I woke up early in the morning with the most incredible excitement bursting out of me. I slid out of bed so as not to wake my sleeping wife, poured my morning coffee and slipped into the lounge room to light the fire.
Placing some logs on the night before’s coals, I sat down and reached for my journal. Excitedly I wrote, “Oh Lord, I am so excited to go and support our team in Darwin. I am so excited to get to go and bless your bride. Please use me to encourage your church in Darwin!”
As I boarded my flight that morning, I had no idea as to just how incredibly the Lord would answer that prayer!
Not only would He use me to encourage His church in Darwin, He would use the church in Darwin to deeply encourage me.
Arriving in Darwin, I was greeted by my host family.
Phil picked me up from the airport with a… “You’re not related to THE Scarborough’s in Indonesia are you?”
“Why yes I am”, I replied. He told me of an email they had received many years ago, to support my parents’ incredible work with their hospital in Indonesia. “We supported them for many years!”
I was able to thank them sincerely, they had never met my parents but had sowed so many seeds into their work over the years!
And so it began, they were so encouraged to have me staying with them and I was outrageously encouraged to get to bless them, and indeed to get to know them and their incredible stories as well.
Phil and his wife Linda had both seen so many lives transformed in Australia and abroad and as I spoke with them I frequently found myself beyond inspired.
That first night I went to the local Darwin markets. My friend Lyndal was a huge part of me coming up to Darwin, as she was launching her new prayer book, a truly incredible devotional.
As I spoke with two of her friends, I found myself relating to two of them deeply. While fire twirling dancers and buskers sought to take our money and attention, one lady told me of how she had recently moved to Darwin in disappointing circumstances. We hugged and we prayed right there in the markets that God would heal and restore her and give her His joy.
I found myself humbled and overwhelmed that God would use me to encourage such a precious daughter of the king.
The other lady shared with me tragic circumstances she’d experienced as well, but she then shared how God was using that for Good and many were coming to know Jesus through her life. She asked me to pray for her to see more miracles, and I asked for her to pray for me for greater compassion for the lost and to see more people saved.
Oh how He is doing that! As I walked around the markets that night it was as if I knew every person intimately. I have “Hope Cards” to many, and offered prayer and shared Christ’s love with several.
The next morning I awoke to spend time with the Lord. As I often do, I went for a run and worshipped the Lord through music as I did so. As I was running I would say to those I passed, “Good morning, Jesus loves you.” To some this may seem strange, but to others I see them receive something many have not, His great love for them.
As I began my run home I felt the Lord direct me to a cafe who’s outdoor dining area was full of couples eating breakfast. I felt the whisper of the Lord, tell them ALL about my love.
I kept running…
But God kept whispering and so I soon turned around and headed back to that café!
“I’m sorry to interrupt your morning everyone,” I projected across the patio. “I want to tell you that Jesus loves you all so much. I was a drunk suicidal young man but now I love my life thanks to Jesus. I know that’s not always a popular message, but Jesus loves you so much and I wanted you to know that.”
One man sincerely thanked me for what I had said. I could tell that he was a believer , and my prayer was that he too would now be inspired to share his faith publicly if he isn’t doing so already. Others looked away and pretended not to hear, though I know they heard His name loud and clear.
People often wonder how I can be so bold. I do too! Trust me, I was scared and that’s why I kept running. But I have learned over the years that obedience is the highest offering I can give my Lord.
Following my run I met with a couple of ministry leaders. One runs a large ministry reaching young people with the gospel and the other runs the local Christian radio station.
I was able to pray with both these men. Both were in a time of transition in their ministries and it was an honour to stand with them in the incredible work they do.
After meeting with these incredible ministers, I walked to my car to drive to my next appointment, as I did I found myself standing in front of a cleaner at the local shopping centre where I had met one of these ministers for coffee. “Jesus loves you so much”, I told the cleaner. “Do you know Jesus?” He told me he did! He shared of how he was from the Congo and that he loved the Lord. I was able to pray with him and encourage him in his walk with the Lord.
I then jumped in the car and drove to see an incredible Christian couple doing incredible work in Darwin, Isaac and Vanessa Broad. They recently opened a cafe in Darwin that is employing local young people and taking on local volunteers, skilling them up in hospitality, discipling them, and being a missional presence in the community.
It is truly a space to behold.
We discussed what the Lord was doing in and through their lives. Isaac used to work with Youth for Christ, and we discussed how we could partner together in this new season of their life. What could it look like for at risk youth coming out of the juvenile justice centres around Darwin to get skilled up at their cafe? We have missionaries with Youth for Christ that go into one justice centre, but they constantly find that breaking the cycle of reoffending for the young people that come out is their biggest challenge. The young people need skills and purpose and employment when they are released. Isaac agreed as he shared how we need a wholistic approach to societal transformation, evangelism and discipleship, but also safe accomodation and meaningful work. It was a rich conversation indeed.
Following our meeting, I went to another shopping centre (mall for my American friends!), and had what can only be described as two of the most amazing encounters with people on the streets in a long while!
I was at the shopping centre to meet with a local Youth Pastor, I encouraged her in all she was doing, and we prayed and prepared together for later in that evening, when I would preach at the youth ministry that her and her husband have been running. It was just after this coffee that I had these two encounters and truly found myself in awe of how God works in the way he sets things up for his children!
