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Masterchef winner KATE BRACKS loves the Christmas season, which for her centres around family, food and faith. She shares with us some great ideas about how to celebrate the season joyfully! ~ Page 12 ~

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06 A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE The Ultimate Christmas Present... Berni Dymet 11 HOPE 3 Items I Will Be Wearing This New Years Eve... Kirrily Lowe

12

12 COVER STORY 5 Inspirations For A Joyful Christmas... with Kate Bracks 16 GOD CONVERSATIONS Part 2: How To Do Friendship With Men... Tania Harris 18 SPECIAL INSERT Find a Christian Mission magazine. Start your search here...

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Girl talk.

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For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

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s I race through the remainder of my work and begin making lists of all the Christmas shopping I need to get done, I keep reminding myself to breathe. It seems as though we all anticipate this season with joy until the time draws nearer and nearer. The stress starts to creep in and we all forget to stop and enjoy this time. I love the sounds at the shopping centre (forgetting that my trolley is bumping into another) of Christmas carols. Unsaved people sing songs of joy at the coming of the King - unaware of what they are singing and declaring. I love the Christmas productions our churches put on, where cute little children

miss their cues and stumble through the script. I love seeing family and friends, albeit crammed into two short weeks of madness. Attempting to get my three children into the car whilst exclaiming loudly that they should have combed their hair and changed their shoes! I love the smells of baking pork and chicken and plum puddings oozing with custard and ice-cream. It is a very special time of year when our attention should be on the greatest gift of all. A gift that cannot be bought at a shopping centre. A gift that is so precious we should be on our knees thanking the One who gave it. Wherever you are in the world,

remember the reason for this season. Jesus Christ. The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The Prince of Peace. A gift that is priceless. A gift that will outlast eternity. So from all the staff and crew at Christian Woman, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a safe, happy and glorious New Year. Editor PS: Don’t forget to like us on Facebook (christianwomanmagazine) to stay connected with a tribe of like-minded Christian women!

Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 7


8 Christian Woman Summer 2015/2016


A different perspective.

S

o what are you going to buy him for Christmas? That one person in your life who is impossible to buy for? It’s always a “him” isn’t it? Women are easy to buy for, but men … impossible! Another pair of socks, or a bottle of wine, or a BBQ spatula … what useless thing are you going to waste your money on this year, hmm?! That Very First Christmas Present As we head into another hectic silly season, I just wanted to take a few minutes with you to think about the whole ritual of giving presents, something that these days, we seem to rush around the shopping malls in ever decreasing circles to do. Credit cards maxed out, nerves frayed … the pressure is on to buy everyone their present. Tick … tick … tick … that’s it, I’m done!!! Phew. But things were a whole bunch different on that first Christmas. Because the first Christmas Present was an eternity in the making. God had been thinking about that first Christmas Present literally forever. He’d been thinking about you, about me and how He was going to bless us … forever. Problem was, you and I had rebelled against Him. Well, not way back then, but He knew that we were going to. So what would you give a rebellious, disobedient, ill-mannered child like you and me, for Christmas. God decided to give us the single, most precious Thing that He had. God decided to give us His All: Jesus, His Son. Can you imagine what was going on in the great and mighty

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So … how are you going to respond this Christmas? I mean, what’s your plan to bless God? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE HIM? Do you have something wrapped up for Him under the tree? Father Heart of God that night, as His Son slipped quietly into this world? The indescribable joy at knowing that His great love-plan for you and me, a loveplan with eternal ramifications, was beginning to unfold. Yet it was a moment for Him that was also tinged by a deep sadness, in the knowledge of what Jesus His Son would have to suffer on that brutal Cross. Yes, on that first Christmas, God gave us all that He had. Jesus. Your Christmas Present to God So … how are you going to respond this Christmas? I mean, what’s your plan to bless God? What are you going to give Him? Do you have something wrapped up for Him under the tree? Maybe you’ve never thought of doing that, responding to God’s first Present, His All, with a present of your own, to Him. So if you were to do that, what would you give God for Christmas? Another pair of socks, a BBQ spatula, a bottle of wine? What’s an appropriate Christmas present from you to God, pray tell? Seems to me, that since He gave us His All on that first Christmas, the only response, is for us, to give Him our all. To hold nothing back. To dedicate, perhaps to rededicate, our very lives to Him. We start off wanting to give Him our all, but as the months and years slip by, we find things to hold back from Him. Our resources, our finances, that one part of our lives where we keep sinning, because we don’t let God into that place. What have you been holding back from the Lord your God? Would this Christmas be a good time to give it all

