The Advocate - August 2021

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IN CONVERSATION Melissa Lipsett talks about leadership, community transformation and her hopes for Baptist World Aid Australia. PAGE 12 >>


“Gospel communities are places of healing and growth because God’s grace has become real in the believers’ lives.” MICHAEL O’NEIL PAGE 13 >>

Choosing ethical fashion 5 Family violence Church research findings released >>

8 Canoeing mountains Photo: Paul Prescott/Shutterstock

Karen Siggins shares lessons learned from explorers >>

Baptist World Aid Australia has built on its The Ethical Fashion Guide by launching The Australian Ethical Consumer Report to understand the attitudes and beliefs of the Australian consumer towards ethical fashion.

Australian consumers believe ethical purchasing is important but are failing to follow through. While 87 percent want to change their fashion consumption habits to consume more ethically, just 46 percent indicate that they regularly purchase from ethical/ sustainable fashion brands. These findings come from the new The Australian Ethical Consumer Report, released by development organisation Baptist World Aid Australia in collaboration with social research company McCrindle. The report seeks to understand the attitudes and beliefs of Australian consumers towards ethical fashion consumption and uncovers the key motivations for Australians when making purchases. It reveals that most Australians feel a sense of global

responsibility and want to change their consumption habits, but cite lack of awareness of ethical brands and expense as the two greatest barriers to doing so. Baptist World Aid created an online quiz to help individuals become more ethical consumers by identifying their consumer type. They can also score themselves on the Ethical Consumer Index included in the report, which measures their behaviour against ‘the 5 As’ of ethical fashion: Agency, Attitude, Awareness, Action and Advocacy. Baptist World Aid Australia Director of Advocacy, Peter Keegan discussed why this report is so valuable. “There’s a dissonance between who we want to be, and what we’re doing to get there. Almost three in four Australians believe ethical fashion and related issues of human rights and environmental sustainability are important, with three in five

10 Atheist conversion consumers becoming more aware of the impacts of their purchases over the past three years.” “But a large portion of consumers are still struggling to take those next steps towards purchasing ethically. Tools like The Ethical Fashion Report are created to bridge this gap and help consumers to match intention and action,” Peter explained. Generational and gender divides are also apparent when it comes to ethical consumption, with Generation Z females scoring highest across all demographics. This reflects a greater sense of global citizenship by younger generations identified in the survey results and a greater propensity to engage with news, resources and other information about ethical fashion. McCrindle’s Director of Advisory, Ashley Fell explained this further. “Aussies pride themselves on supporting a ‘fair go for

all’, and this couldn’t be more applicable when examining the issues of injustice surrounding ethical fashion.” “We see younger generations and women more open to changing their habits to align with this value,” Ashley said. Peter Keegan went on to discuss the impact the report can have. “This report reveals we have a long way to go when it comes to ethical consumption and understanding the impacts that our purchases have on the environment and people around the world.” “But with tools like The Ethical Fashion Guide and the Shopping Type Quiz, we can take those next steps towards becoming more ethical consumers,” Peter said. To find out more, visit or take the Shopping Type Quiz at

Kenyan Society Secretary saved >>

Generous hearts committed to building the Kingdom of God. BAPTIST CHURCHES WESTERN AUSTRALIA


my view AUGUST 2021

Lasting power of eternity At a family reunion, we were discussing wills and whether we had our affairs in order.

Rhidian Brook Rhidian Brook is an award-winning writer of fiction, television drama and film and regularly presents BBC Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’.

My Dad said – with a marvellous but perhaps deliberate slip of the tongue – that everything was up-to-date, and that he had given me lasting power of eternity. Which sounds wonderful but is not something, as far as I know, any law firm can guarantee. The pandemic has intensified the issue of inheritance. According to UK consumer experts, there was an eightfold increase in people making wills during the first lockdown. At the same time, there’s been a huge backlog in dealing with probate

– the process of administering the wills of the deceased and distributing inheritance. Economist Thomas Piketty says we are now living in an inheritance society. With asset prices outstripping wages, we’re heading to a situation where the bulk of wealth comes from inheritance, not work. It is estimated that USA millennials will inherit more than $68 trillion dollars from their boomer parents by 2030 – potentially the biggest collective wealth transfer in history.

An inheritance can be a blessing. But it can also be a curse, bending lives out of shape, destroying relationships, leaving a legacy of strife and bitterness. It can be too much, too little or too late; creating a state of false hope in something that can’t be guaranteed. In the famous parable, the prodigal son demands his inheritance while his father is still alive. A serious insult in that culture, but perhaps a sign of things to come given the wealth gap emerging between the generations.

The psalmist wrote that all can see wise men and fools die; leaving their wealth to others, they can take nothing with them. When it comes to inheritance the Bible offers little encouragement in the way of chattels, but it makes some lavish promises about being God’s heirs and inheriting the earth. Hanging on my wall is a collage of Saint Francis of Assisi that I inherited from my Gran. She made it herself out of discarded bits of material. Though it’s not worth much, it’s precious: for it depicts a man who gave up his considerable worldly inheritance – much to his earthly father’s astonishment – to pursue the lasting power of eternity.

The joy of the Lord It’s the early hours of the morning and I’m standing outside in the freezing cold – again.

Bronwen Speedie Bronwen Speedie is an Associate Pastor at Perth Baptist Church.

I’ve been doing this a lot lately; in the dark, in the rain, and when the smoke from local homes using wood-burning heaters makes me cough. But I’m not grumbling. Why? Because there’s a good reason for all these subAntarctic nocturnal expeditions – there’s a new puppy in our house and outdoor trips for toilet training are part of the deal. Despite the inconvenience that goes with this ball of fluff joining our family, it’s more than offset by the joy he has already brought us.

Sometimes we get a bit confused about joy, thinking we will only experience it when things are going well. I wouldn’t say Nehemiah was kicking back and living a carefree life early in his story in the Old Testament. After living in exile and experiencing deep sorrow on learning of Jerusalem’s ruined condition; then turning up day after day for the seemingly endless work of rebuilding; facing ridicule, threats (even death threats) and fake news from his enemies; dealing with fear of

those enemies from his fellow Jews (who had to work with one hand while holding a weapon in the other); and the headache of trying to coordinate complicated logistics and social issues, you might excuse Nehemiah if he had given in to despair. Instead, he shared with the people the key to persisting through hard times: “… the joy of the Lord is your strength” [Nehemiah 8:10]. In the precarious situation he faced, he could easily have focused on the need for greater military might

for defence or more money for redevelopment work. But this was the pressing issue on his heart – to remind them the resilience they needed would only be found in a life-giving relationship with the Lord, which would bring joy into their lives even in hardship. The challenges my family has been facing lately sometimes feel as big as Nehemiah’s. Then our puppy snuggles in or makes us all laugh. The joy he brings redirects my thoughts and reminds me of the real source of joy that gives strength to persist – the joy of the Lord is my strength.

Uncomfortable guests … I remember watching a debate between Christopher Hitchens and a notable Christian apologist.

Dr Brian Harris Dr Brian Harris directs the AVENIR Leadership Institute, teaches at Morling College and is Pastor at Large for the Carey Group.

Included in Hitchens’ long list of complaints against Christianity was the belief that God is always with you and watches everything you do. He suggested that Christians must feel like those trapped within a police state, with Big Brother always looking on. It’s an interesting idea. What do you think? Do you find the idea that God knows everything about you oppressive? And it’s not just that God knows what we do, God also knows our every thought. While we might have refrained from saying or doing

something awful, God knows how close we came to crossing the line and our ambivalence at not having done so. After all, the second prize to making some clever, cutting comment to someone who has upset us is pretending we did in our mind. “Take that,” I often think, as I imagine my opponent wilting in dismay and embarrassment. Or am I the only one who does that? And does God giggle along with me at those moments, or am I given the Queen Victoria treatment, “We are not amused”?

