WA’S BAPTIST NEWSPAPER
IN CONVERSATION Vose Seminary Principal, Dr Brian Harris talks about teaching theology in the 21st century. PAGE 12 >>
“The beautiful thing was, this gospel wasn’t the foreigner’s gospel; this gospel was their own.” BEN GOOD PAGE 13 >>
6 Team evacuated
Photo: Shutterstock/SS studio photography
Scripture Union team brought to safety. >>
8 Colouring ashtrays “It’s not rocket science, it’s loving people.”. >>
More than $200 million has been donated to the Australian bushfires, which will go to victims and the fire and emergency services.
Fires destroy Australia The worst wildfires in decades are ravaging Australia. According to CNN, since the fire season began in July last year, across the country 27 lives have been lost, over one billion animals killed, more than 2,000 houses damaged or destroyed and over ten million hectares of land burned. “The bushfires … are causing unspeakable heartache, massive devastation and huge loss of livestock,” Director of Mission and Ministries at the Baptist Union of Victoria, Rev. Daniel Bullock said. “This is a time for all our Baptist family to stand together to help those in need,” he said. Many farmers were already experiencing hardship with the
drought and now face additional pressure with their livestock in danger. Baptist churches in Victoria have already taken initiative to provide free hay to these farmers. Members of Baptist churches in the region have lost properties and homes; some are still without power and water. While the Federal Government has committed to an initial $2 billion for a national recovery fund, still plenty of support is required. The United States, New Zealand and Singapore are among many countries who have offered aid through providing personnel and financial assistance. Natural causes are primarily responsible for the extent of the fires – heatwaves, strong winds and Australia’s hot, dry weather
makes it easy for blazes to start and spread. The consequent damage significantly exceeds that of the 2019 Amazon rainforest fires, which destroyed more than seven million hectares, and the deadly California wildfires, which burned through over 400,000 hectares in 2018. Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT Prayer Coordinator, Carolyn Altman, has written a prayer for the bushfire crisis: “Almighty God, we are powerless to stop these bushfires that are crippling our nation … but Lord, we remember that You have made the heavens and the earth, and nothing is too hard for You.” “Lord we ask for a special blessing and a ring of protection upon all of those people that have put their lives on the line fighting fires on our behalf.”
“We ask that You comfort those that have lost so much, and that we as Your children will be Your hands and Your feet to those that need help in putting their broken lives back together.” “We ask You to send droughtbreaking rain to cleanse our country and put out every single one of these fires. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.” For more information on how you can help, visit nswactbaptists.org.au or buv.com.au Author – Gilbert Siahaan The content of this article was correct at the time of writing.
14 Mixed reactions Kanye West’s newest album divides listeners. >>
We are stronger when we work together. BAPTIST CHURCHES WESTERN AUSTRALIA
my view FEBRUARY 2020
Don’t bother with the Big Orange My wife Chris and I seek out big icons when we go on holidays. (Yes, I know it’s sad!) We have seen the Big Cricket Bat, the Big Lobster, the Big ‘pink and grey’ Cockatoo, the Big Kangaroo, the Big Windmill, the Big Axe, and the list goes on.
Mal Good Mal Good along with his wife Chris are the Pastors at Casuarina Baptist Church, located in the Northern Suburbs of Darwin.
Sometimes we are disappointed (don’t ask me about the Big Potato) – either they are not what we expected, or they are closed, fenced off and in decay, like the Big Orange. Other icons or images are inspiring. I still remember the Olympic Games in Sydney, and the image of Cathy Freeman winning gold. I wonder how many children joined athletics clubs in the days and months that followed? The prophet Isaiah presents us with an image of the Lord
in the temple – you can read about it in Isaiah 6. This too is an inspiring image; what a sight to behold! Whilst Isaiah is also caught up in the grandeur and splendour of the moment, he also comes to the realisation of who he is, and how unlike the Lord he is. In a sense, his very witnessing of this image spoils the image. What a dilemma! Our presence tarnishes the perfect image of the Lord in the temple. We too would cry out, “Wow to me, I am ruined …” but instead of our tarnished presence spoiling
the image of the Lord Almighty in the temple, the Lord Almighty cleanses the spoilt. I find it almost inconceivable that the live glowing coal from the altar didn’t burn up and destroy Isaiah’s face, leaving him mute and disfigured, if not destroyed. Rather there was a purifying and cleansing that took place, enabling and empowering him, that he may use his voice, in the service of the Lord Almighty. The perfect image was not damaged, but rather the damaged was made whole.
It reminds me of who Jesus is and what He does! The image of Cathy Freeman may have inspired a generation of athletes, but the image and presence of the Lord has been transforming lives, bringing wholeness and inspiring people all over the world for two millennia and He hasn’t stopped! What images have inspired you?
My hope is built on nothing less Going into labour on someone’s driveway, with the hospital a 30 minute walk away, isn’t ideal. This was the situation for the girl we found at the bottom of our road recently.
Sally Pim Sally Pim serves with Global Interaction, working with the Yawo people in Massangulo, Mozambique.
Thankfully, my friend Bek and I were able to get her in the car and drive to the hospital in Massangulo. Unfortunately, at the hospital we learnt that things were complicated and the hospital was not equipped to deal with this type of birth. A medic jumped in our car and set up an intravenous drip and we drove in the night to a much bigger hospital in Lichinga – a good couple of hours away on, and at times, a very bumpy road. Thankfully we only had to stop twice to reset the drip in her arm.
We were met at the entrance by nurses who quickly loaded her onto a stretcher and wheeled her inside. With the mother and husband staying at the hospital, we drove home that night, praying and wondering what the outcome would be. There is so much fear surrounding pregnancies in Africa. So much so that people refuse to talk about their pregnancies in case something bad happens. There doesn’t always seem to be much hope in carrying a baby to full term. There isn’t a lot of hope even in the hospitals.
I love the hymn My Hope is Built on Nothing Less. One particular verse says: “When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; in every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.” We have access to that hope. Even when we cannot trust the sweetest frame. Even when the worst happens. We can trust in Jesus – He is our ever-present hope. His grace and love stays with us through it all. This life, for all of us, has incredibly hard moments, huge struggles and real pain. This fear of pregnancies –
that’s not unfounded. It is real, and it is scary. Hope doesn’t take away the pain, but it lets us know there is something more than this. As we reflect on the hope of Jesus, please join me in praying that our friends in Mozambique might know that hope. Even when darkness hides God’s face, even if the worst happens, may our Yawo friends rest on His unchanging grace. Our friend, the woman in labour on our driveway, had her baby. After a successful caesarean, her beautiful brandnew daughter joined her on the trip home to Massangulo where this safe and happy arrival was celebrated with lots of joy!
On a fire … We had set off for home after dinner with friends when we received a text: “Are you OK? Just heard a house in your street is on fire.”
Dr Brian Harris Dr Brian Harris is the Principal of Vose Seminary and Pastor at Large for the Carey Group.
Rosemary, who thinks more nimbly than I (and wasn’t driving), immediately googled whatever site tells you where fires are, and sure enough, it reported a house on fire in our street – but didn’t say which one. Ours is a short street, so the odds that it was ours were disturbing. “You switched the aircon off, didn’t you?” I asked in as non-accusatory a tone as I could muster. “Of course not,” Rosemary said, “I asked you to.” “Well then I guess I did,” I said not too convincingly.
Strange the thoughts that dash through your head ... My first was, “Be noble. Hope it’s our house rather than someone else’s. God will see us through.” But that was drowned by an instant prayer, “Lord, please don’t let it be our house.” Even more strangely, I then thought, “But if it’s our house, my passport will be destroyed, and I’m due to set off for the US soon. That would be a real nuisance.” Rosemary wasn’t impressed when I shared that with her. The 12 minute drive felt endless, but eventually we turned into our street – ambulance
and fire engine very visibly present, together with half the neighborhood gawking as smoke poured from the house immediately behind us – though we were quickly told, just a few minutes before it was flames as high as – well, high. Even as a wave of sympathy for our rear neighbors swept over me, I was conscious of deep relief. Not our house. My passport should be fine … Everyone chatted on the street for long after. No serious injuries – just extensive damage to property. We agreed, you can replace things, but not people.