10 Christian Woman Summer 2015/2016

over to Him? Father God, I am blown away by what You gave me on that very first Christmas. Your very own Son, your All, to live for me, to die for me, to rise again … for me. And as I look at my own heart, and my own life, I am so painfully aware that I’ve done anything but love you, with all my heart and my soul and my strength and my mind. I am so painfully aware that I have held things back from You, knowing full well that You held nothing back from me. So this Christmas, I want to give You the single, most important thing that I have to give. Me. So, here goes … All that I am, all that I have, every hope and every dream, I give to you. Please take me just as I am, all of me, whatever it may cost me, so that from this Christmas onward, I would live my whole life, every minute of every day, for You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. Your Christmas Present to The Important People In Your Life And what about the people who matter most to you? Your wife or your husband? Your parents or your children? Your friends or your work colleagues? What about them? What will you give them this Christmas? Something useless, or something that will light up their lives? I know husbands on this planet, who would give their right arms to have their wife come up to them, put her arms around his shoulders, look in his eyes and from the bottom of her heart say “I love you so much, I am so blessed to have you as my husband.” And doubtless, there are many wives who would give their right arms to have their husbands do just

that too. I know so many children who would just die to have their parents reach into their world – as odd and as different as it may seem to mum and dad – with a gift that says “We are so proud of you, we love you so much”. It turns out that for them, the ultimate Christmas gift, is you! All of you. You in a way that connects deeply with them. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus said this: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. ’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40) Just as we hold things back from God, so, in our selfishness, do we hold things back from our loved ones. And in that holding back, we cause them the same sense of grief and loss that we cause God. So this Christmas, give them something they really, really, really, want. You! CW

Berni Dymet is the CEO of the global media ministry Christianityworks. Each week his radio and television broadcasts are heard by millions of people in 160 countries around the world. To obtain your FREE copy of his latest booklet, visit christianityworks.com.


Hope.

3 Items Of Clothing I Will Be Wearing This NEW YEARS EVE...

I

t’s amazing the clothes that we accumulate on the journey of life. How we get to the finish line of a year, look down at what we are wearing, and realize, how desperately we need an outfit change to see in the new year. In this journey of life, we accumulate clothes. Some good, some bad, some just plain worn and tattered. Sometimes, we are just too busy to look in the mirror and see what needs to be changed. Sometimes we are too tired to change. Sometimes, we are not aware of the new clothes available for us to put on. We put on clothes to keep warm when we are in the winter season, and sometimes forget to strip them off in the summer. Others throw clothes on us when we are too busy to notice. Sometimes it is a cloak of rejection, or a garment of shame. Sometimes we pull on disappointment when prayers aren’t answered in the way we expect, or as quickly as we imagined. Sometimes the length of the journey causes us to slip on weariness. Other times it is anger

that has become an easy fit. Many of us devote significant headspace to our physical clothing for NYE. NYE is an opportunity. An opportunity to put off and put on. An invitation to strip off the old and put on the new. I hear the invitation and I begin my wardrobe change. The first garment I will be slipping off is weariness & disappointment. I am exchanging it for hope, expectation and appointment to the year ahead. The 2nd garment I will be stripping off is fear. This garment is popular. We think it is going to protect us, keep us safe. But this garment is deceptive. It is a bad fit for humanity. It hides us, suffocates us and cuts off the breath of life. I am casting off the garment of fear this NYE. On this night I will be wearing courage, boldness and faith. Love is my final garment change. And it is not an easy one. To let go of the hurts, to let go of resentment, anger, bitterness, and to remember that garment that fits me perfect is

the garment of love. Ineed to step into a supernatural change room for this one. I do it as I write, I ask the Lord to help me cast off these old and ugly clothes and remind me of the beauty of the garment of love. He sowed it together on the cross and handed it to all who would receive it. I can see mine. It is custom fitted, it is costly, it has royalty and humility sown through the fabric. It has healing, beauty and redemption in its stitches, and I know I would be crazy not to wear it. So there it is. My outfit for tonight. The strong, fear defeating garment of faith, the stunning, head lifting helmet of hope and the beautiful, royal and costly garment of love. I may even wear them to bed and wake up in them tomorrow. With love for a brave, beautiful and wonderful new year. CW

www.kirrilylowe.com

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Masterchef winner KATE BRACKS loves the Christmas season, which for her centres around family, food and faith. She shares with us some great ideas about how to celebrate the season joyfully!

