IN CONVERSATION Carey Baptist’s youth pastors share how they’ve led their youth ministry into a new season. PAGE 12 >>
Author Michelle Mitchell writes how the ‘give up’ strategy can boost thankfulness in our homes. PAGE 13 >>
4 Affordable housing Church leads new housing project for homeless >>
5 Sponsorship Sunday Photo: Perth Chin Baptist Church
Make a difference through child sponsorship >>
Chin Christian Council in Australia General Secretary, Rev. Dr Dennis Shu Maung, Perth Chin Baptist Church Senior Pastor, Rev. James Tin Kung, and BCWA Director of Ministries, Pastor Mark Wilson officially open Perth Chin Baptist Church’s new building.
Chin Baptists celebrate Perth Chin Baptist Church, joined by guests from other Chin churches throughout Australia, celebrated the official opening of their new church building on Sunday 5 May. Perth Chin Baptist Church Senior Pastor, Rev. James Tin Kung said the opening date was special for their congregation because it was the fifth anniversary of the church being formed in Perth. A church plant from WA Chin Christian Church, Perth Chin Baptist Church was formed in 2014 with 148 members, including children. Church members originate from the Hakha region, near the north-eastern border of Myanmar, primarily settling in Australia as refugees to escape persecution from the Myanmar Army. “In the beginning we worshipped at Airport City Church
in Belmont for six months, and for the last four and a half years we have been blessed to be able to worship at Maida Vale Baptist Church, prior to moving into the new building at Bassendean,” James said. James described the issues they faced as a new church and wanting to host weekly events for their congregation. They had to hire other churches’ buildings, so they were limited to using them on arranged days and found that this was limiting their ability to grow. “We were very enthusiastic to purchase our own building, so we could hold social as well as religious functions,” he said.
The church initially envisaged the process of acquiring their own building to be around ten years – five years to purchase the land and another five years to raise funds and construct the buildings. However, with the support of Baptist Churches Western Australia Cross Cultural and Indigenous Ministries Pastor, Victor Owuor, they were able to find a suitable building in Bassendean. With funds raised from church members, a loan through Baptist Financial Services and permission to convert the building’s use to worship granted from the Town of Bassendean, the purchase was finalised in September 2017.
Chin Christian Council in Australia General Secretary, Rev. Dr Dennis Shu Maung joined James and Baptist Churches Western Australia Director of Ministries, Pastor Mark Wilson to cut the ribbon at the opening service. “From its humble beginning in 2014, it has been wonderful to see the Perth Chin Baptist Church flourish in its ministry,” Mark said. “To have its own place to call home is a blessing from the Lord.” James shared that the congregation wanted to be known as good members of their community and he prayed that they would be a useful and meaningful instrument for God’s Kingdom and His people. Author – Matthew Chapman
10 Hong Kong protests Christian hymn becomes anthem in protests >>
Building healthy churches. BAPTIST CHURCHES WESTERN AUSTRALIA
my view AUGUST 2019
On crank calls … Every job has its occupational hazards. I’m sure that those of you who are doctors will tell me that at dinner parties people are desperate to chat to you about odd-looking lumps or troublesome piles, while the mechanics among my readers are equally frustrated by those bothered by their car’s dodgy ignition system and look to them for a free and painless solution.
Dr Brian Harris Dr Brian Harris is the Principal of Vose Seminary and Pastor at Large for the Carey Group.
If, like me, you head a venerated theological seminary, you are fair game for queries about every conceivable heresy hatched during 2,000 years of church history. Actually, the person making the query is often keen to birth a new heresy of their own, and usually wants my support for their misguided enterprise. It can take a fair amount of diplomacy to say that if millions of readers of the Bible
over the last 20 centuries have never spotted what they are now proclaiming, it is probably because it isn’t there. This is a long way of saying that when my PA announces, “I have [obscure name] on the line. They are keen to chat to you about Revelation 14:3-5 (or Ezekiel 17:1-4 or whatever),” my heart does not leap with joy. I usually ask, “You have told them I’m unavailable, haven’t you?”
My despair deepens with the reply, “Well, I just told them your 2:30 appointment was cancelled, so they phoned at a perfect time.” “Could you tell them the fire alarm has just gone off and we have to evacuate the building?” I ask. An awkward silence follows. “Oh alright, put them through,” I hear myself say. Lest you judge me too harshly for my poor attitude, do you go rushing to the door when
the Jehovah’s Witnesses come knocking? If not, don’t throw the first stone … But every now and then you get it wrong. Like today … it had all the marks of the classic crank call. The person had called three times (I had genuinely been out), and now was the fourth. There was no valid excuse to avoid the call. So, I took it. And I was blessed. The person wanted to share a God experience with me. I am so glad they did. You can’t put God in a box. Sometimes He speaks when you least expect it.
Walking with a limp Recently I have been reflecting on how we respond as leaders and as believers to the really tough things life throws at us. I’m talking about loss, grief, sickness – the big, life-defining things that have the potential to make or break us.
Jessica Magowan Jessica Magowan is the Associate Pastor at Inglewood Community Church.
The past seven or so years of my life have been marked by significant bouts of sickness, taking me out for weeks at a time and preventing me from being involved in all that I have wanted to. I should say that I am not very good at missing out – I want to be where the action is! Those years have broken me at times. I haven’t always responded in God-honouring ways, and I certainly haven’t been a good patient on several occasions. But those years have
also taught me valuable lessons as a leader and a follower of Jesus. They have taught me how to delegate, how to let go of the unimportant things and how to lean on the amazing team I have at church for support. The most important lesson I’ve learnt, however, is knowing when to push through the pain, and when to stop and rest. That was a long, slow lesson to learn, as my husband will attest to! I’ve learnt that when it’s time to rest, to do it well – to do
the things that are necessary for my body and for my soul to recover. I’ve learnt to treasure those times. I’ve also learnt that there are times when you have to keep leading through the pain. It’s not only necessary, but important – for you and those you lead and do life with. Why? Because in our weakness, He is strong. I call those times ‘walking with a limp’. I’m walking, I keep going, but it’s with a limp. It’s being aware that I’m hurting, whether physically
or emotionally, but choosing to keep going anyway because this life is bigger than me. God cannot turn our weakness into His strength if we never let Him use our weakness, and it’s in those times – those walking with a limp times – that God has done His most powerful ministry through me.
No more religion, more love in action As we all know, there are a myriad of different denominations in our Christian religion. We are aware that some denominations emphasise slight doctrinal differences, but often they simply offer different types of praise and styles of worship – depending on the preferences of Christians.
Peter Christofides Peter Christofides is the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Coolbellup Campus Pastor.
We all know that it is crucial that we are to be of ‘one mind’ on the essentials of our faith, but beyond that, there are a great deal of issues that we have freedom on what we hold ‘close to our heart’. In my time of lecturing Introduction of Theology to students at The University of Notre Dame, I have found that most students (about 500 doing this unit each semester) do not know the difference between a ‘religion’ and a ‘Christian denomination’. I have found that most students actually
do not care about religion or denominationalism. What they do care about is acceptance of all people – no matter how different we are. They are not so much interested in our creeds as much as we are – no matter how important we believe these creeds to be. They are more interested in seeing those of us who claim to be Christians and lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be demonstrating the love of God and the compassion of Jesus to all we come into contact with.
From my experience, they are more interested in the Father’s actions, where it says in Luke 15:20, “… his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The word used there for compassion is ‘splagchnizomai’ which means ‘to be moved as to one’s bowels’. At the time, the bowels were thought to be the place of love, sympathy, kindness and mercy. I have learnt that no matter how passionate I am about my belief in my Lord Jesus, if I am
not able to show this compassion of the Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, I am not demonstrating God’s love – which can be tough at times! However, I also need to realise, God’s forgiveness must be God-like – like that of the Father. God’s love is always far greater than my creed or lecturing – which is always to be doused with mercy, grace, compassion and pastoral care. So despite my denominational persuasion, it’s all about my relationship with Christ. As the lyrics of a song read, “Your sovereign hand will be my guide.” God’s hand will be my guide in my actions of demonstrating His compassion to those I meet. What a comforting challenge!
