Southern Cross MARCH 2022

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MARCH 2022

“All in” for Jesus

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What COVID-19 taught me • Oral-based Bible study Euthanasia ePetition • InterCultural MTS

Eager to serve Happy snap: the second half of the 2021-22 cohort of deacons with Archbishop Raffel.

Russell Powell From twenty-something college graduates to an experienced First Nations pastor, the 18 candidates for ordination at St Andrew’s Cathedral on February 19 shared excitement and a sense of responsibility as they made their vows. “To be honest, it feels a bit surreal,” said the Rev Gordon Luk, from Willoughby parish, as he took his place among the group. “I’m so thankful to God. I’m already so undeserving of his mercy and forgiveness that he’s given me in Jesus. I’m also so undeserving to be able to be Christ’s ambassador and entrusted with such a task!”

The crowd of family, friends trademark hat and Aborginal good as a white man. Not that and church members were art mask. His daughter Tori we need to be like them but it right behind them but, as Mr Luk and Uncle Tom Moore gave the just means that I will have the acknowledged, it was a smaller Acknowledgment of Country same recognition as any other number than they would have but many of his congregation Anglican church. We will have liked. “It’s sad that the COVID watched the service online. the same standing and will be restrictions have meant many “I have sent out the link to recognised in the system.” couldn’t come, but I wouldn’t be people and then we will have a here without their support and little ordination celebration on “I AM ALL IN” encouragement.” Sunday at church,” Mr Duckett Supporters gathered round Just one week before the end said. “For me, this means Mr Duckett after the service, of compulsory mask wearing an opportunity to be more including members of the indoors, the ordinands all wore cemented in the Diocese. As a lay Sydney Anglican Indigenous masks for the ceremony, only person I didn’t feel [fully] a part Peoples Ministry Committee taking them off for their vows. of it, in a sense. Being ordained (of which he is chairman). Mr The Rev Michael Duckett, will just mean I get to sit at the Duckett even snuck in a brief who has pastored Macarthur table with the big fellas. photo sitting in the Archbishop’s Indigenous Church for the “For our church, they will be official seat. p a s t 1 4 y e a r s , w o r e h i s appreciative that I will be as “The Archbishop has been

SouthernCross March 2022

volume 28 number 2

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March 2022



Moore College has long been identified as a centre for biblical theology, with the likes of Donald Robinson and Graeme Goldsworthy. Please join us as we explore this afresh with current faculty and guests.

A day for rejoicing: (clockwise from above) Michael Duckett surrounded by supporters; Gordon Luk and Paul Berzekian; deacons presented to the congregation. great,” he said. “I’ve seen him two or three times this week and he is as excited as I am. It’s not going to change the world but it will change my world. I am all in. I have no reservations. I was wholeheartedly ready to stand up and stand before God and make these vows, that I will adhere to. I am not just doing it for the sake of doing it.” Mr Duckett also senses it will pave the way for others. “I look forward to it as another step in the right direction… laying down a path for the next generation of Aboriginal people. The pathway might be a bit smoother. So that’s the second part of my motivation, to jump through the hoops and to do what I have to do to be able to stand as others are in the Diocese. On the same footing, no shortcuts, no back door. “Also to have Aboriginal culture valued and acknowledged and appreciated. I believe we’ve got a lot to bring to the Diocese and I hope I clear the way for those younger ones who will come after me.” The excitement was shared by other ordinands. The Rev Jocelyn Bignall, a parish worker at Petersham, said it was “an 4

exciting step to be taking, a formalising of the privilege of the position I’ve been put in. I think I see this as an affirmation and commitment to my church family and the ministry I believe God has called me to.” The Archbishop noted that the service had more ceremony than most would be used to, but Ms Bignall said, “I’m so happy to have friends and family here with me – it feels like a really special occasion and important to mark it. All the people who are here or wanted to be here have reminded me how many wonderful brothers and sisters God has put in my life. “I’m looking forward to being part of the everyday work God does in bringing people to himself and growing them to maturity. Seeing him work through his word and his people to do that.” For Bethany Downes, her mi nis t r y a s an A n g li c a re chaplain involves shuttling between the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick and the Dillwynia Correctional Centre for women near Windsor. “ I ’ ve b e e n re f l e c t i n g o n the immense privilege and

responsibility it is to be taking this step,” she said. “I feel very blessed that I am able to use the gifts that God has given me… to be set aside to minister to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.” During her time at Moore College she was a student minister at Dillwynia, which houses just under half of all the women in prison in NSW. “Chaplaincy in hospitals and prisons is such a great privilege, but it is very different to parish ministry,” she said. “I get to meet people from all walks of life who have a wide range of stories and experiences in relation to God. It is my hope and prayer that I might be able to point people to the love of Christ wherever they are in their journey with him.” New deacon the Rev Paul Berzekian is youth minister at Naremburn-Cammeray Anglican Church. “I’m looking forward to keeping on with proclaiming Christ to teenagers, to see God raise up the next generation of gospel-minded believers in lower north shore Sydney,” he says. “Through our church we’re also currently running a weekly Armenian Bible study, and our

prayer is that God would bring more Armenians to know Jesus Christ. I’m glad to be joining a Diocese that has a priority to see the gosp el of Jesus Christ proclaimed as of first importance.”

GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD… The Bishop for International Relations and director of the Centre for Global Mission at Mo ore College, Malcolm Richards, addressed those present from the stor y of Nicodemus in John 3. “It is a wonderful explanation of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus,” Bishop Richards said. “This makes it an important text for today as we set aside these disciples and commission them, as disciples, to go and make more disciples. It will remind them about who they are and what they are setting out to do.” He reminded the deacons of the message they are charged with. “In verse 16 the gospel writer explains, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’. SouthernCross

March 2022

In Jesus’ name: (above) Bethany Downes kneels before the Archbishop; Jocelyn Bignall reads from the book of Ezekiel. “Note the important elements for various ministries in Sydney Africa,” he said. “He also brings have a key role in recruiting, here. As God gives his unique Diocese that is signified by this deep theological understanding selecting and training men and son to die, this opens the way for occasion,” Dr Salier said. “I also of ministry.” women to serve as assistant anyone who believes to escape hope that this might contribute Mr Rockwell, a former head ministers in the Diocese. certain death and have eternal to the effectiveness of my of the Ministry Department at See the service at: life. It’s a message that the world new role in serving the wider George Whitefield College. will rejects, but we keep sticking to Anglican communion through this message because it’s the my work on the GAFC ON power of God for the salvation theological education network.” of anyone who believes.” Leading the ordinands into the Cathedral on the day was the ARCHDEACON FLINDERS director of Ministry Training AND CANON SALIER & Development, the Rev Gary The service also marked the O’Brien. “It has been a privilege “collation” as it is known, of for us to work with this group of Archdeacon Simon Flinders by men and women,” he said. Archbishop Kanishka Raffel. “We have been meeting with He will take up the new post of each of them for a few years, Archdeacon to the Archbishop but their preparation goes way in the in coming months (see page 6). back as the Lord has been at lives of vulnerable children The title of honorary Canon work... shaping their character, of St Andrew’s Cathedral was deepening their theological We’re hiring Foster Care Case Managers also conferred on the Rev convictions and equipping them This is an opportunity to: Dr Bill Salier. Dr Salier has for a life of gospel ministry. It’s served as vice principal of a joy to see their enthusiasm for • Help children find a place to call home Moore College and principal ministry and watch them spread • Provide invaluable support to families of Youthworks College, and is out across our great city to serve • Join a welcoming and compassionate team now working for the Global in different congregations and If you share Jesus’ heart for older people, then Anglican Future Conference, ministries.” Anglicare is where you can do the best work of your life. GAFCON, an orthodox grouping Mr O’Brien also announced that represents the majority of that the Rev Steve Rockwell Anglicans internationally. will join Ministry Training & Find out more “I am very grateful to God Development. “He comes with 9421 5344 fo r t h e m a n y w o n d e r f u l a rich ministry experience both opportunities he has given me here in Sydney and in South ANG7089

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March 2022


Simon Flinders becomes Archdeacon to Archbishop Raffel.

Archdeacon takes on new role Archbishop Kanishka Raffel

also chairman of Scripture has announced a newly created Union NSW for eight years, position to assist him as he until 2015. He has been Canon further settles into the office to of St Andrew’s Cathedral since which he was elected last May. late 2019, when he was elected The Rev Canon Simon Flinders by the Synod to serve on the has become Archdeacon to the Cathedral Chapter. Archbishop, collated last month “While I leave my service of at a service at St Andrew’s the saints in Northbridge with Cathedral, at which 18 deacons a very heavy heart, I very much were also ordained. look forward to this new role, The role involves the promotion serving our Archbishop as he and implementation of diocesan serves the Diocese,” Archdeacon mission priorities and initiatives Flinders said. of the Office of the Archbishop, In announcing the appointment including engagement with Archbishop Raffel said, “I am various groups inside and “Pastoral wisdom”: New archdeacon the Ven Simon Flinders with conscious that Simon’s first Archbishop Raffel after his collation last month. outside the Diocese. love is the pastoral care of the Archdeacon Flinders will local congregation. I believe assume the role in April on lived and served in Georges His ministry also includes 18 that Simon will bring to this a part-time basis, gradually Hall and North Sydney before years as a volunteer chaplain to role theological depth, pastoral moving to full time in 2023. planting an evening service Cricket NSW and he currently wisdom, strategic thinking and He is married to Tamara and at St Mark’s, Northbridge in serves as a national board a clear and gracious gospel they have three daughters aged 2010. Archdeacon Flinders member of Sports Chaplaincy mindedness that will enhance 11 to 17. After he graduated has been the senior minister at Australia. a n d s h a r p e n t he mi s s io n from Moore College, the family Northbridge since 2013. Archdeacon Flinders was leadership of my office.” SC


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March 2022

Tonga support flows after tsunami devastation

From Sydney to Tonga with love

Practical care: Members of the Tongan Evangelical Wesleyan Church pack food and other necessities for transport to Tonga.

