NUMBER 46, APRIL 2014 CIRCULATION 100,000 ISSN 1837-8447
Jesus goes racing A pastor finds hope beyond cancer
Afghan refugees saved in Jakarta Preaching to the Gallipoli diggers
Easter: an event Aussies relate to
QB or not QB? Queensland’s Courier Mail has launched a monthly magazine called QB (short for Queensland Business) which “will feature the latest business news from the industries that make Queensland tick”. This will be news to QLD Baptists whose magazine is called The qb. I suspect the Baptists will be nice and not sue News Corp. Maybe there’s some room for sharing copy though. The latest cover pic for The qb shows a bunch of blokes plunging through rapids in an inflatable boat (the plunging into water theme seems appropriate for Baptists), which could adorn a feature on tourism business for the Courier Mail version. Maybe a café church could be another shared cover. Shocking? Off to the White Rabbit —Obadiah’s favourite art gallery— featuring contemporary Chinese art, sited in Chippendale in inner-Sydney, an area that seems to be becoming as elegant and design-conscious as innercity Melbourne. There, he is confronted with a large model of a cathedral made out of leather, with chains, whips and ropes tying it up. The work is by MadeIn Company, led by artist Xu Zhen, a group that poses “as a kind of advertising agency” in Shanghai. Obadiah felt that he was meant to be shocked by the bondage cathedral. He was a little bit. It was thought provoking. But there were other things in the gallery he did not care to look at which depicted violence directly. The exhibition notes ask why sadomasochistic images pervade advertisements in today’s culture. Good question. Magnificat: Obadiah is fascinated by a US court case involving Christian academic Mike Adams. A jury found that the University of North Carolina– Wilmington had refused to promote him to full professor because of his Christian and conservative views. While it’s an interesting free speech case, what Obadiah found heartwarming about Dr Adams was that he had been converted as an adult academic in 2000, shortly after visiting a mentally handicapped prisoner on death row in Texas and being struck by the fact that this prisoner had read the entire Bible while he had not. It shows how in God’s kingdom, the lowly (and unworthy) still confound those wise in the wisdom of the world.
On the way to Gallipoli The Gallipoli story is a foundational part of our national heritage, a seminal story by which we define our national character. Yet there is a story from that time in Australian history that remains largely untold, and speaks of the contribution of the Christian faith within that period of great hardship and sacrifice. I have, since my youth, reflected on those young men setting off to war in 1914, impelled by the sense that they were doing their duty for Empire and instilled with a naive adventurism, absent of any anticipation of the horrors of warfare that lay ahead. More recently I discovered the littleknown tale of the contribution made to our national story by Oswald Chambers, a Scottish-born poet who left his post as principal of a Bible college in London to be stationed in the Egyptian desert to minister to troops travelling to and from the Gallipoli campaign. Chambers left a heritage that has influenced millions through the daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest. What distinguished Chambers was his unwavering constancy of faith, even in the face of the war. Perhaps the best means to describe the heritage left in the hearts of those with whom he came into contact is through the words of those who experienced his ministry in a tent in the Egyptian desert. Theo Atkinson recorded: The hut was packed with a large audience of Australians back from Gallipoli, a pretty tough lot, their being there at all spoke volumes for the new spiritual influence in the camp [resulting from Chambers’ recent arrival]. Mr Chambers spoke for fully 50 minutes, and with such power and eloquence that there was not a man but was mightily gripped. J Stuart Gardiner, an Australian in Egypt at that time wrote: The men who listened to these memorable talks of the O.C.’s [as Chambers was affectionately known] returned again to the Line—to its danger and hardship—treasuring the possession of their Bibles, for his words had been like the penetrating rays of a great light which had lit up the darkness of their ignorance and indifference, and brought
Image: Australian War Memorial
You need to know the Bible to understand our culture: The leftie Guardian paper reports on the Aussie Test series win over South Africa in cricket: “There is such a strong strain of heroic martyrdom running through the game these days that Test cricket is beginning to rival the Bible for spectacles of individual suffering and sacrifice.”
Mark Fowler them face to face with the only thing that mattered—their relationship to God. The fruit of Oswald Chambers’ spiritual efforts was seen amongst the men as they travelled on to the Gallipoli trenches, where a Bible study was subsequently held. Chambers wrote in his diary: “Greenfield who is now up the line, writes of his classes thus— “Dugout, Holy Land. Delighted to say our meetings are being blessed and I have tried in my feeble way to apply the method you adopt to these efforts night after night. The chaps who are attending are delighted… I place the papers (i.e. outlines) on the sand in the tent, we have one or two candles for light, then lying on our sides, sometimes kneeling all the time, we try to pack into our thinking along Bible lines all we can grip ... Two Australians come to my dugout for prayer at mid-day each day.” John D. Blight, an Australian soldier from Adelaide, wrote of Chambers’ ministry: A military camp is the last place to which one would willing go for influences that touch the finer side of life and that speak of things that are age-abiding; but at the Y.M.C.A. hut [in Egypt], in spite of the hampering influences of militarism, men were brought face to face with a greater reality than the grim reality of war. The memory of days spent with Oswald Chambers in Egypt surpasses in vividness all other memories, and eclipses the physical and mental nausea and discomfort of the campaign. Chambers’ association with the ANZAC tradition is virtually unknown here in Australia. Coming up to the centenary of Gallipoli this time next year, I believe his story, and that of the men whose lives his message touched, are deserving of wider recognition. Mark Fowler is a Christian lawyer and Chairman of CLEAR Australia.
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Tim Costello Easter is the most important celebration in the Christian calendar. It is also still an event that Australians look forward to, even if it is mainly for a couple of public holidays. Despite the fact that church attendance in Australia has been in decline for some years, there is still a sense of solemnity and respect for the traditions of Easter. Good Friday sees news networks report traditional celebrations, and the AFL has not yet succumbed to playing football on this sacred day. Social researcher Hugh Mackay has talked about the human need for ritual in our lives. In a society that is constantly on the go, we feel the need for stillness and a sense of the familiar. That’s why churches still achieve their largest attendances at Easter and Christmas. Easter is a celebration that Australians can resonate with. There has been a lot of confusion over the years about what defines Australian identity, but one thing we have been known for is our support for the underdog. Jesus was the same. We all know he was called a friend of “sinners” (Matthew 11:19). It was the poor, women, the outsiders, who were the ones Jesus loved to spend time with. These were the people who the religious leaders considered cursed by God and inferior to others. It was for these underdogs that Jesus willingly died. People who were constantly forgotten and pushed out of the way were finally given the recognition they deserved. It was to them that Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The hope of Easter, though, is not only about Jesus laying down his life for us. It is equally through his resurrection that God’s infinite love is shown. The great message of Jesus’ resurrection is that God is bringing everything together (Revelation 21:5), and we are invited to be part of it. The true message of Easter is for all Australians. It is for workers laid off because of company downturns; it is for single mothers who struggle to feed their families; and it is for the suburban family just trying to live a peaceful life. God is changing the world, and Easter is the celebration of it.
The true message of Easter is for all.
John Short back home
An Anglican asks for the Apostles’ Creed in song and Hillsong writes it Hillsong
It all started on Facebook. In January, John Dickson, co-founder of the Centre for Public Christianity, sparked a storm of responses when he posted on Facebook, “Can someone with real Hillsong contacts please urge their brilliant songwriters to put the Apostles’ Creed to inspiring music. They’d be doing mainstream Christianity an enormous favour.” At the same time he directly tweeted the same request to Hillsong. His appeal reached the ears of Cassandra Langton, Hillsong’s Creative Director, who tweeted her reply to John within 24 hours, “We shall have a go!!!” This began a production process for Hillsong’s new song This I believe, sung at Hillsong campuses at the beginning of March and by over 17,000 women at Hillsong’s Colour Conference. Ben Fielding, one of Hillsong’s leading songwriters, also heard John’s appeal. A month later, when the team were preparing to write, he suggested looking at the Apostle’s Creed. “We pulled it up and it was such an incredible text. We thought it would be amazing to be able to put music to it and give it new life.” Ben felt that taking Hillsong’s platform and putting the words of the Creed to music to reach contemporary churches was an incredible opportunity. “In an age where there is so much division it’s powerful to declare something we all believe is true, emphasising our core beliefs,” says Ben. “I love anything that has the power to unify the church. Song does that. And so does this Creed,
Australian missionary John Short was released from a North Korean prison earlier this month, after two weeks of interrogation about his intentions to spread the word of God throughout the closed country. In an exclusive interview with the Adelaide Advertiser, Short, originally from South Australia, spoke of his desire to distribute Bible tracts to those he came across on his official tour of North Korea. He told the Advertiser he was grilled about his background, made to write as much detail about his life as possible, and accused of being a spy. But Short kept to his story of wanting to distribute the word of God because he believed it to be true. “[The interrogator would] shout at me, ‘It’s not logical!’” Short said. “Well of course it’s not logical — it’s an exercise in spirituality.” But when Short stopped eating on day four, officials got worried. By day 10, and what Short calls “a miracle”, he was released. Now back in Hong Kong, Short appears to want to get on with his work and has decided not to do any more interviews. “It’s not about John … we want people to be praying for North Korea,” his wife told Eternity over the phone. “I just have ten thousand thanks to the Christians who have supported us, stood with us and prayed with us during this time that we’ve been through,” said Karen. “It’s unforgettable, to go through this with the Lord, and the Lord’s people … to be lifted and upheld in prayer … I’m so thankful for all the support.”
and it has for close to 1700 years.” Ben feels his responsibility as a Christian songwriter. “The words we’re writing are becoming the liturgy and creeds of today. As the songs travel, we’re putting words in the mouths of the church.” He reflects on the history of the Creed and also hymns which, for hundreds of years, have brought people back to core Christian beliefs. Songs with biblical lyrics are the best, he observes. There is an awareness at Hillsong, Ben says, that their church is not isolated, but built off an incredible heritage of churches in Australia and the history of the Christian church. In a similar way, Ben speaks gratefully about the
interaction with John Dickson in the production of This I believe, and would like to see more ecumenical interaction, to enable the church to come together. “It’s such an enriching experience. It’s sad to think we wouldn’t be able to have that dialogue because of denominational barriers. Perhaps working on things like the Creed would be a great way forward, to open dialogue and engage on that level that we have in common.” This I believe will be officially released and available to churches in July at the Hillsong Conference. Hillsong are also planning to release a new song for Easter, Calvary, which will be available for free download for all churches.
A statement of faith by 17,000 women: Hillsong’s Colour conference got to sing This I believe.
