TORRES STRAIT ISLANDS, AUSTRALIA – STORMCO TRIP 2021
Article by Billie LeKich and Photos by Emma Russell
In the Bible Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Mathew 5.16.) and again He said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all the nations, and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14). Based on Jesus Christ’s principle that: Service To Others Really Matters, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church organization developed a concept focused on embodying a Christian character through service projects called StormCo, an acronym associated with humanitarian service by being the hands of Jesus Christ, serving the poor and needy.
StormCo is a “youth initiative” of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Its mission is to send teams of trained young people who are willing to volunteer their time, to work for, learn from, and encourage individual communities across various regions that require support and assistance; sharing God’s love through kindness, support, fellowship and assistance.
StormCo is based on five underlying foundations:
- No agenda – the Teams enter a community with the express purpose of building a relationship with that community. They will go first to listen, and then to serve.
- No expectations – the Teams commit to service for a community. Their goals are to serve without compensation.
- No walls – the Teams are committed to support Christianity above denominational barriers. They have a mandate to encourage others in their walk with God.
- No limits – the Teams maintain a relationship with the community. Their goal is to return and be an ongoing positive influence in the community.
- No fear – the Teams will not be afraid to stand for Jesus Christ, their example, as they serve in the community.
From the 27th of June to the 7th of July, 2021, a StormCo Team of 24 individuals from Landsborough Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Community Church in the Sunshine Coast region of Queensland Australia, embarked on a StormCo service trip to Moa Island; one of the Northern islands of the Torres Strait Islands region (an area located between Cape York – the northernmost point of Queensland Australia and the islands of Papua New Guinea north of Australia). Moa Island is the second largest island in the Torres Strait Islands region and is home to lush green vegetation of vine forests, mangroves, open forests and woodlands. It has many attractive points of interest, but the most attractive feature is its natural habitat home to over 200 wild horses that roam freely on the island (see photo). The StormCo team had the privilege of seeing some of the wild horses. There are two indigenous communities on the Island: Kubin village on the southern part of the Island; the location our team stayed and worked. The other community, St Paul’s village, is located on the northern part of the Island. The population on Moa Island now stands at approximately 448 people.
The StormCo Team departed Brisbane on Sunday morning 27th June, 2021 and spent approximately one week participating in service projects on Moa Island, followed by three rest days on Thursday Island, before returning to Brisbane on 7th July, 2021.
With aim to support and provide humanitarian services for a less fortunate community, the Landsborough SDA StormCo Team comprising Team Leader Casey-Lee Blake, Assistant Leaders Jordan Burke and Brent Devcich, and various passionate and dedicated young adult students, young adult professionals and matured-aged professionals, sought to serve the Torres Strait Islands community through Christ-like service.
The Torres Strait Islands StormCo trip was a once in a lifetime, amazing experience. The trip involved various service projects supporting the local indigenous community of Torres Strait Islanders and Torres Strait Island Aboriginal locals, with specific focus on a children’s Kids Club, averaging 20 children in attendance daily.
The children enjoyed various activities, such as face painting, arts and crafts, sports. games, Bible stories, singing, and learning about the love of Jesus through a themed focus titled ‘Shipwrecked – Rescued By Jesus.’ It was a blessing to see the happy faces of children aged between 2-years old to 17-years old as they excitedly participated in all the activities. (see photos)
Aside from the StormCo Kids Club activities, the week also included work restoring and renovating the community Seventh-day Adventist Church (involving replacement of the Church walls and roof, building maintenance and electrical wiring), yard maintenance, construction of a community vegetable garden, tree planting, community outreach engagements and a morning and evening worship service culminating in Sabbath worship together on the Saturday morning nearing the conclusion of the trip. (see photos)
Components of the StormCo trip were self-funded by the individual team members, while sponsorship and donations were sought for project materials through various fundraising events. The team was abundantly blessed to have received tremendous support from the Landsborough SDA Community Church members as well as wider community members willing to support the worthwhile humanitarian cause; raising sufficient funds for all the building materials, gardening materials, Kids Club materials, various tools and instruments, and all other materials required to successfully complete all projects and elements of the trip.
Upon return to Brisbane at the end of the trip, the team members commented that they greatly enjoyed their time with the Torres Strait Islander community and working together as a team to successfully complete the StormCo projects. Various team members commented phrases like “…it was the BEST possible experience serving the community,” “…could not have asked for a better time,” “…count me in for the next adventure in service,” “…thank you for the best StormCo trip away.”
Although cliche, the statement expressing a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” really did capture the essence of the StormCo experience in the Torres Strait Islands. It was an experience that changed the perspectives and lives of the Team members, but also enriched the lives of the Torres Strait Islanders in the Moa Island region.
In writing this, I feel abundantly blessed to have had the opportunity to be part of the Torres Strait Islands StormCo Team for 2021. On behalf of the team, it was an amazing and life changing experience meeting and spending time with the friendly and kind people of the Torres Strait Islands, while having the opportunity to share God’s love with them through service, and ultimately serve God.
Congregation enjoying worship on Saturday morning…
Torres Strait Islands Concert on Thursday Island