There was a collective sense of relief that tragic though this was, it was a ‘less than it could have been’ disaster. For all that, there is a family who has to rebuild a life – and a house. They will be sifting through priorities. Oh, and incidentally, Rosemary had switched our air conditioning off. And if it had come to the crunch, I could have gotten a new passport.
At a number of recent Baptist events, a purposeful decision was made by organisers to include a Christian Acknowledgement of Country. Baptist Churches Western Australia (BCWA) Church and Leaders Pastor, Mike Bullard said that the decision to include the acknowledgement was part of recognising the history of this land and its Traditional Owners. “Colonisation has resulted in the exploitation and dispossession of many Indigenous people from their land. Thankfully, many have become followers of Jesus and our nation is moving towards a greater sense of recognition and support,” Mike said. Due to the significantly positive response from event attendees, an information pack was sent to churches with details on how to explore Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country events in Christian ways in their own contexts. This took place after consulting with Indigenous leaders within the Baptist movement as to what would be helpful, Mike said. “They weren’t supportive of all things that are done in the public arena in this space, but they did say that many Indigenous people find it affirming that their unique place in the nation’s history is recognised in some ways in Christian contexts, even if it does seem very simple,” Mike said. “Love, acceptance, care and prayer were spoken of as the key issues.” “Unfortunately, all of the leaders relayed stories that included churches – even Baptist churches – where they had not experienced these things.”
Mike shared that Romans 12 encouraged believers to “live in harmony with one another.” “As I think about this challenge from Paul, I believe it would include the idea of interracial relations,” he said. “He instructs people to ‘weep with those who weep’ and to ‘associate with the lowly.’” “I realise not everyone will agree, but Paul’s instructions here encourage us to take a different approach to people in different situations, depending on where they are at in their journey.” “When the journey of Indigenous people since colonisation is taken into account, special recognition and attention seems appropriate,” he concluded. Bentley Baptist Church regularly pray the following prayer together at the beginning of their services: “We step into this place and this time to hear more from God the Father, see more of Jesus, and know the truth in the Holy Spirit. We remember the stories that have been told before us; the truth and life in Jesus Christ, God’s creation of all things at the beginning, the Noongar nation’s life on this land, and how God has spoken and revealed His plans for this world and for each of us. We desire to offer shelter in hospitality, self-giving love, to learn about God and to serve those around us now, and into the streets and suburbs beyond. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, give us today what we need as we turn towards you, we receive you and your commands for life. Jesus Christ you are Lord, Amen.” For more information about how your church can engage further in a journey of reconciliation and explore ways of recognising the unique place of Indigenous people, contact BCWA. Author – Matthew Chapman
Photo: Shutterstock/Sara Winter
Baptists acknowledge country
Baptist Churches Western Australia recognise the Traditional Owners of Australia.
Is your New Year’s resolution to give back to your community?
Volunteer with Baptistcare. Baptistcare is looking for new volunteers who are passionate about working with seniors. If you are interested in providing companionship and support to the elderly in our community, we want to hear from you! We have a range of volunteering roles available and you don’t need any formal qualifications – just a desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
Express your interest
Head to our website or contact our friendly team and start making good on your New Year’s resolution.
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news FEBRUARY 2020
Even living in a vibrant residential aged care setting doesn’t guarantee elderly people will find it easy to mix or make meaningful connections with others. Leading aged care provider, Baptistcare, is tackling the issue of loneliness among their residents by building an amazing intergenerational volunteer community. Through the gift of their time, visitors ranging from kindergarten students to retirees in their 80s are adding diversity and richness to life in its 11 metropolitan and regional residential care facilities,
with everything from iPad lessons and pet therapy, to board game sessions and armchair golf. Baptistcare Chief Executive Officer, Russell Bricknell said there are many reasons why family and friends are unable to visit aged care residents, regularly leaving them craving conversations and friendship. “Our volunteers play a hugely important role in keeping residents motivated, connected to their communities and feeling happy and positive,” he said. “But they all tell me it’s a win-win situation because it gives them such a sense of purpose and fulfilment, especially for those volunteers who have left the workforce after retirement.” Russell said you don’t need any formal qualifications to become a Baptistcare volunteer – only a desire to help others. “A good volunteer is someone who has genuine empathy, good communication and listening skills and a bit of spare time,” he said.
“We’ve experienced an increase in male residents in the past few years, so we are particularly interested in getting more men to volunteer.” One volunteer, Jun Cowan, has made some great mates at Baptistcare Gracewood Residential Care in Salter Point through his fortnightly men’s group and Friday barbecue and bowling sessions. “There aren’t too many men around and they’re not really interested in crochet clubs or anything like that,” Jun laughed. “I think there’s a lot to be learned by just talking to people who are elderly and wise and have gone through a lot of life experience.” “I’m not really doing a lot, just having a chat and catching up with them now and then, but it’s really invaluable.”
There’s often a spotlight on loneliness during the Christmas and New Year period, but sadly some West Australian seniors experience social isolation and a lack of companionship all year-round.
For more information, visit baptistcare.com.au/volunteering Jun Cowan has made great friends taking Baptistcare Gracewood residents
Author – Alice Hennessy
bowling and enjoying barbecues.
BCWA 2020 calendar 14 February
Next Gen combined youth event – Looking for Love
Guest speaker: Dan Paterson (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) Woodvale Baptist Church nextgenbaptistwa.com.au A night for youth across Perth to enjoy a festival, worship God and open His Word together.
26 February Next Gen Young Adults – Baptist World Aid Catalyst program Mount Hawthorn Baptist Church nextgenbaptistwa.com.au A program to inspire and equip young adults to take powerful and meaningful action to tackle poverty and modern slavery around our world.
Vose Commencement and Conferral event
Vose Seminary vose.edu.au Come and celebrate the new academic year and the students who recently completed their studies.
Vose Annual Book Sale
Youth Winter Camp
Serpentine Camping Centre baptistwa.asn.au A camp for high school students in Years 7 to 12 during the winter school holidays.
21-22 August Next Gen – Beyond Kidsmin Conference nextgenbaptistwa.com.au An opportunity to join people who are passionate about ministry to children in WA.
25-28 SportsFest September sportsfest.org.au
SportsFest is a sporting outreach event proudly run by Baptist Churches Western Australia with over 35 sports and activities, and more than 30 participating churches.
2020 BCWA Annual Assembly
The Annual Assembly is an opportunity to reflect on the life of Baptist Churches Western Australia over the preceding year along with enacting the required business of BCWA.
Friends of Global Interaction
Friends of Global Interaction
Riverton Baptist Community Church globalinteraction.org.au A morning tea to assist in strengthening the partnership between churches and the life-transforming work of Global Interaction.
Riverton Baptist Community Church globalinteraction.org.au A morning tea to assist in strengthening the partnership between churches and the life-transforming work of Global Interaction.
Vose Seminary vose.edu.au Second-hand books of all kinds for sale for you to choose from.
13 November Next Gen Youth – Global Interaction Prayer Night nextgenbaptistwa.com.au
All Together Baptist Pastoral Retreat
freshconference.net A state-wide gathering of women of faith from many different denominations and expressions of the Body of Christ. Women of all ages and spheres of life come together for one day to worship and learn in a unique and powerful space of creativity, diversity, passion and unity.
Leavers Green Team greenteamwa.org.au Leavers Green Team partner with Western Australia Police to provide the Leavers Entertainment Zone and practically share the love of Jesus with over 8,000 Year 12 students each night.
Various dates 11 Safe Church Workshops being held throughout 2020 baptistwa.asn.au
Children’s Winter Camp
Serpentine Camping Centre baptistwa.asn.au A camp for children during the winter school holidays.
For details regarding any of these events, contact the team at the Baptist Churches Western Australia at email@example.com or 08 6313 6300.
