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the christian pulse THE MAGAZINE FOR MYCHRISTIANDAILY.COM.AU December 2015 • issue four • www.mychristiandaily.com.au

CAPTURED BY THE TALIBAN

THE REMARKABLE TRUE STORY OF

DR REGINALD ZAHIRUDDIN’S CAPTURE AND ESCAPE

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CONTENTS issue four • december 2015

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03 EDITORS DESK Lynn Goldsmith

11 COVER STORY Captured By The Taliban

16 SPECIAL INSERT Find A Christian College

08 CHRISTMAS 5 Inspirations for a Joyful Christmas

14 MISSION Called To Tibet

20 SPECIAL INSERT Find A Christian Mission

ABN 58 090 450 285 CEO Matt Danswan Editor Lynn Goldsmith Art Director Nicole Danswan Advertising Australia P: 02 9007 5375 Advertising New Zealand P: 09 281 4896

4 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015

Advertising Manager Ray Curle ray.curle@initiatemedia.net Correspondence Australia PO Box 1321 Mona Vale NSW 1661 P: 02 9007 5376 www.mychristiandaily.com Correspondence New Zealand PO Box 318 334, West Harbour, Auckland 0661

Unless otherwise specified, all Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, copyright-1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part, without prior written permission. Opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the staff. All attempts are made to verify advertising material, and no responsibilty is taken for misleading or erroneous material. Copyright 2015 www.inititatemedia.net


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“Just because I’m Billy Graham’s grandson, it doesn’t mean I get a free ride to heaven, there’s no free tickets lying around.” WILL GRAHAM

Radio presenter MATT PRATER’S candid interviews with: Mac Powell • Will Graham • Brother Yun Roma Downey • Norma King • Stephen Lungu Wayne Cordeiro • Neil Johnson • Jan Buchanan AVAILABLE IN ALL GOOD CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORES JULY 2015 6 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015 OR VISIT WWW.ARKHOUSEPRESS.COM


FROM THE EDITOR

From the Editor This Scripture says it all…There is so much happening in our world in these times - the refugee crises in Europe and elsewhere, and the violence that is taking place. Australia was once a fairly safe place, but not so anymore. The latest violence in Paris is a stark reminder to us that we are in the end times and we need to be vigilant in our prayer life and keeping under the shadow of God’s wings. On saying this, we should lift our vision and our voices higher and look to God. We are to be his light in this world, in the darkness that is surrounding us. All that is taking place now has been written. Let us keep the faith and overcome. Talking about what is going on in Europe… there is something interesting you will like to read in this issue – to do with the Taliban. A friend of mine, who was a surgeon in Pakistan, working in a Christian hospital on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border was kidnapped by the Taliban, held for ransom and threatened with beheading if he did not convert to Islam. Read his story and you will be uplifted in faith as this man clung onto God in the midst of such traumatic times. He was released and this is all to God’s glory. The staff at Initiate Media and I wish all our readers a very Blessed Christmas and New Year. Thank you for your wonderful support. Lynn Goldsmith Editor

Stay connected... The Christian Pulse is the print edition to the My Christian Daily network. Be sure to visit www.mychristiandaily.com.au and subscribe to our daily newsletter for all the latest news, reviews, articles and essays related to our Christian faith. You can also find your print edition in your local Christian bookstore. For a full list of stores, visit www.mychristiandaily.com.au

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God in who I trust… PSALM 91:1-2

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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!

8 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015


CHRISTMAS

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

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CHRISTMAS

Above left: Kate as the winning contestant on Masterchef Australia 2011; Right: Kate’s infamous ‘Berrymisu’ (for the recipe visit www.katebracks.com)

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. 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 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 preschool 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 foodrelated 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!”

Kate Bracks is a long-term support of TEAR Australia, a Christian development, relief and advocacy organisation responding to global poverty and injustice. 10 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015


COVER STORY

“The metal door slammed open and the bright sunlight penetrated the pitch black room for the first time in 25 days, the room where I had been held in chains.”