Mac’s hope beyond cancer Joshua Maule David McDonald’s phone is engaged when I ring. He later tells me it’s because the primary school teacher of one of his children called him with “tears in her voice”. She had been diagnosed with cancer. It was the end of 2011 when Dave found out that he had stage 4 lung cancer. He was given at most 13 months to live, and was told he would “probably” see the following Christmas. His cancer was incurable. He and his family were in the process of leaving Crossroads Church in Canberra where he had been pastor to launch a church plant in Darwin. Instead, McDonald would spend months hooked up to an IV pump and was often bedridden. Last year, after more than a year of gruelling chemotherapy, McDonald was unexpectedly given an NED (no evidence of disease) result. Since then, he’s written a book about his experience called Hope Beyond Cure, in which he outlines not only his cancer story, but what he has learned as a Christian through the process. He continues to receive chemotherapy every three weeks. On his non-treatment weeks, he works as a pastor at Central Evangelical Church in Canberra, and as the chaplain for the NSW Brumbies. Joshua Maule: It was largely through the experience of getting cancer that you started writing publicly. Did the diagnosis you received give you a kind of freedom and authority to write more boldly? David McDonald: When you don’t expect to live for very long it certainly increases the urgency with which you think and act and speak. And I remember in hospital desperately wanting to call upon my friends who are not Christians to look into [Christianity], and pleading with them to do that if I didn’t get to talk to them again. And I think that urgency is something that I’ve brought to writing. JM: Can you talk me through some of the things that happen to you when you go through that kind of suffering as a Christian? DM: I think one of the things I’ve had to work through was having been a Christian for a few decades, having been a pastor for 20 or so years, having believed and taught about God, about the reality of God, his presence, about his engagement with us, the death of Christ for our forgiveness, the resurrection of Christ giving us
hope for eternity—those beliefs, and that teaching, was something I was confronted with dramatically. Do I really believe this? Is it the truth? Does it stand up? Is there evidence for it? Have I been kidding myself, or is this the point where I have to hang onto these things more than ever? And going through that process of thinking and doubt, and struggles of faith, and questioning, and reinvestigating things by going back to the Bible, for me reaffirmed and strengthened my faith. It deepened my hope. It gave me confidence that God could be relied upon. But it was very important for me to go through that experience to demonstrate, yes that this faith is real, and that God is faithful to his promises. JM: What does that strengthening of faith look like in your life and what does it feel like? DM: I think it’s the putting of that faith into practise in the face of a diversity, or even, contradictory ideas. It’s one thing when life is cruisey and when we expect we’re going to live forever to say: I have faith in God that when I die I’ll be raised from the dead and spend eternity with God. It can almost be an intellectual thing. But when death is on your doorstep—to be quite honest there were times when I did not expect to come out of hospital alive—those things become … it’s like plugging them into an amplifier. And they become so much louder and more significant. And so faith in that context is to trust in God in the face of those things. I’m grateful to God that he pushed me to activate that faith, to trust him in that time and those situations. JM: I suppose Christians can also
world, the voice of the devil, saying: how dare God do this? Or even pushing us intellectually to say there couldn’t possibly be a God if these things are happening to me. And those voices will speak to us as loudly as we give them opportunity to speak. On the other hand we have the voice of God and we can open his scriptures and see his promises and be reminded of his faithfulness. I’m grateful to God that my friends, my family, my wife, my children, kept pointing me back to the promises of God. It enabled me to be hearing God’s voice more loudly than the opposing voices. JM: That can be done in a bad way
David McDonald’s book Hope Beyond Cure published by Matthias Media is available from shop.biblesociety. org.au for $12.95
I remember in hospital desperately wanting to call upon my friends who were not Christians to look into it have the reverse experience, where sickness and suffering in their life causes them to feel, at least, or actually become, more distant from God. Or even lose their faith. Why do you think it was different for you? DM: We’ve always got competing voices. So there’ll be the voice of the
too though, can’t it? As in Christians can give spiritual words to someone who’s suffering, in a way that almost makes them feel guilty or worse about their situation? DM: Ah, yes. Most definitely that can happen. One way—and I’m thankful to God I didn’t experience this much,
David McDonald’s faith was tested when he was given 13 months to live.
other friends have experienced it in very hurtful ways—is that we can receive criticism from other Christians where they’re suggesting that what’s happening to us is God’s punishment. It wouldn’t be happening to us if we had more faith, or if we were being more obedient. And that can send people into quite a difficult spiral of self-reflection rather than turning to the God of grace and forgiveness and life. JM: Sometimes Christians try to understand God’s will in their sufferings. As in, they try to work out why God allows particular trials to come to them in their life. Do you think that’s a fruitful exercise? DM: I’m reminded of the book of Job where Job had three friends in particular who were attempting to do just that, and attempting to give God’s perspective on the matter. And at the end of the day, they spoke in ignorance. Job was called to trust that God was powerful and God was good. And Psalm 62 comes to mind as well. The psalm reminds us that God is all powerful and God is all loving. If God was simply powerful and not loving, I’d have fear as I approached him. If he was all loving but not powerful, he’d be impotent to help me. But the combination of those things gives me reason and encouragement to approach God. But I’d be very cautious about presuming to speak for God about the specific circumstances someone is going through. JM: My final question is about the central part of your faith: Jesus. What did you learn about Jesus through this ordeal in your life? DM: I’ve learned that it’s all about Jesus. Something that I’d learned to be true, but that I’ve experienced freshly for myself: to know that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has dealt wholly with everything that I’ve ever done wrong, all my rebellion against God, all the things I’ve failed to do—even the things that I don’t know about. That through Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection I can be completely forgiven. And it’s also helped me to see the importance of Jesus looking forward. That through Jesus I have hope for eternity, that he rules this world, that I can trust him to bring me through this life, and to share that eternity with him. In the light of eternity these difficulties and struggles and trials that we go through are very small, even though at this particular time they can seem like mountains. www.hopebeyondcure.com
the Bible as God’s word
as a disciple of Jesus
The character to care Dr Keith Condie
Dean of Students, Lectures in Ministry and Church History, Moore College
Among Christians, the word ‘pastoral’ is often applied to warm, caring involvement in the lives of others — providing practical help or a listening ear in life’s struggles. Loving engagement in the lives of others is a vital ministry, and we betray our Lord and his command to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ if it is lacking. But for those involved in vocational Christian ministry, is there more to pastoral work?
What is pastoral ministry?
To ‘pastor’ means to ‘shepherd’. In Biblical times a shepherd spent his day with his sheep, ensuring they were well fed and kept from harm. Those entrusted with the care of God’s ‘sheep’ engage in a similar task—gathering into the andDeaconess aiding their ws, who was once a missionarythe inlost China, thefold Head growth to maturity in Christ. an Diocese of Sydney and the Principal of Deaconess House,
There ministry are three key aspects toand this.beyond. First, the flock needs feeding. ed women’s in Sydney Come along The word of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, does that. Paul r the life and ministry of Mary Andrews. Some items in the knew that it was the message of Christ that grew Christians, and ws Archives Collection display. his own ministrywill was be builton around that — proclaiming, teaching
warning day, 10thand May, 2014so that he might ‘present everyone mature in Christ’ (Col 1:28).
for morning tea with 10:30am start
Second, the pastor prays for his people. In Acts 6 the apostles
nclude: Narelle Jarrett, Jackie Gabbott, turned waiting upon tablesStoneman, over to othersMarion so that they might devote themselves prayerRademaker, and preaching. Paul tells the Colossians that nsen, Peter Jensen,toLaura he hasn’t oll and Lay Kum stopped Ho praying for them (Col 1:9) and urges them to
grace takes account of our prayers as he works out his sovereign purposes (see 2 Cor 1:10-11). Finally, the pastor must model godly living. As Paul urged Timothy, ‘set the believers an example in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity’ (1 Tim 4:12). According to Paul, godly character and faithfulness to the gospel message—rather than giftedness, ministry strategies or communication skills — are the nonnegotiable qualities for those who oversee God’s people (1 Tim 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9).
“There is a breadth to the curriculum, but at its heart is a key goal – to deepen students’ knowledge of God. This is not knowing about God, but knowing God personally in a way that shapes character and life.”
What does good pastoral care look like? This understanding of pastoral ministry means it involves more than attention to physical and emotional needs. You may have heard it said of a Christian minister that, ‘He is a great teacher, but he is not very pastoral’. But the New Testament never divides these—every pastoral issue is also a theological one. When people are struggling, Christian love will drive us to cook meals and sit and listen as they share their troubles. But it will also move us to remind them that we rest secure in God’s arms and that Christ really is our adequacy in the storms of life. Yet we must not think that sharing some Bible verses will suffice.
devote themselves to prayer (Col 4:2), recognising that God in his
ncludes morning tea & lunch
onsored by Anglican tries, Sydney.)
Gospel comfort loses something if spoken from a distance or without compassion—for ‘Hurting hearts have no ears’. Good pastoral care will mean deep involvement in others’ lives. That Paul not only shared the gospel, but also his life (1 Thes 2:8) was critical to his effectiveness. We must also remember that pastoral care is necessary for every believer, whether they are experiencing difficulties in life or not. God’s desire is to see all progress to maturity in Christ, so all need pastoring.
How does Moore train students in pastoral care? The entire Moore program is designed to produce effective pastors. By learning in community we share in each other’s lives, see the Christian life modelled, support and pray for each other. There is a breadth to the curriculum, but at its heart is a key goal – to deepen students’ knowledge of God. This is not knowing about God, but knowing God personally in a way that shapes character and life. Knowledge of God produces pastors who serve Jesus Christ and his people, know God’s truth well and faithfully proclaim it, and humbly call upon him in prayer. Moore also recognises the importance of teaching fundamental skills such as listening and conflict resolution. Students need to be aware of difficult issues encountered in pastoral ministry, including sexuality, grief, and depression. Our aim is not to produce counsellors, but pastors who know when to refer someone for professional help and can provide appropriate practical and spiritual support themselves. C.H. Spurgeon said, ‘As a man is, so is his work’. A theological college cannot prepare students for every circumstance they will face in pastoral ministry. But at Moore our aim under God is to produce graduates of godly character who have the motivation and skill to appropriately care for all they encounter in their ministry. l
u.au/library/maryandrews • 02 9577 9897
Mary Andrews, who was once a missionary in China, the Head Deaconess of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney and the Principal of Deaconess House, has influenced women’s ministry in Sydney and beyond. Come along to remember the life and ministry of Mary Andrews. Some items in the Mary Andrews Archives Collection will be on display. Date: Saturday, 10th May, 2014 Time: 10am for morning tea with 10:30am start Speakers include: Narelle Jarrett, Jackie Stoneman, Marion Gabbott, Christine Jensen, Peter Jensen, Laura Rademaker, Elizabeth Moll and Lay Kum Ho Rego: $20 includes morning tea & lunch (Lunch kindly sponsored by Anglican Deaconess Ministries, Sydney.)
moore.edu.au/library/maryandrews • 02 9577 9897
Come in and check out the College, be involved in classes and get a firsthand experience of Moore’s excellent reputation for high quality theological training.
