From the Field

Be encouraged and inspired by stories, articles and happenings about the people and work of AMT.

TAGS

Walking in Walkervale

My husband and I have found ourselves following God's lead to plant a church in Walkervale, the marginalised, low socio-economic neighbourhood in which we live, in Bundaberg QLD. We’ve been involved in pastoral ministry since we were married 15 years ago. We moved to Bundy four years ago, with Chris taking up a chaplaincy job at a school for disengaged youth. We never thought we’d be able to own a house, but God clearly had other plans, and we were able to purchase a property in the middle of Walkervale. We knew the local State School didn’t have a good reputation, and that it was home to the rougher, marginalised families that made up the local area, but we felt God ask us to get amongst the community, give it a go and trust Him.

We were initially shocked by the crime, policing, violence, and poverty in our area. The first day that I dropped the kids off at school, I came home, sat at the dining room table, and cried until pick up time. I guess we experienced some level of culture-shock, and certainly felt like we were living in another realm compared to our previous experiences and the lives of those in even neighbouring suburbs of Bundy.

As He does, God works in our hearts. It was slow, but steady, as He challenged us to be present, rooted and engaged where He had placed us – to engage with the culture that was shocking us, and to love those He had put in front of us, instead of retreating to find safety and comfort. There was plenty of resistance on my part (and still often is), but God changed our hearts, and He gave us a love that can only have come from Him. This love compelled us to move towards our struggling neighbours, rather than away. God asked us to sit in the darkness and hopelessness of Walkervale and remain committed to Him and His light and hope – and to trust Him, that we would see His beauty in the brokenness and be willing to be used by Him in Walkervale, however He decided to do that.

Each Monday night, we began to take some sausages down to the local park a few doors down from our house. This provided a great opportunity to get to know a few local families floating around in the park. Soon, others were inviting more school families, and we were blessed with a local ‘sausage gathering’ each week. As people craved community, belonging, safety and food, this weekly BBQ snowballed and became a larger event than we had ever intended. Soon, Monday nights had evolved into a bunch of local families huddling in our living room after the BBQ to read a comic book Bible together. As God grew this group, we were surrounded by local families keen for church, keen to know more about the Good News, and hungry to understand who Jesus is. God was convicting us to follow His lead and plant a church that was accessible to the local crew, and to journey with them in discipleship.

In August 2023, we started Walkervale Church, or ‘chip church’ as it was nick-named, in our living room. It’s been squishy, noisy, and chaotic, with a motley crew of 40-50 joining in each week – almost all new local Christians or not-yet-Christians that have faced many challenges and barriers to ever attending church or reading the Bible. In January this year, we were able to start meeting each Sunday at a community centre in the middle of Walkervale. A Ladies Bible Group has also sprung out of this, with a bunch of local ladies keen to learn more.

We are always so humbled as we look at the obvious reminders that God did all of this – that it is His church and His work. We have been working through the Sermon on the Mount at Church, and it shouldn’t surprise us to see the Gospel taking root in those who are facing poverty, sadness, injustice, mess and oppression, or that God may choose to work amongst a motley crew of unlikely folk in Walkervale. The beautiful folk of Walkervale know what it means to need Him and to daily depend on Him – for that they are blessed.

This journey has been hard, and God has challenged me to rely on Him more than I’ve ever had to. He also reminds me each step of the way that all I need is His strength and big-ness, and not my own. Some days in our neighbourhood are not pretty. As I write this, I hear yelling, I can see some kids who didn’t quite make it to school riding up and down the street, and the commonplace police paddy-wagon drives past. In the mess, God’s beautiful mission shines bright – to bring hope, joy, peace, and salvation. I’m glad I have a Saviour that lovingly moved towards me, in all my mess. A Saviour that welcomed me when I did not deserve it. It’s no surprise this is the way He has asked me to walk in Walkervale.

By Emma Poulsen (DPG Day 14)



 

This product has been added to your cart

CHECKOUT