Hello from Cairns. Spring is a lovely time of the year. It is a time of new life, abundant colour and growth. It makes us all very thankful for the blessings God provides and the new life He gives in Christ. We rejoice with the church in Launceston, Tasmania, at the news that the call to Rev Bredenhof has been accepted and pray God will be with him, as well as the church there, as the transition occurs. May God bless him as he undertakes the shepherding of the new flock. Speaking of shepherds, it is that time of the year when the call goes out asking for nominations to fill the roles of elders and deacons. We too are requesting nominations for a new elder to carry on the task br Matt Plug has undertaken over the last 2 years. It is drawing near to the end of his term of office.
Nearly every fortnight the younger ones amongst us enjoy the afternoon Sunday School. This is not a replacement or alternative for the worship service, but does play an important role in the lives of those amongst us who are too old to just be playing in crèche, and yet a little too young to follow and fully understand the preaching of the word. Each school lesson begins with some engaging questions followed by a Bible story. At the moment they are working through the book of Genesis currently focusing on the lives of Jacob and Esau. A relevant worship song is often sung together, followed by prayer time. Prayer time consists of each child being asked and given the opportunity to suggest prayer points relevant to them and their peers, after which the teacher leads the little ones through these points in prayer together. Following this, a craft activity that brings home the message shared, is enjoyed by all.
The children here are already half way through their school holidays. It is a much needed break for most of them as they recover from the heavy workload they have. The end of Term 3 always seems to be a very busy time for the students here in Cairns. We pray they will be fully refreshed by the end of the week and rearing and ready to start school again. We pray all those that travel in this break time will have a safe and enjoyable trip. You can always come over and visit us here in Cairns. Have a blessed Lord’s day.
We in Cairns have been blessed with a visit from our minister Rev Hagg and br. Van Leeuwen. It was a great opportunity to catch up with each other. While we had our minister here, we were allowed to enjoy the celebration of the Lords Supper. Rev Hagg also took the opportunity to conduct the catechism classes in person on the Thursday night, rather than by the usual method of Skype. Both the Rev and the children thoroughly enjoyed the benefit of the free and open communication that is possible in person and reflect on a great night of learning. While catechism occurred in the one room, br. Van Leeuwen was able to join a number of us in our weekly prayer meeting outside on the deck. There is always so much to pray for, but of late we especially feel for and remember our Christian brothers and sisters in Albany, WA who have endured a number of very sad occasions in close succession. We continue to remember them and pray God will grant them the strength to endure. Much suffering is also happening in Iraq and elsewhere as fellow Christians are persecuted for their faith. We pray that God may always be with them. Hopefully Rev Hagg's trip to PNG was also a success and he has returned home safely to WA by now.
Apart from the visitors mentioned above, we have enjoyed many other visitors. On Sunday past we said farewell to a number of sisters from WA who spent some months among us. Recently we also farewelled a travelling couple from WA who blessed us with their presence for quite a few weeks. We enjoyed a visit from a young couple from Victoria, who were here for a short holiday before heading West. A local family who joins us when possible, was able to come along with their father from Brisbane. Another local lady who has visited once before in the past could also bring along her elderly parents for the morning service and coffee. Another regular visitor is a young lady who attends the local university and worships with us nearly every week. As well as that we could enjoy the fellowship of some of the Tablelanders(the Tablelands are over the range from Cairns). We very much appreciate the support and fellowship we receive from our guests. It is also very encouraging to meet so many others from here as well as far away, who look up to Christ as their King and live to His glory. Blessings from your brothers and sisters Cairns!