Hearing the Indigenous voice BCWA Church and Leaders Support Pastor, Mike Bullard said it was ‘eye-opening’ to hear the experiences of Indigenous church members and hopes it will lead to many conversations on how Baptist churches can best recognise Indigenous culture and people. “Our hope is to share their perspectives with all the Baptist churches in Western Australia, helping them in their own local setting and on the journey of reconciliation generally,” Mike said. Mount Zion Aussie Indigenous Church (MOZAIC) have recently continued their tradition of linking in with mainstream Baptist churches. The first was a visit to Bentley Baptist Church during the ‘Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage’ themed National Reconciliation Week in May. MOZAIC Pastor, Keith Truscott highlighted the significance of this time in the church.
He preached a sermon titled ‘The Three Hearts’ from Luke 24: 13-32. The service was filmed by Youth With A Mission, as they were producing a short biography of Keith with the theme of overcoming life crises with God’s help. “He identified how our walk with Jesus is sometimes with a ‘sad heart’ and a ‘slow of heart’, but can end up being a ‘burning heart’ to tell others that Jesus is alive,” Mike said. In July, members of MOZAIC travelled to Yangebup Baptist Church during the NAIDOC week that was themed ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future’. The service combined both Indigenous and mainstream elements, with Keith sharing a message called ‘The Special Tribal Man’. “We all should share Jesus’ message together to other families, communities, tribes and
Photo: Mike Bullard
A recent meeting between Baptist Churches Western Australia (BCWA) and Indigenous pastors and elders has strengthened unity within Baptist churches.
Members of Bentley Baptist Church and Mount Zion Aussie Indigenous Church came together for a combined service recently concluded with a shared lunch.
nations for He has come to heal the broken-hearted and set the captives free,” Keith said. “We may all come from different countries and tribes, but we can work together with courage … with the best voice, treaty and truth under
the banner of the cross of Calvary as we seek to make Jesus our Lord.” “We look forward to sharing again next year, and we are open to linking up with other congregations in the future,” he concluded.
If your church would like to link in with MOZAIC, Pastor Keith Truscott can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org Author – Matthew Chapman
More churches sharing services Baptist Churches Western Australia (BCWA) has seen a rise in the number of churches using its shared services in recent years. “In 2015, we offered this service to a church who needed some additional support in this space, and in the past four years, this number has increased to 26 churches throughout Western Australia,” BCWA Head of Finance and Administration, Greg Holland said. Greg explained that with increasing compliance and administration requirements for churches, volunteers looking after this area were often stretched in their skills and the time required to meet their obligations. Now, one-fifth of Baptist churches are part of BCWA’s shared services using the Xero
accounting system, payroll, accounts payable/receivable, reconciliations, reporting and compliance services. “Our vision is to be ‘an empowering movement helping pastors, ministries, churches and their communities say yes to Jesus’ and our finance team are helping churches to fulfil this vision, freeing up people to serve in other ministry areas,” Greg said. For more information about BCWA’s Shared Services, phone Doug Patching on 08 6313 6300. Author – Matthew Chapman
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BCWA’s finance team’s commitment to serving local Baptist churches has increased to 26 churches using their accounting services.
news AUGUST 2019
Church leads affordable housing Maida Vale Baptist Church is due to start building six units and is planning to make contact with people who want to take part in its vision. On the eve of Homelessness Week (4 to 10 August), Maida Vale Baptist Church Senior Pastor Rob Douglas explained that nearly 10,000 people experience homelessness in Western Australia. “Most of us wonder how we can address this problem, but the church has seen the potential of playing a small part in serving our community through affordable housing,” Rob said. This year’s theme for Homelessness Week in WA is Home, Safe Home. “It’s appropriate that Project Safe Haven is the name we’ve given to our project.” Planning for the project commenced more than four years ago, and considerable work has been undertaken in obtaining formal approvals. For a number of years, an old cottage next to the church was used to provide housing for people who are in need, including a retired missionary couple and a family from Papua New Guinea who were studying in Perth. With the cottage approaching the end of its useful life, the church investigated how it could make better use of the site and decided to proceed with building six units. Rob explained that financing the project would require investment both in building the units and in the ongoing provision of affordable housing. “Our vision is that Christians would invest in the project so that
the whole complex can be used to achieve a Christian mission,” he said. “If that support isn’t forthcoming, we can fall back onto running the project as a basic real estate exercise, but why would we do that if we can use this amazing resource to serve Jesus?” “The church bought the property many years ago and it’s a privilege to be able to build on the vision and generosity of those who have gone before us, by providing housing that will support people into the future.” Providing housing is not unfamiliar to Maida Vale Baptist Church. For over 20 years, its service arm, Maida Vale Baptist Community Services (MVBCS), has been operating ten villas in a boutique over 55s retirement village. The village is managed on behalf of MVBCS by Village Solutions Australia. Homelessness has been described as one of the most potent examples of disadvantage in the community, and one of the most important markers of social exclusion. A range of different situations can lead people to finding themselves in unstable home situations, including domestic violence, substance abuse and unemployment. If you would like to find out more about this project that is showing the love of Jesus to some of the most vulnerable members of our community, please contact Maida Vale Baptist Church on 08 9454 4626 or email@example.com
Photo: Srdjan Randjelovic/Shutterstock.com
A Baptist church in Western Australia is inviting investment in a significant housing project adjacent to its High Wycombe worship facility.
Maida Vale Baptist Church is looking to help address homelessness in its community through Project Safe Haven.
Forming the next generation in Geraldton
Photo: Janelle Palmer
With a heart for youth and young adults, Geraldton Baptist Church has launched a new year-long internship program.
Ben and Grace Rollett are moving from the UK to lead FORM internships and impact young adults.
Young people with a pioneering spirit are invited to come, learn to be authentic followers of Jesus and impact the coastal city through an intensive internship called FORM. Newlyweds Ben and Grace Rollett from the UK are coming to lead the training program. The young couple were part of a church in Sheffield that invested heavily in building a disciple-making culture over the last 20 years, including FORM internships.
“We’re looking forward to FORM starting in February 2020, with young people aged 18 to 35, from across WA and the world,” Ben said. Geraldton Baptist Church Pastor, Craig Palmer said that as a church they had been going deeper in learning about discipleship over the last four years. “The Rolletts’ skills and passion were a natural fit to help foster emerging leaders of the next generation,” Craig said.
“They’ve now been granted a Permanent Residency Visa and will join us in October.” The internship includes one day of training, one day of ministry placement, and parttime work in the local community. “We will assist them to live in a tight prayerful community that encourages and supports one another to be radical followers of Jesus,” Ben said. For more information, visit www.geraldtonbaptist.org.au Author – Craig and Janelle Palmer
Be Love Sponsorship Sunday “Here was a little boy who obviously loves his brother greatly, who was unable to protect him the way he wished to because their family had no money to use for treating his medical condition.” But that was before the family joined a Baptist World Aid child sponsorship project. “Through the project, my brother was identified among the children with disabilities,” Johnson said. “We were able to receive a goat, which reproduced, and we sold one of them so we could treat my brother – I was so happy.” Johnson’s mother also joined a project savings group, where she was able to take small loans and receive valuable training on how to farm and run a small business. This helps her to pay Johnson’s school fees. Now Johnson can attend school without being sent home, while his brother is receiving the treatment he needs. With more food to eat, Johnson has the energy to study and to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher. “I was honoured to make contact with Johnson’s Australian child sponsors when I arrived home,” Samara said. “I was able to share this incredible story with them and
Perth hosts Asia Pacific Baptist Federation meetings Baptist Churches Western Australia hosted the leadership of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation (APBF) for a taskforce meeting in Perth in June. The Federation represents Baptists from over 33,000 churches, 59 conventions and 21 countries with over five million members across the Asia-Pacific region. APBF Regional Vice President and Baptist Churches Western Australia Director of Ministries, Pastor Mark Wilson spoke of the honour of hosting the meeting in Perth. This was the first time the APBF leadership had met in Perth, with two days dedicated to discussing the region’s strategic direction , including holistic transformational development along with the enhancement of
its relationship with Transform Aid International. “In the last two decades, the region has been impacted by natural disasters, causing substantial loss of life and subsequent impact on the welfare of survivors,” Mark said. “As the overarching body representing Baptists in the region, our hope is that by developing a stronger relationship with Transform Aid International, we will be better placed to help when aid is required in the region.” Alongside developing the relationship, the APBF is developing its future plans to develop leadership in the region. “Through empowering leaders in Baptist churches, our prayers are that we can see transformed communities in the region,” Mark shared. Author – Matthew Chapman
Johnson and his family are one of many whose lives have been impacted through child sponsorship.
thank them for the part that they played in it.” “But really, this is the incredible effect of child sponsorship – not just happy children, but stronger families and flourishing communities.”
