God’s Got This!

A Journey into the Inconvenient.

By Erica Jones

[5 minute read]

 

Arrernte, Jawoyn, Dagoman, Wardaman, and Larrakia - two years ago I didn’t even know these five words existed. Fast forward two years and these are not just words but the lands on which I serve, meet and do ministry.

When you find yourself called to serve in The Salvation Army movement, you know the expectations and sacrifices made to serve within this setting. We all know that we are called to serve anywhere in Australia at anytime. Two years ago I was ministering in Western Australia at a corps (church) that I loved, along with my officer husband Peter and our four children (19, 18, 16 and 6). It was June 2018 when we got the call from Salvo leadership. It usually comes in the form of a question, “Is there anything that would prevent you from serving in a new appointment next year? We would like you to relocate to the Northern Territory, Erica as Area Officer NT and Peter as Corps Officer (senior pastor) Darwin.” We had one evening to reply.

What was to prevent us from going? A lot. Our 19 year old was just completing her first year of a four year apprenticeship, she wasn’t coming. Our 18 year old had already started applying to Western Australian universities and was engaged to a local youth pastor. Our 16 year old was in year 11 and our 6 year old, her best friend and preferred mother was our 19 year old. We loved our church and our family are all located in Western Australia, there was everything preventing us accepting this appointment.

Except, there was absolute, unquestionable, defy explanation, peace that came over both myself and my husband. The Phil 4:7 scripture loudly resounding in my head, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” So, this is what that felt like, it was powerful. We met with out older children and our oldest took about two seconds to think and said, “You’ve always trusted God before, what is stopping you now. God’s got this!”

It was at this moment that I was reminded of three words that up until this moment I had struggled to understand. During my first Arrow residential in 2017, on retreat day, I clearly heard the words from God, “You will be a leader of leaders.” What on earth did that mean? Leader of leaders. I have a passion for the leadership development of young Christian leaders, but, had yet to figure out how that fit the ministry I was currently doing in Western Australia. I shared this experience with my Salvo leaders in WA and they had nothing available to me in this area, so I held it and waited.

Within one hour of the phone call, we accepted that offer of appointment and said, “There is nothing to prevent us relocating to the NT.” I was to become an Area Officer (AO) in The Salvation Army. What is this you ask? I am the Mission Coordinator in the NT. Walking with all mission expression leaders of The Salvation Army in the NT and ensuring that our vision, values and mission intentions are aligned across all programs and ministries. For many years I had been studying strategic planning, organisational theory and Christian leadership in my spare time. This was all that and more. I was being called to be a leader of leaders.  Clearly God had that part already figured out.

Fast forward to present day, my now 20 year old is thriving in her independence. She is about the enter the final year of her apprenticeship and actively involved in church ministry. My now 19 year old came with us, along with her fiancé. He has now entered full-time ministry in the NT and our daughter will join him once they are married. Both feel called to working with the indigenous people of the NT. My now 18 year old, thrived in year twelve after the relocation and is spending his gap year working full time. Our now 8 year old has fallen in love with Darwin and complains when the temperature dips below 30 degrees.

God’s got this!

It has not all been easy, the AO ministry is complex and difficult. I spend a lot of time away from home, sharing my time between Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs. Leading during the Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging as we minister alongside some of the most vulnerable people in Australia. My son has developed a heart condition that has required and will require more surgery and I miss my daughter in WA in a way I didn’t know was possible. Every time the challenges come, so does the peace beyond all understanding.

By stepping out in faith, trusting in God, I have discovered that those words, leader of leaders, is exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what God needs me to do. I have an amazing team of leaders to work with who are seeking to find out what God requires of The Salvation Army in the NT. The privilege of working alongside our nation first peoples has changed me for the better, forever. The environment is amazing, waterfalls, desert, gorges and crocodiles, I couldn’t feel more at home. I LOVE humidity, who knew?

God’s got this!

As I sit in Alice Springs reflecting on this recent journey, of faith, trust and challenge, I thank God for the experience of having the peace of God, which transcends all understanding. I acknowledge the Arrernte people, the traditional owners of the land on which I serve (today) and pay my respects to their elders, past, present and emerging. I also thank God for my husband and children, especially my eldest whose simple words continue to ring true today.

God’s got this!

If God is calling you into something scary, unknown and inconvenient… God’s got this!