AMT’s Come & See 2022 tour was brought to life following an invitation from missionaries serving in outback NSW communities to “come and see what the Lord is doing.” Come & See provided a pathway for a team of 22 from Brisbane to get a taste of cross-cultural mission in a relaxed environment, while remaining open to the Lord’s leading in service through fellowship, singing, testimonies, prayer, community work, games, and more.
The core of the following report was written by Jack (15), with feedback from several team members interspersed throughout. Additional photos may be viewed on our Facebook page.
Tim & Merryn: “Our family of five signed up for Come and See 2022 with trepidation and even some teary moments in anticipation. We were collectively nervous about lots of things - the camping, the long drives, who would be in our group, the toilets and hygiene, mozzies, and the possibility of having to do something upfront during the Convention events. The lack of phone and internet coverage was a drawcard for some and a terror for others. We hoped for an introduction to camping and a glimpse at what God is doing in regional areas, as well as a chance for all of us to stretch our boundaries and face new challenges...”
Jack: “As a home- schooler, something I partly lack in life is the opportunity for social interaction. When I first heard of Come and See 2022, I wasn’t sure about going. Eventually, my parents and I decided it was a good idea, so plane tickets were booked (I live near Cairns) and bags packed.Thankfully, I wasn’t feeling very nervous. Once in Brisbane, I helped pack our vehicles: the “Big Red” AMOS truck with food and camping gear, a HiAce van with more camping gear, and a Holden wagon with other essentials. It was also good to meet some other team members before our departure date...”
Day 1 was a 500km drive to St George, which consisted of lots of sleep (for the passengers!). As soon as we arrived at our campsite, we were introduced to the multitudes of mosquitoes, some bigger than anyone had seen. We used lots of repellent that day. Our time in St George gave us an opportunity to explore culture and expectations as a team before joining the larger group of Outback River Convention folk.
Day 2’s destination was a town called Goodooga, approximately 200km away, where we set up camp near a footy oval on which we could play games. This is also where we joined the main Convention group. “I thought there’d be about 20 others, but I was very wrong. Our entire convoy was about 70!” – Jack.
Goodooga was also where we were introduced to one of the main Convention events: breaking-in horses. This is when trainers use various techniques to tame a wild horse. As he gently broke the horse in, Scott, and wife Jane, spoke of the parallels with our own discipleship and training in faith as we go through the Christian walk. “These sessions were highlights for me, and I came away with new insights into how God prepares and trains us to participate in his work.” – Merryn.
We experienced our first gospel service here, and impromptu call-ups to share. Everyone needed to be ready with their testimony, and our musicians always had a song up their sleeve just in case, as no one could predict who Uncle Ike might call on next! This was a stretching challenge for our teens, and they really stepped up to build our faith with their worship and testimonies.
We stayed one night in Goodooga. Our next destination, Weilmoringle, was only 100km away. We arrived shortly before lunch on Day 3. Weilmoringle was an interesting community with only 60 to 70 people in the entire town. Their school had 6 students under the care of a single teacher, who was also the principal, cleaner, groundsman, etc.
Weilmoringle presented a challenge for our team leaders and a test in faith: there was no suitable place for these inexperienced city-slickers to put up our tents where the Convention was camped behind the local school. We prayed, and God provided. The principal kindly allowed us to camp at the school. We also would have run out of our own water supplies here, but God had generously provided in advance just the amount we would need! Two tennis courts and a basketball court nearby was where a lot of the young folk spent time playing.
Each morning, our team would gather for devotions, following the “No Ordinary Story” book set written by John Cross. This was an unexpected highlight for us. We whipped through these books at 10 (short) chapters a day, each led by a different team member. Even the younger kids took their turns leading the group in reflecting on their chapter, and together we learned so much about God's amazing rescue plan for humanity. “These books succinctly explained the overarching story of the Bible and particularly enhanced my perspective on the purpose and message of the Old Testament, pointing ultimately towards Christ.” – Merryn.
In Weilmoringle, the reoccurring daily schedule was the horse breaking-in from 4pm, a gospel service at 6pm, and dinner after. On Day 4 though, we went door-knocking in the community to invite people to a lunch service at the park. “We made friends with a few local kids there.” – Jack. “My highlights in Weilmoringle were the open-air services held in the tiny town, and meeting faithful local believers, Auntie Vera and Auntie Josie.” – Merryn.
Day 5, our last day in Weilmoringle, was similar to previous days, except for the extra-chilly evening air and the more-persistent mosquitoes. We had to drench ourselves in repellent. The mosquitoes could even get through jeans and jackets. “I could deal with them until they started biting my knuckles and face. There's nothing pleasant about spraying repellent on your face. I felt sorry for people who had mosquitoes slip into their tents.” – Jack.