Of course, even if there is no God (though there probably is), we are all being watched more closely than ever. Every click on the internet finds its way into an ever-present surveillance system that uses the information we unwittingly provide to tempt us to buy more of our favourite chocolate, music, chocolate, shoes, chocolate and … did I mention chocolate? One of my favourite Bible verses has always been Psalm 23:4: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow

of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me …” It’s a glorious promise. In my head I frame it as the ‘never alone’ reassurance. Never alone – and especially not in the most daunting and terrifying moments of life. In childhood I learnt a proverb: “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” I think it means we don’t all like the same things (chocolate being the exception). Never alone – I guess I see it fundamentally differently to Christopher Hitchens. What is meat to me sounds poisonous to some. Ah, but have they taken the time to greet and meet the guest who never leaves?

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Rescuing Nepal’s daughters

Every Daughter Matters (EDM) is the anti-trafficking arm of International Mission Ministries, a missions partnership led by Ross Nancarrow, working with Nepali pastors for the past seven years. “The 1,758 kilometre border between Nepal and India is one of the busiest human trafficking gateways in the world, and because many Nepali girls and women are born into poverty and also regarded by their culture as being of little value, they are at enormous risk of being lured or sold into a lifetime of hell,” Ross said. EDM partners with the Nepalibased Aashish (Blessings) Social Service, a Christian organisation that exists to rescue young,

vulnerable Nepalese women from a life of sexual slavery. Their strategy is simple: a booth staffed by trained counsellors operates at a bus depot and the workers seek to intercept, rescue and counsel women who are at risk of being preyed upon by traffickers. Currently, EDM has four booths on this border. Over 130 people attended the dinner, including the Federal Member for Cowan, Dr Anne Aly and her husband, David. Organiser of the event, Karen Furlong, said that by partnering with the Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant and Cafe Inglewood for the night they were also able to develop a connection with the Nepalese community in Perth. “The restaurant owner was so moved by what EDM is doing that he has decided to promote the ministry through his restaurants,” Karen said. “With every dollar [raised] going to EDM, it will contribute enormously to the rescuing of many precious women

in Nepal from the evil that is sexual slavery.” Founder of EDM, Ross Nancarrow was the guest speaker at the dinner. Ross is a passionate advocate for the women of Nepal. “We believe every daughter is priceless and is deserving of respect, dignity and value, therefore, we are committed to seeing the trade of young Nepali women and girls across the border into India interrupted and ultimately eradicated,” Ross said, as he explained the reason behind EDM. Ross closed with a passionate appeal to those present: “Partnering with EDM will bring hope and healing to Nepal’s daughters through the potential of interrupting and assisting hundreds of girls each month – how can we not take a stand against such evil?”

Photo: Ross Nancarrow

Over $15,000 was raised by Woodvale Baptist Church for antitrafficking enterprise, Every Daughter Matters, at a fundraising dinner on Saturday 15 May.

For further information, visit Ross and Donna Nancarrow with Karen and Rob Furlong in a replica

Author – Rob Furlong

rescue booth constructed for an anti-trafficking fundraising event.

Rick Warren to retire Saddleback Church Pastor, Rick Warren is stepping down from his position as lead pastor of the megachurch. “For 42 years, Kay and I have known this day would eventually arrive and we’ve been waiting for God’s perfect timing,” Warren said in a video to the church. Warren founded the Saddleback Valley Community Church in 1980 and since then, the Church has grown into a global ministry with an estimated 40,000 participants. Recognised as one of the United States’ leading pastors and Christian authors, he wrote The Purpose Driven Life, a 40-day

personal spiritual journal that presents what he believes are God’s five purposes for human life on earth. The Purpose Driven Life was also on The New York Times Best Sellers list for over 90 weeks and to date has sold over 50 million copies in 85 languages. Warren, now aged 67, will continue to serve as Saddleback Church’s lead pastor until a replacement is found.

Home care that’s all about you

Author – Matthew Chapman

At Baptistcare, we know the importance of a personalised home care package. That’s why we’re taking the time to catch up for a cuppa to find out more about you and your home care needs. As the experts in caring for WA, we’re here to answer all your questions and help design a home care package just for you. Photo: Supplied

Care for a cuppa? Call 1300 660 640 or visit After more than 40 years leading US-based Saddleback Church, Rick Warren has announced his retirement.


news AUGUST 2021

Redeveloping Baptist churches

Chief Executive Officer of BFS, David Slinn discussed the background to the initiative. “Churches sometimes have sites which can support broader activities that may have a commercial element that can help cover the cost of building new church facilities or new church initiatives,” David said. David shared that BFS identified three key issues in forming BDA, which were critical to making such developments possible and successful for churches: having the right expertise and knowledge to manage a redevelopment process well; understanding how the church can be integrated into any new development, including how the development can be managed alongside the church once completed; and having risk capital to invest, particularly at the early stages of a project, such as obtaining development approval, which can involve significant expenditure. Australian Baptist Ministries National Ministries Director, Pastor Mark Wilson spoke of his enthusiasm for BDA.

Photo: DEM (Aust) Pty Ltd

Baptist Development Australia (BDA) is a new Baptist Financial Services (BFS) initiative established to work with churches that have redevelopment opportunities.

Baptist Development Australia has been established to partner with churches like Como Baptist Church as they seek ways to bless their community with new developments.

“It is a significant and exciting initiative for the Baptist community that BFS has put aside dedicated risk capital for BDA to be able to progress redevelopment opportunities with churches on a larger scale than was previously possible.” David Slinn expanded on the vision for BDA. “It represents an amazing opportunity to make the church more central to communities, as churches create community by providing a place to meet and gather.”

“Placemaking is a well-known and key urban design principle to make development projects successful – this is about connecting people, communities and the church together,” David said. Forms of development can take many shapes and sizes, and can include simple things like a corner store, medical services or office facilities, to larger and more complex needs such as childcare, education, sporting facilities or residential development.

David shared that the key focus of any development is to work with the local church community as they formulate their project vision on outcomes that are viable and achievable. This needs to be integrated well with the church’s overall vision and to be owned and held by the church, rather than by the developer. A church can have great facilities and financial outcomes, but they are just tools that need to be fit for purpose to support the needs of church in building connections and relationships.

In the post Christendom era, there is great diversity in what church looks like these days. The focus of BDA is to help churches in the context they are situated in and where a project is viable. It won’t work in every situation. The focus is capturing and realising those opportunities where they are.

Octogenarian collects containers for a cause

The Gwelup octogenarian has managed to collect more than 1,100 containers in just six months, and has more than the good of the planet in mind. He wants to raise a massive $15,000 for a state-of-the-art Tovertafel (pronounced ‘tova-taff-al’) for the seniors who share his residential care home at Baptistcare’s David Buttfield Centre (DBC). The Tovertafel or ‘magic table’, is a high-quality ceiling projector which beams light animations onto a table below. It was developed in the Netherlands for people with cognitive challenges.

“Not only are we doing our part for the environment by preventing these containers from ending up in landfill, we are also raising money for a significant cause,” Des said. “Giving back to the DBC Therapy Department is important to me since they do so much for the residents here who are journeying with dementia.” Baptistcare’s DBC Therapy and Leisure Partner, Clare West said employees, residents and their families are in awe of Des’ commitment and passion. “When Des told us that he wanted to help raise money for a Tovertafel, we were moved by his generosity,” she said. “We have seen the amazing response residents at other Baptistcare facilities have had to the Tovertafel and are excited at the prospect of having our very own.” For more information or to make a donation, visit

Photo: Baptistcare

Des Gilbert (87) is among the thousands of West Australians who have started to collect and deposit their recyclables as part of the Containers for Change initiative.

Des Gilbert, a resident of Baptistcare’s David Buttfield Centre in Gwelup, collecting containers to raise funds for dementia stimulation technology.




Lifting the veil on violence and lay leaders, and one-on-one interviews to capture personal experiences within our community.” The research, commissioned by the Church and conducted by NCLS Research, produced 28 top line findings, which included: the prevalence of IPV among Anglicans was the same or higher than in the wider Australian community; most clergy felt that having women on the pastoral team equips a church to better respond to domestic violence; and that perpetrators misuse Christian teachings and positional power. “All Anglicans will feel deep sadness over these results,” the Primate of the Anglican Church, the Most Rev. Geoffrey Smith said. “But armed with this data we can develop a better response to protect those within our church communities from domestic violence.” “There is a strong resolve among the Church leadership to address the problem and to provide an appropriate response and adequate support for victims,” he said.