If you would like to do the same for others like Johnson this Be Love Sponsorship Sunday, visit baptistworldaid. org.au/sponsorship
* Name changed for child protection reasons.
Scholarship opens doors Five Aboriginal university students have recently had their dreams of graduation boosted by the 2019 Minnie Bairstow Aboriginal Scholarship. The scholarship was established through a bequest by Minnie Bairstow to assist Aboriginal tertiary students facing the often challenging cost of housing. Administered under the umbrella of Baptist Churches Western Australia, the recently restructured scholarship offers up to $10,000 per year towards accommodation costs for the duration of the student’s course. The 2019 recipients are Koori Ngemba woman Jaye Lee Snowden, Thalanyji woman Taylah Thompson-Patfield, Arrernte man Corey Dalton, Warramunga man Aaron Sutton and Koori Nyungar man Tyler Kelly. They are enrolled in psychology, criminology, medicine and Aboriginal
Photo: Sally Phu
In preparation for this event, Baptist World Aid’s Communication Specialist, Samara Linehan travelled to Uganda where she met a little boy named Johnson*, a sponsored child with an incredible story to tell. “Johnson is 14 years old and he lives with his mum, two brothers, sister and grandma,” Samara said. “Because there is little work in their immediate region, Johnson’s father is forced to work away from home.” For Johnson, poverty has meant that he and his family have always struggled to meet their basic needs in life. “Life was difficult because I did not have anything to eat,” Johnson said. “When there is no food, I have no energy. When I don’t have school fees, I try to go to school even though they send me away.” This was not the only weight on the young boy’s shoulders. “My brother suffers from epilepsy,” he explained. “I knew there was nothing to use for treating him and I knew that he would die.” “Hearing Johnson recall his constant worry for his brother so candidly moved me deeply,” Samara reflected.
Photo: Agnes Burrell
This year’s Be Love Sponsorship Sunday will be on 11 August, an annual event that celebrates the impact Australians have made on children across the world.
Accommodation scholarship recipients with BCWA Director of Ministries, Mark Wilson (third from left) and Minnie Bairstow Trust Chairman, Andrew Johnson (far right).
enabling courses across four Perth universities. The scholarship not only offers financial relief but also affirms the decision to take on the challenges of tertiary study. “Everything is falling into place for me,” Jaye said at a gathering for the scholarship recipients in early July. “I feel like I have found my niche and I know I can make a difference for our people.”
The five were selected from an exceptional field. “The standard was impressive and we were stunned by the number of applicants, particularly for a new scholarship,” Minnie Bairstow Trust Chairman Andrew Johnson said. “The need for this kind of support is clearly huge.” Author – Katrina Drayton
news AUGUST 2019
Age is no barrier to friendships
Rhys Thomas, Talvin Stubbs and Luke Gouma work together to refurbish a wooden bench at Baptistcare William Carey Court, Busselton.
enjoyed the visit. She was impressed with the boys’ care towards the seniors taking part in the activities. “Some of our residents don’t have family nearby and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to talk one on one with the boys,” Ros said. “It was wonderful to see the smiles that the young ones bought to the faces of our residents.” “They also gave our muchloved timber benches in the outdoor area a new lease of life which will be a permanent reminder of their very special visit.” For more information, visit baptistcare.com.au Author – Alice Hennessy
International gathering of Messy Church A growing number of churches in Western Australia have become a part of a worldwide movement that is changing the face of the church. Messy Church has been described as the most successful fresh expression of church in recent years. Messy Church Regional Coordinators for Western Australia, Rob and Robyn Douglas, attended the Messy Church International Conference in May this year, along with 220 people from around the world. “Messy Church started in the UK in 2004, but now there are nearly 4,000 congregations in 20 countries around the world. The most exciting thing is that it has crossed over denominational barriers,” Rob said. “We now have 18 Messy Churches in Western Australia representing Baptist, Churches of Christ, Uniting, Anglican, Salvation Army, and Full Gospel.” Rob, Senior Pastor at Maida Vale Baptist Church, said Messy Church had grown as a second congregation at Maida Vale and was now one of the church’s most effective outreach and discipleship activities.
Photo: Rob Douglas
The group was in the South West for a leadership camp run by the Clontarf Foundation, and spent the day at Baptistcare William Carey Court Residential Care undertaking voluntary maintenance work and playing bingo, chatting and sharing afternoon tea with some of the elderly residents. Though the age difference might seem to be an impediment to conversation flow and connection, the opposite was true with both generations being entertained and enthralled with each other’s stories and energy. Clontarf Foundation Regional Manager - WA Southern, Michael Lay said the visit gave the boys the opportunity to relate to an older generation on a social level. “Some of the boys said the time spent at Baptistcare William Carey Court was the best part of their three day camp,” Michael said. “Coming from a culture that respects elders, the boys were in awe listening to tales from the past.” Research shows that when generations come together everyone can benefit with clear and positive outcomes for all. Seniors have a lifetime of knowledge to share and the interaction between generations can help young people develop respect and empathy for the older generation. Baptistcare William Carey Court Lifestyle Coordinator, Ros McDonald said it was rewarding to see how much the residents
Friendships established by eight 17 year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys have made a big difference in the lives of Busselton’s most senior residents.
Messy Church International Conference took place just north of London in the UK this year.
Rob explained that the conference provided opportunities for delegates to discover new ideas, to network with other groups, and to worship and pray together. “It was great to see the way in which Messy Church has been a boost to many churches that were struggling to survive, and the significant growth that has occurred in countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden,” Rob said.
Maida Vale Baptist Church is hosting a Messy Muster on 21 and 22 September to bring together local congregations and provide information for churches wanting to start Messy Church. For more information, search Messy Muster at www.eventbrite.com.au
An estimated 24 million people have attended Alpha globally, and despite reports of the decline of Christianity in Australia over recent decades, Alpha has seen the reverse, with over 350,000 people in attendance over a 20 year period up to 2013. Shortly after this point, a ten year goal to reach one million people was cast. “Thirteen million Australians identify as Christian in the most recent census, but many don’t know what that is,” Alpha National Director, Melinda Dwight said. “Together we can engage our communities in a faithstretching goal.” “Whatever people’s background or language, wherever they work, live or study, we can gather to eat and explore faith in Jesus Christ.” While Alpha has significantly updated its resources in recent years with a new Alpha Film Series and Alpha Youth Series, its model remains unchanged. It is an interactive series held over eight to 11 weeks where participants are invited to share a meal, watch a video and openly ask questions that the video topic raises. “Alpha is an opportunity for a spiritual conversation; a place where you can laugh together, eat together, ask anything and explore life’s questions – it’s an
invitation to gather around a table in community,” Melinda explained. Alpha Australia reported that 1,260 churches from almost every denomination hosted Alpha sessions in 2018. The number of churches running two or more Alpha courses per year have also increased, indicating that many are doubling their reach with those enquiring of Jesus. “The first thing I noticed was that they were very welcoming and very loving,” Phill, a recent Alpha participant in Queensland, shared. “I liked the topics; they opened my mind up – I remember thinking, wow, this is probably the best thing I’ve ever done.” “My world was collapsing around me. I had lived relying on my own strength. Now I can lean on Jesus.” Phill is representative of the 150,000 who have attended an Alpha in the last five years – bringing the total to 500,000. Alpha founder Nicky Gumbel also celebrated the Australian milestone. “Alpha Australia, what a story! Five hundred thousand people have now done Alpha in Australia thanks to God and the Holy Spirit who’s behind this,” Nicky said. “There is something extraordinary happening in Australia which you’re all making possible.” “As you keep going, you will never know, this side of heaven, the impact that you are having.” “We love Australia, we love what you’re doing and we are so excited hearing all the stories of lives being changed!”
