THE YEAR THAT WAS - 2007
It is hard to believe that the Drennan family is starting our second year of ministry at Portland Baptist Church. We know that our Aussie journey has not been sustained because of our own efforts. So first and foremost, thank you for your continued prayer and support of our family. Although this season of ministry has not been without its challenges, we are certain that the prayers of others have played a strong role in helping us overcome some of our “first year” restlessness.
What an amazing first year it has been. There is no way I will be able to completely encapsulate all that has transpired in our small area in the Southern Hemisphere, but as they say here, “I will give it a fair go.”
One of the main objectives of this past year was to focus on relationships - especially how the Drennan family would fit into the church at Portland and the community as a whole. We did not want to be perceived as the “Americans” coming to show Portland how things “could be done.” Our desire was, as is still today, to walk beside them in the areas they are already ministering and encourage the gifts God has already given them to more effectively minister to those in Portland. We are happy to report that 2007 was a really good year. The Portland Baptist fellowship and the community have accepted us with open arms. However, we are told that our children must be here for 40 years before we could even think about being called “local.”
Here are some highlights:
HIGHLIGHTS FROM CHURCH LIFE:
Sunday School: Christy and team started two new Sunday School classes this past year. One class for ages 1 and 2 and the other class for ages 3 and 4. To do this we had to convert a storage room in the back of the church hall into two separate classes. In addition to these new classes, we continued a combined class for Prep through Grade 4. This year we will be starting a class for grades 5 and 6.
Home Groups: Currently we have about 4 active home groups. Our goal this year is to train the leaders of these groups so we can give “birth” to new groups. We have the people to attend the groups, but we need to develop more people to lead the groups. The harvest is ripe for people to learn about God in small groups, we just need the workers.
On December 9th we started overflow seating in our basement hall. We have a camera which feeds the service, via projector, on a big screen. This has helped bring seating relief to our sanctuary upstairs. Last week we had 160 people at church!
Portland Baptist has voted to accept the architect design for our new building. The price of the building is around $5 million. Still a long way off from the construction phase, but we now have a target and goal to move towards. God has moved in some remarkable ways and we are thrilled to be a part of what He is doing.
On February 13, our church launches a weekly program called Introducing God. This Australian-based course is similar to the Alpha course and will give people in our community the opportunity to be introduced to the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow. We are holding it off-campus in our local Center for Performing Arts.
In July we will hold our anniversary to celebrate 149 years of Portland Baptist Church. Our desire is to have Pastor Alexey from Obninsk, Russia, to be here with us for this occasion. We feel that we can offer him some support and encouragement in his ministry.
This past year Portland Baptist launched our involvement in the Kids Hope mentoring ministry. Kids Hope, a ministry of World Vision, is a ministry where one church engages with one school so that one adult is matched with one child for one hour each week. We had 10 people in our congregation enrolled to mentor. Personally, I had the privileged to befriend a 6th grade boy who 1) hated his father 2) lived with his mom’s boyfriend and 3) craved so much for male attention that he would do anything (to include being disruptive) to get noticed. The time we spent together was starting to make a difference in his attitude towards a lot of thing (like never missing school when he knew it was our mentoring day). If you think that investing one hour a week in the life of a child isn’t worth it…think again.
One of our goals this year is to help train the fellowship of Portland Baptist to have confidence in their faith and be ready to give a defense for their faith. To do this we have special Sunday night services planned that will build up our fellowship as they learn to: write their testimony, examine other faiths, understand the reliability of the scriptures, learn ways to memorize scripture, and show practical ways to share their faith with their friends, family and coworkers.
Starting February 24 we will kick off the prayer aspect of our “Cradle to 18” program. We are giving everyone in our church under the age of 18 the opportunity to be given a prayer partner in our church that will commit to pray for them.
Christy and I lead our Junior Youth Group (grades 4-6) every Friday night. We alternate nights between social fellowships and Bible study. Plus, once a term we plan a hands-on mission project. We are averaging about 20 kids a night (with a lot of them coming from outside Portland Baptist). Highlights of the year include: taking 27 kids fishing from the local wharf and 20 kids helping assemble Christmas Hampers for our local relief agency, Loaves and Fishes.
The church held a wonderful family camp in the Grampians. A family camp where we had something planned for all ages and everyone could be together.
We had more people follow in obedience to baptism this past year than we had in a number of years.
I have had the opportunity to preach half of the Sundays last year. This has helped me gain a greater appreciation for the study of the Word. It really is privilege to be able to teach the Word of God.
In July, a mission team from Portland Baptist went to the Northern Territory to work in Indigenous communities. Our team took three four-wheel drive trucks and two support vehicles. Half of our mission team stayed in Alice Springs to work at the Yirara College to help with maintenance issues. The other half spent their time between the two Indigenous communities of Yuendumu and Ali Curung. They worked with the Yapa people and supported the local missionaries, Norma and Karen Roberts. The towns are between 200 and 300 kilometers from Alice Springs. This was an amazing experience for the Drennan family. It was our first family mission trip. We traveled a fair distance of land and saw some amazing sights. Camden and I even climbed Uluru (Ayers Rock) and our family walked King’s Canyon. Most of all, we were able to get a better understanding of the plight and challenges the Aboriginal people face on a day to day basis.
