Southern Cross MAY-JUNE 2024

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Truth telling and reconciliation

• Church Army closes Masala and ministry to South Asians

• About Love

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Cooking our way through the CMS prayer diary.

Dinner helps us pray for global mission

This year, our family is not only praying through an overseas mission prayer diary –we’re cooking our way through it.

We wanted to pray more as a family and be more connected with God’s global mission. Plenty of organisations distribute great prayer resources, whether in physical printouts, PDFs or through apps like PrayerMate. We chose to use the Church Missionary Society’s prayer diary, one of the many great options available.

While flicking through it, I noticed how many of the countries had cuisines that I liked to cook or was interested in cooking. I was also reminded of a blog I read years ago about a family who had a weekly mission meal. This family ate beans and rice and prayed for those sharing the gospel in less fortunate countries.

We’re told that one way to develop a new habit successfully is to attach it to an existing one. We are already in the habit of eating dinner together as a

family, and I was in the habit of trying new recipes often.

I wondered: what would happen if we added praying for missionaries to our mealtimes? Would cooking dishes from that country help our family feel more connected with the people we were praying for? Would scheduling it into our weekly meal plan help us do it more frequently?

Like most people, our lives are busy and evenings are often chaotic. But my favourite thing about cooking through the CMS prayer diary this year has been how simple it has been to have a

big impact on our family’s prayer time.

I scribbled recipes our family already enjoyed next to the countries listed in the diary, and searched popular websites for easy recipe ideas. We cooked Singapore noodles while praying for Bible colleges in Singapore, sushi while praying for Japan, and Timorese meatballs when praying for Timor-Leste. We will do schnitzels for Germany, pastizzi for Malta and pasta for Italy. The simpler it is, the more likely we will continue to do it.

The kids get involved as well,

which I love. Our daughters are 2 and 5 years old and sometimes they help me prepare ingredients, mix and stir.

It’s my eldest daughter’s responsibility to put her world globe on the table. We look for the country on the globe over dinner and talk about how far away it is from Australia, what other countries are close to it, and what that country is like. It makes for good dinner time conversation. My husband and I take turns to read out information from the prayer diary, and then we pray for that country at the end of our meal.

I don’t think our family is doing anything special or revolutionary. But since we started mission meals, we’ve talked about overseas mission more and prayed for it more than ever before.

We’re just trying to find small ways to continually teach our children about how much God loves the world and help them to pray for his kingdom to grow. I’m thankful that this is working for us at the moment. SC

Eat and pray: Maxine Sing with the prayer diary and a SE Asian feast.
SouthernCross May-June 2024 volume 30 number 3 Publisher: Anglican Media Sydney PO Box W185 Parramatta Westfield 2150 NSW P: 02 8860 8860 F: 02 8860 8899 E: Managing Editor: Russell Powell Editor: Judy Adamson Art director: Stephen Mason Advertising Manager: Kylie Schleicher P: 02 8860 8850 E: Acceptance of advertising does not imply endorsement. Inclusion of advertising material is at the discretion of the publisher. Subscriptions: Garry Joy P: 02 8860 8861 E: $44.00 per annum (Australia) Printed by: Southern Colour cover image: Maxine helps prepare the weekly mission dinner. Missed the last issue of Southern Cross ? Download here: SHARIN G STORIES OF FAIT H LOV E AN D HOPE
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…proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done Isaiah 12:4a

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The next chapter in Brianna’s life

Russell Powell

The people most excited to see last month’s opening of three homes at Beacon Hill, built by Frenchs Forest Anglican Church, were Lynn Azzopardi and her daughter Brianna.

“Brianna was born with cerebral palsy – she is now 33 years old,” Mrs Azzopardi said. “She lives at home with me and has always wanted to be able to get out on her own like all her brothers and sisters. Each week she gets me to drive past and we’ve been taking photos of it and she just can’t wait. So finally this beautiful thing has happened and she has been so excited. The next chapter in her life – and also a little bit for me as well.”

There is a shortage in most parts of Sydney of speciality disability housing to enable people like Brianna Azzopardi to live on their own. There is especially a shortage in places like the northern beaches, where Miss Azzopardi’s family all live. “She’s wheelchair-bound and can’t do anything on her own

unaided,” Mrs Azzopardi said, as she toured the new home just after it opened. “So it’s amazing that she can now live with her friends and be able to do that with the assistance of carers. It’s already made her grow just in the past eight months, watching this house being built. It was such an opportunity to be able to be offered this position.”

The new homes were built with the assistance of Sydney Anglican Property after Frenchs Forest parish identified the church building at Beacon Hill as no longer suitable.

“It’s not really a good thing that we’re turning church sites into other facilities,” said the rector, the Rev Dave Lanham, adding that the congregation that used to meet at Beacon Hill had declined to a point where it was unsustainable. “And so, we were left with a decision: how can we do good with this location, continuing to honour God and also serve the community?”

In what has been described as a win for both church and

community, the parish will gain income for ministry and some of the neediest in the community will have suitable accommodation.