Next month, the conflict in Syria will enter its ninth year. “It is a protracted crisis,” Baptist World Aid Australia Director of International Programs, Dan Skehan said. “Meaning, its effects are drawn out and have been felt by families over a prolonged period.” Dan explained that due to the nature of the crisis, the need has been constant. Baptist World Aid has been responding for seven years. “We’ve partnered with several organisations in the Middle East region in that time, thanks to the generosity of our Australian supporters.” The Lebanese Baptist convention’s development arm, Merath, has been responding to this disaster since it first began. In that time, it has served tens of thousands of Syrian and Lebanese communities which have been affected by the conflict in the region. According to Dan, Lebanon has one of the highest proportions of refugees per capita in the world, where around one in every four people is a refugee. Closer to the Syrian border, this ratio can be even higher. “The population of some areas have quite literally doubled
as a result of the ongoing crisis in Syria,” he explained. Syrian refugee families are not legally able to work in Lebanon and their children are unable to access education. These are gaps which Baptist World Aid supporters are helping to fill. “Baptist World Aid supporters fund work, through our Baptist partners on the ground, to provide things like healthcare, informal education and food assistance,” Dan explained. “But the most urgent need at the moment is the provision of items that will help Syrian refugee families – many of whom do not have permanent housing – to survive the freezing winter months.” The Syrian families seeking refuge in Lebanon left their homes under duress. They were fleeing for their lives and, because of this, were carrying very few clothes, blankets or personal belongings with them. Now these families, who have survived conflict and violence, are facing a new threat. “Right now, in Lebanon, temperatures are falling. It can get as low as minus five degrees Celsius and many Syrian refugee families are living in structures which offer little
Photo: Daniel White
Generosity in the Middle East
Without heating, and living in flimsy shelters, Syrian refugee families are at risk of freezing during the cold winter months.
protection from the sub-zero temperatures,” Dan said. Without the urgent provision of warm clothes, blankets and fuel for heating, many of these already vulnerable families are at
BCWA staff give to Lebanese refugees The Baptist Churches Western Australia Ministry Centre staff found a new way to share Christmas gifts in 2019, choosing to forgo their normal Secret Santa giving, with an aim to give to a more important cause – refugees facing a cold Christmas season in Lebanon. of the need in Lebanon and the impact that the finances raised could have on families who had become refugees due to conflicts in their home countries. Baptist World Aid Australia Director of Strategic Relations, Karen Wilson explained that just a small amount of money made
Photo: Ruth Warwick
Lebanon has the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, including an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees who faced minimum temperatures of -5° Celsius in the northern winter over the Christmas season. In partnership with Transform Aid Australia, staff were informed
BCWA Director of Ministries, Mark Wilson presenting Baptist World Aid
it possible to provide blankets and a mattress for family in need, elevating them off the frozen ground in the winter months. When the donation box was opened at a special morning tea, over $720 had been raised for those in need. Following the appeal, Baptist Churches Western Australia Director of Ministries, Mark Wilson shared in an email to staff that this amount is almost three times what is normally spent on Secret Santa gifts, and that he was “thrilled to be part of something so significant and worthwhile”. “You have all contributed to our vision of being an empowering movement helping pastors, ministries, churches and their communities say ‘yes’ to Jesus,” he wrote.
Australia WA Church Relationship Manager, Kathy Sinclair with the donations raised for refugees in Lebanon.
Author – Matthew Chapman
risk of sickness, and even death, during the cold winter months. “We’re inviting anyone who’d like to help Syrian refugee families through the winter months, and beyond, to
give to the Middle East Crisis Appeal,” he concluded. To donate, visit baptistworldaid.org.au/ middle-east-crisis-appeal
Aboriginal leader appointed Common Grace CEO Common Grace, a movement of Christians who are passionate about Jesus and justice, has announced that Aboriginal leader Brooke Prentis has been appointed their new Chief Executive Officer, beginning in 2020. “We are thrilled to have Brooke take on the role of CEO,” Common Grace Board Chair, Natalie Williams said. “Her deep love for Jesus, passion for justice, prophetic voice, heart for the Australian church and governance know-how are an incredible combination.” “We are so looking forward to seeing what emerges for Common Grace in 2020 and beyond.” Brooke, a proud Wakka Wakka woman, has been Common Grace’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spokesperson since 2015.
Alongside this, she has embraced opportunities to be a passionate Christian voice in the public arena, appearing on national television and radio programs including ABC TV’s The Drum. ABC Radio National’s Religion and Ethics Report Journalist, Andrew West has described Brooke as “one of the most prominent and eloquent Indigenous leaders in the church today.” “I am super excited to lead a movement, especially a growing Christian movement, when we see so many churches declining in number,” Brooke told Eternity News in a recent interview. “I think central to that growth is that Common Grace is about Jesus and justice – you can’t separate Jesus from justice – and I believe that appeals to people and it’s a key reason I follow Jesus.” For more information, visit www.commongrace.org.au Author – Matthew Chapman
news FEBRUARY 2020
Photo: Ed Devine
Releasing future ministers
Sara D’Uva has progressed significantly during her time at Quinns Baptist Church and, at times, now leads the congregation.
A congregation’s health and longevity is determined by how well they can equip the next generation of leaders and ministers, according to Quinns Baptist Church Youth Pastor, Ed Devine. Sara D’Uva began ministry as a volunteer youth intern in 2017 at Quinns Baptist Church. Sara was looking for a practicum opportunity for her degree in Youth Work and Criminology, while Ed was praying for an intern. Familiar with the D’Uva family, Ed connected with Sara at the end of 2016 and was thrilled to hear of her desire to serve the youth. “The timing was perfect and Sara was delighted to take on an
internship opportunity at Quinns Youth,” Ed explained. Fast forward two years, and Sara has accepted a paid role leading Quinns Youth’s Ultimate – the ministry for students in Years 7 to 9. First coming to faith in Year 9, Sara always had a passion to share the gospel to students. “It is amazing that the opportunity at Quinns came along, and I sometimes still can’t
believe the reality that God has planted me in this community,” she shared. “To have come full circle from a youth being ministered to and receiving Jesus, to being the one to minister back to the youth is glorious.” Sara’s leadership of Ultimate has released Ed to focus on HQ, – the ministry to Years 10 to 12 students. “The multiplication of our youth ministry has been valuable,” Ed reflected. He has found it common to find Years 10 to 12 students drop out of youth as the next batch of Year 7 students start.
“Sara’s leadership has allowed us to focus on the specific needs of the Year 10 to 12s and tailor a community for them,” Ed said. Crucial to the releasing process has been communication. “The occasions something was overlooked was when we each assumed the other was taking responsibility for it,” Ed said. “Making sure we communicate effectively and continually while both being employed part-time is important.” Sara conveyed that as she stepped further into leadership, she has felt the weight of responsibility to truly reach
the youth and lead them in today’s context. “I have had to rely on God and discern His will, as there are so many voices and opportunities in church culture it is easy to try to do too much,” Sara said. As 2020 gets underway, Sara is looking to invest into the team of youth leaders she is raising, ensuring they too are released to share their God-given gifts.
Beach mission impacted by bushfires
Following Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews’ declaration of a state of disaster on 2 January, it was necessary to evacuate the family mission team. In an interview with Eternity newspaper, Chris Mulherin, who, along with his wife Lindy, were team parents to the 17 young people in the team, shared that the youth were among approximately 1,000 people being taken by sea to Melbourne.
“If we didn’t get out, we would be seen to be reckless, even though most of the team – in fact, I think it’s true to say all the team – would prefer to stay, because they’ve got these strong connections with local youth, many of whom have lost homes, and connections with the town,” Chris said. Scripture Union’s Family Mission teams have served Mallacoota for over 30 years, with a variety of evangelical children, youth and young adults events put on over the New Year period, helping to form a strong connection with the community over that time. At the time of this article being written, over 500 homes had been destroyed on the south coast since New Year’s Eve. Photo: SU Victoria
It was a relief that the Scripture Union Family Mission team to Mallacoota in Victoria were evacuated safely via an Australian Defence Force naval vessel to Melbourne during the recent bushfire crisis impacting Australia.
