~ by Jenny Finnan
Bridie Fallon rose to her feet, joining the enthusiastic applause as 182 Power to Change missionaries gave a standing ovation for colleagues receiving awards for long term service in mission. Just two years into her own service, Bridie revelled in honouring missionaries for 40 and 45 years of helping fulfil the Great Commission. Her voice lifts as she remembers, “It was so amazing to stand up with everyone and celebrate those missionaries who have been in ministry for such a long time, and who have impacted so many people for Jesus”.
This celebration was the climax of ConneXion, Power to Change’s missionary conference. ConneXion gathers the organisation’s gospel workers and their families from around Australia every second January for a week of Bible teaching, leadership development, worship, and refreshment in Jesus.
Bridie experienced this sense of community throughout the Connexion Conference. The Bible talks by Dr Brian Rosner drew from 1 Corinthians to illustrate God’s design for interdependent community. Missionaries were challenged to think critically about the pressure in today’s culture to be the exceptional individual and embrace the reality that God’s people are a body to whom He gives particular gifts and roles. Bridie felt her perspective aligned with God’s through these talks. “I don’t need to compare myself to anyone else because God has gifted me in a particular way. And it’s not even for myself but for the building up and edifying of the whole body of Christ!”
Another practical encouragement for Bridie was hearing stories at ConneXion Conference of how God has been at work through Power to Change missionaries, in the ministry areas of schools, universities, families, churches, and overseas. Bridie reflects that at times she feels solitary serving on her university campus in Sydney, even within the context of a team, and that “knowing so many other missionaries are serving out there and that God is working in so many people’s lives is incredibly encouraging”.
On the final evening at ConneXion Conference, as the Power to Change community celebrated the long service awards, one of the missionaries walking through the applauding crowd to receive an award was Bill Hodgson, who along with his wife Faye was honoured for 40 years of service with Power to Change.
“I felt very affirmed and appreciated, and a little overwhelmed by it all”, reflects Bill. “And the other thought is: you’re kidding me, 40 years, where has that gone!?” Those 40 years of investment in God’s kingdom began with Bill reaching out to youth in Western Sydney and now find him training disciple-making leaders around the world. Through those many years, he has found the Power to Change missionary family to be a key reason for his longevity in ministry. A highlight of more than 20 ConneXion Conferences for Bill has been spending time with friends from other parts of the organisation who have “shared the journey”, and being renewed to continue serving Jesus.
“ConneXion Conference is so important to give us time in community, and help us be more clear and motivated about what we’re doing”, he says. At this year’s conference, Bill was particularly encouraged by “the younger crew” as newer missionaries shared their passion for Power to Change’s vision to help people encounter Jesus today, impact Australia tomorrow, and reach the nations for eternity.
That younger crew see the great cloud of witnesses such as Bill and Faye around them and are spurred on. Bridie’s voice rose with joy as she thinks back over the conference, “I just love being part of Power to Change! It was so amazing at ConneXion to be in a room full of people where everyone loves Jesus and loves each other and is on about fulfilling the Great Commission – even knowing that they have ups and downs in their own lives and in their walk with God, that they have surrendered to Him and are passionate about helping people get to know Him”.
And when the bright celebration evening drew to a close and the missionaries dispersed into the rainy night, they returned to their mission fields with renewed encouragement from God’s family and the reminder that they serve Him together as a body.
We are so thankful you are part of this body too. Your heart to help people encounter Jesus today, impact Australia tomorrow, and reach the nations for eternity is a great blessing.
You don’t have to be a missionary to be a Change Maker! We see Change Makers as anyone engaging their Labour, Influence, Finance, or Expertise to help others connect with Jesus. And we have plenty of opportunities for you to be engaged with us!