12 Christian Woman Summer 2015/2016


Cover story.

I

t shouldn’t come as any surprise that on Christmas morning Kate Bracks and her family of five start the day with a tradition of cake for breakfast. After all, the 2011 winner of the cooking TV series Masterchef is a passionate baker, renowned for her sweet treats, which include couverture chocolate fudge cake and Berrymisu. She’s also passionate about her faith, and the cake on Christmas morning is a birthday cake to remember the reason for the day. Kate, who lives in Orange, rural NSW with her husband Luke and three children, says it’s a special way to begin the day, which usually unfolds the same way each year. “If we can, we then go off to church, and then back to our house or someone else’s house for a long afternoon of being together with our extended family.” We caught up with Kate recently as she was busy winding down her home-based baking business to focus on other things, including more time with family. Over the past four and a half years she has also been busy travelling around churches doing cooking demonstrations and as she puts it “sharing my two great loves: God and food.”. She shared with us her five inspirations for a joyful Christmas. We hope you enjoy them as you head into this year’s festive season.

1. GET THE FOCUS RIGHT Kate says: “We try to make Christmas an exciting time for the kids but still keep the focus on Jesus. Starting the day with birthday cake is something we’ve been doing since they were toddlers, and they often help make the cake. We’ve always tried to be very open and honest with our kids – we’ve said that while a lot of families make Christmas about the gifts and party – there are certain things we do as a family like going to church, and saying grace before lunch. We also try to make our bible reading time about Christmas in the lead up to the day. We still do presents but keep it a bit more restrained. We get up and have breakfast and may let the kids open one present first, and then another one a bit later. Christmas is a celebration of what God has given us in Jesus. It can be a constant battle to try and shape Christmas around celebrating that, rather than the commercialism or even the food or the fun times.” 2.) MAKE IT A CELEBRATION Like many of us, Kate loves to celebrate with family and friends around good food at Christmas. She says: “Share the day with people you love, create a banquet of your favourite foods, and make time to relax and enjoy it. If we look in the bible there are lots of examples of feasts – they are not bad, but it’s also important to remember the reason why we are feasting.” There are lots of special Christmas food traditions in the Bracks’ household, including a local ham, which Kate glazes at home, as well as seafood and salads perfect for a summer’s day. Kate says: “We always have long, long lunches and plenty of left This page: Kate Bracks

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Cover story.

INGREDIENTS 125g slivered almonds, toasted ½ cup caster sugar ½ cup water 500g mixed frozen berries ½ cup caster sugar ½ cup water Squeeze from ½ lime 300ml pouring cream 500g marscarpone 3 tblsp icing sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract 300g sponge finger biscuits (Savioradi) Fresh berries, to serve

METHOD 1. Combine ½ cup caster sugar and ½ cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring regularly, until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the temperature and simmer rapidly until the mixture is a deep caramel colour. Add the slivered almonds and, working quickly, spread onto a flat try lined with baking paper. Set aside to cool completely then break into small pieces. 2. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir occasionally over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and simmer a further 2 mins. Place most of the berries in a heat-proof bowl (reserving a handful for step 3). Add the frozen berries and stir until berries are lightly warmed (or heat gently in a microwave if necessary – they need to be just warm). Blend until smooth, adding lime juice to taste. 3. Combine the marscarpone and cream in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip until smooth and thick, taking care not to overwhip. Add the sifted icing sugar and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. 4. Line a 9cm x 25cm (or similar) loaf tin with baking paper. Spread 1/4 cream mixture evenly onto the base. Dip sponge finger biscuits into the warm berry syrup and submerge for 15-20 seconds to absorb a little syrup and then lay in a single layer over the cream. Use a teaspoon to add a little more syrup to each biscuit. Scatter with the reserved berries then top with another quarter of the cream mixture. Sprinkle with some of the reserved berries and some of the almond pieces. Add another layer of soaked biscuits, spooning again with extra syrup. Finish with a third quarter of the cream. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Reserve the remaining cream, syrup and almonds for serving. 5. To serve, invert the tin onto a serving plate and top with remaining cream. Drizzle with some of the remaining syrup. Scatter with fresh berries and almonds. Serve immediately.

