Corner of Church St and Market St Wollongong Sunday 8am, 9:45am +livestream, 11:30am Easy English, 5pm and 7pm

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Year 13 and Fiji

View from the pew

Year 13 in Fiji on mission trip 2019

Photo by Year 13 Gap Year

Hi, my name is Ned. I am a member of the 7pm congregation here at St Michael’s and this year I have been a participant of the Youthworks Year 13 program.

It’s a course designed to teach theology with an emphasis on discipleship. It has been an interesting and challenging experience, developing both my understanding of service of God in an everyday context, and of mission in a far larger, sometimes global sense.

Throughout the year as part of the Year 13 program, I have been involved in both children’s ministry within the church and SRE in local schools. This has been an eye-opening experience, working with the St Michaels staff and ministry volunteers, learning how to communicate God’s word to young people. The kids are often excited to challenge and wrestle with God’s word.

The course has also endeavoured to assist students to come to a better understanding of the work God does, of God’s word and its meaning, and of what the Bible has to say about particular topics that are commonly discussed or controversial in our society. This has been such a joy as it has been the foundation from which many strong friendships have been formed.

I am so thankful for the Youthworks staff at Year 13 who have aided my learning this year. They are as much our friends, as our mentors, guiding us to love and serve our great and loving God.

One of my reflections as I write is of how truly brilliant the community of Year 13 is. It has been great working with others to encourage and grow… but also to enjoy the blessing of living in God-shaped community. He sure knows how we are supposed to relate to one another. While that has been challenging because we are imperfect, it has been incredible to learn to care for each other when things aren’t comfortable.

During the year we had a short-term mission trip to Fiji and that was a particularly testing time. Part of the month-long trip was ten days in smaller groups within local homes. This meant we had opportunities to immerse ourselves in the culture and share deeply with those we stayed with.

The Fijian community were so inviting, very quickly counting us as family and wanting us to be as comfortable as possible. Sadly, during this time, our host family’s grandfather died and that derailed the pre-planned immersion. But it gave us a realistic view of the realities of living in a poor community. Tensions rose and the team suffered. But it was probably one of the experiences I value most because it made me grow and deepen relationships with my friends.

I’m very thankful to God for the year doing Year 13. I would recommend it to any school leaver. It has created and deepened friendships, developed understanding and encouraged me to serve a God who is merciful and just, and has saved those who turn to Him.

Ned Pratt
7pm member

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