IN CONVERSATION Rob Douglas explores hospitality as a biblical theme and the rich relationship between God and humanity. PAGE 12 >>
“A humbling but powerful lesson for a Sunday School teacher.” MADELEINE TURNER PAGE 13 >>
4 Vose expands Vose Seminary partners with Riverview >>
6 New playground
Photo: Inglewood Community Church
Lesmurdie Baptist to build community playground >>
11 Church growth gap After nine year old Oscar’s decision to be baptised, Sandra and Aimee found their faith and were baptised at Inglewood Community Church in late 2018.
US churches not growing evenly >>
Impacting generations In 2017, nine year old Oscar Kennedy-Grabbi approached Pastor Andrew Binns about a decision that would impact the eternities of the generations before him. Oscar spoke to the Next Generation Pastor Andrew at Inglewood Community Church about the possibility of getting baptised, and after several discussions and then going through a baptism discipleship program, Oscar went under the water. Not long after, Oscar’s mother and grandmother began attending the church, where they eventually made their own decision to follow Jesus and they too were baptised. “Oscar was young. It was exciting to see the passion
he had for Jesus and the understanding that being baptised was an act of obedience to Jesus,” Andrew said. Because of his testimony and act of faith, Oscar’s mother and grandmother started attending Inglewood Community Church not long after his baptism. Inglewood Community Church Senior Pastor, Mark Edwards said that after joining the church, they grew in their understanding of who Jesus is and joined a ladies Bible study group.
“It was here that Aimee, Oscar’s mum, felt challenged in her own faith and life and committed to follow Jesus.” Not long after this, Sandra, Oscar’s grandmother, rediscovered her own faith after a long journey in a spiritual wilderness. “Sandra had experienced a lot of pain and tragedy in her life, and for over 20 years had been unable to trust Jesus again,” Mark said. She shared with Pastor Mark about how seeing Oscar’s baptism had touched her heart and given her hope for the next generation. Though it took a year, Sandra also recommitted her life to Jesus during a service at Inglewood. Seeing Oscar so full of life and transformed in his heart struck a chord with both his mother
and grandmother, and they too decided to be baptised. On Sunday 29 July 2018, nine people shared their testimonies at Inglewood Community Church and were baptised. Due to Sandra’s limited mobility, Mark said that she would sit near the baptismal and have her head immersed in water. “It was a very moving day as people who had recently become Christians shared their story.” “Others who had discovered Jesus early in life and were senior in years also shared of how God had spoken to them powerfully.” “People following the command that Christ gave to be baptised is a wonderful illustration of what Paul wrote to the Colossians about.”
We are stronger when we work together. BAPTIST CHURCHES WESTERN AUSTRALIA
my view APRIL 2019
On bowling poorly … I was speaking at a conference recently and during the afternoon break most of the delegates went tenpin bowling. I joined them a little anxiously, thinking that while I might have impressed them with my morning address, they were likely to be underwhelmed by my bowling ability. I was right!
Dr Brian Harris Dr Brian Harris is the Principal of Vose Seminary and Pastor at Large for the Carey Group.
It’s one thing to stand and speak in front of a group of people, completely another to bowl competently before their far too interested gaze. My first attempt veered off to the right, and all tenpins remained standing. I would like to say that happened to many of the other players, but it didn’t. Actually, several of them got a strike – just like that, very first ball, usually after assuring me that they hadn’t played for years
and were hopeless at the game. Why couldn’t they just be honest and say, “When it comes to tenpin bowling, I rock”? False humility can be most annoying, a thinly disguised form of bragging. After all, when they said they were hopeless, everyone rushed to reassure them, “Nonsense, you’re really very good at the game!” When I said I was, there was just a silence which could only be interpreted as complete agreement.
Now to be fair to myself, my game improved with time, and in one breathtaking round I managed to knock all ten of the skittles down. Not that anyone was watching at that point, having long given up on me. It was a tad annoying to be the only one applauding me. I returned feeling discredited. Why would anyone listen to my remaining talks now that they knew they were all better tenpin bowlers than me? Surprisingly,
it wasn’t like that at all. While there were a few pointed comments about my game, they were positively warm and responsive to everything I said. Some even said they were deeply impacted by the messages and would live differently as a result. So strange … that weak is strong and strong is weak, and sometimes being no good at something works out for the best.
Now that I have seen I am responsible Earlier this year I had the incredible privilege of travelling with Baptist World Aid Australia to Nepal to witness their work with vulnerable women and children in rural areas. I sat on a small wooden bench on the side of a mountain and listened as a group of women explained how they built the only road into their community.
Yvette Cherry Yvette Cherry is the Women’s Leadership Pastor for Baptist Churches of Western Australia.
“We decided to do it,” the President of the microfinance group explained, “and so we asked everyone to bring their money. At the next meeting, we collected the contributions. A month later, we built the road.” She gave a little shrug as if to say, ‘no big deal’, but it was hard for me to contain my excitement. I wanted to jump up on that little bench and yell, “I am woman – hear me roar!” I’d only just met
these incredible women, but I was so proud of them! The next day we toured through a school, and learned about the Child Clubs – places where children played, sung, performed dramas and did craft activities. But also, where they learned to advocate for themselves, to protect themselves from traffickers, took lessons on sanitation and leadership development.
On this tour, we were served lunch in the home of one of the school caretakers. I sat on the end of his hard, wooden bed and observed his humble home. I could have scooped up his entire collection of personal belongings in my arms: a bamboo bed roll, a toothbrush, a few items of clothing and some dented metal crockery. His food was cooked on an open fire. He washed in a bucket.
I’d disconnected from social media for most of the time I was away, and upon returning home, I discovered The LifeChanging Magic of Tidying Up book by Marie Kondo. I sold my trombone, a birdcage, treadmill, coffee machine and juicer. I put the money aside for the Nepalese girls I’d committed to sponsoring. I gave up chai lattes and downloaded an expense tracking app. Everything I’d seen in Nepal, both the gut-wrenching darkness and the joy-filled light, had penetrated my heart. What should I do with all I had seen and experienced?
Your lives are in danger Telling the truth is and has always been a dangerous activity. It can bring down the mighty, it leads to the toppling of palaces and kings. But it is especially perilous wherever there is contempt for freedom, and the powerful can kill the messenger with impunity.
Rhidian Brook Rhidian Brook is an awardwinning novelist, screenwriter and broadcaster. His latest movie, The Aftermath is in cinemas from April.
The disappearance of Saudi reporter Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, highlighted how dangerous this truth business is. Since 1990, 2,500 journalists have been killed whilst doing their work. And whilst many of those died in combat situations, there seems to be a growing trend of investigative journalists being assassinated by governments who don’t want their story told. Khashoggi’s plight feels emblematic of the direction the world is taking. A Saudi man leaves his country because of his outspoken criticism of its leader, seeks paperwork in a country that is itself reported to have detained 245 journalists, in order to return to another country whose own
leader has described the media as the enemy of the people. This level of jeopardy seems like something from a movie. “Get out your notebook,” says Bob Woodward’s source in All The President’s Men. “There’s more. A lot more. And your lives are in danger.” Tragically, for Khashoggi, it seems his work may have cost him his life (though the Saudi Government strenuously deny this). “He who allows oppression shares the crimes,” Erasmus said. In a small way these words apply to those of us who listen to and consume the news on programs like this. Programs that rely on and can’t survive
without reporters who are prepared to look into and say the difficult thing about powerful people and dangerous regimes. If we say nothing and do nothing to defend them who can be relied on to tell us how things really are? There would surely be no news worth hearing. A long-dead messenger called Amos once spoke truth to the government of his day. He delivered the news to the king and it was very bad indeed. He said, you’re heading for destruction via fire and locust; but (and this was the good news) you can still change. If you reset things. Then Amos described a plumbline – an instrument for measuring how straight and true
a building is – and he challenged the king and his people to use it – to realign themselves, before the palace topple on their heads. A prophet’s job was not to predict the future but to call out the present. Like a good investigative journalist, they had to trust their source, describe what was going on, however ugly and corrupt it might be, whoever it might offend, even at the risk of being killed for saying it. They had to name names, even when prefixed by the title prince or president. It’s a dangerous but vital job for it leaves those who hear the message with the chance to reset things and do what is right.