14 Christian Woman Summer 2015/2016


Christmas is a celebration of God’s incredible generosity to us, so it feels right to want to be generous to others at Christmas time, especially living in a middle class Western country like ours. It makes sense to want to share what we have with those who don’t have enough.

overs for Boxing Day. There is always a Christmas pudding, which my Nana made and handed the recipe down to me. I make this especially for my Dad, as it was his mum that made it.” 3.)BE GENEROUS TO OTHERS Kate says: “Christmas is a celebration of God’s incredible generosity to us, so it feels right to want to be generous to others at Christmas time, especially living in a middle class Western country like ours. It makes sense to want to share what we have with those who don’t have enough.” Kate and her extended family have been exchanging TEAR Australia’s Useful Gifts (www.usefulgifts.org) cards at Christmas for the past couple of decades. TEAR’s Useful Gifts Catalogue features gifts like chickens, safe water, vegetable gardens and pre-school classes, which contribute to long-term community development programs. Kate says: “As a family, we have everything we need. Initially we thought we’d do it for that first year, but we loved the concept so much that we did it every Christmas. Now with the adults in my family it is the main giving we do. We still give

to the kids but it’s also accompanied by a smaller TEAR card.” Fittingly, Kate loves the food-related cards, which include Good Food, Chickens, Goats and Vegetable Gardens. She says: “I also love the ones which have a bit of humour, like the toilet – it’s pretty cool to give someone a toilet!” 4.)BE AS ORGANISED AS YOU CAN! Kate recommends choosing food you can you can prepare ahead of time, so it’s not a huge day of work for anyone. She says: “Because I like to have a feast but I don’t want to slave away on the day, I normally do all the preparation in the days beforehand. I want the memory to be celebrations and relaxing and fun. “A great example of something you can make before the day is my Berrymisu. It looks beautiful and very Chrismassy with all the red berries!” 5.)TAKE A CHRISTMAS AFTERNOON NAP WITH A FULL BELLY Kate says: “It’s the ultimate decadence!” CW

Kate Bracks is a long-term support of TEAR Australia, a Christian development, relief and advocacy organisation responding to global poverty and injustice. Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 15


How to do friendship with men AS A SINGLE WOMAN, TANIA HARRIS DISCUSSES THE DANGERS AND PERKS OF MALE-FEMALE RELATIONSHIPS...

B

ack in the first century it wasn’t normal for men and women to be friends. They didn’t meet for coffee in morning tea breaks or discuss current affairs over the water-cooler. They didn’t sit next to each other in the synagogues and swap ideas about their theology. They certainly didn’t discuss their spiritual lives by the village well. That’s why the actions and behaviours of Jesus with the Samaritan woman were so radical. Even his disciples couldn’t fathom his socialising with a woman, let alone one with such a scandalous reputation (John 4:27). Somehow Jesus managed to interact with the opposite sex in a healthy way, even being alone with them in a public setting. 16 Christian Woman Summer 2015/2016

Jesus shows us that it is possible to engage meaningfully with our male counterparts. In the radically new equality of the kingdom he inaugurated, it’s not surprising. It’s when men and women relate together that they are seen to fully represent the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28). So the question is how. Kissing Your Brother Here, I believe, the writings of Paul are helpful. At one point Paul is advising his young mentoree Timothy how to pastor a mixed congregation; “Treat younger men as brothers,” he writes; “Older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (1 Timothy 5:1a,2). Paul of course was writing from a

man’s perspective, but we can easily switch it around to apply to us. If Timothy was to treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, then we should treat older men as fathers and younger men as brothers. We should ask; how do we act towards our brothers? and then interact with men who are not our husbands or boyfriends in the same way. I grew up with three brothers; one older, two younger. As children our quibbles were over who got to sit in the front seat of the car and whose turn it was to do the dishes. We did okay given that our birth order rendered all three of them squished to a single bedroom while I got one all to my own.


