25th Anniversary Report
Canaan of God’s Comfort, Australia
“God calls that which does not exist into existence” – that He may be glorified! 25 years ago He called “Canaan of God’s Comfort” into existence in Theresa Park NSW. Since then, in our little corner of Wollondilly Shire, He has often shown us that He delights in doing the impossible. When God intervenes in a situation, some people call it coincidence; others call it hard work or answers to prayer; we unashamedly like to call it a miracle, because God deserves the glory for things we know we could never have managed on our own. The days leading up to our 25th Anniversary Weekend in March were filled with such experiences of God’s loving intervention. We couldn’t begin to name all the people who helped or were used as His instruments of blessing, but their names are known in heaven and we are deeply indebted to them all. Since we promised to send you a report about the Anniversary, here are a few of the thanksgiving points that helped to make it so unforgettable.
For years the front window of our chapel had a picture depicting the Trinity. But it was faded and worn. A friend gave us $50 towards getting a real stained glass window made one day. Though we had nothing else to put towards the project, in faith we gave the dimensions of the window and a small photo to a company in Sydney and asked for a quote. The week of the Anniversary, they emailed us saying they had been too busy to make a quote but they would be in our area and could come by. The day arrived, a van drove up, and out came the owners with a finished stained glass window! The depiction of the Trinity had been painstakingly copied and enlarged from the small photo we had given for the quote. What an amazing, wonderful gift, which had taken many days of loving work to create. We were overwhelmed! An atmosphere of worship permeated the little chapel as the new window was put in place, and has continued ever since.
But that was only the beginning of the surprises God had in store for us. A team of Canaan Friends had taken it upon themselves to organize a celebration dinner for the occasion. All the planning, administrative work, details and decorating were taken care of so that all we had to do was attend. On the night of the 11th, more than 200 people filled the Camden Civic Centre, including Members of Parliament, the Mayor of Camden, local council members, and representatives of other churches and organisations with whom we had had contact over the years. The room itself had been transformed into a banquet hall, each table and place exquisitely decorated – it felt almost like a wedding! People had come from as far away as Singapore, New Zealand, Perth, Darwin and Victoria to show their support. And to our great joy, a large contingent from the Jewish community was present. Another friend arrived at Canaan several days early to help in the garden. She had brought a large donation to purchase flowering plants, which she proceeded to plant in the grounds wherever an extra spot of colour was needed. The result was beautiful.
Already weeks before the celebration a couple had decided in great love that they wanted to donate a new gate and fence for the entrance of Canaan. They put much thought and prayer into the matter. A builder friend then designed one that would fit in with the overall character of the buildings, and the last touches of the painting were finished by volunteers just before the Anniversary. Once again, God’s perfect timing!
A young man who had worked alongside his father in renovating the prayer garden asked to come as a volunteer helper because he was searching for God and wanted to get his life straightened out. God worked so dramatically in his life that his father exclaimed, “I have a new son!” Out of gratitude, father and son worked together on an anniversary gift – a large sandstone rock to go at our entrance with the words “Canaan of God’s Comfort”. It was so big it required the neighbour’s backhoe to put it in place.
After the entrance stone had been put in place and other work done on Canaan, a number of places on Canaan still looked very barren. There was no time to grow grass from seed, but when we made inquiries about getting turf, all the rolls were donated!
Most of the Anniversary guests were billeted outside of Canaan, but the houses on the property were bursting at the seams. Our prayers for “our daily bread” had to stretch to include all the additional visitors. We experienced once again what Mother Basilea wrote in one of her songs, “To God it matters not at all if needs be great or tiny!” That week one car after another drove up filled with vegetables, fruit, meat and cheese — everything one could wish for. In addition, two opportunities arose where we could use donations specially earmarked for the kitchen to purchase surplus groceries and catering-sized items at greatly reduced rates. All our needs for the Anniversary were cared for!
Although a catering company was out of the question, all the meals went without a hitch – thanks to so many loving friends! Quiches, salads, cakes and Devonshire tea – all made and served with love – added to the tangible blessing of the Father’s goodness. Knowing that the cost for a tent large enough to hold all the guests (for the meetings and meals) would be prohibitive, one of the Sisters began to pray and look around. A friend told us about a team of Christians who travel across the state lending out their large tent on a donation basis, and using the opportunity to witness and meet other Christians. The Father in heaven enabled us to book the tent, cared for their needs with a generous donation, and used the arrangement as a mutual blessing.
Talented volunteer helpers from overseas helped to make attractive displays. Our web site producer’s hard work paid off with a beautifully remodelled, site www.kanaan.org – also on display. A lovely new banner welcomed arriving visitors.
We had two special wishes for the Anniversary: to compile a book of testimonies about God’s faithfulness, “Realities – Down Under”, and also to reproduce the message God had given Mother Basilea for Australia as DVD and companion book, “Hearts Attuned to God”. Both were finished and arrived from Melbourne just in time for the celebration.
Our spiritual longing for the celebration had been that God would be truly glorified, that His faithfulness would be highlighted, and that His praises would be sung and declared. To this end our final meeting on Sunday afternoon was planned to be a time of worship, where we could praise and honour the Father, our Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who have guided us so faithfully from the beginning.
God’s presence was really with us on that hot afternoon. Friends from all corners of the tent pressed forward to crown Jesus as Lord of Australia and of all the nations represented. An Aboriginal pastor was there representing the First Australians, and a Torres Strait Islander had come all the way from Perth to represent her people. Flags from the many nations added colour and movement. The time literally flew and before we knew it, the afternoon ended with one final, mighty proclamation over our entire region, “Lord Jesus, You are King of kings and Lord of lords, and You shall reign for ever and ever!”
The Sisters of Mary – Australia