Author – Matthew Chapman
Scripture Union Family Mission team members in Mallacoota prior to being evacuated from the beachside town.
Churches maximise Leavers
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church had 45 volunteers attend the 2019 Leavers to serve, love and care for the young people in the Leavers Entertainment Zone.
“It was incredible to have the support from so many of our Baptist churches, including several pastors, joining our team in various roles from team leaders to chaplains and volunteers,” BCWA Events Coordinator, Jess Ford said. Jess said that a number of churches view Leavers Week as a great opportunity to mobilise ministry teams to practically share the hope they find in Jesus. Past Green Team members from Mount Pleasant Baptist
briefs New BCWA Council Members At the Baptist Churches Western Australia (BCWA) Annual Assembly held in October, Jarod Avila from Lesmurdie Baptist Church, Brian McDonald from East Fremantle Baptist Church and Martin Alciaturi from Claremont Baptist Church were appointed as new BCWA Council Members by the Assembly. Karen Siggins was reappointed as a Council Member, with the Council appointing her as the Chair and Vanessa Chang as ViceChair at their following meeting.
Celebrating historical music ‘Singing with gratitude in your hearts’ – a century of Baptist Church Music in WA will be celebrated on Sunday 15 March. The presenter, Kent Logie, has spent a lifetime teaching and conducting music, with a special interest in church music. The changing styles of music can be challenging, but Baptists still like to follow Colossians 3:16 and worship in song. Hosted by the Baptist Historical Society of Western Australia, the event will
be held from 2.30pm at South Perth Baptist Church, Lawler Street, South Perth.
Baptisms and dedications Erika Meyering was baptised on 24 November 2019 at Golden Bay Baptist Church. Angelique Contreras, Guillaume Contreras, Ted Crouchley, Jing Ma and Luyando Snare were baptised at the Coolbellup Campus of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. Six children from four families were dedicated at a special service at Moora Baptist Church on 15 December 2019.
Global Interaction Executive Director appointed Rev. Scott Pilgrim has been appointed to the role of Executive Director at Global Interaction commencing in March. As Executive Director, Scott is responsible for the overall leadership, pastoral care and empowerment of effective team structure for Global Interaction. In this role, he will interact with the Board of Governance and outside organisations.
Church encouraged church members to volunteer, with 45 people choosing to serve in 2019. “It was great to see God’s people respond to the call to be light in darkness – we had an intergenerational team of volunteers serving, loving and caring for our young people,” Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Youth Pastor, Michael Yoo said. “It was great to witness relationships being forged and
strengthened as we served alongside one another.” “I truly believe there’s more to be gained by the Church as we continue to serve in this amazing ministry that God has given to us,” Michael added. Jess highlighted the Green Team’s ability to bring like-minded people from all denominations together. “It’s powerful to see the various generations coming together for ‘Kumbaya, and
Daily Reflection Time’ – worshiping together, praying together, serving together and encouraging each other.” “New friendships and connections are formed, testimonies are shared and a deeper understanding of what 17 and 18 year olds face in their day-to-day lives is gained,” Jess concluded. Author – Matthew Chapman
Reaching Australians through Crossover In 2020, Crossover – an initiative of Australian Baptist Ministries – is focused on equipping Baptist churches in evangelism. “Reaching everyday Australians, whatever their social and cultural background, is an issue that every local church faces,” Baptist Churches Western Australia Church Health Pastor, Michael Bullard said. Baptist churches in Australia have access to Crossover, a national body dedicated to equipping the Church in evangelism and church planting. Through the support of churches undertaking a special Easter offering in 2019, Crossover was able to offer training for emerging evangelists in member churches. Three people from Western Australia were able to
In keeping with the State Government Leavers Strategy, the Western Australia Police Force partnered with key stakeholders to ensure school leavers had a safe and enjoyable time by organising activities, entertainment, transportation and support services. Since 2006, Baptist Churches Western Australia (BCWA) have been contracted by WA Police to provide the Leavers Entertainment Zone, an entertainment precinct in Dunsborough with over 8,000 young people celebrating over the four nights. In an interview with the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail, Police Minister Michelle Roberts said Leavers Week was a rite of passage after 13 long years of schooling. “We’ve got lots of volunteers, who along with police, are working very hard to ensure the safety of our young people,” Michelle said. Over 150 Leavers Green Team volunteers served over the four nights, with the majority from Baptist churches.
Photo: Mark Bartels
From 18 to 21 November, around 8,500 young people visited WA’s South West during Leavers to celebrate the end of secondary school.
Crossover helps equip churches to better reach Australians for Jesus, including distributing postcards for Easter and Christmas.
attend and joined others from around Australia. “This Easter, there will be another opportunity to give to the work of Crossover – either through your local Baptist church or online,” Michael said. Michael encouraged readers to consider supporting Crossover in 2020, as it seeks to support evangelism in Baptist churches throughout Australia.
Crossover offers many resources on their website, including their widely read magazine PRAC – a magazine devoted to sharing innovative evangelism approaches, resources for Christmas and Easter outreaches, and book reviews that all help people to say ‘yes’ to Jesus. For more information, visit crossover.org.au
feature FEBRUARY 2020
You know God’s doing something special when you’re choosing the colour of the ashtrays for the church and not the colour of the carpet.
The right c ashtrays f Yet here’s Don Warner of Byford Baptist Church, an ordinary congregation of 140 ordinary people in an ordinary suburb in Perth’s ordinary semi-rural fringe, painting coffee tins for the local people, who have started attending so they can pop outside for a quick smoke during the service. And no, it’s not cigars, and they’re not hipsters. And not an inner-city cafe in sight. Byford is seeing a real work of God in the area, and as Don says, “It’s not rocket science, it’s loving people.” And the people of Byford need love. It’s a hard scrabble area. Don, a local businessman, who is one of those amazing capital ‘E’ evangelists we all know, helped establish the Byford Free Food Market in the church when the boom and bust that is mining town Perth hit yet another bust. For those on good mining money, a bust means a less expensive restaurant at the end of the week. But for those who have had to endure a booming city in which they were already priced out of the market, a bust can mean living in your car on the edge of the city, wondering where the next meal is coming from, and how to buy baby food for your one year old. From their experience of helping with community events such as Australia Day and Anzac Day and running a CAP [Christians Against Poverty] Debt Centre, Don was already convinced that when the church serves people outside its walls, good things happen. But even he was astounded at the Spirit’s work in people’s lives as they opened the doors on the Free Food Market. Time and time again as we talked, Don spoke of how those who wouldn’t touch church or Jesus with a barge pole, have been touched by Jesus – and the church – with love, compassion and service. The words that are heard nearly every week: “I never knew church was like this.” Don shared: “One family, who had been local drug dealers, ended up in church, and during the first song on
This isn’t for Instagram. It gets messy. And you won’t be able to keep helping as a church if it’s just out of duty. You have to love people, and only the love that Jesus gives us can make us do that.
their first day there, they took a selfie and put it on Facebook. By the third song they had 30 messages from friends, most of them with just three letters: ‘WTF?!’” For Byford Baptist, the Food Market and the church go hand in hand. Don said the church wasn’t interested in setting up a parallel ministry where the Christians were hermetically sealed off from the rest of the community. That’s why when they established the Food Market, the rule was that it would be run by a mix of church people, general volunteers from the community and any clients who want to help as well. It’s as they did this together with those who didn’t know Jesus yet, that transformations started to take place (in the non-Christians and the Christians). Now each Thursday, people line up hours before the market even opens, and sit and talk and pray and cry over coffee, donuts, and enjoy a lunchtime sausage sizzle for anyone who wants to be there.