God Conversations.

My brothers are grown up now and are all married to women who love them dearly. They are good men – I would even say attractive men – but it’s difficult for me to think of them that way. Even though my middle brother bears a scary resemblance to Matt Damon, it’s impossible for me to think of them sexually. The thought of kissing them makes me squirm – as it should. This is what it means to treat men as brothers. The same emotional and physical boundaries that apply to male family members should also apply to our male friends. Presenting as Sisters There’s another side to Paul’s advice. If we are to treat men as brothers, then we need to present ourselves as sisters. We need to show ourselves capable of healthy, godly friendships and in doing so challenge the stereotypes that are so often propagated by our culture. The view of women as sex objects is one of the main reasons people warn against cross-gendered friendship. Instead of seeing women as co-image bearers, peers and partners, society often presents us as seductresses, temptations and objects of fantasy. The latest Holden comes with a bikini clad pouting woman draped over the bonnet. Musical talent comes wrapped in a plunging cleavage. Domestic goods are marketed with glossy legs and voluptuous lips. Our intelligence, emotions, gifts, callings, and personalities are all reduced to a body, a mere shell of the image of

God women are called to bear. While we may not have control over some of the stereotypes of our culture and we can’t change the thoughts and intentions of individual men, we can take responsibility for the way we present ourselves. We can present ourselves as sisters, behaving, speaking and interacting as equals in the family. To these men, we’re not looking for the affections of a lover, we’re not presenting ourselves to turn them on and we’re not offering alluring glances to seek sexual affirmation. That’s as irksome as kissing your brother. Your Friend’s Wife I have to admit it’s usually easier for women to be friends with single men. Once it’s been established with your man-friend that you’re more sister than lover, you can get on with the business of friendship. Oh, there’s the rumours to deal with when you regularly sit next to each other in church or hang out together on the weekends, but these are merely minor irritations. The complications come when your man-friend gets married. Now – even if your friendship has been the best thing on the planet – it must take second place to a more important one. One of my good male friends is an ex-work colleague. We started our jobs around the same time and sat side by side at the desks in our office. Every week we chatted over coffees and compared work notes. In Winter we were ski buddies and engaged in philosophical chats on the chairlift. He taught me how to survive black runs and gave me insights on politics

and documentaries on SBS. He was there when I was having a bad day and needed a chin up. I was there the day he met his wife and when they took their sacred vows. Fortunately I didn’t lose my friend after the wedding day. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes when your single man-friend gets married, you have to be ready to surrender the friendship. Now your friend’s priority is his wife – as it should be. And sometimes a wife doesn’t want to compete with a best friend. The one way I can still be friends with my married male friends is because their wives are happy about it. They are secure in their husband’s affections and feel no sense of competition. And now they are friends with me. The best way to maintain friendships with your married male friends is to get to know your friend’s wife. Involve them in the friendship and seek to know them as you do their husbands. It’s not only a good way to increase your friendship circle, but it acts a constant reminder of your role. My life has been blessed by healthy male friendships. I think we all need them. But being friends with men, especially married men, means that certain boundaries need to be in place. We need to respect our friends’ wives. We need to present ourselves as sisters. It’s only then that we can enjoy healthy male relationships. And it’s then that we can know God more fully by seeing him through eyes of our male friends. CW

Tania Harris is a pastor, speaker and the founder of God Conversations, a ministry that equips people to recognise God’s voice. With a diverse history as church planter, pastor and Bible College lecturer, Tania’s ministry is known for its all-age appeal, wisdom, and ‘God-stories’. When not ministering, she is most likely to be found kayaking on Sydney Harbour or climbing a really high mountain and skiing down it! Hillsong is her church home in Sydney. For your free ebook, podcasts and resources that will help you recognise the voice of God, visit godconversations.com. Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 17


www.findachristianmission.com.au

Faten Qunqar with some of the children she has helped in the Phillipines 18 Christian Woman Summer 2015/2016

2016


Find a Christian Mission.

