Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


When I first starting working for the Binningup church I had a few goals. One of them was to catalyse a movement of the church away from the fringes of the local community in both the minds of the members and the community itself.

Back in 2005 we published a flyer with information on the church. Yep, the thinking behind was probably a little more attractional in focus than we would like to admit now, but it included the slogan "A part of your community". This was the first outward expression of this goal. Even though the majority of the members and most of the leadership at the time had no idea how that would work.

The front of our original brochure

This week I feel like that goal has been achieved, that the church has corporately managed the move from an irrelevant institution to an active (and even proactive) member of the town.

Around 3 weeks ago the church was asked by a community group (one that in the past has been quite openly antagonistic towards the church) to organise the Australia Day Breakfast for the town. What eventuated was a coming together of 4 different community groups in a great effort to serve and raise funds for the community.

The church was joined by members of the Surf Club, the Watersports Club, the Tennis Club (and some of the Alternate[Or] Crew from Bunbury to fill a few gaps) in setting up, serving and making the breakfast happen. More than 200 people turned up and well over $1000 dollars was raised to put towards cricket practice nets and new tennis courts for the town.

The community in action at the 2009 Aussie Day BBQ

While there will always be those who will want the church to stay on the fringe, for the most part things are changing and the church is now really begining to be seen as a part of the local community, caring about many of the same things the rest of the community cares about and wanting to make a real difference in the town in positive ways.

Way back in 2005 when I first started talking about this kind of thing, someone called me an idealist. Well, maybe I am, but I think this is proof that having ideals isn't necessarily a bad thing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Are our attitudes to alcohol killing our kids?

The West Australian Newspaper published the results of a joint study between the paper and HBF (a health insurance organisation) in WA where more than 650 people between the ages of 15 and 30 were questioned on their attitudes toward alcohol, drugs and binge drinking.

76% of those polled admitted to regularly binge drinking*.

This afternoon (after reading the survey results in the paper) I was told a 16 year old boy died on the weekend after "sculling" (rapidly consuming) a bottle of whisky on Saturday night. This boy was a part of the extended network of young people we work with through Alternat[Or] and his death has hit hard. But not hard enough to change young peoples drinking habits.

Our attitude to alcohol is killing our kids.

This is something we need to take incredibly seriously.

Through my work professionally, and informally, in working with, mentoring and diverting young people involved in problem drug and alcohol use, I have found the number one most effective way of achieving positive change is via meaningful, genuine, ongoing relationship.

I have seen many young people completely change their attitudes and behaviour to drug and alcohol use through an ongoing process of engagement and mentoring/discipleship.

Unfortunately, there are not many of us willing to invite young people into our lives, and even fewer willing to critically assess their own liberty - their own social use of drugs - and they way it impinges on the development of the next generation of Australian adults.

What are you prepared to do? What are your answers and/or experiences in dealing with the cultural of heavy drinking that exists in our society?

*Just a quick disclaimer! I'm working from memory. If this isn't the exact figure, it's pretty bloody close. I can't find the results online and don't have a copy of the paper as I read it while having a cuppa in the cafe this morning.

Monday, January 19, 2009

God's still in the hot seat on UK buses

English blogger, Chris Goan, posted this yesterday on the current atheist advertising campaign on UK buses. I posted on this back in October last year, when the campaign was first announced.

Chris draws a couple of interesting conclusions at the end of his post, including pointing out the unfortunate way aspects of Britain's evangelical right seem to be dealing with it - adding fuel to the atheist's fire in the process. Chris also links to an interesting story on the BBC website about a Christian bus driver who refused to drive the buses featuring the atheist'
s bill boards.

I wonder how long it will be before the same campaign is run somewhere in Australia? How would you react if it did run in your home town? Should Christian's hold the monopoly on use of the media for evangelistic purposes?

Picture nicked from

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Israel, the innocent victim?

Those with a Facebook account, check out this photo album from Michael Prysner.

Hamas are in the wrong. They should not be firing rockets into Israel or attempting to provoke war. But, Israel is so, so incredibly wrong in retaliating in the way they have. So much devastation, so many deaths. The cycle of violence and hatred is perpetuated.

I can not even begin to understand the blind, biased attitude of those who support Israel in this action. Look at these photographs and then tell me that Israel is doing God's will!

Not feeling guilty?

These videos will soon change that!


Thanks to Blind Beggar

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Moves in Mission

Yesterday arvo Alternate[Or] met for the first time in 2009. We are changing the way we are doing things a little this year.

Last year we met on Thursday afternoons in an office in Bunbury. This was ok, and meant that we were easily accessible to some of the younger crew we are involved with, but it also meant that, for those of us with families (which was just Lyss and I for most of the year) we couldn't all meet together regularly at the same time and with the kids.

This year we have a new family, with kids (yeah!) joining us and so we are moving things around a bit. We will now be meeting alternate Sunday afternoons in team members homes. The format is going to be similar to our Thursday arvo gatherings, but we are also going to share some tucker and incorporate communion into this.

Social Sunday's will continue every second Sunday as a purely endeavour and as a means of introducing people to our community and offering support and engagement in healthy aspects of community for those on we are invloved with, the youth and some of the families that are now starting to join us for our fortnightly BBQs.

"Action" continues to be an important part of our community and we will kick off the year in this regard on Australia Day. We have volunteered to help out Binningup Beach Christian Fellowship (where I am currently employed in a pastoral role) cook and dish out the Aussie Day breakfast for the town. Should be fun with anywhere between 150 and 250 people expected to attend!

The mentoring I've been doing for the past 18 months or so will also continue, although a number of the young blokes I have been involved with have found their feet and are working and doing ok at the moment. This will change the way this side of things operates, with less of the street work and probably more time spent socially. Although there are still a couple of guys needing ongoing support and advocacy with court cases coming up, and with alcohol and drug issues, trying to get straight and find work.

So that, I think, has most of our bases, as a Community Development/Urban Mission project covered. Here's to what should be an interesting and, hopefully, fruitful year!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

New African Self Help Group Video

I've just uploaded a new mini-doc showcasing Day 4 Community Aid & Development Inc's Self Help Group networks in Rwanda.

These groups are amazing in what they achieve for their members. We are trying to replicate these networks and the sustainable business projects that have come out of our experiences with these networks elsewhere in Africa (we are currently working with a community in Bungoma, Kenya and in Kampala Uganda on similar development projects).

So, check out the video!