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Feature Story, News

Volunteering fulfils a calling and is deeply satisfying

There is a common misconception that a leader is someone who is outgoing, loud, charming, commanding, extroverted and bold. Yet in a world that seems to celebrate extroverts, it often underestimates the introvert advantage.

Emily Fernandez (24) is one of those self-described “introvert leaders” at Scripture Union. She’s one of SU’s homegrown leaders, rising through the ranks after starting as a camper at sailing camp in year 11.

“I was actually very hesitant to go on this camp. I don’t like massive groups, but my friend needed someone to hold her hand. So, despite feeling unsure, I went, and nothing was really the same from there”.

At the time Emily was on a faith journey of her own, trying to work it all out. She had what she describes as an intellectual faith: it all made sense to her on paper. However, she was lacking in experiential faith.

“That’s where camp came in and took my faith to the next level. I didn’t just know what being a Christian meant, but I actually got to experience what following Jesus is.”

Fast forward to now, Emily has been an SU leader on more camps than she can count. Initially she kept going on them for fun, but over time she realised something more was happening.

“Despite my love of the outdoors, camp offers more than a kayak down a river. It actually allows young people to try out a new, better version of themselves empowered by Jesus.”

That is where Emily’s strength lies, fostering a safe space to have conversations about who we are, why we’re here, our purpose, and who created it all. For Emily, it is an honour to lead campers through these questions, and help them to explore and challenge themselves spiritually, physically, and psychologically.

There is more to Emily than being an SU leader though. She is actively involved at Red Door Community Church, studying to be a Doctor at UWA, and on the board of SU. Emily is passionate about helping people, especially young people.

“Young people are the future! I have seen a lot of my friends fall away from faith and I think this will continue to happen if churches don’t change what they are doing to meet the needs of young people. I want to help people feel connected, help them to read the bible, and help them enter key conversations.”

If you want to help start key conversations and lead young people towards Jesus, then we would love you to become a camp leader like Emily. Adventure is calling, just step out!

Matt McNulty (38) is another one of our amazing SU leaders. Don’t let his gentle demeanour fool you though, he is fiercely passionate about guiding young people towards Jesus. Originally from North-West London where he was a youth pastor, Matt decided in 2016 that it was time for a sea change. After arriving down under, Matt reached out to SU having previously worked with the organisation back home.

“All my SU experience was in the UK. I grew up doing outdoor activities over there. As a youth pastor back then, camps were always a part of what I was doing. Being able to take people out of their normal experience and giving them time to focus on God is a fantastic opportunity. It made sense then to get involved with SU in WA”.

Young people are vital to any Christian organisation. They provide insight on the ground and have a unique opportunity to view the world around them with a different perspective. Matt wants to see more young people involved in churches and Christian organisations across Perth.

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News

When and where God moves, is faithfully where we as followers of Christ need to be present and serving. And that is exactly what we have seen in SU’s School Camping ministry this year. We are right in the middle of a season of abundance in sharing God’s Word and discipling hundreds of young people from all over WA. In the 3 months from September to November God has been moving through 9 school camps and 2 day camps, blessing and drawing unto Himself more than 600 students. Wow! God is so good!

But the school camping ministry is not just for the students, God is also moving among the 60 school staff that we are blessed to serve alongside through this same period. Our most recent camp, for various reasons was a rocky start relationally between the school and SU teams, but God is so faithful and it was this relationship that formed the highlight of camp for so many.

One teacher shared that “the SU team were ‘out of this world’ and I couldn’t speak highly enough of the way they taught, interacted and energetically led the students.” And another teacher shared her thanks “for the energy, kindness and respect you brought to camp. It was a joy to join you for the week!” And yet another teacher shared following camp that “we miss you all already!”

PRAISE BE TO GOD!!! And thank you so much for your continued support and prayers for the SU School Camping Team and Ministry.

by Mike Bezant

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News

What does Augusta Turner Family Festival mean to you?
In a caravan park where good times, family and friends reign, it’s easy for holiday makers to feel that they have it all and don’t need a God or a saviour. But it’s this attitude that keeps us in spiritual poverty, and it’s into this unquestioning but needy context that we get to share Jesus’ amazing gift of grace. This week of practically loving our neighbours in the caravan park, hearing their story and sharing ours too, is an incredible way for us to join God’s mission of redemption for all people.

