Christmas was a tumultuous time (as you may also recall)! St John’s usually runs Christmas eve services, as well as a Christmas day services. Boxing day fell on a Sunday, which meant organising eight English services over the course of three days. This made late December the busiest time of the year in the life of our church. It was an encouragement to see how the staff team persisted through quite a busy time, even in the face of rising fears as Omicron started to spread. I personally found it helpful to ask myself the question: what should be done out of principle? What should be done simply because it’s practical? Nevertheless, I was very encouraged by the saints who gathered together daily during this time.
Reflections for the year
Looking back at 2021, I can really only describe it like eating a bowl of buldak chilli noodles. It’s been a year full of pain and tears, eclipsed by surpassing joy and delight! MTS has involved some of the hardest and most complex situations I’ve ever had to experience, all the while being confronted by my sin, my failures, and inadequacies. And yet, it’s been incredibly exciting, fun, and I often find myself cheerful at the end of each day. I continue to marvel at the goodness of my Father, and the power of Christ at work in peoples’ lives. This year I have witnessed people come to Christ, and witnessed people fall away. I have seen the bad that comes out of my imperfect service of others, and how God still uses it for his glory. God uses ordinary people to for his extraordinary purposes. I look forward to 2022 where I can give things another go, and pass on what I’ve learned to others in ministry.
Helen and I were part of Toowoon Bay beach mission early in January. It was incredible to witness God’s might power at work over those five days. In the week leading up to mission, COVID cases were reaching all-time-highs, and a number of volunteers pulled out. We had heard the devastating news of other beach missions having to cancel, or having to pack up after the very first day after a team member tested positive. Yet by God’s grace, this small but faithful team of 20 were used to reach over a different hundred kids and adults with the gospel. Each day we were completely at the mercy of potential sickness and the weather (90% chance of rain all week!). And yet, somehow our team made it through to the end of mission healthy. Each night we encourage each other with several gospel conversations God we were able to have, and even a high-schooler named Zack became a follower of Jesus. I am in awe every time I think back to mission this year, and the wonders of God we were able to witness.
The week following Beach Mission, Helen and I took some time to rest after Christmas and beach mission. It was a wonderful time to reflect on our year, reflect on our marriage, and to give thanks to God. Personally, there was plenty of catching up on sleep! One interesting realisation was how much I started to enjoy exercise. Indeed I have recognised how it has been beneficial to my godliness and self control!
As January drew to a close, things at church began to pick up again. This year we had over 150 people sign up for growth groups; nearly 30 more than the previous year! Despite COVID, God has been kind in growing our church over 2021. That being said, we had a relatively larger turnover of growth group leaders this year. We are thankful for the new leaders he has provided, but please do be praying for them as they help grow disciples of Jesus at our church.