On January 10, 2007 at approximately 10:00 pm I arrived at the Melbourne International Airport as a missionary in the Country of Australia. Though its been five years since my ministry began I can remember that night and those first months like it was yesterday.
Thinking about the last five years dozens of memories come to my mind, most of which are turning points in my ministry in Melbourne. They don’t necessarily have to do with ministry like teaching or sharing the Gospel, but are reminders of God’s goodness in my life. I share them so that others can rejoice with me in the Lord’s faithfulness but also be encouraged. There were a lot of painful or discouraging memories over the last five years but in the midst of that pain God was still Gracious to me.
Usually I spell check my posts or check the grammar but this one is published as it is, mistakes and all to allow the emotion to come through and with the hope that you would see in my life just as in yours no matter hard life is the Lord gives us hope.
1. The excitement about becoming involved in a new ministry but at the same time fear about not truly knowing what would happen in the future and sadness over not leaving my family behind.
2. The frustration over the Lord closing a door of ministry and rejoicing when I realised he had something better for me.
3. The excitement about moving into my first rental property a three bedroom house of Melton South
4. The evenings with new friends where I learned to love coffee as we shared stories, told jokes, and laughed until our sides ached
5. The fulfilment as I Taught my first class on the Doctrine of Salvation at a Bible College
6. The fun I had working with a group of twenty teenagers on Wednesday nights
7. The incredible emotion I felt the first time I talked to my parents on Skype using a webcam
8. The pain I experienced as we said goodbye to a missionary couple returning to the States
9. The many hours studying at the Gloria Jeans coffee shop in Melton where they not only knew my name, but the coffee I wanted and size
10. The sorrow I felt as the Lord led me away from the Bible College
11. The peace I experienced as He led me to get involved in a local Church
12. The sadness I felt as pulling away from my Melton House for the last time
13. The gratefulness in my heart while house sitting for a missionary couple while they where on furlough
14. The community I experienced at the international Church while working with their young people on Wednesday nights
15. The incredible dinners that my Lebanese mother made for me and the wonderful times of fellowship I had with her and her family
16. Being able to teach at Church on Sundays and see the Lord use HIs Word to impact lives
17. The Thursday morning coffee and breakfast meetings with other missionary pastors that provided direction, help, and guidance
18. Meeting with my friend Chris every Saturday for a Cappuccino at the Jamaica Blues cafe at Greensborough plaza for discipleship
19. Working through the book of Proverbs with Lee Hughes Gauge and our discussions about what the true meaning of wisdom is
20. The activities with the young people of Grace Baptist Church (particularly the ice skating)
21. Volunteering for a week following the bush fires of black Saturday
22. Crying my eyes out on my birthday as the Lord led me to leave my ministry at Grace
23. Getting involved at Cornerstone Baptist Church two weeks later and knowing it was the Lord’s Will
24. The party the young people of Grace had for me before I left on furlough
25. My nieces first words to me being “I love you uncle John”
26. The first family vacation in three years
27. All the long talks with my dad about ministry and life over Starbucks coffee
28. Being bear hugged by young adults who where little teenagers when I left
29. Sitting under the teaching of a best friend in College and praying God would allow me to have a ministry like that in Australia someday
30. Spending six months in the States while my heart was still in Melbourne
31. Returning to Australia on January 5, 2010
32. Being incredibly nervous the first Sunday as Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church four days after I arrived
33. The love and encouragement I received from the people of Cornerstone that helped me get over my nerves
34. The first of many games nights at a friends house which consisted of playing board games until 2:00 in the morning and how it made me truly made me feel at home
35. Preaching my first sermon series on the life of Abraham for six months at Cornerstone while Rob and Jackie Ernst where on furlough.
36. The Lord actually adding people to the Church during that time
37. Going bowling with the young people of Cornerstone (our first big activity) and learning more about their lives
38. Having fourteen teens in my two bedroom flat for my thirty fourth birthday
39. Being able to volunteer with a group of seventeen first and second graders at a primary school and having the time of my life
40. Welcoming the Ernst’s back home to Australia and focusing all of my attention on the young people of Cornerstone
41. Our first small group study for youth on Sharing Jesus Without Fear and how the Lord used it in their lives
42. God’s miraculous provision of a three bedroom house less than five minutes from the Church after at least twenty people were there for the open house and they received thirteen applications.
43. The first of many games nights at my new home a week after I moved in
44. After a year of waiting God allowing me to begin teaching religious education classes at a school
45. The discipleship sessions with Mikey, Adam, and Daniel
46. Roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories (that weren’t scary at all) at Church Camp
47. My first session with Deepak a young man who I am teaching english
48. The discussions we have at prayer meeting on Wednesday nights and the game of horse I play with the teens afterwards
49. Watching a pastors daughter leave for the states and remembering just how important relationships are for young people
50. My first Christmas day not being homesick