Don boasts that they are the most “inefficient food distribution centre around.” Why is he proud of that selfappointed title? Don said: “I did the rounds of other food centres. Most try to get people in and out as quick as possible like a production line. We wanted to do the opposite. We’re here to listen to stories, to hug people and pray with them, to find ways to love them. The two ways to build relationships with people are to work alongside them and to serve them.” For Don, that’s why it’s been crucial to get church folk and non-church folk together. And it’s changed those in church too. There’s an excitement at what God is doing, a love for others, and a sense of serving people that wouldn’t have been there without the Food Market. Don reckons the spin-off is that God’s people have come alive, their faith strengthened as they get involved. Don tears up a dozen times during our conversation, just amazed at what God is doing. But he’s got a warning: It’s not a social media opportunity. “This isn’t for Instagram. It gets messy. And you won’t be able to keep helping as a church if it’s just out of duty. You have to love people, and only the love that Jesus gives us can make us do that. Our most faithful helpers are often our most broken people,” he shared. Don said it hasn’t really changed the way they run church services. They recently did a series on Romans, for example. They still sing and do communion and pray. But it has changed how they explain things to local people who turn up. It has changed how they ensure that people are not left behind in the discipleship process. And even if they don’t become Christian, they’re still welcome. There’s the pregnant young woman who turned up at the Food Market and asked if the church would christen her daughter when she is born. Don explained to her that they didn’t do christening, but they did do
dedications, because that was part of what they did as a church family and then added: “If you don’t have a family, why not come and join us? We can be family for you and dedicate your daughter to God among us.” She’s now regularly attending church. Byford Baptist folk are just ordinary folk, but there’s been a transformation in their understanding of God’s presence among them, empowering them, and changing people’s hearts and lives. Here’s Don again: “We all know the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations, but it’s the ‘I am with you to the end of the age’ part that we sometimes forget. When things get tough our people realise that Jesus is always with them as we serve and share the gospel message – it just makes them more confident.” For Don it’s walking alongside people that makes the difference. Actually walking alongside them. When the food distribution starts and people are served, someone from the church walks along with them, asking them what they might need and helping them find things. “Halfway down an aisle the trolley often stops and the tears start to flow. When people experience someone serving them, and encouraging them, it makes a huge difference. Sometimes the whole queue is held up as we pray next to the capsicums,” Don shared. Author – Stephen McAlpine Steve McAlpine is a pastor of Providence Church in Perth, is married to Jill and together they have two children, Sophie and Declan. He has degrees in journalism and theology and enjoys combining the two through writing and blogging, especially on matters of church planting and cultural negotiation for Christians in the increasingly complex West. This article was originally published on stephenmcalpine.com and is republished with kind permission.
feature FEBRUARY 2020
Photo: Steve McAlpine
coloured for church
10 world news FEBRUARY 2020
Reading the Bible in colour Seven scrolls were initially found by young Bedouin shepherd boys, among them, the famous Isaiah Scroll. Travelling on two separate tours, Pastors Rob Furlong, Colin Lituri, Paul Quicke and Nick Scott bumped into each other over lunch when their respective groups converged in Qumran late October. “I’m not sure as Christians if we fully appreciate what the discovery of the Isaiah Scroll alone means to our faith,” Rob mused. Rob shared that the Isaiah Scroll found at Qumran is dated 1,000 years earlier than the previous oldest Hebrew manuscripts known before the scroll’s discovery. Though there were a few small damaged sections, the scroll is the complete book of Isaiah and the text is 95 percent word for word identical to what is found in the Hebrew Bible. “This tells us how meticulous the scribes of Qumran were in preserving the Word of God for posterity, borne out of a deep love and reverence for both God and His Word.”
“And it also gives us enormous confidence in the integrity and accuracy of the Bible that we hold in our hands today,” Rob said. The Pastors attended Rev. Dr John Dickson’s Origins of Christianity tour and Friends of Israel’s Up to Jerusalem tour. “[The tour] was an amazing taster of ancient historical discoveries centred around the life and ministry of Jesus,” Paul said. “It focused primarily on places of genuine historical significance around Judea and Galilee and the spiritual impact of this tour, and the fruit it will bear in preaching and teaching, will stay with us for years to come.” Rob said the tour will enrich your faith and build your confidence in the Bible. “As you travel around Israel, as a friend of mine said, ‘where previously you read the Bible in black and white, now you read it in colour.’” “If your pastor is considering a trip to Israel, then encourage him or her to go! And if it turns their preaching into colour, that has to be a win for everyone!” he concluded.
Photo: Sarah Quicke
Historically Baptists have been known as ‘the people of the book’, so what better place for four BCWA pastors to meet than Qumran, Israel – the discovery site of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946-47.
Pastors Paul Quicke, Nick Scott, Rob Furlong and Colin Lituri chat outside the caves of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, Israel.
Evangelist passes away Reinhard Bonnke, the German evangelist known as ‘The Billy Graham of Africa’, passed away in early December. He was 79.
Photo: Oleksandr Volyk
His ministry, Christ for All Nations (CfaN), stated on their website that more than 78 million salvation decisions had been made for Christ as a result of Reinhard’s career, which spanned from 1967 until his retirement in 2017 due to ill health.
Reinhard Bonnke passed away in December, leaving an incredible legacy of evangelism.
The evangelist shared a prayerful message of Christ’s transforming power, including the Lord’s ability to perform miracles and healings.
In truth, I have done nothing alone. God has called me and has been my pilot ... “Those who knew him offstage can testify to his personal integrity, genuine kindness and overflowing love for the Lord,” Reinhard’s successor, CfaN President and CEO, Daniel Kolenda said. “His ministry was inspired and sustained by his rich prayer
life, his deep understanding of the Word, and his unceasing intimacy with the Holy Spirit.” In more than four decades of mass crusades in Africa, Reinhard preached in 51 of Africa’s countries, initially holding tent meetings accommodating 800 people, prior to conducting city-wide events with as many as 1.6 million in attendance. In his 2009 autobiography Living a Life of Fire, Reinhard shared: “In truth, I have done nothing alone. God has called me and has been my pilot. The Holy Spirit has been my comforter, my guide, and my power source … He brought to me the perfect wife. He gave us our beautiful children and extended family. And He has provided a team that has grown with me through decades of working together. Beyond that, He has brought thousands to stand with us. They have supported us in prayer and in partnership. Our rewards in Heaven will be equal.” Author – Matthew Chapman
International Briefs China imposes new rules governing religious groups From 1 February, China has announced new requirements for all religious personnel to support and implement total submission to the Chinese Communist Party, causing concern for Chinese Christians. The measures complete the Regulations on Religious Affairs revised two years ago and implemented on 1 February 2018. Under the new measures, all aspects of religious communities – from their conceptions, to Sunday gatherings alongside annual and daily projects – is subject to approval by the government’s religious affairs department. A Catholic priest told AsiaNews that the new measures reflected the Chinese Community Party’s hostility towards all religions. “In practice, your religion no longer matters, if you are Buddhist, or Taoist, or Muslim or Christian – the only religion allowed is faith in the Chinese Communist Party,” he said. Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern
said it feared that the new regulations would be used by the Communist government as a “legal tool to further tighten space for religious groups”.