CAPTURED BY THE TALIBAN WORDS: DR. REGINALD ZAHIRUDDIN

I

was abducted in the early afternoon of the 8th December 2007 on a busy road in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. I was on my routine medical circuit en route to 50 or so very poor patients who were waiting for medical assistance.  Khalid (my driver) and I were travelling in the hospital van. We were stopped when a vehicle, carrying Taliban militia, forced us off the road. The car doors flew

open and we were confronted by five young men wielding AK-47s! In seconds they pushed us into the back seats and took control of the van. They blindfolded us and we were forced to sit on the floor in between the seats with our heads down and covered with a sheet. After about three hours of high speed driving through rough terrain we were transferred to the boot of another vehicle, and driven

for another hour to reach our final destination. We were led into a room in a mud house where we sat blind folded for three hours, not knowing the reason for our abduction. It was very cold as it snows during December in the mountainous region where we were held. The kidnappers took all our belongings (mobile phones, wallets, watches etc) and threatened us, saying, “If you make any sound we www.mychristiandaily.com.au | 11


“I am ready to die, but before dying, I would like to ask you a question, ‘DOES YOUR HOLY BOOK TELL YOU TO CONVERT PEOPLE THROUGH FORCE, THREATS AND TERROR?’”

will kill you and blow-up the van.” They told us they were wearing suicide jackets and had a supply of hand grenades. At dinnertime they forced us to eat some food, which was difficult to swallow, and drink some foul smelling water. Afterwards they led us into a dark room. Our hands and feet were tightly bound with chains, and we were tied to wooden cots with only thin bedding which hardly kept the cold at bay. This was our prison, with no toilet and no electricity. Two small holes, about 10 centimeters in diameter in the wall, provided the only air inlet in the dank room, which we thought was to become our tomb. Rats and lizards were running around; soot from the straw ceiling constantly fell on our faces as we lay on our beds. Our captors would un-tie us for five minutes early each morning and evening so we could relieve ourselves. And we were given a container of water each day (about two litres) to drink and clean ourselves. They fed us with half-cooked food in dirty utensils twice each day. It was so cold that I shivered most of the

12 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015

time. Every day seemed dark and endless; and the nights were long and sleepless. At the time of our abduction the very first thing which came to my mind was, not to panic and be calm. Khalid was very nervous and started to cry so I had to calm him down. All the way from the point of our abduction till we reached the mud house I was praying to God. Four things came to my mind as I prayed … Firstly, that Jesus is my saviour and His Blood will protect me (so I covered myself and Khalid in the blood of Jesus). I was constantly asking God to give me a double anointing of His Holy Spirit. I had been reading the Bible since I was a small boy, and so I wanted whatever I would say to be His word. And a verse from the Bible arose in my heart, repeatedly over and over again … Whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye (Zech 2:8). I asked God to protect me from any kind of harm they intended to inflict on me and my driver. This first night was very disturbing. I was angry and questioning inside, as I reminded God that I was a

good Christian man. There were no answers from Him but I knew there was a reason for it all. Even when my blindfolds were removed the room was still pitch dark, but when I closed my eyes to pray I could see brightness. Then I saw a globe full of people praying for us, and I saw several faces of people I had never seen before. I related what I saw in the spirit to Khalid; that the whole world is praying for us, but he laughed and said nobody would be bothered about us except our families. In the first week a Muslim cleric would come four times a day to preach the virtues of Islam and force me to embrace the Islam religion. For three days he was polite and tried to communicate his view of heaven. But when I kept on refusing his offer he began to threaten me, saying that he could have me severely beaten and placed in a Taliban jail. Finally, he said, “If you do not obey we will behead you!” The Lord God strengthened and empowered me with the Holy Spirit all through this time. I kept on asking God for a double anointing of the Holy Spirit. One week later on 15th December, a group of men came into the room at midnight and took my driver away blindfolded, leaving me alone in the room praying for him. After fifteen minutes they brought him back and then it was my turn. They dragged me blindfolded to a room where I could hear whispers and the sound of a video camera. They wanted me to remove my clothes and put on a shalwar kameez (the Islamic dress), which I refused. They forcibly removed my shirt and made me sit on the cold floor. Then they removed my blindfold and I saw a group of ten men sitting in front of me with covered faces, threatening me with their AK-47s. A man with a long dagger sat behind me, touching the


