SU is a celebration of diversity: many people coming together to bring the Good News of Christ to NSW and beyond. Dave Tankard (SU Regional Coordinator for North West) shares what this looks like in North West NSW, and explores the broader role of partnership in mission.
Training the next generation
We work with teenage and young adult Christians as they learn to share Jesus, learn to be servant leaders and learn daily reliance on him through Bible reading and prayer.SU NSW Operational Plan FY20-FY22
Something that struck me at Leadership Conference earlier this year, was the profound love amongst the students who attended and the leaders who served throughout the week. It was genuine and deep. Everyone felt supported and safe within this community, hence many (including myself) grew substantially across the five days.
I remember thinking, ‘This is God’s work, bringing together diverse groups of people who truly love each other.’
The students and adult leaders came from a range of churches and school contexts, all with different experiences, gifts and abilities. 1 Corinthians 12 compares the Church to a body, containing many parts that work together – a diversity of people, united in love and working towards a shared goal!
A highlight was watching the ‘mock ISCF’ groups, which allowed the students to run a group as though it was occurring in a school lunchtime setting. One student clearly had a powerful gift as a Bible teacher, which he used to great effect during the exercise. Another answered tough questions with patience and love. And another student prayed earnestly ahead of her lunchtime group.
This may have just been a practise exercise, but her prayer that God would work in the coming moments was totally genuine and certainly answered!
These students are now back in their schools, churches, and youth groups where they will put their leadership skills and faith into practise. One student has told me that, since the conference, she is spending a lot more time reading the Bible every day and has already given a children’s talk at her church (in addition to helping lead the ISCF group at her school).
These students typically look for further opportunities to be involved in SU ministries. Former Leadership Conference attendees are serving on Rugby League Camp and Tamworth Country Music Mission, to name just two. Many others look for opportunities to invite their non-Christian friends to SU Camps in the area, such as Cricket Camp, Chaffey Watersports Camp and Outback Adventure Camp. Some are even talking about how they might start their own camp once they finish school!
Working with churches
The SU Aims, Beliefs and Working Principles begins with, “Working with the churches, SU aims to…” There is limited capacity within any church, just as there in SU NSW, but in partnership under God, extraordinary things are happening!
See below, where I ask Paul Briscoe and Rev. Darrell Parker what partnership with SU means for their churches.
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Partnership with SU is a win-win – Rev. Darrell Parker’s Story
Vicar at St Paul’s Anglican Church
Many leaders of SU Camps, Missions and School lunchtime groups attend St Paul’s, and Darrell has personally been involved in all these ministries himself over the years. I spoke with him recently about why he is so supportive of the partnership between St Paul’s and SU NSW. Here’s a paraphrase of our conversation:
“SU is an established and trusted Christian organisation. When we partner with SU there are enormous pluses for our people. Our people may not be available to be involved in certain ministries we run, but SU ministries are so flexible, that there is a place for anyone to get involved and grow their own ministry skills as they go!”
“It is of enormous benefit to our church that we have younger and older people running Camps. SU is actually helping me do my job! Camps don’t just run for the campers, but for the development of Christian leaders as well.
“The Gospel gets preached, people become Christians, leaders get experience. I can’t provide all of that for all of our people all the time – I need SU’s partnership. Through SU, our people work as part of teams, give talks, run events, share the Gospel – bring it on! May there be more of it! People who go and serve as part of SU ministries come back in better shape than when they left!”
“Some of our church members also lead SUPA Clubs in local primary schools. In this way we relate to parts of our community that we may not otherwise interact with. For me our partnership with SU is a win, win, win, win, win!”
Helping people move closer to God – Paul Briscoe’s Story
Leadership/Board Member at C3 Church
In recent years God has provided volunteers and equipment from more local churches, including C3 Church!
A few years ago Paul saw that corporate dollars were constantly lifting the bar for some at Tamworth’s Country Music Festival, but leaving the SU Tamworth Country Music Mission looking a little tired.
He remembers thinking, “We serve a God who created perfection, excellence and goodness. Why should we do anything less than that? We should go the extra mile.
“Paul is thrilled to be a part of creating a Gospel community that turns heads. He says, “What is happening through this mission, is what the Church is commanded to do – go into the world and preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:16-20, The Great Commission). In a big festival, we’re just one little part— we won’t reach everyone —but we’ll reach some and they’ll not only have heard the message, but seen it as well.”
“We encourage our parish to be involved, and some are more than willing – lugging gear and helping set up! I find, until you’re involved in mission, you don’t really see it’s full value.”
For one young guy, it was an introduction to outreach. He borrowed a truck from his workplace and organised time off to volunteer. His says his eyes have opened to the work of sharing the gospel. It helped him grow. I saw him in the crowds at night, sharing his story with passers-by and those gathered in the park, helping people move a step closer to God.”
A family on mission across the generations
Earlier this year, Andy and Margie visited Leadership Conference to specially honour our young and emerging leaders. They said, “We may cross-cultures to share Christ in a different country, but what you guys are doing in your schools really matters.”
Andy and Margie Newman’s families have been involved with SU for generations. Just to scratch the surface: Andy’s grandfather Russell was a long-time SU member and faithful SU notes reader. Andy’s dad, Winston, was involved in Beach Missions (now known as SUFM) including at Batehaven, and helped spearhead Pioneer Canoe Camp and Tumut Camp; while Margie’s mum, Betty Chiswell, led on Beach Missions and wrote Bible reading notes for Daily Bread for decades.
Andy and Margie both served on Harrington SUFM and have led school lunchtime groups. Their sons Jim and Dan have led on SUFM’s as well and Cricket Camp, which Jim now helps to direct!
Pray for the next generation of Christian leaders and for gospel advancement across our great state! Go to sunsw.org.au/prayforNSW for more prayer point ideas.