updates are not so frequent these days, as the park reports are
pretty much consistently wonderful, blessed times. I've also closed
the forum, as there are plenty of other places for that kind of
thing. Cheers, and enjoy.
pics and maps here
bring them a hot dog, and they bring us profound spiritual moments.
was a homeless guy.
20th January 2007
First post in six months! I've just arrived back from a trip to
Aceh and Cambodia. You may remember something about my trip to Aceh
in April? Well, while I was there I met with the leader of an IDP
(Internally Displaced Person) camp. It's a camp of about a thousand.
I had a bunch of educational and sporting supplies that I left with
them, and asked if there was anything specific they needed, as I
could come back in December (school holidays). He said they needed
bikes to help their kids to get to school. So, I promised nothing
except that I would try to get 265 bikes to them by December.
I explained a little about Christmas and said I would ask people
in Australian Churches to buy bikes for kids in their camp. He was
delighted, and said he had no problem with the difference in religion,
and that he would make sure the kids in the camp write to the people
who buy the bikes.
Well, thanks so much
to those who have helped out! We have seen about half the bikes
delivered already, and the rest are payed for. Kids have also received
letters from their 'sponsors' and are delighted to make contact
- with the hope of establishing real relationship over time. For
me, personally, this is the big one! To build bridges between people
who are 'supposed' to be scared of each other.
On Boxing Day, two years
after the tsunami, I had the pleasure of personally delivering about
50 girls' bikes with some of the locals who are helping with the
project, and with my son, Noah, who came with me on the trip. It
was wonderful to see happy smiling faces and we were received back
with a wonderful warmth and hospitality.
It was also encouraging
to see timber and iron clad houses (like a glorified cubby by Australian
standards) where there were tarpaulins in April.
After Meulaboh (Aceh)
we went to Lake Toba (possibly the most beautiful place on earth)
for some r & r then flew to Cambodia to help out with some online
curriculum building with an organisation called Hagar.
Stepping back a little,
I took some of my Media Students to Cambodia to make a documentary
in October 2006, and they made a very moving film about one of the
beneficiaries of Hagar; a 14 yr old girl who is receiving some catch-up
education. While we were there I saw the opportunity to help with
some online curriculum development, hence our return in January
07. I also spent some time working on a documentary for Hagar.
A big part of this trip
was to expose Noah, who is 10 yrs old, to other cultures and ways
of life. He engaged at a wonderful level. One of the precious memories
was an evening in Phnom Penh, where he had fully connected with
the street sellers. The night before, he had been playing connect
4 on the street (literally) for hours, and he followed it up by
trying to help them sell books. He took one of the kids' basket
of books and started asking people if they wanted to buy a book,
or a map, or a bag, and he could do a good price! It was really
funny, yet really profound at the same time. He learned what it's
like to be completely ignored, as the street sellers so often are.
However those who actually looked at him, realising he wasn't a
Cambodian kid, didn't know what to do with it. It really seemed
to rattle some cages in an interesting kind of way. What was beautiful
to see, was when Noah did sell a book, he gave the money to the
kid, who immediately split the profit with him. Noah tried to make
them keep it all, but they insisted each time. It struck me that
kids who desparately need a buck (so they can go to school the next
day) still value relationship more than money - and they knew Noah
didn't need the money!
Anyway, that's a very
abbreviated version of our trip. Here are a few pics.
21st July 06
Howdy folks! Been ages I know, but the whole thing in the park
is just ticking over really nicely. There is always great fellowship,
friendship, community. Always great people to hang out with and
an opportunity to share life.
You may remember a post
I made a few months ago about going to Aceh. Well, it was incredible!
I spent my school holidays traveling to a part of the world that
some would emphatically tell you NOT to go! Well, as I suspected,
they are NOT to be believed. I was wonderfully looked after by the
most hospitable people who have persevered through the probably
the worst natural disaster since the flood. They are loving, caring,
sharing and I didn't for a second feel unsafe.
It was a time of real
challenge and reflection for me, and many religious and social myths
were delightfully dispelled.
All reports when I was
there said the tsunami was 20m high and traveled at 800km/h. That's
pretty frikken horrendous, right? It washed away kilometers of the
coast, and flattened kilometers inland. It is truly an awesome place
to be, and I would encourage you to buy a ticket today - go and
visit, share a coffee, hear a story, engage with the survivors.