We are looking forward to the arrival of Rev Hagg and br. Van Leeuwen who hope to spend a short time with us, providing support to our group. The Lord willing we can celebrate the Lords Supper today with Rev Hagg leading the service. They come to us from Armadale, WA. As most of you may be aware, the church members in Cairns are actually church members of the Free Reformed Church of Armadale. The call for support was made to Armadale by some local people in the Cairns region back in 2009 which resulted in the creation of a subcommittee to investigate the possibility of supporting a house congregation in the area. In Mar/Apr 2009 two committee members, Rev W Huizinga and br. L VanDyk travelled to Cairns to visit the people there and assess the situation. The need for a truly reformed church in the area was established and many visits were made. Upon their return an extensive report was made by the subcommittee. Visits were also made to two families in the metro area who wished to join the prospective house congregation in Cairns with the view of establishing a Free Reformed Church there. A group had formed. Here follows a quote from the Una Sancta magazine, vol 56, num 16, 13 June 2009 written by W Huizinga. "Could the FRC Armadale accept spiritual responsibility for this group? On 28 April the consistory with deacons, after an ample discussion of the extensive report, decided to take the spiritual supervision and care of this group." And that's why even though we are on the other side of the country, we belong as members to Armadale church. Things have progressed slowly in the 5 years since the group was formed. Although there has always been the same vision since the beginning, that of forming a Free Reformed Church in the Cairns region, the way forward has not always been clear. We are travelling new territory. This sort of thing has not been done previously in the bond of churches and opinions differed on how things should go. Do we institute first or call a minister first? Who is able to support financially? Individuals, churches or is it the responsibility of Classis? While much work and patience has been required by all involved, it is heartening to see that things are moving forward. We currently await the next Classis meeting, where further discussion will be undertaken. Throughout the time involved in this process, one thing has become undoubtedly clear, and that is the need for a minister to work in the Cairns area. As a group here in Cairns, we thank Rev Huizinga and those following, for the support we have received in times past. At the same time we constantly and earnestly pray to God for the way forward to be made clear, so that we may have a minister in our midst as soon as humanly possible, and we ask that you all will join us in this prayer. Your brothers and sisters in Christ, in Cairns.
We have a desperate need for a pastor here in Cairns. While we are sometimes richly blessed with a visiting pastor, the norm here is to have reading services. Our normal Sunday looks somewhat different to other churches. We stay at church for the whole day without going home between the first and second service. The time between worship services is spent having coffee, lunch, and singing songs of worship. This practise began to accommodate those who travelled long distances to worship with us and has continued, as it is very convenient for the visitors amongst us. More importantly though, we have found it gives us a wonderful opportunity to witness, get too know our guests, and build the bonds between us. The strangers that walk in to church off the street, become acquaintances and friends over coffee and lunch. We can build much better relationships this way than if we all just wandered off home. The downside however is that by the afternoon, we are feeling somewhat tired and have a full stomach. This can sometimes make it hard to focus in the afternoon service. All our readers try their best but we are certainly not all gifted speakers like many of our ministers. For this reason we now regularly have worship services during which we watch/listen to, a sermon on video. The service is conducted by an elder as per the common liturgy both before and after the sermon. This has blessed us richly, allowing us to be nourished by different gifted pastors from our bond of churches, while easing the workload on the small group of readers we have here. Yet another gracious gift from God.
On the night of 17th July 2014 all the males from our group went on a 'male bonding' session together. They spent one night at False Cape sleeping under the stars (well some did) and enjoying fellowship with each other. It was immensely enjoyed by ALL and from recent indications it will be an often repeated event!
Although this event took place a couple of months ago, the memories are still very fresh of the fabulous Church camp we could experience at Easter time. This is the second year in a row that we have been able to host the camp, and from all accounts it was a great success and enjoyed by all. We thank God for allowing us to experience such rich opportunities of fellowship and fun, in a more relaxed setting. He also provided us with lovely clear weather, something which is definitely not a given for the Easter period.
With the camp taking place over the Easter weekend we were able to share in some additional devotions specific to this topic, under the guidance of Rev Kroeze, who was ministering to our Church group for a couple of months. We were very thankful to have Rev (and Mrs) Kroeze along with us at the Church camp and for the way in which they could minister to our group.