Monday 5th May 2014 7:45 pm-9:15 pm
Monday 5th May – Friday 9th May 2014
For more information or to arrange your visit, please call (02) 9577 9928 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
15 King St Newtown • moore.edu.au
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Meeting Jesus in Jakarta Beng Yeoh of Leading the Way On Sunday, 2 March 2014, I had the opportunity to witness the baptism of an Afghan Hazara refugee in a Jakarta swimming pool. As 10 of us sat down on the grass to listen to Hafiz’s testimony and pray quietly for him, two neighbouring mosques were competing with each other (and us), loudly calling Muslims to prayer. Hafiz was a baker in Kabul. He was an ethnic Hazara, a Shiite. By God’s grace, in 2007 he met a Korean missionary working in Afghanistan shortly before 23 Korean missionaries were abducted by the Taliban (two were executed). But before his Korean friend left the country in the aftermath of that tragedy, he gave Hafiz a Farsi (Persian) New Testament. Hafiz read it with great interest. As each year passed, Hafiz became more interested in Christianity, but he didn’t know who to ask. His Korean friend had left the country and he didn’t know any Christians in Kabul. Last year, as many of his Hazara friends were growing increasingly worried about the Taliban returning to power after the expected American withdrawal, Hafiz began to think about leaving the country in search of a safer place to live. The Hazara community are no strangers to persecution. Descended from Central Asian Mongol who invaded Asia centuries ago, they have often been an unwelcome minority. Being Shiite in a Sunni-majority land did not help. Indeed, in Afghanistan’s
long history their dwindling community has endured widespread genocide more than once. Six months ago, Hafiz managed to find his way to Indonesia with nothing much in his bag but many questions on his mind. “Will I feel safe here for the first time in my life?” he thought to himself. One day in a popular hillside town outside Jakarta, he met Ahmad. It was a place where many refugees gathered while waiting for the UNHCR to process their refugee applications. Like Hafiz, Ahmad was also introduced to Christianity by a Korean missionary. But it was a year earlier, so he had more time with the Koreans to ask them questions. After many questions had been answered, Ahmad was now convinced of the truth of Christ Jesus. He joined the Korean man and other Afghans in a small group. As they met through the course of a year, he grew in his understanding and faith. By the time he arrived in Indonesia as a refugee, he was already a believer of some eight years. When Hafiz met Ahmad he was overjoyed. Not only did he find a fellow Hazara who spoke the same Farsi language, but he found an Afghani Christian! Eventually, Ahmad led Hafiz to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Fast forward to Sunday evening, March 2, 2014, Jakarta. Ahmad walks into the pool with Hafiz. In the presence of Mack, the church elder, and other fellow believers, Ahmad baptises Hafiz in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When Hafiz emerges from the water, his face is full
That Great Commission ... they took seriously and continue to do so every day.
Hafiz, an Afghan Hazara was baptised in Jakarta last month.
of joy. Having found his eternal home in God’s Kingdom, he has also found fellowship in God’s family. No one can rob him now of his hope in Christ his Lord. Later on as we shared an Afghan meal, sitting on the carpet in Mack’s apartment, I could not help but feel amazement and encouragement from these Afghan brothers who were far away from their homes but displayed so much eagerness to share the Gospel with their fellow men at every opportunity. Indeed, last year when my wife and I sat down on the same carpet to take a Bible study with a group of Iranian and Afghan refugees, we were deeply impressed that a regular feature of
their meetings was to affirm aloud together the Great Commission (Matt 28:19–20). It served as a reminder why God saved them and blessed them with eternal life. Today that little Farsi speaking church in Jakarta has grown from a handful to a hundred members. Nearly all of them have been baptised like Hafiz, because many like Ahmad have taken the Great Commission seriously and did their part whenever The Lord supplied an opportunity. Note: The photograph is deliberately blurred and all names in the article are pseudonyms to protect the individuals concerned. Leading The Way supplies refugees with solar powered Audio Bibles in Persian languages.
The people of Israel are the people of God. Through the ages there has been ongoing debate and indeed heated disagreement as to what exactly Israel is, and her role and function in the eternal purposes of our God. Our keynote speaker, Kenneth Gentry, will bring biblical light to bear on this most important subject.
With keynote speaker
Kenneth Gentry GoodBirth Ministries, USA
29–31 August 2014, Canberra ACT For registrations & more info visit www.daniel244.org or ph (02) 6259 3944
Turning mourning into laughter (for those of us who can’t dance)
Telling people that God has called you to be a stand-up comedian is one of the scariest things you can do. At least that’s what Comedian and Author Hannah Boland is discovering as she embraces the vision God has given her to bring joy and encouragement to the body of Christ in these difficult, dark days. “When I tell people, I take in a big breath and then notice that my feet have suddenly become quite fascinating. I try to tell people in a way that doesn’t sound crazy, but I’m not sure that’s even possible. I’m expecting them to say ‘you’re mad, as if God would call anyone to be a comedian!’” Yet that is exactly what God has called this mother of six from rural New South Wales to be. And it has been a long time in the making and a painful journey to boot. Hannah and her husband Michael have two living children, Allison (6) and Harry (5). In 2011 after suffering another miscarriage, Hannah fell pregnant with her son Stephen. At the twenty week scan Hannah and Michael learned that their son suffered from a rare brain abnormality known as Alobar Holoprosencephaly (HPE) which meant that most of Stephen’s brain mass was missing. It was uncertain whether or not he would live for days, weeks or possibly years if he was even born alive. Hannah and Michael chose to honour God’s wonderful gift of Stephen although doctors and medical personnel put pressure on them to terminate the pregnancy. Stephen lived for a precious forty-seven hours and in the months to follow Hannah wrote about her journey with Stephen, the battle with the doctors and her deep depression and grief in her first book entitled 47 Hours with a Prince. In 2012, just as she was launching her book on the first anniversary of Stephen’s birth, Hannah announced that she was ten weeks pregnant with their “rainbow baby.” After many weeks of nervousness Hannah and Michael were relieved to learn at the twenty week scan that they were expecting a perfectly healthy baby girl.
“The main purpose of my shows is to encourage people in their faith and to show them that God really does have a sense of humour.”
There are perhaps very few people who could understand the depth of devastation when at the thirty-six week routine check-up doctors discovered that Esther had passed away. Tragically, she had been asphyxiated on the umbilical cord and Hannah and Michael once again faced the gut wrenching task of burying their baby. “I’ve always been witty,” Hannah says without a trace of conceit. “I’m a happy person, always ready to have a laugh and experience joy with others. I never even believed it was possible to experience the depth of grief that I have. I was broken. Shattered. Smashed. I never expected to laugh again let alone be given the mission of getting others to laugh.” “As soon as I felt the depression start to lift, I had some clarity of thought for the first time in months, and I actually felt like I wanted to think about a future. In that moment an odd idea came into my head and I allowed myself to ask the question, if I could do anything at all with my time, what would it be? In no time at all I had the answer in my mind. I want to make people laugh and to remind them that God wants us to have joy in our lives, even in the hard times. Looking back it seems even more outrageous that I had this thought when my own sorrow was still overwhelming me. But it was God. He was opening a door in my mind. He was literally turning my mourning into laughter, which is a good thing because I seriously cannot dance.” In the weeks and months to follow God repeatedly showed Hannah that this is exactly the plan for her, spurring her on at an amazing rate. “In the natural sense it is ridiculous. I’ve gone from being a grieving mother who published a book one time and was a bit of a smarty-pants, to planning a tour in twenty-four towns across two different states as a comedian and entertainer with two new books due to be released in 2014. It’s just nuts.” Hannah has always been interested in performing. At the age of two she
Giftof the Gab
began playing the piano and although she brushes aside the idea of being a childhood prodigy it is evident that she has been given a great gift in her musical ability. She can play a range of instruments and has studied piano at a tertiary level, and for a time made a living as a professional jazz musician. She has also had lifelong enjoyment from writing humorous poetry and lists Spike Milligan and Pam Ayers among two of her favourite poets. Hannah has drawn upon these gifts and performs both poetry and music along with her standup repertoire to put together her debut show Gift of the Gab touring from March to September this year. “The main purpose of my shows is to encourage people in their faith and to show them that God really does have a sense of humour. It is a ministry for Christians.” But what about people who don’t know the Lord? “Well I also see these shows as a great opportunity to invite non-Christian friends to come out for a fun night. It’s not a preachy show, and it’s not all about being a Christian. It’s just about looking at the both the funny and serious stuff that happens in life, and that’s one of the reasons I have tried to keep the show out of churches and book out theatres instead. I’m not there to preach. I just want God to bring joy to people.” Hannah with her daughter Esther (right) Hannah runs a website linking grieving families with resources to help them through the difficult journey of losing a child at any stage. www.47hourswithaprince.com
Hannah’s Books Hannah has two books due to be released in 2014. Her book entitled I’m Sad and I Need Cake has been co-authored with Australian Author Cecily Paterson (Love, Tears and Autism 2011, Invisible 2013) and is a series of humorous and touching letters between the two Christian authors as they both deal with grief in their own lives.
In her third book Superstitious Christianity, Hannah poses a series of difficult questions about God and the Christian faith, and asks three of her most trusted, Godly mentors to respond. You can check them out at www.hannahboland.com.au
Gift of the Gab 2014 is coming to... NSW: Dubbo | Wentworth Falls | Yass | Campbelltown | Penrith | Bathurst | Cowra | Wagga Wagga | Goulburn | Canberra | Castle Hill | Chatswood | Sydney | Mittagong VIC: Ringwood | Moe | Melbourne | Geelong | Wangaratta | Wodonga | Ballarat | Bendigo
For tickets visit www.hannahboland.com.au
Supplement to Eternity Newspaper
60th Anniversary 1954 to 2014 B
y 1954 the Wycliffe School of Linguistics for Missionaries was in its fifth year and drawing an increasing number of students. A small group of enthusiastic young Aussie Christians asked, ‘We want to do linguistics and Bible translation. What mission will train us and send us?’ Mission leaders of the day pondered this question. Their response was to request the establishment of a new organisation. Thus began Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia. Since then over 700 long and short term volunteers have joined the work, connecting directly with 126 language communities around the world. 82 New Testaments, 59 portions of Scripture and Barry Borneman CEO, Wycliffe three full Bibles are the printed results; Australia an extension of the Church is the spiritual result; and a special bond between Australia and the often forgotten minority language communities the human result. In celebrating our 60th year we do so humbly acknowledging that God enabled this through the Australian Church and other partners who recognise the importance of the Scriptures in the everyday language of the people. We invite you to celebrate with us as we reflect on God’s faithfulness and greatness, and our privilege to be ‘one cog’ in the greater worldwide Bible translation movement.
hristians who have only known that they can read the Bible and worship in their own language often struggle to imagine what it is like to not have these opportunities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have embraced the Christian gospel with conviction and commitment but have not, until recent decades, had the opportunity of imagining that they too could read the Bible in their own languages. SIL and Wycliffe have played highly significant roles in achieving progress towards making God’s Word available in the vernacular languages of Indigenous Australians. There is undoubtedly much progress still to be made but the completion of the Kriol Baibul along with other recent Dr Philip Freier, Anglican Archbishop Bible translations has given great hope that of Melbourne this great work of the Spirit will come to its full fruition. Congratulations to Wycliffe on reaching this 60th anniversary of service through Bible translation and vernacular literacy.
ycliffe is not just concerned about a book. It is concerned about a message and about people. This message is from God himself to his lost and estranged people. It is a message that brings hope, peace and life, a message that can transform broken individuals, families and even communities. A message that addresses the spiritual, social, emotional and physical needs of people and impacts every sphere of human existence. It is a message that is needed in every country, every culture and every language. There is no more important message. There is no Rev Graydon Colville, Chairman more important work. of the Board of Directors, Wycliffe For 60 years now, in partnership with the Australia and International Director, Australian Church and ministry partners Global Recordings Network around the world, Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia has been committed to bringing this life-transforming Word of God to those who don’t have it. Congratulations to all our current and past Wycliffe members and volunteers. Well done and may God strengthen you for the work that remains.