Developing safe churches Facilitator, Dan McGrechan said that previously training was conducted in local churches. “Today, it was great to see people from different churches, ministries and experience come together to share a table and help one another to learn. There was a really great energy in the room,” Dan said. Safe Church workshops aim to equip church staff and volunteers to lead Godhonouring, person-valuing, respectful and harm-free ministries. Workshops cover a range of topics, including boundaries in ministry, duty of care, recognising and reporting harmful behaviours, self-care, recruiting safe leaders and facilitating safe programs. This year has also seen the introduction of an online preparation component.
... train local church volunteers to be the best leaders they can be ... “Participants get the opportunity to reflect on the key concepts of Safe Church before attending a workshop,” Dan said. “When we get together, we focus on applying Safe Church principles through stories, scenarios, group discussion and activities.” “It also makes the day a bit shorter – we want to honour
the time people have given for the training.” Safe Church training has also been updated to reflect the ten National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. These principles were recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. “Our role at Baptist Churches Western Australia is to keep upto-date with best practice and train local church volunteers to be the best leaders they can be,” Dan explained. “This is not just a ‘tick the box’ exercise. We believe strongly that for the church to fulfil its mission of sharing the love of Jesus with the world, we must start with demonstrating his love for all people by creating a safe church.” Safe Church workshops will be held six times during the year in a variety of locations to make them as accessible as possible. For more information, visit baptistwa.asn.au/view/safechurch
Photo: Ed Devine
Baptist ministry leaders and volunteers from Perth have embraced a new method for Safe Church training. On Saturday 23 February over 80 participants gathered for awareness and refresher training at Vose Seminary.
Safe Church presenter, Sue Ash leading worship at Mount Barker Baptist Church for the Great Southern Baptist churches.
Denmark to serve community After 60 years, the Denmark Baptist community will see their dream eventuate when construction of the Denmark Baptist Community Centre commences. Situated within easy reach of the town centre and surrounds, the proposed centre will provide a wide range of facilities and services for members of the Denmark community. A 180-seat assembly hall with stage and creche will be included, catering for the performing arts.
Denmark Baptist Church Pastor Graeme Ritchie said there will also be four other areas ranging in size that will be available to the community for general use. “Nestled into a tranquil site, the proposed community centre is set to continue the quiet and reflective harmony of a beautiful place while servicing the needs of the Denmark community well into the future,” Graeme said. “Prayer support for this project is vital as the church values, more than anything, God’s guidance and provision throughout this process,” Graeme concluded. For more information, phone Graeme Ritchie on 0409 503 822.
Quality residential care for you or your loved one Baptistcare is dedicated to helping each person we support maintain the important connections and activities they need for a full and meaningful life. If you are looking for quality permanent or respite accommodation, or specialised care for people living with dementia, we can help. You can expect a warm and friendly welcome from our highly skilled and caring staff at one of our 11 locations:
Photo: Denmark Baptist Church
Perth • Byford • Gwelup • Mundaring
Regional WA • Rockingham • Salter Point
1300 660 640 Denmark Baptist Church members are looking forward to serving their community through their new building.
• Albany • Brookton • Busselton
• Kellerberrin • Manjimup • Margaret River
news APRIL 2019
Training that transforms practical training beneficial for people in the church community. “Lake Joondalup has been greatly helped by Vose Training, enabling people to study at their own pace, in a familiar environment, close to work and home,” Steve said. “Our church is really thankful for what they’re doing and we can’t wait to see more of what God has for the future.” Vose Training is also on the way to achieving its vision to provide Christian training organisations across Australia with the expansion of Vose Training into New South Wales, in partnership with Morling College, in 2019. With a new team based in Northern Sydney and the same programs, a cohort of face-toface students is expected to start at the end of July. “This is an extremely exciting opportunity for both Vose, and Baptist education in general, as it works towards providing ministry and leadership training that is both practical and innovative, in a collaborative way,” Jon said. “The vision for this expansion is that one day Christian training organisations across Australia might be able to work together to raise up a new generation of creative, grounded, and inspiring Christian leaders.”
Vose Training has launched a number of new partnerships and initiatives in 2019 to expand the ways that it serves students.
Photo: Linda Cummins
Director of Vose Training, Jon Bergmann said that this kind of partnership embodies the broader vision that Vose Training has, to empower churches to train in their own context. Riverview Church Senior Pastor, Tim Healy said he wanted to partner with an organisation that had credibility, professionalism and an approach to theology and ministry that is capable of addressing the unique challenges of 21st century life. In addition to this, there are plans to launch a new training hub in Karratha in late April, which is aimed at providing a platform for regional students to study scripture, theology and ministry whilst staying connected to their local church. “I am genuinely excited by the opportunity to partner with Vose in bringing their course to the Pilbara,” Karratha Baptist Church Pastor, Nick Martin said. Lake Joondalup Baptist Church is the base for another hub, which is now into its third year of operation. It provides the facilities for people to study in the northern corridor, with the hub conducted on Thursday evenings. “I’ve found study at Vose to be inspiring, informative, and surprisingly accessible,” one student said. “I’ve been able to study a unit at a time, around my fulltime job, and am learning more about the Bible and ministry than ever before.” Lake Joondalup Baptist Church Senior Pastor, Steve Ingram has also found the advantages of this kind of
Photo: Vose Seminary
In 2018, Vose partnered with Riverview Church to launch Riverview College – a project aimed at raising up and empowering leaders in the local church.
The refurbished gymnasium at Serpentine Camping Centre has impressed recent camping groups.
Exciting position available at Carey Baptist Church | Harrisdale
Worship & Associate Pastor The Worship and Associate Pastor should be a spiritually mature, enthusiastic, and inspiring Christian with a call to ministry, who is able to oversee and lead the congregation’s worship experience during a Sunday service and at signiﬁcant events. We seek an applicant for the position as a full-time role, but will also consider applicants seeking to undertake the role part-time, with a minimum 0.8 full-time equivalent. Accepting expressions of interest until 30th April 2019. If you consider yourself a candidate for this position, or part of it, please send your expressions of interest to Church Administrator, Mel McNeil-Windle: email@example.com
New facilities wow campers Thousands of campers over the years have enjoyed the year-round facilities provided by the full-sized gymnasium at Serpentine Camping Centre. Serpentine Camping Centre Manager, Marc Marion said in recent years the gymnasium flooring has begun to show its age and been more susceptible to damage. As a result, the Camping Centre has had a major upgrade to its gymnasium. This has entailed the installation of a new, innovative
sport flooring with line marking for basketball and volleyball. The flooring is an athletic surface with a specially designed shock response layer. “The new flooring is perfect for schools and sporting clubs where the safety and wellbeing of their members is paramount,” Marc said. “This new surface ensures a safe playing environment which has been an attractive and essential addition to the site.” The stage area has been repainted and carpeted, helping to revitalise the facility. Guest Services Manager, Linda Cummins said every group that has stayed at Serpentine Camping Centre
since the upgrade has been impressed with the changes and have found that the gymnasium has added to the dynamics of their camp in a positive and productive way. “The space can successfully host large groups of 500 plus campers, seating them comfortably with the added benefit of a stage that can be set up to cater for church services, drama production groups and music ensemble camps who love to finish their camp with a concert finale,” Linda said. For more information, visit baptistcampingcentres.org Author – Linda Cummins
Late April, Baptist World Aid Australia will publish the latest edition of its Ethical Fashion Report and accompanying Ethical Fashion Guide. The fifth of its kind, the 2019 Ethical Fashion Report will continue and expand on the work of its predecessors, evaluating labour rights management systems in the fashion industry. “This year, our research assesses 130 companies, representing over 400 brands,” Baptist World Aid lead Ethical Fashion Researcher, Jasmin Mawson revealed. “Each company will receive a grade (from A to F), based on the strengths of their systems to mitigate against the risks of forced labour, child labour and exploitation in their supply chains.” “Australian consumers can use this information to help make more ethical choices, every time they have need to shop for clothes.” The first Ethical Fashion Report was published in the wake of the fashion industry’s most tragic disaster, the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which claimed
the lives of more than 1,000 garment workers. However, the research itself did not grow out of a response to the collapse. “Baptist World Aid had long understood the need for research of this nature,” Jasmin said. “At the time of the Rana Plaza tragedy in 2013, the organisation was already preparing to launch the first Ethical Fashion Report.” When news of the deadly collapse broke, it put the issue of exploitation in the fashion industry into a global spotlight. People began to ask the questions: ‘Who makes my clothes?’ and ‘How are the workers who make my clothes treated?’ In Australia, there was a newly published report with the answer. “Because of this, the reception to the first Ethical Fashion Report was way beyond anyone’s expectations,” Jasmin said. “Since then, the research has continued to go from strength to strength.” In subsequent years, the Ethical Fashion Report has benchmarked and tracked the efforts of fashion companies to ensure that the rights of the workers who make their products are upheld. These rights include a safe workplace, a living wage and freedom from slavery. Each year, the research continues to grow in scope
Photo: Baptist World Aid Australia
Fifth Ethical Fashion Report launches this month
Ethically sourced clothing is becoming more important to Australian consumers.
