Please note; 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.

Some pics and maps here Aceh videos here

We bring them a hot dog, and they bring us profound spiritual moments.

Jesus was a homeless guy.

News

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.

Cheers,

O

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 it here.

Updated 12th March 06
Howdy folks. 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.

Cheers,

O

Updated 6th March 06
Trip to Aceh
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 Aceh.

Commission vs Command
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 latter.

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.

But! 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.

Barbecues on the Rise
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 God’s love.

I heard a rumour yesterday about some people in Balga doing a barbecue for the Sudanese in their area.

Pretty good I reckon. God bless ‘em.

Cheers, and God Bless you.

O

Updated 18th December 2005 (forum entry here)
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 ways.

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,

O

Updated 13th November 2005 (forum entry here)
Christians 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 week.

Cheers,

O

Updated 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, caring, nature.

I've decided 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 email me.

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.

Cheers,

O

Updated 2nd November 2005
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.

Cheers,

O

Updated 21st October 2005
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 hidden agenda.

OK, have a great week, and join us when you can!

O

Updated 5th October 2005
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.

Updated 23rd September
Last 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 nice.

Looking forward to seeing you there,

O

Updated 12th September 2005
Yesterday 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.

Afterwards 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.

Cheers,

O

Updated 4th September 2005
Yesterday 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.

Thanks,

O

Updated 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!

O

Updated 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 at 1pm.


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 is here.

CONTACT US//EMAIL//centraleditors@e-wire.net.au.