Record numbers have joined Alpha in Australia.
Inspiring healthier relations in leadership
Author – Alice Staines Photo: Global Leadership Network Australia
Alpha Australia recently announced that 500,000 Australians have explored faith in Jesus through Alpha since it was established twenty years ago.
500,000 join Alpha Australia
briefs Baptisms On 26 May, Looty Cook, Shaun Robson and Ashton Vost were baptised at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church’s Coolbellup Campus.
Baptist Financial Services staff change Anina Findling has concluded as the National Networking Manager with Baptist Financial Services (BFS), having served with them since May 2013. Baptist Churches Western Australia Director of Ministries, Mark Wilson commented, “Anina has demonstrated amazing passion and commitment to the purpose of BFS, in supporting and resourcing churches and other Christian ministries, as well as engaging strategically with clients and stakeholders.”
“We will miss Anina’s contribution, but I am also very confident she will continue with the same passion and dedication in her call to serve churches and others as she moves into a new season.”
Kununurra serves local community Members of Kununurra Baptist Church served their local community parkrun on Saturday 11 May, as the runners celebrated their 50th parkrun. At the conclusion of the five-kilometre timed run, participants were treated to a bacon and egg roll served by members of the church. “We are thankful to God for this opportunity to serve the community,” Kununurra Baptist Church Pastor David Wager said.
Nancy Beach encouraged leaders to develop healthier male-female relationships within the church at a recent seminar in Perth.
In partnership with Global Leadership Network Australia, Perth recently hosted former Willow Creek Pastor, Nancy Beach and her Leading Well seminar. To develop healthier male-female relationships, Nancy issued the challenge to leaders attending the seminar: “Are you taking intentional steps to be an advocate for emerging women leaders like Phoebe in the book of Romans?” “Men, I don’t know if you realise the power that you hold to choose to call out leadership in women or not. In many ways, your hand is on the door; you can open it or not,” she said.
Nancy, author of Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church, was on Willow Creek’s staff under Bill Hybels and was one of numerous women who revealed the extent of his abuse. Global Leadership Network Australia Board Member, Karen Wilson said that the seminars’ greatest benefit was that men and women came together to have a timely and crucial conversation,
not only in Australia but also at a global level. “People were engaged and knew that this conversation needed to be had,” Karen said. “It was done with respect, knowing that we need to move forward with these issues in the church.” Author – Matthew Chapman
feature AUGUST 2019
I still remember the day. A woman had moved into the town where I was pastoring, and on arriving at the church, announced that she was trying to build a new life for herself. She and her husband had separated after 30 years of marriage. He was now living with a much younger woman, and she doubted he would ever return to her – though she would be happy if she was wrong. She wasn’t.
For better, but not worse:
Marriage and Divorce After 18 months of agonising and all attempts at reconciliation failing, she filed for divorce. On the day her case was to be heard in court, she asked if I and another person from the church would go with her for moral support. We agreed. We waited for four hours before her case was called. She went to the dock and her lawyer stood to present her case. The divorce was uncontested, he said. The husband accepted the terms of the divorce and a maintenance agreement had been reached. The relevant papers were before the magistrate. The magistrate glanced at them and asked her if she wanted the divorce. In a soft voice, she said ‘yes’. “Divorce granted. Maintenance as per terms of agreement,” the magistrate said. “Next case please.” It took less than one minute. I looked at her. I’ve never seen anyone look so shattered. Her life had fallen apart. The court was disinterested in her story; there were many cases to get through. Divorce granted … Next case please. In one devastating minute, the dreams of 30 years crumbled in a heap. Divorce – perhaps the saddest song in all the world. “After all,” she said, “If he had died, I could have kept pretending that he still loved me. This is a death without any consolation.” What are we to make of divorce? From a pastoral perspective, it presents huge challenges and invites the church to explore what it means to truly be family to one another. For many readers, divorce is not a topic for study – it is a life story. And truth to tell, it is a life story experienced by far too many people. My own parents were divorced, so I am very conscious that life does not always go to plan. According to Australian statistics, roughly one in three Australian marriages end in divorce. Though Australia does not feature in the top ten countries for divorce, a rate of one in three still
represents an enormous amount of pain, especially when you factor in that approximately half of the marriages involve dependent children. What guidance do we find from the Bible on this topic? Malachi 2:16 sets the stage: “‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel.” God doesn’t say: “I hate people who are divorced.” He says: “I hate divorce.” The logical question is, “Why?” The answer is not hard to find. I hate divorce because it falls so far short of what I want for people. I hate it because of the pain it causes. I hate it because of what it does to families. I hate it because it undermines the concept of covenant, which is at the heart of my commitment to the world. But despite all the hate of divorce, the Bible philosophically accepts that divorce will take place, with Jesus citing the famous exception clause of adultery as being a possible justification for it.
Jesus and the exception clause We need to consider Jesus’ attitude to divorce. His teaching in Matthew 19:3-12 is enormously important. The context is that some Pharisees came and asked Jesus if divorce was legal for any and every reason – a loaded question. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was probably in mind, where Moses makes provision for divorce, stating that a man may divorce his wife if she has become displeasing to him because he finds something indecent in her. Predictably, people started to ask: “What does finding something displeasing or indecent mean?” In Jesus’ day, there were three schools of thought modelled on three of the most prominent Jewish rabbis. The school of Shammai taught that it meant divorce could only be in the event of adultery. The school of Hillel was more permissive. Finding something unpleasing could refer to some trivial
fault that was found. For example, a wife who burnt her husband’s meal could constitute as finding something unpleasing. This made divorce a lot easier, the husband (and yes, there was a strong male bias at the time) still had to provide some justification for the divorce. Reasons like burnt meals and an untidy home sufficed. The school of Akiba was even more permissive. A wife might be unpleasing to her husband because he had found someone he considered fairer or more attractive than her. The petition for divorce did not have to be linked to anything she had done. She might be unpleasing simply because he wanted someone else. Essentially the Pharisees were saying to Jesus: “So who is right, Shammai, Hillel or Akiba?” Whoever He chose, He was going to offend a fair section of the listeners. Jesus refuses to plunge straight into the answer, but rather reminds them of the sacred nature of marriage. Ultimately it is God who brings people together, therefore, “Whom God has joined together, let man not separate”. The implication is clear. Jesus is saying: You are wanting to talk about divorce. I want to start with marriage. The goal of marriage is that two become one. They aren’t two separate people anymore. The goal of marriage is marriage, not divorce. This is where we must begin. Too often our starting point is: Under what circumstances can we justify divorce? But the right question is: How can we help create conditions that will make it possible for this marriage to survive? That’s the thing to strive for. For all that, Jesus is not naive. He doesn’t refuse to recognise divorce. He partially aligns himself with a Jewish school of thought; given the three choices, He selects Rabbi Shammai as right. Divorce can only be for an extreme
event. Burning meals or deciding someone else is more attractive cuts no ice with Jesus. But adultery, He concedes, breaks troth in the most destructive way. It is a betrayal at the deepest level. People routinely misunderstand the passage and start to try and put Jesus in a box. So it’s only adultery … nothing else ever. And there have been instances where women have felt obligated to stay in their marriages because although their husbands have battered them physically and emotionally and have created a psychological state in the home that is very damaging to their children, they have never slept with anyone else. Some people have said… but there is no adultery, so divorce is not an option. They miss the point of the passage. Jesus is saying that the goal of marriage is marriage. You can’t take a Rabbi Akibah approach – find a more attractive woman and divorce your wife. But He does acknowledge that under extreme circumstances, there may be sufficient justification for divorce. Even as He stresses the need for the focus to be on marriage and not divorce, Jesus, knowing all too well the unacceptable conditions under which some live, points to acceptable, though sad, grounds for divorce. The right way to interpret Jesus’ answer is to see it as setting the bar. Akibah and Hillel set it far too low. If you are going to get divorced it needs to be for something really serious. It would have to be adultery … or more. And yes, if your marriage places you or your children in physical danger, that counts. But don’t view this as a box-ticking exercise – ‘yes, I think my situation is bad enough’, or ‘pity, but not yet bad enough.’ Go back to the heart of what Jesus is saying. The goal of marriage is marriage, not divorce. And the goal of marriage is to effectively become one.