and industry engagement. The 2019 Ethical Fashion Report will assess more than three times the number of companies assessed by the initial report, with 75 percent of companies being actively engaged in the research process. And, for the third time, the report will also be released to our neighbours in New Zealand. One of the most exciting new developments in the 2019 Ethical Fashion Report, is the
inclusion of an environmental metric of assessment. “We know that a truly ‘ethical’ company not only ensures that their supply chain empowers its workers and pays them a living wage, but it also understands its impact on the environment and manages it’s footprint to steward natural resource wisely and keep our planet healthy,” Jasmin said. “Last year, for the first time, Baptist World Aid began an initial assessment of company policy
in the area of environmental management.” “However, this preliminary research was not counted toward a company’s final grade. In the 2019 Ethical Fashion Report, that will change.” The 2019 Ethical Fashion Report is due to be released soon. To be notified of the report’s publication, visit baptistworldaid.org.au/fashionguide-register
Fifty killed in Christchurch mosque massacre
The 28 year old attacker who identified himself on Twitter, live streamed the massacre to Facebook in a 17 minute clip. He has been charged with murder. The gunman was heavily armed and fitted two improvised explosive devices to his vehicle, which the military later diffused. As Muslims gathered for Friday afternoon prayer, the attacker opened fire in both Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch. Fifty people were reported dead, while 50 others suffered injuries of varying severity. Farhaan Farheez was at the mosque in Linwood for Friday prayers. “I saw people being shot at like they were animals,” he told TVNZ’s 1 News.
“I’ve never experienced something like that before in my life. It’s really devastating.” New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern described the bloodshed as “… one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and raised the terror threat level to high. Baptist Churches of New Zealand National Leader, Charles Hewlett also expressed his sympathy. “The Baptist Churches of New Zealand share in grief with the Muslim community. You should be able to practise your faith in peace. We sharply condemn all hatred and violence,” he said. “The events that have occurred in Christchurch are horrific.” “The prayers of the Baptist movement are with the many victims and their families and friends.”
A number of Baptist pastors arranged special offerings for the support of people affected by the tragedy. Children and Family Ministries Team Leader of Baptist Churches of New Zealand, Karen Warner offered suggestions on ways families could move forward. “Maybe you could sing the [National] anthem, then talk about the words that are included and how they speak into this tragedy,” she wrote. “Acknowledge what has happened, but ensure that children understand that this is not normal in New Zealand and it is not what God wants from us.” “Make the focus on loving others and talking about the ways we can do this.” “Make sure that prayer is a big focus – for each other, for the victims, for the nation and also for the shooter. Remind them that God is a God of forgiveness,” she concluded. Author – Gilbert Siahaan
On Friday 15 March, an Australian gunman targeted two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and killed 50 people in an unprecedented terrorist attack.
Police stand guard at Al Noor Mosque on Linwood Avenue in Christchurch.
news APRIL 2019
2019 launches with discipleship The focus for the launch was the question, ‘What is discipleship?’ The day began with a reading of Jesus final words to His disciples. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” [Matthew 28: 19-20] With this charge freshly in mind, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Next Generations Pastor, Dan Rodgers started the day with a message that focused on the call of Jesus to the fishermen in Matthew 4:18-20. “God uses ordinary people like you and me to accomplish his purposes,” Dan shared. Rockingham Baptist Church Youth Pastor, Matt Birch then spoke about the transition his youth ministry has made towards
smaller, discipleship-focused clubs where relationship is key. Geraldton Baptist Church Senior Pastor, Craig Palmer shared principles from 3DM Publishing’s Building a Discipling Culture and encouraged leaders to ponder the question, ‘Can you really say to a young person, follow me as I follow Jesus?’ “It was encouraging to see a range of people, from longterm veterans of youth ministry through to people just starting out, taking time to prioritise Jesus’ call to His disciples to be makers of disciples,” Craig said. Jill Birt represented the disciple-making group Praxeis who utilise the Discovery Bible Method by Crossway. Jill guided leaders to observe the reality that the universal church has sometimes been distracted from
the key command of Jesus to make disciples. Riverton Baptist Community Church’s Ministry Team Leader for Children, Sarah Field said she felt more realigned with her purpose and mission not only in her leadership role but also as a Christian. “It was great to connect with other leaders who believe in the same mission and face the same struggles,” Sarah said. Baptist Churches Western Australia Next Generations Pastor Ed Devine said ministry to the next generation is not only fun and games – the leaders are seriously looking to find ways of helping the next generation of people say yes to Jesus. The next step in the discipleship discussion will be the Building a Discipling Culture Conference to be held on 27 to 28 May at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. For more information, visit nextgenbaptistwa.com.au
Photo: Ed Devine
Thirty-eight childrens, youth and young adults pastors and leaders from 16 Baptist churches across Perth gathered in January to launch 2019 together.
Dan Rodgers challenging attendees at the 2019 Next Generation launch with Jesus’ last words.
Lesmurdie Baptist receives large grant
A significant contribution to the project is the Stronger Communities Programme grant facilitated by Federal Member for Hasluck, Ken Wyatt. Lesmurdie Baptist Church pursues the vision of being a church that exists for the local
community, with its Lesmurdie Community Care ministry being one way it reaches the community. The church’s Lead Pastor Karen Siggins said this focus is reflected in their plans to celebrate its fiftieth birthday this year by building a nature playground across the road from current church facilities for neighbours to enjoy. “A community forum in early 2018 identified the nature playground as a community need,” Karen said. The nature playground design was developed by a local business owner, Project Scape Australia,
and includes an outdoor classroom for local school students while also incorporating natural features and flora of the beautiful bush block. Lesmurdie Community Care Chair, Adrian Munro said they plan to keep the playground permanently open to the community. “We expect it will be a popular destination for the people already attending ministry groups at the church, like MOPS [Mothers of Preschoolers], Music and Movement, worship gatherings and three year old Kindy,” Adrian said.
Photo: Lesmurdie Baptist Church
A $20,000 grant has enabled Lesmurdie Community Care to build a nature playground to serve the local community. It is due to be opened late 2019.
Ken Wyatt (centre) presenting a grant to members of Lesmurdie
Author – Karen Siggins
Community Care at the playground site it will fund.
ANNUAL BOOKSALE Saturday 6th April 2019 9am-3pm A: 20 Hayman Road, Bentley WA 6102 T: 08 6313 6200
OVER 30,000 books and more. Sale of unsold books continues during business hours until April 26.
