Hanging his hat on Connect09
In James Daymond’s hallway at Narromine there is a line-up of half a dozen Akubra hats.
Friends from his home church of St Clement’s, Mosman thought it essential for their fair-skinned exports, James and his wife Brittany, to be well shaded on the dusty roads of central western NSW.
Mr Daymond had worn a battered Akubra through his teens and twenties as he worked with horses and then went cattle droving on university breaks. Now he is a member of the Bush Church Aid field staff, working as an evangelist in the Narromine and Trangie Anglican churches, west of Dubbo, in the Diocese of Bathurst.
Soon after his conversion more than 10 years ago, Mr Daymond’s rector at Mosman, the Rev Stuart Smith, recognised his gifts as an evangelist.
“He gave me some welcome cards, which had a Bible verse, 1 John 4:10, on them,” Mr Daymond says. “He said, ‘Look, this would be a good thing to hand out’. That ministry developed and then he invited me to join the staff as a trainee minister in 2008.”
When the Connect09 outreach program began the following year, with its door knocking program to distribute The Essential Jesus gospel books, things just clicked. “Connect09 was a very significant ‘hand fitting the glove’, if that’s the right expression,” he recalls. “I was very excited because this was just me to a T.”
James Daymond has been doing Connect09 ever since – he even has a stock of The Essential Jesus that is fast diminishing. Now, almost 18 months into his role with BCA, the idea of a dedicated evangelist has been a game changer for the parish.
The rector of Narromine and Trangie, the Rev Phil Howes, says,
“Initially I had my concerns that somebody from Mosman might find things a little 'interesting' out here but with James’ love of the country – and on top of that his love of people, and on top of that his love for the Lord, that was quickly put at ease.
“The idea of somebody else coming on just to do evangelism was just completely out of the box but we were very thankful to have the Anglican Church at Miranda come up for two years in a row with a team from their Baby Boomers group. So that helped hugely for James to hit the ground running because people were more aware that we need to be outward-looking.”
On the day Southern Cross visited, Mr Daymond brought along Mark Unicomb, one of the congregation members being trained in evangelism.
“The really amazing thing with James’ Bush Church Aid work is that it is feet on the ground, going out knocking on doors,” Mr Unicomb says.
“That is the front line evangelism that is needed in the country. People don’t want to talk about Christianity any more, especially if they're not in a comfortable position like at home. If there's a chance that you can get the message through, you've got to be in their comfort zone.”
They may run out of copies of The Essential Jesus but they won’t run out of people to talk to. It is estimated that 750,000 people live in the central corridor of NSW, west of the “sandstone curtain” as locals refer to the Blue Mountains.
“People said to me that the bush hasn't got any money – no one's going to be able to afford to support what you're wanting to do,” Mr Daymond says. “I kept on saying, ‘If it is God's will, he will provide’. He did provide and he did enable the doors into this diocese to open and into this parish. I really do see the affirmation of God along the way very, very significantly.”
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