Funds are continuing to come Tongan Evangelical Wesleyan greatly. God has provided us food supplies and clean water. in for Anglican Aid’s Tonga appeal, providing clean drinking water and essential food supplies in the wake of the Hunga TongaHunga Ha’apai underwater volcano’s eruption – which caused a tsunami to sweep over the island nation. T he v iol e nt e r u p t io n o n January 15 resulted in 15-metre h i g h w ave s , fo u r de at h s , many injuries and widespread destruction to and disruption of essential services. The Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid quickly launched an appeal, raising $60,000 in a week for the people of Tonga. By late February that had risen to more than $130,000. Anglican Aid and the Anglican Relief and Development Fund A u s t ral i a h ave p a r t n e re d with the Tongan Evangelical Wesleyan Church in Sydney, and its charity arm in Tonga, to distribute urgently needed relief. Last month two container loads were shipped to Tonga, each filled with 80 drums of supplies (one per family), plus a range of household items. Other containers were filled with medical supplies destined for hospitals. Members of the SouthernCross

March 2022

Church did the final packing, with a way to respond to the Anglican Aid is raising funds supp or te d by the broa der urgent need, through churches to provide staples like noodles, Tongan community in Sydney. here in Sydney and lo c al tinned fish, soap and drinking The groups are also working Christians on the ground. water.” SC with Anglican Missions New “We’ve been advised that the Zealand to provide supplies most pressing concern is for tonga-volcano/ to four Anglican churches in the capital, Nuku’alofa, to be distributed among their local communities. Although the tsunami had an impact across the Pacific, Tonga was worst hit with severe damage to shops and vital infrastructure. Earthquakes between 4 and 5 on the Richter scale are still occurring in the ocean around the island nation. There is a strong Christian co mmu ni t y i n To n ga and churches are a vital link to distribute aid. After houses were swept away on Mango Island, Anglicare At Home is here to support you with quality the community came together care that is tailored to your needs. for a dawn prayer meeting on Our care workers are carefully selected and expertly a hilltop. trained to help you live a full life at home and in the “It is a privilege to belong to a community. family of believers, in which we Services range from help around the home to high bear one another’s burdens in care nursing support. We also offer complimentary love,” said the CEO of Anglican pastoral care services. Aid, Canon Tim Swan. Looking for Home Care? “When one part suffers, we all Call 1300 111 278 or visit suffer, and in the aftermath of the natural disaster in Tonga our neighbours there are suffering

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The Australia Day list 2022.

Anglican educators honoured Russell Powell The foundation headmaster of Penrith Anglican College and the former principal of St Luke’s Grammar School in Dee Why are among Sydney Anglicans recognised in the list of Australia Day honours. Barry Roots and Jann Robinson were both awarded the Medal of the Order Of Australia in the list announced by the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley, while the head of the Junior School at Abbotsleigh, Sally Ruston, was made a member of the Order of Australia (AM). More than 1000 Australians were recognised this year – 45 per cent of them for service to their local communities. From South Penrith, Mr Roots was honoured for his services to secondary education. As well as his role as head of Penrith Anglican College from its establishment in 1997 until 2014, he was the foundation deputy headmaster of St Paul’s Grammar School in Cranebrook from 1984-1997. Mr Roots has served as a nominator, church warden, parish council member, preacher and service leader at a number of parishes, including St Stephen’s, Penrith; St Paul’s, Cambridge Park; Christ Church @ the College; St Thomas’, Mulgoa and Grace West Glenmore Park-Mulgoa. Jann Robinson, the principal of St Luke’s Grammar School from 2014-2020, was awarded her OAM for service to education. She has made a significant contribution to schools and the education field generally, holding senior positions in education policy and leadership 8

Honoured for service and leadership: (from left) Barry Roots, Jann Robinson and Sally Ruston. with the Association of Heads of Independent Schools Australia and the board of the Anglican Education Commission. Sally Ruston, head of the Junior School at Abbotsleigh, received her AM for significant service to primary education, and to professional associations. Also honoured is Mrs Jennifer King, a member of All Saints’, Oatley West. She was organist at the church for 14 years and was recognised for her service to music education with an OAM.

“To the individuals being recognised is for someone to celebrated today, thank you for nominate them.” your contribution to Australia In a lo cal Australia Day and congratulations on being honour, the long-time rector recognised by your peers and of Liverpo ol received that your nation,” General Hurley said council’s top award. The Rev on Australia Day. Stuart Pearson was named “To all Australians, please Citizen of the Year in Liverpool consider nominating someone City Council’s Australia Day o u t s t a n d i n g f r o m y o u r awards for “his commitment to community for recognition in building ‘a church for all people’ the Order of Australia. The in Liverpool”. Order belongs to each of us The former senior minister and we each have a part to play. of St Luke’s Anglican Church The only way a person can be retired last year. SC

Citizen of the Year: former rector of St Luke’s, Liverpool, the Rev Stuart Pearson. SouthernCross

March 2022

Where are the Afghani refugees?

Calls for mercy: An Afghani man protests about visas outside Government House in Canberra last month. photo: Micah Australia

Russell Powell The

G o v e r n m e n t i s the Government has allocated wanted to speak out on behalf of welcome and how do we get

considering 4500 additional places for Afghan refugees after being rebuked by a church delegation about its previous commitment following the fall of Kabul. After the US and Australian withdrawal and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last August, church leaders urged the Government to be generous. Archbishop Kanishka Raffel said at the time: “Opening up your heart and your home and responding to the transparent needs of people – it is Christian, but it is a feature of human compassion.” Prime Minister Scott Morrison then committed to allocating 3000 places within the existing refugee program for people fleeing Afghanistan, describing it as “a floor, not a ceiling”. Since then, it has emerged that SouthernCross

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15,000 places over four years, but they are within the normal refugee intake. This contrasts with the approach of the Abbott Government in 2015, which allocated 12,000 places for the Syrian refugee crisis, in addition to the set humanitarian intake. In mid-February, a delegation of leaders including the Bishop of North Sydney, Chris Edwards, representing the Archbishop, met Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to ask for more places for refugees above Australia’s current intake. “We’ve been a little disturbed by the Government’s recent announcement about numbers of refugees,” Bishop Edwards says. “We were hoping that those numbers would increase and that we could be generous. But it seems that the numbers have actually been reduced, and so we

the people of Afghanistan – the community here, as well as those who are still trapped.” The bishop says the message to the minister was, “Open the doors and let’s be a welcoming countr y”, adding that the message through the media about the refugee intake had been misleading and Christians had been “polite, so far”. “When the Taliban took control of Kabul and that was in the media, Christians stepp ed forward very quickly, offering their homes, accommodation and networks within communities to help people from a war-ravaged state resettle in peace and in the prosperity that Australia has to offer,” he says. ”We still have that feeling but now there is confusion about, how do we actually do that? Where are the people we can

them into Australia?” Immigration Minister Hawke told the delegation that the Government was “actively looking” at increasing the overall intake by granting additional places to the 4500 evacuees already in Australia. Bishop Edwards says Christians should write to their local Federal MP to ask how they are responding to the humanitarian crisis. He says Sydney Anglicans should also find out from their church, or organisations such as Anglicare, how they can be involved – including undertaking training to help people who are new to the country through ESL classes and refugee resettlement. “God has given us a very clear command to love our neighbours and this is a significant way we can do that,” he says. SC 9

The Archbishop tells his story of faith on video.

“He had lost control of his life to Jesus Christ” When Archbishop Kanishka Raffel came to Australia in 1972 as a small child, his home faith was Buddhism. The story of how he came to believe in Jesus has now been told on video, which is available for playing in churches or to pass on to friends. The Archbishop’s story has been told in print and on radio, but he was moved to record the video after a request from Anglican Chinese churches. He talks about how he became interested in studying Buddhism as a teenager and also asked Christians about their faith. “I had a conversation with a Christian friend of mine and asked him what it meant for

“In John’s gospel, the writer uses the phrase, ‘At this, the p eople were div ide d’,” he says. “Jesus will do something, and people will divide in their response to it, and I began to ask myself the question, ‘Which side am I on? Why am I not on Jesus’ side?’ “Eventually, I couldn’t think of a good reason for being against “Why am I not on Jesus’ side?”: Archbishop Raffel’s video testimony. Jesus and I decided to follow him.” You can watch Archbishop him to be a Christian,” the practice was to exercise mental R a f fe l ’ s v i d e o t e s t i m o n y Archbishop says in the video. and physical control over every on YouTube ( “He said it meant he had lost part of my life.” sydneyanglicans) – or download control of his life to Jesus Christ. In reading John’s gospel, he it for your church or friends at It was a very surprising answer was intrigued by the dynamic for me as a Buddhist, knowing and engaging personality of in English or with Chinese th at par t of my Buddhist Jesus. subtitles. SC

Peshawar clergyman ambushed by gunmen.

