If you had told me at the beginning of 2021 that our family would be spending the Christmas/New Year holiday camping with a bunch of people we hadn’t met, running activities for strangers in the middle of a pandemic wave – and enjoy it- I probably would have looked at you like you had your head on backwards!
Actually, when our family were asked if we would consider attending a Scripture Union Family Mission and we said ‘yes’, I felt like my head was on backwards. What were we in for?! My husband had been on Beach Mission as a uni student and had suggested we could try going as a family. But there were always reasons not to consider it too seriously… the kids were too little, missing out on our usual holiday time with our families would be too difficult, I like my own bed too much…
I struggled to feel excitement about going on Beach Mission. Much of that was simply anxiety – having spent most of the past 2 years being told to stay home and stay safe, or having plans cancelled, heading somewhere at all let alone unknown felt like a huge risk. What if we caught COVID? What if one of the kids wandered off and got lost? I wasn’t joking about the bed thing either- I’m a terrible sleeper. I found myself hoping a reason would come up why we couldn’t go after all.
Fortunately, God made going about as easy as it gets. Pretty much all we had to do was pack and turn up! It was a very small team (our family of 6 nearly doubled the numbers) and we learned the ropes quickly. The little voice which had been whispering ‘this is a bad idea’ was overwhelmed by the joy of spending time in community with other believers as we proclaimed Jesus together.
It was remarkable, in a world so often hostile to the gospel, to see the SUFM tent and open discussion of Jesus accepted as part of the furniture by such a diverse group of campers. Many families return to the same camp site year in year out, and the depth of relationships between the team members and campers are the result of long term investment – and the Lord working powerfully where His people say yes and show up (even when we are anxious and reluctant).
Of course, there was also the beach and the pool and the games, feasts beyond what you would imagine could come from a camp kitchen, and bottomless espresso. I wanted my own bed the entire time, but somehow still can’t wait for next year – and to see how God uses our family next time we go.
5pm Congregation / St Michael’s Admin Assistant