The year 2006 was a very special year for me. There were a group of remarkable teenagers at the core of our community at that time. I happened to be on staff at the senior school and got to teach and work with them pretty closely. These guys had largely grown up together, their families were Fusion staff workers, many of whom had lived the missionary life for decades, but at some point during 2005 the boys had made a choice to love God and make a difference with their lives. They then proceeded to shape the culture amongst the students from kindergarten to year 12, and unconsciously they became part of the heart beat of an entire village, leading by example and service not only their own peers, but scores of people much older and ‘more experienced’ than they.
Doyle is now in China as part of a university degree which he commenced after obtaining Fusion’s diploma in youth and community work. Joe ‘Baxter – Boy’ is now a qualified primary school teacher, Isaac is just finishing his university degree in Sydney, Matt is working in Tas, a professional skateboarder and still doing youth work in his spare time – he also did Fusion’s Certificate IV in youth and community work. Jonno is progressing up the ladder at a healthy pace in banking.
Some of my favorite memories of them include seeing them plan and execute a day out for the entire school and watching them individually care for the youngest students and create an atmosphere where everyone had fun. They dutifully wore their school sun hats in the summer months because they knew that the younger ones looked up to them as ‘gods’ and would follow their lead. At school they formed the hub of a pastoral care network and lead the ‘houses’, they enjoyed heading down to the junior school campus at lunch times to hang out with the kids.
Joe, Doyle and Isaac formed a funky, tight, band called ‘safety first’ and would regularly perform their own (often hilarious) material as well as popular covers for school and community events. I think Trinity College’s school song was written by them and there are several songs still sung today that they crafted for the movement at significant moments over those 3 years or so. There was one period of time when each week they all headed out to a nearby town where they would help run a youth café and perform, as part of the team with the Cert IV youth and community students. I was regularly amazed at how they were able to switch from entertaining a crowd one evening to leading in worship the following morning. Every Sunday they ran a high energy ‘Kids Grow’ program for the younger members of the Poatina community church, they poured all their creativity and love of life, fun and the kids into those programs – this then spilled over into the week long kids program they ran for the movement’s annual International Conference. They were truly a force of life.
In three weeks I leave Poatina after being here for about 5 months, the last couple of years haven’t been simple for Poatina village, but we have rich treasured from our past that could unlock the future for us. Those boys taught us some precious lessons about living with God and with each other, they spent their teenage years serving others, I admire them for that and I for one, want to make sure that the lessons they lived out don’t go unheeded.