Day 6 marked more than halfway through our trip. We travelled 300km to Brewarrina. One amazing thing about Brewarrina was that although we were camping close to the river, there were very few mosquitoes. Some of us helped set up a huge circus-size tent at the footy oval. It had about 30 outer poles, for which we had to sledgehammer three 2ft-long metal pegs into the ground per pole. Thankfully, there were many people and several sledgehammers. It took nearly two hours to set the entire tent up. Afterwards, we headed to the Olympic-sized swimming pool to cool off.
Day 7 was Easter Friday. We went to an interesting morning service near a place called the Fish Traps, where Indigenous people made traps in the river to catch fish. They still use some of those traps today. The younger ones played a big game of soccer in the afternoon. Up until today, a group of Koreans from One Family Church in Sydney had graciously provided the majority of meals for the entire Convention. “I'm still not sure how they managed to fit so much food in their vehicle – it seemed a ‘loaves & fishes’ miracle.” – Merryn. Sadly, they had to leave today. Of course, we missed the people more than the food!
Day 8 was a special day, as one of the local boys we had spent a lot of time with was baptised. It was wonderful to witness the baptism and hear his touching testimony. Some of our team went to the Brewarrina Aboriginal Cultural Museum, where we had an educational, sobering, and eye-opening tour, with a warm welcome to learn and yarn from the local guide. As this was our last day with the main Convention, we spent lots of time talking, playing, and swimming together. We said some goodbyes and exchanged contact details.
On Day 9, we had to wake up very early. We said even more farewells, then headed off. We split our team into two groups. One went to Pilliga, and one to Moree. Both places had Easter church services we could partake in. Today was the last day our team would spend a whole day together, and we had a teary-eyed evening debrief, sharing our favourite memories.
With a long 500km trip ahead of us, we got up bright and early on Day 10. We had numerous calls with friends we had made along the way. We missed each other so much already. After a lunch stop, we farewelled some of our team, who were going to get dropped home on the way. After finally arriving back in Brisbane, we unpacked and cleaned the vehicles. Praise God for our safe return!
Louise: “Come and See 2022 was certainly an eye-opening, challenging, and impactful ten days! I feel that I have been impacted so much more than I could have impacted anybody I met. Seeing the commitment, love, and boldness of the team who hosted the Convention really challenged me, especially knowing that they regularly visit these communities, not just during Convention. This is certainly a powerful example of Jesus’ love and concern for others. It is clear that God is working in these places, and using the local workers for His glory. I feel very blessed to have been a part of this group.”
Tim & Merryn: “Come & See 2022 was amazing! We were incredibly blessed by the experience, and came back fulfilled - new friends, rich memories, a fresh appreciation for God’s creation, many photos, funny stories, and answers to prayer.
We were greatly encouraged by Allan and Shelley Moss, who go out from Moree encouraging believers in surrounding rural towns. My (Merryn’s) greatest highlight of the trip was meeting all these people labouring for God's kingdom, from the scattered believers in little towns to the servants of Christ regularly travelling long distances to teach and encourage them, and share His light and hope with all communities.
At every stop, we were blessed with new friends and connections, particularly for the teens travelling with us. Since returning, our kids have kept up these friendships and are already enthusiastically planning catch-ups and next year's trip with much gusto.
We returned praising God in our hearts for his goodness, and can't wait to return next year!”
Alex (17): “Travelling and meeting people is my happy place, and Come & See definitely fulfilled that criteria. The experience of outdoor gospel meetings with amazing songs and good preaching in the company of incredibly different yet united people will not be forgotten. Same with the rest of our team in the morning studies, praying, chatting, playing soccer, and walking to town like some real gangstas. All of it was a blast – absolutely worth going – and impactful on my journey with Christ."
Adison (17): “My experience on Come and See 2022 was life-changing. It’s amazing to see how God used even the most challenging of times to grow and prune us all. My cultural eyes were truly opened, and I came to appreciate even the littlest things in God’s provision and how much privilege I have.
How then can I be using it to love others and serve Christ where I am right now? I think I was most impacted by the love, humility, and realness these communities show, and what it meant to have a practical, lived-out faith, not just a Sunday one. I loved their humble desire for reconciliation whilst acknowledging and preserving their culture. We are not better than they, and so we shouldn’t enforce our culture and nullify theirs. We should instead love our neighbour and seek reconciliation in Christ. I’ve learnt to love others no matter what their backgrounds are or what they have been through.
God sees our hearts, and I was truly encouraged to hear people selflessly and courageously getting up in front of everyone to share their testimonies and sing their hearts out to our Great God with tears in their eyes. Whilst we came to encourage and be on mission, there is so much we need to take back and apply in our own ministry circumstances and churches too, for the glory of God and the good of others. I truly do pray that we were an encouragement to the isolated believers all throughout Goodooga, Weilmoringle, Brewarrina, Pilliga, and Moree.
I’ve made what will hopefully be many lifelong friendships, and I’m looking forward to coming back.”
Jack: “All in all, I think the trip was 100% worth it.”