Pastor martyred in Pakistan Persecution of Christians has intensified in Pakistan with gunmen killing an Anglican minister in the border city of Peshawar on January 30. The Rev William Siraj died instantly after being ambushed by two attackers on a motorcycle as he was being driven home from church. The driver, Pastor Naeem Patrick, sustained only minor injuries as bullets passed through his clothes. It has since emerged that Mr Siraj, a minister in the Church of Pakistan – which is a part of the Anglican Communion – was ill and in doubt for the Sunday service. However, he was determined to fulfill his preaching duties at the church in the Gulbahar district. This is a mission church plant from All Saints’, Peshawar, which itself was the scene of 10

Gunned down: the Rev William Siraj (left), with a ministry colleague. an atrocity in 2013 when more wife of a martyr, too.” than 120 people were killed in The Moderator of the Church a suicide bombing – one of the of Pakistan, Bishop Aza d deadliest attacks on Christians Marshall, called for government in Pakistan. intervention to bring justice The family has already been and protection for Christians. touched by martyrdom, with The gunmen were presumed to several relatives killed for their be Islamic militants, inspired by faith. the Taliban. Mr Siraj’s daughter said at his Peshawar, in the northwest of funeral service, “I praise God Pakistan, is close to the border and am so proud that I am the with Afghanistan. In the latest daughter of a martyr and the Open Doors World Watch List,

issued just days before the shooting, Afghanistan replaced North Korea as the number one hotspot for the persecution of Christians. Also on the list was Yemen, at number five, and Nigeria, in 7th position – both countries continuing to move up the top 10. Myanmar, the scene of a recent military coup, had one of the big rises on the list, jumping six places to number 12. Pakistan fell slightly to number eight, largely due to persecution increasing in other countries. Yet Open Doors says the score doesn’t tell the whole picture, as persecution differs according to region. Peshawar’s proximity to Afghanistan means it has seen an increase in attacks and intimidation since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August last year. SC SouthernCross

March 2022

Extended apprenticeship focuses on cross-cultural ministry.

InterCultural MTS broadens the horizon

“The primary issue that drives our ambition is access to the gospel”: Simon Ball in the Netherlands.

Judy Adamson When the Ministry Training Strategy began in the early 1980s, the vision was always to multiply gospel workers through ministry apprenticeships “to win the world for Christ”. Now there is a new method for achieving this aim, through a partnership between MTS and European Christian Mission. With a tweaked curriculum and an extra apprenticeship year overseas, InterCultural MTS (IMTS) apprenticeships will seek to prepare people for long-term cross-cultural mission – before they go to Bible college. The national director of MTS, Ben Pfahlert, says when he has spoken to leaders from mission organisations over the years, they have made it clear that “if you want people to be excellent in the field and last long term, they need to be trained really well. And the training needs to start as early as possible. “They’ve identified that training people post-college is good, but it’d be really good to expose them to intercultural thinking prior to college and that brings the ministry apprenticeship phase to mind.” SouthernCross

March 2022

As it happens, the leadership of ECM in Australia had reached the same conclusions. Simon Ball worked for a decade in Ireland as a church planter, using the MTS model to train mid-term missionaries. After he returned to Australia, ECM’s executive director Matt George suggested they approach MTS about a partnership. Adds Mr Pfahlert: “We talked about growing the number of well-trained gospel workers that go overseas – in their case to Europe – not just in quantity but really high quality. That’s when we started talking in depth about the ‘two plus one’.”

Spanish, that’s fine,” Mr Pfahlert says. Fluency is crucial because it will be hard for an apprentice to have a productive ministry year if much of their time is spent gaining language skills. Second, as they immerse themselves in a different culture and take part in local ministry, it’s important that they don’t slow it down or make it harder for the overseas trainers to do their job. It took about a year to plan and prepare this extra curriculum. Mr Ball – who is IMTS’s training and development co-ordinator – not only mapped out the third year but took the existing MTS curriculum and remodelled the AN INTERNATIONAL training to include cross-cultural TRAINING YEAR and intercultural elements. He A MTS apprenticeship takes two also developed further options years and is spent in the culture of for apprentices to explore. origin. In an IMTS apprenticeship, the first two years will be done RAISING UP CROSShere, but in a cross-cultural CULTURAL MINISTRY ministry environment. In year WORKERS three, the apprentice will be sent “Our ambition is the same as overseas to a country where they Paul’s: “to preach the gospel already speak the language. where Christ is not known,” he “If someone wants to do their says. “The primary issue that third year in Chile and they’re drives our ambition is access to Aussie-born but f luent in the gospel.

“In Australia, and particularly in places like Sydney, you can drive for 10 minutes and probably hit at least five gospelcentred churches... but in many places in the world, you could drive for hours and not hit one gospel-centred church. So, we are primarily focused on raising up cross-cultural ministry workers for overseas ministry. “Having said that, as of the last census, 30 per cent of people in Australia were not born here. So, there is certainly plenty of need in Australia for raising up crosscultural ministry workers! It may be that some of our apprentices go on to work in cross-cultural ministry here.” Adds Mr Pfahlert: “All the feedback we’ve had is that, sure, it’ll be a little bit more expensive because there’s another year involved... but the consensus is, Australia is a very rich country and not only we can afford to train people this way, it’ll make them much better for crosscultural ministry over the long haul. It can also help to raise the profile of cross-cultural or intercultural ministry in their church.” SC 11

Parliament makes “deeply disappointing” decision after four years’ work.

Religious Freedom Bill withdrawn Russell Powell The Religious Freedom Bill, our charitable organisations or further claims that they want a priority if elected, or whether almost four years in the making, has been shelved at the last minute after amendments that the Prime Minister said had undermined the proposed legislation. Five Liberal MPs crossed the floor to support amendments in the Lower House and the Bill faced the prosp ect of further amendments in the Senate relating to gay and transgender students via the Sex Discrimination Act, which the Government said would have “unintended consequences”. Sp eakin g to a Lebane s e Maronite church in Adelaide, Mr Morrison said he was bitterly disappointed, but added, “I do not regret bringing [the Bill] forward. “ I t is dis a p p oi nt i n g t h at the very attempt to provide additional protections was undermined by those who would seek to undermine the very religious institutions upon which so much of Christian community depends, whether in our schools,

the many things that are done, indeed, even in the communities like we share in today.” In a statement after the shelving of the Bill, the chairman of the Sydney Diocese Religious Freedom Reference Group, Bishop Michael Stead, also called it “deeply disappointing”. “People of faith have been waiting for this since 2018,” he said. “There seems to be broad agreement on both sides of the House that legal protection a gain st discrimination on the basis of religious belief is necessary and long overdue. “It is regrettable that the p a s s a ge o f t he Re l i g io u s Discrimination Bill – which is about religious discrimination, and religious discrimination only – is being held hostage to rushed changes to the Sex Discrimination Act relating to students. “There have been claims religious schools are harming trans and gay students, and

the legal right to do so. This is the opposite of what happens. Religious scho ols prov ide exceptional pastoral care to all students, which is one of the reasons why parents choose to send their children to these schools.” Bishop Stead, who had been involved in discussions with MPs from all parties, said the central intent of the Bill had been overshadowed by the discussion of the Sex Discrimination Act. “Many MPs seem to have given scant regard to how to protect those of religious faith and the positive contribution of individuals, churches and religious organisations to the community,” he said. “As we have seen from hasty amendment s ma de in the middle of the night, this issue is complex, which is why it was referred to the Australian Law Reform Commission to address.” Labor’s Anthony Albanese wouldn’t say whether it would be

he would bring in legislation to protect p eople of faith from religious discrimination. However, he did tell the ABC that “it would be something that we would deal with, yes. We think that everyone should be free from discrimination. That includes people of faith”. Bishop Stead called on all p a r t i e s to wo r k to ge t he r , overcome technical issues and pass the Bill before the next election, although this seems unlikely. “People of religious faith in Australia, of all beliefs and backgrounds, deserve the equal protection that such a bill was intended to give,” he said. “The benevolent religious organisations they have established and maintain also need the stability that wellconsidered legislation would provide. There is goodwill on our part to proceed and we call for a bipartisan approach that would progress this very important Bill.” SC

Sign online to oppose “momentous shift in medical practice”

ePetition launched on assisted suicide bill Archbishop Kanishka Raffel Opponents of the bill, including for state sanctioned/funded assisted p r a c t i c e a n d c o m m u n i t y i s u rg i n g s u p p o r t fo r a n Labor MP Greg Donnelly, have suicide/euthanasia. A cornerstone of expectation”. ePetition that calls on the Upper launched a p etition on the our legal system is that ALL human “To legislate for a person to House of the NSW Parliament Legislative Council’s ePetitions life has inherent value and must be request their doctor to assist to reject the Voluntary Assisted webpage: treated with dignity and respect. them to die fundamentally alters Dying Bill 2021. The petition reads: The petitioners request that the the doctor-patient relationship,” The bill passed the Lower To the President and Members of the House unanimously oppose the bill, the Archbishop said. House of State Parliament last Legislative Council, the petitioners of in any form, and reject it. “The way of arguing – ‘if you year and was then referred to New South Wales state that they are Archbishop Raffel is urging don’t choose it, it won’t affect an Upper House committee. completely opposed to the passage Christian s to supp or t the you’ – is naïve. It neglects the The committee is expected to of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill ePetition, saying the bill “is a way in which practices form finalise its report this month. 2021, in any form, which provides momentous shift in medical culture, the way laws create 12


March 2022

An updated hall provides space for multi-generational meetings.

Moss Vale updated for a new generation

Ready for ministry: Archbishop Raffel officially opens the renovations at Moss Vale, surrounded by parishioners.

