We’ve been living in Australia for just over a month now and the question I get asked most often is ‘how are you settling in?’ As more and more people ask that I figured it was time to start implementing my resolution to try and keep this blog reasonably up to date. Overall living in Australia isn’t dramatically different to the UK although there are lots of little differences (Cadburys chocolate doesn’t taste as good but there are more flavours and Woolworths is a supermarket) There are many aspects of settling in to a place that won’t happen for us for quite some time; until we have jobs and our own place to live we can’t really get a grasp on shopping, commuting etc. Continue reading Living down under
In my homeland Australia right now it is my birthday – but thanks to moving to the UK for a time, I conveniently have an extra 10 hours of being twenty something, rather than thirty. So, what do I have to say for myself?
The last few weeks leading up to my birthday have been difficult at times because I feel sad that I am so far from my family and from the friends that I’ve known for the longest – that whilst I know that I’ll have a good celebration here, I’ll be missing people who would need to sell all their earthly things twice over to attend. But is there something more than that? Do I fear the big 3-0? Continue reading Last thoughts of a Twenty-something
Sometimes God has surprises in store. Last Thursday I travelled with one other OMNIvision volunteer to a corporate event for the National Trust. It was a simple event, looked to be rather dull, and whilst it didn’t conflict with our values – it wasn’t a Christian event but the wise leaders of OMNIvision know Continue reading A beautiful setting
In my life I have often celebrated New Years Eve with close friends and this year I was blessed to do the same – but differently. Ruth and I joined our good friend Paul and the Ingham family, who have become like a third family for us in Carlisle. In the late hours of 2012 we discussed what God had been saying to us, and came to Him in prayer for the year ahead. It was so nice to take time out to seek God on such an occasion. We were also delighted to listen to Big Ben chime on the radio and see fireworks right out the window!
Last weekend I joined the OMNIvision crew for the live filming of a school dance competition. Dance Factor 6 brought together students from primary and secondary schools around the Carlisle area to compete. But why bother? What was the purpose of servicing an event with no mission or even Christian focus?
It comes down to two beliefs that we hold. Quality media productions tell the story better than half baked attempts, that is why we do what we do – and producing quality multimedia and event coverage requires continuous practice. We offer our professional services for events that don’t conflict with our beliefs and values and where there is no other opportunity for us to serve the Christian community – thus helping us to stay sharp and focussed.
We also believe in doing all that we can to be self sufficient. many generous people give to provide Ruth and I with a home and food, but nobody should have to foot the bill for the equipment that we use. That’s why we use mostly donated or discounted equipment that is high quality but not necessarily the cutting edge.
Daniel taught me everything that I know about my role in OMNIvision. He has showed me how to monitor 3 to 6 cameras and make sure the images look natural throughout the show. This is important so that people are not distracted by strange colours or overexposed images. Now that Daniel and his wife have taken 3 months out to visit the Logos Hope, I have taken the responsibility for Engineering. It’s a really technical job – but still an important one. I feel like I’ve come at just the right time to be of use.
“I thought I spoke English before I came to the UK” I exclaimed to those gathered at the table. The night before the big celebration a few of us close friends from ship days gathered together for dinner and were sharing our experiences of adapting to British culture.
A little over a year since we shared two years of our lives in close quarters with so many people we called friends, I cannot describe to you how refreshing it was to be back in the company of these old friends. Chief amongst these for me were some of my closest friends from my time onboard. Ruth also enjoyed meeting with friends of hers. I was encouraged by others sharing their stories of difficulty adapting to british culture after marrying Brits. Calling crackers biscuits and calling biscuits cookies, parking on the wrong side of the street and misunderstanding social cues. Sometimes I feel totally foreign and at other times I feel like I belong here.
The celebration lunch happened the day before they left for the US and just weeks before their US wedding and held all the hallmarks of a wedding reception. It was a delightful affair – and it was so nice to see them walking the road to marriage so well. I was very impressed by the way Colton had prepared every detail for their future life together in the states.
Christian weddings are often a great witness to God’s goodness to us and our ability to celebrate without excess in drinking and the like – and this celebration was a shining example. I loved the way the speeches reflected God’s provision and guiding in their lives, that whilst alcohol was available it barely featured, that we celebrated with such a lovely barn dance – and mostly that we could all gather around Claire and Colton to pray God’s blessing upon them as they travel onwards and together. They say that Christian marriage should reflect the way Jesus loves the church and we love him – and this is already evident in their lives.
“We have lived for such a long time in the abnormal that we call it normal, and when we touch God’s normal we call it abnormal”. A weekend with Northchurch Baptist in Hertfordshire proved to be more than simply time with our friends – it was a real wake up call to what it means to be kingdom people.
Often times we can feel like we are living good Christian lives by going to Church, participating in ministries – even doing mission work! But none of those make us kingdom people. I once heard “Going to church no more makes you a Christian than standing in a garage makes you a car”. Three points challenged me in my walk with God- Kingdom people need:
- To be refreshed by the Holy Spirit daily
- To reflect deeply on Scripture
- To be involved in prayer as God intended
I realised that too often I bring to God a shopping list of prayer requests – things I struggle with myself. And as payment for my prayers (I exaggerate for effect) I read my daily portion of scripture. Oh how much more wonderful to be filled by and refreshed by the spirit daily. How much more beneficial to sit and think about what I have read and how it applies to my life. How it would glorify God to allow his word to renew my mind and transform me into His likeness. And how mountains could be moved if I would bring the needs of others to God in prayer.
