Have you heard of this thing we call ‘Summer Project‘?
Chances are, if you’ve had anything to do with Student Life, you probably have. It’s a two week evangelism outreach. Maybe you’ve been on one?
I’ve been involved with Student Life for just over a year and I’ve been on one Summer Project which was earlier this year on the Central Coast.
But I have no idea how I ended up there.
I never wanted to go to Summer Project. It’s just not my kind of event.
Whenever someone would talk to me about it, I sort of stopped listening. It became an exercise in how quickly I could think up a good excuse.
“Oh no, I definitely can’t make it, it’s my daughter’s first birthday.”
“Sorry, I’m voting in the House of Commons.”
“Did you say January? What a shame. I’m baking a hedgehog for Beyonce’s anniversary.”
So, it turns out I’m not very good at making excuses. And if you were wondering, I’m neither a British subject, an M.P. or a mother.
I was convinced that SummerSalt was just not for me.
But I was being selfish. I live on the Central Coast and I didn’t want to see the need in my own backyard, because then I’d have to do something about it. It’s much easier to remain blissfully ignorant.
I live in a small suburb 5min from Gosford. If you’re not familiar with the area, Gosford is the heart of the Central Coast. It’s right in the middle. It’s the centre of business and local government…
…And bankruptcy, homelessness, prostitution, unemployment, drug culture, alcohol-fuelled violence, occult spiritualism and, well, crime.
There’s also a lot of churches in the area, which is an interesting moral duality. In Gosford and surrounds, there’s as many churches as there are squatters’ villages and brothels. Seriously, it feels like there’s more churches than people here.
But most of these churches are empty.
That’s because churches on the Central Coast are responsible for a lot of pain in people’s lives. Don’t get me wrong, some are doing great things, but unfortunately the few are tainted by the majority.
And that’s why I didn’t want to go to SummerSalt.
As a representative of Central Coast Christianity, I didn’t want to be confronted with the pain I had inflicted on people.
But, as I said, my excuses fooled no-one and I ended up on SummerSalt 2014, despite my best efforts to the contrary.
And, as is often the case with God, exactly what I feared became a reality. I was confronted with exactly what I hoped to avoid: People who had been deeply hurt by Christians.
Hearing story after painful story, the otherwise articulate me could muster only a weak and self-conscious apology. During those conversations, my shoes became very interesting to me. I couldn’t tear my eyes off them.
All I could say to the hurting people was “I’m sorry”. Two words that have been so rarely heard by many in that position. Especially when spoken through the genuine lips of a sincere professing Christian.
So, God used SummerSalt 2014 to break my heart for my hometown. Over two weeks, I was forced into a number of humbling experiences until my arrogance and pride had rendered to nought.
I had thought that I was better than my fellow Coasties. I had risen above them. I had pulled myself out of the muck and and re-invented myself as a hot-shot brain from Sydney Uni. I was successful, unlike those low-lives around me.
But I am and always will be a Coastie. No matter where I go, where I study, what I achieve, my roots are here in Gosford. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
God taught me to love the Central Coast for more than just its gorgeous beaches. He helped me to weep openly – and a few times publicly – for my neighbours’ salvation.
And the dismal state of the Central Coast does grieve me. As it should grieve you too. But if it doesn’t, that’s okay. Because it will – when you come on SummerSalt Central Coast 2015.
If you’re new to Student Life, maybe you’re thinking – like I did – that SummerSalt is just not for you. Well, you’re absolutely right. It’s not for you. It’s not for me.
It’s for God.
Jesus’ final command to His followers said that we should become busy with telling people about Him. (Matthew 28:16-20) Since it was His last command on earth, it should be first in our minds.
You don’t need qualifications to serve God. God rarely calls those who are equipped – but He always equips those who are called.
And quite aside from that, let’s be honest: you don’t have an excuse not to go on SummerSalt 2015 – I already used them all, and they didn’t work.
So I’ll see you in my backyard, come this January.