BCWA and PerthTogether pray for Myanmar Baptist churches across Western Australia had the privilege of covering Myanmar in prayer in late May, as part of an initiative from PerthTogether, a movement that connects and serves Christians across Perth and rural Western Australia. The Love Myanmar prayer event was held over 50 days from Passover to Pentecost, to support those in dire need in Myanmar who are suffering escalating and horrific violence at the hands of their own government. Western Australia Baptists covered the nation in prayer for a day on 21 May. In a video message to Baptists throughout Western Australia, Interim Director of Ministries, Karen Siggins invited participants to pray for peace to come to the nation, for safety for those under threat of extreme violence, and that all the aid and support would be able to get to and help those most in need. One-third of Baptist churches in Western Australia

are cross-cultural churches, with the majority comprising of the various people groups of Myanmar. “These people, our sisters and brothers in Christ are hurting right now for what is taking place for their families, their friends and the country of Myanmar and we want to remind of you of our invitation to partner with us in prayer for the people of Myanmar,” Karen shared. “We know many are already praying through different networks locally and globally and we want to encourage you to keep this before the Lord.” Author – Matthew Chapman

Rev. Lauersen added that as a Church, they grieve with the victims and survivors of IPV, pray for healing and recovery, and commit to doing more to prevent it happening. “This research has lifted the veil and highlighted how big the problem is not just in Australia but within our Anglican community also,” she said. In response to the research findings, the Anglican Church has developed and endorsed the ten commitments to improve the way IPV is addressed within its faith community. They are focused on cultural change, education, training and support. “There is positive work being done by dioceses across the country, but as this research demonstrates there are gaps which we are committed to addressing,” Rev. Lauersen said. “We are forever grateful to those who took part in our research project, from members of the clergy and lay leaders to survivors and victims across the country, for they are helping to drive change in the Anglican

The Anglican Church of Australia has conducted Australia’s first known national research into family violence within faith communities.

Church and, we hope, more broadly across Australia.”

For more information, visit family-violence

Baptist World Congress goes virtual … together More than 4,000 Baptists from over 140 countries gathered in July for the 22nd Baptist World Congress. Held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Congress was the Baptist World Alliance’s (BWA) most globally diverse gathering in its 116 year history. With content offered in multiple languages, Congress participants engaged in worship, prayer, fellowship and Bible study around the theme, TOGETHER. The Director of Global Partnerships and Unity, Julie Justus shared her excitement about the gathering. “We are so pleased that the 22nd Baptist World Congress is truly a global event! With participants from more than 140 countries and territories, we will be together from every corner of the world.” “This Congress is about being TOGETHER and we know that it will be a taste of heaven on earth,” Julie said.

Photo: Zooner/Shutterstock

IPV is defined as behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours. The Australian Institute of Family Studies states that IPV is the most common form of family violence used against women in Australia and takes place across all cultures and faith groups. Convenor of the Anglican Church of Australia’s Family Violence Working Group, Rev. Tracy Lauersen, said the Church has deliberately taken the lead on a broader societal issue. “Following considerable public discussion in 2016 about IPV, we felt duty-bound to better understand its nature and prevalence in our community and develop and implement more effective responses,” she said. “As a result, we embarked on a two-year project – three in-depth research reports into the prevalence, a study of clergy

Photo: Frame Studio/Shutterstock

The Standing Committee of the Anglican Church of Australia has made ten commitments to prevent and respond to intimate partner violence (IPV), after undertaking the first known Australian Church study into the prevalence of IPV within its faith community.

The largest digital global gathering of Baptists took place in July as people from 140 countries gathered for the Baptist World Congress.

Through the financial support of State Unions, including Baptist Churches Western Australia, Australian Baptist Ministries was able to offer free Congress registrations to any Baptist in Australia. To help international participants connect, more than 40 Global Connection Groups were formed focusing on areas of mutual interest, with small groups creating space to hear each other’s testimonies and insights around given topics.

Director of Global Events and Fellowship, Carolina Mangieri reflected on the event. “The highlight of the Congress is to be able to bring people together, which opens the opportunity for relationship building, ministry commitments and partnership creation.” “Worshipping and praying in many languages is a beautiful experience – every nation and tribe, every people and language standing in front of the throne of God,” Carolina said.


news AUGUST 2021

Unshakeable hope for SportsFest 2021

Standing in the gap created by the physical absence of the games in 2020 was SportsFest 2.0, an online version that saw competitors submitting videos of themselves attempting various challenges such as three-point basketball shots and claiming the most kilometres cycled in a week. As restrictions eased and word circulated that SportsFest would run again in 2021, it became clear just how valued the connections, competition and ethos of SportsFest are for young adults in our family of churches. Baptist Churches Western Australia Next Generations Pastor, Ed Devine spoke of the great response to the news, with 26 teams signed up. “The combination of over 1,000 young people gathered from around Western Australia, the various sports which cater for all interests and levels, and the space

to invite a friend to hear about the life-giving message of Jesus have proven to stand the test of time and popularity,” Ed said. The organising team is in full swing, ensuring the event operates in a way that meets government regulations and is COVID-safe. Ed shared his gratitude for Keith Campbell, Terry Hicks, Alan Holt, Jeff Kemp and the team at Morley Baptist Church for their significant input alongside Ben Jefferies, who started as the Baptist Churches Western Australia Events Coordinator in July. The theme for SportsFest 2021 is ‘Unshakeable Hope’, and the Master of Ceremonies will be Pastor Ed Devine. “We want to acknowledge that people have had a tough couple of years which has affected health, work and life plans,” Ed said.

Photo: BCWA

As the final applause resounded around Leschenault Leisure Centre for the trophy winners of SportsFest 2019, little did anyone know that the sports competition would be hanging up its boots the following year while the world struggled through a pandemic.

Participants taking part in SportsFest 2019, the last time they could compete physically.

“While we own the reality of the struggle, we also ask the question, ‘where do we find an unshakeable hope?’” “We believe that the answer lies in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” This message will be expressed at the Saturday Night Live service through multi-media,

dance and music. Those gathered will also hear from two speakers, Pastor Cung Lal from Myanmar Baptist Church Perth and Kathy Sinclair, Church Relationship Manager at Baptist World Aid Australia. Cung shared his perspective on the theme. “I have realised that it doesn’t matter which country you come

from or whether you are rich or poor; without the unshakeable hope of Jesus in our lives we are subject to hopelessness in this fragile world – I look forward to offering the living hope of Jesus to people.” For more information or to register, visit

Emmanuel celebrates school growth Emmanuel Christian Community School (ECCS) celebrated the official opening of its new ‘west wing’ by Senator Dean Smith in late April. impressive new facilities that students and staff will enjoy,” Senator Smith said. “Emmanuel Christian Community School is a very special school community, a showcase of multiculturalism, and these new classrooms will further enhance the very supportive learning experience here.” The school is a ministry of Girrawheen Baptist Church. It grew out of the concerns that Christian parents had for the direction society was heading, the effect this was having on their children, and the desire to exercise their God-given responsibility to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. ECCS enrolments are now open for 2022.

Photo: Emmanuel Christian Community School

Completed with $1.5 million of Commonwealth Government funding, the redevelopment commenced with the demolition of the old classrooms making way for the construction of a two‑storey facility housing 11 general learning areas. From humble beginnings of 21 foundation students in 1982, Emmanuel has grown to around 700 students from Kindergarten to Year 12, with the first Year 12 cohort graduating last year. ECCS Principal at the time, Gary Harris, spoke of the significance of the day. “I am proud to be here as the Principal at the time of this historic event which is taking place just before the school celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2022 – we give thanks to God on this day.” After the ceremony, Senator Dean Smith shared his reflections of the event. “It was a privilege to visit Emmanuel Christian Community School again and see the

For further information, visit Author – Belinda Cheung

Emmanuel Christian Community School Chairman of the School Board, Ken Ridge; Member for Mirrabooka, Meredith Hammat MLA; Senator, Dean Smith; Former Principal, Gary Harris; and City of Wanneroo Mayor, Tracey Roberts at the official opening of Emmanuel Christian Community School’s ‘west wing’.




