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Gunnedah youth use pedal power to bless community

Gunnedah youth use pedal power to bless community

Gunnedah youth use pedal power to bless community

19 January 2021

Young people get into gear for The Gunnedah Salvos Mission Ride.

By Lauren Martin

A missional activity in response to COVID-19 restrictions at Gunnedah Corps, north-west NSW, has strengthened its young people’s reliance on Jesus and outward focus.

Volunteer youth leader Sally-Anne Hall said the corps maintained a connection with its children and young people during the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions by delivering food hampers and Sunday school lessons.

“This worked really well for the kids,” she said, but it wasn’t helping the young people from the corps youth group stay connected. During the hamper runs, we noticed that most of the youth had bikes. So, we started thinking about doing a bike ride together ... great exercise, great fun and a great way to stay connected.”

Domonique, Taylise and Danika on the Gunnadah Salvos Mission Ride.

At around the same time, the corps was made aware of a Salvation Army Ideas Platform innovation grant to support ways to connect with young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After talking to God about what we should do, I kept coming back to that idea of going for a ride together,” said Sally-Anne. “Then I saw small local businesses trying to sell their handmade gifts and thought maybe we could ride together but also bless some members of the community and support some small local businesses all at the same time.”

With the idea for the Gunnedah Salvos Mission Ride firmly embedded, the young people started planning, praying and getting excited. Local produce and gifts were purchased, and small hamper bags were made up containing the gifts, a printed card with the packer’s favourite Bible verse and a copy of the latest Salvo Magazine and Kidzone. Money from the successful grant application also enabled the corps to buy Mission Ride T-shirts in Salvation Army colours and a water bottle for participants.

The day itself was bright and sunny. Mission Riders met to pray before starting, then completed a cycling loop of the local bike track and around the golf course, stopping along the way to bless people that they met with a gift bag, which Sally-Anne said was met with surprise and delight!

Sarah Trindall (left) from Gunnedah Salvos gives local resident Ellen Riley a blessing bag on the Mission Ride.

It was great to see the young people stepping out of their comfort zone and sharing the love of Jesus with our community,” she said. “As a team of young people, we had to rely on God for courage to talk to people, wisdom for the right words to say, strength to give without receiving, patience to wait for those who rode at a slower pace, perseverance to continue riding when we reached an incline in the path and joy to be finally able to connect together again and to bless others. It was an opportunity for growth that was experienced differently by every individual.

A sizzling barbecue was waiting for riders at the end of the outreach, cooked by Corps Officer Lieutenant Marika Wallis, who said she was thrilled with the outcome – seeing the community blessed and seeing the young people grow in their faith.

“I think what it did was that it brought the youth and kids together for a common goal. And to take ownership of impacting the community,” she said.

The Salvation Army’s mission is to share the love of Jesus by caring for people, creating faith pathways, building healthy communities and working for justice. The Gunnedah Salvos Mission Ride allowed the youth to be involved in each of those areas of transformation by making themselves available for Jesus to work through them.

“Transforming community is not just for the leaders,” said Marika. “We want to show them [our youth] what we can do in community, together.”

As for what’s next, Sally-Anne said the youth would keep listening to God and doing what he says: “We will wait for God's direction for 2021.”

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