COVER STORY

dagger to my neck every now and then just to terrify me. They asked me several personal questions and seemed to have a lot of  information about me. Later, they revealed the two main reasons for my kidnapping … Firstly, they wanted me to convert to Islam threatening to kill me if I refused. God gave me the boldness to answer, “God gave me life and only He has the authority to take it from me.” Then I heard a clear voice from heaven saying, “You will not die but live to proclaim the good works which I have done for you.” After that, I became even bolder and said to them, “I am ready to die, but before dying, I would like to ask you a question, ‘Does your holy book tell you to convert people through force, threats and terror?’” They were speechless after which the ameer (their leader) told them not to ask me any more questions regarding religion. Secondly, they wanted a huge ransom of twenty million rupee (AUD$500,000). I told them, “I am not a rich person. I work in a charitable hospital on a monthly salary and no one will pay this amount for me.” They still forced me to write a ransom note. After an hour of intense interrogation I was returned to the room. I said to God that they would buy arms and ammunition to kill hundreds of people if the ransom was paid. So I said, “God take my life instead of those hundreds of innocent lives who would be killed.” The Lord reassured me that everything would turn out alright. Every day I would spend 18-20 hours in prayer and worship. I asked God to show me a miracle. I said, “I have forgiven these people who kidnapped me as Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. Please soften their hearts and take me out of this place without ransom because Jesus has paid my ransom. I want to go with my driver, the van and all our belongings.”

A few days later these men came and sat on our cots. They started to talk politely, telling me they had enquired about me and found out that I was really a nice person, so they reduced their ransom demand from twenty million to just one million rupees. They wanted me to write a note to my wife to arrange for this amount. After they left the room I was disappointed with myself as I asked God for an unconditional release. I felt I had compromised my faith by agreeing to write the ransom note for 1 million rupees. I said, “I still believe that you are the living God and you have the power to take us out from this place without ransom.” That night God showed me my fate in a dream. He told me that I would be set free on Wednesday afternoon and He showed me that our captors would return all our belongings. In the dream I saw Khalid driving the van down Miranshah Road. The following morning I told Khalid (who was a Muslim) all that God had revealed. He just laughed and said, “That’s impossible. They are not going to give us anything back”… “We will just have to wait and see,” I replied. On Tuesday night, 1st January 2008, unable to sleep, I prayed and thanked God for all His wonderful blessings. Then on Wednesday afternoon, about 12.30pm, we heard the sound of a car pulling up outside our room. The man with the dagger came in, his face uncovered, declaring loudly, “Congratulations! You are free! Wash yourselves and get ready to go.” Again, we were blindfolded and he drove us for an hour, then handed us over to another man who took us into his house. He offered us tea but I told him that I was fasting and that I would break my fast at 6-00pm. He respected that and gave me a place to pray. At 6.00pm I came out of the room to find a table set with good food and some men standing by. When I

saw all this, Psalm 23 came to mind … He sets a table for me in the presence of my enemies. I thanked God for our release and ate with them. Finally a member of the council of Taliban came and gave us our belongings and said the van is also coming soon. He asked us to check that nothing was missing from the van, then he drove us to a rendezvous point, and as he drove, he asked me to tell him about Jesus Christ. I thanked God for the opportunity and without wasting any time I took a full ten minutes to tell him about Jesus Christ. During our 25 days in captivity no one knew where we were, no one knew if we were dead or alive, until I called my wife some minutes before reaching home. These 25 days gave me time for meditation and fellowship with the Lord. I had plenty of time to look into my past and I thought about my mistakes and short comings throughout my life. I rededicated my life to serve Him faithfully. The people of Waziristan appealed for me in the majlis-e-shora (the 10 member-council of Taliban) and an intense search was made for us. God listened to my prayers, and the prayers of millions of people around the world. Two men from the majlise-shora came and took us unharmed out of that horrible place. We had not washed for twenty-five days and wore the same clothes. We did not have toothbrushes or toothpaste, not even a comb. My beard and nails grew. He delivered us, all glory to His mighty name. And although Khalid, my driver, never became a Christian, he often points at me when talking about our ordeal and says, “His God is great!” Dr. Reginald Zahiruddin Medical Superintendent, Pennell Memorial Christian Hospital, Bannu. NWFP. Pakistan. Now residing in Sydney, Australia. www.mychristiandaily.com.au | 13