A generous funding boost from Alzheimer’s WA has enabled Baptistcare to establish a recreational facility for men living with dementia in Manjimup. The money went towards building and creating a Men’s Shed at Baptistcare Moonya where men can socialise, do light handiwork or gardening and, most importantly, feel part of a shared experience. Baptistcare Moonya’s Lifestyle Coordinator, Suzette Starling said the challenge has always been to find ways to help men living with dementia still feel connected to their community. “The existing Men’s Shed in Manjimup offered a space for men to meet but our residents are unable to leave Moonya without assistance, so we decided to bring a version of the Men’s Shed to us,” she said. Suzette said that Baptistcare’s philosophy of helping people to continue to live a meaningful life has created a meeting place for the
community and residents to meet and mix socially. “Being local they know our guys well and new friendships are being made.” “We have already held a barbecue and an afternoon tea for our residents and local members of the Men’s Shed, and it went very well”. “The local Men’s Shed is already involved in men’s health issues which is a wonderful bonus for us and we encourage them to come and have a chat and do some chores with our men,” she said. Baptistcare Moonya’s Men’s Shed is open to residents and any interested members of the local community who might like to come along and socialise with the residents. The Men’s Shed provides the opportunity to look after the newly planted rose garden and do some light carpentry and painting activities. Residents, John Rowley (94) and his friend, Bob Marshall (79) have been busy tending to the roses and painting and decorating bird nesting boxes as part of the Men’s Shed activities.
Men’s Shed for Manjimup
John Rowley (94) and Bob Marshall (79) enjoy participating in Men’s Shed activities.
Much to the delight of the residents, the bird nesting boxes encourage local birdlife, including little wrens, and robins to the garden.
Prayer seminar returns
Both men say they love being outdoors gardening and enjoy watching the birds come to feed.
briefs BCWA staff changes
Photo: Mount Pleasant Baptist Church
Brooke Bourdon has concluded as the Receptionist/ Administration Assistant at Vose Seminary, with Hannah Moore commencing in the role. Aaron Chidgzey has commenced as Trainer and Content Developer for Vose Training, and Michelle Koh has commenced as the Business Development Officer based at Vose Training’s NSW office. Kathy Sinclair has commenced as the Baptist World Aid State Representative for Western Australia.
National Redress Scheme announcement Australian Prayer Network National Coordinator, Brian Pickering sharing keys to effective prayer.
In early March, Brian Pickering from the Australian Prayer Network and his team returned to Perth to run Stage Two of Keys to Effective Prayer at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. Over 160 participants heard the well-known Sydney-based speaker talk on the subject of prayer. The other presenters, Matthew Bolte and Ben Gray, spoke on related topics, including understanding the responsibilities and pitfalls of intercession, prayer and evangelism, spiritual strongholds and how to deal with
them, and how to pray during difficult times. Stage Two followed the success of Stage One of Keys to Effective Prayer, which was held at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in March 2018. Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Executive Pastor, Simon Ford said Stage One was very successful, with around
400 participants from over 60 churches across Perth. “With so much positive feedback, we decided to run a follow-on event in 2019,” Simon said. “Once again we have been delighted at the response.” “It’s wonderful to see so many people passionately pursuing a deeper understanding of prayer.” “We look forward to seeing what God is going to do in our midst through this teaching.” Author – Nick Scott
For more information, visit baptistcare.com.au.
Since the Baptist Assembly in 2018, BCWA has been working with churches to finalise their application to join the National Redress Scheme, with the submission occurring in late December 2018. On Wednesday 27 February, the Federal Minister for Families and Social Services, the Honourable Paul Fletcher MP, welcomed BCWA as participants in the National Redress Scheme. “I am pleased that institutions are taking heed of the request for them to join the Redress Scheme as soon as possible,” the Minister said. BCWA Director of Ministries,
Pastor Mark Wilson said it was a significant moment and the BCWA Council express their thanks to all participating churches for their involvement. “Our hope is that healing and restoration can be achieved through such difficult circumstances,” Mark said.
Vose Annual Book Sale The Vose Annual Book Sale will be held on Saturday 6 April, 9am to 3pm, at Vose Seminary, 20 Hayman Road, Bentley. The book sale is now in its third decade, with thousands of second-hand books at low prices, including Bible commentaries, Christian living, novels, children’s and general interest. LPs and DVDs will also be for sale. Visitors can enjoy morning tea or a sausage sizzle while at the sale. Volunteers are also welcome to assist with pack up and set up. To volunteer or for further information, phone 6313 6200.
feature APRIL 2019
It’s a question I’ve been asked often enough, especially after I’ve introduced myself as a pastor and theologian, “So what do theologians do?”
What do theolo Let’s note the obvious. By definition, theology, being made up from two Greek words theos (God) and logos (the word about, or the study of), is the study of God. By implication then, all those who grapple with the question of God are, in one way or another, theologians. They might be very poor theologians, amateur theologians, professional theologians, perhaps even theologians whose work is widely recognised in the life of the church – but theologians they are. So what do theologians do and what makes for a good theologian? First up a warning. Theology is a dangerous business. Though we might begin by feeling that we are in control of the process (we study God) we soon discover that the God we study is the God who studies us. Even as we examine the nature and character of God, we sense the pushback, ‘You think you are studying me – but actually I am studying your response to what you discover. Never forget, those who study God are challenged to live in the light of what they find.’ It is dangerous to be a theologian and to be resistant to change, for you cannot study God and not change. Rudolf Otto in his classic The Idea of the Holy speaks of our encounter with the mysterium tremendum et fascinans – and it is probably as well to leave that untranslated from the Latin as it better conveys a sense of the weight of what we experience (though for those who insist on a translation, try the ‘fearful and fascinating mystery’). To put it crassly, you cannot spend the day contemplating the mysterium tremendum et fascinans and then calmly ask, “So what’s for dinner?”
