A tale of two youth groups

14 Nov

Let me tell you a tale of two youth groups…

The first youth group is in Wickham, a rem
ote mining town in north-west Australia, connected to an Anglican church supported by the Bush Church Aid Society (BCA). The youth group meets on a Tuesday afternoon at the local community youth centre and up to seven high schoolers regularly attend. The second youth group, FUEL, is on the other side of the country in metropolitan Sydney. This youth group meets on Friday evenings and up to 40 regularly attend from high school years 7 to 9.

While these two youth groups appear quite different, what they share in common has actually brought them into a partnership spanning 3,500 km. 

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul is deeply thankful to God for them and their partnership. But they are not just partners in anything – they are partners in the gospel! For the Christian, gospel partnership is not an optional extra. It is the natural implication of sharing in God’s grace (1:7) and being united in Christ (2:1) with other Christians. Paul gives examples of how he and the Philippians were partners together in the gospel:

• Prayer – Paul regularly prays for the Philippians (1:3-4, 9-11) and the Philippians are regularly praying for Paul (1:18b-19).

• Giving – the Philippians financially supported Paul in his gospel work (4:15-16).

• Encouragement – Paul is not only greatly encouraged as he hears news of the Philippians’ faithfulness (1:7-8; 2:19). He encourages the Philippians also of the gospel itself, how certain men have been shaped by the gospel (2:19-30) and with news of how the gospel is advancing elsewhere (1:12-14).

It is this kind of partnership with Australian Christians that enables the BCA to advance the gospel throughout our vast country. This was also the nature of the partnership that developed between the Wickham youth group in Western Australia and FUEL youth group from St George North Anglican Church in Sydney. 

Beginning in the second term of this year, the two youth groups have been exchanging videos of their youth groups, youth interviews and testimonies, stories of personal evangelism at school, questions about what life is like as a Christian teenager in Wickham or in Sydney, and prayer points. FUEL youth group also directed it’s giving for one of it’s terms towards assisting the youth from Wickham attend the Anglican Diocese of North West Australia youth camp in Kalbarri, north of Geraldton, in 2013.

Josh Goscombe (18) leads the Wickham youth group with his father, Rev. Richard Goscombe, and is also currently undertaking the Year 13 Gap Year (intensive) program with Youthworks College. When asked how the Wickham youth were encouraged by the partnership with FUEL, he said, ‘They loved it! In a town where there are barely any Christians, seeing a group with over 30 youth was mind-boggling! Knowing that there are many more Christian youth out there who are all seeking to walk with the Lord and who are going through the same struggles as them was so encouraging. FUEL was just so keen to find out about their lives in Wickham. It also provided the Wickham youth with the opportunity of seeing how different youth groups do things around the country, and showed them how important it is to be praying for other believers’. 

Both youth groups found the partnership greatly broadened their perspectives of Christian fellowship and gospel partnership. It was also a great opportunity to introduce the youth at FUEL to the mission of the BCA. Part of the success of this partnership was that while the cultural and geographic differences between the youth groups made the experience quite foreign and intriguing, it was still highly relational since the joys and struggles of living as a Christian teen are very similar wherever you are. Whether in Wickham or in Sydney, all of the youth could’ve said ‘They’re just like me’. The two youth groups intend to maintain the partnership by regularly exchanging news updates and praying for one another.

It can feel lonely as a Christian teen in remote Wickham. It can also feel lonely as a Christian teen in metropolitan Sydney. But the truth is that if we live out our partnership in the gospel then we are not alone. Together we can seek to advance the gospel and live lives profoundly shaped by the gospel – to the glory and praise of God.

Cameron Noakes


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