Wycliffe turned 60! But are we older than we admit? On 9 March 2014 we at Wycliffe celebrated our 60th birthday! Really? some may ask. Are you 60 years old, or perhaps 64? Do you have the year 1954 right? Well, our birth was indeed a process, so let’s take you on a short ‘journey of dates’, and you decide… Wycliffe was founded by William Cameron Townsend, an American missionary distributing Spanish Bibles to the Cakchiquel Indians of Guatemala. Townsend catches the vision for translation when Cakchiquel-speaking men express their concern and surprise that God does not speak their language. As a result, Townsend resolves that every man, woman and child should be able to read God’s Word in their own language. 1934 To make this vision a reality, Townsend starts a linguistics training school in 1934 called Camp Wycliffe, after John Wycliffe, the man who first translated the Bible into English. 1942 By now Camp Wycliffe has grown into two affiliate organisations, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now SIL International) 1947 Robert Story, an Australian missionary, comes back from Brazil. He reads about the SIL Linguistics Training in America. Robert realises that Linguistics training is what he really needed when he was out in the field. He asks the Interdenominational Missionary Fellowship of Victoria (IMF) to consider training and sending Australians as Bible translators. 10 January 1947 The IMF agrees, and asks for help from the Summer Institute of Linguistics in the USA. ‘If you organise everything, we’ll come and do the training,’ was the answer! 9 January 1950 The IMF offers the first Wycliffe School of Linguistics for Missionaries in Melbourne over 11 weeks, with further schools in 1951-1954. American linguists led the first five schools until Australian Harland Kerr became Principal in 1955.
9 March 1954 The IMF gives the OK for Wycliffe to become a separate organisation. Wycliffe would now be working on their own and no longer be a ‘project’ of the IMF. (So is that when we were ‘born’?) 5 May 1954 Wycliffe accepts its first five members for Bible translation in the Philippines: Harland and Marie Kerr, Bill and Lynette Oates and Mary Short. 9 July 1954 These five Wycliffe pioneers set sail from Sydney for the Philippines on board the SS Changte. Adventure awaited… 1961 The Australian Aborigines Branch of Wycliffe is formed to do Bible translation in Aboriginal languages. Wycliffe in Australia is now not only a sending and training organisation, but also a local Bible translation organisation. 1963 Wycliffe’s Committee of Management appoints David Cummings, a visionary leader, as its first Executive Officer. 1966 Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia is finally incorporated in the state of Victoria, a process which started in 1954 So, which date is right for a birthday? We chose 9 March 1954…but we’ll be celebrating God’s goodness throughout this year, and the next, and the next! Other signiﬁcant dates:•1967 Land is purchased for a National Centre at Kangaroo Ground •1972 Opening of Main Building at Kangaroo Ground. •1983 Opening of Buildings for the South Pacific Summer Institute of Linguistics School (now EQUIP Training) at Kangaroo Ground.• 1991 The Media centre is opened in the Bentley Building, and the National Centre complex at Kangaroo ground is now completed.
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Bible Translation and Literacy continue to change lives ‘Translate the Bible, Change a community’ is what Wycliffe workers often experience first hand. Allow us to share such a story that is happening right now.
hen the Solomon Island Pijin Bible was dedicated and released in 2008 the then Prime Minister, Dr Derek Sikua, said that the Bible in Pijin was foundational for building the character, ethics and values of the nation.
Rev Julian Holdsworth, Church Relations and Ministries, Wycliffe Bible Translators
He received the Bible as a major focus in their 30th year Independence Day celebration. A copy was placed on display in parliament house. It would not be long before the Prime Minister’s words would transpire in the life of a young Solomon Islander lady. The same year that the Pijin Bible was dedicated, Wycliffe literacy specialist Karen Hopping was making her way to live in the Solomon Islands, hoping to make an impact in the lives of Solomon Island ladies who had missed the opportunity to go to school and learn to read. Her basic tool would be the new Pijin Bible that was held in such high regard. Karen’s heart and soul was to see God changing lives through people reading his Word for themselves.
Caroline and Karen
It was during one of Karen’s short term visits to the Solomon Islands in 2003 that she came to know Caroline Siuna, a young lady who had a familiar story. Caroline didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. Her family made the difficult choice of having one child stay home to clean, cook and wash, as well as to work in the garden and sell its produce in order to help pay for the school fees of the other children. This lot fell to Caroline. As Caroline blossomed into adulthood she felt the shame of her illiteracy. She recalls, ‘I was like a blind woman who could not do anything for herself.’ Karen and Caroline spent time together working through the skills of reading. Their personal friendship deepened
Missionaries are sent by the Church
W The joy of writing a Scripture song in your own language
and Caroline delighted in learning to read portions of the Pijin Bible for the first time. With encouragement and acceptance from Karen, her confidence and ability to read went ahead in leaps and bounds. In 2009 Caroline was recorded on the national census as literate for the first time in her life. She had been given a new freedom. She explained it this way, ‘Now that I know how to read and write it is like my eyes are open.’ Caroline’s new freedom also led to bigger dreams. She wanted others to have the same opportunity. In 2010 she teamed up with Karen as a colleague and fellow teacher to establish new Bible based literacy classes in Pijin and other local languages around the Solomons. As her teaching skills have grown, so has her influence. She now runs these same literacy classes out in the village even when Karen is back in Australia on leave. She has become a gifted teacher of reading and a missionary to her own people, leading Know Your Bible (KYB) classes, and even preaching from the Pijin Bible in village churches. This shy village girl who only a few years before was confined to the village garden and feeling shame because of her illiteracy, found in the Pijin Bible a foundation for her life that the Prime Minister spoke about. Personal transformation inevitably leads to further transformation. Now Caroline offers other women in the Solomon Islands a new freedom that comes through the gift of reading and a confidence in God who cares about the forgotten people. Caroline says in her story, ‘I would like to thank God. Before I was formed inside my Mummy’s belly, God knew me.’
Kirk Franklin, Executive Director Wycliffe Global Alliance Caroline preaching in a local church
ycliffe Australia believes itself to be a part of the Church. For this reason, we highly value our relationship with the local church. The local church sends out workers to the harvest field. We are facilitators enabling that to happen. As an organisation we are therefore committed to strong, ongoing connection with local church leaders and have established Wycliffe leadership teams in every state. Their purpose is not only to recruit to the cause of Bible translation, but also to understand how the local church ticks and to help it fulfil the mission of God. We can do this through some of the missions and outreach courses we run, such as Operation Encounter or The Journey or Probe. Or we can come and share in your church on matters pertaining to God’s mission in God’s world. But most of all we just want to come alongside your leadership and hear what God is doing in your neighbourhood. It might be that we can add value to your outreach aims in ways that you don’t anticipate. For example, we have cross-cultural experience that may help you as you seek to reach your neighbour for Christ. So please, give one of our regional offices a call. We are keen to serve the local as well as the international church. Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia 70 Graham Road, Kangaroo Ground VIC 3097 Ph: 03 9712 2777 www.wycliffe.org.au Wycliffe Regional Offices VIC/ TAS P: 03 9712 2720 E: email@example.com NSW/ACT P: 02 8014 6487 E: firstname.lastname@example.org QLD P: 07 3256 1803 E: email@example.com SA P: 08 8322 0246 E: firstname.lastname@example.org WA P: 08 9243 0486 E: email@example.com
e are now well into an era in which the Church is truly global and is increasingly attuned to both proclamation and practice of the Gospel. Wycliffe’s concern is not just to get Bible translation projects started, but to see the Church engaged so that minority language communities can thrive. This means caring about the whole person and trusting God to bring wholeness to individuals, families and communities. Therefore, in addition to Bible translation and the use of the Scriptures, we are also concerned about poverty alleviation, aid and development including literacy, medical ministry including HIV/AIDS, and micro-enterprises because these deal with many of the urgent crises facing the poorest of the poor – the same people who still need God’s Word in their language. My best wishes to Wycliffe Australia, an organisation in the Wycliffe Global Alliance, as it pursues its vision to bring ‘Good News in Anyone’s Language’.
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60 Projects for 60 Years P R O J E C T S
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program builds on the existing translation and linguistic similarities of the related languages and as a consequence saves a translation team a lot of difficult and time consuming work. A first draft of a New Testament can be completed in as little as 6 months. Adapt It is simple to use and many national translators have already been trained in its use. Several hundred Bible translation projects are currently using the program and around ten New Testaments have already been completed. $6,000 is needed for ongoing maintenance and development.
Project 8501 NEPAL - Gurung Translation $18,150
Celebrate by funding a Project As part of our 60th anniversary, Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia are trusting God for funding of 60 projects. As you read about these projects you will get a better understanding of the scope of our work and insight into our world. We invite churches , small groups, prayer groups, or friends to prayerfully consider funding a project – in full or in part. We hope to attract sufficient funding for all 60 projects to proceed, thus enabling Bible translation initiatives around the world. You can read about some of our projects here. To look at more projects, please visit our wycliffe.org.au website wycliffe.org.au
Project 8321 EAST ASIA - KON* Bible translation $15,560 60th Anniversary
East Asia? Wow, that covers a huge area, and countless people… but we can’t say where. However, this language project which goes by the pseudonym ‘Kon’, focuses in on a language group of half a million speakers, and aims to complete translation of the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament. Rural churches, many quite isolated, will not just have God’s Word in their own language, but will be provided with tools to encourage their use and understanding of the Scriptures. This is a co-operative venture, involving close consultation between expatriates and local Christians. It requires $15,560.
However, their lives were disrupted by the violence of the 1960s –1980s, and today they are slowly moving into the mainstream of Cambodian life, and even being introduced to Western consumerism. As well as its spiritual blessing, God’s Word in their own language could contribute to their stability and identity in this time of transition. God willing, the Bunong New Testament should be printed and dedicated by the end of 2015. Funding of $5,800 would cover the checking of translated Scriptures by a committee of church leaders, workshops to promote the reading of Scripture, and voluntary teacher training.
Project 8346 Pacific Region - Bringing Quality Training to the Pacific $9,000 Good training does not happen by accident. It needs to be intentional and planned. David Nicholls, Pacific Training Coordinator from Australia works in one of the areas of the world with the highest concentration of current and future Bible translation needs. Training of national colleagues in the Pacific Area is organised in five entities: Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Pacific Islands Group and Australia. Training nationals happens through supervised onthe-job participation in rural villages, but also through formal, centrally gathered workshops of up to six weeks duration. Scripture translation is central to this training, but participants are also taught related skills such as literacy production, language development and multilingual education. These contribute to the development of local communities. The $9,000 will enable David Nicholls as the Area Training Coordinator to • travel to the various Paciﬁc regions • set up and administer new and sustainable training programs • co-ordinate with trainers • communicate to stakeholders • encourage training eﬀorts. The better the training that can be provided, the higher the quality of the translation, and the sooner Scripture will be completed and available.
Project 8329 CAMBODIA - Bunong New Testament translation $5,800 The Bunong people are a minority ethnic group in Cambodia, who live in more isolated areas of the country. They were traditionally animists, who led a peaceful agricultural way of life.
