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6 May 2017
From OTHER's Publication: http://others.org.au/news/2017/04/03/poutawas-heading-back-to-where-it-all-began/
Poutawas Heading Back To Where It All Began
3 APRIL 2017
By Lauren Martin
A recently married, newly pregnant couple “upping sticks” and moving seven hours away from friends and family in Sydney to take on a community ministry role may seem like a crazy idea to some, but to Jason and Jessica Poutawa, it feels just right.
Jason, currently serving as the Australia Eastern Territory Salvos Youth Foundation Territorial Coordinator, admits that taking on the role of overseeing The Salvation Army’s mission and ministry in Moree, north-west NSW, is a step of faith.
“It would be a lot easier and more comfortable to stay where we are,” he says, “but we sense that God is calling us to Moree. There are a number of things we are leaving behind that we love and adore, however, we know that God will provide for us. He always has.”
And Moree is definitely the right “fit” for the couple, who began dating seven years ago shortly after meeting on a mission trip in Moree.
“I came to faith at the age of 13, through a Salvation Army sports ministry,” Jason says. “When I was 15 I went to Moree on my first-ever mission trip and I did work experience with Adrian Kistan, who was the Sports Ministry Coordinator at the time.”
Jason continued visiting Moree on mission trips year after year and the friendships he made and mentoring he received from Adrian and Natalie Kistan helped to shape the work that he went on to do with The Salvation Army, running fitness and recreational programs with young people at the Oasis Youth Support Network in Sydney.
He then moved into working with the Salvos Youth Foundation, building on the sports ministry program he learnt as a teenager through the successful Summer Holiday Programs Project across Newcastle and Western Sydney, which has reached more than 500 children and families from 2013-2017. Last year he launched the successful Streets to Stage tour that educated young people at high schools about youth homelessness.
Jessica is most passionate about child development and healthy family interaction. Jessica has contributed to The Salvation Army in this area, previously employed to lead mission teams and kids camps, train and mentor new children’s leaders and write relevant Christian program materials. Alongside this she has been involved in local church children’s ministries locally at Bonnells Bay and Ryde Salvos.
Earlier this year, The Salvation Army approached Jason and Jessica and asked them to go back to where it all began – Moree.
“I developed a proposal for The Salvation Army based on focusing on youth, children and families,” Jason says. “We will be launching the Gumma-Li (Gathering Place) youth and community centre which is a very exciting prospect.”
Gumma-Li will offer kids and young people’s after-school programs, homework clubs, primary school outreach, youth leadership development, family participation programs and exploring expressions of Christian faith. Jessica and Jason are keen to partner with other community groups and create Gumma-Li as a whole of community project, not exclusively “Salvation Army”.
And the couple won’t be entering the community as strangers, having built existing friendships and relationships over the many years they have travelled there. Good friends Adrian and Natalie Kistan, who headed up The Salvation Army’s programs in Moree a number of years ago, will be mentoring Jason and Jessica.
“There is some mixed emotions and there are lots of unknowns,” Jason says. “But we understand that this is where we are meant to be and we’re pressing into it.”