The latest FiRE newsletter is now available and contains an urgent appeal for flood relief that ravaged Nepal, India & Myanmar, high drama in Vietnam as police raid VALBI (prayers needed), celebrations for the Indonesian school opening day, reflections on life and death when cancer comes calling, a final call for the next mission trip, and other stories from AFA’s mission fields throughout Asia.
My passion has always been for overseas travel – but not the usual touristy stuff. I’d rather get off
the beaten track. I want to see the world through the eyes of real people. There’s no better way to do that than through Asia Focus Australia.
In 2016 I participated in my first overseas mission trip with AFA to Bhutan and Nepal. This was a life changing journey where God spoke to me and said, “You can do more”. To see first-hand the
poverty and need, but then to witness the amazing work of AFA – I was certainly challenged.
They shouted ‘Heil Hitler’ in derision as I began to address an anti-gun rally in Gympie some years ago – a rally I had organised for the deputy Prime Minister of Australia at the time, Mr Tim Fischer. Many obviously hated me while others said, ‘Pastor Fricke is going into politics for sure.’ They knew that that I had just received an invitation to a private audience with the then Prime Minister Mr John Howard.
They were all wrong. My heart is with the Gospel and the Mission of Christ on earth, a mission directed to all but especially to the poor, despised and needy. My best buddy is a dispossessed, peasant rickshaw driver in Indonesia who had nothing, no future and who learnt English by reading the Bible. But this much for sure: I have always been controversial and rarely the flavour of the month, even in ‘the church’.
How does someone get caught up in the amazing growth of the Christian Church particularly in parts of S.E. Asia? It is not something that you aim to do but it easy to see in retrospect that there was a plan all along – it was God’s plan not mine.
As happens so often, my involvement in Asia Focus began with the telling of a story.
The story tellers were Pastor Noel and Meg Noack, who have a real heart for overseas mission. They had returned recently from a trip to the Plas Prei Training Centre in Northern Cambodia. They told their story of a visit to this outreach centre which aims to educate bright young Cambodian girls who come from backgrounds of extreme poverty at a church mission festival. As the story unfolded, they inspired me to join the next group of visitors to northern Cambodia.
Why not see for yourself? I had to see it with my own eyes… I had to know –Just what exactly was it about Asia Focus Australia that so many people were so passionate about supporting? What better way to find out than to walk in their shoes? So in 2012, bags packed, I set off for Myanmar and Thailand on my first mission trip. As it turns out I have now just returned from my FOURTH mission trip!
Amidst the heart and soul of Asia Focus in action, I got to see and feel first hand, not only the work that was being done, but how appreciative the people who are assisted by Asia Focus are. I witnessed how together ordinary people achieve the extraordinary, and as a result I became more actively involved, mainly organising fundraising activities and promoting the work of Asia Focus here in Bundaberg. Then in 2014 I proudly accepted the position of Secretary.
My name is Nolene Stark and I am the Administration Assistant for Asia Focus Australia, which means that I am the Assistant Secretary, Assistant Treasurer and Assistant to the President when he is away.
I became involved with Asia Focus when I travelled with a tour group to Myanmar,Thailand and Laos with Pastor August. We left Australia on the 21st January 2011 amidst the turmoil of devastating floods and loss of life here in Queensland. However, in Australia, everyone stands behind the victims; the whole nation pitches in to help. The stark contrast for me was landing in Myanmar where I found myself in a totally different world of unbelievable poverty.