OUR COMMUNITY

REAL STORIES

Real stories with real people finding hope in all circumstances. If you have a story to tell, we would love to hear from you. Email us at [email protected]

BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING

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Aspasia started coming to GRLC in 2017. Her first encounter was through Life Care, she was going through a very tough time in her life and began getting some assistance from our Life Care services. Aspasia loved the work Life Care was doing so much she went on to become a volunteer.

“I have personally found this season of COVID-19 very challenging.

Early on, the Government advised anyone over 60 years of age to stay home and isolate.

I am a very social person, I love connecting with my friends and family, I love coming to church during the week to volunteer for Life Care and especially on Sundays.

Life turned upside down. I became very lonely. Although I made efforts to call family and friends, and they called me also, it wasn’t the same. I watched the church online content but even that wasn’t helping. I was feeling very disconnected.

It was a difficult time. But God got me through it and since restrictions have lifted I have been able to get back to doing what I love; helping at Life Care. The new Community Relief Centre has been a blessing to so many people and I love spending time there with the other volunteers, packing the hampers and catching up with them each week.

This week, I went to deliver some hampers to some people who can’t come to the centre. It was a beautiful thing that I got to witness today when a woman received her hamper, her face lit up with so much excitement. She began to tell me everything she could make with the items from the bag and how long it will get her through, the look of joy on her face really made my day and I recalled back to when the ladies from Life Care used to visit me with a hamper, I was reminded of the impact it made on me and how much God loves me and also this lady. No matter how isolated we feel, God is with each and everyone of us, all the time.”

STEPPING OUT IN FAITH

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Hi, I’m Eleanor, and I’ve been attending GRLC with my husband Zac for nine years. Until recently I’ve been very busy, super organised and always on the go. By day I was working as a sonographer specialising in obstetric ultrasound, and by night and on weekends working as a dance teacher running my own school. On top of that I’m a mum to four-year-old Bronte and five-month-old Phoebe. I knew this year was going to be different and slower paced, but I wasn’t expecting this!

I went on maternity leave from my ultrasound job the week before I had Phoebe in January, and made the difficult decision to walk away from the dance school I had built over the last seven years. The loss of my school, the loss of identity in the workplace and the stresses of a newborn led me to a diagnosis of post-natal depression in late February. Then came COVID-19. 

We isolated as a family very early on to protect Phoebe — we were fortunate to be able to do so. Because of that, we missed our regular life group meeting that week, and weren’t sure how we’d be able to continue to connect into the church while self-isolating. Two weeks later, all of NSW was in lockdown, and our life group transitioned — albeit awkwardly — onto the Zoom platform. I was thrilled. It’ll never be the same as being together in person, but during a really difficult time it was so comforting to be seeing, chatting and praying with familiar faces.

And I discovered something else. All of the things that would normally make us miss a week’s life group — extended family birthday dinners, dance competitions, work conferences — were also cancelled. Our life group met up more often, watching the Sunday sermon together and discussing afterwards. It felt like God was giving me the opportunity to think about my schedule and prioritise life group more.

Then on Saturday 18 April, Zac needed help. He’d taken on the job of editing and producing Ben’s sermon, and while Zac‘s great at the technical stuff, he needed me to make the sermon to look and feel right. I traded two children for his laptop and got to work. It felt great to be able to flex those creative muscles again, and contribute to a project that would allow so many of our church members to hear, see and feel God’s word, something that they would have been craving in lockdown. The following week I volunteered to join the creative production team. 

I’ve continued to serve, editing and producing my share of the Sunday sermons with Zac. It’s been wonderful and eye-opening listening to the pastors’ words over and over while editing. Through their mistakes and re-tellings of the same stories and passages, I’ve gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of what God is trying to tell me. It’s like reading different translations of the same Bible passage, and having one really hit you and stand out. 

It’s been amazing to be able to combine one creative passion with the passion for Jesus, while serving a real need in church. And I’d encourage anyone to do the same. 

Looking back now, I can’t believe God had to use a global pandemic to actually get me to listen, and re-evaluate what matters. But I’m so glad He did. 

A FAMILY'S CALL

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What an amazing couple of months it has been to connect with people in our street. Prior to Covid, we were always running everywhere – appointments and events for the kids, extra curricular work events, etc.

One of the nice side effects is having the time at home that we never seemed to previously have. Over Easter, the girls and I had the opportunity to make special Easter Bunny surprise deliveries to the thirty families around us. We attached a special message to each of them and a bible verse.