ORTHOPTICS: Eye opening in more than one way

“I

’m an orthoptist.” “That’s so cool, so you work with feet?” “No, that’s orthotics. I work with eyes.” “Oh, so you’re like an optometrist?” “Not exactly…” Every time I meant someone new, I have the same conversation, full of confusion and questions. I’m sure you’re reading this thinking, ‘well, so if you don’t work with feet and you’re not an optometrist, what exactly do you do?’ Let me set the record straight. Traditionally, Orthoptists were specifically trained in, as the name suggests, Orthoptics. Orthoptics refers to the assessment and management of the eye’s muscles and visual development; ensuring that correct treatment is undertaken to first and foremost improve

Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 19


From there, they came rolling in: grandchildren bringing in their grandparents, mothers with their children, fathers struggling to provide the only source of income for their families. They would fill up a community centre and patiently wait for their turn to be seen in the hope to be on the receiving end of some good news. and preserve vision and that the brain (as they would be the go-to people and recognises both eyes working together. only ones present with eye-knowledge), Where possible, exercises can also be but also gives them a taste of mission prescribed to help with the cosmetic work in a third-world country and a appearance of an eye turn. This meant deeper appreciation into Australia’s that Orthoptists were mainly in charge health care system. On the surface, a of eye exercises and patching therapies free trip to the Philippines doing what for children. However, in today’s day you studied so hard for? Sounds like and age, with an increase in both the such a novelty and something worthy of ageing population and eye disease such bragging rights! Compared to the life you as macular degeneration, glaucoma and have in Australia, you’d have to ‘slum it’. ocular impacts of diabetes, Orthoptists Deal with the high possibilities of limited have had to expand their scope of to no running water, high heat and practice to encompass support of humidity with no way of cooling off and treatment in ocular pathology. Because limited hygiene all while saving people’s of this, Orthoptists work in secondary sight? Such prideful humility. Yes, that’s eye care, i.e., specialist clinics, alongside all true, but how can you brag that even an ophthalmologist and surgeon. in rough conditions you still have the Optometrists on the other hand, play a very important role in primary eye care and being the first point of call and screening patients before being referred on. A lot of us take our sight for granted. It’s something we assume by default we’ll always have. Yet at the same time, a lot of us would say that our eyes are the most sensitive part of our body and we would do just about anything to protect them. Even subconsciously, we close our eyes in sudden light, in a windstorm or when something is coming directly at us. As much as we say we would be lost without our vision, how many of us have truly thought about this possibility as more than just a fleeting comment? In my final year of study (Bachelor Health Science/Master Orthoptics (Honours), La Trobe University, class of 2013), I was blessed enough to be one of four students sponsored to participate in the Rotary Club of Canterbury’s annual Eye and Ear Screening Mission in the Philippines. In conjunction with the Cataract Foundation of the Philippines, their aim is to ‘eliminate avoidable Above: An older woman slowly going blind with blindness’. Such generosity from cataracts; Below: The Orthoptics team the members of the Rotary Club of Canterbury allows the students involved to not only put their studies into practise

20 Christian Woman Summer 2015/2016

privilege to afford to drink bottled water instead of getting sick from tap water, are

fed by the poorest of provinces as their continuing sign of gratitude for your presence or still have a bed to sleep on in the hotel you have the luxury to be provided with? The province screened in October 2013, the Island of Masbate, is considered one of the poorest in the Philippines. Health care and medical attention is almost a mythical concept. So when the town heard that free eye checks were being given with the prospect of sightrestoring surgery, it was almost too good to be true! It is without wonder that it was first approached with suspicion and hesitance. Who are these foreigners and what do they want? However, it didn’t take long for word-of-mouth to spread that these foreigners (some blondehaired, blue-eyed ‘barbie dolls’ as the girls would giggle and whisper) aren’t so scary. From there, they came rolling in: grandchildren bringing in their grandparents, mothers with their children, fathers struggling to provide the only source of income for their families. They would fill up a community centre and patiently wait for their turn to be seen in the hope to be on the receiving end of some good news. Not only was their patience admirable, they had such a level of gratitude that is almost unheard of in a first world country. From a child’s embrace over the joy of being handed a clipon koala, to seeing a mother’s face light up with a sense of relief and accomplishment that she can offer her family some form of medical attention. One memory that broke my heart was assessing school children in a classroom and seeing an elderly lady looking in through the window with such longing eyes if she too could be seen. She had sun-related growths on both her eyes that if not surgically removed, would render her blind. Pushing through the language barrier, we managed to acquire her details, but God only knows if she was appropriately followed up.