feature AUGUST 2019
e in the 21st Century What does it mean to embrace the goal of marriage as living as one? Like any other goal, it means we have to work at it. Let me put it differently. If you want to be a great athlete, you have to set goals for yourself. There would be fitness goals. There would never be ‘unfitness’ goals. If your approach to getting into the national team was: “I wonder how slow and overweight I can be and still be selected for the team? I wonder how often I can be responsible for the other team scoring and still keep my place?” Do you think you’d make the side? Jesus is saying: Keep the goal in sharp focus. Never ask: ‘How can I get out?’ but rather, ‘What steps can I take to make sure I stay in?’ This has practical implications. As you look at your marriage or that of another, you might say: “Brian, we’re beyond the bar set even by Rabbi Shammai. So that means it is over.” Jesus would say: “Not necessarily. The goal of marriage is marriage. There has been a terrible block and something ruining your relationship … but start there. Can you change anything so that you slip back beneath the bar … so you stop worrying about the bar and simply want to stay married?” Often the way forward is to work really hard on what has gone wrong. In ethics, we draw not only from the Scriptures but also from the wisdom and traditions of the past. The compilers of the traditional wedding vows got it right when they asked us to pledge ‘for better or for worse’. They never assumed that it would always be for better, but advocated sticking at it as a means for overcoming difficulties.
What to do when it really is over But what if it really is over? Step 1: Ask, “Have I done all I can to reach the goal of being one?” Step 2: If it really is over, ask, “How can I end this in a way that honours Jesus and preserves the wellbeing of us all?” Part of the ‘all’ is often children. When resentment is high, it is common for one partner to explode about the other to their children. When you hear yourself about to say, “Your father always …” or “Your mother is …” it is time to shut your mouth. Step 3: Recognise you will be vulnerable. Make as few major decisions as possible and don’t rush into another relationship. Step 4: Set standards for yourself. When hurt, we often let ourselves go. No matter how painful, embrace the future. Groom yourself well. Keep the house tidy. Get fit. Part of setting standards is not to allow yourself to become lax sexually. Make a firm decision to set a high standard. Step 5: Learn the lessons from this phase. Even if 99.9 percent of the blame for the breakdown was your partner’s, what have you learnt and what will you do differently? Claim Romans 8:28, not as trite escapism but as a profound promise. Good can come even from pain. In what way can this experience make you a stronger, kinder, more Christlike person? Step 6: Acknowledge your regrets. Regret is inevitable, but don’t let regret dominate your life. Regret is the lot of those who can only look to the past. It leads to bitterness and in the end becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t let go of the past you will never be able to embrace the new. Christians are people who know that the best is yet to be. God doesn’t love you
less because your marriage failed. Look to God’s future with hope. Step 7: Own what was good in the past. Don’t let the ultimate failure of your marriage rob you of the joy gained from happier times in the past. Those happier moments were real, so embrace them with gratitude. Step 8: Keep trusting God.
Being a friend We live in a fallen world. God hates divorce, but He recognises it. Under certain circumstances it is the right decision. God is fully aware that many divorced people never made the decision to get divorced – it was a decision imposed on them, or one reached with the greatest reluctance. And God always wants to work for good in our lives. To cooperate with God means to help those who are in pain or trapped in bitterness. Whatever people are going through, remember to be a friend. God is the one who judges all hearts. Don’t try and take on God’s role. Show the love of Christ to all who need it. Tomorrow it might well be you, or me. We all always need the grace, forgiveness and love of God. God bless you – whatever your challenges might be. Author – Dr Brian Harris Dr Brian Harris is the Principal of Vose Seminary and Pastor at Large for the Carey Group. To read the full blog post from Brian Harris, visit brianharrisauthor. com/for-better- but-not-worse-marriageand-divorce-in-the-21st-century/
10 world news AUGUST 2019
“Christians started turning up at protests to sing Sing Hallelujah to the Lord in case there was violence when police wanted to disperse protesters … Once they started singing, everyone became calm,” 28 year old Christian activist Freeman Leung described in an interview with the ABC’s Bill Birtles. “It’s a very simple hymn, everyone can sing it,” Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students Chairperson, Edwin Chow said in an interview with the ABC. Edwin shared that some nonChristians had been singing ‘hallelujah’ alongside believers to receive additional protection from the police, as religious gatherings cannot be considered an illegal assembly. The demonstrations are against a proposed extradition law that would allow requests from authorities for suspects accused of criminal activities to be extradited to mainland China. Under current legislation, the Hong Kong Government can only extradite people to countries it has a standing extradition agreement with. However, in February, the Hong Kong Security Bureau
proposed changes that would expand the case-by-case extradition arrangement to mainland China. The Bureau also proposed removing the Hong Kong Legislative Council’s role in reviewing these individual executive requests which is “a crucial layer of governmental and public oversight,” Human Rights Watch stated in a media release. Since the proposed changes were announced, city residents have protested the changes with rally numbers initially starting in their hundreds, before peaking on 16 June with an estimated two million in attendance. In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party has suppressed non-government approved churches, causing additional fear for Hong Kong Christians. “Some Christians, including me, are afraid that if the extradition bill is passed, it could affect freedom of religion in Hong Kong and freedom of religious activities,” political activist and devout Christian Joshua Wong said. The protestors have focused much of their complaints on Hong Kong’s top leader, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam – a devout Catholic. On 15 June, Mrs Lam apologised for her handling of the bill, announcing a pause in its passage through legislation. She promised to listen better to the “different views of society”. Author – Matthew Chapman
Baptist World Alliance Emeritus passes away at 80 Rev. Dr Denton Lotz, General Secretary Emeritus of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and faithful servant of the Lord, died at his home in Forestdale, Massachusetts, USA, at the age of 80 on 23 April. In nearly two decades of service as General Secretary (1988 to 2007), Rev. Lotz served alongside five BWA presidents and 71 vicepresidents, as well as numerous commission chairs and staff members. He led preparations for four Baptist World Congresses with a cumulative attendance of 42,000 people from more than 100 countries. He oversaw 20 General Council meetings as well as 16 Annual Gatherings. “Denton Lotz was one of the most significant Baptist leaders
of the second half of the 20th century,” BWA General Secretary, Rev. Dr Elijah Brown said. “His profound leadership touched countless lives around the world as he championed evangelism, religious freedom, and the ministry of the global Baptist family.” His friendships included globally-recognised faith leaders like Rev. Billy Graham, as well as leaders of state such as former United States President Jimmy Carter. Upon his retirement from the BWA in 2007, Graham wrote, “Your strong leadership and personal faith has been an inspiration and blessing to me.” The Baptist World Alliance called upon all Baptists to remember and honour his legacy and to pray for his family. Author – Matthew Chapman
An estimated two million people in Hong Kong came together to protest proposed extradition laws on 16 June.
School partnership to support mission work Global Interaction and Christian Schools Australia have formed a new partnership with an aim to foster collaboration between local schools and global mission. The agreement was signed in May this year. Global Interaction Western Australia State Director, Dan McGrechan is excited about the possibilities going forward. “This opens the door to share our knowledge and resources to further the mission God has given each of us, locally and globally,” Dan said. The partnership will see Global Interaction provide schools with training in cultural intelligence and strategic mission, while connecting school communities with God’s work overseas. A key opportunity from this partnership is the sending of teachers overseas to assist with teaching the children of crosscultural workers. This provides a rich professional development experience for teachers and makes a real difference to families living overseas. Samantha Good lives among the Yawo people in Mozambique
Photo: Cam Beeck
The hymn Sing Hallelujah to the Lord has become an unofficial anthem to extradition bill demonstrations in Hong Kong, which have rallied up to two million protesters.