“This will be their home, and we can continue to build a relationship with them,” Mr Lanham said. “So, it’s not a disconnected activity. We will pray for the people who live here and hopefully, as God enables it, provide an opportunity for them to know more about Jesus. “How will this help our church into the future? It helps by opening our eyes to the community around us. The income that’s going to be provided through this NDIS program, the insurance scheme, will go directly towards our building projects.

“We’ve been growing as a church, and actually, we need new buildings in a fair bit of our site. So it’s not going to be part of our recurrent funding for any ministry activities. We’re setting it aside entirely… to build for the future with all that’s taking place

in this local part of the northern beaches.”

Before he led in prayer and officially opened the units, Archbishop Kanishka Raffel congratulated the parish for its foresight.

“It’s not automatic, you know, that a church will say, ‘Well, let’s do it’,” he said. “It’s a bit frightening and it’s a bit risky and we’re not sure how it’s going to work out. But here is a community of faith led by Dave and his team who said, ‘No, let’s do this for the Lord and for people, our neighbours’. How great that is.”

The Archbishop also praised the assistance given by Sydney Anglican Property and the Sustainable Development Group.

“I was thrilled to hear Lynn’s excitement about her daughter taking this step to independent living,” he said. “I felt really very privileged to meet her and so glad that, as Sydney Anglicans, we’re investing in our local communities and into people’s lives in this wonderful way.”

All smiles: Lynn Azzopardi (centre) and the Rev Dave Lanham (right) hold the ribbon as Archbishop Raffel officially opens the Beacon Hill accommodation.
difference specialist disability housing
SC 4 SouthernCross May-June 2024

The book a government wanted to censor

When the Rev Dr Lionel Windsor set out to write a book on the importance of objective truth in a post-truth world, he never imagined it would be so controversial that a significant overseas government would want to censor it.

Yet before Truth be Told even hit bookstore shelves, it was proving why it was so necessary.

The book was inspired by a deep dive into Ephesians and a quote from former US president Barack Obama. Dr Windsor, a lecturer at Moore College, was struck by Mr Obama’s observations about a world lacking in objective truth.

“Here was someone speaking after 50 to 60 years of postmodern thinking, that’s taken over much of the universities and the way we talk

and think, which has said there is no objective truth,” Dr Windsor says. “But now he’s saying when we get rid of objective truth, it’s a disaster!”

Diving into the way our culture perceives truth, the way postmodern thinking has shifted what we believe to be truth, and the rejection of objective truth, Dr Windsor wrote Truth be Told to hold out hope.

“What we have to offer the world is that truth is personal –not that it’s subjective, but that it’s found in a person: it’s found in God the Father and in Jesus Christ,” he says.


Throughout the writing process, he collected multiple stories from news sources and included many examples of truth-twisting from

countries around the globe.

“As it went off for printing, Matthias Media [my publisher] got in touch to say, ‘The printer would like to change something in the book,’” Dr Windsor recalls.

This was the first of several increasingly substantial requests to edit and amend sections of Truth be Told , both Dr Windsor’s own words and quotes from news sources, that were upsetting a major overseas government.


“Matthias Media and I were in agreement: ‘We can’t make any substantial changes and misrepresent quotations for political purposes. We can’t really make any changes anyway – it’s a book about truth!’” he recalls.

“To write a book about truth and then change things because a government didn’t want us to say [them] would go against the grain of what we were trying to write.”

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The irony of truth censorship: Lionel Windsor reads at Mt Ngauruhoe.
SouthernCross May-June 2024 5
Truth – a message the world desperately needs.

Reconciliation event at Botany Bay.

printer in a different country, with the publishing schedule delayed as a result. Working with a new printer meant establishing new processes and smoothing things out as they went, which pushed the release date back by six months.

“What’s completely ironic is that what I was saying [in the book] is that this foreign government censors things, and that’s an example of the truth problem,” Dr Windsor says. “The foreign government then said to me, ‘You’re not allowed to say that!’. The irony is they censored me talking about censorship.

“I’m just a minister and lecturer in Sydney. All I’m doing is teaching people to be ministers of the gospel, and I’ve written a book as part of that. But suddenly, here is a foreign government saying, you’re not allowed to say these things.”


The main thrust of the book isn’t about foreign governments, although they are mentioned as examples.

“We talk a lot about truth problems in the Western world,” Dr Windsor says. “We’ve lost our idea of objective truth… [We] think truth is subjective and we look inside ourselves for truth. But people see this is hopeless; we need something outside of ourselves – objective truth.

“What we have as Christians is the gospel, the truth that transforms and changes us. What I want is Christians to hold on to the truth and live out the truth against the current of the world.

“As Christians, we have this personal truth in Jesus. We hold onto it, hold it out to others, and are committed to living lives of truth and faithfulness. Printing events have reinforced that this is not just in the West, but it is something Christians can offer the entire world.” SC

Pastors join ‘truth telling’

“We’re all one under God the

Russell Powell

Indigenous church leaders joined members of several Sydney churches in March for a reconciliation event at Kamay Botany Bay, the site of the first encounter between Lieutenant James Cook and the Gweagal people in 1770.