You won't be disappointed.
One thing was very obvious.
Relief organisations and churches are appreciated, yet there's a
degree of cynicism. Go by yourself! Without any kind of organisation
behind you! Without any hidden agenda or ulterior motive! They will
open their hearts and lives to you and you will indeed be blessed.
I shot some video and
am working on something of a travel journal. I have just completed
another edit that includes a couple of interviews with locals and
something of a look at the place 16 months after the tsunami. See
Updated 12th March
Just a quick update on the action in Hyde Park.
Over the last couple
of months there's been a really regular crew waiting for us by the
barbecues. There have been a couple of guitars, an acoustic bass,
didgeridoo and some great bluesy, country-ish music happening on
some days. The music really adds a new dimension to the afternoon
and a different kind of fellowship. Ronald spent over an hour teaching
Noah how to play didge. He was real happy with himself.
Wendy and Emma turned
up with visual diaries and pencils a couple of weeks ago and did
some great sketches. It was pretty special, and a really nice touch
to bring something special to those being drawn.
Today a woman asked if
we could read out some Bible. Not having one handy we started chatting
about some Bible verses and quite a conversation resulted. It's
hard not to notice how many people living on our streets have Christian
backgrounds of some sort.
It's been great to have
some crew from The Mission in North Perth. A couple of homeless
crew have gone along to their services after the park, which is
great. I love that Grant and the others are so open to their involvement
in that community.
It's always inspiring
to see so many wonderful people turning up and being involved. I
love the way the whole thing just works with no real planning or
structure - each person bringing something to make the whole event
complete. Some drift in and out, others are there every week, but
they are always loving, caring, sharing. There are some wonderful
people around who sincerely reflect Jesus' nature.
Updated 6th March
My conviction is that we are called to love those around us with
or without training. Jesus didn’t say to go into all the world…
after three years and $20 000 worth of missionary training. And
I believe that we will benefit, more than any amount of mission
training, by just going and loving the foreigner, the widow and
the orphan. – locally and abroad. I’m sure mission training
can be great; I’m just suggesting it’s not compulsory
or required before one starts to do nice things…
On April 11 I will hop
on a plane to Jakarta, then head over to tsunami-stricken Banda
Aceh to help out with some stuff. I don’t really know what
to expect, but I believe there are things we can do if we just ask
the question. Of course, it’s difficult to ask if we don’t
go first. I’ll document the whole thing on video as a ‘hitch-hikers
guide to being nice’ for distribution. I’m hoping to
do similar things later this year in Cambodia, then next year in
Thailand and Africa. I’m also looking at documenting the Park
Barbecues and the wonderful things that are happening there. I’d
like to communicate the idea that we can choose a disaster-stricken
and dangerous place to go on our holidays rather than first-world
luxury. It would often be cheaper, and so much more rewarding. I
hope these videos are of use to people who would like to actively
engage with those in need, but find it somehow inaccessible due
to the presumption that they can do nothing without large amounts
of ‘training, time and money’.
Thee of my ex-students
have heard about the trip to Aceh, and have asked if they can come,
so it will be nice to have some manpower for practical help situations,
as well as more suitcases to put stuff in for orphans and schools
we’ll visit. Kids at school are collecting and making things
for us to take with us…
Please pray for us, and if you’d like to contribute anything
(school stuff, inflatable balls, clothes, games…) let me know,
and we can arrange to take it over and give it to needy kids in
I was at an evangelism seminar recently, and it was refreshing to
hear the idea presented that we need to love with no strings attached.
Yep, that means loving unconditionally and without a hidden agenda
– agenda like, what I really want to do is convince them to
get saved, come to church… The greatest command is to love,
Jesus said that. He also told us to make disciples of all nations,
and we called it the Great Commission. My question is; which is
easier, the great command, or the great commission? My answer is;
The great commission
can be done by organizing ourselves, working on advanced strategies,
by thinking up great rhetorical questions to ‘guide’
people over the line, by cleverly shaping conversation to corner
people into admitting we’re right, by doing nice things for
them so they think we love them (good if without the ulterior motive)…
and all this can be done without any trust or faith in God.
