What made Oasis my home
As you likely know, I will soon be handing over my role as Youth Pastor at Oasis, as I’ve felt a call to shift to a broader ministry, to help fill a nation-wide shortage of pastors in our denomination. As I start to wrap thing up ready to hand over, I’ve been thinking about how hard it will be to leave Oasis- and why I feel so at home here.
When I first started in my role 6 years ago, John Hoogenhout was the lead pastor here. He was one of the many who put in effort to make me feel at home here, and one way he did that was that whenever I returned from a trip, whether to Victoria or elsewhere (I got to enjoy some travel before Covid!), John would give me a big smile, put his hand on my shoulder, and warmly say, “welcome home, mate!”.
At first, that didn’t sit quite right with me, because home was at my parents house, in Victoria! But, quite rapidly, I came to see Oasis and this area as home too.
I know that many others in our church family have has a similar experience, and have heard many of the same factors repeated. For me, the reasons why Oasis has come to be a place where I feel at home fit really neatly within our three priorities (which I think reflect how well chosen these priorities are!): Life in Jesus, Life Together, Life for Others.
Life in Jesus
One thing I love about Oasis, is that we are firm on our convictions, and clear on how they shape our lives. True life, life which is eternally satisfying, is only found in Jesus. This is a life which comes with personal knowledge of and relationship with God. And his primary way of working in our hearts is by his Word, the Bible. At Oasis, we are serious about getting into God’s Word. One thing that connects deeply with me is the way that we seek to unpack and apply the Bible, not just reading huge chunks and feeling pompous, not just grabbing a few verses as we feel like, but really getting stuck into what it means for us today. Living out this Life in Jesus is key to what makes Oasis home.
Even though I moved here away from a very large, close family, I felt welcomed and at home because people of all generations made an effort to build real connections with me. People of my own age, like the carload of guys who came to pick me up when I had a car accident down on the south side. Families, like the Smiths (both of them), who opened up their homes and lives. Older members of the church, like Jim and Anne, who filled in as grandparents. Our community in intergenerational: different ages all come together in authentic care for one another. God calls us to live out the true life of Jesus in community with others, and there is something special about a group of believers who are intentional about expressing this love to one another.
Life for Others
But it goes beyond only supporting other believers: a big part of Oasis is that we are joined together by the common purpose of life for others. I feel a strong sense of belonging in this church family, in part because I’ve been able have a meaningful way of working with everyone else in the mission of reaching more people in Jesus’ name. We get together to invite our community to big Christmas and Easter events, we pool our resources for the Community Cupboard. We run Alpha courses, and teenagers bring their friends along to Friday Youth. Oasis has come to feel like home, we join together to help more people in our community find life in Jesus.
I’m excited to see what God has in store for Rachel and I over the coming year. We feel a clear sense of calling to a broader ministry, to help fill a need in the wider church. But I’m not looking forward to leaving home, and we will miss this church family.