It is one of a number of nationwide events following the failure of the Voice to Parliament referendum last year, and aims to acknowledge the shared history of Indigenous and nonIndigenous Australians.

With the support of elders and the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, speakers shared specific wrongdoings since colonisation. But there were also messages of hope from veteran Indigenous campaigners such as the Rev Ray Minniecon and elder Ossie Cruse MBE AM.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, so it belongs –everything belongs – to him, the Creator,” Pastor Cruse said. “I love this country and… and I love

the people of this country. And we all belong, connected to each other… we should never forget that. And I don’t want to see our nation come apart in discussing the pigment of our skin. The fact is that we’re all one and under God, the Creator.”

The Rev Michael Duckett spoke of colonial massacres in the Campbelltown area where he now ministers, and his personal experience with the Stolen Generations.

“Sadly, many of our people have passed not knowing where their land was, not knowing their families, and that really hurts me and saddens me,” he told the crowd. “So this pathway we’re on here, with recognition, if it leads to enabling people to find their roots, not just in this country but to their families, I think that’s a bonus.”

Mr Duckett, who also chairs the Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples Ministry Committee, says the effects of the Appin

massacre of 1816 are still being felt. “There’s nobody there [in Campbelltown] from the traditional lands… there’s very few, because it’s been inundated by all these different tribes and different regions all over Australia, which means there’s a lot of conflict, people from different lands,” he said. “So the side-effects of the dispossession, the massacres, just in Campbelltown – let alone here in Sydney – is continuation of desolation to my people, brokenness, hopelessness.

“And it sounds very depressing, I’m sorry. But I can say that in the midst of all that, like Uncle Os said, God loves us, and his purpose is to draw all men unto himself through his son Jesus Christ.

“So that’s my hope, and I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen it firsthand, the power of God coming into someone’s life who is broken and lives in despair and then to find hope and a future.” SC

Creator”: Pastor Ossie Cruse with the Rev Michael Duckett. photo: Unity Light Films
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“Be the servant leaders”

At the start of the 2024 Youthworks College graduation, principal the Rev Mike Dicker described his students as “a great bunch, who have been through the kind of trials that have built them to be the robust kind of ministers that we want in our churches”.

These trials included the years of COVID lockdowns and disrupted learning, which forged a bond in the student community evident at the graduation event, held in Marcus Loane Hall at Moore College in March.

Graduate Luke Graham, youth minister at Canterbury, said, “One thing that really stood out to me in the last few years has been sitting in chapel and looking around at the people who are here and imagining the years of ministry that are ahead of us – whether vocational or not – and thinking about the accumulated amount of time that, together, these people will spend serving the Lord in so many different ways.

“Looking around at the faces who are graduating... getting to know these people over the last two or three years just gives me so much hope for what God might do in our city and beyond as God takes the gospel [out] through these people.”

The children and families minister at Berkeley Life Centre

south of Wollongong, Samantha Trotter, said, “Most of our cohort loved Youthworks so much that we came for three years instead of the typical two!

“When I first came, I was like, ‘Oh, I already have friends. It’d be great to get to know people, but, you know, whatever’. But humbly under God, some of the people have become my greatest friends, and all of them are people who I can now walk alongside in ministry for the rest of our lives, and that’s really special.”

The 33 graduates were urged to keep serving by Dr Edwina Murphy from the Australian College of Theology, of which Youthworks is an affiliate.

“Be the servant leaders and, even when it’s tough, keep going,” she said. “Be joyful. There is joy in sacrifice, but joy should not be sacrificed.”

In his address, the director of the Ministry Training Strategy, Ben Pfhalert, pointed out that the culture of society is not servant-hearted.

“We do not live in a society that wants to sacrifice,” he said. “So, if you want to have a heart like Jesus, you will not fit in. You will receive resistance from many quarters. It may come from family [or] people who think that you have ‘thrown away a perfectly good career’.”

Many of the graduates go on to positions in churches and Christian organisations around Sydney and Wollongong, but others are continuing in secular employment while being involved in church lay ministry. The college’s reach is also wider than NSW.

Dean of Women, Ruth Lukabyo, said: “Youthworks College

doesn’t just teach students face to face, but we also have online students, and they’re a delight to teach.

“They are all over the country, and there’s actually some overseas students from Malaysia and the Seychelles… It’s lovely to see the way that Youthworks College is blessing and training people from everywhere.” SC

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The class of 2024: New graduates from Youthworks College pose with their certificates. More than 30 students graduate from Youthworks College.
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SouthernCross May-June 2024 7

101 stories of study

“Nobody studies alone at Moore College and certainly nobody successfully completes a course of study on their own,” acting principal the Rev Dr Simon Gillham told the audience at this year’s graduation ceremony. “There’ll be 101 different sets of stories of all the support that’s gone behind a successful completion of studies for those who are graduating today.”

Online diplomas to PhDs were celebrated by the crowd in the City Recital Hall as students received their awards. Twenty had completed the Diploma of Biblical Theology, including Dr Su-Lin Chong – who has just been appointed honorary secretary to the Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia – and Jude Marie, currently attached to St Paul’s Cathedral in the Anglican Diocese of Seychelles.