Recently, OM started a prayer focus. We launched a website subdomain http://pray.om.org/. If you’ve ever wondered what in the world to pray for – start here. There are many needs around the world, and many amazing and inspiring ministries to support in prayer. For the first time this morning I used this resource in my prayer time, and for a change I felt like my burdens were lighter than they had felt before, and that I was a part of what God is doing to reconcile the whole world to himself.
It was of course also a joyous occasion to spend time with so many of our friends from the Berkhamsted area. People who not only have been supporting us financially and in prayer during our time with OM, but who have invested deeply into Ruth’s life and also into mine ever since I arrived in the UK. We felt blessed and refreshed by it.
On leaving the conference we identified another point that convicted us: Kingdom people need to recognise that they are accountable. We have been blessed with wonderful mentor relationships in Northchurch Baptist and on Logos Hope, but we are yet to establish that kind of relationship here in Carlisle. We know that it takes time, but it also takes intention. Would you please pray with us that we find a couple to guide and mentor us in our lives, our relationship with God and each other and our ministry?
Normally I just let Chris write these entries but somehow last night I found myself saying ‘I could write this week’s.’ I’m still not sure why I said that but here I am, writing it anyway!
Amongst all the changes in the last 3 months one of the ones I’m most struggling to get used to is having a desk job. The last time I spent so much of my day sitting at a desk was when I was at school and many days I find myself wondering how people manage it. Having been used to a job where I’m nearly always moving about, switching from one thing to another and never being totally sure what will happen next, the predictability of sitting in one place for several hours is often demotivating (not to mention that I don’t know how to keep awake!). It doesn’t usually take more than an hour before I’m fidgety and looking for some reason to move.
Last week this challenge was stretched even further by 3 days of sitting in meetings. My role as Family and Educational Support Advisor falls under the International Human Resources (IHR) team. This is something of a virtual team as less than half its members are actually based here in Carlisle but last week the majority of the team came together for meetings. Being something of an introvert and new to the team meant that most of the 3 days I simply sat and listened, filling my schedule sheet with elaborate doodles. At various times I wondered what I was doing there and even what I’m doing here with OM at all. However, as the discussions went on around me I realised how much I was learning. I was able to get to know people who so far have just been a name on an e-mail (including my new boss), better understand how IHR is structured and get a feel for the heart that is behind everything we do. The majority of our time focussed around 2 areas: what is our dream for the IHR team and how can we really work as a team when we’re scattered around the world. While there are no easy answers, it is exciting to see the potential we have in this department to support the rest of the OM world in offering people the care and development that they need. For this reason I’m glad of the opportunity to attend the meetings and persevere with sitting at a desk in order to provide what help I can to the families serving across the world.
“It’s such a relief that you could come to help out today Chris, you were a big help” a member of the OMNIvision crew remarked as he dropped me home late Saturday night. I was just thankful to God for the opportunity to be a part of the event.
Last Wednesday I left my lovely fiancee in Berkhamsted and caught a train to Carlisle to work on a software project for OM ships. I had wanted to spend some more time in Carlisle connecting and getting accustomed to the area, and OM had kindly paid my way up here for a week and a half. On Friday morning in devotions, a member of OMNIvision approached me and asked me if I’d like to go to Manchester with them for the weekend Northern Men’s Conference. I agreed without delay and was whisked off to the bus as soon as I could tell people where I was going.
One crew member had fallen ill and I was needed to help with setup, packdown and camera. I had operated a camera many times before on the ship, but this was a step up from that. Bigger cameras, more professional crew, and an audience that expect quality.
The Northern Men’s Conference was a one day Christian conference with keynote speaker Dr David Cook from Australia encouraging men from all around Northern England how to be the man God designed them to be. As I operated the camera, it struck me that he was saying some key stuff that mattered to me at this point in my life. I am moving from being a single man under my parents to being a husband and head of the household. Whilst I won’t repeat his talks, I especially like that he said God designed us in his image – to work as He does, to rest as He does and to Love as he does. This and many other truths washed over me as I operated the camera – I felt doubly blessed hearing this instruction and doing what I love doing.
The Audio/Visual side of things ran very smoothly and everyone was thankful that I could come along and fill in for the other camera operator. I am looking forward to the big events like Teen Street that I’ll be involved with this summer. I thank God for the surprise adventure, the blessing of growing relationships with the crew and the instruction I received on being a man of God.
Following our week in Carlisle nailing down the details of our future, this week has been spent connecting (or re-connecting in Ruth’s case) with the community of Ruth’s Home Church, Northchurch Baptist. I’ve been staying with two lovely families that live near Ruth. It’s been great to get to know them better by living in their homes and sharing a little in their lives. Ruth and I have been doing our best to share with others what God has called us to do in Carlisle. (you can read it here: Chris|Ruth) A big part of this has been participating in home groups. We’ve also had penty of time to spend on wedding planning – which as you could imagine, turns out to be quite a bit of work when you want to stick to a budget!
We are both really excited about continnuing work with OM, and sometimes I feel like I’d like to be there right now serving God with my skills and giftings – but He is encouraging me each day that building my relationship with Ruth and connecting with people in her life – laying down a good foundation for the future is the best use of my time right now.
This Wednesday I’m headed to Carlisle for 1.5 weeks to work on an urgent project, then I’m back here in Berkhamsted until the wedding on June 9th. We’ll disappear until our Australian blessing and reception on June 26th, and after that we’ll return to Carlisle to set up home and start work on July 2nd.
We’ve been really encouraged so far by generous gifts and pledges of financial support. it’s still early days as far as Ruth’s levels are concerned. I’m still resting at 70%. We can’t help but testify that God has suppplied all of our needs up to this point and we Trust he will continue to surprise us in the future.