C O V I D l o c k dow n s kep t “The hall has served our parish Archbishop Kanishka Raffel well for 50 years,” said Moss away from church visits for his Vale’s rector, the Rev Dean Reilly. first few months in office, so he “However, the renovation is now making up for lost time in enables us to have a facility the outer reaches of the Sydney that better suits our growing Diocese. multi-generational 10am Sunday In only his third official church gathering, our weekly parish visit, he opened a refurbished ministries – including the hall at St John’s, Moss Vale last Anglicare community pantry – month. The parish’s 1930s-era and also gives the community church building backs on to access to a comfortable and the hall, which was built in the modern 120-seat facility.” 1960s. T h e a d j o i n i n g de c k a n d

values. A legal right to have another person – a physician, no less – assist in your death affects everyone precisely because it is a matter of public law.” He added that, “Practices shape values and community expectations. For 2000 years, Christian theology has asserted the inestimable value of the individual created in the image of God and precious by virtue of SouthernCross

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children’s play area was packed common vision for its purpose.” for the parish celebration. T h e re n o v a t e d h al l w a s Archbishop Raffel described o f f i c i a l l y o p e n e d a s t h e the project as a tremendous Archbishop led in prayer for how challenge. “This has unfolded the building will be used to serve during COVID,” he said. “There the ministry of the gospel. were tremendous challenges for “We recognise that as the old the builders, for the wardens in buildings were similarly a project regular conversation, and the of the people of God for the rector, praying feverishly for glory of God and the blessing the funds and [for] everything of the local community, so you to come about in a way that have done the same thing in this allows the church to do it as a context – and we thank God for united fellowship, and with a it,” he said.

life’s sanctity, not merely life’s through years of practice I’ve utility or quality. We abandon never had a patient ask me to that principle at our peril.” end their life. Bad death stories Doctors have also expressed championed by right-to-die concern. Melbourne oncologist organisations report one-sided Dr Marion Harris wrote recently views, often from grieving in The Australian newspaper relatives unfamiliar with the about Victoria, where such laws normal processes of death.” have passed. Dr Harris urged that the Bill “Most cancer patients want be rejected and palliative care to live as long as they can,” she be supported. wrote. “Like most oncologists, Mr Donnelly is passionate

about maximising the support for the ePetition, in order to send a message to the Upper House to reject the bill. It takes less than two minutes to complete and people are urged to sign it, pass it on and promote it to others. The ePetition will close on April 25, after which it will be presented to the Legislative Council. SC 13

The end of humility

Kanishka Raffel


have been so encouraged recently by the humble ministry

that goes on day in and day out around our network of churches, schools and agencies. In my first six months as Archbishop, I had to content myself with just hearing about it as my travel was severely restricted. Now I can move around, I am starting to see it for myself! It is a joy for me to be able to call it “humble ministry” because in it I see a Christ-exalting, people-blessing, gospel-shaped demonstration of what Paul refers to in his letter to the Philippians (chapter 2:1-11). As you know, Philippians is the letter of the Apostle Paul to the first church established in Europe. Philippi was a colony in the Roman Empire that had the rare privilege of citizenship. The Philippians were citizens of Rome, but Paul says to them that because they have trusted in Jesus as Lord they now have a new


and superior citizenship – in heaven. It was a higher loyalty and privilege and that is the theme of the central part of Paul’s letter, where we are told what heavenly citizenship looks like. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Phil 2: 3-4). It makes sense, doesn’t it, that the citizenship that is worthy of the gospel is a life that humbly serves the interests of others? In the gospel we experience God’s care for hopeless and helpless humanity, God caring for us. So, the life that is worthy of that same gospel must be a life that cares for others. But it seems impossible! Be assured, though, that whatever God requires of us, he provides for us. Paul gives a description of the “equipment” God has provided to power a life of humility so that we can truly value others above ourselves.


March 2022

Archbishop writes.

UNITED WITH CHRIST Paul has already told us, at the start of the chapter, that if you are a Christian person – if you have welcomed the rescue of Jesus as your Saviour and the rule of Jesus as your Lord – then you are united to him. He has taken hold of you. That is a great source of encouragement, isn’t it? If you belong to Jesus, then you know how much he loves you. Many people don’t know it or aren’t interested but, if you know his love for you, then that is a great reservoir of comfort. Paul is saying, in your relationships with others have the same love for them as the love you have from God. He knows that this is no small request, and so he says to the church, you have a shed full of equipment for this: the encouragement of being united to Christ; the comfort of Christ’s love for you; the power of Christ’s Spirit at work in you; the gift of tenderness and compassion towards others that you yourself have from Christ. United to Christ, we’re equipped to humbly serve others. THE EXAMPLE OF HUMILITY Why does Paul zero in on humility when he wants to speak of the citizenship that is worthy of the gospel? Why is humility the virtue that is indispensable in the life of God’s people? The obvious answer is because humility is the pattern of the life of Jesus himself. The ancient world into which Jesus was born did not regard humility as a virtue at all. The Roman world in particular prized honour, and held humility – self-lowering – as shameful and disgraceful. In fact, there were few honours that an ordinary person could aspire to greater than Roman citizenship. But Paul says our citizenship is in heaven. Live as citizens worthy of the gospel of heaven, and in humility serve others. When we do so, we follow the example of Jesus. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:5-8). The God who becomes human in Jesus is a giving God, not a grasping God; a servant God, not a tyrant God. When he became man, he did not cease to be God – his divinity was expressed in humility.

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Jesus, of course, is so much more than an example. He is the One to whom all knees shall bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord. We cannot imitate his eternal cosmic Lordship but we must imitate his humility, which is both divine and human. THE END OF HUMILITY The humility of Jesus is to be the pattern of life for Christians. But the exaltation of Jesus is the end of humility – by which I mean the outcome. The destiny of the universe. His life provides a pattern for those who follow him, but his death provides the rescue that reconciles all things, whether in heaven or earth, to God the Father – sins forgiven, death defeated, the whole creation one day restored. The world has many teachers, but it has only one Saviour; only one who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The certainty of the exaltation of the Lord Jesus is the guarantee of the incalculable value and eternal significance of everything we do to bring to others the knowledge of his love and the grace of his gospel. Every prayer, every word in season, every grace in listening, advocating, caring, hoping, giving, serving – every act done in his name is underwritten and stamped with the approval and authority of the one who, one day, will be acknowledged King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The citizenship that is worthy of the gospel is the life of humility. Equipped with the encouragement and comfort of the love of Jesus, and fellowship with his Spirit; following the example of the One who, being in very nature God, humbled himself even to death on a cross; eagerly awaiting the End of the beginning; the day when the universe will resound to the praise of the name that is above every other name, the name of Jesus. SC

INSTITUTE The Anglican Way 27 March, 2:00pm St James’ Hall & Online A public lecture by Sathianathan “Sathi” Clarke Balancing Multiple Belonging with Resistant Unbelonging for Blessed Kin[g]dom Becoming

Domestic Violence in Faith Communities 31 March, 11:00am Practical webinar addressing the current situation concerning domestic violence in Australian churches

Register at 15

Encourage your rector

Our senior ministers work for our good, under God. They need our support, writes Peter Orr.


omplaining about leaders is not new. The people

of Israel consistently grumbled against Moses in the wilderness (e.g. Ex 15:24, 16:2; Num 14:2, 16:3), to which the Lord responded by putting some of them to death (1 Cor 10:10). God’s response shows how spiritually dangerous it is to grumble or complain against our leaders. Yet many of us, I imagine, do not consider it a serious sin. In Acts 23 when Paul is before the council in Jerusalem on trumped-up charges, at one point he lets fly at one his accusers – who has just ordered him to be struck: “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall!” (Acts 23:3). The bystanders immediately tell Paul that he has insulted the high priest. Paul’s response

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Think of ways to encourage your pastor.

is fascinating. He doesn’t retort with, “Well, he deserves it, he was acting sinfully, he has disgraced his office etc”. Instead, he confesses his ignorance and wrongdoing: “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people’” (Acts 23:5, citing Ex 22:28). Our interactions with our ministers hopefully never reach the level where we call them “whitewashed walls”! However, these verses indicate the spiritual seriousness of speaking against our leaders. James reminds his readers not to “grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door” (James 5:9). Paul tells the Philippians that they should “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:14-15). There is always a place for formal accusations to be made against leaders who have sinned significantly (see 1 Tim 5:19), but biblically obedient Christians must not complain or grumble against their leaders. AN UNHELPFUL CONSUMER MODEL The root of this issue is that we often adopt a consumer model towards our minister. We pay him – he serves us. And so, when he doesn’t satisfy our wants in our time frame, we complain like we would in a restaurant if our meal was delivered slowly or not cooked well. However, this is wrong on both fronts. My senior minister is my leader, under God. My relationship with him is not the same as with my waiter in a restaurant (though I should also be considerate to my waiter!). I give money to support the work of his ministry but that does not make me his boss. I am also not passive – like a diner waiting to be served at a table. No, the analogy is more that he is the head waiter and I am also a waiter. All of us as Christians are meant to actively serve, which includes loving and encouraging other Christians, perhaps especially our pastors. There are people in our churches who are cultural Christians, who are unconverted or who have never matured despite years of church attendance. My guess is that if you are reading this article, you are more committed to supporting the ministry of your local church. You can encourage your pastor by encouraging others to encourage him! You can refuse to gossip and complain when others do it. You can call on others to encourage him. Obviously, it is good for all ministry staff and leaders to be encouraged, so to say we should encourage our senior pastor seems somewhat banal. But our rectors bear a good deal of responsibility under God, and if we don’t understand the value of encouragement we can easily forget to do it. In addition, we all too often reduce encouragement to a quick, “Thanks for the sermon, pastor” at the door. Paul reminds the Galatians that those who have been taught should “share all good things with the one who teaches” (6:6). In its context, the command includes material support, but it also establishes a broader principle of supplying everything the pastor needs to keep going, including encouragement. EFFECTIVE ENCOURAGEMENT In order to encourage them more effectively, we need to adjust our thinking in three ways. First, we need to recognise that encouragement of others comes from a heart that is thankful to SouthernCross

