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Our last SU News told the story of Flinders Bay Mission 2018. Here’s the backstory of how Flinders Bay Mission came to be.

Almost a decade ago, a group of long-term mission volunteers from Augusta Turner Family Festival were keen to engage more unreached Australians with the Good News of Jesus. As they pondered this, they were led to a caravan park just up the road in Augusta – the Flinders Bay Caravan Park. Once it was chosen as a potential mission place, a small group of people camped there one summer and got a feel for the caravan park.

They learnt that it had a very different feel to Turner’s Caravan Park and that the bulk of those camping there were ‘unreached’ families. As the group got a sense of the rhythms and people camping each January, they asked questions about how to connect with these holiday-makers and to share the Good News of Jesus with them.

They worked hard to learn from their years of summer mission experiences, but not be dictated to by them. The group decided to camp on different sites around the caravan park, rather than all together as is usual on Summer Missions. This gave them more natural connections with a broader range of people.

The new missioners were very conscious of being like the rest of the campers – not to ‘stand out’, except as followers of Jesus. They eat together as a team once a day but at other meals they eat at their separate campsites to enable more opportunity to connect with other campers over BBQs and to invite neighbouring campers for a meal. They run community activities like a movie night, a sandcastle competition and a bushdance and they look for opportunities to connect with people through activities like fishing, boating and sport.

Over time the team has explored what it looks like to proclaim the gospel as well as embody it. They’ve had powerful times sharing elements of the
Good News and testimonies of their lives being changed by Jesus at community events. This has often prompted further conversations with campers.

This style of mission requires each team member to be well equipped to share the Good News of Jesus in more informal and relational ways. We also ask the hard questions: Is what we are doing the best way to proclaim the gospel? This process enables us to embody the Gospel in the context of the Flinders Bay Caravan Park and is impacted by the gifts, personalities and experiences of new team members.

Following the example of Jesus, we go into the midst of people and become one of them (John 1:14) – we become all things to all people that some might come to know the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:22).

P.S. Are you inspired by this story of exploration and contextual gospel-sharing? That’s the SU way. We would love to journey with you to start a holiday mission or a mission in your local area. We already have a Kalbarri Mission coming soon! Talk with our Community Mission Coordinator today.

Rob Lampard has been volunteering with SU WA for many years – our Director Kent Morgan remembers Rob as his Sailing Camp leader in the nineties (see pic below, right!), and Rob and family are still serving strong. Rob recalls his first experience getting involved, and a moving memory from a recent Beach Mission.

After following other young Christian adults into leading with SU, Rob started considering this ministry more intentionally. “Serving on Beach Mission was more of an adult decision to really make a contribution to Kingdom work. I looked at my life and the way I spent my time and decided I needed to find opportunities to be involved in something that furthers God’s Kingdom.”

“Like anyone (I went) along for the first time to Beach Mission to see what it’s like – our kids were very little then. But from that, we just saw ‘OK this is clearly a way to be in contact with people who don’t know Jesus’. Somehow in some little or large way you can get them to think about who Jesus is.”

Rob relayed one particular instance of a young person moving unexpectedly closer to Jesus at Beach Mission.

“A few years back at Denmark, on one of the evenings after our activity that night, I was just sitting in our area outside the marquee. I had my bible with me, I wasn’t intending on sitting there for any quiet time, I just found myself there, flipping through pages fairly aimlessly. There was a crew of teenage boys in the park who had been known as the trouble-makers. They’d been kind of skirting round the edges of the teen program. I wasn’t really sure what they were looking for – but one of them spotted me out on the lawn and came over and asked me, ‘What are you reading?’ And so this very brief conversation ensued with me telling him it was the bible, he must have cottoned on… He asked me ‘How much of it have you read, front to back?’ and asked me about what the bible is.”

“There was no aggression, there was no hostility. Then right at that point one of our team leaders came out of the tent, and wandered over and was able to strike up a conversation and a few of the boys from his crew joined in that night in the gospel tent.”

“Did we see them get saved that night? No, but it was a remarkable moment. If you’d seen those boys in the beginning of the week, you wouldn’t believe they’d be in the tent by the end of the week. Something had happened. The prayer was that whatever they heard that night from the bible, there was a seed planted. That was one of those very unexpected moments.”

Over a few decades of leading Rob has noticed cultural changes, which missions have responded to and moved alongside, as have Rob and his family as they’ve joined in serving. “Beach missions are interesting things these days, they’re very different to what they used to be, cultural rules are a lot different, there are lots of things you could do then that you just can’t do now. But of course, God still is working regardless of all that.”

Over 22 years ago, Prison Fellowship WA saw an opportunity to support children and families who had a parent in prison through camping. In 1995, the first Breakaway Camp ran, directed by Ian and Margaret Standing, who had a God-given heart for these particular children and families. Ian and Margaret were Directors of Camp Cooinda at the time and on the committee for SUPA Camping. Prison Fellowship had been looking to start a camp for several years without success but decided to give one last look for volunteers who could run the program and approached SU WA. This request was passed to the SUPA Camping committee and Ian jumped at the opportunity, as serving and supporting families who had someone in prison was something God had put on his heart.

Breakaway Camps have evolved over time with the first camps focusing on safety – every child has the right to be safe at all times – and teaching protective behaviours through a loving Christian community. The camps involved police from the Juvenile Action Group coming out to camp. The police officers loved what Breakaway was doing and became involved in their program, helping run games and bring the squad car for the kids to see. Currently Breakaways adopt the goals of: faith formation – introducing children and young people to Jesus; restoration – providing Christian community and real relationships that provide healing; and fun and engagement – to have positive fun, challenge and adventure.

We now run 6 Breakaway camps a year (4 Breakaway Kids, 2 Breakaway Youth). Of the campers that come on Breakaway Camps, on average 63% have been before and 68% of leaders have lead before. This creates a growing, nurturing community for campers and families over time, providing the building blocks for relationships to continue to grow and faith to flourish.

With Breakaway Camps currently well established, together with Prison Fellowship, we are looking to grow these communities and relationships to mentoring, church connection for families, and retreat days for parents and caregivers.