Flag

Called to Tibet Rhys and his wife Grace worked amongst the Tibetan people in China as missionaries for 10 years. They did medical work after seeing the health needs in the areas of West China after going on a mission’s trip with their church. But travelling or living in Tibet is not without great difficulty. Tibet remains under tight communist Chinese control up to this day. The tension between Han Chinese and the Tibetan people is keenly felt.

14 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015


MISSION

Clockwise from top left: A monk stays at the monastery for their entire life, devoting themselves to the religion, never marrying and renounces attachment to all they own; This old pilgrim lady, desperate for a blessing, sneaks a peak inside part of the monastery where she is not allowed to enter; Young novice monks at play - a spare tyre makes for a good fun toy; A young nomad girl with a weight of charms around her neck to keep away bad spirits

S

ome people get confused about where Tibet is. For some people Tibet is a place so ‘other worldly’ they wonder if it is even a real place. It is a real place, and if you go there you will find that it is something out of this world. In a sense it is more a place where the wheels of time have not turned quite as fast as they have for the rest of the world; it is more a place out of time, than out of this world. As Tibet is a part of China that lies in the far west of that great country, it is quickly being thrust into the 21st century and it has skipped a few centuries on the way. Whilst still strange, it is not unusual to see monks driving Toyota Prados, nomads setting up their satellite dish outside their tent, or farmers tilling their land with their yoked yak while talking on their cell phone.

In the 1950s many Tibetan people fled in to India when according to the Chinese government, they ‘liberated’ Tibet. At that time, the Tibetans that fled to India (following the Dalai Lama) established a ‘government in exile’ and naturally do not believe that Tibet needed to be liberated. Up to this day, there is ongoing tension between Chinese and Tibetan people, which flares up in violence from time to time, such as was seen when Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympics. People often ask me what aspect of Tibetan culture I found to be very different. There would be no more strange and confronting a custom than that of the sky burial. This is a means of dealing with someone’s body after they have died. Tragically after my friend died, I attended his sky burial and experienced this gruesome

and confronting method of corpse disposal first hand. A body breaker conducts the sky burial out on the open grassland where the body is placed. Here the body will be fed to the vultures. The body breaker begins by dissecting the flesh to make it easier for the vultures to eat. The vultures stand by, eagerly awaiting the body breaker to open the flesh of the deceased for them to feast upon. Dozens of these huge scavenger birds; Himalayan Griffins with a wingspan as much as three metres (nine feet) wide, feast on the deceased person’s flesh for nearly an hour. The body breaker then shoos them away to finish off the remains that is now mostly a bloodied skeleton with a few strands of flesh. The bones are smashed, crushed and mixed with food and placed in a pile. Once www.mychristiandaily.com.au | 15


