We love Olivine

5th May 2020

Fifteen years ago, God called our family out of Crossway Baptist into the spiritually dry northern suburbs of Melbourne. We had all sensed the call of God in various ways, including our three teenage children who gave up great schooling and friendships in order to plant ‘Crossway North Baptist Church’ in Craigieburn.

However, we fell in love with the North of Melbourne and its people. We saw God grow a healthy, vibrant, family orientated church in an area with hard spiritual soil. In what felt like the blink of an eye  and with a change of venue and name to ‘North Church’, in 2017 our Church plant celebrated its 10th Anniversary.  After this milestone, Brett and I started to pray about what God would have next for us; either to continue with the Church we loved, or to move into a wider place in the North. We prayed and waited for further instructions. God was moving all the chess pieces behind the scenes and what unfolded over the next few years was a wonderful work of His Spirit and Olivine at Donnybrook has become part of a new story.

Hume Anglican Grammar Donnybrook commenced in Olivine as the first building on the estate and wonderfully our eldest daughter became the very first teacher employed there. Later in 2018, our second daughter applied and received the position of front desk receptionist and Assistant Principal’s P.A. at the new campus for 2019.

To add to the family connection, I was asked to be a casual Teacher’s Assistant to help with settling the students into Term 1 and also had the privilege of getting to know the staff and students on their very first day. It was exciting to be at the new campus, despite all the dust, dirt, and kangaroos. I found I did not want to leave when my time was finished, as the community had become like family.

I continued to discover school families and staff who were going to be living on the estate and this piqued my curiosity as to what God might be doing. At the same time my husband Brett commenced work full-time at the B.U.V. in the Mission Catalyst Team. I became challenged by God to resign as North Church Office Manager and trust Him for new things.

Within a couple of weeks, the chess pieces started coming together. Gayle Hill, Head of the BUV Mission Catalyst Team, approached me about a place-making position. She was seeking a candidate for Olivine Donnybrook and believed Brett and I would be a wonderful choice. This was timely and God-inspired as both Brett and I believed this was what God had been preparing us for. It would involve moving to the estate and living there as place-makers, loving, and committed to cultivating a flourishing community. As followers of Jesus and committed to the vision of the BUV to see both flourishing churches and flourishing communities this became my ‘ah ha’ moment!! With Brett’s role at the BUV, our partnership with Derek Bradshaw from Now and Not yet Cafe, a great relationship with the Mirvac developers and our families’ roles at Hume Anglican Grammar Donnybrook, it seemed as if everything was coming together.

So, what does this look like now for us? Brett and I are building a house at Olivine Donnybrook and will be moving there later this year. Olivine will be home to around 7,000 people. I will take on the role of ‘place-maker’ for the Estate and Brett will contribute with his skills, gifts, and passions and to also develop a community of faith. Mirvac are building a Café at the entrance to the Estate that will be run by the Now and Not Yet Café team, with a Café Manager also living in the Estate. Both these roles will sit under the Baptist Union of Victoria’s Grassroots Placemakers. There will be an adjoining Community Centre that I will be managing which is included as part of my community work. What does a pacemaker do? Our new tag line at Grassroots Place-makers is ‘Cultivating Flourishing Communities’. That is our role and our goal at Olivine, our community: Cultivating a physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually flourishing community!! We have a wonderful model in Aintree for this visionary work with Jonathan Ingram and his team. Please pray for us as we continue to see God leading and guiding us in this new endeavour.

Michelle Mitchell
Community Placemaker