Forming disciples in Geraldton “We do training on Tuesdays, it’s my favourite day of the week,” Natalie said. Senior Pastor, Craig Palmer said that discipleship, leadership and mission are core parts of intentional training now with its second cohort at GBC. “At the end of 2019, we took a risk to invest time and finance to deeply grow people as fullhearted followers of Jesus through a year-long (Feb-Nov) internship initiative called FORM,” he said. Borrowing from a internship model first used in Sheffield in the United Kingdom, FORM’s approach is centered on the life of Jesus. It includes a training day and life to life imitation (ministry placement) to help people like Natalie apply their faith in unique ways in their work, family and church life. “FORM is aimed at young adults aged 18 to 35, but this year we took in a cohort of eight people ranging in age from 19 to 78,” Craig said. “As Senior Pastor, I have seen the impact within

the church – each of the ‘FORMees’ bring vitality and the discipleship culture they are learning into the relationships and ministries they are part of, including youth, young adults, children, music and life groups, and beyond that into family and friend relationships.” “They are learning that being authentic and maturing disciples of Jesus is more about what they do every day than special church programs.” The alumni from the inaugural year of FORM are supporting the second year cohort in practical and spiritual ways. First year FORMee, Sarah Bishop has matured spiritually through her participation in 2020. “My FORM experience pushed me outside my comfort zone … to trust in God to see where He is leading me,” she said. Discipleship trainer and coordinator of FORM, Jack Weaver has seen amazing transformations in people’s lives. “They have experienced inner healing as they find their true

Photo: Craig Palmer

Natalie Smith loves Tuesdays. The mother of two is a participant in FORM, a discipleship training initiative of Geraldton Baptist Church (GBC).

Guest speaker Mike Bullard (BCWA) (back row, centre) joined participants and leaders at FORM’s Encounter God weekend.

identity of who they were created to be in Christ,” he said. “We have seen God’s love poured out upon the FORMees in tangible ways.” Jack said that teaching and reflective prayer on who God really is has created a greater vision in people’s hearts about

how the Father’s love is passed onto others as they engage with the truths of Scripture. “They learn to listen to what God is saying by the Spirit and respond to the question, ‘what will we do about it?’” he said. Applications for FORM 2022 for those aged 18 to 35 open in

Groundbreaking conference connects Aussie Baptists

Photo: Benito Carbone/Baptist Churches of SA

Rev. Dr Melinda Cousins presents from the Baptists in Mission conference hub in Adelaide.

For more information, visit

Briefs Pastoral changes

Australian Baptists from all over Australia and eleven overseas locations connected in July for a conference like no other. Hundreds gathered in hubs or as individuals for the inaugural Baptists in Mission conference, a decentralised and interactive conversation around best practices in mission. Presented by Global Interaction and Crossover, and built on Global Interaction’s renowned Strategic Mission Week, over 40 leading thinkers and practitioners presented online from all over Australia and Global Interaction’s international locations. Director of Crossover Australia, Pastor Andrew Turner spoke of the value of the partnership with Global Interaction. “Australian Baptists, with a strong sense of the ‘missionary-hood of all believers’, are increasingly aware of the resource that Global Interaction is for developing our capabilities for effective mission here in Australia,” he said. “Not only is there a sense of ‘the nations have come to us’, but also an increasing

September, with people beyond Geraldton welcome to apply. ‘Taster days’ will be held on 7 September and 2 November for those who are curious to know more.

appreciation of the benefit of sound missiology in engaging born-and-bred Aussies.” Crossover Australia, the national Baptist ministry championing evangelism, is renewing its focus on providing encouragement, training and resources that help Australian Baptists share Jesus. Their partnership with Global Interaction for this event sparked financial support from Baptist Financial Services and Baptist Insurance Services, along with the support of every state association and agency. Andrew spoke of the significance of this nationwide support. “[It was] a remarkable display of our ‘sleeves rolled up’ unity around our shared calling to the great mission of our great God.” Author – Andrew Turner

Mike Bullard has concluded as the Church and Leaders Support Pastor for Baptist Churches Western Australia. April Madureira has been appointed as the Associate Pastor at The Sanctuary Community Church. Shane Kuchel has concluded as the Associate Pastor at Lakeside Baptist Church and has been appointed the Senior Pastor of Mosaic Church in Queensland. Peter Christofides has concluded as the Pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church’s Coolbellup Campus and has been appointed as the Associate Pastor at Lakeside Baptist Church. Michael Christie has been appointed the Pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church’s Coolbellup Campus. Mark A Wilson is concluding as the Sole Pastor of Dalkeith Baptist Church.


feature AUGUST 2021

In the early 1800s, American adventurers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, a parcel of land which extended US sovereignty and nearly doubled the size of the country as it was at the time.

Canoeing over and sitting on The hope had been to find a waterway that went right across the country to the Pacific Ocean, and it had been commonly accepted by experts for about 300 years that this would likely be an extension of the mighty Missouri River. There was little doubt that the waterway was there – it just had to be found. There were years of preparation before the expedition set off. Then, after 15 months of extremely difficult travel and a lot of canoeing, Lewis and Clark and their team arrived at a promising hill. Lewis’s journal makes it clear that as he contemplated the hill in front of him, he fully expected that the next morning when they walked to the top they would strap their canoes to their backs, take a half-day hike and find a navigable river that would take them all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Crest the hill, find the water and canoe to the finish line. What Lewis and Clark saw when they crested the hill was what we now know as the Rocky Mountains – more than 4,800 kilometres of mountain ranges! What lay ahead of them was nothing like they had expected, prepared for and planned to navigate. They had canoed upriver to this point and had expected to canoe on into the new world. But how do you canoe over mountains? Well, you don’t, do you? As Lewis and Clark looked at the Rocky Mountains so unexpectedly laid out in front of them, it seemed that their adventure was done. They would make their report to the President and he would no doubt send another expedition team better equipped for mountain ranges to find a way to the Pacific Ocean. This is not what Lewis and Clark did. Lewis notes in his journal that they “proceeded on”. I read the story of Lewis and Clark in Canoeing the Mountains – Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger, who uses it as a rather brilliant metaphor for some of the current challenges

facing the Christian church. In many ways, churches in the western world are standing at the top of a hill looking at a seemingly endless set of rugged mountain ranges which we really didn’t expect to see. Standing there, our canoes can feel rather heavy and even foolish! Without a doubt we are living in a world that is changing rapidly and this can be an unsettling place to be. As Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell write in Generation Alpha – Understanding Our Children and Helping Them Thrive, “Change is not unique to this era, but the speed, size and scope of the change that defines our current times is truly unprecedented (we know because, according to our research, ‘change’ was one of the most overused words in 2020)!” Some of us thrive on change but for many of us it can be overwhelming, exhausting and disconcerting. For most of us it is very uncomfortable to live in the neither here nor there places; to live in what are called ‘liminal spaces.’ In her book, How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, Susan Beaumont explains that the Latin origins of the word ‘liminal’ come from the word ‘limen’, which means the stone at the threshold of a door you must physically step on to cross from one space into another. Beaumont also reminds us that human beings naturally respond in one of two ways to threshold places. We either bind up our anxiety by throwing all our energy into going back to what is familiar, or we rush forward to a future still undefined and unknown. The old story of the exodus of the Israelite people is a great example. They were either waxing lyrical about how wonderful Egypt was and wishing they could go back, or they were on at Moses demanding he get them to the new place quickly! Like Lewis and Clark and the Israelites, we all stand at thresholds many times in our lives – starting school, adolescence, finishing school, new jobs, new homes, new friends, changing health, parenting, death, relational breakdown, empty nesting and more. In fact, Christian faith itself is a threshold experience, isn’t it? Susan Beaumont writes, “The Christian story is, by design, an invitation into liminality. The hoped-for reign of God is already inaugurated in the figure of Jesus Christ, but not yet complete … We are already redeemed, but the fulfilment