Methodist Church reaches breaking point American United Methodist Church leaders have proposed a plan to formally split the United States’ largest mainline Protestant denomination, following years of division over LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage. According to CNN, if the plan is approved by delegates to the Church’s General Conference in May, the main body of the United Methodist Church would recognise the dignity of LGBTQ people, and a new ‘traditionalist’ Methodist denomination would be created to continue in a separate branch that holds to the ‘tradition’ of banning same-sex marriage and LGBTQ people from the clergy.
world news 11 FEBRUARY 2020
Steep decline of religious freedom in India Prime Minister Naredra Modi rose up through the ranks of the right-wing, Hindu-nationalist volunteer group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which strongly promotes the idea of an all-Hindu nation and links Indian identity to Hinduism, inferring that all Indians are, or should be, Hindu by nature. The RSS was banned on several occasions by the Indian government for its alleged role in communal violence against nonHindu religious minorities. The new Citizenship Amendment Act allows unregistered Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddists, Jains and Parsis who migrated to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan in recent years to apply for citizenship after six years, while unregistered Muslims with the same migration background need to wait 11 years. The Indian government argued that the Amendment Act will protect religious minorities who have fled Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and that Muslims were excluded from the regulation as they didn’t have to fear persecution in these countries. Opponents of the Act say that its purpose was not to protect religious minorities but to identify and deport Muslims who have been living in India for years, with the goal of creating an all-Hindu nation. They say that if the Act was genuinely aimed at protecting religious refugees from neighbouring countries, rather than sifting out Muslims, the law should have included Muslim religious minorities who face persecution (such as the Ahmadis in Pakistan and Rohingyas in Myanmar). It should also have included a process to establish whether an applicant fears persecution, rather than merely establishing their religious affiliation. They suggest that if immigration law was applied selectively, as the direction of this law indicates, Muslim migrants could be sent to detention camps that the government is reportedly building, while others were released. Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University, Anil Varughese, called the act a “frontal assault on the idea of India as a secular, pluralist democracy”.
“For the first time, legal sanction has been given to the recasting of India as a Hindu majoritarian nation where minorities … are second-class citizens,” he said. While Christians in India were not specifically discriminated against as part of this act, the Citizenship Amendment Act contributes to the bigger picture of a Hindu-nationalist government campaign that is promoting antiminority sentiments, trying to divide the nation into Hindus and non-Hindus, with the goal of an all-Hindu India. According to Open Doors Australia, Hindu-extremism is the main source of persecution against the 65 million Christians in India, which has drastically increased since the Bharatiya Janata Party under Prime Minister Modi came into power in 2014. “Modi’s government has closed its eyes when minorities have been attacked,” General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, Vijayesh Lal, said in an interview with Open Doors. “It has continuously promoted anti-minority speech without thinking about the consequences.” According to Open Doors, because of the government’s inaction – and in some cases, denial – of persecution against Christians, extremist groups linked to the RSS have become bolder in their actions. Seven Indian states have established an anti-conversion law, making it illegal to convert to Christianity. Those who convert from Hinduism to Christianity are often harassed, attacked, or even killed. Since Prime Minister Modi came to power in 2014, India has moved up the World Watch List each year. Open Doors now ranks India as the tenth most dangerous country in the world to follow Jesus (in comparison to 31st in 2013). Author – Ramona Humphreys
A new amendment to India’s citizenship legislation is seen as another indication of decreasing religious freedom since Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government came into power in 2014.
Protesters made their voices heard in Hyderabad, India after the Indian government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Baptist Camping Centres WESTERN AUSTRALIA
12 in conversation FEBRUARY 2020
Teaching theology in the 21st century In 2004, Reverend Dr Brian Harris commenced as the Principal of what was then known as the Baptist Theological College of Western Australia. In his tenure, the College has changed its name to Vose Seminary, undertaken numerous building redevelopments, and seen hundreds of students undertake higher education.
In your 16 years at Vose, what have been some of the most marked changes that you have experienced? I most commonly answer that question by saying, “We really are now in the twenty first century.” That impacts many things. The ‘chalk and talk’ model of education, where the lecturer would pontificate at length while students scribbled down as many notes as they could, is long gone. The internet has seen the democratisation of knowledge. Students routinely fact check information on Google and are quick to let you know which experts disagree with you. You no longer read towards a degree to gain information you otherwise would not have been able to access. The classroom becomes the place to weigh a multitude of ideas and to deepen understanding, rather than to learn things for the first time. When I went to university back in the 1970s, university study was seen as elitist – about five percent of the population made it there. Furthermore, the dropout rate was astonishing and was viewed as a quality control measure. The higher the dropout rate, the more the proud claim would be made: “Well, we offer a quality education. Most people aren’t up to it.” Attrition rates of over 50 percent were encouraged. Today, this would be seen as a source of shame, a sure sign that the university taught poorly and didn’t care for its students. How has the development of technology in this time better enabled Vose to equip students? At the recent 2019 BCWA Annual Assembly, you shared about having a student from Pakistan. How is this possible? At the Assembly I spoke about a recent intensive we offered at Vose. An intensive is when we get students together for up to five days in a row and intensively explore the content of a particular unit, after which students go away and work through various assessments related to the unit in their own time. One of the students was from Pakistan – and
remained in Pakistan for the full duration of the unit while being ‘virtually present’ in the classroom the entire time. In other words, the student was able to see, hear and participate in real time in everything happening in class – and the class was able to see, hear and interact with her. And it turned out that she was the chattiest class member, even though many thousands of kilometres away. Another recent example is when one of our lecturers, Dr Aaron Chidgzey, was at a conference in Melbourne but had to deliver a class in both Perth and Karratha that night. It was not a problem. Through Zoom, Aaron was able to be ‘present’ to both the class in Perth and Karratha, though he was guiding the class from Melbourne. Students from both those classes were not only able to see and chat to Aaron, but to each other as well. Geography makes less and less difference, and as we move more deeply into the 21st century, will become increasingly irrelevant. The expression ‘flipped learning’ is used in the education sector, where students are introduced to learning material before class, with classroom time then being used to deepen understanding through discussion with peers. Is this the future of education? Yes, increasingly the classroom is a place to deepen knowledge, rather than to gain it for the first time. In the past, if you were lucky, lecturers would hand out notes after their lecture. Usually they didn’t and expected you to take notes for yourself. Now all the material for a lecture is available for a student before the lecture, and the student is expected to work through it before they attend. Technology, being what it is, tells the lecturer if the student has or hasn’t done this by monitoring what documents a student opens and the duration they open each document. So, if you set a ten page reading and the student keeps it open for only five seconds, you know they didn’t read it. Students then come to the class ready to deepen their knowledge. In the past, class discussions were often a place to pool ignorance, where the talkative would chat about things they knew very little about. Discussion is now
well informed and is a genuine way to deepen knowledge. What do you believe the future holds for the theological training sector? Historically theological colleges have been small, but highly relational. Though staff were well trained, they were largely engaged in teaching introductory courses over and over again. It was hard for staff to deepen their expertise, as the small number of people employed made genuine specialisation near impossible. On a trip to Scotland a few years ago, Rosemary and I went to visit the college where her father had trained to be a pastor in the 1930s. The very day we visited, the college announced its decision to close its doors. They are one of literally hundreds of small theological colleges around the world who are finding that technological changes and the increasing cost of compliance are making it impossible to survive. I think in the future we will find fewer, but larger colleges dominate the landscape, and through technology, their lecturers will be virtually present to students all over the world. Many colleges will become larger as a result of strategic mergers. Geography will be less and less relevant, though local recognition will continue to be important. With royal commissions taking place on multiple fronts, a key word that comes up in news coverage is the need to be compliant with regulations policies. Is this requirement taking people away from the front line of education? Educators have a mixed reaction to compliance. There is no doubt that compliance requirements are dramatically higher than in the past – and demonstrating compliance takes a considerable amount of time and money. However, compliance helps to ensure that students get a quality education. The standard of education is improving. Regulators assume any higher education provider will be large enough to manage its compliance requirements. They consider a college with fewer than a few thousand students to be very small. As most theological colleges have around a hundred students, this is a challenge for them.
Photo: Vose Seminary
Matthew Chapman from The Advocate recently caught up with Brian to hear the story of Vose and the changes that the seminary, alongside many other higher education providers, are currently facing.
Dr Brian Harris has been Principal of Vose Seminary for 16 years.
Traditional training in the past would often see a student undertake a three year bachelor’s degree. It would appear that students are opting away from this and are deciding to pick and choose from units, or undertake VET (Vocational Education and Training) level studies or nonaccredited training. What are your reflections on this? Are we risking having well developed theological graduates leading churches in the future? What you say is true, but we need to remember that churches now employ a more diverse range of staff. In the past, most graduates from a theological college would go on to be the sole pastor of a local church. Now increasingly they are members of a team of anywhere from three to 150 staff members. As a result, we are seeing people engage in ‘fit for purpose’ training. For some, that is a three year theological degree, for others, it might be a few units from a degree, or even a Certificate IV might be ideal.
