Having travelled 3,855 kilometres from Darwin to Launceston and located the Worldview Centre for Intercultural Studies, Andrew Thompson googled Baptist churches and found himself at the historic City Baptist Church. City Baptist has a ministry to marginalised people through a Drop-in Centre, which has operated every Saturday night for the last nine years and Andrew has become involved.
Why is Andrew attracted to a ministry like this? The answer might have something to do with his conversion from a life of alcohol addiction.
Only four years ago Andrew attended church one Sunday to get his mother off his back. Even though he declared: “God, you had your chance, I’m not coming back next week”, he woke up on Monday not feeling like a drink. Returning to a church service the following Sunday he prayed and committed his life to the Lord. After studies in community services, volunteering at a rehab centre in which he had been a resident many times, Andrew was encouraged by his pastor to get some more training and to consider Worldview at the other end of the country.
Many local Christians volunteer at the City Baptist Drop-in Centre, usually once a month. As a part of his Worldview training Andrew goes every week, and it has made a world of difference in developing relationships. Guests know that Andrew has been where they are. One night he copped abuse from a man after mentioning the “G” word. However Andrew’s quiet manner and reassurance of friendship has won him over. Andrew is as comfortable sitting with guys in the park as around the table and is now a recognisable figure (having a shaved head might help) about the streets. Momentum seems to be growing for a group to explore together what the Bible says.
While some students went to Sydney on a mission team, Andrew extended his involvement with street people by working with the church for two weeks. He researched ministry possibilities in a northern suburb of Launceston, including why previous church planting attempts had died. He also met many of the Drop-in Centre guests by day through the City Mission.
One of the highlights was helping a young man pass his driver’s test. God brought Jason (name changed) across his path three times until he had Andrew’s attention. Some one-to-one attention, careful questions, empowering suggestions and encouraging presence were all that it took to help Jason get the coveted driver’s license.
Andrew is not academic and has mobility challenges, and the Tassie winter cold is difficult, but nevertheless he is finding the training at Worldview is deepening his knowledge of the Scriptures and providing a foundation for a future of ministry wherever the Lord may lead.