How does the team interact and engage with the other holiday makers at the Turner Caravan Park?
In Romans, Paul writes: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”. It’s this principle that guides all the activities we put on for the campers in the caravan park. Yes, the gospel can be modelled in our sacrificial love and service, and this is a key component of our mission. But we know that it’s the gospel of Jesus that saves, not our actions. And so we aim to tell this gospel at every opportunity- during the kids or teen program, in evangelistic talks during family events (like movie and quiz nights), and through conversation and relationship with those who attend. The purpose of all our events is to provide a context in which the gospel can be proclaimed with love.

What life change moments does the FF aim to achieve?
We recognise it’s a short term mission, and so we have pretty limited opportunities to follow up and disciple those we reach. We see our role as planting seeds – presenting a crystal-clear take on the Gospel and taking comfort in God’s sovereignty and power to change hearts. And so, like Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, we humbly submit to God’s design. We plant the seeds, and pray like anything that God might make them grow.

by Ben Hotchkin & Lawson Smith

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2020 consisted of Sports United and Kids in the Kitchen catered to primary students, Junior AmUC exposed high school students to local missions, Breakaway catered to children with someone close to them in prison and South West Adventure and Spring CHIC were new additions to our spring season.

“My daughter said she made more friends in her week at camp than at school. She came home Christ filled and happy and wants to go on any other camps ASAP!!”.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much of an impact a few days at camp can have on a young life and 2020 Spring Holiday camps were no exception to this! Let me share a few examples with you:

A camper on Spring CHIC expressed to a leader that she heard from the Holy Spirit and saw a vision for the first time. The leader recounts; “After the talk, we visualised meeting with Jesus. A camper was in tears, overwhelmed by God’s love. She heard Jesus say ‘I love you unconditionally no matter what’ and she saw all of the lies she believed being deflected by this glass wall that surrounded her. She expressed that she felt “so free”, like “the chains have come off”, and finally remarked “I feel so free, it’s incredible!”.

Another camper, when asked how they wanted to change now they’ve been on camp, said: “I want to follow Jesus, commit my life to him and get baptised”!

Praise God for allowing us to be part of his work in such a way!

by Bea Wickham

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For Suzie Bell, aged 21, it’s always been about relationships and Jesus on Glen Echo 3. Having been on over 17 camps now as a leader, some things never get old for Suzie:

“I love seeing camper’s hearts moving towards Jesus. That’s where the privilege is at for me; being able to share the love of God with them and seeing how it reshapes their identity. In some of them, you can see their faces light up when they string all the Jesus stories together!”

It’s not just the greater relationship with God that is forged on these camps but also the lifelong friendships between campers and leaders. “I’ve seen so many friendships come out of these camps. I myself am a part of a couple of group chats with leaders and campers. They are God-loving and God-focused people who live a life loving Jesus.”

If this doesn’t inspire you to consider becoming a SU camp leader, then Suzie saved the best for last.

“There is a high chance you might meet your future partner, I’ve seen it happen that many times!” Love aside, SU are looking for more leaders and Glen Echo is the perfect camp to get started on. The more leaders we have, the more we can accommodate the young people stuck on waitlists.

There’s no doubt that Summer is the busiest camp season for SU Holiday Camps. Every year, all the staff brace for the impact of Summer registrations opening and hope the website can handle the sudden increase in web traffic, sometimes resulting in camps filling up and waitlisting in the space of 45 minutes! It couldn’t be clearer that masses of young people are experiencing such significant impact that they spend the rest of the year eagerly waiting for the moment to re-register for another round!

by Bea Wickham & Suzi Bell

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News

There has been quite a buzz around SU over the last months with the announcement of our first ever Young Adults Ningaloo camp in November 2020. The experience will guide young adults on choose-your-own-adventure style activities such as snorkelling, sand boarding, hiking, kayaking or just hanging in the Lounge while sipping on coffee frappés, all the while being mentored and discipled by older adult leaders. The program is open to both Christian and non-Christian young adults, who will all have the opportunity to hear about faith, share their stories and ask questions during the dedicated small-group time in the evenings. At SU, we have a passion for holistic discipleship of our young adults which meets their need for community, relationships and Christ-focused living.