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God. So, the first step is to become better at thanking God. This is a neglected discipline among Christians. So often we only pray for things rather than giving thanks to God. Paul tells the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17) and to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:18), adding that “this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. God’s will is that you give thanks to him. Cultivating a heart that is thankful to God will spill over to a life that is slow to criticise and quick to encourage others. Second, encouragement of our senior ministers should be the overflow of a general life of encouragement. That is, while we should particularly encourage our minister, he should not be the only object of our encouragement. Paul reflects on this dynamic in 1 Thessalonians: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labour among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (5:11-13). If believers should encourage one another (1 Thess 5:11), we must especially encourage our pastors. But third, the minister holds a particular place as one of those who “labour among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you” (5:12). God here commands us to respect our pastors and to “esteem them very highly in love because of their work” (5:13). Sometimes we think that people have to earn our respect and admiration. They have to prove themselves. God’s economy differs: the minister he has placed over us is, from the beginning, worthy of a respect and esteem that needs to translate into how we speak about and to them. We need to intentionally encourage them. And so, it is worth thinking of ways to encourage your senior pastor. He has a diverse job and probably does more than you know


FOR MOORE 30 APRIL 2022 17

(he does not just work on a Sunday!). However, if you asked him, he would probably say that the most important thing that he does as a pastor (among many other very important things) is preach the word of God. FAITHFUL FEEDBACK Paul made this command to Timothy in the strongest way possible: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim 4:1-2). Your rector carries many burdens, but this is the most public aspect of his job and the one he is probably most sensitive about. It is also the aspect we find easiest to complain about (“My pastor is not as good a preacher as X” etc). So, this is the area in which we can most powerfully encourage him. Scripture lays the most serious charges on a minister to preach faithfully. A minister who is lazy in other areas can do damage, but a minister who is lazy in the pulpit or does not preach faithfully can do untold, eternally lasting damage. And so, we have a responsibility to help him be a better preacher. Sometimes that may involve the well-chosen, prayed over, carefully-thought-about critique. Much more often it will involve encouraging him in his preaching with specific feedback (i.e. not just “Thanks for the sermon today” but “Your application of verse 12 really hit home for me”, or “I have never understood that passage before, but you explained it very clearly” etc). Rectors can find it difficult that communication is so often only one way. They preach, exhort and encourage, but never receive any acknowledgement or indication that their labour is having any impact. It is easy to reply, “Well that is his job – he gets paid to be a minister” but, like anyone, a pastor wants to know if he is doing a good job. He knows that ultimately he is accountable to God, but we can encourage and help him to execute his role faithfully and we can do that by encouraging him. Thoughtful, intentional encouragement of your minister is a powerful way of loving him and helping him to persevere in his role. It should be the overflow of a thankful heart, saying to the minister what we have been praying for him. It is also something that most Christians are not very good at. We are hardwired to complain, grumble and criticise. It takes effort and conscious decision to deliberately and clearly encourage your pastor. Will you do it? SC This article has been adapted from Peter Orr’s forthcoming book Fight for Your Pastor. Used with the permission of Crossway.

Dr Peter Orr lectures in New Testament at Moore College. 18

Rethinking how we hear God’s word Tara Sing


e all learn content differently. Some of us

are naturally wired to reading and writing as our primary method of learning, while others rely on a more hands-on approach. For many cultures oral learning is dominant, with information, history and life skills passed down through word of mouth for generations. As we teach the Bible, and plan Bible studies, how do we take these different learning styles into account and help people from all cultures grow in their understanding of God’s word? Amanda Mason encourages churches to consider a method of studying Scripture similar to Bible storytelling, rather than solely relying on methods designed for highly literate groups. Working with the department of Evangelism and New Churches, her role is to help parishes find ways to connect to other cultures – specifically those with a South East Asian Buddhist background. “People from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar – their strength is in oral formats of learning, such as memorising stories, music and art,” Mason says. “When I first came to church as an Aussie teenager, I had been primed for Bible study styles which rely on literacy because of my experiences in school. My Thai mum doesn’t share the experience of Western education. Mum has only ever engaged with God’s word in an oral Bible study, in a group of Thai people she felt she could relate to and connected with. This [storytelling] Bible study method engages more with people like this. “An academic Bible study requires cultural elements that someone from a Buddhist background needs to become familiar with. [The storytelling type of study] has had good take-up in Sydney among people from South East Asian or Muslim backgrounds, and also with Islander groups and Aboriginal communities. These are all cultures with strengths in orality rather than literacy.” SouthernCross

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Accommodate different learning styles in Bible studies.

Positive feedback: Amanda Mason (third from right) with the women’s Bible study group at Grace City Church.

ORAL-BASED BIBLE STUDIES One method Mason recommends is simple but effective, and reduces the barrier of English literacy required to meet God through his word. It’s a style she has used in numerous Thai women’s Bible studies called the Five Questions Method. The focus is on listening well to the word as it is read aloud several times. The group then attempts to retell the passage from memory before discussing it. “It engages and helps us to listen and concentrate,” she says. The group then runs through five questions: • What did you like? • What might people not like? • What do you learn about God? • What do you learn about people? • If this is true, how will it affect your life? The simplicity of the questions promotes discussion and encourages people of all language abilities and cultural backgrounds to participate. “We do read shorter chunks of Scripture, we meditate more, but when you do this with a group who don’t speak good English, it’s got to be shorter because you can’t teach everything,” she says. “Short is digestible, and people who aren’t used to reading the Bible can digest a short passage.” HOW DOES THIS WORK IN A CHURCH? When Grace City Church in Waterloo restarted in-person Bible study groups in November, the leadership decided to trial this new approach alongside a sermon series on Revelation. “I was looking for something a bit different and a bit fresh as we came out of lockdown,” says the Rev Matt Varcoe, the church’s maturity and mission director. “I want people to grow in confidence that if they have each other and the Holy Spirit and God’s word, they can understand and apply it.” SouthernCross

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He also found this approach helped personal Bible reading. “People in church have said, ‘I’ve been reading the Bible and using these five questions’,” he says. “It gives people a framework.” With a background in primary education, Mr Varcoe understands the importance of adapting to different learning styles. He says this method of Bible study is another great tool to have in the toolbox. “Just like as a school teacher, you do different lessons with different styles of learning to cater for all the learning styles in your classroom,” he says. “I think, over the year, if you’re doing a few different styles of study that will be helpful to engage everyone.” There have been good responses from growth groups. “All our groups are saying that people who don’t contribute and are quieter have all felt comfortable to contribute,” Mr Varcoe says. “The overall feedback after the first week or two was very positive. It was something new and a fresh way to do it. But there was also an underlying, ‘If we do this every week will it get repetitive and old?’ I’ve been trying to help leaders each week think about what is working and not working well, and modify as they go.” For churches thinking of introducing a more oral-based style of Bible study, he recommends considering how your leaders can manage group dynamics. Depending on the group, a deliberate effort may need to be made to facilitate group discussion, rather than individual opinions shared with no follow-up questions or interaction encouraged. He also feels it is important to keep the study content in line with the Sunday preaching passages, to help build consistency in teaching across groups and congregations. “It’s a confidencebuilding thing. Anyone can do this. You don’t have to have any deep-level knowledge of the Bible – you can do it on your own or with anyone else. I can’t think of why you wouldn’t try it.” SC 19

An unwanted gift

Gary Koo


ave you ever received a gift that you did not

want? A number of years ago I asked my father to buy me a cast-iron griddle pan, but he decided to give it to my wife Pearl instead. I was delighted. Not surprisingly, she was less than impressed! Not every gift is something we want. I received a gift I didn’t want recently. Despite abundant caution and double vaccination I received a bad case of COVID-19. And it really was bad. I cannot remember feeling so ill in my life. Even a month later I’m still in the process of recovery. Yet, despite all that, and amid recognition of all the pain and loss it has caused so many, I still consider it a gift. Like many Christian leaders in our tradition I lean towards activism. Always seeking to be active and to find myself doing things – especially when it comes to building God’s church and making disciples. If the idea of rest wasn’t biblical it could easily be an afterthought for me. So, when I found myself falling ill, it became increasingly confronting because not only was I sick, I wasn’t productive. I had to cancel a speaking engagement that I’d spent months thinking about and preparing for. I couldn’t visit people as I was stuck in isolation. I was too sick to talk to anyone on the phone. I couldn’t respond to emails. I couldn’t even read books. All this “free” time and I couldn’t do anything. I was sick. And 20

although I was unable to “do” the normal things in my day, COVID did provide me with time to pause and reflect. The conference I planned to speak at found a replacement and went on without me. The COVID-19 Task Force that I lead continued to do its work in supporting churches and providing advice. The emails I didn’t respond to turned out to be neither urgent nor critical. The sun still rose, birds still sang and the gospel continued to go out and change people’s lives… without me. This reminded me that while God uses us and gives us gifts for the common good and to serve those around us, this doesn’t mean he relies on our activity in order to achieve his plans. And there are times when the best thing we can do for God and for the sake of the kingdom is nothing. I realised this while speaking to the Archbishop, who was asking after my health. I found myself saying, “I really can’t do anything at the moment. I’m not well enough. The best thing I can do is to do nothing and just get better”. It’s good to be active and engaged in the service of our Lord, but there are seasons in life, such as illness, where service means something very different to what we are used to. Being ill was horrible, but it reminded me of some very important things. It became a gift to me. And it can be a gift to others as well. SouthernCross

March 2022

What COVID-19 taught me.

