With the London Olympics just two months away Olympic Ministry Award Receiptent Mark Tronson, the chairman of Well-Being Australia is writing a weekly series of articles leading up to this world gala event which encapsulates the nations of the world in sport, politics, economics, culture, benevolency and religion.
Chairman of Well-Being Australia, Mark Tronson, has been involved in Australian tourism ministry since 1996 when they established “Australia's Bush Orchestra” in Moruya on the New South Wales south coast. He and his wife, Delma three years ago again reflected on their tourism ministry experience when they visited the Stockyards at Fort Worth, Texas.
He says this in the light that the London Olympics, there are perennial issues associated with tourism and considered the celebrated Fort Worth Stockyards illustrating the cattle business and it's cowboy heritage as a study case whose implications were as applicable to Moruya as they are to London.
The USA as does the UK, know how to market its history. The Stockyard area in Forth Worth is a classic example of the tourism industry capitalising on this aspect of American cultural heritage. They were welcomed by a cowboy on a Longhorn cow who immediately alighted and offered our party a photo opportunity on the Longhorn.
Australia's Bush Orchestra
Mark Tronson has had a passion for Tourism Ministry and established and ran 'Australia's Bush Orchestra' from 1996 through to 2005. At this venue, visitors would take a bush walk through a tall ironbark forest under the sound of a natural bush symphony of bird song dominated by the call of the Bell Miner (Bellbird).
Tourists throughout the world visited and as they wandered around and came for their cuppa and a short video at the end of their walk. Mark Tronson would engage them in conversation. British people love eccentricity and this was right up their alley!
“Learning about the importance of the art of conversation is crucial as that was how Jesus imparted truth. We discovered that a ministry centred around tourism was very much a people-oriented ministry,” Mark Tronson explained.
And this is what Mark and Delma found at the Stockyards in Forth Worth. Although it is most definitely a tourism business enterprise, it is also where people are the key to the ministry and engaged by Christians on the ground.
“The Christian scene in America is clearly more articulated on the street than it is in Australia, nonetheless we discovered that the tourism ministry model we had engaged in those years was very much along the same lines,” Mark Tronson said.
This visit to Fort Worth was one of numerous research visits undertaken by Mark and Delma Tronson since 1996. It was helpful for them to see how pastoral care and tourism can interact in a range of situations.
Now, three years on, he's developed a Queensland Gold Coast Tourism Ministry with art and has been able to incorporate much of this additional US research into the market place of ministry. Mark Tronson's visits to the UK have likewise demonstrated that tourism rivals the world's major industries and therefore it is imperative Christian outreach is relevant.
Olympic Tourism Ministry is more pertinent today
Moreover, he's noted that Tourism Ministry is even more pertinent today in these tough economic times. He's aware that there is a perennial push for overdue annual leave to be taken. Two years ago, the Federal Government Minister Martin Ferguson said no one should feel any guilt over taking their family for a holiday.
This opens a whole new realm for Tourism Ministry opportunity that should be welcome by the Christian Churches in tourism receiving areas. Many visitors to the London Olympics will then take to the tourist routes of Great Britain.
Mark Tronson believes the Olympic Tourist UK Cathedral guides could take a leaf out of the Fort Worth Stockyards ministry research, especially in this Olympic period.
When explaining the many components of a Cathedral, a guide, who is an evangelical and passionate for the Salvation of souls, could very easily explain the Biblical relevance of each, and how the meaning relates to Salvation. Mark Tronson says “Is is right there on a platter, taste the delicacies and enjoy!”
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html