May 05

April Report from Stephanie Baughman, CEF Missionary in Tasmania, Australia

G’Day Friend,

How are you as we settle into somewhat of a new normal during this pandemic? I hope you are staying well. Let me know if you have family affected by COVID so that I may pray for them. How are you spending your time these days? As the world has slowed down, have you found new hobbies or projects around the house?
I hope that you are taking some of the extra time to delve deeper into God’s Word and prayer. Personally, I have been studying 1 Kings. After Israel had begged for a king before Saul, many of the ones after David (where 1 Kings picks up) turned out to be pretty disobedient. Yet, God was still Sovereign over history and the government. I’ve been studying with both my sending church Sardis Baptist in Swansea and my Bible study group in Tasmania as well.
At Sardis, we are learning from 1 John about how we can have confidence and be sure of salvation in Christ. This is shown in the love we have for one another.
In Tasmania, we’re doing a study called Discipleship Explored. This week was about what we are living for and what it looks like when all of that is stripped away in a Christ-follower’s life. We talked about how even in jail, Paul had joy. What have you been learning during this time?
As a high-risk person, I am staying home with two exceptions, but finding ways to engage with ministry. The borders to Australia are closed at the moment. The Australian Embassy has assured me that if I continue to work 38 hours/week from home my Visa will stay active, and I will be able to return when the borders open. Therefore, much of my focus has shifted back to Tasmania.
Over April, I was able to video chat with some of the children who would normally come to a holiday club. Through the help of a friend who had email addresses, I was able to send a greeting to those we reached at the Easter Festival last year encouraging them to read the book of Mark to know more about the hope we have in Jesus. I’ve been able to send links to a Christian movie Pilgrim’s Progress, an online video Good News Club that came from CEF’s home office, Easter craft ideas and devotionals to families around Launceston.
Sadly, for the children, April school holidays are now ending. School is returning this week for Term 2 online. Last night I spoke with one of my special needs children on the phone as she returned to school in a very different way this term. She is having a hard time adjusting to this without her friends around. It is typical of many children although those with special needs are hit the hardest in the change of normal.
Good News Club will continue to try to reach the children even when we can’t be with them. After consulting with CEF in a couple of other Australian states and my Tasmanian pastor on what the situation and needs are like on the ground, tomorrow I will be having a Zoom meeting with the volunteers giving them several options to choose from in personally ministering to the children. We will decide then as a group which idea to go with as our go-to strategy for Term 2.
Much of my time these days is spent in preparing for Term 3 when I will hopefully be back on the ground in Tasmania. I am designing lesson plans on the Life of Peter to teach the Tasmanian children at a later date. It is great to have the extra time to plan lessons because I can delve into the Scripture passages on a deeper level.
I am also planning on writing a missionary story for children on the Rev. Frederick Fairey. He was a missionary in Tasmania in the 1880’s He had a canoe he nicknamed “The Evangelist”. He would paddle it all through the rivers of Tasmania stopping along the way wherever people were settled and preach to them about Jesus. I have been fascinated with the story ever since running across it three years ago researching Tasmanian history, especially since the fellow had the same last name as my mother’s side of the family. We are not kin. I did check. However, I never had time to write a story on him before. Now find myself with more time on my hands to pursue this. I have let the National office of CEF know so it can be used in other parts of Australia as well.
I mentioned that there were two exceptions to me leaving the house. One is to visit my Dad and step-mom at their house. The other is to attend drive-in church. I have been switching my time the last couple of weeks between churches that are using this option here locally. It was great to fellowship with Faith Baptist about two blocks away from my house a couple weeks ago.
This past Sunday God gave me the wonderful opportunity to share a simple Gospel message on your hand at Praise Family Church of God. It was amazing because God moved on a lady’s heart during the service, and I was able to lead her to Jesus from behind a mask and gloves. First time that’s happened, but gift of salvation that Christ offers knows no barriers! She has already begun to read the book of Mark, and we plan to continue to stay in touch.
I hope to visit with those of you at Willow Swamp Baptist Church this Sunday just to say hello from the truck. Then, if nothing else changes, on May 17, I plan to speak on Psalm 78 and tell some stories about Tasmania at the Barnyard Worship Service near the Barnyard Flea Market.

Prayer requests:

·         Pray for the Zoom meeting of Good News Club teachers tomorrow that everyone’s technology would work.
·         Pray for God to guide us with wisdom as to which method He would have us use to minister to the boys and girls in school Term 2 from home.
·         Pray for Mikayla as she gets adjusted to learning online instead of with her friends.
·         Pray for safety and for COVID to be eradicated in Tasmania.
·         Pray for God to open up the opportunity for me to return to Tasmania in His time.
May God bless you and may you grow in Him at this difficult time.
Love in Christ,