I walked from that cafe towards the exit of the shopping centre. As I came to the exit doors, I saw a man in front of me with a huge grin on his face. I said to him, “Jesus loves you mate, do you know him?” “He said, “yes I do!” I was so encouraged by him, I encouraged him in the way that he exuded God’s love and hope. I am constantly in awe of who God is and His heart for His children. When I asked him how I could pray for him, he shared of how he had recently lost his job. As I prayed for him to find a new job I asked what job he wanted specifically. He told me he wanted to work in disability, for whatever reason (God knows!) my friend Isaac came to mind. I told him he should speak with Isaac. I then called my friend Isaac, asking if he knew anyone in Disability in Darwin, he told me his brother is the CEO of a company that works in disability in Darwin!
I was simply blown away that God would use me to make this connection… but it gets even wilder!
I asked my new friend where he was from, he shared that he was from the Congo! I replied, “I just witnessed to another guy at the other shopping centre.” “Was he the cleaner?” he asked. “That’s my friend!”
I’m no mathematician but the odds are incredibly slim that this “random stranger” was A- in need of a job that my friend’s brother may be able to supply and B- that he was friends with the last person I witnessed to! But that is how God works. I asked him to use me to bless the church in Darwin, and this was happening in every interaction! Talk about divine encounters!
The next person I spoke to was truly an even more incredible encounter, don’t even get me started on odds!
I walked away from my conversation with my new Congolese friend, and walked past a young man walking from his car. I noticed something about him, as if the Holy Spirit was highlighting him to me, and I felt drawn to share Christ’s love with him, but I walked past him, justifying that I needed to preach soon and needed some space. Well… the Lord arrested me! “Turn around and tell that young man that Jesus loves Him.” I turned around.
“Jesus loves you bro.” I said. “No way”, came the response. “I am a Christian, but you have no idea how much I needed to hear that.” 10 minutes later my new friend and I were exchanging details and praying together. I then asked him, “What do you do for work?” He told me, he works in rehabilitating young people coming out of the local juvenile justice centre, the very one our Youth for Christ Missionaries work in! He told me they have housing for these young men!
So, we have young missionaries going into that centre, seeing amazing decisions for Jesus but needing a clean break when they get out. Isaac has the cafe ready to train them up, but they need somewhere to stay and now we have that! God truly orders our steps and I was reminded of how much better we as the church are together. We are the body, and we work best together!
I floated away from that conversation to the church that I was to preach at that night. I shared on the love of God for the young people gathered and around 10 made decisions to follow Jesus!
The next morning I ran again, praising Jesus for what He had done the day before, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. How is it that the Lord would be so kind to me, using me to encourage His church and see young people come to follow Him!
And yet He had even more for me.
I finished my run just in time to stop by a local market before taking our Youth for Christ missionaries out for lunch. At the market I went from stall to stall looking for a mother’s day gift for my mother in-law. I finally found a stall that grabbed my attention. As I looked at the paintings in the stall I noticed two things.
Firstly, the stall holder was somewhat deaf (she had a sign asking people to face her and speak up), and secondly, that she was wearing a cross necklace. She was an older lady, and I could see great joy in her eyes. I purchased one of her paintings and then asked her if she knew the Lord. “He is my everything”, she said.
I laid my hands on her ears and prayed for her healing, while also speaking into her life about God’s love and joy for her.
She cried and we hugged as we reminisced on the goodness of God. It was truly such a sacred moment, like a mother and son connecting after not seeing each other for some time. While she didn’t receive an instant healing, praying with her was one of the holiest moments I have been a part of. She shared that at 73 she was not complaining that her hearing was gone if she had all the rest of her health, which she did. I told her I would keep praying for complete healing, and told her how much she had blessed me with her presence. She said to me with tears in her eyes, “You have blessed me so much.”
At lunch I was to have another encounter with an older lady, this time she would pray for me. I sat down with our Darwin team and we talked of all God was doing in Darwin and how we could see growth in what was happening. As we talked, an older lady of many years of age walked into the cafe. She recognised one of the team, she was their friends grandmother. Something supernatural began to take place immediately.
“Look at all of you!” she said. “Young people on fire for the Lord! Let me tell you, as a young person I came to know the Lord in Croatia. He asked me, would I stand between Him and my nation? From that day on I have prayed for Croatia. Now, over 40 years on there is revival in my nation. People are coming to know Jesus in Croatia. If I die today it was worth it to pray for my nation. Now look at you young people!” She laid hands on one of missionaries, Tom, and I. As she prayed I was completely undone for Australia. She began to unload the contents of her wallet on our table and encouraged us in the work we were doing, she said, “You have blessed my heart today!”
And just like that she walked out. I don’t even know if she ordered any food or drinks.
Wow. This is the glory of God on earth!
As we moved from that place, we moved over to the church where we were to launch my friend’s book. What a time we had that night as well. Tens of Christians from many different churches came together to launch the book, but also to pray for Darwin. My friend Lyndal spoke on how Jesus literally prayed that the church be one, yet we have not truly entered into the unity we could have.
Jesus says in John 17,
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
She pleaded with us to live in unity for the sake of our cities, and for the sake of our Saviour.
After a weekend like I had, seeing how incredible God’s bride is, I found myself saying a big “amen”.
We are indeed so much better together. What’s more, we have great gifts for each other as we all carry His glory.
I leave you with this thought, “Who might God want to encounter through you today? Who may God be wanting to use for your own divine encounter with Him?”
Christians, we need each other. Open your eyes, open your mouth, open your wallet, open your home, open your arms, open your life, open your heart to your brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Thanks for being you, the world and the church needs who you are and so do I.
PS- Want to become a Youth for Christ Missionary? Want to sow into Youth for Christ’s work to see missionaries like our missionaries in Darwin supported? Please go to yfc.org.au and drop us a line or make a donation towards our end of financial year appeal. Thanks for standing with us.
PS- I changed some names in this blog to protect people’s privacy.