Our group size was slightly smaller in number, (in comparison to last year), however we were able to have equally as much fun :) Our program was also a little less full with discussions and speeches, allowing for a little more free time, of which most of it wsa spent by the water. Two of our church families took their boats to camp, and both children and adults had an amazing time ont the water, enjoying all sorts of water activities.
Now for a few photos of this event:
The food hall, where all our meals took place.
Some of the Blue team members.
Having fun in the water!
Cousins having fun together!
Relaxing by the water's edge.
Playing volley ball with an oversized ball.
The big orange ball had many different purposes, for all age groups!
More water activities...
Dinner time...yum, yum...
Time on the crash mat - a real winner for all ages!
Early morning views over Lake Tinaroo.
Table tennis - another well loved activity, played continuously throughout the weekend.
Playdough - you are never too old to be creative :)
Evening games including poisin mat.
Not sure what game this is called...Im sure we could think of many interesting names :)
Our church group has seen a lot of extremes in the past few weeks as we travelled through the Christmas school holiday period. It held it's challenging moments, and yet was enriching and encouraging at the same time! And through it all our families have been kept safe by our heavenly Father who continues to provide for our Church group throughout time.
So what were the extremes that our group recently faced? Well it has to do with numbers...our school holiday period are often times when a number of our own families take the opportunity to have a break. This year was no exception and it left behind a very small core number of families and individuals. Small numbers can be challenging...a little deflating when it feels that there is no one left in town, when the church worship service feels tiny and that normal Sunday buzz at church is gone. At one point the Sunday worship service was down to just 14 people.
And yet it is amazing how in these 'low' moments God still allowed much fellowship, encouragement and enjoyment to take place. He allowed His word to be preached every week, and the other activities relating to our Sunday were also able to continue as normal. The families that were in Cairns for Christmas were all able to enjoy the day together up at Lake Tinaroo, and it was a special time for all those that could be involved. A few photos of Christmas Day can be found on our facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/FreeReformedChurchCairns?ref=hl We thank God for the way in which He provided for the families who were in Cairns during the Christmas holiday period!
By the middle of January most of our families had returned from their holiday break and over the next couple of weeks we also saw a great influx of visitors. Our worship services went from being very small to overflowing, from one extreme to the next! With lots of visitors a changed atmosphere is felt at church. There is a background hum of conversation as much fellowship takes place, there is an increased volume of singing during the service and we see a large amount of food appear on the lunch table, and an even larger amount of dishes that needs to take place at the end :) It is a special time for our group to be able to host large numbers of families and to share experiences with Christians from all over our country and world.
With all our families being back in town, and with lots of other visitors in our midst we took the opportunity to enjoy a beach volley ball evening two weeks ago. We experienced a beautiful balmy evening in Cairns, even though it was a tad humid!! No better way than to build up a quick sweat and burn off some energy. We could also celebrate Pastor Ian Wildeboer's birthday, whose family was in Cairns for the week, before heading home to Lae. Below are some photos from this event:
Our Church group has now dropped back into routine and our regular bible study meetings could begin again this week. We continue to study the book of Romans, which has provided some very enriching evenings of discussion. We pray God will bless the time that we have together to study His word.
In the coming months we have some exciting events to look forward to. In about a month's time we look forward to the arrival of Rev and Mrs Kroeze, pastor of the Free Reformed Church in Legana. Rev Kroeze has been granted a period of long-service leave and is willing to spend most of his time with our Church group assisting with worship services as well as a number of other activities. We also hope to receive a visit from Dr Gerhard Visscher, professor at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary. He and his wife will be in Cairns for almost 2 weeks and we are excited to be able to benefit from his experience and expertise.
