An 8000km journey to serve God’s people in Gunbalanya
Two blokes drove a truck for 4½ days to ensure a missionary family had something to sit on and beds to sleep in. But this is not just a story about an 8000-kilometre round trip from Sydney to Gunbalanya in the Northern Territory – Matt Pearson feels this is what it looks like for every member of the church to play a part in God’s mission.
A missionary family to Darwin
Mr Pearson, along with his wife Lisa and four young children, recently moved to Gunbalanya as missionaries with the Church Missionary Society (CMS) to support the Rev Lois Nadjamerrek at Emmanuel Church. But the family quickly discovered that getting their furniture and belongings to move with them was a bigger challenge than expected.
“Many people said, ‘We don’t do remote travel’,” Mr Pearson says. “We couldn’t even find anyone, let alone pay the cost of transport!”
But when he mentioned his struggles to two friends in his cycling group – Mark Stephenson from Church@thePeak and James Hunkin from Gymea Anglican – they sprung into action.
“Mark looked over at James and said, ‘I’ll drive it up!’,” Mr Pearson recalls. “I thought, ‘You don’t know what you’re signing up for’. But he meant it.”
A trip of this size was a first for Mr Hunkin. “I’ve done up and down the east coast, but nothing to Darwin,” he says. “We’d get up at 6am and stop at 7.30pm when the kangaroos came out. We listened to a series of talks on the way.”
It takes a team
With the help of Lyndon Mitchell, the missions coordinator at Church@thePeak, and support from neighboring churches such as Park Road Anglican, a team of people rallied to organise a truck, raise funds to cover the cost of fuel, and pack the truck with supplies for the Pearson’s pantry.
Despite plenty of obstacles, Mr Hunkin felt God’s presence with them the entire journey. “Satan was trying to thwart the efforts,” he says. “We thought we could use Mark’s truck, but then that wasn’t possible. It was difficult to find a hire truck that could take a container. Then the crane broke down when we meant to leave.
“I wasn’t concerned because we have an awesome God, and we know that whatever God’s will is, it will be done. We just saw the providence of God in so many ways. God’s hand really was in it. We didn’t have to pray for a parking spot – all the time he just provided. Probably because Lyndon was at home praying for us,” Hunkin
Humbled by the generosity of so many, Mr Pearson says the experience was a wonderful reminder of the grace of God and the body of believers working together.
“We saw them using the gifts that God has given them to be involved in what God is doing in the world,” he says. “The logistics of getting things to Gunbalanya is challenging, but they just volunteered with such a servant heart and attitude. It was something done for us from their own initiative and we can never repay them. These guys thought more of what they were doing than just driving – they were being part of God’s work.
Christmas came early
“Opening our container was like Christmas. It was filled with groceries and supplies. Getting food out here is challenging as well, a punnet of blueberries is $14 and milk is $6 for 2 litres. To open the container and see it filled with food, they’ve taken a lot of the stress from us. And it’s not just for us – we’ve been able to be generous and share what we have with people up here, too.
“It was an amazing act of kindness we will never forget.”