This year’s Port Macquarie church (northern NSW) camp was very different but in a special way—it was held at the church and became a drought relief fundraiser for Australian farmers.
Traditionally held at Stuarts Point, the annual activity is eagerly anticipated and planning for the 2018 camp was well underway. However, the organisers felt impressed by God to put the money usually spent on accommodation, travel and catering into “something better”.
So a new plan was hatched: instead of Stuarts Point, the camp would be held at the church and in the school grounds. The money members would have spent on camping would be combined with the Sabbath offering and donated to farmers.
“As a family at Port Macquarie church had previously lived in one of these drought-ravaged areas and knew families from there, we decided that the money we raised on the day would go to the Coonabarabran and Baradine areas of NSW,” church member Heather Knobbs explained.
“We made contact with a family from there and did some interviews over the phone during church services leading up to our camp date. It was amazing to talk first-hand to farmers to hear their stories and struggles during this difficult time. It really helped our congregation understand the enormity of issues farmers are facing every day.”
Sabbath School rooms became camp-out rooms and a few families stayed in tents. Food was supplied by various departments of the church at no cost so that everyone could dig deeper into their pockets for the farmers.
On Sabbath morning the program started with some fun Australian quiz questions, and prayer was taken by each of the children’s and youth divisions. Guest speaker Blair Lemke was on board with the idea and presented a powerful sermon. The children made 50 encouragement cards to send out to the farmers with the funds raised during the camp.
“When it came time to collect the offering, we went with the old Aussie tradition and passed the hat around . . . literally. We used the Pathfinder Akubra hats to collect the offering in,” Mrs Knobbs said.
“A wonderful time of fellowship happened over lunch and into the night when a games and barn dance happened with live music, more food and lots of fun continuing on with more donations received by a gorgeous puppy carrying a basket around his neck!
“At the end of an amazing day we collected just over $12,000—over double the amount we had estimated we would get. God is so good!
“Even after the night people continued to give and beautiful new children’s books, dolls and teddies were donated and wrapped as Christmas gifts to go out for the kids.
“We encourage all churches to step out in faith and do something similar to help our farming communities. Your own blessing will be so much greater for doing it.”