of that redemption will not be complete until the end times when Christ returns. Our theology frames an identity for us of a semi-permanent liminality.” As local churches we stand at a threshold. This is true both generally in terms of God’s story and specifically in terms of the cultural changes sweeping through our country and much of the world. So how do we steady ourselves so that we can live well and wisely in this in-between space? Not rushing back to the comfort of what is familiar nor hastily forward to what is yet unknown? Perhaps by remembering again what it is that shapes and directs all of human history – God and His story. God designed us in His image to be together (one) in good relationship with Him, with each other and with all of the created world. We were designed for a ‘oneness’ that became otherness when we turned against God and each other, to borrow from Scot McKnight in The Blue Parakeet. Thankfully this oneness has been and is being restored in Jesus. And in the threshold space of Jesus’ first and second coming, God is working out this restoring of oneness (redemption) through His people – first Israel and now the church. Lewis and Clark steadied themselves by remembering they were first of all adventurers and explorers for their country – an unexpected twist in their expedition didn’t discount that. Their canoes were suddenly out of place, but their mission hadn’t changed! We can steady ourselves in this threshold space by remembering that God’s story is still the story that holds human history, by remembering that the church is still God’s people and that the mission of God’s people is to love God and love others. I am brought back again and again to these words of Jesus: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:37-40] Which brings us to well walls … in the threshold place, both in terms of God’s story and the particular cultural changes of our time, Jesus has shown us a way to live.

feature AUGUST 2021

mountains well walls Just as He did with the woman at the well in Samaria, Jesus invites us to sit with each other and with people in our wider communities. He invites us to live in the threshold place by leaning in and listening. Listening as an act of love. Listening to each other across differences, so that we can start to understand what life is like for the other. In the love, grace and kindness of that sacred space we will find, just as Jesus did, a place to tell our own stories and how they are part of God’s story. If we can sit patiently in this threshold time of ours, if we intentionally look for well walls to sit on and choose to lean in to listen across differences as an act of love, then I think our community will see again that God and His people can be trusted and have something life-giving to bring to the table. Author – Karen Siggins Karen Siggins is the Interim Director of Ministries at Baptist Churches Western Australia. Previously she was the Lead Pastor at Lesmurdie Baptist Church, and was in pastoral ministry at the church for over 16 years.


10 world news AUGUST 2021

Open Doors and prayers bring solace to Myanmar A church in Kayan Thar Yar village in Myanmar was attacked by the country’s army in May, while approximately 300 people were sheltering inside. One of a series of ongoing attacks since the coup began in February, the army collapsed the roof, killing four people and injuring several others. In what has been described as a ruthless clampdown, at least 860 people have been killed and over 4,800 arrested. The RLP calls the coup illegal, saying it “disrespects the expressed will of the peoples of Myanmar.”

... every day is lived in tremendous fear.

Churches have been raided because of activities the military considers unlawful, including the sheltering of anti-coup activists, and pastors have been forced into hiding having shown opposition to the coup. Meanwhile, the ongoing restrictions have left ethnic religious minorities even more vulnerable. Thousands have fled their homes. “For those who are unable to escape, every day is lived in tremendous fear,” the RLP said. “No fewer than 100,000 people – including from the primarily Christian Kachin and Karenni, many Christians among the Karen, as well as the Shan and others – are residing in camps for internally displaced people.”

Christians in Myanmar are fearful for their safety and the future, but have found prayers of believers around the world an enormous support, making a tangible difference to their lives and reminding them that they are not alone. “Our life has been full of fear, anxiety and distress since the coup,” Brother Hermon* shared. “Amid the terrorising coup, we have experienced God’s presence in our personal lives.” “Me and my family would like to say thank you for your prayer support – now we can see His tender care and mercy.” * Name has been changed for security reasons.

Photo: Bociaga/Shutterstock

This is just one of several attacks as conflict between the military and the People’s Defence Force continues. A Baptist church in Yangon was also targeted, with the military destroying the building and allegedly beating three men, including the pastor. A local partner of Open Doors spoke of the attack. “The pastor’s son was allegedly accused of stealing a gun from the military. This angered the soldiers and they chased after him, arrested him and then destroyed the church property,” they said. Open Doors and 25 other organisations belonging to the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) have released a statement expressing their concern about the notable increase in religious freedom violations since the military coup took place. “We are troubled that military control has the potential to exacerbate religious persecution and intolerance, as we continue to hear of rising Buddhist nationalism and attacks on houses of worship,” the statement said. Since the military seized power, alleging that the National League for Democracy’s landslide election victory in November 2020 was fraudulent, thousands of civilians have taken to the streets in protest.

Myanmar people take to the streets in Nyaungshwe to protest against the military coup in February.

Atheists in Kenya Secretary resigns after finding Jesus

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Christians in Japan called on Christians across the globe to join them in one million hours of prayer for their nation throughout the Olympic Games and Paralympics. Japan International Sports Partnership and Japan Evangelical Missionary Association have come together for Japan 1 Million and are calling on churches, individuals and families to unite in prayer for Japan as it takes centre stage during the Olympics.

Open Doors releases India report A new report commissioned by Open Doors and conducted by researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science is a damning

account of the “existential threat” to many Indian Christians and Muslims under far-right Hindu and Hindutva organisations which dominate India’s public and political sphere. The shocking new report reveals that Christian and Muslim communities in urban and rural India are traumatised and fear for their lives due to a coordinated, state-sanctioned campaign of persecution and violence.

British Methodists allow same sex marriage The Methodist Church in Britain has passed motions to allow “same-sex marriages conducted on Methodist premises or by Methodist office-holders.” Evangelicals described the outcome as a sad day for the church.

Photo: Elevate TV Kenya/Facebook

International Briefs

Seth Mahiga televised sharing his new-found belief in Jesus and his subsequent resignation from Atheists in Kenya.

The Atheists in Kenya Society’s (AIK) Secretary, Seth Mahiga resigned in late May, stating that he had accepted Jesus Christ into his life. Seth announced in church that he had accepted the Lord as his saviour, and AIK posted a statement from its President, Harrison Mumia, to their Twitter

account breaking the news to their 7,000 followers. “This evening, regretfully, the Secretary of the Atheists in Kenya Society, Mr Seth Mahiga, informed me that he has made the decision to resign from his position as Secretary of the society.” “Seth’s reason for resigning is that he has found Jesus Christ and is no longer interested in promoting atheism in Kenya.” “We wish Seth all the best in his new-found relationship with

Jesus Christ. We thank him for having served the society with dedication over the last one and half years.” AIK is an atheist organisation registered under the Societies Act in Kenya and in February 2016 was the first non-religious society to be registered. Their mission is to promote the growth and interaction of atheists in Kenya.

world news 11 AUGUST 2021

Northern Nigerian Baptists mourn for abducted students

In the early hours of the morning on 5 July, armed assailants broke through the walls of Bethel Baptist High School in Nigeria’s northern state of Kaduna, overcame security guards and captured students in the school hostel at gunpoint. The Kaduna State Commissioner of Police reported most of the 135 students abducted that night remain in captivity, with only 25 students and a teacher having been rescued at the time of writing. President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Israel Akanji told Christianity Today that not all hope was lost as search and rescue operations by the Nigerian military were still ongoing. “We strongly believe that, by the grace of God, these students will safely return to their parents soon,” Mr Akanji said.

General secretary and CEO of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), Rev. Elijah Brown also spoke with Christianity Today. “Today is a day of mourning, as we grieve over what is the most serious attack and greatest tragedy to impact the Baptist community in Nigeria,” he said. The BWA ranks Nigeria as the world’s second-most vulnerable country for Baptists on its latest Baptist Vulnerability Index which assesses four key factors (hunger, livelihood, violent conflict and religious freedom challenges). Nigeria also ranks ninth in Open Doors’ World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, and leads the list in the number of kidnapped Christians.

