There Must be More
When we first set foot in Australia in 2005, we expected to get some training in media and then head back home to be a part of mobilising a generation of young Canadians into cross-cultural missions. God had other ideas. As we sought direction for our next steps, Create Emerge was born, alongside a love for Australia. We felt like God gave us a passage from Ezekiel 37 and a heart to see young Aussies step into missions. We sensed that He was asking us to use visual storytelling to speak life and vision to those who needed it.
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast Army.” – Ezekiel 37: 1-3 & 9-10 (NIV)
Soon we embarked on a faith journey in the form of a mobilisation tour in Australia. We were pretty slow about picking up on the fact that God didn’t just call us to do one little tour in Australia, but to plant ourselves here. And now, after nearly a decade, one of the questions we still get asked is: “Why Australia?”
It’s a good question. Why would God call together a ragtag bunch of Canadians, Americans, Kiwis, and yes, one Australian to sound the call to ‘go from’ a country that’s one of the most sought after countries to ‘come to’ in the world? Seriously, who would want to leave?
Have you noticed that God likes to send people cross-culturally? It seems that it’s easier for outsiders to see what you are blind to in your own culture—both strengths and weaknesses.
After being here for a while, we can say this about the ‘Aussie spirit’: It’s gritty. It’s determined. It’s up for a challenge. If someone says it can’t be done, Aussies are apt to say: “Right. Watch this.” You want an Aussie in your corner when you’re in a tight spot. ‘Mateship’ and ‘sticking up for the underdog’ rank as high values, as does an ingrained sense of generosity and giving everyone a ‘fair go’. And they’re adventurous world travellers, often found seeking thrills and taking risks in the highest, deepest, and most out of the way places on the planet.
But when we have a look around we see that many Australian youth, as in other nations, have lost their way.
A particularly disturbing trend is the issue of binge drinking and alcohol-fuelled violence which has been increasingly hitting the news reports, particularly among school-leavers during ‘Schoolies Week’. Schoolies for some time has been considered a cultural rite of passage, and it’s no longer limited to local party hotspots like the Gold Coast. Thousands of Aussie youth now export the revelry with it’s high-risk behaviour overseas to places like Bali, Fiji, and Thailand. Over 10,000 school leavers have headed overseas for Schoolies 2014, according to Andy Gourley, founder of Red Frogs, a support network which has literally been a lifesaver for many participants over the years.
A few lines from recent reports paint a picture of the Bali Schoolies scene :
“Welcome to the ugly side of Schoolies in Bali — where Aussie teens are partying wildly and making life a nightmare for the harassed locals.” The Daily Telegraph – 28 Nov 2014
“Drunken schoolies are pouring out of the clubs in the early hours, stumbling in front of cars and scooters and walking down dark alleys.” The Herald Sun – 27 Nov 2014
“Bali hospital deploys extra staff to cope with influx of over 6000 partying Schoolies….doctors treat 100 people a day for broken bones, alcohol poisoning, STD’s and dengue fever.” The Daily Telegraph – 1 Dec 2014
We can’t help but wonder: What would it look like to see 10,000 Aussie youth going to these places, full of life and embodying the love of Jesus? That’s the true adventure they’ve been created for.
So. Why Australia?
There are over 2 billion people in the world who have never heard of Jesus, let alone the good news of the life-giving transformation he wants to bring to all spheres of society. The majority of these people live in difficult circumstances, where the only way this good news will get to them will be through much perseverance. It’s a big challenge, and it’ll take a tenacity that Aussies possess in spades. We want to do everything we can to see young Aussies rise to the occasion, full of vision, living life to the full with Jesus, wherever He may lead.
We’re working hard to line up a vast array of outreach opportunities from across the street in Australian cities and communities to over the sea in nations like PNG, Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, and South Africa to name a few. The idea is to come to GO Fest 2015 and then GO immediately on an outreach.
Or WAIT til Schoolies week to do an outreach. We’ve invited Destiny Rescue Australia to showcase this opportunity for young adults (17-25 years old) who’d like to mark Schoolies season in a completely different way. Participants could come to one of the GO Fest 2015 Conferences (Sydney, Perth, or Melbourne), and then later GO on a ‘Schoolies Team Trip‘ to Thailand or Cambodia, led by Destiny Rescue.
There’s a verse in Proverbs that says “Where there is no prophetic vision, the people cast off restraint (ESV), or: “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild (NLT). If this generation of Aussie youth are going to be fully alive, they need to know they are part of a story much bigger than themselves—and then catch a vision for their place in it. We believe that GO Fest 2015 will be a catalyst for catching that kind of future-shaping vision.