The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

Newsletter 2020

Well, wasn’t that an interesting year, to say the least! If having a disastrous bushfire season in eastern Australia wasn’t enough, it’s been topped off with a global pandemic. Yet, for all the disruptions, I had an exceptionally busy year.

The year began for me in southeast Queensland holidaying with friends from church in the Gold Coast hinterland. This provided an opportunity to enjoy numerous bushwalks in dense rainforests. A highlight of the week was riding the eMonster up to Springbrook from the bottom of the mountain. This involved climbing 900m in 20km in the middle of the Queensland summer. Others thought I was mad, but this had been established long before! Although, I would not have attempted this without electric assistance. I certainly enjoyed the ride, especially the run back down the mountain, even if speeding down mountain roads isn’t the eMonster’s forte.

This time last year, I was still waiting on the final verdict on my Master’s thesis. I was notified in March that my thesis had been accepted, and I was to graduate on the 18th – which just happened to be the day we all went into lockdown due to the pandemic, hours before the ceremony. I am still yet to graduate, and still very much looking forward to marking the occasion with friends and family.

I was looking forward to resuming my paid duties, visiting churches and Presbyteries promoting the work of disability inclusion, and having a long break from the intensity of writing and research. Well, the pandemic put an end to those aspirations, and my role at Jericho Road quickly changed and I was doing much more pastoral work. I was asked to write pieces to encourage others in what was a very unsettling time, which some have you have read. This was a massive privilege and a blessing. I wanted to take a deep dive into Scripture my own spiritual welfare, so, I was extremely pleased and thankful that I was able to do this and to take others with me on the journey. This lead to a series on Genesis 1–11 looking at who God is, and how we are to respond to him in the context of this current crisis. When the situation began to “normalise” (using that word very loosely), I began a second series on the corporate Psalms of lament looking at how we can adjust well to this current season. This time also included numerous online conferences discussing the current issues which also prompted my thinking. So, I’ve spent a good part of my work thinking about the current social and political movements from a philosophical perspective, how to connect with people who have disabilities digitally, and what it means to bear the image of God. I also have briefly researched the millennium debate (that is, the circumstances around Jesus’ return), and taken a deep dive into 1 Corinthians. The all have been very interesting to research, and has led to some profound insights.

The pandemic has also impacted other ministries. After visiting the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in February and March, the lockdown brought a premature end to this ministry. I expect most, if not all, of the residents have been relocated into their group homes dispersed throughout the community. Neither has there been any of the adult Christian disability camps that I have been a part of in previous years. At the present time, it’s not possible to say if or when these camps will resume.

As would be expected, the pandemic has had an impact on me personally. From March through to December I hadn’t been attending church, even when in-person services resumed. So, that gave an importance of meeting with others whenever and however I could. This was usually over a bike ride or a walk. Limiting my movements has also meant not going on the monthly social rides with the recumbent club – even when it was permitted. It was also frustrating having a nice new camper van in the drive and not being able to use it. But I was happy to see the Queensland border reopen so I could make my winter escape in July – a week before the border closed again! A highlight was riding the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail from Linville up to Blackbutt and back. 45km of car-free cycling, all of it on dirt. Linville allows camping at the old train station with a pub across the road where patrons can get a hot shower with a meal order. This sounded like a deal to me!

I snuck another trip in during September out to the Pilliga. This was for an organised 50km Tour de Gorge bike ride by National Parks. Unfortunately, my derailleur was ripped off by a stick after just 5km, and the eMonster made an unceremonious exit from the bush on the back of a ute. I’m still dealing with the mechanical consequences of that little misadventure. But, I expect I’ll be back next year.

With all the trips I have done, the van has served me well. While there are still some minor adjustments that need to be made, I’m happy to say that the overall concept is working, and life on the road is very comfortable – perhaps too comfortable!

I have no idea what the new year will entail – as none of us do. A week after returning to church, there was another outbreak on the Northern Beaches forcing tighter restrictions. This has been a reminder of how volatile the current situation is. Still, I am looking forward to having a road-going electrically assisted trike (one of my older trikes is having an electric assist conversion done). So, I’m looking forward to doing some shorter trips in the van and riding some quiet country back roads and mountains. Apart from that, I look to serve in whatever way I can. For the most part, that’s going to be on the computer researching and writing as this seems to be the main medium to teach and encourage others.

Thanks for your support and prayers. Remember, wherever the new year goes, we go in God’s grace.

January 30, 2021 - Posted by | Newsletters

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