It’s a beautiful drive. After making a left turn somewhere near Newcastle (NSW), you head inland and north. The green hills roll by and, after passing through a number of small towns, you’re soon looking down from some fairly serious heights before you enter New England.
With around 12,000 residents, Inverell is a not the biggest town in the region but it is still a decent-sized regional hub. My colleague Gilmore and I travelled there to film a video for the May 5 Adventist Record offering. We had no idea what to expect. Neither of us had attended this church before or had met anyone from there. I’d exchanged some emails and texts with members but, like visiting any new church, there were some nerves.
We needn’t have worried. What followed was a beautiful weekend of fellowship and fun.
The church was welcoming and warm. One long-attending member told me that he believed I was the first serving Record editor ever to visit.
The church hasn’t had the easiest of times recently. Following a devastating fire in 2014, it had to be rebuilt.
Yet it seems tragedy has turned into triumph. The hall was refurbished and now has a great kitchen for catering. The church was made more accessible, with a disabled toilet and access ramp installed.
And the God’s Closet ministry, which is operated from the hall, is breaking down barriers, and creating an active and service-driven church community.
Although they apologised for being a small group of “old people”, what I saw was a group who are seeking God and looking for ways to engage the world like Jesus did.
There were five or six people who weren’t members of the church attending that Sabbath. Richard had only been baptised a year earlier but loved being involved in God’s Closet. Sam is a young man who was going to be baptised the week after we attended.
This was an unexpectedly vibrant country church whose members had clearly made a decision to make an impact in their community. This is something I’m seeing in my travels; that there is a desire in our churches to engage with the community as members ask themselves, if the church shut down, would anyone notice? They are doing something different and seeing God work in amazing ways.
And the beautiful thing for me is that Adventist Record played a small part in Inverell’s journey. Inspired by an article about a God’s Closet ministry at Wyee church, the members thought, we can do that too.
The story behind the stories is the people who enact, tell and live them. There would be no stories to tell if people weren’t out in their church communities doing amazing things.
These are the stories of what God is doing. There’s a misconception that in sharing information you are being proud and vain—and that is the case if you’re sharing for your own glory. But if you’re sharing for God’s glory, you have the opportunity to inspire others.
"There would be no stories to tell if people weren’t out in their church communities doing amazing things."
I encourage you not to read Adventist Record passively but with a view to activity. Approach it while looking for ways to engage. You may read about a ministry or need that triggers a passion to support. You may read a story or testimony that touches you and that you can share with someone else. You may decide that you want to run a similar ministry or event in your local congregation.
There are also many ways to engage online. Don’t just read articles as you come across them. It has never been easier to pass them on, to share them on your own social media platforms or to email them to someone you think would benefit.
(Of course, this is how we should read and engage with the Bible as well: with a view to sharing the content and the personal lessons we find there. That alone will reinvigorate our faith journey.)
Our faith is made for sharing. We are to pass on the blessings that God is working in our lives. Inverell church is. And I hope you can too.