What makes for a good theologian? Ideally they will play a number of roles, but let me focus on three P words that cumulatively suggest something of the calling of the theologian. The theologian as pastor Theologians are given the responsibility and luxury of studying and understanding the history and teaching of the church. They dive into the biblical text, examining it from many different perspectives; they piece together the different genres of Scripture, and examine how they have been understood at different times in the history of Christianity, evaluating the different hermeneutical paradigms that have fed various conclusions; they grapple with ethical theory, and explore how different moral priorities have shaped the agenda of the church; they probe the pastoral practice of the church, investigating what has and has not proved helpful; they question the missiological understanding of the church and its relevance in different historical and cultural settings. Theirs is indeed a privileged existence – but the knowledge they gain and the insights they draw are not to be selfishly consumed. They are to strengthen and better the pastoral practice of the church. Their reflection is on behalf of the church and to help it to more faithfully fulfil its mission in the world. Theology, as Stanley Grenz has noted, is for the community of God. It helps pastor and guide those who pastor – and only an unwise pastor is disinterested in the voice of the theologians of the church, for in the end, in one way or another, theologians
shape what the church believes and proclaims. True, many theologians speak ahead of their time, and it might take a generation or two before their insights trickle down to the average follower of Jesus – but if you think that what is taught in our churches has not been influenced by the theologians of the church, you are mistaken. Preachers and songwriters popularise the teaching of the church, but theologians help us decide what we give the affirming nod to, and what we reject. The theologian as pastor grapples with the questions intrinsic to our humanity. They attempt to read the cultures in which we find ourselves, spotting in cultural developments both signs of the divine and the demonic, helping the people of God differentiate between the two, so that the church is faithfully open to the new day God births in the changing eras of human history. The theologian as prophet Theology at its best has a prophetic edge. It senses what God is saying to its particular time and setting, and what needs to be said if a better day is to dawn. Whilst theologians deal with timeless truths, they are aware that in different eras some aspects of the faith need to be more forcefully highlighted. They know that Jesus prayed for God’s Kingdom to come on earth, and for things on earth to be done as they are in heaven (Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven). Figuring out what this looks like is part of the responsibility of the theologian. In doing so, they have to evaluate
cultural practices of both the church and the wider society – at times to speak a word of encouragement to them, at other times to speak against them. We need to differentiate between theologians who are faithfully open to what God is birthing in the world, and those who are fearfully closed. Sadly, in our present time I think too many theologians are being captured by the fearfully closed paradigm. Even more sadly, their fearfulness strikes a chord with many, and encourages the church to bunker down into ghettos of escape, from which it is difficult to spot the ever creative fingerprints of God – for God firmly refuses to be trapped within the confines of the church. From this ghetto, we assume that psychologists, sociologists, economists, scientists, artists and critics are assuredly the enemy and have little – perhaps nothing – to teach us. We listen to them only to dissent. It is a rather negative and depressing exercise and assumes the enemy in those who often should be seen as allies and friends. All truth is ultimately God’s truth, and your average psychologist or sociologist is not desperately trying to get it wrong, but is trying to better understand the world we find ourselves in. Not that we should be naive. Not all cultural advancement is advancement. It is why the paradigm I advocate for is being faithfully open. The word faithfully is important. Humans have the strong tendency to selfdelude and to forget that while they bear the image of God, they are not God. That delusion often sees an unwillingness to selfregulate, and to ask the necessary hard questions. We see promise
The theologian as poet We need to move from reactionary to creative forms of theology. With imaginations fired with the good news of the Kingdom of God, we need to visualise a world of fresh and new possibilities. Martin Luther King had a dream which helped transform the petty destructiveness of the racist reality in which he found himself. We are now free to dream even more boldly. Though theologians captured by the ‘fearfully closed’ paradigm often specialise in lamenting what has been lost from a long gone era, a more objective look at the world would conclude that much progress has been made. The good news of Jesus has not gone unheeded, and has worked its way into our legal, political, economic and moral frameworks. True, that
work is far from complete, but progress has definitely been made. While racism has not been abolished from the world – only the most extreme defend it (albeit that there are signs that it could re-emerge). Having grown up in apartheid South Africa I can assure you that that was not the case 30 or 40 years ago. And oh the freedom that comes with that – of being able to see that every human being has indeed been made in the image of God. Or we could think of the liberation of women around the world, a work still in progress, but significantly further ahead than it was a generation ago. And again, oh the freedom that comes with this. Why ‘oh the freedom that comes with this’? Demographically I fall into the pale, male and stale category. For most of human history this demographic has called the shots and been in power. Powerholding is its own form of bondage – for you fear that you have much to lose. The reality is that when we lose our fear of one another, we welcome a chorus of fresh new voices to the table – we dream new dreams – we discover that our faith speaks in ways we have not yet heard. We might even become poets – writing a new reality, spotting beauty in neglected places, or overlooked passages of Scripture. For example, the stale, male and pale are unlikely to spot both the horror and the tender beauty in Genesis 16 and 21:8-21. Only a female voice, and perhaps only an oppressed female voice, can help us to understand something of what is going on in the story of Hagar, and dozens of others beside.
The opening chapters of the Bible tell us that the first human responsibility was to name creation – to give animals and birds a name. In my book The Big Picture I speak of this as the responsibility to build a world with a better name – to recognise that while God creates the world, it is not a completed creation. Though the responsibility may take our breath away, we are invited to continue the work of creation as stewards of all God has made. We are even told that we bear God’s image. In other words we represent God to the world. This gives us the courage to dream. Rather than simply lament what is broken in the present form of this world, we should be poets – writing a new world into being, dreaming of a different reality which must first be visualised (and visualised in the light of Christ, in whom all things hold together), then spoken about, then crafted into being by our pastors, engineers, politicians and counsellors. Theologians deal with the loftiest of questions. Theirs is a creative art. They must speak the world that should be into being and they do that as they think deeply and creatively of all that God has revealed to us in creation, in the Scriptures and through the history of God’s people in the world – and all this with a Christological lens, as they evaluate all things in the light of Jesus. Rather than being fearful of the future, they visualise a world yet to be crafted. They are poets, ahead of their time to be sure, but confidently pointing to a world that will be birthed, for their ultimate assurance is of the coming reign of God. Theologians who are poets never
use this as an excuse for escape (God will sort this out, so there is nothing for us to do), but as an opportunity to invite people to a new and better reality. A new and better reality that starts today and continues tomorrow. What then do theologians do? As pastors, they think deeply and compassionately. As prophets, they think deeply and courageously. As poets, they think deeply and creatively. Pastors, prophets and poets, and always in a way that is compassionate, courageous and creative. For more information, visit vose.edu.au Author – Dr Brian Harris Dr Brian Harris is the principal of Vose Seminary and Pastor at Large for the Carey Group. This article was originally published on brianharrisauthor.com and reprinted with permission.
Photo: Shutterstock/ Freedom Studio
in all our advancements, but are reluctant to seriously weigh up unintended consequences, and we usually evaluate the value of a step ahead in terms of its worth for us (sometimes simply for its use for me), rather than its value for all of creation. In their role as prophet, theologians often come up against dissent and abuse. By and large prophets are not popular, as they often have to speak (or write) a challenging word. Most commonly they stress that the current status quo is not acceptable – which is why you are unlikely to be much of a prophet if you are not open to the new – for prophets urge change. To be pastorally effective, theologians need to think deeply and compassionately. To be prophetically effective, they need to think deeply and courageously.
10 opinion APRIL 2019
China is just the start close attention to the issue of persecution. And arguably, for a Christian minister, it would be hard not to. In Nigeria last year 3,731 Christians were killed as a direct result of their faith. Around 245 million Christians in just 50 countries have been identified as facing high levels of persecution. While the well documented atrocities of the Islamic State against Christians, Yazidis and other minorities grabbed the attention of Australian Christians back in 2014, ongoing persecution has not yet left their consciousness. And while the Australian church has paid closer attention, so too have international governments. The United States and the United Kingdom both have permanent positions in their governments to examine and speak on instances of religious freedom. The latter only being appointed in the last year. Australia does not have any official position. However, Foreign Minister, Marise Payne was quoted earlier this year in The Australian saying, “Australia is deeply concerned about restrictions on Christian communities imposed by some governments and non-state actors around the world.” The Australian Government has an ongoing senate inquiry into the freedom of religion or belief. This inquiry now opens the opportunity for such an appointment to be made to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in its recommendations. While this appointment may not solve the issue of persecution of religion, it can go a long way to addressing the issue and confirm Australia’s commitment to it. And with increased international tensions, would one more peacemaking role go astray? For more information, visit opendoors.org.au Author – Tim Reid Tim Reid works at Open Doors Australia. He is involved in researching for the World Watch List, and has presented on the persecution of Christians to government. Tim also speaks in churches around the country.
Chinese Christians had their churches raided or closed, Bibles confiscated and pastors arrested throughout 2018.
Photo: Open Doors
Persecution of Christians worldwide is undoubtedly increasing. So much so, the United Kingdom government commissioned a review to see ‘whether we are doing all we can’ to assist Christians facing persecution. So how big is the problem, really? China received a great deal of media attention regarding religious persecution in 2018. Among the headlines were several large churches being closed, a cease in the sale of Bibles outside registered churches and a deal with the Vatican granting Beijing power to appoint bishops. However, persecution for Christians is not contained to China. The persecution of Pakistani Christians also received sufficient attention. The high profile case of Asia Bibi’s death sentence, resulting from a false blasphemy charge in 2010, was finally overturned in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Despite the government’s efforts to uphold the law, after days of riots a deal was struck with extremists to prevent Asia Bibi from leaving the country. The persecution of Christians in other countries however, almost entirely escaped notice. In India, violence against Christians has been increasing since the Modi government stepped into power, elected with promises to restore Hindu dominance in the nation. Churches have been attacked and Christians assaulted. In May last year I spoke at a senate inquiry about four horror days in India in which three pastors were hospitalised, one losing his fingers in an axe attack. So how have Christians in Australia responded to these attacks? And more broadly, what is the response of the Australian Government, who closely follows the leanings of others when it comes to human rights or moral issues? In 2018, Open Doors noticed an increase in the number of Australian donors and churches engaging with those who suffer from persecution. The topic also received more traction from pulpits around the country as Christians saw the impact of persecution. Even though church attendance has diminished in recent years, hundreds of thousands of Australians still attend church each week. Well over a million attend per fortnight. A significant number of Australians in the Christian community are paying
Photo: Open Doors
For Chinese Christians, 2018 was a devastating year as churches were raided, pastors arrested and fined and Bibles confiscated. But the situation in China has the potential to get much worse for those who follow Jesus.