Protestors sing ‘hallelujah’
Teachers now have the opportunity to serve cross-cultural workers in Mozambique.
with husband Ben and their three children. “Having a teacher would enable me to spend more time learning the language so that I can have more meaningful conversations with the locals,” she said. Bek Falconer and husband Scott, also living in Mozambique, are raising five children while trying to embrace as many ministry opportunities as they can. “God is doing something really significant among the
Yawo people. There are so many ministry opportunities in front of us at the moment”, Bek said. “With kids’ education, we are limited in how many opportunities we can take.” “Teaching support would enable us to say ‘yes’ to more invitations.” Teachers interested in serving families overseas, or having Global Interaction involved in their school, can contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
world news 11 AUGUST 2019
Gettys revive singing in church
In June this year, the Gettys launched a global arena tour which kicked off in their hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The first arena event featured performances from Keith and Kristyn, including a 1,000-voice choir and band. Ten thousand people listened to a fusion of Celtic, bluegrass, Americana, modern and classical music, as well as a sermon from bestselling author John Piper. “A congregation that gains a greater understanding of why they sing won’t dread a worship service, with arms crossed and shoulders slumped, but see singing as an opportunity to proclaim the gospel together in obedience to God,” their website stated. The tour will include 30 arena events across the USA and selected European countries over the next three years, including Nashville, Tennessee where the initiative was launched in 2017 with their first Sing! conference and book. “The Sing! initiative began as a celebration of 500 years since Martin Luther brought the church back to congregational singing,” Keith said. “We share his passion that theology should be sung, and so through this arena tour we want to celebrate how worship
Photo: Gareth Russell
Nashville-based musicians Keith and Kristyn Getty, perhaps best known for the worship song In Christ Alone, are reigniting a passion for singing in the families of the church through their Sing! initiative and arena tour.
Keith and Kristyn Getty at the launch of their global arena tour in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 15 June.
transforms individuals and families, and strengthens and encourages congregational singing across our churches.” With a vision to “remind church members why the church should sing, when the church should sing, and how the church should sing,” Sing! has seen thousands of conference visitors since its launch and has even been famously recognised by the Queen. In 2017, Keith was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to “music and modern hymn writing,” marking the first time the award had been given to an individual involved in the world of contemporary church music. Author – Ramona Humphreys
Rising star prays to God Fifteen year old rising tennis star, Cori Gauff, who beat Venus Williams 6-4 6-4 at Wimbledon, said she approaches every match with an attitude of prayer.
“We don’t really pray about victory … just that me and my opponent stay safe.” Gauff, who goes by her nickname ‘Coco’, broke into tears after defeating five-time Wimbledon winner Venus Williams and then appeared to say a prayer.
When asked about this at the post-match press conference, she shared: “I was just thanking God for this opportunity.” Author – Ramona Humphreys
The youngest ever player at Wimbledon told reporters at a post-match press conference that she prays before every match and thanks God for the opportunities He provides. “Before every match since I was eight, my Dad and I say a prayer together,” the American said.
Our vision at Riverton Bappst Community Church is to be a biblical, Spirit-led, evangelissc, caring community of all ages and many cultures.
We are seeking an outstanding candidate to lead our Outreach Ministry, especially among new, bilingual Australians. Competency in Mandarin or Cantonese in addiion to English will be well regarded, though not essennal. Detailed informaaon about the role and how to apply is available on our website at www.rivo.org.au/employment If you believe you meet the seleccon criteria, and if you share our vision and can lead a team to strategically achieve it, we’d love to hear from you. Cori Gauff at the 2019 Roland-Garros Tournament qualifying rounds.
12 in conversation AUGUST 2019
A new season of youth ministry As one of the largest hybrid Baptist church and school ministries in the state, the Carey group of ministries encompasses two church and school locations, along with an early learning centre and café. This variety of ministries enables the church to minister to a wide community, but does this always mean that lives are changed for Christ? Vanessa Klomp from The Advocate caught up with Nick and Ben to discuss the changes that have taken place. Ben and Nick, from an outsiders’ perspective last year, many would describe the youth ministry at Carey as being large and successful. How would you have described it? Absolutely it was! After starting as a youth ministry in our school over a decade ago, over time it became a ministry attracting up to 150 young people from our local community every Friday night. The ministry was attractional by nature. We were speaking the gospel message into so many young people’s lives and seeing a huge impact from that, with many youth coming to know Jesus, young people stepping up as youth leaders, and seeing God’s Kingdom being built. With a successful youth ministry, why would you see the need for change? We had many years of positive growth and fruit from our youth ministry. However in the last few years, while we saw the same gospel message going out, we weren’t seeing as much impact from it, nor as many people saying ‘yes’ to Jesus. The reasons for this were twofold. Our youth demographic had changed and their responsiveness to our style of ministry was different. Alongside this, seasons were changing in our youth leadership team. A generation of our young adults, many of whom were youth leaders, started moving to different cities, states and countries for university, work or ministry opportunities, or they were part of our church plant. They saw their time in youth ministry was coming to an end. This meant we had far less leaders, yet our ministry remained the same size and we were unable to meet the needs such a ministry demanded. We were no longer able to be kicking the Kingdom goals, building meaningful relationships with youth, and impacting lives like we once did. Having made these observations,
can you share what changes you put in place to see greater Kingdom growth? We spent a long time praying over the ministry, asking God what He wanted to do with it, and seeking His direction for the future. Over about eight months, after many prayer meetings and conversations with our Senior Pastor and our youth leadership team, we captured a new vision for what our youth ministry might look like. The biggest fundamental change was to move our focus from an evangelism-based ministry to one grounded in making and growing disciples of Jesus. We always had a discipleship pathway, but a shift for us was when as a whole church, we sensed God leading us to focus on discipleship. So in this new environment, with far less leadership resources than we had in the past, our evangelistic drive would have hindered our ability to engage in a deeper discipleship process. We wanted to be in step with what our wider church was stepping into. So by relaunching our youth ministry we would be able to align it with what God is currently doing across all of Carey. We have placed an intentional focus on creating a space for youth to discover and embrace their own Christian faith in a fun and nurturing environment through community and discipleship. Our new model sees us based in small groups while also doing big group activities. How were these changes received by your community? In the broader community outside of Carey, we found affirmation for what we had run in the past, and a sense of loss that what we ran on Friday nights would no longer be the same. From within our church community there was an initial sense of, ‘why would you close a large and successful youth ministry?’ Yet as we walked the church through our journey and they saw this wasn’t the end of our youth ministry, but rather a changing of seasons, our changes were well received. As we moved closer to the relaunch date, we began to engage parents in ways we had never done before. We were able to bring them into the relaunch process and they were excited for the new shape of the youth ministry. Our youth leaders were excited for this new chapter too. The team was reinvigorated, as the shift to be more discipleship focused was something that resonated well with them. They saw this not as a closure but rather
Photo: Melanie McNeil-Windle
In mid-2018, Carey Baptist Church under the leadership of Senior Pastor Peter Scott and the youth team, Pastors Nick Harris and Ben O’Reilly, shifted the focus of their youth ministry at their Harrisdale campus.