TURN STRUGGLE INTO BLESSING In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 the Apostle Paul writes this: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”. While Paul isn’t speaking about illness in particular, there is a sense that those moments of vulnerability and anxiety – especially when we are confronted by the reality of our own mortality – cause us to flee to God for help and comfort. When we receive it, it allows us to be a blessing to those around us who are going through the same thing. For example, my mother and father both had life-threatening cancer. My father had it twice. Having a family member with cancer is a unique and at times harrowing experience. I would never wish to go through those times again, but God has used them to help me help others, both pastorally and personally. It’s the same with catching COVID-19. One of the things that surprised me was that, despite my deep trust in the Lord Jesus and the unshakeable certainty of my own salvation, I wasn’t as brave or as stoic as I thought I would be. I was impatient and miserable – even scared at times. And I thought, if this is just COVID-19, which I’ll probably recover from, what will I be like when I age or develop a chronic illness or SouthernCross

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face something like cancer? What will I do then? This humbled me, and forced me to realise that our confidence doesn’t lie in ourselves or the strength of our faith, but who we have faith in. The one who is the source of our strength, even amid our weakness. In other words, going through this experience helped me develop empathy, not only for those who’ve had COVID-19, but all those who suffer and know that they’re supposed to be brave because they trust Jesus, but are actually scared and really feel terrible. It’s helped me understand that feeling like this isn’t a “spiritual weakness” that needs to be addressed, but an opportunity to love somebody and share in their suffering. Knowing, from personal experience, when is the right time to point them to God’s goodness, while knowing when to say nothing because it wouldn’t be helpful. COVID-19 was a gift that I didn’t ask for but, by God’s grace, some unwanted gifts are more useful than others. SC

The Rt Rev Gary Koo is Bishop of Sydney’s Western Region. 21

Why we’ve seen changes in youth and children’s ministry Mike Dicker


emember when youth minister meant young

minister? When selecting a church youth minister meant wanting the youngest, coolest, most charismatic, energetic and enthusiastic person that could hold the attention of young people for more than three seconds? Remember when youth ministry meant entertaining young people for two hours every Friday night? When it looked almost identical to secular youth work, with ridiculous games to “keep them off the streets” and repeated admonishments against the vices of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll? Remember when children’s ministry meant childcare? When 22

the goal was to take kids out of church and keep them occupied long enough not to annoy their parents for 90 minutes? Remember when children’s and youth ministry was only ever seen as a stepping stone to “real” ministry with grown-ups? When it was treated as unskilled labour that anyone could do, but no self-respecting person would remain in? We’ve come a long way in the past 21 years, and it seems improbable to believe anyone would think that way now. This is not to dismiss the earnest intentions and gospel heart of those who diligently worked to engage children and young people with God through his word. And there have been many trailblazers who not only took their role seriously but approached ministry to children SouthernCross

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Reflecting on youth work and Youthworks College.

and young people with considered theological reflection. Yet this wasn’t the norm for children’s and youth ministry and, without a doubt, there has been an extraordinary shift towards more effective practices. What was evident in the practice of a few trailblazers, and evident in the desires of many, has now become the norm. It’s now normal to regard children’s and youth ministry as not only valuable but crucial for every church. Not just crucial to have “something for the kids”, but to do something effectively for discipleship that fosters both mission and maturity in Christ. We’ve heard the often-recited statistic, demonstrated time and time again with every National Church Life Survey report, that 80 per cent of people who become Christians do so before they turn 18. Not just young people from Christian families, but young people from non-Christian families – who often bring with them their whole family, who come to faith in Jesus as well. It seems we’ve finally come to translate the knowledge of this statistic into our practice. We’re coming to recognise the importance of effective children’s and youth ministry in our churches. We’re finally catching up with the stats! On top of this, we’ve realised that effective children’s and youth ministry is a whole church project. It’s not a discipleship program relinquished to specialised experts who disciple young people on behalf of the church. It’s no longer placed on the shoulders of the children’s and youth minister alone to instruct them in the faith. It’s discipleship within the whole church, in partnership with families, households and shared among the ministry team – children’s and youth ministers working together with senior ministers, women’s ministers, evangelists, membership ministers and the rest. It is evangelism and mission to children and their parents. It’s maturity and growth for parents with their children. It’s intergenerational ministry that doesn’t consider people first by age and stage, but as people who need to grow in maturity and mission as disciples together. And where we see this in our churches, we see growth. Why have we seen such a shift in recent decades? Well, certainly the Spirit of God and the power of his word! But, in a very particular way, God has driven people back to his word to carefully consider the shape and place of children’s and youth ministry in his churches. From the 1970s through to the ’90s, there were faithful men and women involved in serious biblical scholarship and reflective conversations on children’s and youth ministry practice both here and abroad. One of the fruitful outcomes of that scholarship and those conversations was the founding of Youthworks College. It is surely more than coincidence that the shift we’ve seen in the past 21 years aligns with the existence and work of Youthworks College through its faculty and graduates. In the past 21 years we have witnessed the increasing prevalence of theologically thoughtful children’s and youth ministry practice in our churches. God has graciously used the careful study and application of his word through the ministry of Youthworks College to effect much of the change we are witnessing today in Sydney and beyond. Surely this is evidence of God’s Spirit at work for the glory and honour of his name, and a cause for rejoicing. Youthworks College has produced more than 300 graduates since its founding at the turn of the century. These are students who have been grounded in sound doctrine, taught how to think SouthernCross

March 2022

Lives changed by the Lord: People gather at St Andrew’s Cathedral to celebrate the 21st birthday of Youthworks College.

theologically about ministry practice and equipped to be effective children’s, youth or young adults’ ministers. Crucially, students learn how to integrate their doctrine, biblical studies, Church history and specialist subjects into the practice of children’s and youth ministry while they are working under supervision in a church or school context. This integration keeps drawing together theology and practice so we can avoid the pragmatism that results from separating the two. This forms an excellent foundation for school and parish ministry with children and young people, and is an advantage for the many students who later undertake further study at Moore College or elsewhere. The partnership between Youthworks College and Moore College is another significant factor in the shift we have seen in children’s and youth ministry. The exponential increase of thoughtful practitioners enriches churches, ministry teams, ministry peers, conferences, missionary endeavours and the raising up of more disciple-making ministry workers. The unity of partnership, co-ordinated expertise and the specialisation of both colleges has proved to be a fruitful use of the gospel resources God has blessed us with in Sydney. This brief historical perspective on the state of children’s and youth ministry should encourage you to rejoice and give thanks to God for what he has done. It is a privilege to have the resources God has given us for children’s and youth ministry. It is wondrous to behold the fruit that he has brought forth from men and women who faithfully minister the gospel. And it is astounding to see how God has preserved and prospered the ministry of Youthworks College by his strong and mighty arm. However, the work is not yet done. There are many more workers needed for the harvest. It is not colleges that have people to send to the harvest, it is churches! As the gatherings of God’s people, churches raise up men and women to be equipped and sent as harvest workers in the power of the Spirit. God willing, Youthworks College will continue equipping people for effective children’s and youth ministry for at least another 21 years. God willing, this will happen because we’ll continue to raise up more workers in our churches. So, the question we need to keep asking ourselves is: who are we raising up for this important work? SC

The Rev Mike Dicker is the principal and dean of students at Youthworks College. 23

A Godgiven love of history

Dr Stuart Piggin has taught history at universities including London, Wollongong, Sydney and Macquarie, been Master of Robert Menzies College, written books – not least the awardwinning double volume on Evangelical Christianity in Australia – and recently a biography of Archbishop Harry Goodhew. He has provided endless help and encouragement to students over the past five decades. He spoke to Simon Manchester.


How and when did your love of history begin? Since God is love and the giver of good gifts, I must conclude that my love of history is God-given, and a gift and calling that I should cherish. For much of my life I thought of academic history as a sidetrack. I believed that I had been called to the ordained ministry, but it was denied to me through illness. So, I did my PhD and became a lecturer. I had an excellent teacher at Corowa, where I grew up on a farm, but then at Fort Street in Sydney, Herbert Butterfield’s book Christianity and History helped me see that Christ was the key to everything – all cultures and times. I have heard students say that you skilfully evangelised your university classes as you taught them – was this always well received or was there pushback? I don’t think I ever consciously evangelised during class. I was happy in the faith and excited by what it had to offer to all people. The pushback I received from secular colleagues (not from the students) felt like bigotry and ignorance. The so-called secular university need not be anti-Christian. I started a staff Bible study, attended the Christian Union, SouthernCross

March 2022

Backstory with Stuart Piggin.

argued for the Christian case in university debates and taught a course on the history of Christianity. And I was always as much interested in my church as I was in my university.

feminism owes much to the missionary movement, and Methodism influenced the trade unions and Labor Party more than people realise.

Was your childhood home a Christian home – and how did your own faith in Jesus begin and grow? My older brother accepted Christ at the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade, after which my parents and their children – including me – became Christians in quick succession. My uncle Rod West [teacher and influential Trinity Grammar School headmaster] was a major shaper of my Christian experience, as was the ministry of the Rev Eric Mortley (a passionate preacher and accomplished academic) at St Philip’s, Eastwood. The youth fellowship of 200, most of whom were uni students, also strengthened my understanding of the natural affinity that churches have with universities.

How do you define a Christian revival and do Christians ever contribute to a revival – or is it purely a sovereign work of God? Christian revivals are spiritual revitalisation movements that spill out beyond the churches into the wider community. They are always sovereign works of God, but not purely – men and women are moved by God to work together. Hence the remarkable outpourings of prayer that frequently precede revivals. People come to see what really matters and have a heightened expectation that God is about to do something.