constantly flaring up with infection. Eventually the pain of the anaesthetic-free extraction had to be endured. Fortunately at least now, the The inside of a nomad tent. Children stay warm near the fire and water is dental extraction always on the boil for drinking, making butter tea, cooking and washing forceps would the pile is complete, the vultures and make it a little easier and less likely a few crows feast again until there is for the tooth to break during the nothing left at all but a few crumbs. If extraction. I then walked down the anything of the corpse remains, it is hill where I was asked to see a lady’s considered bad luck so great lengths yak. The yak is like a high altitude are taken to ensure every small piece woolly cow and this one had an eye of flesh and bone are devoured. infection. She noticed that I saw a When we moved to China, we patient the evening before for an eye planned on doing some type of health infection and asked if I could see her care work in some capacity. I was yak’s eye. I gave her the remaining a registered nurse and my wife was topical antibiotics that I had and an eye care worker. We didn’t really hoped it was enough for the yak’s big know specifically what to do, or what eye. I was confused – Am I a nurse, a it would look like, but we had a couple dentist, a doctor or a vet? The answer of leads and we knew there was no is yes, all of the above. shortage of needs. Leaving all our work and life of the One of the first trips where I went past ten years was the hardest thing we to see patients, I was invited by a would do up until that point. Settling young man named Norbu, who was back into our home country felt like in a low-level government job. Norbu anything but home. Settling back in came from a remote village that was was extremely difficult. Getting jobs, about 10 hours walk away and that getting the kids into school, finding was after the eight-hour bus ride. I a routine, reconnecting with friends bought medicine for all the things I and family were all challenging. Most thought I would commonly encounter people assumed we’d be fine – after all and we loaded up the mule and set off it was ‘home’. We weren’t even sure for the long walk. We arrived as the where home was anymore. We had sun was setting and there were about moved house in China well over a 50 people waiting all day to be seen. dozen times, so many I’ve lost count I saw about 30 of them and saw the and now we’d move back across the remaining 20 the following morning. world. Little did I know that the worst The next day I gave the village was still to come. leader the dental extraction forceps About 12 months after moving that were requested. Prior to that back from China, my wife Grace woke when a villager needed a tooth in the middle of the night vomiting removed, they would go to the with a headache. About an hour later village handyman who used his half I heard her vomiting again. This time broken pliers to remove their half though, she was lying in bed — she broken tooth. Painful? Absolutely! So wasn’t getting up or rolling over. I was the half broken tooth that was

shook her arm and called out her name, but she didn’t respond. I leapt out of bed and turned the light on to see she was having a seizure. I ran downstairs and phoned an ambulance immediately. The later hours of that morning they took Grace into the operating theatre to operate on the brain aneurysm that had spontaneously burst in order to stop the massive brain haemorrhage that was occurring. She lay in a coma for a month and then had rehabilitation for months afterward. Thousands of people around the world, including patients of ours in China, were praying for Grace and for our family during that time. Grace came home four months later and continues to recover well. Our three children have their mother back and she has even been able to secure work two days a week and run the household so I was able to go back to work. That made the transition and settling back in a lot harder, but had we not returned, the story would have ended quite differently and yet still the story is far from over… Tibet continues to remain under the dominance of China, but this also means it is much more open to the outside world and to opportunities for people to come and teach and do health care work. The difficulties to do this remain though in getting permission from the Chinese government and Tibetan areas are very sensitive, with tense security restrictions enforced.

Adapted from the book written by Rhys Moldovan entitled ‘The Tibetan Godfather’, published by www.arkhousepress.com. Available in all good Christian bookstores.

FINAL WORD.

In the 1950s many Tibetan people fled in to India when according to the Chinese government, they ‘liberated’ Tibet. At that time, the Tibetans that fled to India (following the Dalai Lama) established a ‘government in exile’ and naturally do not believe that Tibet needed to be liberated. 16 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015


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eastern.edu.au

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“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” studies. This is about the development of a distinctly Christian worldview that allows you to examine science, art, business, education, medicine and other related issues through that lens. Only a Christian college can assist you to see course subjects via the lens of your religious beliefs. If you completed your studies with only a set of new skills but with no ability to think ‘Christianly’ about your world it would be a real shame. Find a college that helps you to do both. For the nurturing lifestyle and culture If you are a committed Christian, you might prefer a college that affirms your faith and creates a learning environment that supports your beliefs and lifestyle. Many Christian colleges have chapel services, chaplains, Bible studies and a number of other extra-curricula options to encourage your faith. Also, most secular institutions encourage a wide variety of lifestyle options, which can be a distraction to both your faith and your ability to focus on your studies. Or you might just feel more comfortable in a more conservative environment than is commonly available at many secular universities and colleges. So if you would prefer to attend a college where your faith is a part of the lifestyle and culture of campus life, definitely choose a Christian college. Furthermore, in a Christian college you’ll meet faculty and fellow students who are examples of godly living and academic excellence. It was once said, “To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” In any

