BRIDGING THE GAP – REACHING TAMWORTH WITH THE GOSPEL
Jimmy Alley is a first year apprentice at Tamworth Baptist. He spends a lot of his time working closely with their youth group, the churches biggest link to its Indigenous and government housing community. Jimmy says there are currently 80 youth who meet on a Friday night. “It’s extremely cross cultural for our church. 95% of the kids are from housing commission and 80% are Aboriginal.”
As Jimmy and the other leaders wrestle with the range of social and behavioral issues present amongst the kids, the gospel is shared faithfully. “I think 80 – 90% believe Jesus died for their sins and believe there is a God,” Jimmy says. “However, there is a culture that we haven’t been able to break. They don’t understand what the gospel means in changing their lives.”
Jimmy has set a goal for the next two years of his apprenticeship. He wants to bridge the gap between kids coming to youth group and plugging them into the wider Christian community. He wants to see the kids and their families deepen their faith and understanding of God and become members of the church.
He’s started trying to do this by encouraging kids to join the new youth church. “We are pursuing half a dozen kids to come to youth church. It shows we think they’re at a point where they can really grow in their faith,” Jimmy explains. “They’re asking “What happens after death? What do I need to change? Should I be doing this because I come to church?” The questions are there and the growth is there.”
“What is their hope in now?” Jimmy adds. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a rapper, or an NRL star, but there’s an eternal hope to look forward to. This year that idea is really gelling with a few kids.”
The gap is slowly starting to be bridged. “In a twelve month period we’ve see one woman go from being abusive towards us to supporting us,” Jimmy shares. “She is now very thankful for the support and the work we’ve done with her son and her other kids. God shows little glimpses of how he’s working in what we’re doing.”
“We want the kids attending youth group now to be accepting of what we do and send their own kids here. This gap is being bridged, but it’s a slow process,” Jimmy reflects.
“If you push it, you can actually push these kids away. They’ve got to want to do it.”