In 1982 Australian members Warren and Jessie Glover took part in two dedications of the Western Gurung New Testament in Central Nepal, in the only two churches existing in Pokhara. In those days it was illegal to change one’s religion from Hinduism. Baptism made one liable to being jailed for a year, while those who baptised were sentenced to six years in jail. Nevertheless, the gospel flame spread – thousands of Gurung now name Christ as Saviour, and the 1982 New Testament (1,000 copies printed) has long been out of print. Recently a group of Gurung Christians asked for a new translation targeting, this time, those who live further east than the 1982 version was catering for. ‘Help us make the Word of God available to people in our home villages for which the Nepali Bible is still a closed book.’ Consulting with a team of Gurung Christians, Warren and Jessie estimate this New Testament, plus Genesis and Psalms, should be completed within five years. $18,150 will cover several trips a year Warren and Jessie will make from Australia as consultants to the project over the next two years.
Project 8391 ADAPT IT Computer Program, Wycliffe Australia and International $6,000 Adapt It is a computer program that works best where a translation has been completed in a related language. The
Jessie Glover checking scripture with two Gurung speakers
Project 8509 EAST TIMOR - The Amazing Expanding New Testament $2,860 Twelve years ago we were excited when East Timor became independent from Indonesia, with Australian support. The young nation still suﬀers from poverty and the aftermath of political instability, but one bright feature is the ongoing translation of the Bible into the widely spoken Tetun Dili language. Over half of the New Testament as well as Genesis have been completed. Now, a Bible translation consultant is needed to check Philemon, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude and Revelation. Stop and think about what they contain. Then try to imagine the excitement of being able to read those books for the first time! The last consultant progress check not only reported that Tetun Dili speakers found the translation very accessible, but spoke of ‘an obvious hunger for God’s Word…they kept mentioning they couldn’t get enough’. A consultant can travel from Australia for a fortnight in the capital, Dili, for $2,860.
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60 Projects for 60 Years P R O J E C T S
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Project 8510 AFRICA - Strengthening African Church’s Ownership of Bible Translation $66,000 More than 800 language groups in Africa have Scripture translation needs. Mother-tongue Scriptures are crucial in Africa so that the church can continue to grow and thrive. The church in Africa grew from 10 million in 1900 to 360 million in 2000 and it is still growing. In 2006 Wycliffe launched the Francophone Initiative in former French areas of Africa. Church leaders, theologians and Bible agencies got together to incorporate Bible translation into the training curriculum of pastors at Bible colleges. Since then, 38 theological seminaries have adopted an introductory course on Bible translation. Word has spread across Africa of this initiative and plans are now in place to gather Christian leaders from Anglophone (English-speaking) and Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) areas of Africa, to learn from the Francophone Initiative and establish similar projects in their own contexts. Help from Western sources, such as through Wycliffe Australia, is intended to build capacity so the African churches will take greater responsibility for Bible translation in their contexts.
Project 8513 SOLOMON ISLANDS - Gela New Testament (Final check) $5,980 With about 14,000 Gela speakers of central Solomon Islands, the Bishop of the Church of Melanesia assigned Taylor Coombe and his family as translation advisors to
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the Gela Bible Translation Project in 1998. After fifteen years, the project is nearing completion, with a projected New Testament dedication date of 1 November 2015. Approaching the end is a fantastic feeling. Everyone involved in the translation, and even the wider Gela community are getting excited! But even with a good translation, unless the community accepts the translated Scriptures they will not be used. To ensure wider acceptance of the Scriptures it is necessary for a read-through of the entire New Testament by church representatives and the community for errors, verses whose meaning is unclear, and to discuss any parts that they are not happy with. Church representatives, the local area bishop and community representatives will join several of the Gela translators and translation advisors for a thorough read-through. Funding will cover transportation and accommodation costs.
Project 8515 Bringing God’s Word to the South African Deaf $12,000 Any person learns best in their Heart Language. For most deaf people living in South Africa, this is South African Sign Language. According to the Deaf Federation of South Africa some 600,000 South Africans use sign language as their primary language. 75 per cent are functionally illiterate, the remaining 25 per cent have a reading age of an eight year old. The written Bible is of little value to this community. The South African Sign Language (SASL) working group
is planning to produce a set of 110 Chronological Bible Stories translated and recorded in MP4 film format (DVD) using South African Sign Language. The Bible Stories are chronologically selected from Genesis to Revelation, giving the Deaf a basic overview and understanding of the Bible in relation to ‘knowing God’, ‘following God’ and ‘serving God’. This project has an annual budget of $70,000. Wycliffe Australia in partnership with Wycliffe South Africa is looking to raise $12,000 per annum towards this project. Your contribution will help open up a new world for deaf people. Will you partner with us to make this possible?
Project 8519 BIBLE TRANSLATION FOR THE DEAF WORDSIGN Project, $40,000 per annum Using Video Animation to spread the Gospel - Only 1-2% of deaf people around the world are believers, mainly because they have never ‘heard’ the Gospel in their sign language. The first New Testament in a sign language (American Sign Language) was only released in 2005. Currently 50 sign language translation projects have started, with an estimated 200 further translations needed. Australian members Saul and Rebecca Thurrowgood are deeply involved in the research and development the WordSign Project. The WordSign Project will use the latest in animation and motion capture to produce translation for deaf communities around the world. It will also address critical issues affecting current sign language translation. Saul brings 12 years of experience in computer vision research. Rebecca, raised by deaf Christian parents, understands the deaf culture, and is an experienced interpreter of Australian Sign Language. Wycliffe Australia’s goal is to raise as soon as possible $40,000 annually for the research and development of the WordSign Project. The majority of these funds will go to supporting Saul and Rebecca as they work fulltime on research, development and implementation of this project.
Please accept my contribution towards the project selected below: (please tick)
BANGLADESH - Advancing National Translators $30,000 per annum
8321 - Kon Bible translation, East Asia $15,560 8329 - Bunong New Testament translation, Cambodia $5,800 8346 - Bringing Quality Training to the Pacific Region $9,000 8391 - Adapt IT Computer Program, Wycliffe Australia & Int’l $6,000 8501 - Gurung Translation, Nepal $18,150 8509 - The Amazing Expanding New Testament, East Timor $2,860 8510 - Strengthening African Church’s Ownership of BT, $66,000 8513 - Gela New Testament (Final check) $5980 8515 - Bringing God’s Word to the South African Deaf $12,000 8519 - Bible Translation for the Deaf - WordSign Project $40,000 per annum 8130 - Advancing National Translators, Bangladesh $30,000 per annum PAYMENT DETAILS
Cheque or Money Order made payable to Wycliffe Australia Credit Card Visa Mastercard Card Number __ __ __ __ / __ __ __ __ / __ __ __ __ / __ __ __ __ Expiry date __ __ / __ __ Name on card ______________________________________________________________________ Signature __________________________________________________________________________ Amount $ ________________________
PERSONAL DETAILS Name ____________________________________________________________________________ Address __________________________________________________________________________ Phone ____________________________________________________________________________ Email_____________________________________________________________________________ Please return this form to Wycliffe Australia, 70 Graham Road, Kangaroo Ground VIC 3097 or alternatively please go to wycliffe.org.au/donate/payments
FOR MORE PROJECTS GO TO WYCLIFFE.ORG.AU
In many of the countries where Wycliffe Australia works, churches and organisations now have a vision for greater involvement in Bible translation. The Advancing National Translators Fund supports the training and development of local translators and the capacity of local churches and organisations to take the next step in Bible translation. In Bangladesh keen Bangla Christians have stepped forward, ready to cross cultural barriers in their own country to facilitate Bible translation in three different languages. Wycliffe Australia participation is undertaken in partnership with local leadership with the goal of avoiding an overly great reliance on external funding. The primary contribution from WBTA is in the form of providing necessary training and a small stipend to some local translators Current need: $10,000 per language program. Three languages; $30,000.
Driving fast for Jesus All Pictures: Jesus Racing
Kaley Payne On stage, Andrew “Fishtail” Fisher wears a cap. He paces, speaking fast. Microphone in one hard, he gestures wildly. Hundreds of high school kids from Year 8 and 9 hang on every word—they’ve got to be paying attention to keep up. There’s a hushed silenced, impressive for this audience. Teachers stand in the wings, waiting to pounce on inattentive souls. But they’re not needed. Andrew is dominant in the room. He’s got them. “I’m going to talk to you about decision making. We’re not talking about decisions you make at the Maccas drive through. That’s an impulse decision. We’re talking about decisions that may have a significant impact in your life.” And so begins his talk about courage. Fisher is the Jesus Racing guy. Race car driver one day; public speaker the next. When I sit down with him, it’s on a lunch break from a one-day conference for high school students learning how to become Christian leaders in their schools. Today, Fisher has swapped the boardroom for the schoolroom. At 36, he was CEO of a public company and owned 11 other companies—a law firm, a management consulting business, and an insurance company among them. But it was at the helm of that public company that Fisher had what he calls a “cliff top moment”. “I’d reached the peak of business and realised I didn’t like it,” he says. Andrew grew up with a ‘need for speed’ kind of dad. His family loved cars, they drove fast. He got into race car driving with a few friends, spending weekends getting his racing license and entering low-level races, while he climbed the corporate ladder from Monday to Friday. He laughs off my suggestion that racing sounds like a rich man’s hobby for him. Racing is expensive, after all. But while Fisher was a successful businessman, he was also really good at getting sponsorship for his ‘hobby’; he was getting a lot of attention in racing circles, named Rookie of the Year in the V8 Ute Racing series in 2007. It was Fisher’s wife Annmarie who suggested he race with the “Jesus. All About Life” logo, part of a Bible Society campaign in New South Wales. He had been wrestling with how to be up front about his Christian faith in the racing world, keen to live his faith in public, and this was the perfect opportunity. “I loved the idea that it could be a trigger for starting a conversation about Jesus.” And so, Jesus Racing was born, with Jesus’ name emblazoned across the shining bonnet of Fisher’s V8 Ute. “It challenged what people thought of faith and what a Christian is like.” And it
certainly attracted a lot of attention. Fisher began speaking in high schools and business breakfasts, entering more races and attracting more interest from the racing community. No longer able to balance his business commitments with the growing demands of Jesus Racing, Fisher sold off over half of his companies and took a back seat in his management responsibilities. It was a leap of faith, says Fisher, as he poured money into Jesus Racing and began searching for Christian sponsors to make the initiative viable. Fisher says motorsport is ingrained in Australia’s cultural fabric. “It’s the third most-watched sport in Australia,” he says. “You’ll always find someone to talk to you about it, who’s willing to have a conversation. So having a Christian racing team in there to say ‘what do you think about them?’, people are happy to start at that level, talking about Jesus.” On the annual calendar for Jesus Racing is the Deniliquin Ute Muster. Attracting 25,000 blue-singlet, Akubra-wearing fans, the muster sees close to 3,000 drivers and claims its place as one of the most ‘Australian’ festivals of the year. Head to their website, and the first image you’ll see is a five ute line-up, including the Jesus Racing ute toting the requisite bullbars, big spotlights, waving flags … and a giant cross strapped to its roof. “We race utes. We’ve got street cred. We’re like them and they can see we make an effort to be in their community. They now consider us so much a part of the community that they’re promoting what we do. “If doing up a ute that screams the name of Jesus makes people feel more comfortable thinking and talking about Jesus, well then, that’s what we should be doing,” says Fisher. Fisher has a competitive spirit. You don’t get to the top of the business world without drive, and he’s got it in spades. He wants to win (he wouldn’t race cars if he didn’t), but he says that competitiveness is something Christians find hard to reconcile with his faith. “They tell me it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s still great having Jesus. But I say, that’s disrespectful to everybody else competing in motorsports. It’s a sport. This is their chosen field. We have to take the racing seriously.” But it’s the way he wins and loses that Fisher thinks sets his team apart. For example, he speaks about race ethics and the integrity of being a Christian first and racing car driver second. “There’s a technique in racing called ‘bump and run’: going in to the corner, if you lean on the back corner panel of the guy in front and push them off the apex of the corner, he gets onto what we call ‘the marbles’ where there’s not a
lot of grip. He slides outside and you’re able to overtake him in that corner. We all know how to do it; I could do it every race if I wanted to. But there’s no integrity in that, so we don’t employ that technique.” When Jesus Racing first hit the tracks, Fisher says a lot of drivers pulled the ‘bump and run’ on them. But once they’d been in the game a while, winning races, earning respect, things changed. “There’s definitely a bit of a pecking order in racing. But it became obvious that we were fast, and other drivers started asking them ‘Why are you doing that?’ They’d do it deliberately, target the Jesus car ‘cos they knew we wouldn’t give it back to them. There’s usually a lot of payback in racing.” And while Fisher says he’s not perfect—he’s made mistakes on the track—he thinks as a Christian he reacts differently than the other drivers. “Your legacy is being a Christian, not a famous racing car driver. It creates a sense of priority.” “I don’t like to say winning doesn’t matter, but it really doesn’t. It only matters when it comes to the respect we have for our other competitors. Of course, I’m in the car going as hard as I possibly can. Of course, we want to win. But I’m not going to take out the guy in front of me on the last corner to do that.” Fisher doesn’t believe God needed a racing car driver. “I don’t believe God was up in heaven saying ‘You know what I really need? I need someone to get in a race car with my name on it, and go out and show ‘em how I would do it.” Jesus Racing isn’t about driving a fast car. It’s about the opportunities Fisher has gotten to talk to people about Jesus. And that takes us back to the high
Andrew “Fishtail” Fisher drives fast, and this gets him opportunities to talk about Jesus.