decent college you’ll acquire knowledge, but in a Christian college you’ll also get to observe the lives of mature followers of Jesus. To prepare for ministry If you feel that your chosen career is more than just a job and that you’d like to see your future employment as an avenue for ministry then a Christian college will certainly help. Furthermore, if you sense a calling into ordained ministry as a pastor or church leader, you will need to attend a Christian theological or Bible college. A number of these colleges are linked to certain denominations, so you’re best advised to speak to your local church about which college will prepare you best for your chosen denomination. If your calling is to overseas mission, the agency you prefer will be able to recommend colleges for missionary preparation. But remember also, that some theological colleges have links with secular universities that allow you to do double degrees and get the best of both worlds. Here’s a word of warning about studying at a Bible college. Some churches have started their own ‘colleges’ and these are great for preparing people for service in that church, but often the education they offer isn’t well regarded in other churches or denominations. You are better off attaining a degree or diploma that can be transferred across a variety of church contexts. This will keep your options open should you want to minister beyond your church some time in the future. Whatever your motivation, you must make sure that the Christian college you’re exploring is fully accredited and academically respected. Choose diplomas or degrees that can lead into further study, even if you doubt that you’d ever complete more study. If the award you’re gaining ‘articulates’ into further study (that’s the technical term), then the chances are that it’s a well regarded, accredited course. ‘Mickey mouse awards’ don’t lead into anything else. They’re academic deadends and you’re better off avoiding them. Tertiary study is expensive and time consuming, so you don’t want to graduate with a diploma that doesn’t get you into the kind of professional work you want to do. And also be aware that when it does come time to find a job, if your college is known for being ultra conservative, some employers may be a bit squeamish about offering you a job. Remember that study in a Christian college can offer you a variety of things – a religious worldview, lifelong Christian friends, an environment that nurtures your faith – but if it doesn’t open employment or ministry options for you it may not be worth the time and financial expense. Study is not a chore or a form of torture. If approached properly it can be the source of great personal growth and spiritual development. Any award you complete ought to better equip you in the service of God and others. Never lose sight of Albert Einstein’s wisdom about academic study, “Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which you belong.” Mike Frost

20 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015


Find a Christian College.

Do You Care For People?

Pastoral Counselling Skills Course The Pastoral Counselling Institute offers you the opportunity to equip yourself to effectively minister to people in God’s world.

2016 will include Chaplaincy Units – apply now - starts in March  Nationally accredited part-time full year course - weekend intensives  Basic counselling skills related to spirituality, bible and theology  Learn the biblical ‘Story Whispering’ © model of providing care  Learn skills to provide a caring link between church and community  Find wisdom within the stories you encounter  Compile a referral kit and liturgies for specific pastoral situations Designed to meet continuing education requirements

Learn to provide practical visitation in both parish and community settings Call: 02 9683 3664 Email: pciuca@ihug.com.au Visit our website: www.pastoralcounselling.org

This course is delivered in Partnership with Wesley Vocational Institute – National Provider number: 90091 RTO legal Entity “Wesley Community Services Limited”

125 Pigdons Road Waurn Ponds Victoria 3216

theological education that is... • Biblically-grounded • theologically robust • Gospel-hearted • spiritually rich • culturally relevant • winsomely engaging

T: +61 (03) 5244 2955 E: admin@rtc.edu.au

www.rtc.edu.au • affiliated with the Australian College of Theology • residential accommodation on campus • FEE-HELP and Austudy available • online learning options

www.mychristiandaily.com.au | 21


Funding your College dream... Gavin Martin guides students through the financial maze when making a decision about Christian tertiary education. He encourages students to get out of debt with his strategies and examines the different ways to pay for education...

