Southern Illawarra and New Day Church recently partnered to serve the Indigenous ministries of Dareton and Mildura Church of Christ. The impact of this shared experience has strengthened the churches’ relationships, birthed common vision for the future and altered the course of some of the team members’ lives.
Stephen Cathcart, pastor of Southern Illawarra Church, has been building a relationship with Dareton Youth and Community Centre in NSW since 2014. The Centre is a partner of GMP Indigenous Ministries Australia (IMA). Stephen has been making the 10-hour journey and taking a team to serve almost every year since. In 2014, Southern Illawarra Church raised $5,000 and gathered a team of tradies to head to Dareton and install false walls, power points and desks. The Centre, managed by Ilker Deli from Mildura Church of Christ, is a hub for the community and a safe place for its young people. It provides a space and a meal to local kids from 3pm-7pm Monday to Friday every week.
When describing his experience of visiting this community, Stephen said, “The Mission opens your eyes and you wonder, ‘Am I in Australia?’ You see rubbish on the street, feral dogs, broken down homes and cars, and you think, ‘What is going on?’” Many children in this community go without meals regularly and find themselves in unsafe spaces. The drop-in centre has quickly become the place many teenagers gather to have their needs met, find a safe community and hear about Jesus’ love and purpose for their lives.”
From 3-7 July this year, Stephen led a joint team of nine members from Southern Illawarra and New Day Church in Wollongong to run kids’ programs at Mildura Church of Christ and serve the Dareton drop-in centre. The team that went was a mix of teachers, school students and retirees who paid their own way, some even taking a week of annual leave to go.
“It’s only going to be the Lord who can pull some of these young people out of the spiral of poverty and give them a bigger vision for what their life could be,” Stephen said. As is the case on mission trips, this experience also greatly impacted many team members. Hugh, 20, said, “Now, I am considering new career paths to give me opportunities to further support the Dareton community. This trip has changed my life.”
If you or your church is hearing a call to be involved in reaching and supporting remote Indigenous communities, why not get in touch with IMA. Email Nick@gmp.org.au
You can read the full article A TRIP THAT CHANGED LIVES – SOUTHERN ILLAWARRA AND NEW DAY HEAD TO DARETON on the Fresh Hope NSW website.