Almost two months ago now we packed up and left our home for the last four years and headed interstate to new appointments for both my husband and myself. David has transitioned to a head office position and I have taken up another church leadership ministry position in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.
Leaving a place that we have had the blessing of being in ministry with is very often bittersweet. We are sad to say farewell to those things and people that are so familiar and that we are grateful to have been a part of, but we look forward to the new opportunities that lie before us and the adventure that is waiting for us to enjoy.
Mildura and the Sunraysia region has been a place of true natural beauty and awesome memories. It has the benefits of being rural, remote and regional. I loved the weather, on the whole. The Sunraysia region in Victoria has more days of sunshine than the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The remote-ness of the area does bring some disadvantages, but mostly I found them outweighed by the delights.
One of the blessings is the ease with which community connections can be made in the country. Very quickly we became known as The Salvation Army ministers which afforded us relationships and opportunities it would have taken far longer to cultivate in a city region. There were multiple cafés where we knew all the staff by name, and they knew us, as well as community groups and activities.
When it came time for our ‘lasts’ I noticed an interesting phenomenon. I was more upset having to say goodby to our community relationships than I was in my church ministry ones. Now, the most natural conclusion to draw from that would be that I was glad to be leaving my church, but that is certainly not the truth. So it caused me to reflect and examine what the cause of this might be.
In discussion with my husband we concluded that when we move from one ministry role we are being appointed to take up a new ministry role that is already waiting for us to take on. This does not guarantee any connection to the wider community however. That is something we need to work on and to be sure to generate.
Coming to this realisation before moving was helpful for me to decide to be more intentional about engaging with my local community. So I will continue to connect with my actual ministry role while I endeavour to forge relationships in my local community. It will require more effort now, being in the city, but that’s what incarnational mission is about. I want to represent Jesus wherever I go, and live with and love and fight for people that I meet.
The bible verse that jumps out to me as I consider this is from Romans chapter 12 and verse 1. I especially love The Message paraphrase of this verse which says: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life— your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life— and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”
The relationships and connections I made while living in Mildura will remain in my heart and mind for many years to come. While I hold them fondly, I look forward to the new opportunities for community and ministry in the Ingle Farm area, whatever they may look like, and I ask that God will help me see where he wants me to focus my energies.
Where might He want you to focus yours?