Last Friday I shared with friends that on September 5 I would return to the States for a year-long furlough. It probably seems like this was an easy decision but actually something I struggled with for over a month.
For a little over a year God has allowed me to volunteer with children in four Elementary Schools doing everything from Religious Education to being a volunteer teachers aid, homework tutor, and teaching English as a Second Language. This developed in my heart a love for these young people and a desire to become a greater influence in their lives since in most cases we were together less than hour a week.
That calling led me to discover a chaplaincy program offered by a Christian organization in Melbourne. This matches individuals with public schools where they would volunteer three days a week as a guidance counselor helping students who may be struggling in their classes, or have become a discipline problem, or just need someone to talk with.
Obviously this will give me countless opportunities to not only be a Godly testimony but also share my Faith with these students. That’s why I was shocked when my application to become a chaplain was rejected.
Heartbroken I asked the Lord to show me what to do, certain this opportunity had been His Will for my life. God’s response was to show my need for what is called a Permanent Residency Visa (I have a two-year religious workers) in Australia. Since then it became clear my not having that visa was the only reason my application was rejected.
Unfortunately this is a challenge since companies in Australia a few years ago began bringing in Immigrants and paying them way too little. Because of that gaining Permanent Residency has become incredibly hard with the Immigration Department of Australia asking anyone applying to have a certain amount of annual income each year. I completely understand Immigration doing this since Australia has National health care, but my annual income falls below the requirement.
Currently I need at least $300 of new support in order to apply for a Permanent Residency Visa and eventually chaplaincy of a school. Since this barely gets me above the line I am asking that God would provide $400 of additional support in case they choose to raise the minimum financial requirement.
Of course I cannot do this alone, there is a need for Believers who would come alongside and partner with me in this ministry. Don’t worry there is no financial obligation (although you can become a financial supporter here). Instead partnership centers on praying for my requests and developing a real friendship which involves communication through social media and technology.
Want to become a partner? It’s easy, just send me your email as a private message in facebook, send a direct tweet in twitter to @jhwilburn, or send a letter by pony express. Promise not to send you any spam or chain emails unless they involve a monkey’s or kitty cats .
Facing this huge financial challenge I am tempted to go into fundraising mode selling my ministry as if it was an ultra absorbent mop head on a late night infomercial, but God won’t bless if this becomes the John show. Blessing comes as I develop real relationships with supporters while sharing the burden He has given me in humility and love. Its feels weird thinking so far in advance (probably take at least two years before I can become a chaplain) but its sure to be an awesome adventure….so whose with me?