The persecution of Christians is not just contained to China as believers in Pakistan, Nigeria and India are also facing hardship.
international briefs Chinese church cross torn down A Chinese pastor and three of his church members were arrested in February over their objections to the forced removal of a cross on church property. All four are members of Zhongxin Church in the province of Henan. According to International Christian Concern, it is estimated that 4,000 churches have had their crosses removed, along with some churches demolished. This is especially evident in the Henan province.
“Both house churches and state-sanctioned churches fell victims to the sinicisation of religion campaign, where the Communist Party ideology has to be exalted higher than theology,” International Christian Concern reported.
Spiritually vibrant homes Twenty-five percent of professing, practising Christians shared that they live in households that regularly pray, practice Bible reading together and conduct outreach together
to others. This was discovered from new research by American research group Barna in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries. One of the goals of the research study was to learn from households that appear to be engaged in a consistent faith expression in the home. The report stated that, “Members of vibrant households learn positive spiritual lessons and behaviours together through intentional, reverent moments between household members.”
world news 11 APRIL 2019
Religious persecution of women
Many families feel obliged to remove a Christian woman who has suffered sexual abuse from their midst ...
In countries with a strong socio-cultural link between a woman’s ‘sexual purity’ and family honour, rape and sexual violence are intentionally used to dishonour a Christian woman and her family. “Women and girls (in these countries) are supposed to uphold high norms regarding their sexuality and will bring shame upon the family if they fail to do so,” the report read. Many families feel obliged to remove a Christian woman
who has suffered sexual abuse from their midst because of the perceived shame that she has brought on the family. According to Open Doors International, sexual assault and rape are therefore notoriously under-reported due to the connection to shame and social exclusion. Female converts become particularly vulnerable if they do not follow the manner of dress of the area’s major religion as they can be distinctly identified by their appearance. According to the report, girls in Sudan who are arrested for ‘indecent dressing’ often face groping and humiliation during interrogation. Female converts to Christianity are also especially vulnerable to house arrest, forced marriage, forced divorce, and denied custody of children. In many cases, women’s low legal status in general increases the likelihood and long-term effects of abuse and persecution. “They will very likely be divorced by their husbands, leaving them without any financial support; they can thus end up on the street because they do not have an income. The custody of their children may be taken from them, as well as inheritance rights,” the report stated. In 66 percent of the 50 most difficult countries to be a Christian, women are completely denied the freedom to convert to Christianity. The Open Doors International report was published on International Women’s Day to draw international attention to the persecution that Christian women experience worldwide.
a means of power and control.
US church growth gap
Author – Ramona Humphreys
To find your local Baptist church visit baptistwa.asn.au
In many of the 50 most difficult countries to be a Christian, persecuted Christian women suffer sexual abuse as
Photo: Tommy Liggett/Shutterstock.com
Based upon numerous field interviews and detailed reporting on over 60 countries, a recent study by Open Doors International found that persecuted Christian women in particular suffer sexually violent attacks as an abuse of power and control. Sexual assault was described as characteristic of religious persecution for Christian women in 59 percent of countries surveyed, and 47 percent reported that rape was also common as a means of attack related to a woman’s Christian identity or choice.
According to Open Doors International, the most frequent means of religious persecution against women, in order of frequency, are sexual violence, forced marriage and rape.
A study has highlighted an increasing church growth gap in the US, as the country’s biggest churches grow bigger and its smaller churches get smaller.
A new study found that the US congregations most likely to grow are the ten percent that already have more than 250 attendees each Sunday. The study from Exponential by LifeWay Research, asked 1,000 protestant pastors in the United States about their
church congregation’s growth, focusing on attendance, yearly conversions and church planting practices. The researchers observed an increasing church growth gap, as the country’s biggest churches grow bigger and its smaller churches get smaller. Less than a quarter (23 percent) of churches with an average worship attendance of fewer than 50 say they are
growing, while more than half of churches (59 percent) with 250 or more in attendance are growing. According to the study, more than half of the surveyed pastors said that fewer than ten of their attendees became Christians in the past 12 months, and 68 percent said that they had no involvement in any church planting activities. Author – Ramona Humphreys
12 in conversation APRIL 2019
Come eat with me If a meal is a metaphor for a relationship, then there’s no better way to describe God’s purpose for his people than as an invitation to a meal with the Maker. In Come Eat With Me, Rob Douglas explores hospitality as a biblical theme and a description of a rich relationship between God and humanity, highlighting the benefits and challenges along the way. The Advocate caught up with Rob to ask a few questions.
have to think differently about how we share our faith.
Author and broadcaster, Sheridan Voysey describes what you discuss in Come Eat With Me as a ‘big idea’. What is this big idea? The big idea is that God has invited us to dine with Him. I take the reader on a journey through the Bible from the beginning to the end, to help us discover what it means to eat with our Maker. The outcome of that meal is quite astonishing.
You also talk about the time you met John Stott in a remote Australian airport. How does this relate to your big idea? I refer to quite a number of authors, but I particularly mentioned John Stott because of what he has said about the cross. While eating with the Maker seems to be a nice idea, it’s not possible to talk about a relationship with God without talking about the cross. It’s through the cross that the meal becomes a life giving transaction and not just a casual picnic.
You tell a number of personal stories from remote areas of Australia where you have lived. How have your experiences impacted this book? In some ways this book represents a lifetime of discovery. I am a part of the institutional church, and over time may have contributed to some of its faults. But I’ve had a sense that the story of Christianity is something bigger and more fulfilling than the story the institutional church often tells. The idea of God inviting us to eat with Him opens up some exciting possibilities. What are some of the discoveries you have made about the results of eating with the Maker? Well, it has raised with me the questions of, Who else is at the table with me? How do I respond to the stranger, the person of another religion, a person who is uncomfortable at the table? The book researches all these ideas. In the book you discuss the idea of what it means to invite other people to join you at the table. What did you discover there? I realised that over time followers of Jesus have often been quite aggressive in their evangelism styles because they’ve aligned it with sales. Inviting someone to join you at the table and eat with your best friend is a very different idea. It means we
You write about the art of hosting. What do you mean by that? I talk about God as the consummate host, and the Bible stories I retell confirm that. As we learn from the consummate host, we have the opportunity to learn what it means to be hosts ourselves. Hosting is also a great metaphor for leadership. Have you written any other books? Yes, my first book was called He Speaks Our Language and it’s the story of my dad who spent most of his life working as a Bible translator and linguist with Aboriginal people in Australia. That book gave me the opportunity to tell what I believe is a very exciting story about a significant person. Is there an excerpt from your book you would like share with us? “The premise of this book is that God has invited us to come and eat with Him, and to discover what that might look and feel like. Let’s continue this journey through the Bible and get a sense of what it means to eat at God’s table. I suspect right from the beginning that it’s got little to do with establishing an institution. I want us to discover what a Christian community could look like if we were to follow the images that are provided in the Bible and to do that without being too influenced by our preconceptions of the church and what it has looked like in the past. But that doesn’t mean the process is going to be without some difficulties. In fact the challenges were there right from the very beginning.