We also have our Church camp scheduled for the Easter weekend. Having experienced such a wonderful church camp last year, we are really looking forward to being able to run this event again. For any visitors who will be in our area during the Easter period, please be advised that our Church worship service will be held at the camp. Feel free to make contact with one of the members on our contacts page if you would like to join us.
Lastly, we anticipate that in the coming months our Church group may be granted the opportunity to call our own Pastor. Although a number of steps still need to take place before this happens it is our prayer that God will open all the necessary doors. We ask all our readers to also remember this in their prayers.
As we continue to journey through 2014 let us be reminded of the words found in Psalm 33:
Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, Just as we hope in You.
It has been over 2 months ago since we have shared any news about the events happening here in Cairns. It has been a couple of very busy months for the families living here, and included both exciting and disappointing moments. However we are very thankful that whenever we take the time to reflect on previous weeks or months we can always see the way in which our Heavenly Father continues to provide for His children, and for the Church that has been established here in Cairns. We are very grateful for His continued care, love and direction in our lives and for the strength He provides us with when challenging moments arise.
In our last blog post post we needed to say goodbye to a lovely family who left Cairns and made the big move back to Western Australia. This time we are excited to share that we could welcome a family from Western Australia, who have moved to Cairns and who are now settling in to our Church family. Matt and Wilma Postmus and their children Shania, Rhiannon, Bryce and Heath were able to arrive in Cairns some time mid-September and it has a great blessing having them join our Church group. Since their arrival the children have been able to start school and our brother Matt has been given full time work. They have also moved into their new home with their container arriving safely a few days after the move. We pray God will continue to bless this family as they settle into the Cairns community and into our Church community and that it wont take long before they feel at home.
Of more recent we have enjoyed a visit from Rev and Mrs Kroeze from the Free Reformed Church of Legana. Rev and Mrs Kroeze were able to spend 10 days in Cairns and Rev Kroeze had opportunity to lead our worship services for a couple of Sundays. We were given time to acquaint ourselves with them and they also with us. The visit passed by very quickly however we can reflect on a number of social events that were held during their stay. On the first weekend of their arrival we were able to enjoy a bonfire evening down by Holloway's Beach. This has become quite a 'Cairns tradition' for our Church group, and always a great success. Whether it is fishing, swimming, playing games on the beach, melting marshmallows on the fire, playing Spotlight or just opportunity for chatting - everyone has a fabulous time. Below are a number of photos taken at our bonfire evening.
The second weekend with Rev and Mrs Kroeze included a Church dinner hosted by one of our families - Sjaak and Cheree van Laar. Having recently completed the building of their new home, they now have a great backyard which could house our entire Church group as well as a few extras. The newly finished swimming pool was a fabulous hit with the children who had a whale of a time, using up lots of energy as well as having lots of fun. The van Laars are awesome cooks and provided us with a great spread of food accompanied by extra salads and desserts made by other families. We reflect on a fun and happy night, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
On a Church scene we are thankful for the small and positive steps forward, in relation to the calling of our own pastor. The developments relating to this process has not always been what we had anticipated, or hoped for; but at the same time we continue to trust, seeking God for patience and wisdom in this matter. We know that He hears our prayers and that He will also provide us with a pastor in HIs time.
We only have a couple of months left before the year of 2013 will come to a close. It is often a very busy time of the year, and many demands are laid on parents and children as they complete things pertaining to their education or work place. May God continue to bless the families of all those who read this blog and support our Church group.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!
Psalm 84: 11,12
In a small church group, saying farewell to members is never an easy thing. Each member plays an important and often vital task, and when they leave their place is sorely missed. Small church groups will often create an environment for close relationships to be built, so at times of farewell, saying good bye can be quite a difficult thing to do.