A further 18 students received the advanced Diploma of Bible, Mission and Ministry, a course that aims to provide a biblical foundation for lay ministry in a congregation or a Christian organisation, so graduates can be better equipped as Christians in the workforce.

After three years of full-time study, another 20 students received a Bachelor of Theology degree, while two students were awarded the Associate Degree of Theology (two years).

The Bachelor of Divinity (BD) forms the core of the college’s academic program, providing the opportunity for students to specialise in the biblical languages of Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew as well as having a strong emphasis on Christian Scripture, Christian thought and Christian practice.

One of the 29 graduates, Hosea Luy, was interviewed and spoke of growing up in Minto in southwestern Sydney, and his path to full-time ministry.

“My parents, they’re refugees from Cambodia and very thankfully and fortunately they became Christians in a refugee camp in Thailand,” he said. “The people who invested in me over the years, mentored me, they’d all gone to Moore College… I’ve been so thankful for the community of college, and that includes people that I’ve met for the first time at college –whether that be in prayer groups or studying alongside them.”

Hosea and his wife Jess have moved to St Michael’s Cathedral in Wollongong where Hosea will be an assistant minister, taking care of the morning family congregation and the Easy English congregation.

Six candidates achieved a Master of Arts in Theology and two were granted PhDs. PhD graduate Vivian Cheung serves at St Phil’s, Caringbah with her husband and also lectures at Youthworks College. “I ended up doing a Master’s thesis on ‘calling’ in 1 Corinthians,” she told the gathering. “I still couldn’t work out the answer and so my PhD topic was the ‘calling’ motif in Romans because I think that’s where the answer lies.”

Dr Cheung hopes her work will be used for God’s glory. “Academically, [calling] is something that hasn’t been explored much at all in the Pauline scholarship and so I’m hoping that it might start conversations. And in terms of… people who want to do ministry, I actually want to encourage them to work out what Paul is saying about calling. “We often are so focused with the terms of calling – about our tasks and our function – when I think it is actually much more about relationship and what God has given us by his grace.”


Two college staff, the Rev Dr Paul Grimmond and the Rev Dr Archie Poulos, were recognised for higher awards earned at other institutions.

Dr Grimmond, who is the Dean of Students, obtained a Doctor of Ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His major research project was an eight-week program designed to help Christian preachers develop appropriate applications in preaching.

Dr Poulos is head of Moore’s ministry department and graduated from the University of Western Sydney. The work for his PhD thesis, “The

Assessment of Professional Leadership Competency with Application to Faith-Based Settings”, has already been used to help identify better alignment between people and roles in the Diocese, and develop more specific training pathways for people in Christian leadership.

Former college lecturer the Rev Dr Ed Loane gave the address and spoke about perseverance in ministry, using the example of colonial chaplain Richard Johnson – “a man who knew how to face difficulties in ministry”.

“There will be difficulties and there will be dangers ahead of you,” Dr Loane added. “There will be temptations and there will be things pulling you away. Richard Johnson didn’t deny those things were there, but his belief in God’s work – that it was God’s work, not ours – his effort to proclaim Christ, not himself, his focus on the eternal, not the temporary… put all of those fears in perspective and they enabled him to face those challenges with courage.

“That’s the DNA that began ministry in this country, that’s the DNA that’s ingrained in a Moore College education and that will be the backbone of you persevering in the years ahead. I trust that you will have that DNA in you, too.”

“God’s work, not ours”: Moore College graduates join together in song at their graduation ceremony. photo: Tim Robinson, World View Productions Moore graduates sent out with ministry “DNA”.
SC 8 SouthernCross May-June 2024

Mark Drama pulls in the crowds

Staging The Mark Drama continues to provoke interest, with more than 300 people watching a recent performance.

Performed in universities, colleges and churches, the show turns Mark’s biographical account of Jesus into a 90-minute, theatre-in-the-round production where the audience is fully immersed in the action.

“I was so encouraged by the number of people who came over two days to hear who Jesus was,” says Chichi Soboya, who co-directed the event at Moore College with fellow student David Adams. “I was particularly encouraged by all the people who came from Facebook ads, but also people that just came from walk-up invites.”

Ms Soboya first acted in The

Mark Drama while she was in Dubai, and then came to Canberra and trained as a director of the show while working with AFES.

“We had a girl who came from a casual conversation, a mother and her teenage son who saw it on Facebook and two Chinese visitors – with no Christian background – who followed the translation on a phone,” she says. “There were non-Christian friends and family who came to support the cast members and many, many conversations about the gospel afterwards. Please continue to pray for us as we proclaim the gospel through The Mark Drama.”

Cast member Jess, who played a Pharisee, says it was a great opportunity to invite

non-Christian friends from her previous workplace.

“They found it really helpful to see the book of Mark from start to end, and even took a book of Mark home, which was exciting,” she says. “They shared that they actually felt mad at me because they saw how much Jesus had

to suffer for us. They got to understand more of why Jesus had to die for us.”