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ollege is a wonderful season in life. It’s an exciting time of knowledge acquisition and personal growth, not to mention the opportunity to interact with interesting people from a range of backgrounds who often end up being life long friends - and potentially even spouses. Oh, the good old days. Increasingly, the ‘good old days’ of college life are turning into the bad old days of poor spending habits, living for the now and debt accumulation that burdens graduates well

Courses in Chaplaincy, Theology and Religion at Murdoch University Murdoch University’s School of Arts offers a suite of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Chaplaincy, Theology and Religion.

Religion (BA) Graduate Certificate in Theology Graduate Diploma in Theology Graduate Diploma in Chaplaincy Master of Divinity

For more information or to apply go to www.murdoch.edu.au/Courses or call 9360 6141

www.murdoch.edu.au

22 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015

CRICOS Provider Code 00125 J

• • • • •

MD9124

Each course has a unique pathway designed for those who wish to study the multicultural and multidisciplinary perspective of religion or work as a chaplain, for a church, a school or an agency. There are further postgraduate offerings for professionals already working in ministry who seek a deeper understanding of the Christian tradition.

beyond their college years. My challenge to you is to ‘be weird’. Don’t follow the norm; stay debt free during your college years. Learn money management skills now while you are young and it will change your destiny. For many of us our first major debt is student loans — either in the form of Commonwealth HELP debt or bank loans. The trouble is, the debt accrues without us really thinking about it and then, with the HELP debt in particular, we don’t have to think about repayments until we’re earning about $38,000 and the ATO takes care of them. The fact is, by going down this route students are missing out on significant opportunities to get ahead. Yes, that’s right, get ahead during your college years. This is even more important for those pursuing Christian ministry, as these vocations are not renowned for paying well. If you pay your HECS fees upfront you save a massive 20% of the fee. Now that is worth writing home to mum about. If you have already incurred a HECS or HELP debt you can pay off lump sums of $500 or more and get a 10% discount. So what can be done to avoid debt to fund your tertiary education? There are four major strategies: • Start saving now • Scholarships • Other income sources • Funding options Start saving for college now I don’t know how many young people get part time jobs as soon as they are eligible but with the unemployment rate at the lowest it’s been in years there should be ample opportunity for them to get a job at 14 years and 9 months. That’s what I did. I worked as a check out chap at a local supermarket before I turned 15 years old. It taught me so much about the ‘real’ world and enabled me to buy my first parcel of shares. There are many benefits to having a part time job. I was able to fund a 12 day voyage on the Young Endeavour tall


Find a Christian College.

sailing ship, spend a year in Sweden as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student and buy the toys that all teenage boys love. Years later, while recruiting university graduates for a global consulting firm, I quickly learned that graduates who worked through college are more attractive to employees. They have learnt responsibility in the work place and can balance work, family, sporting and social activities. A part time job will enable you to achieve these things and help you save for college education. If parents have the ability to fund a child’s college education, I’m all for it on two conditions: as long the parents don’t go into debt, and as long as the young person is taught financial responsibility. Failing to teach financial responsibility by completely supporting children through college may result in character flaws in the child. If a student is entirely supported by parents he is sheltered from the ramifications of his actions and may not care how many subjects he fails,

how many times he changes course or how much money is wasted on extended time at college. Why should he when Mum and Dad are paying? The best place to invest savings set aside for education depends on the time frame. I recommend a high interestpaying, low frills, no fees, at call, internet or phone banking account with a bank or quality financial institution. If you have four to seven years to invest I would invest at least some of the savings into a Listed Investment Company such as Australian Foundation Investment Company, an Exchange Traded Fund or an index fund with international diversification. Scholarships Scholarships are a great way to fund tertiary education. The Commonwealth Learning Scholarships (CLS) programme provides financial support to eligible undergraduates to assist with higher education costs. There are two

scholarships – one for general education costs and one for accommodation costs. The scholarships are administered on behalf of the Australian Government by individual higher education providers. The providers are responsible for conducting their own application and selection procedures in line with Government guidelines. Contact your college to see if you are eligible for a scholarship. There are also a plethora of scholarships provided by various corporations, universities, church groups and foundations. Investigate the opportunities. Sometimes they are not available until the second or third year of the course. Your college student services office is a good place to start. Other income sources Centrelink is a potential source of funds for living expenses during college. Payments including the Youth Allowance (16-24 years olds) and

www.mychristiandaily.com.au | 23


Find a Christian Counting the cost College.