Photo: Peter Douglas
Why have you chosen to retell so many stories from the Bible? Isn’t it enough for people just to read them for themselves? I have a sense that a lot of people don’t read the Bible and when they do, they find it confusing. By introducing a number of stories around a theme, I hope that people will get a taste for the big story of the Bible and want to read it for themselves.
The Bible starts with a great picture of God preparing the table, placing the first people in a garden where everything is beautiful, but within a short time, they have come across a challenge. They are given a choice about eating some fruit from a single tree, and the suggestion that is put into their minds by the snake is that eating of the fruit will give them knowledge about the difference between good and evil. Prior to that, everything was good and life was pretty simple. I think we’d all like that kind of life, and joining God’s community on earth would be pretty cosy if we didn’t have to worry about choices between good and evil. But the choice the first people made had immediate consequences, and it was their own family that suffered from their decision.” Bob Douglas is the Senior Pastor at Maida Vale Baptist Church in Perth, Western Australia. He is a former journalist, newspaper editor, and community services manager at Baptistcare and is the author of He Speaks Our Language (2014).
“Table, plate, cup – few things are more domestic or ordinary. In the hands of Rob Douglas, however, they become symbols of divine-human hospitality. By interlacing short, imaginative retellings of biblical stories with evocative personal experiences, Douglas invites us to feast on a big idea – God wishes to dine with us. A book to savour and enjoy.” Sheridan Voysey, writer, speaker, broadcaster, and author
growth 13 APRIL 2019
Raising the dead A humbling but powerful lesson for a Sunday School teacher Teaching Sunday School to a bunch of five year olds can be a humbling experience. I found this out one Sunday morning when I was abruptly interrupted midway through a dramatic retelling of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. person’s heart, no method of evangelism will be effective in bringing about salvation. And until we are utterly convinced of this truth – that it is God who raises the dead to life – then we will always be tempted to depend on man-made and man-centred evangelistic strategies for conversion.
Our job is not to save sinners. Our job is to plant and water seeds ...
Understanding this truth makes our job as ambassadors much easier. When we share the gospel, we can be confident that we have the Holy Spirit to help us. So if you feel a deep inadequacy when it comes to personal evangelism, be encouraged! But also be challenged to consider whether you are taking on more responsibility than God intended. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” God initiates everything in salvation. And He designed it this way so that He gets the glory. Not us. Our job is not to save sinners. Our job is to plant and water seeds – to proclaim the gospel as clearly, prayerfully, graciously, and persuasively as possible. God’s job is to make things grow [1 Corinthians 3:6,7]. Author – Madeleine Turner Madeleine Turner attends Ashfield Presbyterian Church, NSW. This article was originally published in AP and reprinted with permission.
Photo: The Escape of Malee / Shutterstock.com
I’d spent hours in lesson preparation. I had almost every gimmick at my disposal: puppets, costumes, character voices and colourful visual aids. I was feeling confident. Until one of the children sighed heavily and said, “This is so boring, I want to die!” Then another chimed in, “We already know this story. Can we just get to the craft activity?” Shocked and mortified, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry! This was not the response I had anticipated. I had (wrongly) assumed that with enough preparation, enthusiasm and persuasiveness, my gospel presentation could stir these kids’ hearts towards repentance! But God showed me something important that day. He alone has the power to change people’s hearts. I’d missed the point of my own lesson: only God can raise the dead to life. When proclaiming the gospel, it is tempting to make it all about us and our ability. We can convince ourselves that people’s salvation ultimately depends on us and our power, our appeal, our intelligence and our expertise. We try and do the work of God apart from the power of God. There are several reasons why we might be tempted to do this. But I suspect the main reason is that we do not take seriously enough the sovereignty of God in the work of salvation, and the sinfulness of humanity. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father unless He enables them” [John 6:65]. Without the grace of God no one can ever become a true Christian. Why? Because before we come to faith in Christ we are “dead in [our] transgressions and sin” [Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:19]. The reason we need a Saviour is not simply because we need to be forgiven for our sin, but because by nature we are spiritually dead [Romans 5:12]. We are alienated from God [Ephesians 2:12], hostile to God [Romans 8:7-8], cursed and condemned by God’s law [Galatians 3:10, Romans 2:3] ignorant of God’s love and spiritual realities [1 Corinthians 2:14) and completely incapable of seeking, loving and pleasing God [Romans 3:11, 8:8]. We are helpless to change our circumstances and fully dependent on God for new life. Unless the convicting power of the Holy Spirit changes a
The justice of evangelism There’s two words you don’t see together very much, justice and evangelism. Each of them is a buzzword, a shibboleth (a word from the Bible in the Book of Judges that helps you know who to kill and who not to). If you go around using the ‘e’ word you’re this kind of Christian, and if you go around using the ‘j’ word you’re that kind of Christian. But sacred agents need to be savvy enough to rise above that false dichotomy. Because the two are deeply, indeed perfectly, connected. If you have plenty of water, and a neighbour is thirsty, is it justice to not give them some? (We get that, don’t we?) But if you know the source of plenty of water, the location of a spring – is it justice if you don’t tell thirsty people where to get it? So with the Living Water we know comes only from Christ. Justice calls us to evangelism. When we sit on the explosively great news we have, we’re not only doing the wrong thing by Jesus (who said “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory”), we’re doing the wrong thing by our neighbours and the wrong thing by the world, which will never thrive whilst estranged from God. And as justice calls us to evangelism, so our evangelism calls people everywhere to true justice. Like Paul’s message to the Athenians, our message points people to a coming Judge, and therefore to a real repentance and new life that goes far beyond sitting around with our friends in delightful echo chambers. It calls people to follow Jesus and join His ministry among the poor, the marginalised, the oppressed and the overlooked. No one wants change more than Jesus does. But He shows us that the world is not improved through nagging, shaming and propaganda. These things perpetuate the ‘fight’ and bring a self-satisfying sense of struggle, but they don’t result in the lasting peace people claim to be fighting for. Real, lasting transformation, from selfish to responsible living, comes when people meet Jesus, find peace with God, and have their hearts and minds
transformed by the Spirit. Have we not known this for some time? So if you love Jesus, or if you are concerned for this dying planet and its suffering inhabitants, or maybe possibly even both, then live by the Spirit and give as freely as you have received – openly point others to the Source of life and Key to lasting change. Author – Andrew Turner Andrew Turner is the Church Development Facilitator with Baptist Churches of South Australia and author of the Sacred Agents blog.
14 arts APRIL 2019
New movie stars Jeremy Camp
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After the success of I Can Only Imagine, filmmakers, the Erwin brothers turn to Jeremy Camp for their next story to tell.
Publishers awards. Camp was surrounded by a strong Christian influence from a young age as his father was a pastor. Camp studied at Bible college where he was first heard singing and playing guitar by one of the worship leaders. This was the starting point for Camp, as he soon was leading worship and playing across Southern California, which led to his own music career. The film is due for release in March 2020. Author – John Igglesden
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Jacob Wylde releases new EP Jacob Wylde released his latest EP, Three Songs for New Years on Spotify and iTunes on Tuesday 5 March. The EP consists of three songs, each written at the very end or start of a year and was recorded in Jacob’s home studio in the Perth hills. Jemimah Wylde, Jacob’s younger sister features on backing vocals in the second song, Australian Summer 2017/18. This is the first offering from the Perth singer/songwriter since July 2018, when he released his second EP, The Moon is a Memory. “Each song is lyrically direct and specific, yet is commenting on something more – the dominant themes throughout include love, loss, faith and doubt,” Jacob said. “The songs are essentially B-sides to the album I am working on which I intend on releasing some time later this year.” Jacob will be performing at the upcoming Fairbridge Festival over the weekend, 26 to 28 April.