Recently we had to say good bye to Ivan and Jolene Byl and their daughter Nadia. Ivan and Jolene have been with our Church group for the past 2.5 years and we valued their presence and contribution. We had opportunity to share in the joyous moment of the birth of their first child Nadia, who was always happy to receive cuddles from any arms that she was placed in. We also shared in the journey of suffering that faced Jolene's family, when her brother was diagnosed with cancer, and more recently taken to be with the Lord. We give all thanks to God for the time that we could spend with Ivan and Jolene, and it is our prayer that God will bless this family richly as they settle in Western Australia and make it their new home.
The weekend prior to the departure of Ivan and Jolene we had opportunity to share an evening by the beach volley ball courts on the Esplanade. The idea was that we would enjoy a few games of beach volley ball, followed by a combined dinner. Unfortunately we didnt realise that the courts had been booked fora Masters tournament, meaning that all the courts were busy for the time that we were there. However it did give opportunity to take out the footy and soccer balls and the children still enjoyed much time on their scooters.
Below are a few photos of this event:
On a more exciting note we have recently received news that the proposal our congregation has put forward for the institution of our own church, will be discussed at an ad-hoc classis meeting to be held on the 13th of September, dv. We pray that God will bless the discussions that take place at this meeting that the outcome may be favourable for our church group to become an independent church of the Free Reformed Bond of Churches in Australia. We also pray that He will continue to bless the Church work that happens here in Cairns that we may reach many people in our local community with His rich gospel.
At present our church group has been blessed with another visit from Rev and Mrs Veldman. Having recently retired as the pastor of Southern River WA, we are thankful that for a second time this year Rev Veldman is willing to lead our worship services as well as be of practical support to our elders and deacon and of general support to the families living here. We wish Rev and Mrs Veldman God's continued care and guidance when they return home in a little over a week.
The year is quickly slipping by and before long we will have already reached the half way point. We give all thanks to God for His continued care and protection over our Church group during the past number of months, since our last blog post.
As we reflect on recent months we are very thankful for the many new visitors that have joined us in worship. We continue to be blessed with faces from both near and far, some are here to holiday while others live in the nearby area. It has resulted in some lovely Sundays of great fellowship, a rich blessing to all of us that are living here.
At present we are allowed to share much time with our various missionary families from PNG. Throughout the course of the next two months a number of the families in Lae and Port Moresby will be in the Cairns area for health reasons or a time of vacation. We are thankful for the relationships that can be built during the time that our missionary families are in our area and for the way in which we can be of support to one another. It is an enriching experience from both sides and something which is of encouragement to us all.
Of recent we were able to enjoy a Church breakfast at the home of Rod and Makeesha Byl. Originally this event was planned at one of the local parks, however the morning proved to be quite wet and so it was decided to head for a safer option. Breakfast included a great menu of bacon and eggs, freshly baked muffins, fruit and yoghurt, pancakes and lots of other delicious delicacies. It was a great way to start a Saturday, as we enjoyed much fellowship with our Church members as well as a number of visitors that were in our area. And to top it all off, we even had a surprise visitor...a 4m jungle python kindly welcomed all guests before heading up the stairs, where the breakafst was being hosted :) You got to love living in Cairns.
Men busy at the bbq.
Girls enjoying a chat .
Having fun with the skipping ropes.
Mr Jo helping to fix things with his drill.
Boys enjoying time together.
Yummy breakfast...enjoyed by both young and old!
In the coming months we may look forward to a number of guest ministers in our midst. A big thankyou to Rev and Mrs Veldman who have already spent time with our group back in March, and hope to join us again (dv) in August of this year. Rev Sikkema and Rev Kleyn from PNG, and Rev Rupke from Southern River WA, are also hoping to lead our worship services in the near future. We value these opportunities greatly, seeing that we do not have our own pastor at present.
As we close this post today we would just like to share that our Church group is currently working with the consistory of our home congregation in Armadale to become our own instituted Church. Much work and effort is required in this process and we ask that our readers will keep this in prayer. It is our earnest desire that God continue to bless the work that is being done here in Cairns, and that in due time we may also be an independent church of the Free Reformed Bond of Churches in Australia.