The great command cannot
be done without God. We are incapable of loving, sharing and caring
without His power. It takes sacrifice of self. It takes faith to
let God do the convicting.
If we obey the command, we fulfill the commission, since the love
of Christ is so irresistible to most.
Let us find ways of helping
each other to shake off the old paradigm. Let us find ways of sincerely
showing love. Let us be salt and light. Let us trust God with the
results of our labour.
On a different note, we had lunch recently in a park in Willeton.
There were about 35 people all gathered to eat together, fellowship,
share life. Mostly new immigrants and wonderful people. Bob and
Irene organized it, and are doing a great job. They meet at 12.30
every second Saturday, and you can see a map, pictures and details
on the galleries page here. If you live
in the area, go visit and have wonderful communion Aussie style.
After lunch we went to
Lake Leschenaultia for a birthday party. Friends up there told us
they have Sunday BBQs up there and have about 40 people from all
join them on a regular basis. Once again, it’s about sharing
I heard a rumour yesterday
about some people in Balga doing a barbecue for the Sudanese in
Pretty good I reckon.
God bless ‘em.
Cheers, and God Bless
Updated 18th December
See the new graphic here for download.
It's basically says 'Jesus was a homeless guy'. Foxes have holes
and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His
head. The idea of Jesus being a homeless guy has helped me appreciate
further the people we're hanging out with in the Park. He told people
to sell all their stuff and give it to the poor - then they could
follow Him. I recon He's got a thing for homeless people.
Well, It's been a month
since I updated the site. Nope, we haven't stopped communing with
people in the park, it's just been so busy! We have had a month
of diverse and varied Sunday arvos in Hyde Park, with a variety
of people hanging out with us. Numbers have fluctuated a lot, but
it's always an adventure in some ways, wonderfully relaxing in other
In early November a family
of Iraqis arrived here as refugees. It's been great to get to know
them, and I hope to have them over for Christmas dinner. They're
a Muslim family, and love to engage in Carols by Candlelight, and
are warm and welcoming of us into their home. They live close to
Marissa, and she's done an awesome job locking in with them.
During the week Kylie
and Lucinda put together some Christmas hampers and we left some
with folks who are living on the streets. We'll deliver some more
tomorrow to some of them who live in refuges and other places. We
are going to miss the park on Christmas, so they reckon they're
going to turn up with their hampers and have Christmas anyway.
One of the things we're
finding is that the folks are opening up in a number of ways. There
are various relational issues that some of them need to work through,
and they have other physical needs as well. It's a privelege to
be a part of their world, to offer friendship, and to engage on
a deeper level.
In the last few weeks,
we have had complete strangers walk up and give us money, and others
come to tell us about the reputation we have earned around the streets
of Perth. It's an honour to be known as 'The Christians' and a blessing
to be told that the people have immense respect for us and love
us dearly. They apparently look forward to hanging out at 1pm Sundays.
I gotta say; they are a blessing to us too, and I look forward to
hanging with them as well. It's very much a mutually beneficial
and blessed time.
Until next time,
Updated 13th November
and Muslims unite! Sounds weird? Today was yet another adventurous
episode in our efforts to build community and cross cultural chasms.
We had a three families join us from the Middle-Eastern community.
It was Husna's birthday, so they came with their friends to celebrate
her birthday with us. They also invited their Australian friends
whose kids go to the same school as Husna. It was a privelege to
be a part of their community, and a joy to have them share special
times with us.
During the afternoon
one of the guys that's a regular had a seizure. Pray that he's ok.
He's become a wonderful friend and is dedicated to serving those
around him with humility and kindness. It was quite amazing to see
everyone rally around him in support, finding ways to help someone
they cared about. I'm talking about Christians, Muslims, and others
members of this eclectic community, all united to care for one person
who is a part of what is happening there.
It's deeply moving to
be a part of something real, something spiritually profound. To
see a Muslim woman in tears as she comforts a Christian woman shaken
by an event where a loved one is rushed off to hospital in an ambulance.
Next weekend will be
the last time we see one family, who are going to Iraq for three
months. They are taking photos of themselves in church, in the park
with Christians, and we will miss them greatly. Pray for their safety.
They are dearly loved.
