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‘Community tables’ around the campfire in Far West NSW

Lieut-Colonels Stuart and Chris Reid enjoying an outback campfire during their recent trip to Broken Hill.

Majors Darren and Leanne Elsley, chaplains in Broken Hill (Far West NSW) recently took Lieut-Colonels Chris and Stuart Reid (Secretary for Personnel and Assistant Head of Mission Support respectively) on a short road trip to outback NSW.

The group stayed overnight on a property about a two-and-a-half-hour drive out from Broken Hill on the banks of the Darling River.

The property owner, who grazes goats, was recently assisted by The Salvation Army through funding after the devasting floods that wreaked havoc across the Darling/Murray River area in 2022-23.

Leanne and Darren had followed up on the assistance given by spending a couple of days on the property and helping clean up after the flood waters had receded.

“On the evening of the visit with the Reids, eight guests from the property’s farm-stay accommodation joined the group and an impromptu ‘community table’ took place,” said Leanne.

“Darren was invited to say grace before the meal, and faith conversations were later had around the campfire.”

“We were encouraged by such a valuable ministry held by Darren and Leanne,” said Chris. “It was so good to see people openly having faith conversations around the fire. There was a freedom to share and an expectation that strangers would be vulnerable. This was not from us but from the people themselves. God is at work through rural chaplaincy.”

Far West NSW rural chaplains Majors Leanne and Darren Elsley.

On another occasion, Darren and Leanne came across a group of 20 farm labourers who were doing their fortnightly shopping in a local supermarket in Broken Hill.

They were working on a remote property a couple of hours out of Broken Hill, far from their homes in Vanuatu. Darren invited them to meet in a local park that afternoon and supplied pizza – and another community table resulted.

Darren and Leanne pray daily that their lives would radiate Jesus. They pray; “Holy Spirit, fill us with the love and peace of your presence, and help us to bring your love and peace to others today, simply through our presence with them. Help us reveal to others your true name and your nature.”


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