The impact is lingering on after the event, with another first-time actor reading Mark’s Gospel with an Anglicare aged care home resident. “Her hearing isn’t great and I can’t quite do a Bible study with a 90-year-old the way I could with a 20-yearold,” the actor says. “But I’ve been reading Mark in a slower, more dramatic way for her to take it in.

“I keep getting flashbacks to when we did The Mark Drama and it’s helping me read it with more liveliness and realness. I am trusting that, as God used the words of Mark in the drama, he will use his words again for her.” SC

Hundreds watch gospel dramatisation at Moore College.
Many gospel conversations: Chichi Soboya (left) and Jess.

Church Army Australia taps out



After the best part of a century of ministry across the nation, 2024 will mark the final year of the Church Army in Australia.

“In recent years the only ministry being undertaken by the Church Amy in Australia has been through Kihilla retreat and conference centre,” says Captain Tim Scheuer.

“Prior to this, numerous attempts had been made to revitalise Church Army’s ministry. However, it became obvious that God’s blessing was not on these efforts and so the board made the decision to formally wind up the ministry.”

Captain Scheuer, who has served with CA for almost


40 years and was its national director from 2003-2010, says, “It’s hard to let something go that has been so integral to my sense of calling and identity. For years I thought I’d die as a Church Army officer. However, it’s important to recognise seasons,

and to know that God’s gifting and calling isn’t dependent on a specific organisation”.

Church Army began in London in 1882 through the ministry of Wilson Carlile, who sought to bring the good news of Jesus to those who normally wouldn’t

darken the door of a church.

The organisation’s history tells that Mr Carlile hosted weeknight gatherings “for the rough and rowdy lads of the district, using comical lantern shows and music to attract and entertain them followed by a devotional

little different”: The opening of Berkeley’s Church Army mission centre, with Wayne “Punisher” Pickford in purple. Give t oday Help send the hope of Jesus to the ends of the earth “...God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” COLOSSIANS 1:27 10 SouthernCross May-June 2024

message and an opportunity to receive Christ. Many did”.

Mr Carlile found that some of the men and women who turned to Jesus were more effective at reaching the people than he, and this was the beginning of the Church Army.

The organisation officially began in Australia in 1934, at a meeting hosted by the then Archbishop of Sydney, Howard Mowll. However, a team of UK officers had been running a mission for three years before this, preaching the gospel in every state and territory – in the open air, in parishes, among farm workers and door to door.

Thousands of people had come to faith during this time, so there was support for the

establishment of Church Army Australia from every bishop in the country.

First Nations men and women are among those who have served with CA Australia, including the nation’s first Indigenous bishop, Arthur Malcolm, who was commissioned as an evangelist in 1959 and had a particular ministry to Brewarrina, his local people of Yarrabah, and Palm Island.

In addition, the church at Berkeley Life Centre south of Wollongong, supported by Evangelism & New Churches, began in 2006 as a mission centre under the auspices of Church Army Australia when its minister, former wrestler the Rev Wayne Pickford, was

commissioned as a Church Army captain.

A mission team of people from the parishes of Dapto and Shellharbour City Centre doorknocked regularly to share the hope of the gospel with Berkeley locals.

Says Mr Pickford: “Normally you did commissioning services in a church building [with] choirs. We had a wrestling ring out the front... we had a jumping castle, we had a band. That was sort of the sign that this church is going to be a little different than the other churches!

“It’s not a short-term fix, because one of the blokes who comes to our church, he was visited for 4½ years every Thursday until he came to

church. Christians have to be around non-Christians long enough to do that sort of stuff.”

The organisation’s chairman, former Sydney rector the Rev Tom Melbourne, adds: “We want to praise God for all he has done through the ministry of Church Army Australia across 90 years. Only in glory will we truly be able to see the eternal impact that Church Army’s officers have had as they have shared the gospel across Australia.

“While it is of course sad to recognise that CA Australia has run its course... we also want to rejoice that this was a movement God used to do great good.” SC See the “celebration” advertisement below for details of the thanksgiving service on May 25 in Lawson.

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“This was a movement God used to do great good”: (clockwise from top left) Hop-picking ministry in 1930s Tasmania; Stockton beach mission, 1930s; a young Arthur Malcolm (who became Australia’s first Indigenous bishop) talks to some Brewarrina locals, 1960s; staff in the Church Army plane, 1980s.

Newtown church clocks up 150

A parish that was so small 50 years ago it didn’t even celebrate its church’s centenary, last month joyfully gave thanks through the word, music, prayer and song for the building’s 150 years of ministry in Newtown.

“It was a fabulous celebration,” says the rector of Newtown and Erskineville, the Rev Dr Andrew Errington. “The church was pretty full, we had a whole bunch of people connected to the church in the past come back –which was wonderful – and the day was just full of joy.

“The really wonderful thing about the celebration from my point of view is it played a part in enabling the community to have a sense of real ownership of the building.”

The church of St Stephen’s – a Gothic revival, Edmund Blacket-designed building constructed between 1871 and 1874 – replaced the original church (built in 1844), because Newtown was growing so quickly.