school auditorium. A long way from the race track, a long way from the boardroom, Fisher has constructed a programme for high school students, talking to them about courage and making good choices. He talks to thousands of kids every year about smoking, drugs, social media, sex, road safety, and faith. During the video showing the Jesus Racing ute in action, breaking, crashing, screeching around the corners there are wolf-whistles. After the presentation, the kids are given a poster and offered a Gospel of Luke to take home. They’re keen to get out to the quad where the Jesus Racing ute is parked and Fisher is standing half in, half out of the drivers seat, foot on the pedal, revving the engine. There’s a growing mob around the car. They want Fisher to sign their arms, their wrists, and when he won’t do that, their posters. The revving engine echoes through the school yard as the bell rings for lunch and students from other years file out of their classrooms to see the source of the ruckus. The revs are like a call: “Remember what I told you.” Find out more about Jesus Racing, upcoming races and their programme in schools: jesusracing.com.au
Christians respond to secular education Dr Paul Burgis A Book Extract from Teaching Well Barton Books 2013 The first goal of a Christian educator in a secular society is to present in some depth the range of philosophies within the community. A common academic approach to a contested field is to provide a survey of the range of positions available. If academic honesty is valued, theorists will disclose their own orientation as well as survey the material fully. In this way readers are being made aware of possible rhetorical devices being used to persuade them whilst they are reading a broad survey of ideas. In Christian terms the educator is obeying the commandment: ‘Do not lie.’ I admire the Christian philosopher Keith Ward in his attempt to achieve this goal. He identifies six possible philosophical approaches to the universe: monism, theism, materialism, idealism, emergent materialism and dualism. He shows how, over the past 50 years, philosophical materialism has gained hegemony in the West that it has not enjoyed in any previous century. Part of his work as an educator in philosophy is to purposefully and empathically describe the range of positions held globally. The case I am making is for a Christian model of education based on the idea that we should have an open and honest society that can address the full range of questions that humans ask. A strong theological and philosophical education is important for each child to do this. I am not making a case for one form of religious education. I argue that Australia does and should have schools based on different faith and secular positions. A democratic society is one that Christians should support because we believe that God allows us to make our own choices. I am sure that despite my best efforts I have many mistaken beliefs. Like Paul, I ‘see through a glass darkly’ (1 Corinthians 13:12) but I do believe, by God’s grace, ‘one day I shall see face to face’. Until that time, the greatest driving force in my life should be love (1 Corinthians 13:13). I am a Protestant Christian who believes that Jesus died for my sins: my beliefs are relatively orthodox. My argument is for honest disclosure about the theological and philosophical knowledge underpinning a school. Every school provides a type of religious education. Secular schools are not neutral and 1 have theirEternityAdvertWSLR_128x90.pdf own prejudices.
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Based on this thinking, I would like to make explicit three key recognitions: • No school provides a theologically or philosophically neutral education. • Schools should not pretend that they provide a pluralistic viewpoint if they don’t. A secular school, for example, that treats all religions as different visions of an unknown truth is not doing justice to the religions it purports to support. It is upholding one view of religious belief. • An education that limits access to the big philosophical and theological questions creates its own doctrines, prejudices and taboos. How we understand education and its role in society is formed within a context of how we understand what a human being is, the nature of reality and what our purposes in being are. • I therefore propose three clear goals for the Christian educator: • Those who are leading learning in the school are clear and honest about their presuppositions, uses of evidence and beliefs. The school needs to be transparent about its basic presuppositions. • Those who are learners within the school can engage in the material being taught either as supporter, enquirer, critic, or in all three positions. The school needs to be open and allow students to develop convictions. • The leaders of learning and other learners can question the positions of students. Students can question staff and one another. This promotes discussion and empowers students to
take charge of their own learning. The second goal of a Christian educator in a secular society is to provide opportunities within the school where students can follow Christ. Alongside the first goal, I believe we need to teach our own beliefs well in word and deed. I propose also a middle and senior years course which teaches in depth the particular theology of the school, be it Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic or any other denomination. The school needs to provide opportunities for worship, service, and student-led activities to tie into its overall framework. The welfare program of the school, its approach to discipline, and its view of the students as agents and/or receptors of knowledge will all be influenced by its theology. The purpose of a Christian education is to fulfil the first two commandments: to love God, and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. At the simplest level, Jesus’ disciples ‘left their nets and followed him’ (Matthew 4:20). Many schools today are providing opportunities for students to contribute to, and to form reciprocal relationships with, students their age in other communities. There are, of course, dangers of a type of paternal attitude being formed in the students. Paul Theroux reportedly once commented: ‘If I see someone coming to do good to me, I turn and run the other way.’ If, however, in the spirit of a gospel that recognises our own capacity to cause harm even when we act with kindness,
and our desire to define others and to control our relationships on our own terms, we can create programs that seek to form long term relationships between communities; we can create a culture within the school that values friendship, respect and magnanimity. In many schools these relationships are international. Students benefit from programs where they serve others locally and internationally. Whilst they are engaged in ‘do-ing’, they ask questions about ‘be-ing’. The third goal of a Christian educator in a secular society is to bring prominent and able Christian thinkers and role-models into the schools who have engaged meaningfully with society. I work as part of a team of four principals who seek to bring prominent Christians to our schools. The website publicchristianity.com provides excellent interview materials for schools to allow students to hear the thinking of articulate Christians. In their communities they will hear many secular voices: we need to provide them with the opportunity to hear from people who are honestly working through key issues within a wider societal context. If their school provides them with honest and open access to critics of the faith as well as to Christians who are proposing thoughtful analyses, or reflecting upon the critics and providing meaningful responses, we should hopefully develop young people with a resilient faith. Our schools should use these human resources to find ways to support and encourage our politicians and others in public life when they work for better communities, and can by this means encourage curiosity about others. But curiosity might be mere tolerance. Perhaps we should go one better than mere tolerance: we should seek to grow young people who learn to love people who are different from them. Behind each of these three goals are the aims of encouraging young people to be, first, people of conviction: to develop beliefs and have them challenged; and second, to be people who read the Gospels not just as academic or historical texts, but as a means to challenge the depths of their beings. Dr Paul Burgis is Executive Principal of the Presbyterian Ladies’ Colleges in Sydney and Armidale, NSW. This is an extract from Teaching Well, published by Barton Books. It is available from shop.biblesociety.org.au
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Bike for Bibles turns 30
Since 1984, Bike For Bibles has raised over $13 million for Scripture distribution worldwide
“People ask why I still want to be riding on the first and last day of another long-distance ride,” says Bob Forrest. His answer is straight to the point: their donation keeps him pedalling. As you read this, Bible Society’s fundraising machine on wheels— Bike For Bibles—is riding from Sydney to Melbourne, reprising how it all began thirty years ago. Forrest and four others were the pioneering group in 1984, and there’s nothing he wanted more than to be part of the team on the 30th Anniversary Ride. Since 1984, Bike For Bibles (BFB) has raised over $13 million for Scripture distribution and Bible-based welfare work worldwide. 82-year old Forrest, BFB’s coordinator for many years, says the inaugural ride raised a modest $2000, but he’s staggered by what BFB has achieved since. “I just praise the Lord! How many people have become part of God’s kingdom through receiving the Scriptures in their own language! BFB has just snowballed amazingly. Years ago God had a plan to raise up a vast team of cyclists, roadies, donors and prayer partners who’d commit time and energy to fundraise and distribute God’s word to the world. I’m just a cog in the wheel; through many others, God has blessed the ministry.” Forrest is doing the first 20km of the 890km 30th Anniversary Ride from April 5-12. The team of 60 riders and crew is honoured to have the BFB pioneer with them on such a significant ride. Each evening the team stops in towns along the way to rest, meet with the townspeople and spread awareness of their mission. Every night after dinner there’s a group devotion and someone shares from the Bible. While BFB is a Bible-based fundraising activity, it’s open to anyone, and the few non-Christians on each ride usually choose to join in the devotions. In many ways, BFB is a “ministry on wheels.” While Bible distribution is the focus, the funds raised by BFB help out in other ways. When it started sending Scriptures to all parts of Australia and to the world, Bible Society realised there were many people who couldn’t read to begin with. “Illiteracy is a scourge; many of those in Australian gaols are there as a result of it and what it’s led them to. So when we started in 1984 we included a focus on literacy,” Bob Forrest recalls. “BFB took us out to the non-Christian market; many are happy to donate knowing that Scripture-based materials are helping people to read and write.” Since then BFB has supported many Bible-based literacy projects. The BFB 30th Anniversary Ride is fundraising for a literacy project in Rwanda, as well as for Scripture distribution within Australia. Forty-six year old Rwandan, Sebahore Evariste, joined a literacy class in the Bugesera district a few years ago. “When I started, my neighbours discouraged me because of my age. That was very hard for me, but I forced myself to carry on. I soon realised that the course was not complicated. After I learned to read and write, I started a small business, keeping cows. This helped me financially. I was then able to enrol in a Bible college, and soon I will be an evangelist and pastor.” BFB rides have now criss-crossed Australia, raising funds for Bible work. What began in Australia has also been picked up by Bible Societies in other countries. “By the time I retired, it was in 27 countries,” says Forrest. While BFB is a Bible Society activity, it’s faithful volunteers who do much to keep up the momentum. Year after
The 30th Anniversary Ride is fundraising for Rwandan literacy and Scripture grants in Australia.
