STORMCo is turning 30 in 2022 and to celebrate, the Australian Union Conference (AUC) Youth Ministries has launched a new website to assist groups wanting to be involved.
The website provides all the information and tools needed to organise a STORMCo trip, such as team member journals, a leader’s manual and forms to ensure the teams are ready to visit communities, allowing them to serve others with no agenda or expectations.
“STORMCo is 30 years old next year and we are really excited about that,” said Pastor Jeff Parker, AUC Youth Ministries director.
“We are wanting to shine a spotlight on this fantastic ministry and hope to get many young people and groups making the decision to go on a STORMCo trip in 2022 and beyond.”
The STORMCo acronym means Service to Others Really Matters and the concept began in Queensland, in 1992, where a school chaplain recognised that Christian students wanted to do more to put their faith into practise. Within a few years there were STORMCo teams in every state in Australia and the idea would go on to be used in New Zealand, Europe, North America, Africa as well as the South Pacific.
There are five foundations of STORMCo that make it a success:
- Listen – No Agenda: the teams go into communities to first listen and then to serve.
- Engage – No Walls: the teams serve the entire community and engage all groups within the community.
- Serve – No Expectation: the teams are there to serve to build relationships, they serve without expectation of anything in return.
- Pray – No Fear: the teams get their source of strength from devotion/worship/prayer times so this is important for each trip. They also use prayer to stay connected with God, to listen and follow what he is saying and to help from spiritual attacks.
- Return – No Limits: the purpose of STORMCo teams is to maintain a relationship with the community so it is not a ‘once only’ event. Teams adopt the communities and return year after year.
“The five foundations of STORMCo are really important,” said Pastor Parker. “STORMCo is a seed planting evangelism where we have no agenda. We want to engage the community and build their trust—which can sometimes take a few years—but once we have their trust, we can serve them more and show them who Jesus is.”
There are groups around Australia who have been going back to their adopted town for over 20 years.
Avondale School has been involved with the town of Cobar for 22 years and are well respected by the people of the community. During this time, they have also run trips to Wee Waa due to a large number of students wanting to be involved.
When COVID restrictions stopped them from physically running a STORMCo in 2020, they ran a virtual program for the children of Cobar.
Unfortunately, unexpected COVID lockdowns meant that this year’s trip was cancelled, however, they are already planning for next years trip.
Jonathan Christian, STORMCo organiser at Avondale School, has been attending STORMCo mission trips since 1999, when he was 19 years old.
“Going on STORMCo trip is a fun and amazing experience,” said Mr Christian. “Although there is more stress now being a leader, I enjoy seeing the kids grow when we give them leadership positions and colour team leaders. They always step up.”
Mr Christian has a collection of STORMCo shirts for each year since 1999, including a few he was unable to attend.
“When I start bringing out the shirts, the kids get excited as they realise they are part of something big,” he explained.
A study done on the long-term effects of STORMCo found that the young people who go on STORMCo trips have a much greater chance of staying in church because they are being the hands and feet of Jesus. They are going out and living the Gospel and being the Gospel.
The impact on the communities is great with some communities going from dysfunctional to functional and functional communities being enhanced further because of STORMCo groups. There have also been church plants, which have turned into churches as a result of these mission trips.
“STORMCo is imitating what Jesus did when He was here on earth, he would visit people, meet their needs and show them love and in return they started to follow Him,” said Pastor Parker.
“We want to see youth groups from churches or schools commit to adopting a town and running STORMCo events and for the number of trips in Australia to double from about 30 to 60 per year,” added Pastor Parker.
“It’s not preaching the Gospel to the town; it is living the Gospel in the town, and we would love to bolster the STORMCo program and give it a new lease of life.”
A special 30th anniversary uniform is being created for 2022, with support from ADRA and Sanitarium.
If you would like to serve others, without any agenda or expectation please contact your local conference youth director to help you get started on your STORMCo journey.
For more information please visit: https://stormco.org.au/