The water seems to follow Andrew Thetford wherever he goes. He was here for the Nashville flood last May, and he is in Australia dealing with the flood impacting that continent right now.
Thetford, a former Lipscomb student, first went to Australia in January of 2010 to attend a discipleship training school through the University of Nations. After three months of training, he and his team went to India and Nepal to do mission work there.
That wasn’t enough for him, though. He felt called to go back to Australia when he was offered a leadership role. He knew that this was an opportunity he could not pass up.
“I feel like through service to others we find ourselves, God and the meaning of life on the crazy planet called Earth,” Thetford said. “When we truly want to see the face of Christ we simply need to look at others.”
The difference in Thetford’s journey to Australia this year compared to last year is that now he is the one doing the training.
Working with a group called YWAM (Youth With A Mission), Thetford was given the opportunity to teach a small group of missionaries for a three month period before they go to a third world country for two months.
“It’s three months in Australia, where you learn a different lesson each week,” Thetford said. “Whether it is the father heart of God or fearing the Lord or the Holy Spirit. We just want to instill into these people what it really means to know God and love him.”
The theme that all YWAM workers live and work by is “to know God and to make God known.”
“We always want to help the students find who they are in Christ and what their passions are and help find a way to use that passion to further them to the kingdom of God,” Thetford said. “We are all about furthering the kingdom of God to the whole entire world.”
However, Thetford and his team at YWAM are not only helping out in India, Nepal and the Philippines. Now, the missionaries are dealing with problems in their own backyard.
“I got here on a day of sunshine, so we all thought the rain was over,” Thetford said. “Then all of a sudden it started raining so heavily that no one could really even see 50 yards ahead of them. We woke up one morning after it had been raining the worst and the road had turned into a river and the water was creeping up to our door. We really couldn’t do much.”
In Maroochydore, on the Sunshine Coast of Australia, the waters are beginning to recede from the recent flooding. The flooding, which destroyed 1,900 homes and 2,500 businesses, was just as bad as Nashville’s last year.
Just in Brisbane, another 14,700 houses and 2,500 businesses were at least partially covered in water.
What are Thetford and his group doing? Helping, of course.
Thetford describes the culture in Australia to be very different from that of the southeastern United States.
“Everyone keeps to themselves and no one really knows their neighbors but now everyone is really pulling together to help one another,” Thetford said.
Mother Theresa once said, “Not everyone is starving for food. Most are just starving for love, and that is the hardest to cure.”
Thetford and his team know that love is what they need to focus on now, and not other short-term doings.
“We are not going in holding up crosses, we are just going in to love on people,” Thetford said.
Australia is in the middle of its summer, with humidity just as bad as summers here. Mold is present everywhere you look. With the mold, residents of Brisbane, Toowoomba, Maroochydore and other cities on the coast are having to replace clothes, furniture, utilities and even entire walls.
Andrew asks that everyone lift up prayers for he and his mates in Australia during this difficult time. Using faith and God’s strength the cities along the Sunshine Coast and the country of Australia will overcome this great tragedy.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
For more information on YWAM and ways to help out the organization during this time of need visit http://www.ywam.org/.