Hey everyone, thanks for bearing with us during our lapse of posting since the beginning of our outreach phase 3 weeks ago. It took us a while to get into the different schedule and find time to write a blog post between doing so much each day for outreach. We are currently in the old city of Mithymna, Lesvos Island, Greece, but this blog post will be about our first two weeks of outreach in Windale, Australia.
Windale is a low socioeconomic suburb of Newcastle (the lowest in AU, actually), where government housing, drugs, alcoholism, and abuse is extremely prevalent. We were graciously given a house to stay in a neighboring suburb, so we based out of there and bussed our team of 12 into Windale each day. On a side note, Connor got an international driver’s license for outreach and was the driver for our bus. It was quite a learning experience driving a manual bus on the left side of the road!
Our ministry in Windale consisted of a variety of outlets, mostly to the youth, but also in local churches. Many groups from YWAM Newcastle go into Windale each Saturday during ‘community connect,’ so the area is somewhat aware of our organization’s presence. In all of those times, however, the groups hardly ever saw any youth. We couldn’t believe that, because from day 1 we were surrounded by a core group of 20-30 children from the neighborhoods. We saw at least some of the same familiar faces every day, and we were able to build some lasting relationships with a few of them. We saw two salvations among them, and planted strong seeds for a third. Our youth ministry consisted of inviting them to play games at the local park daily, which was all leading up to Summer Blast – a big party in the park with water slides, sports games, face painting, sumo suits, free sausage BBQ, music, and more. A few local church leaders organized the event, and our team was the majority of the volunteers.
Other types of ministry included sharing testimonies (a story of how God has done something in our lives) and short sermons at the local ‘Brekkie Church.’ This church, held in the community center by volunteers, is dedicated to serving locals’ physical needs by offering a donation-based breakfast to anyone who comes to listen to the service. We both got the chance to share our testimonies here – our very first times of speaking about God in front of a crowd.
The other local church we visited is called Vivid Life – they are the ones who provide the funding and volunteers for Brekkie Church and Summer Blast. Vivid Life runs its service out of a school auditorium, much like our church back in Colorado (New Life Downtown), and they believe in using their funds to pour into Windale instead of a physical building for themselves. Our team members shared testimonies here and helped reinvigorate their resolve of helping Windale by the fruitful stories we were able to share. Although small, this church is doing big things in the area for God!
Lastly, our time in Windale was marked by some amazing divine encounters (situations only made possible by following God’s voice). We even got the opportunity to write about one of our encounters for YWAM Newcastle’s blog, which you can read here.
Our last day in Windale and in Australia was Alix’s birthday! Our whole team got the day off, so we all went to the beach to celebrate. It was a perfect day, filled with swimming, sunshine, coffee, pizza, and milkshakes (all picked by Alix). Although half the day was also spent packing and cleaning, it will definitely be a 25th birthday to remember! We awoke the next morning at 3a.m. to begin our 52 hours of travel to Lesvos (2 drives, 5 flights), which by the grace of God had no complications at all.
That’s the short version of our time in Windale! When we first heard that our time in Greece was being cut short and replaced by 2 weeks in Windale, we were honestly pretty bummed. But God completely blew us away by our experience there. We grew so much as a team and in our relationships with God, which strengthened us to perform more effectively in the hardcore situations at refugee camps here in Greece. We have only had 2 shifts at the refugee camps here so far, so we will post another update once we have more even stories to tell! In the meantime, we are posting a good amount of smaller updates on Facebook and Instagram (wifi in the refugee camps is even better and more prevalent than Aussie wifi, haha!).
So, a huge “Thank you!” to each and every supporter who helped us get through our lecture phase and onto this outreach. God has clearly told us that we have been chosen “for a time such as this,” and we are honored by every donation in support of us and our mission. Bless you all!