As an outreach of the church, I am the school chaplain for grades 9 and 10 at Bayview College (one of our 2 local high schools). Additionally, I am teaching Faith and Values (Biblical Studies) once a week. It is amazing that the government encourages schools (both public and private) to have a chaplain on campus.
Christy is a volunteer teacher for Christian Religious Education (CRE) in a local elementary school. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to teach 80 students in grade 1 and grade 2 each week. The CRE program exposes the public school students to the love of God. We are thankful the public schools allow this wonderful program.
We just wrapped up our 2008 SUFM beach mission. From December 31 to January 8 the beach mission team held a VBS-ish type ministry on the foreshore of Portland. (This program has been running for 111 years in Portland.) The beach mission is kind of like VBS on steroids! There is morning sessions, evening sessions, parent sessions, teenager sessions, and sessions led at neighboring caravan parks, etc. It is an absolutely wonderful ministry that saw up to 300 people on the foreshores some evenings. My role was that of a “camp pastor” for the 60 or so leaders (which were from Melbourne and Portland) that ran the beach mission.
During the 2008 Easter Weekend I will be the featured youth speaker at the 71st Wimmera Victorious Life Convention in Warracknabeal. I am looking forward to this opportunity.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FAMILY LIFE:
I have a radio show on Friday afternoons with our local radio station, 99.3 - 3RPC. There is a lot of positive feedback from the show. Additionally, some of my sermons that are recorded from the church have been played during the programming on Sunday morning. This is one of the ways I have found to combine my love for music plus being part of the community. The radio connection led to the invitation to pray at the local ANZAC Day services (think Memorial Day).
I went along as a camp counselor with the kid’s school to Camp Kangaroobie. This was a great camp with scenic views, ropes courses, sheep sheering, bush dancing (square dancing) and more!
I also had the opportunity to preach at a church in Melbourne and led the Christmas Eve service at Bolwarra United Church. As a birthday treat, I slipped away to Melbourne with my buddy Aaron (who visited Grace in 2006) to hear Philip Yancy speak on prayer and to see one of my favorite bands, Switchfoot. In mid-September, my mom, Brenda, came to visit us for a month. It was good to spend time with her as she spread her “Grandma Magic.”
Christy found all things new in 2007 – new country, new house, having to buy new products, new stores to shop, and new ministries. Christy was involved in a woman’s Bible study. She also was a great hostess to a Super Bowl Party (Aussies think the rules of gridiron are a bit silly), Thanksgiving Dinner for 27, and fixing numerous cuppas. 2007 was also a year of unpacking boxes from moving, setting up a house, and then repacking to move again between Christmas and New Years. It is official – the Drennan family dislikes cardboard boxes!
Christy and I had the chance to share the gospel message with many people last year. During one visit, a young mom decided to be a follower of Christ at her dinning room table. Then a little bit latter, her Dad accepted Christ at our dining room table. God is moving in the hearts of many here in Portland.
Camden and Bailey have adjusted well this year. They both played on the schools footy team (Aussie Rules Football is a sport not to be played by the weak of heart). They also preformed in their school’s musical production, Moving On. Camden was elected school captain for next year. This is a pretty big deal for a foreigner to be elected into this important position! Other notable feats for him include: catching a mulloway on the Glen Elg River, chipping his front tooth on the head of a fellow classmate’s head in a collision, learning how to skateboard, and turning 12!!!!! Bailey has played on a netball team (she has turned into quite a wonderful goal scorer), had her picture in the local paper more times than I can remember, and has picked up a slight Aussie accent. (I think her accent is pretty fair dinkum)
It would be fair to say that the last 45 days have been the most hectic time for us in Australia. Between the year-end school and ministry activities, the Christmas services and activities (community carols, caroling by tram, planning for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services), preparing sermons, moving houses and pulling off a large scale beach mission project, there hasn’t been much time to let my ever-so-balding hair down.
Finally, it has been a joy to serve with John and Judith. It was been a true blessing to be able to serve alongside them. The challenges of the church have been intense at times (for both of us) and Judith faced some health issues (thankfully resolved). Through all of this, and there are good times too, we have been able to support, encourage, and uplift each other as we move forward as a ministry team. John and I are both thankful God has brought us together for this season of our lives.
One last thing…I really mean it this time. I must let you know that Portland Baptist is a wonderful church. They have been generous and loving to our family in countless ways. For example, 25 people turned up when we had to move houses. The street was packed with utes and their trailers. (A ute is Aussie for utility vehicle – which look like an El Camino.) They moved our whole house in two hours! The church is friendly and extremely kind…if you don’t believe me then come and see for yourself! We would love to have people get a glimpse into our life and ministry here. But be warned…once you visit you may not want to leave.
With much love for you and no love lost on Northern Virginia traffic,
The DownUnder Drennans
We have moved and our new address is:
Michael, Christy, Camden and Bailey Drennan
11 Webb Court
Portland, VIC 3305
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org