Ben O’Reilly is one of the youth pastors at Carey Baptist Church.
reshaping what we were doing to match God’s leading over our church as a whole. They saw an opportunity to get back to what they felt called to do – connect relationally with young people, speak God’s truth into their lives, and help nurture their faith. How are things going now? Things are great! Our youth are enjoying the new ministry and leaders are really connecting with our youth. Parents are more engaged in what we are doing now than ever before. We are able to spend more time building the mentoring relationship and unpacking faith with young people. We feel like we are positioned for something greater than what we have experienced in the past, with our current generation of youth having such huge potential to grow and change the world themselves for Jesus. In Ecclesiastes 3, the writer talks about there being seasons. Do you think that the church in general is good at identifying the seasons of ministry, allowing one thing to come to an end, while birthing something new? It would be hard for us to comment on the broader church, but for us in our own context we found through this process that it can be hard to let things go, especially when they have been successful for so long. But we discovered that when we open ourselves up to the possibilities of what God is laying before us, the road ahead is full of so much potential for growing disciples
and building God’s Kingdom. Change can be embraced or feared, but part of the process is having an open imagination for what could potentially be. We are learning to ask the question, ‘what is God doing in this next season?’ more often. And we want to connect with that. What makes change hard is when we don’t look at where people or society is at and how they will receive the message we are sharing. If the message is true, but the way we are communicating it is no longer
being received well, what needs to change? Not the message, but the method of communicating it. As youth leaders we are always considering that people hear and experience things through the lens of their current situation and environment. In order for us to better help them grow closer to Jesus, we need to be aware of the classic teaching mantra – start not where you want the youth to be, but start with where the youth are at and teach them from there.
To find your local Baptist church visit baptistwa.asn.au
growth 13 AUGUST 2019
One day at a time
Jesus said we should live day by day. He didn’t just die so we would do religious things on a Sunday. He died to give us new life. Every day. To deny ourselves means we give up things for Christ. It’s also accepting persecution for having Jesus in our lives. It’s a shock when we face opposition to our stand for Him, but He warned us this was part of following Him. The glory of any life is not the accomplishments but the sacrifice. Jesus’ life is defined by the sacrifice He made on the cross. He calls us to do the same every day. This ‘cross’ doesn’t just ‘fall’ on us. We have to actually pick it up. This is a path to growth. Babies begin life depending on their parents, but they are
expected to grow and learn to do things for themselves until they too, have to deny themselves and care for their children. People don’t always like Jesus and when you have Jesus written all over your life, they won’t always like you. Mark 10:28-30 promises that sacrifices for God will be met with an abundance but also, persecutions. Balancing those two is a never-ending exercise. Consider when Joseph’s father made him the manycoloured coat. Joseph wore it but it brought persecution from his brothers. He considered pleasing his father more important than pleasing his brothers. Following Jesus will cost you something; you cannot follow Him without self-denial. The thing that we struggle to ‘deny’ is different for each person. God doesn’t just call us to give up the things that are bad for us but also, things that benefit us. Our circumstances are no indication of what we are struggling with because rich or poor, we all struggle with our human condition.
Paul shares his struggles in Romans 7:15-25, his big problem is, ‘I’. In Romans 6:6 Paul shows us the solution: the death of who we were before Christ. When we pick up our cross, we are putting to death our old selves so that we may live in Christ – you can’t have the caterpillar and the butterfly at the same time. God wants us to live in victory, above our unresolved circumstances. The Christian life is not pain-free but it can be joyful. Our old self dies a little each day [1 Corinthians 15:31], we see the purpose of the process [2 Corinthians 4:10-11] which is more of Jesus manifested in us. Our ego does not enjoy decreasing but when we make the decision to accept this, Jesus sets us free [Galatians 2:20]. Photo: Min C Chiu/Shutterstock
“Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’” [Luke 9:23, NLT]
Author – Phil Pringle Phil Pringle is the Founder and Leader of C3 Church Global, an international movement of over 500 churches, and the Senior Minister of C3 Church in Sydney.
A strategy to boost thankfulness It’s not difficult to notice when authentic gratitude is lacking in our homes. I have come to recognise that an indulgent life doesn’t make kids happy. The ‘give up’ strategy is a quick gratitude booster that any family can use when gratitude is lacking. It requires us to take something away from our children’s lives, until their appreciation for it increases again.
Familiarity blindsides many of us, and sometimes imagining something is gone is enough to make you appreciate it.
iPhone and a case, but they decide to take it out of the case and it accidently gets smashed on the ground, the subtraction strategy might help. Going without a phone for a while may encourage them to take care of it next time. The same may apply if they keep losing something you paid for. Don’t jump in and financially bail them out, as that approach won’t teach gratitude. This is a powerful truth which will help guide your daily parenting – our children will eventually lose what they aren’t grateful for. Photo: National Day of Thanks
Familiarity blindsides many of us, and sometimes imagining something is gone is enough to make you appreciate it. I know someone who imagines every day that their loved ones die so he doesn’t take them for granted. I’m not sure if I would want to visualise my husband and kids dying each day, but every now and then it pays to stop and take stock of what life would feel like if they were gone. The ‘give up’ strategy reminds me of the way I used to rotate my children’s toys when they were little. It was especially helpful after Christmas when their toy box was so full they couldn’t find anything. I had about three groups of toys which I would swap regularly. Two would stay in the cupboard, packed away, until the novelty had worn off the ones they were currently playing with. Each time I brought a different set of toys down from the cupboard, it felt like Christmas. I always found when they had too many toys, they lost interest in all of them. We make it hard for our children to be grateful by giving them too much. We might try and use the ‘give up’ strategy with our kids by saying, “If you aren’t thankful,
For more information, visit www.michellemitchell.org I am going to take that away.” In fact, research says that is not a bad idea. We can temporarily give up something and then reintroduce it at a later date. If our children were to spend a few weeks a year living with someone else, or in a Third World country, it would undoubtedly boost their appreciation for what they do have at home. The perfect time to use this strategy is when our children don’t take care of their belongings. For example, if your child has an
Author – Michelle Mitchell Michelle Mitchell is the author of several books, including Everyday Resilience: Helping kids handle friendship drama, academic pressure and the self-doubt of growing up. She is also a speaker, educator and an ambassador for Australia’s National Day of Thanks.
Michelle Mitchell reflects on a strategy she uses to increase thankfulness.
14 arts AUGUST 2019
dc Talk tours again
... this will be their first official tour since the Supernatural Experience Tour in 1999.
“I’ve got news for you ... Next year dc Talk will be doing a land cruise,” Michael said. “We just finished the dc Talk cruise yesterday … but next year, dc Talk will be doing a land cruise.” “We’ll be doing tour dates in the States … in ’20, ’21, and probably ’22.” “It’s official – yes,” Michael confirmed. Michael, along with fellow dc Talk members Kevin Max and Toby McKeehan (TobyMac), have
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Matthew Chapman Andrew Sculthorpe Gilbert Siahaan Vanessa Klomp Peter Ion Sally Phu Sally Phu 5th of each month
just returned from their Jesus Freak Cruise – an ocean cruise tour between Florida and The Bahamas. The cruise included performances from dc Talk, TobyMac, Newsboys and KMAX. In an interview last year, Kevin shared his thoughts on a dc Talk reunion. “It’s trying to align all those different careers and families and people who are taken care of through these independent musicians – putting all that together and coming up with something we all can do is the puzzle,” he said. “Beyond that, I know all of us are super excited to do more.” Michael, Toby and Kevin formed the group at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia in the late 1980s. They released five albums between 1989 and 1998, winning four GRAMMY Awards and sixteen Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. Each member has since gone on to take part in other musical projects as solo acts or as part of other bands, and have played together on multiple occasions. The group is notable for having an uncompromising Christian message in their music, with an intention to create a musical experience that anyone can immerse themselves in, and a goal “to encourage listeners to question themselves and to seek out truth.”
Remix reaches new heights
Author – John Igglesden
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dc Talk is a Christian rap and rock group that rose to fame in the 1990s.
Photo: for KING & COUNTRY
Although they have performed together since 2000, this will be their first official tour since the Supernatural Experience Tour in 1999. The band will be joined by acts including the Newsboys and Christian comedian, John Crist. In an interview with Minneapolis radio station, 98.5 KTIS, dc Talk member Michael Tait was asked about the future of dc Talk.
Photo: David Dobson Photo
After almost two decades of being in hiatus, Christian hip-hop and rock group dc Talk has announced they will be reuniting for a US tour, starting in 2020.
for KING & COUNTRY’s song God Only Knows has attracted millions of listeners online.
Rapper and music producer Timbaland recently entered the realm of Christian music to remix for KING & COUNTRY’s song God Only Knows. The band explained that they had been working with Timbaland on the remix for some time. “When God Only Knows was really going and we knew that it
would be amazing to do a remix, we went back to him and they were like ‘Man, we love this song and we want to be a part of that!’,” bandmembers Joel and Luke Smallbone said in an interview with RELEVANT magazine. God Only Knows won Song of the Year at the K-LOVE Fan Awards this year, and millions have listened to it across digital platforms. The remix also featured the vocals of Echosmith singer Sydney Sierota.
