A surprising day

AMS Staff

Prashanth Colombage

I’m sitting in my billeting family’s lounge room as Ali counts coins.  We’re reflecting on the night that’s been.  Mark Thompson was the guest speaker at an apologetics evening where sceptics got a chance to hear a Christian response to scepticism and then ask questions.

My confession: I’m not a fan of these types of events.

My realization: I’m rarely right.

True there were frustrating moments in the evening. But reflecting with Ali as he balances the float from the book store reminded me of the wonderful things that God provided tonight. In particular we marvelled at the new found fervour of the St David’s congregation for seeing their family and friends come to know Jesus. There were at least 30 non-Christians at this event. We overhead one congregation member telling his elderly father how his grandchildren were praying he would come to know Jesus. I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to confront your own parents with the Gospel and here was this brother in Christ refusing to be daunted by his father’s cynicism and disbelief.

The parish has clearly done a lot of thinking about this week. Hosting the apologetics night in the RSL was a masterstroke – particularly because Thursdays is cheap Schnitzel day. But it also provided a non-confrontational environment for people to raise their questions.

But today was a day of contrasts.

In the afternoon we spent a couple of hours honouring those who had served at war with an ANZAC service at the local Anglican Retirement Village. Mark gave an appropriately reverent talk and then we got to sit back and listen to some amazing stories of the war from the residents and our own Ryan VDA.I wish I could retell all of them but I don’t have the space so let me grace you with just one by a lady named Tricia.

‘On the day the Japanese surrendered I was shipped from Brisbane to Sydney not knowing what had happened. I got off at Central, caught a train to Wynyard and then a bus over the Spit to Balmoral. I didn’t know what had happened but when I got there they looked me over and said ‘We don’t want you today – come back tomorrow’. So I got back on a bus over the Spit and took a room at the YWCA. I then went to Hyde Park and danced. We did the Congo, I hugged strangers, I kissed strangers and then I went back to my room and wept. A lot of people wept that day. The war was over but that also meant he wasn’t coming home.  I didn’t know it at the time but my cousin would return from the war some weeks later.’

Their accounts captured the reality which Ryan beautifully described – “There is very little about war that is good”.

These stories, Ryan’s own story of his Grandfather, combined with Gavin’s leading of the service and Mark’s talk made this an experience I will always treasure.  We sat together, many of us as brothers and sisters in Christ, and remembered the providence of God – to give us such brave men and women who won for us the freedom we now enjoy.

So I sit here this evening, reflecting on a mission which is enriching me in ways I never expected.

I am thankful that God pays little attention to my reservations and chooses to bless me in ways well beyond my imagination. I am thankful that He equipped men and women with courage beyond my wildest dreams so I can type these words now. And I am thankful that in his Son Jesus we have an even greater victory day ahead – with the dancing, the hugging, perhaps the congo line and the kissing but none of the tears.

 

Prash is currently in 4th year. In 2012 he served on the Forestville mission team.

To read more blogs from mission click here.