While the suburb is now a pretty secular place, the organisers of the sesquicentenary celebrations sought to include events that

would appeal to a wide range of people and “showcase the building” to the community: a performance of Handel’s Messiah just before Easter with profession musicians; a history of deaconesses at Newtown (including the first in the Diocese, Mary Schleicher); and a special service of evensong on April 9 – the anniversary itself –using the Book of Common Prayer, as would have been done 150 years ago.

One of the readings chosen for the evensong was 1 Corinthians 3:10-17, also used at the laying of the church’s foundation stone in 1871: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (v11).

The major celebration on Sunday, April 7 was attended by the Governor of NSW, Her

Excellency the Hon Margaret Beazley, as well as Bishop Michael Stead, the acting principal of Moore College the Rev Dr Simon Gillham and a college mission team. Lunch followed, set up on tables flowing right through the adjoining cemetery.


Extraordinarily, after many ups and downs in the church’s life (which included only six locals at the induction of part-time rector the Rev Alan Nichols in 1974), Dr Errington says there was a plan to move the church, brick by brick, to Canberra and rebuild it as the national cathedral. Thankfully Mr Nichols, who was also working full-time for the Anglican Press Service (now Anglican Media) while at Newtown, began a period of renewal in the church so that, in 1979, the idea was finally shelved.

Because of what Dr Errington calls the “wild ride” of its history, he observes that the 150-yearold church, and its congregation, feels very young. But he rejoices in knowing “that the ministry we’re engaged in now is very

similar to the kind of ministry when the church began.

“Robert Taylor, who was the rector when the church was built, was a really Reformed and evangelical fellow, and the church bears the mark of that in a number of ways. So, we had a sense of the church returning to its roots, which is a really lovely story to be able to tell.”

This sense of keeping to the truths of God’s word over time was also the theme of Dr Errington’s sermon from Hebrews 10 at the Sunday celebration – especially in giving thanks to our faithful, promisekeeping God:

“Although a place of worship cannot, and must not, be the source of our confidence to approach God, it can and should be a marker of the work of God by his Spirit. A church building is a tangible, visible expression of a community’s faith, an outward sign of its confidence that by the blood of Jesus ‘a new and living way’ has been opened.

“A church building is not a temple of God; but it can be a sign that there is such a temple: that God’s Spirit dwells in us because of Jesus Christ.” SC

Judy Adamson “A fabulous celebration”: Lunch tables spread throughout the cemetery next to St Stephen’s, Newtown; below, the Rev Andrew Errington. “Wild ride” inner west ministry since 1874.
12 SouthernCross May-June 2024

The enterprise of Africa, for the Lord

Judy Adamson

The link between Sydney and the work of African Enterprise is continuing, with teaching of the Preliminary Theological Certificate relaunched under the AE umbrella.

COVID brought these training visits to a halt, but this month the Rev Stephen Liggins, senior assistant minister at Springwood, and the Rev Shane Dirks, senior assistant at Figtree, will travel to Zimbabwe to teach PTC intensives in Harare.

Mr Liggins, who taught PTC in Kenya, Uganda and Malawi with AE from 2003-2014, said the aim is “to get untrained African Christian leaders, or African leaders who haven’t had much training... and put them through the six Level 1 PTC subjects over a couple of years”.

The Rev Chris Jones from Windsor will travel to Harare in October to continue the work. The hope is that locals associated with AE who already have a good theological education will help facilitate the teaching at other times.

“We would love it if the teaching ended up being a combination of us and the people in Zimbabwe,” Mr Liggins says.

“Shane and I are really excited to be part of this initiative. The African church is large but many of its leaders haven’t had the chance to get much training. If we can assist with that it not only helps them but their churches and the wider church in Africa.

“When I’ve gone in the past, people certainly have been greatly helped by having good theology taught to them well, but I have learned a lot from Christians in Africa in the areas of evangelism, prayer and hospitality... I find them quite inspiring.”

AE has partnered with Moore College’s Centre for Global Mission for more than 20 years, teaching the PTC all over Africa – including to the current CEO of African Enterprise in Australasia, the Rev Simba Musvamhiri, who has since earned a Masters in theology.

At a recent fundraising dinner for AE in Sydney, Mr Musvamhiri thanked those present for their fellowship in the gospel, their giving and their “prayers for the glory of Jesus” across Africa, but particularly in Juba, South Sudan, where AE will run a mission in October.


African Enterprise seeks to resource and equip churches to evangelise cities across Africa, using what it terms “stratified evangelism”.

A mission takes up to 18 months to plan, implement and follow up – including mapping the city and ensuring each section has a trained group of pastors and laypeople from local partner churches ready to share the gospel.

Archbishop Kanishka Raffel, one of the speakers at the fundraising event, said he loved AE’s strategy of “gospel proclamation into every level of society: government and business and the military; shopkeepers, factory workers and prisoners; young people in universities and schools and

on the streets, in the parks and townships”.

