Eagle Vale gets a kick out of Jesus!
It’s a Thursday night, and assistant minister the Rev Steven Thurgar knots up his black belt and heads to church.
While this might not be your usual church attire, it’s the perfect outfit for the community self-defence class Mr Thurgar runs. A black belt in karate and a qualified exercise physiologist, he saw an opportunity to use his skills and share the gospel with the residents of Eagle Vale in a unique way.
This is not the only creative way that Eagle Vale Anglican is reaching its community. Over the past few years, the saints have ramped up their evangelism game, with multiple initiatives running for their neighborhood throughout the week. A weekly Bible study meets in Raby Tavern, plus there’s also a playgroup, community pantry and knitting group. Future ESL and life skills classes are on the cards, too.
“These activities were chosen because, especially in the southwest of Sydney, sadly the days are gone when people walk into the church off the street,” Mr Thurgar says. “We wanted to meet people where they were at and have regular contact... so that there is time to develop trust and friendship, which is a good platform to share the gospel with people.”
With the high price of kids’ sport, the church-run self-defence group offers families the chance to affordably get fit together.
“We wanted to start a class that was free – we only ask for a voluntary gold coin donation,” Mr Thurgar says. “There was a need... for something that families can do together.”
After class, he runs a 10-minute, kid-friendly Bible time. “We’ve gone through Mark’s gospel, and at the moment we are picking up Old Testament events and looking at how they relate to Jesus’ ministry. Last week we had 30 people come to karate class, and two-thirds stayed back for Bible time.”
With a class made up of many faith backgrounds and non-church people, Mr Thurgar finds this a huge encouragement. The classes have also provided opportunities for him to read the Bible with several men, and has even seen some families come to church.
“It’s been a good ministry to just meet people and share our faith with them, what Jesus means to us and what the Bible says about Jesus,” he says
Also seeking to make the church more visible to the community, the weekly Bible studies at Raby Tavern started in 2017. Among the beer and bar regulars, church members have open bibles and would one day love to see others join the discussions.
“The hope is that they would meet people who go there regularly and that we can start a conversation with them and tell them a bit about Jesus,” Mr Thurgar says.
The end goal for the church is simple. “What we’re trying to do is see that Jesus’ name is glorified in our area, and we’re trying to do that by caring for people’s social, physical and spiritual needs in a Christian way. That’s the overarching principle of what we’re doing.”