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Living our Vision campaign ignites a reimagining at Westlakes Corps

Living our Vision campaign ignites a reimagining at Westlakes Corps

Living our Vision campaign ignites a reimagining at Westlakes Corps

20 August 2018

Their first appointment was not what the Anastasiou's were expecting, but it is clear to them that God had a plan.

By Lauren Martin

When Cadets Rachel Mina-Anastasiou and Paul Anastasiou were told that they were going to be appointed to Toronto, they thought it was a joke. Paul’s parents lived in Toronto, Canada, and as a first appointment after training college, it seemed too good to be true.

“I laughed and said, ‘you’re joking, right?’” Paul remembers.

As it turns out, the ‘Toronto’ that Paul and Rachel were appointed to after they were commissioned as Salvation Army lieutenants late last year was the lakeside community of Toronto at Lake Macquarie in NSW, where The Salvation Army has Westlakes Corps.

“We didn’t even know it existed!” Rachel laughs!

The couple became Salvationists in their home country of Greece and were invited to travel to Australia to attend Officers Training College, (there is not yet a college in Greece, with Salvation Army work officially beginning there just over 10 years ago.) 

They requested to have their first appointment in Australia to gain experience before going back home. They assumed they would be appointed somewhere near a Greek community, or at least close to Booth College, where they are continuing their education, but Toronto didn’t meet any of those expectations.

“We started praying right after they announced our appointment and we felt that God actually was pulling our hearts, and saying ‘I’m going to be with you there,’” says Paul. “And God had a plan in it, definitely.”

The pair launched their ministry at Westlakes with the Living our Vision campaign of videos and sermons and challenged corps folk to think about ways of “doing church differently” in order to connect with community.

“It was a great beginning for us,” says Paul. “It was explaining, ‘this is who we are, this is what we do and this is what we are going to be doing from now on’.” 

The corps visits the local markets.

Since then, the corps has forgone one Sunday meeting to have a presence at a local markets instead, offering face-painting and engaging in conversation. They plan to do more such outings.

“We want to be out there, we want to be where the people are,”says Paul. “The building is only a building, it will never be something different than a building, it’s just bricks! But we are people, we are made for relationships.”

Luke 10:02 says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few”, and Captains Rachel and Paul are teaching their corps folk to look for where God is already working in people’s lives, for where the fruit is ripe.

“God is saying, ‘Just come along with me, partner with what I have already been doing in people’s lives’. Because out of the blue people are coming to check out the corps, or people are saying, ‘Can you please pray for me?’ or other random things are happening like a connection with Bunnings to help renovate our premises and the local nursing home calling us to ask if we can visit them.

“So we see God moving and we’re saying, ‘OK God, we’re going to follow you wherever!’”

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