Find a Christian Mission.

Even working in the eye field, it’s always a little difficult to accurately gauge a person’s vision before you assess them, but in some of these instances, where the elderly were being carefully led by the hand to a chair or when you could clearly see a reflection of white matter (most likely, a cataract) staring back you, it doesn’t take an expert to realise there’s something wrong. One of the main eye-openers in the Philippines in regards to vision, was what was considered acceptable. With such a limited range of equipment, there were really only two levels of vision; 6/18 and 6/60. To try and put things into perspective, the minimum vision required to hold an Australian driver’s licence is 6/12 (better than both the visual readings previously listed). In Australia, if vision is worse than 6/12 and cannot be corrected with glasses, the person is clinically considered to be visually impaired, and those with vision worse than 6/60 are classified as legally blind. Because our job was to filter out patients for the surgeons according to visual ability, it was gut-wrenching to have to gesture a thumbs-up and tell someone their 6/18 level of vision was ‘very good’, when you knew that if they lived in Australia, no one would stand for it. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. The people I met in the Philippines had such a strong spirit of happiness and content, which could only come from the unwavering faith in knowing that God will provide. Sometimes it’s when we’re down to nothing that we start to look up. I was always worried about how I could use my degree and my educational experience for the Glory of God. I want to include Him in all that I do and did, not just for two-hours on a Sunday. I am grateful for my opportunity to not just give back to the world, but to use the talents that God has given me in a way that would be pleasing to Him. We are all called to be saints and ‘… the salt of the earth [and] … the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:13-14). Our talents were not given to us by ourselves; even those who have worked hard for their success were given the gift of determination and drive. It is only right that we use our God-given talents to serve those around us in worship, honour and praise of His All-Holy Name, for ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’ (Matthew 25:40). Faten Qunqar is a Melbourne (Australia) based Orthoptist and a member of Orthoptics Australia. Faten is part of the Saint George’s Anitochian Orthodox Church in Thornbury and is an active member of her community. For information about the volunteer work done by Orthoptist’s visit: orthoptics.org.au Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 21


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hoices are never easy. From the type of ice cream after dinner to the choice of a mate, to clothing for the party, life gives us constant options. This magazine about Christian missions brings us again another choice; that is, finding a good Christian mission. I find this problematic and yet solvable. Maybe this brief article will help you as well. THE PROBLEMS: Wouldn’t it be nice if this title were redundant? If all Christian missions were good (reliable, fruitful and worthy of your support), then this article would in one way, be unnecessary. In fact, if all things which are titled Christian were just that, an adjective that reflects the person and work of Jesus - that would make life so much simpler. If every Christian church were Christian, and every Christian music group and every Christian speaker and every… you get the idea. But unfortunately that’s not the case. Some Christian missions are barely missions. Some are barely Christian. Some are barely anything. I’ve seen the best and worst of missions in my 40 years of walking with Jesus and of traveling the world, even in the Holy Land. The old saying used to be, ‘there are more missionaries in Israel than Christians’. Just because someone says they are a mission doesn’t make what they do to be mission.

Life without a Word Imagine - life without a word from God. If that seems unthinkable, then consider this. Lots of people live their lives that way, because millions of people don’t yet have a Bible in a language they can understand.

