Just as God sent John the Baptist to “prepare the way” for Jesus on this earth, we are continually amazed at what God has and is preparing for us in Australia. As we are stepping out to follow God’s voice for our future church plant, we have discovered some exciting things about the Hunter region where we are going. With an approximate population of 645,000 people, this area extends from the North side of Sydney about 75 miles. The city of Newcastle and Lift Church are going to be centrally located within this area.
When we picked the place we wanted to re-locate and plant our church, we asked God to close the doors if He didn’t want us there. So far, there have been nothing but green lights. We never had any super-spiritual reasons for choosing it. We like where it is on the map in relation to Greg’s family and Sydney. We like the population, weather, and proximity to the ocean. That’s about it. Well, we are continuing to be amazed by how much God is positioning us for an exciting time in the region.
While visiting Australia last month, everywhere we went, people were raving about the Newcastle economy and growth. We found out 200,000 people are predicted to move to the Hunter region in the next decade. Housing developments are thriving out West of Newcastle with projected growth in just one suburb already mapped out for the next seven years. The mining industry is booming. As a matter of fact, this was the front page of the newspaper the saturday before we left:
The article says “the Hunter is defying an alarming industry trend to cement its position as the most productive region in Australia.” While 53,000 people lost manufacturing jobs in 12 months across Australia, 4000 have gained a job in this sector in the greater Newcastle area during the same 12 months.
It is exciting to be in a city where there’s a buzz and energy about the future. People love living there and are positive about the years to come. The economy is thriving and there is an undercurrent of something great that you can “feel” in the city.
The growing economy is just one area God is touching in the region. He is laying the groundwork and “going before us” to prepare the way for people to hear the Good News about Jesus Christ. The Bible promises that the LORD himself goes before us and will be with us. It says he will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:8). We are continually being reminded that this endeavor is not about us. God is moving in Australia. Revival is coming. We are just being allowed to be a part of it. Rather than looking at what we are doing as a way to pat ourselves on the back for our great faith, or to promote ourselves as church leaders, I am daily being humbled at the fact that God would choose us to play a small part in what He is doing in the Hunter region. We declare the promises of Isaiah 55 that we “will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.”