Vose, in partnership with Christian Schools Australia developed Open Book for staff in Christian schools. In the six months since this was released, how has Open Book been received by schools and those using the resource? This is a wonderful example of the new world of non-accredited training that Vose and other providers now participate in. Open Book was designed to provide four sessions of professional development to improve the biblical literacy of staff employed at Christian schools. Several thousand staff members have now been through the program, and feedback has been very, very positive. Vose has been asked to produce a second program for Christian Schools Australia which will be called ‘Flourish: A Vision for Christian Schooling’. It is also made up of four professional development sessions and will be officially launched at an international conference in Auckland in August 2020.
growth 13 FEBRUARY 2020
The egg sellers, Islam and the Word of God
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of egg sellers, furniture salesmen, mattress sellers and groups of women selling fruits and vegetables – not to mention all the people coming in and out with their shopping – there we are, week in and week out, Thursdays at 1pm, out the front, near the entrance, sitting around a table full of egg trays reading the Word of God. We’ve been working through God’s story chronologically, beginning with God at Creation, through the Fall and expulsion of Adam and Even from the garden; the call of Abraham; all the highlights and low lights from Israel’s kings and prophets, their exile and return. We’ve read about Jesus, Israel’s Messiah – His life, death, resurrection and ascension – and finishing with the beginnings of the early Church. It’s a biblical panorama, which has been received so much better than my little faith could have dreamed possible. Remember all these men are Muslims – they have been from birth. One day, as we finished reading the story of Jesus’ ascension and the coming down of God’s Holy Spirit, the two leaders of the group declared, “We believe that Jesus died, He rose again and now sits at God’s right hand.” Talk about a ‘wow’ moment. I had to ask them to repeat what they said just so I could make sure I heard it correctly. Unfortunately in my doubts, at times I can struggle to believe in the power of the very thing I am coming to share. Each day as I arrive at the group, I think that today is the day they will ask me to stop coming, that there will be something we read or something I say that is a bridge too far for them. I have said on multiple occasions, “If you don’t want me to come, you just need to tell me, and I will stop. I don’t want to force anything upon you that you do not want.” The last time I said that, it was an offence to them. They sternly rebuked me, saying, “Stop asking us if we want to continue. We’re here aren’t we?” And since that day I haven’t asked them again. After a year of meeting together, we’ve finally finished
Photo: Ben Good
This year I have had the wonderful, humbling, and stretching experience of working through God’s story with a group of Muslim men at our city’s central market. It’s a surreal place to hold a Bible study.
Ben Good sharing the gospel with Muslim men in the central market of Lichinga, Mozambique.
our overview of God’s story and have come down to ground level to look in more detail at the story of Jesus. We began this last week with the Gospel of Luke, partly for practicality’s sake – there’s very few books of the Bible translated into their language – and because it’s just a wonderfully rich account of Jesus’ life, which has resonated strongly with other groups in the region. I brought along two of my expat friends who were visiting me and my family – one from a town 90km south of us, and the other from a village close to the border, 60km further south. Interestingly, his particular village is where a lot of the men in the group either come from or have family living. Suffice to say the group was swollen in number, more so than usual. So there we were, all gathered around the empty table where the trays of eggs were meant to be. Apparently they sold out and more were coming on the truck the next day. It was hot, sunny and very noisy. The flurry of traders and customers walking by seemed louder than normal. We pressed on, at times asking for a repetition of a particular verse or question. We worked through the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth,
and then also the angel Gabriel visiting Mary. Powerful, beautiful stories of God working through the insignificant, to achieve impossible things in His mission to redeem the world and bring about His Kingdom. Partway through the questions and discussion at the end, one man, probably in his 50s comes over from another table and shouts out, “As-salāmu alaykum”, which means ‘peace be upon you’, an Arabic greeting very common in all Islamic regions around the world. I have seen him before, but haven’t actually spoken to him. I could tell by his raised voice that something was up – no-one raises their voice here, it’s a cultural no-no. In an accusatory tone, he asked the men what they were doing. Were they just reading for reading’s sake, teaching the visitors (us three expats) about Islam, or were they seeking to go into competition with Islam? A big accusation. That’s when things got interesting. Rather than shy away from the confrontation, they pushed back – totally the opposite of what I would’ve done. Thankfully I didn’t have to do anything; this wasn’t my fight. The guys in the group fired back. “How are we in
competition with Islam?” they asked. “We have the Scriptures here. This is God’s Word,” as they held up the book of Luke. The man then went off ranting about how what these guys in the group were doing was against the teachings of Islam. He said, “What you are doing is wrong and dangerous and you need to stop.” They then fired back again. They said, “These things you’re saying you’ve only heard secondhand in the mosque. But we’re here reading the Scriptures and it’s telling us what is right and wrong. You don’t know what you’re talking about, but we do because we are reading it for ourselves. It’s right here in our hands,” as they held up the book of Luke again. I just sat there quietly in awe of my friends. This was no joke. For them this was the real deal. They put their necks on the line for the gospel that day. And the beautiful thing was, this gospel wasn’t the foreigner’s gospel; this gospel was their own. They owned it and were protective over it. It was a humbling and glorious moment. It is only early days for this nascent group, but if the Word of God has captivated these men’s hearts in such a powerful way so early on, who knows what the
future holds for them and their community. The Word of God is alive and active in this place. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to witness it take root firsthand. Thank you, Jesus! “For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” [Isaiah 55:10-11 CSB] Author – Ben Good Ben Good lives in Lichinga, Mozambique with his wife and three children and is involved in sharing the gospel amongst the Yawo People. From January, they will be based in Perth on home assignment and are available to speak in churches and small groups. For information, phone Global Interaction on 08 6313 6300.
14 arts FEBRUARY 2020
Mixed reactions to new album After affirming his faith in 2019, American rapper, Kanye West, released a worship album on 25 October titled Jesus Is King. While it is Kanye’s ninth studio album, it is his first to contain exclusively Christian worship music.
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“He’s employing a choir of people who are not only singing his songs, but are all dressed in his apparel. Is Christ really at the centre of this gathering? I’m not sure he is.” However, not all were doubtful. “Beware those who try to discredit Kanye’s newfound faith by digging up old quotes. If Kanye has been born again then the old is gone and the new has come. Let’s celebrate the new, not judge him for the old,” Premier Christianity Editor, Sam Hailes wrote in an article called, ‘Jesus Is King’ confirms Kanye is a Christian. Let’s stop judging him. Senior Pastor of Inglewood Community Church, Mark Edwards, is fond of the new Kanye and shared his thoughts on his blog. “As a pastor, father to teenagers, and someone who likes to keep up with contemporary spirituality, I am really encouraged by the lyrical content and heart of the album,” Pastor Mark wrote in his blog. “Kanye touches on various themes ranging from pure worship to prophetic utterance on church, society and life in general.” “I am going to pray for him, for his ministry and for our world. We need more positive influence and I choose to hope this is what Kanye is becoming.” “Is his conversion real? I hope so … Is what he is producing good and uplifting? I think so.” In response to the criticism, Kanye used Hands On,
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a song on the album, to address the judgement he has already experienced. “… Said I’m finna do a gospel album. What have you been hearin’ from the Christians? They’ll be the first one to judge me. Make it feel like nobody love me. Told people God was my mission. What have you been hearin’ from the Christians? They’ll be the first one to judge me. Make it feel like nobody love me …” Despite doubts about his agenda, Kanye is clear on his mission for his life and music. “My job is to spread the gospel, to let people know what Jesus has done for me,” Kanye said. “I’ve spread a lot of things … but now I’m letting you know what Jesus has done for me. I’m no longer a slave. I’m a son now, I’m a son of God.” Author – John Igglesden Photo: Shutterstock/Jason Persse
Jesus Is King has elicited opposing responses among both Christians and non-Christians alike. Many Christians have been vocal about Kanye’s conversion and worship album, especially on social media. “The way he talks about women in his other/recent albums, I’m sceptical he knows the gospel,” one Christian Twitter user wrote. HotNewHipHop columnist, Noah C, was also sceptical of Kanye’s change of heart. “It appears that indulging in secular music would go against Kanye’s newfound mission as a newfound Christian.” “We wish Ye [Kanye] the best on his mission, but it wouldn’t be the first time he publicly expressed a thought on a whim that never ended up manifesting.” The Kanye-led church services called ‘Sunday Service’ have also raised doubts over his agenda. Many question if it is a marketing stunt or if Kanye is genuine about spreading the gospel. Christian columnist, Tobi Oredein, does not believe the services are inclusive. “My major issue with Kanye’s Sunday Services is that they appear to be exclusive clubs for the rich and famous,” Tobi said. “The average person can’t visit, instead, we’re kept at arm’s length merely watching on screens.” “A church, or any gathering led in Christ’s name, should be open to everyone.”