He recalled hearing the South African founder of African Enterprise, Michael Cassidy, speak at the University of Sydney in 1986, shortly after he had become a Christian. He was struck by Mr Cassidy’s desire to help the victims of apartheid –and transform their oppressors – through the gospel of Jesus.

“I went away from that meeting thinking that following Jesus was going to be as big as the world; and that following Jesus was the hope of the world,” Archbishop Raffel said, adding: “The opportunity to partner in the gospel with African Enterprise is a precious privilege of fellowship with brothers and sisters whom we may never meet until we get to heaven.

“But how glorious it will be – how glorious it will be – to meet those who came there because of the ministry of African Enterprise in which we partnered in prayer and giving! What a glory and a reward that will be.” SC

For more about AE, including prayer diaries or the opportunity to donate, see

SouthernCross May-June 2024 13
Partnership in the gospel: African Enterprise mission in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2022; below, Archbishop Raffel speaks at the AE dinner.

Care after losing a loved one

Judy Adamson

Six months after her beloved husband Peter died of motor neurone disease, an advertisement popped up on Beth Riley’s Facebook feed for a GriefShare course at Panania Anglican Church. Knowing this was a “God moment”, she signed up immediately.

“I knew I needed help,” she says. “[Peter’s three-year illness] had been a frenzied time –caring for him in every aspect, organising health professionals and support workers, visitors, keeping family updated... I made an appointment with a local psychologist who gave me a few strategies, but I knew I needed a Christian perspective.”

She joined a group of men and women – some Christian, others not – who met every Sunday afternoon for three months, with the course facilitated by the rector of Panania, the Rev Jon Guyer.

“The real power is sitting in a room with a dozen people who’ve all lost someone dear to them – just talking with people who get it and understand what grief is,” he says.

“No-one’s experience of grief is the same, but there’s enough

of a baseline that everyone appreciates that experience of being with others who know and understand.

“It’s also a thoroughly Christian course. It is the Bible plus the reflection on your relationship with God. It normalises being part of a church but includes some very specific stuff about the trouble for someone grieving when they are part of a church – the difficulty of going back to church for the first time without your loved one to sit next to.”

GriefShare is a video course, with a workbook, created and hosted by US evangelical couple Nancy and David Guthrie, who lost two of their children to a rare metabolic disorder and produced the course to help others navigate life after loss.

Mr Guyer says he ran the course in his previous parish of Wentworth Falls “because, after COVID, we had a number of people who hadn’t had the chance to grieve for people they had lost… I thought there must be some material out there and I found GriefShare. Then I realised Nancy Guthrie hosted it and it gave me a lot of confidence.”

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Mrs Riley, who attends church in Menangle, says GriefShare participants had “homework” questions between each session, discussing their answers in the group before watching a video where others experiencing grief shared their own challenges and how they had begun to recover from them.

“It was relatable in a headnodding way,” she says. “Those people were articulating what I could not. Finally, someone else ‘got it’. We would finish the session discussing the video and end with prayer. It was such a comfort to meet weekly with people who were also grieving, to hear their varied stories of sorrow, and to support and encourage one another.

“Perhaps the most valued lesson I learned was that grief is not something to ‘get over’, but rather something to acknowledge, to remember our loved one, and to grow and to find resilience and hope. Hope in Jesus. Hope for a new life ahead both on earth and in heaven.”

Mr Guyer notes that

psychologists have had a good deal of input into the GriefShare videos and he regards the content as very practical.

“There’s a lot of wisdom for how to engage with grief and get yourself out of being stuck in grief – advice like don’t be rushed into getting rid of all your spouse’s clothes after they’ve passed, don’t make any big life decisions in the next six months: don’t sell your house or quit your job. Give it some time.

“One last benefit is that [the course] does have an evangelistic edge, it does explain the gospel – not just as an add-on, but as part of the real hope there is in finding meaning, even in the face of death.

“I pray more churches are able to run the course, just like most Anglican churches offer premarital counselling. My dream is that it becomes a standard part of making funeral arrangements – family members being referred to a local GriefShare group where they can receive Christcentred care and practical tips for this difficult season.” SC

most valued lesson I learned was that grief wasn’t something to ‘get over’: Recent widow Beth Riley with the Rev Jon Guyer.
GriefShare offers support.
14 SouthernCross May-June 2024

All-in evangelism focus in Macarthur region

A desire for a greater focus on evangelism in the lead-up to Easter resulted in a mega collaboration between parishes in the Macarthur region and Evangelism & New Churches. There was a desire to work smarter, not harder, with collaboration the key to reaching their area with the gospel.

Joining forces isn’t a new idea but when the Rev Joshua Johnston, rector of Minto, saw potential for an all-in approach to Easter evangelism, he suggested it to his fellow Macarthur parishes.

“There seems to be a desire amongst all of us to raise the temperature of evangelism,” he says. “I thought, why don’t we tap into the enthusiasm that’s already there and focus around Easter?”


Evangelism & New Churches (ENC) was asked to run evangelism workshops across the region. Four evenings were hosted by different churches in the Campbelltown local government area, equipping people to share the gospel with friends, family and neighbours. Sarah Seabrook, trainer and evangelist with ENC, ran two of the workshops, focusing on welcoming and the effective follow-up of visitors.

