Day 2 in Bathurst

Our second full day in Bathurst was another full and fulfilling one. It was nice to have a flexible day to settle in to our new surroundings and prepare for a busy week of VBS, and it felt a little bit like down time even though it was all very purposeful and important.

Before I can sum up Saturday though, I have to tell you about the rest of Friday. Friday was our first full day in Bathurst, and it concluded with a bonfire at a private beach in the company of about 50 local people from over 8 different churches in the city. Everyone had an amazing time mingling, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, and just enjoying a beautiful evening on the beach. It was such an amazing experience to see and feel Christian unity across different denominations, generations and languages. bonfire catching

The bonfire was huge, but it eventually burned down enough that we could form a circle around it, and we closed the evening with prayers for the community of Bathurst, for political and church leaders, and even for the VBS we came to help lead.bonfire circleIt is hard to say which was more beautiful: the setting or the camaraderie we enjoyed, but I think they both enhanced each other, and the real highlight of this night was the real sense of God’s presence and pleasure as we simply enjoyed his goodness.

sunset Saturday we started our day with a trip to the Bathurst farmers’ market. It’s a pretty simple set-up, just tables in an old barn, but there’s a huge variety of things for sale – fresh vegetables, handmade cards, jam, maple syrup and candies, soaps and lotions, wooden art, secondhand books, jewellery – and there is fresh-cooked breakfast you can buy – eggs, bacon, toast and home fries, so breakfast at the farmers’ market has become a mission trip tradition!farmers marketAfter the market, we went to St Luke’s to do some VBS prep, then we spent some time at the beach before going to a party to celebrate a local friend’s graduation from high school. We spent the rest of our evening at a park in Bathurst where most of our team played soccer with Chaleur Generation (a local bilingual sports ministry), and I got to spend time with a friend here and her young sons. Torre had a blast connecting with her kids (two of whom are older and one of whom is younger than him), and we had a great chance just to talk.

It is only the second day of our trip but I already feel that God is impressing on me the importance of the church as a witness to his Kingdom. Whatever the name of the city is, and whatever the specific challenges a community faces, it is critical that the church be more than a passive presence, a brick time capsule marking where people used to worship and now just reminisce about the good old days. Or where people still worship and wish others would join them but don’t know how to get them to come. In Bathurst, I keep connecting with people and hearing stories that just have no filter for their hardship or suffering, no gloss to convince me it will be alright. But irrationally, I still have hope, because I am convinced that God is a creator of abundance, not scarcity, that his design does not include haves and have-nots. I don’t know what the answers are for so many problems, for people, for churches, for cities, BUT. If I can be so moved by hearing a small part of someone’s story or by seeing a glimmer of potential being realized, I know that God’s heart is so much more moved and that we as his people have to witness to that, to the relentless love of God for his creation, even when there is pain.

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Susan 23-07-2014, 14:43

What a beautiful beach! Thanks for sharing the photos for those of us who couldn’t be there. Good thoughts at the end too. I wonder what it will take for the church to rise up and take her place on the earth.


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