Photo: Tudoran Andrei/Shutterstock

More than 100 students were abducted from a Baptist boarding high school in Northern Nigeria, where school abductions have become increasingly common. Tragically, the United Nations (UN) estimates that more than 950 students have been kidnapped from the area since December 2020.

A Baptist school established by Bethel Baptist Church in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria was attacked by armed men who kidnapped more than 100 students.

According to the UN Children’s Agency, UNICEF, this was the fourth abduction of students in Central and Northern Nigeria in the past six months alone. The number of mass abductions from Nigerian schools has grown significantly since 2014 when Boko Haram abducted 276 students from a government school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria.

“I urge all of us to advocate, work for strengthened good governance throughout the Middle Belt and to fervently stand in prayer for these young people who are right now living through this horrific trauma,” Rev. Brown told Christianity Today.

“Their release and restoration is the first priority, and our prayers remain with them and their families who are bearing enormous grief.” Author – Ramona Humphreys

Photo: Sanjit pariyar/Shutterstock

COVID-19 leaves Nepalese churches leaderless

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COVID-19 patients were being treated in front of a local hospital in the Nepali capital Kathmandu after the hospital ran out of beds due to surging cases of COVID-19.

A surge in COVID-19 cases in Nepal has taken the lives of more than 130 pastors, leaving churches leaderless and struggling to find a ‘second-in-line’. Pastor, theologian and leader of the Janajagaran Party Nepal, BP Khanal told Christianity Today that pastors were dying almost every

day at the height of the second COVID-19 wave in May, which washed over the country after causing devastation in India. His records indicate that more than 500 pastors and their families contracted the virus. In multiple cases, the lives of fathers and sons who led churches together were lost. Chairman of the National Church Fellowship of Nepal, Hanok Tamang added that many

churches face financial difficulty due to income loss as a result of the pandemic in addition to a vacuum in leadership. Meanwhile, the country is already bracing for a third wave, Tamang told Christianity Today. “We need to pray for Nepal. We really need to see Nepal recovered and restored again.” Author – Ramona Humphreys


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12 in conversation AUGUST 2021

More than the sum of our parts What was your journey to becoming a Christian and developing your faith in Christ? I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. It was an unhappy home for a variety of reasons, so my early years were difficult. I did have some important Christian influences though; my grandmother was deeply faithful and faith-filled, and she tried hard to intervene in my circumstances. She wasn’t able to do that, but I know she prayed for me and my family, and I firmly believe her prayers laid a foundation for what was to come. I left home at 17 to join the Royal Australian Navy and, to be honest, I was a mess. My family had been split apart by tragedy and I carried deep-rooted guilt and shame. When I was 20 though, a Navy Chaplain opened the pages of the Bible to me and showed me that I wasn’t who I thought I was, but I was who God said I was. It blew my mind, in a good way, and I resolved there and then to become a Christian. I’ve tried to follow Jesus every day since. How did becoming a Christian change your life? The other remarkable thing about those early Navy years was that I met a man who would become my husband (now of 38 years). Pete wanted to shield, protect and care for me, but he wasn’t entirely sure about this Jesus thing – he had grown up in a difficult environment too and wasn’t particularly enamoured by the idea of Christianity. But God is good and, within a few months, revealed himself to Pete, too. Now we could together leave past wounds behind and forge a new path. And we did! We committed ourselves to discipleship and made wonderful, lifelong friends as we learnt more about Jesus and the Christian life together. Longer term friends and family thought we were a little odd, but mostly they accepted who we had become – I like to think that’s because we just tried to love them as much as we could; no lectures, no piousness, just love. In building our family, we tried to live out our faith on a daily basis. I wish I could tell you that my kids have trodden an easy path of faith as a result but it’s not that simple. It hasn’t always been, nor is, all that I hoped or prayed for. But we love our kids deeply and still, every day, trust that God loves them far more than we ever could. We just try to emulate that love. I can remember telling my kids, “Love Jesus and love

the church, and pretty much everything else will fall into place.” On the whole, I still believe that! You have had a varied career holding a number of leadership positions. Can you share about your previous roles and what led you to your current role with Baptist World Aid Australia? The Navy was great leadership training – truly foundational – and adding an understanding of servant leadership to that from my faith has made me passionate about the capacity of great leaders to make a difference; that we can (and should) all be leaders in our own sphere of influence. After the Navy, I moved into serving the local church; I truly believe that the local church, functioning in the way God planned, is the hope of the world! Along the way I studied and was ordained – the latter a pragmatic response to church functioning and the leadership role I believed God was calling me into. I have always been passionate about mission and was able to be part of building an international mission portfolio, with the privilege of supporting a number of locally based missionaries in a range of countries. This brought me real joy and I wanted to learn more, so when the opportunity came to step out of local church life after 20 years and support the work of Bible Society Australia as their Chief Operating Officer, I did. That gave me extensive opportunities to work crossculturally and internationally; Bible Societies around the world work in over 200 countries – a global reach that very few other organisations have. We opened the pages of the Bible for people, and I was able to witness the transformation that I myself experienced so many years ago. However, when Baptist World Aid approached me about the possibility of serving with them, I knew it was God’s call. I have become more and more sure that God calls every follower of Jesus to join Him in His work in the world, to usher in a glimpse of His Kingdom here on earth. And I wanted to be a part of that with the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet. What are your hopes for Baptist World Aid Australia as it aims to help transform communities around the globe? I love Baptist World Aid and I am so proud (already!) of our team, our supporters, our partners and the work we are doing. There is so much more that we can do together though because we are

more than the sum of our parts. This really excites me as I know there are so many more people and like-minded organisations who we can partner with to make an even bigger difference. Imagine a huge global movement of people, motivated by the love and call of Jesus, who work to bring about a world where poverty has ended and all people enjoy the fullness of life God intends! Nothing beats the stories we hear regularly of how God has worked in someone’s life because of our supporters and partners. Like Rubel who was part of a children’s and youth club through our child sponsorship program in Bangladesh. Today, Rubel is a 25 year old husband, father and garment worker who is also raising chickens, skills he learned through the savings club our partners began. He is also studying in an honours program at university and his wife translates the Bible into their local language. Rubel’s life is different today because our Christian partners taught him the skills he needed to bring his family out of poverty. And they’ve been safer and healthier since COVID hit because of hygiene lessons he learned as a child. All because God’s people responded to supporting children in vulnerable countries! Can you share a highlight from being in this role so far? There have been so many – meeting our partner churches around Australia, meeting and talking with our passionate and faithful supporters, getting to know the work of our international partners, hearing stories of transformation in and through our international programs and getting to know our terrific staff team who are smart, young and passionate about what they do. As a leader, what is the biggest challenge in your Christian walk and how do you deal with that challenge? Being a Christian leader is both a great privilege and responsibility. That is a burden I must be prepared to carry and sometimes it’s heavy. My interior life needs to match seamlessly with the exterior. I know people are looking to me and I don’t want to let them down. I want them to see at least a glimpse of Jesus in me when they do. I’m painfully aware, as my grandmother used to say, that I’m the only Bible some people will ever read, and I know that I don’t always get it right.

Photo: Baptist World Aid Australia

Melissa Lipsett is the Acting CEO, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Missional Impact at Baptist World Aid Australia, a Christian aid and development organisation. Vanessa Klomp had the opportunity to speak with Melissa recently.

Melissa Lipsett has had a career spanning from the Royal Australian Navy to working with the poorest and most vulnerable people across the globe with Baptist World Aid Australia.

Forgiveness is an art form – something that we get better at if we practice for long enough – and we need to forgive ourselves as much as anyone else. I’m still working on that and I have to remember to look to Jesus for my example. What is your desire for the future generation of Christians and what is a piece of advice you would like to share with them? I so want them to know that Jesus loves them and that He can handle anything they want to throw at Him – their doubts, confusion, anger, distress. It’s all ok to ‘dump’ on Him because He’ll just keep telling you that He’s there for you.