We often get asked and it is remarked that SU doesn’t seem to have anything for young adults who are not ready to lead yet (faith, maturity, character) after they ‘grow out of’ SU camps. You can become a leader and attend training and LEAD camps with SU, but there is nothing for those still questioning their faith and purpose. It is also an area that churches have varying levels of ministry and effectiveness in. Young adult age is certainly one where people leave the church and often faith in significant numbers. SU has long had a heart for developing further camping and other opportunities for young adults beyond training and leading on existing high school camps.

For those young adults who have finished their camp journey with SU and not gone on to leadership, this is another chance for them to be in Christian community with others mentoring them and sharing faith in action and word. It would be so great for them to be in relationship with Jesus as they journey through what is such an exuberant and amazing time of life, with so many decisions that shape us.

As we prayed and reflected during the COVID time, to see where God might be leading and where opportunities were, we felt this whole area of young adult ministry, discipleship and young leader encouragement and growth was one we were being led into. We saw an opportunity to launch a young adults camp as a stepping-stone towards a bigger vision and hope to see it expand into a fuller young adults ministry in the near future. Please pray with us as we continue to navigate this space!

by Bea Wickham

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News

ONE YEAR…

• Of telling young people about God’s love through being involved with school and holiday camps, schools ministries, and community missions

• Where you are surrounded by experienced Christian staff and volunteers who are passionate about supporting your faith development and will help to equip you through formal and informal study and hands-on learning

• Where you’ll meet awesome people who love Jesus

• Where you get to travel to various parts of WA and explore amazing places

• Where you get to be challenged and grow in your leadership skills

We are looking for young adults who love Jesus, love young people and love serving.

Applications are now open for the following Internships:

South-West Internship (1 position avail. – based in Busselton)

Perth Internship (1 position available)

For more information you can visit our website or contact Heather Pitman on 0433 238 792 or heather@suwa.org.au

by Heather Pitman

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News

“Time-Out” is a new program which was created as an in-school club option for the high school students at Emmanuel Christian Community School. Throughout the term SU volunteers have been meeting weekly with students to play active, values based games and have small group discussions to chat deeper about spirituality and everyday life from a Christian perspective.

We were unsure how many students would opt in for the club but we have been amazed each week to see that more and more students have been requesting to join! The word is being spread as the attending students are encouraging more of their peers to participate with them.

The program has been a great discipleship opportunity for our SU interns who have been warmly welcomed by the school, as well as the student leaders who have been a true asset to the team. We have been blessed to see them put their hands up to be involved and intentional about caring for their fellow peers.

Initially we did have some struggles finding volunteers, as school programs are often a difficult commitment due to volunteer work and study obligations. However, God sure was with us! Although He changed our original team size plan, God did so much more in the team He specifically provided. The intricacies of His workings have been so evident and praiseworthy!

We know that God is revealing Himself to these students and we are hopeful to have the opportunity to take Time-Out into more schools.

by Mel Hallsworth

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Connect groups, Cells groups, Small groups – whatever the name your Christian environment calls them, we know what they are. Clusters of around 8 -12 that gather to catch up, maybe eat together and stick our noses into the Bible. Using our collective intellect and experience we explore a biblical book, passage, verse or word to discover what treasure for life is nestled within. Then we endeavour to live it out in our lives.

An opportunity exists to take that collective Christian knowledge, plus the faith experience you & your small group have gained, and use it to plan a missional adventure, organise activities, lead input sessions, cook, walk alongside, listen, mentor, tell stories of faith, and a whole lot more. Plus have a heap of fun. It just requires some teamwork, commitment, planning, task sharing, and probably a few days off work.

The short-term Aussie mission described in this instance is in Youth Camp Ministry (there are several types, age groups and dates upcoming). Be group-trained in all the particulars and requirements of Youth Camp then build your team, project manage in the lead up to launch day, then leap in and hold on as God takes you on the ride of your life.

Those eager to know more (no obligation), please email info@suwa.org.au and ask for the Small Group Short-Term Mission Information.

by Lester Sutton

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