As a response we met a number of families we’d never met before, letters appeared in our mailbox with introductions, other’s felt free to share their own faith, and when we sat on our front lawn we had had a few neighbourhood chats that we may never have had the opportunity or time for! With many left over Easter Eggs we also had a cook up and made brownies, cup cakes and fudge and got to do some follow up visits. We’ve met an older lady across the street that we were able to do a little grocery shop for, another single lady who just needed some company, and another couple who have us now on call to sit with the wife if the husband needs to go out because she has some health conditions and can’t be left alone. The girls have met new playmates, we’ve learnt some names and we’re looking forward to having a chance to catch up with barbecues and some street picnics in the future.

We’re so thankful that through such a terribly tough time that we’ve had the privilege to connect in ways that we were always ‘too busy’ for. We hope that in the small gestures, our neighbours have had a glimpse of God’s love, and that they have been ‘seen’ in what has been a very lonely time for some of them and that these small acts will open connections for future conversations and connections​.

 

BEING CHURCH IN OUR COMMUNITY

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Over the past few months our Chipping Norton team have been involved in various initiatives including Liverpool Street Kitchen and more recently, working alongside Liverpool Neighbourhood Connections to distribute food hampers to vulnerable families and individuals in the Warwick Farm area.

It’s an exciting time for the team to witness God moving and the way He is affirming the Guiding Principles we established for our team many months ago, based on who God has called us to be in the Chipping Norton and surrounds community.

COVID-19 restrictions have changed the format and the way we meet at Liverpool Street Kitchen and also the way we deliver and distribute food hampers, however, as we know, God uses all circumstances for His good and, these changes have produced opportunities for us to show His faithfulness and compassion in more ways than ever.

Most recently, we have been able to tangibly help a couple living under the bridge in Liverpool. The young woman has recently learnt she is pregnant, and is feeling scared and overwhlemed. We have been able to provide connection, toiletries, underwear, warm clothing and food as well as guidance and encouragement to seek wisdom and more appropriate housing from professional organisations.

We have provided connection, warm clothing and food to a young male, that is suffering from addiction. We have been able to pray with him and we continue to journey with him and encourage him to make wiser choices.

These are just two of the many stories that are unfolding as we continue to honour God on this journey of bringing real transformation in us and our community and partnering with what God is already doing in Chipping Norton and surrounding areas.

COMPASSION THAT GOES BEYOND

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Over the past few weeks during isolation, I have been reaching out to all of my friends and checking on them. 

When talking with one of the mums from school , she told me that her work hours had been cut in half, her new wage would barely cover her rent. This made me think about how I could support her more than just emotionally. 

I remembered the Life Care hampers and decided to visit to Life Care and pick up a hamper for her. I then went to deliver the goodies to her, I left it on her doorstep with a flowering plant and card so she could come home and find the surprise. 

Later that afternoon I received a message from her, not only her but also her partner and children were completely blown away and so appreciative. 

It was a a gesture that took me very little time but had such a huge impact on her and her family. knowing that I was able to provide food for her from Life Care was a great feeling. I know I will definitely continue to look out for more ways that I can help people in our community. 

HOPE ON A MORNING WALK

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Last week on a morning walk through Evatt Park I noticed a man going through a rubbish bin looking for food for himself and his dog.  It took me a couple of takes to have the courage to talk to him but felt compelled to ask if I could help. Unfortunately, he did not speak English and so it was hard to communicate with each other. 
 
I did say to him that I wanted to help. I telephoned Suzanne and shared the experience with her and asked her the best way to approach the situation and how to use the Community Relief Centre to help him.  It was decided that Suzanne would make up a bag and drop it into me.  The bag was filled with practical food for both him and his dog.

Each day I would go for a walk at the same time and pray for this gentleman.  Exactly one week later I went for my walk and there he was.  I said hello, he waved and I said I had a bag of food for him.  He didn’t really understand so I quickly rang Drew and he drove down with the bag.  I handed it to him, he was a little emotional and surprised but said thank you.  I pointed to the side of the bag and he understood that there was a phone number to call for any further help.  

My heart was lifted and it felt so good to be able to help someone in need and is exactly what the Community Relief Centre is set up to do.  I love that we have access to such a wonderful service to help others.  I am now praying for him each day and praying that he will contact the Centre or I will knock into him again.