AUSTUDY (25 years and over) have eligibility criteria including an income and asset test. Students can earn up to $6,000 p.a. without it affecting their allowance. There is no reason why you shouldn’t work during term or at least during the long summer break. Awards can be another source of funds for the diligent college student. I managed to receive two prizes at university. One was a book prize that was nice but didn’t help the hip pocket. The other was a cash prize which certainly came in handy. Funding options Commonwealth loans There are three types of loans available to fund your Christian

tertiary education provided by the Commonwealth under the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP): • HECS-HELP is a loan available to eligible Commonwealth supported students to cover all or part of their student contribution amount. • FEE-HELP loan is available to eligible fee-paying students to cover all or part of their tuition fees. Limit is $80,000 or $100,000 depending on the course. • OS-HELP is available to assist eligible undergraduate Commonwealth supported students to undertake some of their course of study overseas. Limit of $5,196 that can be accessed twice over your lifetime.

I would not even consider the FEEHELP or OS-HELP as there is a loan fee of 20% of the amount borrowed. Other options I would avoid are bank loans and credit cards. Work and study part time, seek out a cheaper institution. If you are suffering genuine hardship let it be known in your local church. We supported an international student who experienced financial difficulty six months before completing her degree when funding from her home country ceased after the death of a family member. So go ahead. Be weird, swim against the tide, stay out of debt and reap the rewards. Gavin Martin Financial Planner

Kingsley College Our ministry focuses on equipping lay people and ministerial candidates for Christian ministry in their communities and local church. Kingsley College is the ministry training arm of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia with a student body drawn from many different backgrounds. Through thirteen training centres around Australia we work hard to ‘develop and equip people to shape their world’. Headquarters: 1/21 Lakeside Drive, Broadmeadows VIC 3047 Phone: (03) 9357 3699 Mobile: 0423 127 199 Email: kingsley@kingsley.edu.au Website: www.kingsley.edu.au Mary Andrews College Mary Andrews College equips women to serve Christ through all of life. From a Pastoral Care Course of just 2 units, through to a 12 unit Diploma, there is something for everyone. Address: Level 1 St Andrew’s House, 464-480 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000 Phone: (02) 9284 1470 Email: macmin@mac.edu.au Website: www.mac.edu.au Tabor College (TAS) Tabor Tasmania is a non-denominational tertiary education provider that is passionate about equipping people to make a difference in the community. Our nationally accredited undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Applied Social Science and Ministry provide students with valuable skills, knowledge and practical field experience in specialisations including Ministry, Counselling and Community Work. Address: 45 Melville St, Hobart TAS 7000 Phone: (03) 6231 5889 Email: registrar@tabor.tas.edu.au Website: www.tabor.tas.edu.au Youthworks Training College Youthworks College is the only theological college in Australia to offer specialised training which integrates theological study with the particular cultural and developmental challenges of ministry to children, families and young people. Fulltime, part-time, online and intensive study options are available. Address: 11 Fifth Avenue, Loftus NSW 2232 Phone: 8093 3400 Email: college@youthworks.net Website: www.youthworkscollege.edu.au 24 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015


www.findachristianmission.com.au

Faten Qunqar with some of the children she has helped in the Phillipines

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

26 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015


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

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. www.mychristiandaily.com.au | 27


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 28 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015


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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. 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

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 www.mychristiandaily.com.au | 29


Find a Christian Mission.

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 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 30 | The Christian Pulse, December 2015


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The Christian Pulse December 2015  

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