Revelation 14:2-3 NIV
And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders.
Can you imagine the sound from heaven? I often have the privilege of experiencing what I imagine heaven would sound like through serving our local community at Rise@Carlton. You see, what started as a vision many years ago became a commitment to the people in our neighbourhood. From a small initial gathering of only a few people, we have the privilege of seeing God’s faithfulness and His hand in growing a diverse community of different ethnicities, faith, genders and ages.
Imagine living in a thirteen storey assisted housing building in close proximity with your neighbours. Imagine that your neighbours have a different nationality, family constitution, faith, culture and eating habits to you. The sound, sights and even the smells can create a robust environment and can indeed be a wonderful experience for some. In our aspirational lens of Kingdom of God (and multiculturalism), we would say this is a picture of heaven. But for others, the very nature of diversity, can create a sense of division and further isolation. So, Rise@Carlton exists to create “communality” – a sense that in this wonderful, diverse, often conflicted placing of people, there is the redeeming marks of the presence of Jesus. Jesus, the one who embraces the most vulnerable and isolated in the community, inviting the most unexpected to his table, transforming them with his love and grace.
At Rise@Carlton, we strive to follow in Jesus’ footsteps extending hospitality and grace to our community and we have been able to see a slow but incremental movement of hope and blessing. Through our afterschool program and family nights, we have been able to develop trusted relationships with many children and their parents of this precinct.
Another Kingdom blessing is our partnership with Melbourne Bangjoo Church to further reach out to children in our community. I first met Pastor Min Huh, Pastor Byungsuk Lee and his wife Jung In, through my previous role as Director of Ordination at the BUV. These Melbourne Bangjoo Church leaders have a heart to use the musical talents and gifts of their church members for mission and started a Praise School in 2018. The Praise School is aimed at children who have no experience of faith, or those who have been brought up in Christian families but are not living in faith. The intent is to make it possible for the children who participate to meet God naturally through praise and music.
Pastor Byungsuk Lee, who leads the Praise School, felt called to support Rise@Carlton in training up our children in music. Since the start of the year, they have been joining us once every two months to add support, worship and praise to our Sunday evening community of faith. With the aspiration of developing a “Praise School” in Carlton with our children, we are on a mission to share the sound of heaven to the rest of our community. Thank you Melbourne Bangjoo Church!