20 Years in a Mining Community
My name is Nigel Atkinson, I am a surveyor and have lived with my wife Christa in the coal mining town of Middlemount, Central Queensland for the last twenty years. I have two sons who were brought up in Middlemount but have since married and moved on. We are blessed by having both of our sons and their wives as Christians. Simon is married to an American and lives in the USA, Byron is married to a lady who is originally from South Africa and they live in Brisbane. My wife loves to travel and visit our children and our granddaughter in USA, Byron has travelled with his wife overseas and they would like to do this for the rest of their lives, I love to travel when I can (somebody has to pay the bills). How do we keep sane: we travel and carry out God’s work in Middlemount.
Both Christa and I became Christians after coming to Middlemount. We have been in three “main line churches” since becoming here and are presently in an “alternate church” called FACE. We are certainly not church hoppers and feel that we have got a lot from, and contributed to all the churches where God has placed us. I feel that God does not split churches but he does position his people where he can use them to achieve what He wants in a certain area. It is up to us to be sensitive to Him and carry out His work where He places us.
FACE is an interdenominational Christian church that was formed by a group of Christians who want to take Jesus into the market place. FACE stands for: Faithful Ambassadors for Christ Everyday and is a church that wants to work at the coal face. We do not have a church building or support a pastor. Most of the money raised in our church goes to supporting people or projects that need it. There is nothing wrong with either church buildings or supporting pastors, but we strongly believe that at this point of time, in this place, this is what God has called us as a group of committed Christians to do. We directly support the Youth Worker/Chaplain in our town and have one of our members on the local council. We believe that it is important that Christians have an influence on the youth of mining towns. Previously members of our group were part of a primary school age Christian program that ran successfully for years on Friday nights. We presently help the youth worker/chaplain focus on teenagers. Constant prayer and Godly action has seen a great change in our local school. Some of our group are involved in local clubs where we hope that we can be “Salt and Light”.
My wife and I have also been blessed by the input that we have had into our lives from many young Christians that have come to our town. Their youthful enthusiasm, questioning and openness have also helped keep us sane, and at many times in touch with God. Many have since moved on but all are still close friends. Finally a word of encouragement to any young Christians that come to mining towns: do not expect it to be like it was in the city, get involved in whatever God places in front of you, if there is no church then start a bible study with like minded Christians, get involved in the community and God will provide the opportunities. God places you where He wants you, enjoy it.