thank you all so much for your prayers and your support in all of this. It is always wonderful to know that we are in the hearts and prayers of people from all over the world.
God Bless, David.
One of my best mates, Marty Woods, is the Fusion Team Leader in the UK. I've never met anyone with as much passion and energy as Marty. He's travelling constantly and always has stories to tell of amazing things God has done, great people he's met and ways they've been used to touch people's lives. He was one of my lecturers when I did the Fusion course back in 1988 so it's pretty cool that my son Zac, the Heir, is now working with him and learning on the job in England. Marty married a wonderful girl called Jenny and they both really wanted kids. Sadly, they had a beautiful little boy Samuel who died during birth. It was a terribly sad time for them and many people in the "Fusion Family". They kept trying but even with IVF were unable to have another child. Perhaps that is part of what motivates Marty in his work with people and kids. 2006 promises to be busier than ever with the World Cup Finals in Germany, Fusion will be there, and with Australia having qualified for the Finals I'm sure there'll be even greater excitement amongst the Fusion team. Others will be in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games, and already they are preparing to be involved in Beijing during the Olympics in 2008 at the invitation of the Chinese Government. Marty will be a key person in much of that and perhaps the Heir will get to be part of it too. Awesome.