Sometimes you won’t feel it and you’ll just have to trust and hold on by a fingernail. It’s so worth hanging on though, and I promise you there will be moments when He makes himself known and gives you enough faith and courage to go another round of whatever it is you’re dealing with. And sometimes there will be great joy, which is often disguised as peace that isn’t easy to explain. Mostly, I’ve found that when I respond to God’s call to serve others rather than myself, even in those times I fail to do this well (and there are many) I learn again that the privilege of serving others helps us really live as God intends. I’m convinced of that.

growth 13 AUGUST 2021

Let’s get growing … As gospel community Many years ago, Monica and I took our youth group for an all-you-can-eat buffet at Pizza Hut. During the evening, I saw some guys at another table, probably stoned, one ‘resting’ his face in the pizza pan. I smirked. “Look at him!” Monica, concerned for the youth, whispered quietly, “The only difference between you and him is Jesus.” Monica was right. My smug sense of self-satisfaction, my snide superiority, my willingness to gloat over the failure of another all pointed in one direction: I had completely misunderstood or, even worse, forgotten the grace of God. There are two ways to misunderstand grace. One is the way of self-righteousness: I assumed I was ‘more righteous’ than someone else because my life ‘looked better.’ The other is to fail to realise the depths of God’s goodness and love, and so fail to receive – and live in – the reality of this grace. The two errors are often connected. The first error forgets

that all of us live only by the forgiveness of sins, not our own performance. The second error doesn’t quite believe that God can really forgive our sin. We still feel shame in our hearts and perhaps believe that we are beyond forgiveness. This shame is compounded when we believe that if others knew who we truly were and what we have done, they would never love us. Therefore, we learn to hide what we think is the ‘real’ us; we work harder, wear masks and practice image management, trying to earn our belonging and prove our worthiness. We hide and we perform. Both errors indicate graceless community. The self-righteous person parades their own virtue and judges others as I did, creating an environment where it is not safe to be less than perfect. They cannot create gospel community because they don’t believe the gospel. Their so-called righteousness is their own work and not the work of God’s grace. They have not learned to receive God’s love so they cannot show it to others. Where self-righteousness reigns, only moralistic communities

are formed and these can never become communities of grace and healing. Without a living experience of God’s mercy and grace we are like Adam and Eve in the garden, hiding from God – and from one another – in fear and shame. The possibility of gospel community is destroyed because self-righteousness destroys openness and trust. Gospel communities are places of healing and growth because God’s grace has become real in the believers’ lives. We

find a place where we are truly known, even in our sin, and yet deeply loved. We find a place where God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness are mediated to us through others. Convinced of this love, we take the risk of letting our masks slip. We begin to expose our struggles – our hearts – to one another, and healing grace begins its work. Believing – experiencing! – God’s love and forgiveness through others, we learn to trust him more deeply and to offer

the same love to others. This is gospel community. Author – Michael O’Neil Dr Michael O’Neil is the Dean of Campus at Morling College – Perth Vose Campus. In this regular column, he explores the patterns and dynamics of Christian growth and maturity.

Why you might need to mess up your life

My son got a mini Rubik’s Cube earlier in the year. Before long he got pretty good at getting half of it done – but could never complete it. This week however, with a bit of guidance, he finally solved it. Life can be a bit like a Rubik’s Cube. With a bit of effort and perseverance, we get things working well enough. There are a few pieces out of place, but we live with that, because to sort those issues out means a lot of rearranging and complication. Maybe you’re in a season that feels a bit jumbled. You’re waiting for the pieces to fall into place. For things to start making sense. When I go out running, the best, most exciting runs involve finding new routes – new ways of getting places. To a certain extent, you can plan to find these unexplored tracks by looking at a map. But the best trails can’t be seen on a map. They need to be found on foot.

Likewise, to find the best in life, we need to combine both knowledge and faith. These tracks remain undiscovered for most. It takes courage to follow a trail when you don’t know where it will lead. You might have to turn back. You may get lost. It could turn out to be a waste of time and energy. And there usually comes a point where the track becomes very difficult and overgrown – a place where turning back feels like it’ll be the best option. Yet, I’ve found that often, this is the moment right before breakthrough – one last push and you’re out. It’s then that you realise where you are and can see how all that came before makes sense. Exploring a new path I’m stepping out in faith a bit this year. After 11 years of teaching, I’m taking leave to explore a new path. I anticipate there’ll be disruption and times of wondering what I was thinking. Leaving a secure job could be seen as reckless. But I think that, while we shouldn’t go down every side trail

we see, we shouldn’t ignore that nagging pull towards something that fits better. Like cleaning out the top shelf of your cupboard or pulling out the Christmas decorations, mess is a necessary part of achieving anything worthwhile. But it should also be temporary. Battling through muck endlessly for no reason, without a goal in sight, is not something to celebrate. There needs to be a purpose, a destination and a light at the end. So, in some ways, where you are right now is not as important as where you’re wanting to get to. Jumbling your life up or taking a blind detour for the sake of it won’t end well. What keeps us going on the right track is the glimpse of a brighter future. So, when you end up in the wilderness, either by choice or circumstances beyond your control, it becomes a positive place when you’re fixing your attention on getting to that better place. Those who know the feeling of the last piece finally falling into place, or achieving the hope that

for so long seemed a long way off, will tell you that it was all worth it. Don’t let the mess deter you from chasing the vision for how things could be. And don’t confuse short-term stillness for peace. Ignoring problems may keep everybody happy for a while, but it will usually end in explosive disaster. Instead, choose to plough through the struggle and nagging doubts with courage and integrity. Even if it means a

period of deconstructing all that seemed stable ... if not quite right. Author – Tom Anderson Tom is a husband, father, teacher and long-distance runner. He enjoys an Indian curry, drives a French car and doesn’t mind a bit of English television. Tom enjoys playing sports of all kinds and dabbles in photography and design. He likes to listen to people’s stories.

Photo: Ricardo Viana/Unsplash

Sometimes you’ve got to make a mess to improve the situation.

14 arts AUGUST 2021

Worship collective’s debut album

Biblically grounded counselling

... to encourage others to grow in their own creative expression in God.

From the beginning, Bricknell and Nash wanted to write and record a worship album but were unable to cover the costs of recording. After recruiting Joel Walkemeyer as the team’s Sound Engineer, a solution was found as they could use Joel’s TAFE studio free of charge.

Home Base

Wide range of counselling for ages 10+ 0435 032 777 www.crossway

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Word Spoken is available to stream on Spotify and their online content can be found on YouTube.

Multi-denominational worship collective, Made Creative, has released their debut studio album.

Phil Wickham releases eighth album Three years after his last release, American Christian musician, Phil Wickham has released his eighth studio album, Hymn of Heaven.

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Connor explained the origins of the album title. “We actually named the album before we wrote the songs, and we have already named the second album; it was very Spirit-led.” Sam expanded on the methodology for the album. “Our guidelines for writing the album were that it had to be inspired by Scripture to the point where you could point to the Scripture that the song was from. The album title, Word Spoken, came from the idea that the album would literally be God’s Word spoken.” The main thing that Bricknell wants to come out of Made Creative is to encourage others to grow in their own creative expression in God.

Photo: Made Creative

The album of ten songs was co-written by Sam Bricknell and Connor Nash and is the product of five months of recording for the multi-denominational worship collective they co-founded. Nash leads the worship band on acoustic guitar and vocals, and Bricknell, a Youth Pastor, preaches God’s Word and co-wrote the album. “Made Creative is a Christian worship collective who write original worship music, create online content and travel to churches in need of a worship band. We found many churches only have a few musicians and we come to help fill that role,” Nash explained.

Made Creative posted their first video to YouTube one year ago and have since posted videos of their music, behind the scenes footage of the recording process, tutorials, podcasts and sermons.

