This story is a wonderful snapshot of how our Baptist young adults across Victoria are developing and serving as missional leaders. We celebrate what God is doing through their lives and leadership in all different expressions of ministry, in helping the next generation to flourish and experience the love of God.
Over the Christmas and January summer period each year, many Baptist young adults can be found serving and leading in various expressions of local mission. Often this is through leadership at summer camps and programs for example, Baptist Camping, SUFM, CYC, ESA, etc. These events undoubtedly have significant impact in the lives of those who attend as well as the leaders themselves. As they serve, their own leadership skills are developed which enhances their capabilities within the local church environment. This is surely a win/win all round!
Another place where young adult leaders are serving and being shaped is in the Red Frogs organisation. A support program for young people from the ages of 13 – 30, Red Frogs is probably best known for its work during Schoolies week, but also runs programs in Secondary schools, Universities, Music Festivals, Sporting events and Boardriders providing direct relief, safety and support to young people. Among our Victorian Baptist family, there are young leaders who form part of the 1500 strong volunteer network with Red Frogs from churches such as OneHope (Geelong), Kew, NewHope, Syndal, Church by the Bay, Crossway, to name a few.
Such is the positive reputation of Red Frogs, they were asked to assist at the recent high-profile Foo Fighters Concert early this month at GMHBA (Kardinia Park), Geelong. Around 40 Red Frog volunteers served on the night, helping the Ambulance, Police and stadium staff to create a safe environment for concert goers.
Allegra Williams, youth leader at NewHope and Red Frog volunteer, was part of the Foo Fighters Red Frog team on the night. She has also been part of the Red Frogs Schoolies team at Lorne for the past five years, an experience that has played an important part in her faith and leadership development. She shares the following reflection:
During my first year with Red Frogs Schoolies, I was quickly confronted by an environment in which young people were at times vulnerable, fragile, and in need of support. In the midst of this, as every-day young adult leaders, we had the great privilege of being the presence of Christ in these moments of need for our schoolies. We did this through simple acts of service – cooking pancakes to ease hangovers, handing out water supplies and red frog lollies, being a listening ear and often the voice of reason and calm amid chaos.
As a follower of Jesus, I hadn’t questioned these acts of service as it felt natural to me to extend help to those in need. I quickly learnt that for many young people, this kind of unconditional love is countercultural and simply didn’t make sense. Questions like ‘why do you guys do this?’ and ‘surely you wouldn’t pay to catch our vomit all week long?’ tend to come after just a couple of days in the schoolies week! While these conversations have led to some meaningful discussions about faith, just as powerful have been the moments where we have simply been able to speak value over a young person’s life. I have also had the privilege of carrying the presence of God into some heavy situations during schoolies and been able to provide hope through the practical extension of his love. Each schoolies week, I am struck in a new way how powerful this is, and ultimately how profound our mission is.
Being part of Red Frogs, especially during a critical period of early adulthood, has shaped me in ways I never expected, both in my faith and leadership development. I have learnt so much from serving alongside other Red Frog leaders and been encouraged to use my own unique strengths as a leader and volunteer.
Robbie Spicer, Young Adults Pastor at One Hope in Geelong, has been involved with Red Frogs for the past 20 years and estimates around 20-30 young adults from OneHope regularly serve with Red Frogs at Schoolies, Unis and other events. “I love to see the growth in our young leaders and to see them finding greater purpose in their faith, modelling Jesus, loving people unconditionally through their actions” he says. Robbie also highlights the value of young adults from different churches learning to work together as they serve in Red Frogs, united by faith and purpose, and experiencing what it is to be a Kingdom movement.
This story is also available in our e-magazine.