Christians and non-Christians alike have mixed reactions to Kanye West’s new worship album, Jesus Is King.
coffee break 15 FEBRUARY 2020
A minute with ...
Season 2 of Jesus series released
Michelle Smoker is a part of the Accounts team at Baptist Churches Western Australia (BCWA), looking after the bookkeeping for a number of Baptist churches around Western Australia, along with the camping centres. The Advocate caught up with Michelle to learn more about her. Share a little bit about yourself … I was raised on a farm in the Wheatbelt town of Kondinin. I left the farm in 2001 due to drought, moving to the South West for seven years before moving to Perth in 2009 to start work at Baptist Churches Western Australia. What led you to Baptist Churches Western Australia? In 2008, I was undertaking some casual work with V8 Supercars while working in Dunsborough. This meant on race weekends I was flying around Australia, which became quite taxing, so I decided that I would move to Perth to be closer to the airport. Then a friend of mine shared about a job at BCWA, which was a perfect fit – being able to serve in ministry with churches in WA. You’re passionate about seeing churches released to minister to their communities. How does the bookkeeping you do tie in with this? For me, doing the bookkeeping for churches is not just a desk job – I feel I am a part of each church. And if I can take some of the load off the pastoral team, then it frees them up to reach their communities, which means I am impacting communities as well.
Olive Tree Media released a new season of Jesus the Game Changer in late 2019. The new season is focused on the spread of Christianity from a backwater in the Roman Empire to being a truly global faith – geographically and ethnically. While the first season of Jesus the Game Changer focused on helping Christians and the wider community understand the influence of the life and teaching of Jesus, the second season is about the mission of the church. Olive Tree Media CEO, Karl Faase, emphasised that this season’s focus was to motivate and inspire the local church to “make Jesus’ last words their first priority”. Olive Tree Media Chair, Greg Hammond OAM, spoke of the heart and motivation of this ministry at a celebration event. “The past five years have seen Olive Tree Media be a catalyst for the proclamation of the gospel, particularly through the production of high-quality and well-researched resources to help equip the people of God,” Greg said. Greg appreciated the ministry of Karl Faase and his wife Jane, and commended their “passion fuelled by their love for Jesus, their love for the people of God and a love for those who do not yet know Jesus as Lord and Saviour”. During the evening, Jane, producer of Jesus the Game Changer, shared some of the stories from the making of this new
season. She spoke of the team filming overseas for 68 days out of 100, travelling to 11 countries and 65 different locations, as well as interviewing 50 different guests. There were challenging times of sickness and a cancelled flight, which resulted in a ten hour overnight drive to Chicago. There were many wonderful moments of filming, including having Westminster Abbey to themselves before it opened to the public; visiting Lord’s Cricket Ground, The British Museum and the stone churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia; and then enjoying up to two metres of snow in Minnesota. Karl shared the plan to run a campaign across Australian churches in May 2020, using the new series to inspire and motivate local churches to evangelism and mission. The evening concluded with Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies praying for Olive Tree Media and the influence of Jesus the Game Changer to reach the ends of the earth. To purchase Jesus the Game Changer: To the Ends of the Earth, and to access the Bible study guides, visit jesusthegamechanger.com
Has technology helped to release churches in this area? Yes, this means that churches can send everything through to us digitally and we receive it instantly and can process it easier. With the Xero accounting software churches can see things live, so they can go online and see exactly where they are at. How do you separate yourself effectively from work and rest? This one is a work in progress. Some days are good and some days are not. But when I leave the office each day, I walk out and tell myself, “My day is done,” and then I go and enjoy life and do things for myself, like walking, cooking, gardening and puzzles. What do you think God has been trying to say to you lately? All things take time and know that my time is not always God’s time, so I have to trust in God’s time and believe in the promises that He has given us.
Photo: Olive Tree Media
Q. Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible? A. Samson. He brought the house down.
Olive Tree Media’s Karl Faase being filmed for the new season of Jesus the Game Changer in Lindisfarne, a tidal island off the north-east coast of England.
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16 sport FEBRUARY 2020
Specialist sporting programs at Carey The Health and Physical Education Department at Carey Baptist College recently announced the launch of two specialist sporting programs commencing in 2020. participation in sport,” Head of Health and Physical Education, Chris Bolton said. “Ultimately, the concept of aiding lifelong sport development will in turn increase self-efficacy.” “We anticipate that this pathway program will allow skills to be taken into the students’ adult years.” A study was completed amongst school families at Carey Baptist College to identify which sports would prove to be the most popular. Once the sports had been selected, Shawn and Mark were obvious choices due to both their professional playing background and approach to coaching. Carey Baptist College is delighted to be working with two of Perth’s finest coaches and are looking forward to the incredible opportunities these programs will provide for their students. “We are really excited with what this opportunity presents to Carey students and our wider community.” Photo: Carey Baptist College
The two programs, basketball and soccer, will be a welcome addition to the ever-evolving Health and Physical Education Department and is initially available for students in Years 9 and 10. Carey’s basketball program will be facilitated by the highly sought-after Shawn Redhage. While Shawn has had a distinguished playing career in America, he is fondly remembered as representing Australia in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games with the Australian Boomers and playing 380 games for the Perth Wildcats in the National Basketball League. Shawn’s high attention to detail and intensive knowledge will no doubt be transferable as he coaches the students in developing their basketball skills. Mark Lee, arguably one of Perth’s finest youth development coaches, will be facilitating the practical component of the soccer program. Mark has enjoyed a professional career in both Europe and Australia, playing for Perth Glory between 2006 and 2009. With his enthusiasm and charismatic personality, the College is sure that he will be an incredible asset in engaging students in developing their soccer ability. “The program is aimed to try and increase engagement in basketball and soccer, which in time will increase
For more information, please visit carey.wa.edu.au
Carey Baptist College’s newest sporting specialists, Shawn Redhage (left) and Mark Lee (right), with Head of Health and Physical Education, Chris Bolton (centre).
Liverpool striker’s baptism
“I give you my failures, and I will give you my victories too. My greatest title is that I am loved by you, Jesus,” Firmino wrote in an Instagram caption. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, new things have come.” Liverpool teammates Alisson Becker and Fabinho were also in attendance. “Very happy to have participated in a moment like this
– the baptism of people I love so much!” Becker said. In his baptism video, Firmino is overcome with emotion as he embraces his wife Lari. The baptism ceremony was led by Brazilian Christian singer, Isaias Saad. Many of the attendees were wearing ‘cross equals love’ t-shirts, commonly associated with Hillsong Church. Author – Gilbert Siahaan
Photo: Roberto Firmino
Brazilian and Liverpool FC forward, Robert Firmino was recently baptised in his Liverpool home.
Isaias Saad, Roberto Firmino and Alisson Becker at Firmino’s baptism ceremony.
The Advocate is the source that Christians across Western Australia turn to each month for news, information, comment and entertainment.
Published on Jan 29, 2020
The Advocate is the source that Christians across Western Australia turn to each month for news, information, comment and entertainment.