Launched on 25 June, the album includes Wickham’s multi-week number one song, Battle Belongs, which has already surpassed 12 million streams on Spotify. “Hymn of Heaven is full of praise and thankfulness, just lifting up the name of Jesus and speaking what we really know the reality is even though we don’t see it. All I want to do is facilitate moments where people can encounter the presence of God,” Phil said. Wickham wrote the album with multiple other musicians including Chris Davenport (Hillsong) and Kalley Heiligenthal (Bethel). “I just want to write songs that I’d want to sing with my church in a way that musically lights my heart up, and I think I’ve done that better on this record than I ever have before,” Wickham concluded. For more information, visit

American Christian musician, Phil Wickham, has released his eighth album, Hymn of Heaven.

To find your local Baptist church visit

Photo: Phil Wickham

On 19 June, Made Creative launched their debut worship album, Word Spoken, at Riverton Baptist Community Church.

coffee break 15 AUGUST 2021

Top 2021 Australian Christian books announced The Rev. Dr John Harris – author of the seminal One Blood, 200 Years of Aboriginal Encounter with Christianity, on the relationship between Indigenous people and the Australian church – is in the running for this year’s award, for his new book Judging the Macquaries: Injustice and Mercy in Colonial Australia. In the book, Harris offers his assessment on the character of Lachlan Macquarie and his adversary, Samuel Marsden, a senior chaplain in the colony of New South Wales. “It ended up being a book about … what people thought of [Lachlan Macquarie] at the time, both those who loved him and admired him – and those who immensely disliked him,” Harris told Eternity. Professor Graeme Clark, the man who invented the cochlear implant, has been called a “giant of medical science” by former Prime Minister John Howard. He is 86 years old this year, and his book I Want to Fix Ears tells the story of the development of the cochlear implant – a hearing device helping bring sound to the profoundly deaf – in his own words. He told Eternity in 2014 he believed that hearing is the primary sense for a Christian. “It’s about understanding language, Scripture and the meaning of words,” he said. “After all, ‘I am the Word,’ said Jesus. If you understand words you really understand what it is to be human, relating to God.” Sam Chan’s book How to Talk About Jesus (Without Being That Guy) has also made the shortlist. Chan won the US Christianity Today’s Book of the Year for evangelism in 2018 for his textbook-style tome, Evangelism in a Skeptical World. His

latest book has been called a “popular-level repackaging” of that material, designed for everyday Christians. What Associate Professor Gordon Menzies’ Western Fundamentalism is tackling has been described by another Christian economist, Professor Ian Harper AO, as “basic and often unstated assumptions that … are easily translated into the language of money”. “This is why they cause havoc when applied in areas where, instead, human flourishing requires the language of love – where commitment, self-sacrifice and devoted service take the place of self-interested freedom of choice,” Harper said. “Gordon’s analysis of the impact of Western fundamentalism in the arena of human relationships, especially sex and marriage, offers readers on the Left or Right profound and surprising – even disturbing – conclusions.” Of the shortlist’s ten titles, only two are written by women. One of them is Sue Williams’ book, Healing Lives, that follows the friendship between Dr Catherine Hamlin, an Australian obstetrician and pioneer in fistula surgery, and her protégé Mamitu Gashe. Hamlin and Gashe first met when Gashe sought treatment for horrific childbirth injuries at the age of 14. Hamlin and her husband saved her, and Mamitu Gashe dedicated her life to Hamlin’s mission. Under the iconic doctor’s guidance, Gashe went from mopping floors and comforting her fellow patients, to becoming one of the most acclaimed fistula surgeons in the world, despite never having had a day’s schooling.

Photo: Sparklit

An account of the creation of the bionic ear, a reappraisal of two of Australia’s so-called colonial heroes and a popular-level repackaging of an award-winning evangelism textbook are among the shortlisted books for the 2021 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award.

Sparklit has released the names of the ten books that have been shortlisted for the Australian Christian Book of the Year.

• • • • • • • • • •

The full shortlist is: Abundance: New and Selected Poems by Andrew Lansdown Being the Bad Guys by Stephen McAlpine The Good Sporting Life by Stephen Liggins Healing Lives by Sue Williams How to Talk About Jesus (Without Being That Guy) by Sam Chan I Want to Fix Ears by Graeme Clark Jesus through Muslim Eyes by Richard Shumack Judging the Macquaries by John Harris Talking Sex by the Book by Patricia Weerakoon Western Fundamentalism by Gordon Menzies

The Australian Christian Book of the Year is awarded to an original book written

Why did Adam and Eve do maths every day?

They were told to be fruitful and multiply.

by an Australian citizen. Last year’s winner was For the Love of God: How the church is better and worse than you ever imagined, by Natasha Moore and her colleagues at the Centre for Public Christianity. Seeking to acknowledge and encourage excellence in Australian Christian writing, the Award is chosen based upon originality, writing style, design and the how the book contributes to a need in the Australian Christian landscape. The winner of the Australian Christian Book of the Year will be announced on 2 September. For more information, visit Author – Kaley Payne This article is republished with permission from Eternity.

BCWA prayer points BCWA future Pray for the process of deep listening and that the feedback being received will be effective and help the BCWA Assembly Council shape a job description that meets the leadership needs of BCWA.


letters to the editor send us your letters

The Advocate welcomes your letters to the editor on topics of concern to you and the community. Send your letters of no more than 100 words to by the 10th of each month.

Lord Jesus, bring peace to the ongoing conflict impacting parts of the country, and provide ways for Christians who’ve been internally displaced to return home. Comfort, strengthen and heal all believers affected by violence. Thank you for the many people who have boldly given their lives to You, despite opposition from their family and local community. Help them to stand strong and grow in their faith, and may their transformation touch the lives of their loved ones.

16 sport AUGUST 2021

Cotton’s personal creeds

Faith and a dream Growing up in a small city, I had goals that weren’t commonly reached in Tucson, Arizona; especially not the neighbourhood I was from. However, it was instilled in me to have faith in God and extreme belief in myself to accomplish whatever I put my mind to. From the early age of seven years old, I knew that I wanted to make it to the National Basketball Association (NBA) one day and nothing excited me more than eventually becoming a professional basketball player. A lot of odds were stacked against me, but through the grace of God, I overcame every obstacle to get where I am today. Hence, having faith and a vision to see my dreams through to the finish line was all the fuel I needed on my road to success. Effort > results In life, we can only control so much. There are things that happen to us beyond our control and it is up to us how we decide to react to it. That is where effort comes into play. For example, as a professional athlete I may have plenty of goals I wish to accomplish but obstacles beyond my control can hinder those opportunities. Instead of letting that discourage me, I do the best I can and give everything I have to make the most of the situation I am in, and can live with the results whether it’s a good or bad conclusion because I know in

my heart I did everything in my power to maximise my situation. Journey greater than the destination My Mum always said that the journey is better than the destination. I never quite understood what that meant when she first said it but as I got older and had some life experiences of my own, it became clear as day. This is very sentimental to me because of the long journey I’ve had with basketball. I always wanted to make it to the NBA and never cared if I played for one day, one year or ten. I just wanted to be able to say, “I made it to the NBA.” I had stints in my first two professional seasons in the NBA, mainly with the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns, before playing the next four years in different places overseas – Europe, China and Australia. I always knew I would get to the NBA somehow someway (because of my faith in my dream), and even though I didn’t stay as long as I would’ve liked, it’s not the point. I did everything in my power to accomplish my goal and did just that. I wouldn’t trade my path for anything in the world because I’ve found a wonderful foundation in Australia and my basketball career has taken off out here astronomically. All in all, the saying “the journey is greater than the destination” pertains heavily to my life simply to the fact that accomplishing my lifelong goal of making it to the NBA wasn’t my most memorable moment. Rather it was the entire journey that gave me so many unexpected twists and turns of adversity that made it all worthwhile.

Photo: Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton is an American professional basketball player, a three times National Basketball League (NBL) Most Valuable Player, three times NBL Champion and a Perth Wildcats team member since 2017.

Bryce Cotton from the National Basketball League’s Perth Wildcats shares his own personal creeds.

Author – Bryce Cotton Republished with permission from Bryce Cotton.

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