It was once again a privelege
to meet wonderful new immigrants; a family from Iraq. He is a famous
artist in Iraq, and they were excited about giving us their numbers
- inviting us over to their home (does the Bible say something about
those who invite us into their home?). Gonna go visit them this
7th November 2005
Yesterday was great! Lots of people from all walks of life now joining
us. Some for a meal, others just for coffee. It's been amazing to
see people's response to what we are doing. I am seeing more and
more that people flocked to Jesus because of His loving, giving,
to put together a new section in the feedfivethousand web. It'll
be a place where we list activities that people are engaging in
to help the needy and create community. My hope it that you will
find something to join in with - help someone who is already helping
someone else. Blessed is the giver. If you have suggestions, please
I'm hoping to put together
a bit of a shindig on the 11th December - perhaps a spit-roast and
something of a feast to celebrate Christmas. Any help, ideas, contributions
will be greatly appreciated.
Updated 2nd November
Last weekend was
nice and sunny with plenty of people in the park. I had to shoot
off early to speak about what we're doing, at a mission conference
and a church. Great news is, we have another park BBQ happening
soon in Victoria Park. The people from Jubilee fellowship are going
to get one happening.
Caught up with Grant
during the week, and he said the day finished really well. They
took things further - to those who had mates, food, and were appropriately
dressed in current non-homeless fashion. Seems to me people of all
walks actually respond really well to the idea of love, care, friendship
and community. No wonder Jesus had people flock to Him!
The weekend just gone
was pretty wet, but we still had a great time! We've bought a coffee
percolator urn, and it was good to be able to offer those who already
have food a nice coffee.
I walked around the lakes
and found Johnny with his arms outstretched calling out to God.
One thing led to another and he ended up coming to church with me.
We played a few songs together - him on guitar and singing, and
me on the Gumleaf. It was wonderful to see and hear him worshipping
with such passion.
I gotta say. Even though
there were only a few people there on a cold and wet day, it was
still the sweetest fellowship I've had all week. Thanks so much
to those who commune with us in the park on weekends.
Updated 21st October
This is a
two-week report again. One Sunday was pretty cold and windy, so
there were not heaps of people in the park. Still, we always seem
to go through the food. This time we had a few newcomers through
and one guy who had been a bit shy about joining us on a previous
Sunday. It was great to see some of them again the following week.
Last Sunday, the 16th
of October, was a beautiful sunny day, and the park was crowded.
This is the first time we've had a really busy park, so we were
not sure what to expect. However, once again we were very blessed
by those who joined us.
Grant has cancelled church
for a few weeks, so they all come along to the park. This is the
second time this year (and possibly in my whole life) that I've
seen a pastor do something really outside the box and very brave.
Well done Grant! He's also decided to make the park a regular 'office'
during the week, so is making great connections there.
Johnny, a regular, thanked
me for being there for him for a long time now. Then he said "it's
time for me to come back to the Lord". It was wonderful to
be a part of that moment. Turns out he's been through Bible College
and was once a full-on Christian.
We have chosen to NOT
go to the park to tell ,verbally, the gospel, but to connect with
people, and reconcile with those we have culturally been at odds
with. The result is that relationship is built, and the gospel is
spoken by deed. This seems to be very impacting, and allows us to
work with a clear conscience - that we have no alterior motive or
OK, have a great week,
and join us when you can!
Updated 5th October
Well, the last two weeks have been great! I guess there were
about 25 of us enjoying each other's company over a few snaggers
on Sunday, so the numbers have been consistently increasing. It's
such a great afternoon engaging with people from other cultures,
creeds and experience.
Sunday just gone the
new Brighton Barby began. From all reports it was
a real success. Great to see the guys from Upstream getting into
it. Check the forums
for more details, or flick Herdo
a note if you want to get involved.
You know, the beauty
of having these BBQs is that it really is so simple, easy, cheap,
and a great, relaxing afternoon. Australians from all walks are
very comfortable being invited to a feed in the park, whereas they
may not be comfortable coming into a stranger's home for a feed.
sunday was great to see some new folks turn up - Grant and his kids,
and John, Kaitlin. Carms, Rach and Col as well as other regulars.
Grant invited Bethany, Tim and his girlfriend to their evening church
for an after service feed.
