by Jonathan Krause

What’s shaped like a wine bottle and wrapped in newspaper and sells for $16?

If you said a bottle of wine, you’d be wrong. In fact, the answer is the most expensive kilogram of plums sold in Australia this year!

Yet, the purchaser – Julie Krause (pictured) from ALWS – was still very pleased with what she’d bought. Why? Because it was part of a mystery auction organised by the Lowbank Lutheran congregation in South Australia’s Riverland … and the more than $1400 raised was donated to support refugee children go to school through ALWS!

How does a mystery auction work?

The mystery auction is a simple idea. Congregation members donate items to be auctioned – but wrap them in newspaper, so no-one knows what they will be bidding for!

Gifts for children are wrapped but have age and gender suitability marked. Kids can bid but are limited to a maximum of $5, provided they have mum or dad’s approval.

(The only things at Lowbank not wrapped were a wheelbarrow load of pumpkins, watermelons and rockmelons brought in by ute.)

Once the bidding starts, the fun is infectious, and people don’t mind what they pay, or what they get, because all the proceeds do something so wonderful for refugee children.

To make sure everyone was in the right mood to be generous in the mystery auction, the people of Lowbank blessed attenders with beautiful Lutheran hospitality, including coffee, cakes and classic Lutheran cheese’n’bacon toasties (of which your reporter ‘sampled’ six!), worship, an ALWS presentation from Julie Krause, and a sausage sizzle (left), followed by a dessert of homegrown watermelon and grapes.

Do you need lots of people for it to succeed?

Lowbank is not a large congregation, with around 50 members. They don’t have a pastor and the farmer members, yarning before service, reckon God keeps forgetting to send rain their way.

Yet despite these challenges, they overflow with energy and enthusiasm to go and grow.

Through their mystery auction, harvest thanksgiving and Sunday school, the 50 members of Lowbank supported the same number of refugee children to go to school for a year!

This is how, when we worship and work together to bring love to life, both here at home and for those far from home, God blesses our efforts. And that’s no mystery at all!

Jonathan Krause is ALWS Community Action Manager.

Just $26 supports a refugee child’s education for a year. Your kindness can help train teachers, supply schoolbooks and uniforms and provide extra care for children with special needs. Go to or phone 1300 763 407 to donate today and be a blessing ALWayS!

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