Letters from the beach
Why would someone give up their annual leave to teach kids about Jesus?
2 January 2017
Camping and the beach aren’t my usual idea of an excellent time, so it still surprises me how much I enjoy my time at beach mission.
In my post-university years after I started full-time work, I was struggling to find good times to serve God and a friend suggested I join a beach mission team. It didn’t feel like a natural fit, but, with a slight nervousness, I said yes.
It’s a big commitment. But one that is very worth it.
We have a team of 70 which includes kids, teens, young adults, actual adults and those into their golden years. The spread of ages is great for team culture – we all learn from each other. And we’re from many churches of differing denominations, united in Jesus.
“…it’s all so worth it.”
A team-regular who has been with us for the last five years says, “can’t think of a better way to start your year – to honour God by very intentionally serving him for ten days. I get why people think it’s a sacrifice to give time to a beach mission, [but] it doesn’t feel like one. The time with the team, the time with the campers, it’s all so worth it.”
Someone who served on mission a number of years ago came back this year – and brought his wife and sister-in-law too. For them it’s a chance to see what’s possible when many serving minds are brought together. “I love the energy it gives us to take back to our local churches – we’re ready for the serving year ahead.”
It really is such a great time to tell people about Jesus.
Australian summers and caravan parks are a real ‘thing’. People come to the same places year after year after year and in many cases, we have a captive audience. There are kids everywhere looking for fun things to do, relaxed people with lots more than a quick minute for a chat and passers-by who stick their head in after seeing the many circus-like tents. It really is such a great time to tell people about Jesus.
For me, five years after my reluctant “yes”, I’m leading the team. Every year I learn and every day I’m here I have many things to thank God for. We are praying that teams continue for years to come and new teams are started – for that, we need to people. So think about it, pray it about it.
If I can do it, so can you.
*Kath is the team leader of the Huskisson Beach mission.
28 December 2016
Let me show you a day in the life of beach mission.
5:30am – We’re somewhat abruptly awoken by a family of kookaburras ready to welcome the day. Unless you’re really unlucky, you get back to sleep.
6:30am – Our more enthusiastic campers begin to emerge for a morning swim or jog along the beach.
7:20am – Our later risers reluctantly get their heads off their pillows to make it to breakfast on time.
7:30am – Breakfast time. At Huskisson we have a system called ‘Breakfast Families’. You sit with your family for every breakfast, making the morning a little easier. It’s a time to encourage each other for the day ahead.
8:30am – We meet for prayer groups. Prayer is a central part of mission. It continually reminds us that it’s God’s work, not our own. We can run the best activities and have the most enthusiastic people but it’s God who changes hearts, so we ask him to do that.
9:00am – Our various sections meet to firm up the plan for the day ahead.
9:30am – Two things happen. Most of our team head to the beach to play some games and join in with whoever might be there. It’s a good time to meet people who might like to come to our other activities. We also open our pop-up café. We have some top-quality baristas on team so we serve coffee and cake with a chat.
11:00am – Free time – beach or shower are popular choices here.
12:00pm – Our lovely cooks deliver the goods with lunch. Today we had tacos done two ways – a popular menu item.
1:15pm – After we’ve washed up from lunch we enforce siesta. This becomes more and more relevant as the time on mission goes on. You don’t have to sleep but you do have to stop everything, be on your own and rest.
2:00pm – After we’re refreshed we spend time together as a team with devotion and worship. We’re working through 2 Timothy as a team this year.
2:30pm – Scooping! We arm ourselves with guitars and even trombones and trumpets and sing and dance around the camp site ‘scooping’ up any children who want to take part in our afternoon activities. It’s a lot of fun – and mostly a lot of Colin Buchanan!
3:00pm – All the children have been gathered and we spend some time together singing, learning a memory verse and watching part of our team perform a drama.
3:30pm – We break up into sections based on age and run bible-based activities. Our café is open for the afternoon too.
4:30pm – The kids are collected from our campsite and we get a little more free time – which is another chance for a (strongly encouraged) shower.
5:30pm – Visitation time. Our team gets split into pairs or triplets and allocated some cabins or tents to visit each day. It’s a chance to get to know the campers, invite them to our events and activities and we aim to get to a gospel conversation.
6:00pm – Dinner, we sure do get well looked after.
7:30pm – Time for our evening activity. It changes every day. Sometimes it’s for anyone and everyone and sometimes each age group does their own thing. It’s an age specific night tonight and we’ve got activities ranging from a coffee appreciation night to superhero Olympics!
9:30pm – We’ve packed up from our evening activities and meet together as a team to debrief from the day, share ways that God worked, encourage each other and pray.
10:30pm – In different levels of cleanliness we head to bed, ready to do it all again.