To this end, we built the Basil Sellers Art Centre in 2003 and initiated the $10,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize in 2004, courtesy of Mr Basil Sellers AM.
This art prize was the focus of my visit last month. It is presented biennially, and has now been increased to $15,000. It was marvellous catching up with the latest developments in town, as well as so many familiar faces, and hearing about their families.
Some treasured ongoing friendships are some of our Well-Being Australia helpers and their families, who have been stirling supporters over many years, always there when things needed doing.
I also enjoyed a meal with Vic Matthews, a theologian of note and one of our Well-Being Australia Board Members. He agreed to be interviewed on the Australian Missionary News IPTV.
Prior to the art prize presentation, which was in the evening, I was part of the official delegation to preview the short-listed paintings.
This proved to be a very full two days programming but there was also time to fit in a nostalgic visit to Basil Sellers House.
In our years in Moruya, my wife Delma and I had established a tourism ministry project, Australia's Bush Orchestra, where visitors could enjoy a natural bush walk under a canopy of an ironbark forest with birdsong. The Bell Miners (bellbirds) sing from sun up to sun down. Along the pathway, visitors could read the stories on plaques of great historical Christian evangelists.
It was officially opened in 1996 by former Australian cricket team captain Greg Chappell and associated with this tourism venture was the Moruya Historic Bus Tour which we established with the tour ending at Australia's Bush Orchestra.
Many overseas tourists were among the visitors including a Swede who visited two years in a row, the second time with sound equipment to capture the birdsong. He said no one believed him so he sought to prove a point.
American tourists often commented that in their country, it would be turned into entrepreneurial cash register. [ A recent example of this is the "Polygamy Experience" on the Utah-Arizona border where plural marriage is still practised. The bus tour cost is $72. It could only happen in America. ]
When in December 2005 we relocated to Tweed Heads to replicate the athlete respite facility, we simply removed the signs and cancelled the advertising. The bush paths were soon grown over. And still today, visitors park their cars along that roadside to enjoy the birdsong which remains spectacularly delightful.
Australia's Bush Orchestra provided us a Tourism Ministry model in our ongoing seminar presentations and research into this important areas of ministry. Tourism is Australia's second largest money earner and yet it is an untapped area for Christian ministry.
As a faith funded mission we're looking at another respite, art and tourism project on the Whitsundays mainland where perhaps we might take a leaf from the American 'book'.