Overall, a wonderful
relaxing afternoon. My kids can't wait until next time, which is
to seeing you there,
12th September 2005
Noah got baptised. Our Iraqi friends from the park came to church
to celebrate with us. It was interesting to watch the way some of
the regular people from church reacted to Raja wearing her traditional
head dress. Overall it was wonderful! They really enjoyed church,
and sang along as best they could, given that they were singing
in a language they are just learning. The kids enjoyed kids' church.
Pray for them.
we went to Hyde park for our 1pm regular BBQ. Were joined by family
who had come along for Noah's baptism, as well as Rach and Colin.
Hassan and Raja came along with the kids, and we were also joined
by some Aboriginal folk.
Johnny is an old busker
who we knew from the days at the Brisbane Park. Nice guy, sings
and plays guitar, would like to quit drinking. He had a bloke with
him called Don. Don quit drinking a year ago, and had just met Johnny.
Don encouraged Johnny and gave him a few tips as to how to kick
the habit, and where he could find some help. Pray for them.
Noelene came along with
Cowen. She's at a local refuge, and wants to come to church this
sunday. Been through some serious crap, and would like to find some
local community. Pray for her.
Overall it was a great
afternoon. I think we might be able to do something special with
music in Hyde Park. Many of the Aboriginal folk know some of the
more country and old-school hymns, so I am thinking we should bring
some instruments and have a bit of a jam. Johnny's keen to join
us. Well, that's it for this week.
4th September 2005
I went to Hyde Park with the kids. Johan came along and we shared
food and conversation with a handful of aboriginal women and their
kids. Some of our Iraqi friends turned up and joined us, and it
was great to catch up with them.
A large extended family
were near us celebrating a birhday. Turns out some of them were
Christian, and one delivers soup to street people in Fremantle on
week days. She told me what they do, then said "there are good
people out there; lots of good people", which hit a sweet spot
for me at the time.
Noah has invited an Iraqi
Muslim family along to his baptism which is this coming weekend.
They will come along to church with us. I'm a bit nervous about
how they will be received, but hope and pray that things will work
out - love and learning will happen both sides of the religious
fence. Happens to be 9/11 the day of his baptism, and he's going
to wear his 'Jesus Loves Muslims' T-shirt.
All in all, I think the
barbecue was worth while. Pray that as the number of eaters builds,
so will the number of feeders.
28th August 2005
Well, a small handful of us turned up to Hyde Park today. Weather
looked pretty shaky for starters, but it ended up good. Noah and
I started cookin'. When Margaret arrived Noah and I started walking
around the lake to see if we could find anyone that might like a
friendly offer of food and company. When we got back to our barbecue
a handful of Aboriginal folk were heading towards where we were
cooking. They had some food to cook too, so we offered them some
of our hotplate and shared our meal with them.
Carms came along and so did Joey - like old times! Several times
an elderly Aboriginal bloke said "nothin will happen if you
don't do somethin" which I thought was pretty poignant on our
first barby day...
Sonja had a long chat with us, as well as a few other aboriginal
folk. One young bloke had some New Guinea in him, which was nice
for me since I was born in PNG. Good guy, seemed to enjoy cooking.
We shared our food with them and enjoyed each other's company. Noah
went off to play soccer with a couple of dozen people from Iran.
I love his openness and unreserved acceptance of absolutely anyone.
Anyway, I think it was a worthwhile afternoon. Hopefully, as we
spend more time in the park, we will have the opportunity to build
relationships with these people. Cheers, and thanks a lot to those
who came along!
Seeya next week!
21st August 2005
Today I went to Hyde Park for a reconnaissance BBQ with my kids,
Noah and Gracie, and one of Gracie’s school mates. We stopped
in on regular BBQers from the old days, an Iraqi family who live
nearby, and they came down to share a meal with us. Their friends
were there, so we had a good time meeting other Iraqi refugees,
who were all wonderful people. We also met with some Japanese students
who have been in Perth for a few weeks. They’ll be here for
a year, and were excited about the idea of regular BBQs each Sunday
21st August 2005
Those who read the editorials will know something of the racism
and xenophobia being perpetuated at the moment. It churns my stomach
to read some of it, but these two
letters are particularly disturbing, because they have come
from a fairly high profile Christian in our community. I’d
be interested in hearing your opinions on how we go about confronting
this kind of stuff within our churches. A forum entry on this subject