Almost 1800 languages still have no Scripture. Can you play a part?

www.wycliffe.org.au 22 Christian Woman Summer 2015/2016

THE DEFINITION: Therefore a definition is warranted. A mission in the dictionary is either 1) An important assignment carried out for political, religious, or commercial purposes, typically involving travel or 2) a group of people taking part in such an assignment. (Dictionary.com) For our purposes I define Christian mission as an enterprise which seeks to make the Gospel clear to people by providing a service representing or extending the Kingdom of God. Stephen Neill’s quote is so important in this regard: ‘If everything is mission, nothing is mission’. Of course, then there is another problem: that there really are too many good Christian missions for me to support and thus I need to narrow my focus and considerations to the ones I can actually support in a worthwhile manner. One simply cannot be generous to everyone who asks or to every


Find a Christian Mission.

charity and poor person and project that requests our support. What’s a Christian person to do? THE SOLUTIONS (HOW TO CHOOSE): To evaluate a mission, you have to know the field in which the missionaries are working, and measure with sound judgment. A person working among Muslims in Pakistan will not have the same numbers of people attending Bible classes as say, a Spanish-speaker working among Catholics in South America. To measure one of those against the other, without considering the cultural factors involved, would be unfair to both. A missionary who hands out food or medicine will be more welcome in a town than a church planter with a simple evangelistic message of Jesus in a post-Christian European village. Measure against reality, rather than their own measuring stick. For instance, if they are about literature distribution, and want to hand out say 1,000 tracts a month, in the middle of New York City, and they are satisfied with this number, you need to know that one missionary in NYC can hand out almost 1,000 tracts in two hours, so the question is raised, “What did they do the other 29+ days of the month?” What if the missionary says, “I tried to ring 50 people last

month?” That would be great unless you know that ringing 50 people can be done in two hours, unless they REACH 50 people on the phone and have significant conversations with them. So be on guard against words like, “We did a lot of ministry” or “God really moved.” I’m sure they know what they mean, but I prefer raw data to evaluative commentary. Once you have chosen: Give yourself to the mission as well as you can. Be a reader of their literature and websites. Read blogs and photo journals. Listen to sermons and Bible talks. Be aware of what matters to the team you are supporting. Being informed gives you the heart of the mission and that’s significant. Volunteer to help the mission in ways that you find comfortable in your situation. There might be a prayer meeting in your suburb you could attend, or they might run a thrift store or shop at which you could work fortnightly. They may need someone to tidy after meetings or during special programs they run. A children’s outreach always needs help in a dozen little and big ways: baking, driving, arts and crafts, and so much more. You may be able to fill in a blank the mission didn’t even know existed!

Finances are a usual and appropriate method of support for a mission. Make sure you support your local home church first, but if you have extra and want to help the mission of your choosing, then it’s right to do so. Give to a specific cause they might mention, or even better, give to their general fund to go ‘where most needed’. That gives the treasurer the freedom to apply your generosity to things as required by the CEO. Speak well to people and to God. Speak to God directly (pray!) about needs and concerns of the mission, of the missionaries, of the projects and personnel about which you read. And speak well to others, in your church, in your neighbourhood, in your sphere of influence, and who knows; you might just be the ‘champion’ of the mission to others. Finding and supporting a good Christian mission is a great thing to do in these days, and throughout your days. Bob Mendelsohn National Director Jews for Jesus jewsforjesus.org.au

Slavic Gospel Association Inc. SGA is an international mission committed to equip national believers in the lands of the former Soviet Union and Central Asia to reach their people with the Gospel, combat the influx of cults, and fill the spiritual void left by communism.Our ministries include provision of Russian language Bibles, New Testaments, and Christian books. We help sponsor pastors, missionaries and church planters. SGA also assists with financial support for Bible schools, seminaries, prison ministries, orphans outreach, and children’s ministries. Our Compassion Ministry provides urgently needed food, clothing and medications to the poor, elderly and the most needy. Address: PO Box 396 Noble Park, VIC 3174 Phone/Fax: (03) 9562 3434 Email: sgaaust@bigpond.net.au Website: www: sga.org.au MAF Australia Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is a not-for-profit team of aviation and technology professionals providing air transport and technology solutions in places of deepest human need - remote places where flying is not a luxury, but a lifeline. They fly over jungles, mountains, swamps and deserts in over 25 countries to bring thousands of men, women and children medical care, emergency relief, long-term development and Christian hope. Phone: 1800 650 169 Address: PO Box 7187 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153 Email: maf@maf.org.au Website: www.maf.org.au


Christian Woman Summer 2016  

Our summer issue of Christian Woman is out now! We feature Masterchef winner Kate Bracks and her 5 inspirations for a joyful Christmas. Plus...

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