Who has been a mentor for you in faithful scholarship and what particular help did they give you? Chief among my scholarly mentors has been Edwin Judge, now Emeritus Professor of History at Macquarie University. He combines the sharpest of intellects with the firmest of convictions about the influence of Christ on the world. He seems to know more about the real world than anyone I know. He has guided and advised me. Professor Andrew Walls, Professor of Non-Western Christianity at Aberdeen and Edinburgh universities, was a major influence on my understanding of missions and non-Western cultures. How does a Christian college (like Robert Menzies College) within a university get treated by the faculty and students? What are a few special memories from that time as Master? The relationship can be an unstable one. Opportunities are vast but challenges keep coming. My predecessors the Rev Dr Alan Cole (who conversed with students from all over the world in their native tongue) and Bishop Paul Barnett (who penned books faster than traffic wardens write fines) forged great links with the university before me. Christian colleges are there primarily to serve the university and they do so chiefly by attracting and caring for students and by fostering scholarship. Robert Menzies also had its own church and taught theology, which helped engage with the university and community. One memory is that what I first feared was the night-time blasts of a gunman turned out to be a student with fireworks! In your first volume on Evangelical Christianity, The Fountain of Public Prosperity 1740-1914, there are so many untold accounts of God’s blessing on this country. Which people or movements deserve to be more widely known? I doubt if Australian history has yet been properly understood by secular historians. The First Fleet was an astonishing maritime achievement, with hardly any loss of life, because it was organised and provisioned by evangelical Christians determined that it would be nothing like the slave trade. Interdependence of Church and State better reflects the Australian experience than their separation. Rivalry between denominations is really sanctified competition, the first ethical commerce in NSW was the work of Christian merchants, SouthernCross

March 2022

Do you think there has been anything resembling a revival in Australia since the Billy Graham crusade in 1959? Revivals in Australia have actually been more common than people realise. Most were local but Australia came close to a general awakening in 1902. A quarter of the population attended Billy Graham crusades and revival has also been experienced under Geoff Bingham in the 1960s, the Jesus movement in the 1970s and a very remarkable revival among Aboriginal peoples in 19791982 – the latter highly significant as God came “not to destroy but fulfil” their hopes. What lessons from history are being forgotten today? Are there things that our forebears got right that we are in danger of getting wrong? Issues like co-operating with the well meaning and not criticising other Christians, engaging with communities through the parish system, developing healthy family dynasties, humility in the face of our weaknesses and courageous ministry that doesn’t look for easy lives. Reading the biography of Harry Goodhew, I was struck by the complexity – near impossibility – of the leadership role. Were you conscious of lessons emerging from the book beyond the man himself? Leaders are more dependent on the structures than we realise and bureaucracies can be a great frustration. So, a key to leadership is to recruit able administrators, stay realistic, believe in the call to the role and remain joyful. Is history a subject for unusual people (quaint, dusty, backwardlooking, nerdy types) or is it a vital subject for every Christian? Where should a person begin to get a grip on the past 2000 years? Get a grip on the Bible – the book of Acts especially. As for the past 2000 years, I advise enrolling in online courses in Church history and make a catalogue of the best books written on particular events and people. Read Paul Barnett on the New Testament church, Peter Brown on Augustine and George Marsden on Jonathan Edwards. Finally, with retirement and family and church and friends, what is filling your time and what are you looking forward to? I’m getting back to a study of the 18th-century evangelical philosophy of history. My wife (who has a capacious brain) helps me navigate the challenges of COVID and my grandchildren are “types” of the celestial realms to come. As Thomas Scott once said, “it behoves me to prepare for the closing scene” and it behoves me to do likewise. SC 25

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Letters and classifieds.

LETTERS Is inviting someone to church the fruit of evangelism, not Thank you to Simon Gillham for “evangelism”? The article in the primary place God intends a challenging article on what it Southern Cross (“Australia is outsiders to hear the good news. means to love our neighbour in ready for mission. Are we?”, The pattern of Jesus and a shrinking world. I would like February 2022) showed data his apostles is clear: going to to hear more from our church indicating Australians are more where the lost are and sharing leaders about how we love willing to accept an invitation to the good news of Jesus with those whose sense of self and church than we might expect. them. New gatherings form as worldview are increasingly at This is heartening. But I wonder a result, or those new believers odds with the Bible’s teaching. if the article betrays a change can be welcomed into existing I agree with Dr Gillham in the way we think and speak gatherings. that we should do this but is about evangelism. T h e re ’ s n o t h i n g w ro n g it possible that our language It isn’t made explicit, but the with invitations, but we have and even our actions can invitation to church seems a problem if the church on to have replaced p ersonal Sunday is the only place anyone evangelism as the basic mission hears the gospel. It’s a problem CLASSIFIEDS task of the Christian. for the nearly 70 per cent of HOLIDAY LETTING Why would you share the Australians surveyed who said KIAMA: Very comfortable 2 bed unit opp gospel with a workmate, friend, they either wouldn’t accept an beach, with water views from balcony, lift dble garage, accomm 4. Ph (02) family member or neighbour if invitation, didn’t know if they access, 9579 4573 or you can invite them to church would, or didn’t know anyone MISCELLANEOUS and have the professionals do who could invite them. MOBILE LAWYER: Philip Gerber, it? They’re much better at it As Simon Gillham says in LL.M., M.Crim., Dip.Bib.Stud. 33 yrs than you. the article, let’s “meet our exp. 0408 218 940 Except they’re not. Because neighbours and talk to them REFURBISHED 2ND HAND MOWERS: God has given you unique gifts, about Jesus”. 0400 364 297 relationships, time, energy and Ben Bathgate For advertising contact: the Spirit of Christ to the very Department of Evangelism end of the age. And church is and New Churches

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March 2022


Clergy moves.

Wahroonga parishes come together “The goal is to serve the whole partnership”: (from left) the Rev Gavin Parsons, the Rev Andrew Rees and the Rev Josh Lewis.

T h e look of ministry at wider ministry to the suburb is works with Anglicare in pastoral those congregations over the his assistant minister, the Rev Josh Lewis, and last month the Rev Gavin Parsons joined as senior associate minister from Forestville. “We’d been at Forestville for 12 years and I’ve probably got 12 years left in me before I retire, so it’s a question of how we could use this next phase of our life in ministry,” Mr Parsons explains. “We’re now empty nesters – our youngest finished uni last semester – and around the same time I saw this opportunity of the two Wahroongas coming together and got a conversation going. I thought a pastor with experience could give good help to Andrew as he navigated this time, and I could put my shoulder to different parts of the ministry. We’re excited about it!” The particular focus for Mr Parsons and his wife Sue will be ministry to seniors (Mrs Parsons

care to the aged), as well as the two 8am congregations, which have now united as one. Says Mr Parsons: “I would describe myself as a generalist – I’m happy to talk to 8-yearolds and 88-year-olds – but I see that our experience is useful in this particular moment. There are some really good seniors’ opportunities and different villages in the area and, in God’s timing, we can hopefully bring Jesus to that cohort in the local community.” Mr Rees says that the morning family services of both parishes have also united, as have the two evening services. “Our next step would be to plant at least one, and in time two extra congregations out of the 10am congregation,” he says. “So, we’ve come together in this initial period, as we work towards amalgamation, to launch

next year. “The goal is to serve the whole partnership and the partnership’s goal is to serve the community. Way back in their history these churches were one – St Paul’s planted St Andrew’s in 1904... so it’s back to the future, really.”

After decades of ministry in has moved to the parish of Australia and Vietnam, and 25 Wilberforce. He began as rector years as rector of Regents Park, on February 14. the Rev Vinh Pham retired on November 14, 2021. An assistant minister at Emmanuel Anglican in The rector of Corrimal since Glenhaven since 2015, the Rev 2010, the Rev David Esdale, Campbell Mackay, became

rector of Jervis Bay and St G e o rge s B a s i n ( fo r m e r l y Huskisson) on February 14. He was inducted on March 3.

assistant minister at West Ryde since 2018.

Wahroonga is changing, after an agreement between the two Anglican parishes in the suburb – St Paul’s and St Andrew’s – to do ministry together with a view to amalgamating in the future. Rector of St Andrew’s, the Rev Andrew Rees, who is now senior minister over the combined church family, says the eventual plan is to become Wahroonga Anglican Church. “We began a process of both churches thinking through and praying together about whether we could do more together than apart, and essentially we’ve formed a partnership for mission in Wahroonga with the set goal to become a single parish in due course,” he says. “That would obviously be a decision of the parish councils of the two parishes, but that’s definitely our intent.” To support Mr Rees in this


The Rev Simon Keith became rector of Dulwi ch Hill on February 17. He had been an

VACANT PARISHES List of parishes and provisional parishes, vacant or becoming vacant, as at February 21, 2022: • • • • • • • • • • • •

Ashbury** Berowra Camden Cherrybrook Corrimal Cronulla** Eagle Vale** Forestville Greenacre* Guildford* Keiraville Kingswood

• Lidcombe • Lithgow • Liverpool South • Menangle** • Panania • PeakhurstMortdale** • Regents Park* • Rooty Hill • Rosemeadow* • Ulladulla

* denotes provisional parishes or Archbishop’s appointments ** right of nomination suspended/on hold

The senior assistant minister at Roseville since 2016, the Rev Stuart Holman, will become rector of St Swithun’s, Pymble on March 15. SouthernCross

March 2022

TV review.