Kids Wild about the Bible online Suzanne Schokman
Bible Society’s new kids’ website— wild.biblesociety.org.au—is getting the thumbs up from users. Only weeks into its launch, it’s already proving popular with children’s ministry leaders and primary school children who enjoy the site’s interactive and imaginative approach. There are Wild Activities like games and competitions, and lots to engage and hold children’s attention. Kids were asked about Wild online: Q: What did you like most? Boy, 13: I liked the music and videos. Q: What was your favourite story? Girl, 8: The one where the farmer scatters seeds, which is actually the good news. Q: Do you think your friends will like the website? Girl, 9: Yes, I think it’s a fun way to learn about the Bible. The website proves a point: that young people do read and enjoy the Bible when it’s presented in a manner and language that they “get”. On the site, children delve interactively into the story of Jesus’ life, and in the process gain an understanding of the culture, politics and traditions of the time. In fact, this online resource is the gospel, religious instruction, history, geography and storytelling all rolled into one. “Wild online ... takes children on a journey across a map that visits the life, teaching and miracles of Jesus,” reads a blurb on the website. “There are plenty of cartoons, characters and quizzes, with even more coming in the future. So we’re ready when you are: take a child through the story of Jesus.” Those working with children will find the teacher resources invaluable. There’s a video library, tutorials and lesson plans, all aimed at making class enjoyable and studying the Bible, fun. Downloadable worksheets are also perfect for Sunday School or class use. Visit wild.biblesociety.org.au to have a “wild encounter” with the Bible and the dynamic Saviour at the heart of it. And don’t forget to create your own adventurer character as you do. Above: Bible Society’s Adrian Blenkinsop presents the website to teachers and Sunday School workers. Below: Two Wild adventure characters.
In Bible-based literacy classes, Rwandans learn about the good news and hope for their nation. year they take part in the day rides or longer marathon rides which cater to all levels of riding ability. “If you can’t ride, help out in the road crew!” invites ride coordinator, Jim Blaxland. “We have food and road crew who’ve been volunteering for twenty years—and they fundraise as well.” Bible Society hopes many will get behind Bob Forrest and other team members as they raise funds. Please also pray for the team’s safety as they travel, and if they’re riding through your town (see table, right) do take the opportunity to meet them as they arrive. You can also help spread the word about the ride and its aim, no matter where in Australia you live.
For details about the ride and how to donate, visit biblesociety.org.au/bikes or call 1300 BIBLES (1300 242 537). You can support specific riders, or make a generic donation towards the 30th Anniversary Ride. Date 5 Apr 6 Apr 7 Apr 8 Apr 9 Apr
Expected arrival /Staying at From 3pm, Goulburn Uniting From 2.30pm, Boorowa Central School From 2.30pm, Junee Anglican From 2pm, Lockhart Memorial Hall From 12.30pm, Corowa Presbyterian and Uniting churches 10 Apr From noon, Benalla Presbyterian 11 Apr From 1.30pm, Seymour Uniting 12 Apr About noon, Mill Park Baptist, Melbourne
In love with a church girl
Our new tarnished ‘Golden Age’ Mark Hadley
Noah, Pontius Pilate, Cain and Abel, David and Goliath … and of course, Jesus. These are the names Hollywood producers hope will provide the keys to a kingdom of Christian viewers they believe reside just outside the reach of traditional blockbusters. But despite the billions being invested, their plans are unlikely to succeed. Economics may be on the side of the big name directors and A-list actors, but history isn’t. One fundamental truth suggests there will be Bible success stories ahead, but not from the big studios. Ever since the heady days of The Passion Of The Christ, distributors like Paramount, Fox and Warner Brothers have been trying to capitalise on religious fervour. This year will be one of those years the Bible provides a lot of grist for the mill. Son Of God, Mark Burnett’s spin-off from his TV series The Bible, has already arrived in the United States, and its $26 million dollar opening weekend already has tongues wagging about bringing it to Australia. But Christian audiences here and abroad are notoriously hard to court. This month’s epic, Noah, was mired in controversy before even a single ticket was sold. Paramount did everything possible to make Noah a success. Signing up big names like Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson was a start. So was entrusting the project to Darren Aronofsky, the Academy Award nominated director of Black Swan. But they also took the prudent, business approach of requiring final say on the film’s cut, and they used it … five times. Paramount tested various Noahs in front of Christian audiences, attempting to overcome fears the film disrespected the biblical account. Their final plea for applause included an opening montage of religious images and a concluding Christian rock song. But apparently audiences couldn’t get over the violence, drunkenness and Darwinian evolution. In the end the studio opted for a disclaimer that the film doesn’t directly mirror the biblical tale. But Noah’s failure to find favour with its key demographic won’t stop other distributors. In July, Fox Searchlight will bring us Calvary, the story of Brendan Gleeson as a faithful to the grave Irish priest. Rounding out the year Ridley Scott will release his own larger-than-life Exodus, starring Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as his angry stepbrother, Ramses. And the list goes on: Will Smith is currently developing The Redemption Of Cain, the biblical
I’m more concerned about getting non-believers into the theatre ... struggle between the world’s first brothers; Brad Pitt has been linked to a movie that proffers the life and times of Pontius Pilate, leading up to his fateful judgment in Jerusalem; and a new script for a movie tentatively titled David and Goliath is being shopped around. Millions might be wasted on these and other storylines, but Hollywood will spend them in 2014 because it knows there are more millions to be made. The 1950s and 1960s, Hollywood’s Golden Age, were at least in part defined by the rivers of gold that flowed from biblical epics like The Ten Commandments, The Robe and the aptly named The Greatest Story Ever Told. Recent times provide still more examples. The Passion delivered $604 million worldwide; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, $739 million. Faith is lightning that can be bottled and sold at the cinema. But Hollywood will fail more times than it succeeds for a single reason. As a scriptwriter, let me share with you one ironclad rule: You can’t tell a story you don’t understand. Back to director Darren Aronofsky, who describes Noah as “the least biblical Bible film ever made”: “I’m more concerned about getting non-believers into the theatre or people who are less religious. A lot of people are thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go to see a Bible movie,’ but we completely shook up all expectations, and people will see that as soon as they sit down and watch the movie.”
The reason why Noah will fail to connect the way The Passion did, along with many other Bible titles, is that storytellers don’t understand their story. And Hollywood’s new Golden Age will continue to be tarnished by this ignorance. Christians don’t want to have their expectations “shook up”. These are not inspiring tales; they are inspired history. Point them in any other direction and you point them away from the Bible’s real purpose: revealing God. It’s no surprise audiences forgave The Greatest Story Ever Told for its plodding pace because it still portrayed a largely Christian culture surrounding Jesus. It’s also no surprise that Narnia, The Passion, and most recently, Son Of God, have gelled so strongly with Christians because they came out of much smaller production houses led by people who know Jesus. When Jesus wanted to warn people about the danger of putting your faith in religious trappings—building religious support, knowing all the stories, saying the right words—he told them about a man who turned up to a wedding feast without the right clothes. His playacting resulted in him being thrown out of the banquet into miserable darkness because God’s invitation isn’t anything to play with. “For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14). The message for Hollywood is the same for us. There are staggering riches in the Bible, but you can’t buy them with a pretence. You can’t fake belonging.
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There are two kinds of Christians: the first kind is an enthusiastic supporter of any movie made by professing Christians that aims to proclaim Christian teaching, values and virtues; the second kind won’t go near such a movie because they presume it will be a preachy snoozefest that will devalue Christianity. True, these groupings are caricatures. But how do you react to anything badged “Christian movie”? From Fireproof to Machine Gun Preacher, we can have instant responses to such productions. And these responses often plonk us in either group. Several reasons fuel this. A glaring one is the way these movies tell the truth of the gospel, the Christian life and God’s word. The means to that end can divide Christians. In general, supporters of Christian movies tend to not worry about their quality. They just want to watch movies that don’t trash their beliefs like most mainstream movies do. On the other hand, non-supporters tend to dismiss all Christian movies. Why support them if they can’t provide the quality and clout expected of this art form? Most Christian movies are released here on DVD. Out this month is I’m In Love With A Church Girl. This movie is based on the true story of a former drug dealer who . . . well, falls in love with . . . um, a church girl. This American drama is ostensibly a quintessential “Christian movie”. Over stylised scenes, the “God wants you to come as you are” message rings out like an altar call. Simply listing the basic elements of Church Girl is probably enough for you to decide which group you are in. But why are we so polarised when both groups want the same thing: to have Christianity and its leader broadcast meaningfully to the watching world. Gospel-hearted intent could do wonders through the format of film, if storytelling and cinematic skill forged a Christian movie of conviction and quality. Both groups of Christian viewers should be seeking and supporting such Christian movies rather than embracing extremes which fail to elevate the wheat from the chaff.