“I think we all constantly need the reminder that there’s a God who knows and loves us … There’s so much love and meaning in the lyrics, and I’m honoured that I get to be a part of it,” Sydney said. Author – Gilbert Siahaan
intermission 15 AUGUST 2019
A minute with ...
read Rambling Towards Jerusalem: Journeys of a Fremantle Boy
Leon Wynne Noongar Elder Perth Baptist Church
You’re a Noongar Elder. What does it mean to you to be an Elder? People look at me as an Elder, but most respect me because I’m a Christian. They knew my past before I was saved. They saw the change in my life. My parents and grandparents taught me to work to be respectful, to look after myself, my dress manner – the whole lot. My guideposts were my parents, grandfathers, grandmothers, aunties and uncles. I learnt a lot from my whole family; they were my elders and teachers. I saw how they lived, and I learnt to follow from their example. But it was the Lord who changed my life. Today I do a lot of guest speaking with youth, sharing my life journey with them. I talk about growing up on reserves, living in tents and huts with no power, and I always confess my Christian beliefs. When people are looking for someone as an elder, they are looking for someone who has earned that respect. Someone who can show the way. Aboriginal people learn a lot by watching. What are your hopes for Indigenous people in Australia? That they take their place as strong Christians and leaders in the wider community. That all people, not only Indigenous people, have good people around them, teaching and leading them by their example, and that the church would be a more welcoming place. There are some lonely people out there. What role does the church have to play with Indigenous people? I’ve sat in churches and been ignored. I would encourage churches to consider their welcome of all people, of all races. We don’t want to be treated differently from any other people. Everyone wants to feel genuinely welcomed, to feel a part of the church, to share meals and life together.
Who was the biggest sinner in the bible? Moses, he broke all 10 Commandments at once
Photo: Matthew Chapman
Briefly share your faith journey. I grew up heavily influenced by my Mum, Dad and Sunday School from a young age, particularly Mum as she had a love for the Lord from a young age herself. From a young age there was always a fearful respect of the Lord, and when I was in Year 6 I was baptised on a mission farm. At the age of thirteen, I drifted away and did my own thing. I’m grateful that the Lord kept me miraculously safe quite a few times. At the age of 26, I was living in Albany. I was burnt out from overworking myself on the shearing gangs and found myself drinking myself silly each weekend and my language had turned foul. I started looking at myself and searching myself as to why. I attended a service with my Mum and family. It was there that my brother, his wife and sister and I gave our hearts to the Lord. That night was the first time I had a good night’s sleep since I was a teenager.
Peter Elliott “I have become convinced that history is under no obligation to be palatable.” As I read this sentence, conveniently placed in the foreword of Peter Elliott’s latest book, Rambling Towards Jerusalem: Journeys of a Fremantle Boy, I had my own revelation, stepping into a journey I hardly expected to experience. From Bangkok to Baghdad to Bergen to Bognor Regis to Binghamton, the author treks, climbs, cycles, flies, swims and sails. This book scales global expanses in myriad dimensions, over four incredible years. For a mentor to seminarians, Elliott shows that God permits a past! It takes guts to publish a book like this one. Yet, it is one that the church desperately needs in a new day. This is no ordinary book. The author tells it like it is – how it was! His writing style also does not disappoint. There is candour of creative response, literary genius, vocabulary to enthral, and humour that ‘tastes’ good. It feels good on all levels. As you read it, you have a conversation going on within yourself, and that in itself is tantalising, freeing yet risky. Elliott provides a book here that straddles the realities of avoidance and commitment. Today, the author is a scholar and church historian. In this work, you see those origins. What is also resplendent for the reader is the search beacon burning brightly within the younger Elliott, seeking truth regarding his Mormon roots. The quest for the searcher’s knowledge was bestowed to him. Integrous discoveries gave his soul permission to discard that faith construct, to go beyond it to Jesus Himself. Peter Elliott’s book is a sojourn full of detail, interesting by any comparison, crammed with shards of wisdom for fellow wayfarers. For me, without spoiling the journey for you, two moments are key. They both involve the word commitment. Through a genuine pilgrimage, Elliott is brought to a revelation on page 329: “It dawned on me that not all commitments were to be shunned or feared; commitment was not always a loss to be avoided; occasionally it was a wise investment to be pursued.” The second moment I will leave for you to discover: spiritual clarity at the Garden Tomb. If you want a ‘prodigal comes home’ book and you aren’t afraid of adventure, I think this book is for you. Book reviewed by Steve Wickham. Steve Wickham is a school chaplain, counsellor, pastor and author of Meditations on Proverbs and co-author of Shining Gift of God: A Memoir on the Life of Nathanael Marcus.
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16 sport AUGUST 2019
South Coast excel in gymnastics
“After a long day of top effort, cheering, fun and team spirit, our College Gymnastics Academy took home many personal bests and team awards,” South Coast Baptist College Gymnastics Coach, Melissa Ellis said. In the primary school competition, the College teams gained two first and second place positions, along with a third place position, while the secondary school gained first place in Division 2. The College was also the overall winner of the West Australian True Spirit Award for 2019, with the award acknowledging team and staff conduct across the competition. “Our College mission statement, Rigorous Minds – Compassionate Hearts, means we are very much about shaping content and character as we normalise striving for excellence in life at school and beyond,” Melissa said. “These values are nurtured though our training programs and appeared evident in the way the athletes conducted themselves as well as supported each other throughout the competition.” The girls joined 189
competitors from across 14 different schools competing in five divisions of the woman’s artistic gymnastics competition. The Interschool Carnival is hosted by Gymnastics Western Australia under the guidance of accredited specialist coaches to provide a safe environment. Activities are especially designed to give students the opportunity to engage in a wide range of muscle and bone strengthening activities, while maintaining a high level of fun for the students. Gymnastics is one of five specialty programs run by South Coast Baptist College that students have access to, with both boys and girls from the primary and secondary school aged groups participating in the sport. “As part of their physical education at the College, students from Years 1 to 6 participate in the Gymnastics Sports Specialty Program and for those who show a talent in the sport, they are invited to apply to join the gymnastics squad with training both before and after school,” Melissa shared. “During our gymnastics sessions, we work on developing fine and gross motor skills as well as participating in strength and conditioning exercises, and developing our program to each gymnast’s skill level.” Photo: Matthew Chapman
Thirty female students from South Coast Baptist College’s Gymnastics Academy competed in the 2019 Gymnastics WA Interschool Carnival at the Western Australia State Gymnastics Centre on Friday 28 June.
Author – Matthew Chapman
The South Coast Baptist College Gymnastics Academy Division 3 teams and their coaches were all smiles after being awarded first and second place at the 2019 Gymnastics WA Interschool Carnival.
NFL star baptised in the Jordan Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson recently visited Israel and shared the powerful moment he was baptised in the Jordan River with over 1.1 million Instagram followers. Watson was one of several leaders and celebrities that were brought to Israel by America’s Voices in Israel. America’s Voices in Israel organises missions to Israel for prominent headline-makers, including athletes, leading journalists, prime-time media and Hollywood stars, as well as religious and political leaders in the Latino and AfricanAmerican communities.
Photo: Keith Allison/Wikimedia
“Went to Jesus’ hometown. Got baptised in the Jordan River. Went tubing in the Sea of Galilee. Took a trip through Mary Magdalene’s hometown. Saw the first church in Capernaum. Lifechanging experiences – major blessings!” Watson wrote in an Instagram post. “I am truly in awe of this wonderful land and the wonderful people who live here,” he said. “This is a part of the world which gets a lot of attention internationally, and this is a chance for me to look beyond the headlines and learn more about the history and culture of this land.”
Author – Matthew Chapman
Texans star quarterback, Deshaun Watson (centre) was excited to be baptised in Israel on 24 June.
The Advocate - August 2019