Photo: Jack Towers
Jon and Andrew Erwin, along with producing partner, Kevin Downes, will produce the movie. It will tell the story of Jeremy Camp’s life, including the death of his first wife, Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp and his remarriage to current wife, Adrienne Camp. Erwin Brothers Entertainment shared their excitement on Instagram, “We’re excited to announce our first film with Lionsgate, I Still Believe, that will tell the true-life spiritual journey of Jeremy Camp!” The first faith-based offering from Erwin Brothers Entertainment focused on the life of MercyMe lead singer, Bart Millard, and the creation of his song, I Can Only Imagine. It grossed $83.4 million at the box office and was released in March 2018. Jeremy Camp, currently under the Capitol Christian Music Group label, has sold more than five million albums across his career. Travelling the world with his music, Camp tours and performs from his discography of 11 albums in more then 36 different countries. Camp has won five of the nineteen Gospel Music Association Dove Awards he has been nominated for and has also won five American Society of Composers, Authors and
Photo: Capitol Christian Music Group
The story of American Christian singer/ songwriter, Jeremy Camp, becomes the basis for the next faithbased film from Erwin Brothers Entertainment, with the announcement of their latest project, I Still Believe.
Three Songs for New Years is available to stream and purchase on Spotify and iTunes. Author – John Igglesden
Jacob Wylde’s latest EP examines love, loss, faith and doubt.
intermission 15 APRIL 2019
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Girls with Swords Lisa Bevere Using illustrations of fencing and descriptions of swords, in Girls with Swords Lisa Bevere introduces women to the concept of spiritual warfare and how to use the Sword of the Spirit. Lisa helps women understand that there is a battle, what it means to be a warrior and the ways the Sword of the Spirit can be used in peoples’ lives. This book is good for women who feel their life is too small to take part in the ‘fight’, for anyone who needs encouragement and for those who need to understand they have the strength and tools they need to stand strong and courageous. Lisa reminds readers that now is the time to stand up and be a warrior and in Christ everyone can.
Kathy Sinclair – Western Australia Baptist World Aid Australia State Representative In a few words, give a background to yourself. We arrived from the UK in 1995, for supposedly a year in Australia with my husband Mark’s work. Many years later, here we still are. We have two children. What led you to the role of State Representative for Baptist World Aid Australia? I was the Children and Families Pastor at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church for 11 wonderful years. In more recent times I also took on a missions role, because my ministry had become increasingly international. Having the opportunity to advocate on behalf of the world’s poorest families through the work of Baptist World Aid is an enormous privilege to me.
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You’ve just visited Baptist World Aid sites in Nepal. How did what you see impact your ministry? What an amazing experience it was with a wonderful group of female leaders from around Australia. We visited two projects. The first in a very remote mountainous area that was only accessible by four-wheel drive. Baptist World Aid’s partners have been working with those communities for nine years and will withdraw later this year. The local people have been empowered and equipped to lift themselves out of extreme poverty and it was uplifting to witness firsthand communities coming together to run their own businesses. Children were going to school and participating in kids clubs that teach life skills and about the dangers of trafficking. Women and girls were thriving in these communities, with hopes and dreams for the future. In stark contrast, was the second area we visited, where the work had not yet begun. Only 1 percent of women and girls were literate, the poverty and lack of opportunities was almost overwhelming. However, we knew hope was on its way through Baptist World Aid’s partners.
A W Tozer This book is a collection of writings and excerpts on prayer from A W Tozer. It’s not just a ‘how to pray’ book but a more in-depth look at what prayer is – constant communication with God. With very honest, hard truths about prayer, it is a great read for any Christian. Whether you struggle with prayer or just need new insights, it is worth reading this book. After sharing Tozer’s reflections each chapter finishes with a section titled Exploring with Tozer which expands on the topics.This is followed by a very practical section, Reflect and Apply, to help the reader respond and take action in their own life.
What is the purpose of your role as State Representative? What are you hoping to achieve? As State Rep, I hope to visit churches to personally thank the many people who support the important Kingdom work that Baptist World Aid does. I am available to speak in ‘mission spots’ and preach. My aim is to link churches with the amazing things that God is doing in developing countries. What do you think God been trying to say to you lately? Lately God has challenged me to step out in faith and trust Him more day by day. A final thought … Jesus demonstrated that vulnerable, unseen people matter to Him. I feel very privileged to be called by Him to serve the poor.
This voucher entitles you to 15% off your next purchase in store at Mount Lawley. The Advocate – April 2019
Reviews by staff at Koorong Mount Lawley Website: koorong.com Address: 434 Lord Street, Mount Lawley Phone: 08 9427 9777
Alison – Customer Service Assistant
listen Look Up Child Lauren Daigle Look Up Child – a very moving album from Lauren Daigle. Lauren’s amazing voice and thoughtful lyrics encourage listeners to look to God through all of life’s circumstances. In a world where we never seem to be good enough, it describes who God says we are in You Say and being in the first person it helps listeners to sing along and declare His Word. Losing My Religion talks about how it’s the relationship with Jesus that is most important and cannot be substituted for anything else. Along with many others, Lauren has brought back an old favourite hymn in a new way that appeals to the current generations. On this album it is Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. Dorothy – Assistant Manager
16 sport APRIL 2019
WA Lords XI tours Tasmania to Raj and his ministry, while also initiating a step towards an intentional Christian influence in WA cricket.” With the support of Robert Marshall and Brad Denham at the Western Australian Cricket Association, the team grew to 16 Christian and non-Christian cricketers, pastors and parents, being an example of Christ to both Western Australia representatives and opposition players. Based at Australind Baptist Church, the team is captained by Leigh Mcintosh, Youth Pastor at Spires Life Church in Baldivis and President of White Knights Baldivis Cricket Club. “Cricket originated as a ‘gentleman’s game’ but the behaviours and attitudes have deteriorated,” Leigh said. “Empowering Christian’s to bring godly wisdom will meet a need in the current climate.” Along with engaging sporting clubs of various codes through state and national touring sides, the Ministry engages with churches by coordinating combined churches involvement into events such as SportsFest and State Youth Games. However, the bigger picture is to partner local sporting clubs with local churches, providing direct links to pastoral care services at a ‘grass roots’ level. “Community cricket clubs are busy places and care systems often come second,” Leigh said. “It would be great to empower Christians, through local churches, to do what they were called to do – love others – I think the church will learn
The WA Lords XI team on their recent tour to Tasmania.
and regain its relevance in the community as a whole.” Brad added that there is significant potential for church and cricket communities to unite and provide mutually beneficial outcomes to not only their own communities, but the wider communities in which both organisations reside.
Photo: Ministry of Sport Southwest
The team finished second in the round robin fixtures to earn a spot in the grand final in the Intercultural Sports League’s annual event. A glass shattering six struck by Ethan Claux from Como Baptist Church was one of the few highlights for the crippled touring side. Team members sustained numerous injuries, requiring two runners and substitute fielders. The Tasmanian Punjabi Society claimed a convincing victory posting 5/193 from their 20 overs and bowling the WA Lords XI out for 106. Ministry of Sport Southwest organiser Ryan Smoker shared that the WA Lords XI began as a conversation at the Crossover Australia 2018 Emerging Evangelist Conference he attended in Sydney with Baptist Churches Western Australia Church Health Pastor, Mike Bullard. Ryan and conference attendee, Director of the Intercultural Sports League, Raj Chopra, found their conversations quickly turned to cricket. Raj shared how his new found faith in Jesus and a passion for his countrymen led to the creation of the Intercultural Sports League, designed to engage ethnic and migrant communities in Tasmania. “The discussion grew to an invitation to bring a Christian touring side [to Tasmania], demonstrating the welcoming love of Christ to the largely Hindu and Muslim communities,” Ryan said. “[This would] give us an opportunity to be a blessing
Photo: Ministry of Sport Southwest
The Ministry of Sport Southwest WA Lords XI Cricket Team made a grand final appearance when it travelled to Tasmania to compete in the Don’t Give Up, Give Back Cup in January 2019.
For more information, email sports@australindbaptistchurch. com.
Ethan Claux’s glass breaking six at the University of Tasmania, Intercultural Sports League T20 Cup final.
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