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The Enlightenment ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’that is the motto of enlightenment. Immanuel Kant (d. 1804) There is probably no more significant movement in intellectual history than that we know of as ‘the Enlightenment’ of the 18th century, though the Athenians of the 4th century BC might contest it. Even two hundred and fifty years on, we live our everyday lives in its wake—especially in the area of religious belief. How can we deal with its legacy? The Enlightenment, which culminated in the revolutions in France and in the United States, saw the birth of the political rights and freedoms we very much treasure today. It spelt the end of the dominance of the aristocracy, and the rise of democracy. It also paved the way for the Industrial Revolution, and for the development of free market economics. We cannot think of our smart phones—and the ability for an ordinary person to own one—without either of these. The Enlightenment is also sometimes called ‘The Age of Reason’, because the group of thinkers that represent this epoch saw themselves as attempting to ground everything on rational, rather than traditional, principles. Authority was to be questioned rather than accepted, so that reason could have its way. The principles and methods of scientific investigation emerge from this period, because it turned out to be a very successful strategy for gaining knowledge about the world. For example, medicine done on the basis of an accepted tradition was not nearly as good at curing people as medicine based on empirical reason. This is why we have decided that bleeding people to cure them of fever is dumb, and that vaccination saves lives. And this was very much a religious movement, in its way: which is to say that the Enlightenment was very interested in religious questions, and put forward some distinct answers. Very few Enlightenment thinkers were out and out atheists, but traditional Christian ideas came under severe attack in the eighteenth century. Often this was depicted as a response to the bitter wars between European states in the seventeenth century, which were often depicted as being religious in nature. How could Catholic and Protestant be made to stop killing each other, if they seemed incapable of finding a common authority? If religion could be based on reason
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alone, then there could be an objective and hopefully peaceful discussion about it, surely. It might also be possible to remove the government of the religious impulse from the clutches of the ecclesiastical institutions which seemed uninterested in the investigation of new ideas. For John Locke, the English philosopher of the early Enlightenment, this meant basing his thinking in large part on a thorough exegesis of Scripture wholly unmediated by any church authority. Locke is still regarded today as the father of ideas like political liberty and equality, and religious tolerance, but his reliance on the Bible is usually passed over in embarrassed silence. There were three particular challenges to traditional Christianity in this period. The first of these relates to the identity of God, and his relationship to the world. As I said before, few Enlightenment thinkers were atheists. Rather, many of them (including the American Thomas Paine) embraced ‘deism’. Deism is the belief that God is a creator, but does not have an ongoing role in the government of the world. God is watching us, but from a distance. He sets up the principles and laws by which the world runs, but does not further intervene. It was rational to believe in God, but not to believe in the teaching of the institutional churches about the life and death of Christ. It was the business of human individuals to live a morally dutiful life on the basis of reason, rather than simply give obedience to divine commands, or to church teaching. This theological idea runs directly counter the orthodox Christian teaching about the Trinity. The Christian God is not simply remote, but is intimately involved with the universe he creates—to the point of becoming a creature within it. Deism was challenged during the Enlightenment, mind you: but it represented a step away from orthodox Christianity scarcely imaginable a century before. It was dependence on reason alone that led the Scottish philosopher David Hume (secondly) to challenge the traditional belief in the miracles narrated in the Bible. For Hume, the laws of nature are fixed and unalterable. A miracle is by definition an event that happens in opposition to the laws of nature. Hume argued that a miracle is so unlikely that it is far more likely that the report of a miracle is the result of a delusion or a hoax. Traditional Christianity’s dependence on miracles was simply superstitious. Thirdly, the Bible itself was opened up to critical study. If, as Hume said,
you couldn’t believe in miracles, then what was one to do with the miracles claimed in the Bible? Could the Bible really be the basis for a revelation of God? Scholars began to ask not ‘what does the Bible say?’ but ‘who wrote the Bible?’ and ‘what can it tell us about history?’ At the extreme end of this was Thomas Jefferson’s creation of the ‘Jefferson Bible’, where he literally took a razor to the miraculous parts of the Bible, leaving behind what he felt were the more acceptable, moral parts. At a more serious scholarly level, Hermann Reimarus (d. 1768) argued that the historical Jesus was a political agitator, and that the resurrection was fabricated by the disciples. This interlocking trio of ideas is still very much the agenda for contemporary theological thinking and biblical scholarship even today. Just as the scientific method operates in a world in which God is set aside as an explanation (which is of course appropriate), post-Enlightenment theology also proceeded with God virtually bracketed out. But the Enlightenment didn’t kill religious belief—far from it. The 18th century was the era of the German pietists, and of the evangelical revivals—of Spener and Zinzendorf, Edwards, Wesley and Whitfield. If the Enlightenment was an appeal to the head, the evangelicals appealed to the heart. The powerful experience of conviction of sin, repentance and conversion to Christ was in a sense a trump card over and against any of the cold reason of the Enlightenment. At the same time, something of the anti-institutional spirit of the Enlightenment was captured in the evangelical emphasis on personal conversion unmediated by church authority—which the Enlightenment had in its turn arguably learnt from Protestantism in the first place. What does the Enlightenment of two hundred years ago mean for contemporary Christianity? We cannot put the Enlightenment genie back in the bottle. Some Christians
‘Reason’ is often in fact used to justify what our hearts have already decided.
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like to imagine that they can do this: that they can think about their faith as if the Enlightenment never occurred. At the same time, they enjoy the benefits that this movement of thought has bestowed on the world— laptops, modern medicine, political freedom. This to me seems somewhat hypocritical. The Enlightenment view of the world is persuasive because it is highly successful. It has produced an extraordinary fruit of blessing for the world—in God’s good providence (I say somewhat cheekily). Having said that: even though the Enlightenment was anti-dogma and anti-tradition, it has produced its own dogmas and traditions too. Some of its great tenets have not been sufficiently questioned. Hume’s argument against miracles is certainly not a strong one, for example. Though the Enlightenment questions about the historicity and origins of the Bible still dominate, there have been powerful scholarly defences of its historical accuracy and coherence. But more that: in its emphasis on the power of human reason, the Enlightenment rested on an incomplete view of the human individual. The Enlightenment hope was that the individual human person could live the moral life aided by reason alone—a thought that is still very much in evidence. This is inadequate for two reasons: the first being that although reason is a very significant part of us, it is certainly not the whole of us. Our ‘reason’ is not untainted by emotion. ‘Reason’ is often in fact used to justify what our hearts have already decided. What we need is a way of speaking about the shaping of the human heart. The Enlightenment was also far too optimistic about the ability of a human being using reason to liberate him or herself from the habitual human lapse into evil and corruption. Can reason alone be the path out of the mire in which we find ourselves bogged? The ancient Scriptural doctrine of sin has nowhere been less verified than in the centuries following the Enlightenment. Sin is irrational, and our reason should indeed tell us what is good and right. But we are never simply rational, and our reason is always distorted by our evil desire. The Enlightenment doubted the Christian God; it should have doubted the human heart.
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I agree with Bruce Dipple (“Latent Racism” March Eternity). I discovered this foul attitude in my own mind, when sharing a hospital ward with three other women. I was happy to use the same toilet as them, until a new patient of Aboriginal descent came into the ward. Suddenly I was putting paper on the toilet seat! As I realised my own latent racism, I asked God to help me never to treat another human being so shabbily ever again. Anne Weeks, Belrose, NSW
Called and sent In February’s Eternity, Bruce Dipple speaks of the called and sent respondent to the great Harvest. He mentions the importance of the on-going support of the home base church/group. I strongly support this concept and wish to add the following thoughts... ● Active partnership by the home Church members gives much encouragement as we ourselves experienced whilst serving in P.N.G. ● As Christians, praying for the success of any facet of the Lord’s mission, we immediately become attached to it ... as individuals and as the body of Christ. ● Correspond with news from care groups in specific prayer circles based on current and daily needs/challenges in the field and undergirded with key Scripture boosters. ● Provide additional monetary support and carefully chosen gifts based on research from the field. ● After careful research and responses indicating skills/support needed, two or three home members undertake a short term visit to listen, observe and work with the local people, praying with them, understanding the culture, etc.
We are all sent ... Go therefore ... (as you go) ... in daily routine ... speak, teach, encourage, pray ... Norm Auricht, Maroochydore, QLD
Farmers in need I was praying with a member of my congregation for farmers because we had heard that some are so broke they can’t even feed their families. My prayer partner was weeping as she considered their situation and cried out to God; ‘if only every church in Australia could adopt one farmer in dire straights that would really help.’ My reaction was, why not? As Eternity is the best communication medium that I know of that crosses denominational boundaries I thought I would send this idea to you. Stephen Everist, Bidwill, NSW
Scott’s ABC The article on Mark Scott in Eternity’s March edition was very much what I expected and as a Christian I don’t accept several comments he makes. Yes, he may be a good Chief Executive but I question whether he has much influence of the content and righteousness of the National Broadcaster and whether religion on the ABC has really had a fair and open hearing under his leadership. The ABC is without a doubt a haven for leftist views and also non Christian views. You only need to watch a few QandA programs to see the heavy bias against conservative and Christian views and on occasions regrettably derision and hatred are also displayed. Rarely will you see a fair and balanced debate on QandA. Recent ABC reporting on alleged
hand burning of refugees by naval staff was at best dodgy and a disgraceful smear against our armed forces. Scott’s apology was half hearted. Deliberate censorship by the ABC of the words the Islamists used in May 2013 during their horrific murder of a British soldier on a London street is also a concern. The portrayal of Chris Kenny on the ABC Hamster Decides program in September 2013 was despicable and breached basic levels of public decency. Again Scott’s comments about this case were at best, lame. These incidents above are only a small account of the ABC’s failings. In terms of truth and accuracy in reporting, integrity, fairness and public decency ABC can do a lot better as a public broadcaster. I personally expect far higher standards from an ABC Chief Executive who calls himself a Christian. Philip Brooks, Sydney, NSW
Forgiveness This Easter we must remember Jesus forgave ALL. He carried the sin of the whole world, then and now. Total and complete forgiveness. So must we. All those who have hurt us. All those still hurting us. We need to love, forgive and pray for those who hurt and wound us. Not just non-Christians but Christians also can cause so much hurt and pain. Sometimes all the way to the grave. This Easter, if you have been hurt, forgive. If you are hurting someone then ask God to forgive you and say sorry to the person you are hurting. So much needless hurt and heartache is caused by the pain “I” cause or the pain “I” suffer caused by another Christian. This Easter—forgive as Jesus did. Yes, forgive. Dave Vincent
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Golden Rule is a golden opportunity The most celebrated social teaching of both Judaism and Christianity—“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”—is sometimes referred to as ‘The Golden Rule’. But this can be confusing, because many religions and philosophies have a concept of reciprocity, returning kindness to others, two-way relationships and thinking beyond oneself. In fact, all communities depend on such a concept, be they families, churches, sports clubs or orchestras. The ancient Greeks taught that you shouldn’t do ill to your neighbour. Confucius taught that we should not impose burdens on others that we ourselves wouldn’t carry. But Jesus took things further. The Christian command—the one that Jesus teaches in Matthew 7:12 and elsewhere, and is picked up in many other places in the New Testament— makes more demands than any other faith. Jesus and the apostles stretch the ‘love thy neighbour’ command in a number of challenging directions: we are to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek when confronted, to give people the coats off our backs, to consider others better than ourselves, to treat inferiors as superiors. Husbands are even to lay down their lives for their wives: how rarely is that lived out in contemporary married life? Usually the reverse is the case. Australians in general seem to like the Golden Rule. Being “roughly Christian”, we “scratch the other cheek”, according to our great poet,
Greg Clarke Les Murray. However, we also have a tendency to twist Jesus’ difficult command into a less demanding shape. For example, Tim Wilson, Australia’s new Human Rights Commissioner has a unique spin on the Golden Rule, which he uses in his Twitter bio: “Receive people as they treat me”. Without casting aspersions on Mr Wilson, his sounds like the opposite of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus’ Twitter bio might be, “Receive people as you would have them receive you, even more so”, but Wilson’s approach seems to indicate he would respond to others in the way they treat him. This only works if everyone is on your side! But Wilson is not alone. I recall seeing a book title in the Australian War Memorial shop in Canberra with the title, Do Unto Others: Counter Bombardment in Australia’s Military Campaigns. Either the author is destined for a career in comedy, or has grasped completely the wrong end of the rifle when it comes to understanding the gist of Jesus’ commandment! The Golden Rule, Jesus style,
is extraordinarily difficult to live. It requires constant attention to the needs of others, resisting the narcissistic urge to see the world through our own eyes first and foremost. It asks of us to think of the very best way we might hope to be treated, and then to file that under “Unimportant and non-urgent” for ourselves, but “Important, urgent and essential” for all of those around us. Let’s not pretend this is an easy request! But it is a holy one. In short, the Christian idea is not reciprocity, but extravagant selfsacrifice. We are given our role model in Jesus. Easter is the ultimate expression of the Christian version of the Golden Rule. We recognise this on Anzac Day, by reading the famous verse from the Gospel of John at the ceremony marking the sacrifice made by soldiers for their country. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This inspiring verse, spoken by Jesus to his disciples before his crucifixion, is perhaps the high-water mark of all religion. Human beings made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of their friends, family and nation; Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for their sake, and for mine, and for yours. May both Easter and Anzac Day be wonderful commemorations of this enduring truth.
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