Awards material or dangerous? Hannah Thiem Euphoria

Streaming on Binge and Foxtel


ust give Zendaya her Emmy right now.” The cries

echoed across social media in response to one of the new episodes of Euphoria, the edgy, boundary-pushing TV show that graphically depicts high schoolers obsessed with sex, drugs and partying. Created for HBO in 2019 by Sam Levinson, based on his own lived experience with drug dependency, Euphoria supposedly depicts a “realistic” teen experience. At its core, it focuses on one teenager’s struggle with drug addiction and the damage she does to her relationships along the way. And it has been extremely popular, with episode views reaching 14 million for the second season’s recent launch in the US. The potentially Emmy-winning episode in question, “Standing Still Like the Hummingbird”, shows the intervention between Rue (played by Zendaya) and her family and friends. Starting with Rue searching for a suitcase of drugs, we see her attack her mother, break up with her girlfriend, hit her friend Elliot and eventually break down. By the end of the episode she agrees to go to hospital but then realises she is on the way to rehab and escapes. The episode, and the series as a whole, is raw, scary and graphic. It’s painful to watch and apparently just as painful to portray. “You can see there’s a little moment... where all of it becomes regret,” said Zendaya, when asked by Entertainment Weekly about playing Rue’s downfall. “You can see her doing it again and regretting it and wondering why she is doing it… it’s just a really painful cycle”. The show is reminiscent of 13 Reasons Why, and while the representations of addiction are nuanced and a welcome step forward (compared to Hollywood films that present addiction as criminal and nothing more), the level of violence, sexual mistreatment and drug abuse is pretty hard to take. And some SouthernCross

March 2022

scenes have even been edited for the Australian market! The Tik Tok meme “Euphoria High” also illustrates the dissonance between the show and real life, with teens creating videos that poke fun at the behaviour/outfits of the kids onscreen. While showrunner Levinson says the scenes are lifted from his own teen experienceas, it has come under criticism for introducing dangerous influences rather than representing them. Yes, this is the experience of some teenagers, but it is far from the norm. While the show is rated MA15+, its availability on streaming services makes it hard to police – particularly when marketed directly to teens. However, given almost half of Australian high school seniors have had sex (according to a recently released survey of Australian secondary students), perhaps it could be a helpful starting point for discussions with your own teens. Across the show there is something compelling about the story of Rue who, despite her destruction and mistakes, is never depicted as irredeemable. Instead, Zendaya plays her with a level of sympathy and sensitivity, even when she has hit rock bottom. In an emotional Instagram post about Rue after Euphoria’s latest episode, Zendaya wrote: “Remember that we are not the worst mistake we’ve ever made. And that redemption is possible”. That a gospel understanding of redemption could shine through in even the most gritty and disturbing show is an important reminder for all of us that there is no one who God writes off. Whether or not you decide to watch Euphoria (or let your teen watch it!), whether you not you think Zendays deserves an Emmy or is helping change the representation of drug addiction, Euphoria is helping open those deeper conversations around forgiveness, suffering and relationships. And maybe that’s the point. SC 29

Reminders of God’s goodness and grace Judy Adamson


hen Guan Un gave a talk at his parish

weekend away about anxiety and faith, it struck him that the thoughts and information he shared would make a useful short book. He was right – but he certainly didn’t expect that, by the time Anxiety and Me (Matthias Media) was published some years later, countless more people would be experiencing anxiety and other mental health issues because of a pandemic. “It’s been a while in the making – I think there’s one little story

in the book where my daughter is six when I wrote it and she’s now 11!” he says. “The thing is that, right or wrong, there are circumstances at the moment that might mean more people pick the book up or have it on their minds, [because anxiety] it is part of our natural response to something that’s so big and uncontrollable... it does remind us of our powerlessness.” In Un’s own struggles with anxiety and depression he had sought out books for support but hadn’t really found what he

I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother (Psalm 131:2) I used to work with a woman who was a model employee. She was industrious and smart, brilliant at communicating what needed to be done, and always on top of all the various responsibilities of her job. She was a pleasure to work with, and her performance reviews were glowing.

everyone will know what a failure he is. Hopefully, I wouldn’t get very far before someone stopped me and rebuked me.

But once, in conversation with her, I made a passing comment about how hard she was working. Her eyes went somewhere else, and she waved her hand dismissively and said, “No, I’m just a lazy person”.

The beauty of Psalm 131 verse 2 is that, as it moves us from restlessness to calm, we have the space and opportunity to see that self-talk – the story in our heads – for what it really is.

What astounded me was that the last thing anybody else would have said about her was the first thing she said about herself. That was her self-talk emerging, a part of her story that had become embedded in her mind, at some point in her life, and left to play on repeat.

But if I say similar things to myself in my own head and call it “self-motivation”, nobody else can see or hear it for the lie that it is.

God frees us to slowly change the words of that story, from: “You should be doing more” to “Jesus has done it all”. “You have to get this under control” to “God has all things in his hands”.

That kind of self-talk is not easy to change. Because it plays on a constant loop in the background of our brains, we have often had thousands of hours of practice at believing the wrong thing about ourselves.

“You have to make sure you’re not letting anyone down” to “You are saved by grace alone”.

For those with anxiety, that self-talk often plays stories in the key of “you should” or “you have to” or “you must”. If we shine the light of the gospel onto those stories, we find that we say things in our self-talk that we would never say to someone else.

“You must not fail” to “You are accepted no matter how you fail”.

Imagine if, after church, a friend accidentally drops his coffee cup and it shatters. And then imagine I respond by shouting at him that he is a worthless person who needs to work harder, otherwise he is going to be a complete failure and 30

“You must not be lazy” to “You are loved no matter what you do”.

The psalm reminds us that because God is who he is, we can be still and know that he is God. And we can do so in a way that changes our self-talk from who we think we should be to who we are before the Lord. This is an edited excerpt from Anxiety and Me by Guan Un (Matthias Media).


March 2022

New book on anxiety directs our thoughts to Psalm 131.

Think about “God’s great things”: Guan Un. wanted. Although he describes himself as “a big reader”, the effects of anxiety made processing slabs of information more difficult. “What I didn’t want in those times was a tome that said, ‘Here’s every Bible verse about anxiety’, or ‘Here’s what’s happening in your brain’,” he says. “What I wanted was something small I could process in a quick amount of time, plus something that obviously pointed me back to the gospel.” Thinking about what was most practical and helpful – not just

for himself but for the talk he prepared for his church – helped Un zero in on Psalm 131. It’s the shortest psalm in the Bible, but one that contains a “call for calmness and being reminded of God’s great things”. He structured his 50-page book around the psalm to provide “something small that we can hide in our thoughts – in our hearts – for those anxious times”. Each section of the book is a meditation on the three verses of the psalm, with the flow of each verse directing the reader back to God and his goodness. There are observations about things such as God’s power and ours, resting in him, keeping calm in difficult situations and dealing with negative “self-talk” (see previous page). “It’s so common for the world to encourage self-talk: ‘you can do more, you can do everything, you’ve got this’, whereas the psalm and the gospel remind us that you may not have this and that’s perfectly okay, because God does,” Un says. “I think the Christian community has got better at recognising mental health issues and helping to get stories out, as well as resources. There’s better education, but there’s also never enough in a sense. If it helps one more person to be able to share their stories, understand that they’re not alone in wondering why they have anxiety and what God is doing in that, then it’s worth bringing these things out. “Ultimately, the last thing I want is for people to get this book thinking, ‘Oh, it’s going to solve my anxiety, I’ll be cured’ – or buy this book for a loved one with anxiety with the idea that, ‘this will fix you’. That’s absolutely the last thing I want. But I do want to be able to provide some relief, some reminders of how true the gospel is and what it says about God, his goodness and his grace, even when you’re anxious and that’s hard.” SC

From page 32

weddings, and couples spend the intervening period getting to know each other more fully, meeting family, friends and so on. I’d be happier as a viewer if the couples weren’t immediately tossed into a “living together” scenario. Do they feel pressure to be intimate when each partner is still on a steep learning curve about the other? Hopefully not – and this version of the program, at least, draws a veil over such things. However, the TV timetable means everyone needs to make a life-altering decision within a very short space of time. Thankfully, there is no stipulation to marry. Any of the participants can break their engagement and leave, right up to the last moment at the altar. In the first US series, several couples became engaged but only two chose to marry, so it’s no spoiler to say that Love Is Blind Japan follows a similar pattern. It’s an odd way to meet but it seems to (sort of) work – the two American couples who married recently celebrated their third wedding anniversaries. In the Japanese version there are moments of real openness, kindness and generosity as the men and women get to know each other, albeit through a wall. All truly need to listen and understand what they’re hearing, and all need to be willing to share of themselves. This changes when they meet, but not necessarily in a good way, and not with the couples you might expect. Do looks enhance their feelings or confuse them? Are both partners really willing to work at the relationship, be completely honest with each other and find common ground or compromise SouthernCross

March 2022

Meeting for the first time: Mori and Minami. on issues that could prove a stumbling block? Anyone who has ever dated or been married – which would be most of us – knows that give and take is crucial to the success of a relationship. We ignore the needs, expectations and feelings of our partner at our peril. Which means, in the end, that although some couples in this program do end up with people who weren’t their normal “type”, it’s not because love is blind. It’s because love sees very well indeed, but chooses to accept and forgive. Because it’s patient, kind and doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. For flawed and sinful creatures loved by their great God – and the dim reflection of this love in the marriages we make in his name – this is a great blessing. SC 31


Listen with the heart

Judy Adamson Love is Blind Japan Streaming on Netflix


ne of the most irksome things about reality

shows such as Married At First Sight or The Bachelor is the emphasis placed on looks and the trappings of relationship, rather than the essential element of knowing and valuing the other person. This is something Love is Blind deals with very well. The original US version premiered on Netflix two years ago, and the second season began last month. Late last year a Brazilian version appeared, and now it’s the turn of Japan – a very different cultural and relational dynamic, and all the more interesting because of it. Yes, it’s still “entertainment”, and yes, it’s still an engineered relationship that is supposed to result in marriage. But how a person looks, and the assumptions we instantly (often

unknowingly) make as a result, are completely absent for the initial stage of the relationships that develop through this show. The premise is that 15 men and 15 women spend time talking and listening, one-to-one, in special “pods” that allow them to be comfortable but not to see each other. Those who develop a connection can choose to spend an increasing amount of time “together”. If they become emotionally attached, one of them (usually the man) proposes. Once the couple is engaged, they are allowed to meet for the first time. So, this is the big reveal à la Married At First Sight, but without the ludicrous wedding to a complete stranger. Which is just as well, as the first meetings vary from romantic to just plain awkward. By this stage, there is about a month before the intended Continued on page 31

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