Every year, around April, a unique migration happens along the North New South Wales (NNSW) coast—specifically, Stuarts Point. A group of males, of all ages, converge on the NNSW Big Camp for what has long been regarded as one of the most integral events in Australian culture: the barbecue.
This barbecue, however, is special. It’s a time when men and boys—fathers, sons, single men, uncles, grandfathers—can come and enjoy a social evening. It’s called the Big & Little Men’s BBQ, and it’s changing lives across the state.
“The idea is just to encourage men to be men of integrity—in their homes, in their marriages and in their churches, and to stand up to what God has called them to be,” says NNSW Children’s and Family Ministries director Pastor Daron Pratt, who organises the event. “We live in a society where the absence of men in our homes is, unfortunately, becoming more and more of an issue. Children—especially boys—need men to help them to grow in life and understand life and to understand God, so we want to thank the men who come for what they’re doing, for being there and for being present in their children’s lives.”
The barbecue has been running for five years now, and follows a simple format.
"Children—especially boys—need men to help them to grow in life and understand life and to understand God . . ."
“We just throw out a table—none of the pretty stuff, we’re men—with just a good old burger on a roll, a ginger beer, a muffin and a bit of fruit,” says Pastor Pratt. “I give a short talk, thanking the men for what they do, and encouraging them in their walk.”
A highlight of the evening is also the friendly cricket and footy match out on the oval, which is a hit with the younger boys.
“They really love it,” says Pastor Pratt. “Often our dads are busy 24/7 with work and life, just trying to keep food on the table and support the home, and they get so busy that they don’t get the time to just be present with their kids. At this event, we make a small window where that can happen—just dads and boys playing together.”
The feedback has been phenomenal. This year’s event saw 250 men from all walks of life attend the barbecue, an exponential increase from the inaugural number of 50. Men have come back to Pastor Pratt during the year to tell him the BBQ boosted their marriage, their fatherhood and their walk with God.
“The Church often assumes when it comes to our men,” says Pastor Pratt. “This is just one way of saying to the men, ‘You are important and what you do matters.’ We want to encourage men to go back to their churches and begin to find ways to encourage the other men in their churches. We want to encourage them to stick it out when things are difficult, because they are making a huge difference in their family’s lives.”