Monday nine days ago, I headed out with a group of nine others to a property between Brewarrina and Burke. “Back of Burke” is a popular Australian saying which means out in the middle of no where. The property we went to is owned by a local aboriginal family and also falls under native title. I should also mention, the property was a smaller one out there, some 80’000 acres. Because of this, our group was able to engage in hunting and eating delicacies such as Kangaroo, Emu and Goanna. Not to mention a bucket load of yabbies which were caught in the dam. For this urban bushy, once again, there was something special about being out in the bush, in the middle of nowhere. Well, actually, I shouldn’t say in the middle of no where, as we were right smack bang in the middle of someones home – which makes where we were, “Somewhere!”
It was a little sobering in someways to discover that I was the oldest there; including the property owners. I turn 48 next birthday – which means I am close to having lived for 1/2 a century. One of the young guys who came with us, said to me, “Craig, you sure now some weird stuff!” His statement was in regards to some long forgotten pearl of wisdom I had given as to why something meant something or other. I replied to him that he too will know some weird stuff by the time he lives 1/2 a century also. The week was going well till the van broke down on the side of the road.
We were 50kms from where we had to go. We had no phone reception. Little water. And were blessed that one of the property owners passed us, and went to get her husband to come and help. We left the bus there and piled into his truck, and came home. Later that evening, he took the van driver and they towed it to a neighboring Christian School nearby, for a mechanic he knew to look at. We had been planning to leave the next day, and some were in a bit of a panic. I said guys, “Let us not be frightened, but instead, look to the Lord” and we prayed. Some of the group were taken to a bus stop the next Friday morning, and most of the others caught the bus to head back home on the Saturday. I stayed behind with the driver. I have been brought up that you just don’t leave people behind.
I had no doubt that the young man responsible for the bus was capable of staying there and working it out on his own – yet, because we went up as a group, I felt it was right to see what was wrong with the bus, and we head back home as a group – if at all possible. We were blessed to discover that the school had a similar type of van which had broken down, and the needed parts were sable to be swapped over. Because of a variety of circumstances, the mechanic couldn’t look at the van till Sunday, so we (the property owner and myself) left the young man with the mechanic to work on the van – while we went feral goat trapping.
I can honestly tell you I had one of the best days of my life. It was a stinking hot day. It hit 42 degrees Celsius in the shade. We drank bucket loads of water and ice. We went with two others to their family property. and hitched up a large trailer to the 4wd, jumped on some motor bikes and looked for some feral goats. We found a couple of mobs and with the use of the dogs, tried to herd them onto the trailer. And the stubborn things just wouldn’t do what we wanted them to do. They scattered and the hunt was on once again to regroup them. We parked the truck and trailer elsewhere under the shade of the tree and tried again and again. The work dogs were unreal. I was in my element once again. While the dogs wouldn’t listen to me, seeing them work for their owner was like watching poetry in motion. Eventually we managed to get one goat on the trailer while the rest scattered. And we were all to exhausted to try again. Even the dogs laid down in the shade refusing to budge. We dropped into the school on the way home and worked on the van again till 10pm that night. We found out the fan belt had broken, and the harmonic balance pully was busted. They managed to get them off, and had problems trying to get the one off the other van – and so decided to call it quits for the night. I was relieved to know that the bus wasn’t seriously damaged. I knew the young bloke was in good hands and it was time to come home. So, like the others, I was dropped off at a little town called “Byrock” to catch the bus, which took me to Dubbo, and once there, caught the train home to Sydney. Which took some 12 hours altogether.
One of my favorite scriptures is found in Romans, where Paul says, “All of creation speaks of the glory of God!” Up there the moon looked so big. The stars so close and large. And after everyone else had gone to bed, I walked into the paddocks to pray. And I prayed God, creator of all that is seen and unseen, your creation speaks of your glory so clearly up here. I ask that you will fill me with your spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know you and your ways better. Fill me and cause me to be a man of your word. Fill me and empower me to be a man after your own heart. Fill me and use to me to empower and encourage others in your way. Use me to further your kingdom I ask in Jesus name.”
The Lord met with me in that outback paddock. I felt the tangible presence of the Lord filling me, flowing through me and covering over me. Past hurts were let go of. True forgiveness was given and spoken. Healings came into my heart. A fresh sense of purpose filled me. And despite the setback of the bus broken down, I was filled with an extraordinary sense of peace, a peace which is still with me as I type this now. On the Tuesday after we arrived, the property owner invited me to comeback with my ute next time. It was a honor for him to say that to me, as one of the other guys in our group was our contact with him. During the week he took us to one part of the property, which was 13kms from his house. In a little valley, he showed us a cabin he and his brother in law had built for church groups to come and spend time praying. He lamented that not as many took them up on the offer – and he said to me, “Craig, maybe you guys can use it?”
How good is God. For some months now, my wife and I have been talking and praying about a property to take people to, where we can sit around the fire and talk about faith and life. And here 600kms from Sydney, we met a like minded man of faith, who had the perfect place prepared for us to use. I see three distinct groups of peeps to bring up to this site. The first is young guys. To get them out of the city, into the bush, and get them in contact with something bigger then themselves. And there around the fire, talk about life and faith, and during the day, get out and hunt, explore and reflect on the immensity of our land. The second group of people I would like to bring out, are those disconnected from the church. Those who are wounded by the church. Those who are wounded in the church. Those who are hurting and failing in their faith. I believe here, in this isolated place – we can meet with God, and bring a measure of hope, healing and forgiveness as we meet with God once again. And the third group of people I would like to take out are those who would like to hole up in the bush and pray. Those who would like to seek God’s face in a very deliberate and focused way. Those who would like to take part in a group of men who would like to come together and pray and together truly learn to pray in relationship with each other. On the other side of the coin, my wife became excited. She too sees value in ministering to young people. Young girls and hurting women. And perhaps there is another group to bring there, and that group would be married couples, wanting to come away to spend time together, seeking Gods face.
Here is a few pics of our trip away.