It was back in 2002 that Danelle and I sensed God speaking to us about leaving our home in Lesmurdie and making the move to Brighton as missionaries and pioneers.
We were leading a church at that time and I had only just transitioned into the Team Leader role after 5 years as a youth pastor. It was therefore quite bizarre to feel this calling so strongly, and yet we couldn’t ignore it. We also felt there were 4 other families who we should invite to join us on the journey. Again there were very good reasons why each should have said ‘no thanks’, but despite incredible obstacles all said ‘yes – count us in’, and so the journey began.
That journey has been one of the primary foci of this blog, but last night it came to an end – officially. We gathered the core team over a meal and took some time to give thanks, celebrate and share memories of the wonderful time we shared together.
It was a pretty special night as we caught up, shared stories and reflected on the things we had learnt from our experience. What was really cool was that everyone was there – and they wanted to be there. The fact that Upstream ended wasn’t down to bad vibes and people disliking each other. It was just a whole bunch of circumstances that shifted and left it no longer viable.
I heard a number around the table say that if we could do it again we wouldn’t hesitate. In fact who knows… maybe one day we will…
So while there were tears and sadness at the end of a dream, there was also huge gratitude for the journey and for the friendships and for the learning. I think for most of us its been our ‘best ever’ church experience and has shaped up significantly. I actually don’t think we could have learnt any of the stuff we did and changed the way we did while doing ‘business as usual’.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the whole time was the way we were forgotten and virtually disowned by our home church once we made the decision. While there were a few quality people who prayed for us diligently and often, we never got invited back to share our learning and our requests for support or connection were not even responded to.
That has definitely left an ‘ech’ taste in our mouth and was an ongoing source of pain. Recently the church celebrated its 40th anniversary and in recounting the history of the church there was no mention made of the 5 families who left in 2003 to be missionaries in another suburb. Ouch.
To be written out of history like that wasn’t altogether surprising based on what we had experienced, but it was also disappointing as for all of us the church had been such a significant part of our lives and all of us had been long term committed members.
Despite that disappointment we can only look back with joy on a period of our lives that was significant and beautiful and give thanks for being able to do it.