“[They] have put evangelism on the agenda, front and centre,” Mrs Seabrook says. “You clearly and up front say: ‘This is God’s work and we want to be involved. We think it’s so important that we’re going to gather all together in our Mission Area and with

the people up the road from us. We’re better together’.”

Enthusiasm for the training was greater than expected.

“I printed 80 flyers thinking that would cut it and we ran out at the first event at Oran Park!” laughs the Rev Jim Douglass, senior minister at Narellan. “I’d say we had 200 people at each event for evangelism training... People loved that we were doing something together.”


The Macarthur-wide mission used material adapted from the UK, with churches opting in with regard to their level of involvement.

In addition to ENC training, letterbox dropping and the distribution of resources and materials, there was a combined

effort to pray for one another.

“People were very positive about praying for each other’s churches.” Mr Johnston says .

“I don’t think that’s something we do very often, but after the first week I got a bunch of comments [from my congregation] saying it was so refreshing and helpful to pray for another church’s efforts. We’re concerned about the whole area and praying for the saints of Narellan, Ingleburn, Campbelltown, etc.

“God has brought us into partnership with one another. We might meet separately, but there’s a real unity in Christ.

“We wanted to see it as kingdom growth, whatever growth comes. If people ended up at Menangle or Minto or Leppington, we didn’t care. We cared about people hearing

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about Jesus and coming to faith.”

For Mr Johnston, success was seeing people excited about sharing the gospel.

“If we can get more people excited to share Jesus across our churches, that’s a win,” he says. “Let’s start planting the seed that the mission field is vast, Jesus is coming back, now is the time of amnesty. Let’s get out there with boldness and share the gospel. Wouldn’t it be a win if the legacy we left our churches with was making our churches more evangelistic?”

The enthusiasm for evangelism also delights Mrs Seabrook.

“We want to partner with churches who think it’s important,” she says. “If ENC is set aside in the Diocese to work in evangelism and equip evangelists, then please use us! We are here for the churches...

Getting us involved is the most obvious next step, because evangelism and keeping evangelism on the agenda is our bread and butter.” SC

Explainer: Conversion Practices Bill

NSW Parliament passed the Conversion Practices Ban Act on March 22. It seeks to ban “conversion practices”, defined as anything directed to changing or suppressing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

When does it take effect?

The bill is now law. However, it is not retrospective so any activity before March 22, 2024 would not fall under the new law.

What practices are banned?

This has yet to be tested but, in theory, to be dealt with under this law a practice must involve sustained pressure directed towards “changing or suppressing” someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Does this mean Christians cannot comment or speak to anyone about same-sex or gender issues? No. Religious teaching, encouraging someone

to follow religious teaching and parents speaking to their children about same-sex attraction or gender issues are part of the exemptions to the laws. Prayer is also exempt.

Freedom for Faith has listed the exemptions here: https:// nsw-conversion-practiceslegislation/

There have been reports that church leaders were happy with this bill. Is that true? No. Church leaders were part of the consultations but wanted further changes. These include clarification of the term “suppression” and the extension of family exemptions beyond parental “discussion”.

Did the Anglican Church speak out about this law?

Bishop Michael Stead (who chairs the Freedom for Faith

alliance) was part of the closeddoor discussions organised by the Government. Bishop Stead made media comments as did Archbishop Raffel. The Archbishop’s comments in The Daily Telegraph are reproduced here: https://sydneyanglicans. net/news/no-agreement-onleast-worst-laws/

What has the Sydney Diocese said about conversion practices?

Sydney Synod in 2018 expressed its opposition to harmful “conversion therapies” that had occurred in the past. It noted that the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Sydney does not practise, recommend or endorse “gay conversion therapy”.

However, the initial consultation paper for the new laws provided no direct evidence of conversion practices, such as these, continuing in NSW. SC


Research shows that when people move into a new area (just like this one at Oran Park) they are open to all sorts of new things. Of course, they are on the lookout for a new hairdresser, butcher, and park for the kids to play in, but at the same time, people in transition are more open to the outreach of a gospel community. And this has been shown at NewLife Anglican Church, Oran Park.

That’s why at NCNC, with your help, we’re building more gospel communities in greenfield areas of Sydney. God is at work in these places!

New suburbs are springing up all the time and people are moving into their new homes day-by-day...


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~ Rev. Stuart Starr Why are “conversion practices” in the news?
16 SouthernCross May-June 2024

How to give away your gifts

The words of Jesus in Matthew 10:8 are characteristically simple, logical and compelling: “Freely you have received; freely give”.

As Jesus commissions the disciples for their first solo mission, the context of his instructions is very specific. They are to proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom and he has given them authority to do as he himself has been doing – healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing lepers and casting out demons. What they have received from the Lord in great abundance – good news and the authority of the King to do his work – they are to give lavishly and generously.

At this point in his ministry, Jesus limits the field of mission to his own Jewish countrymen and women (Matthew 10:5-6). Only at the end of Matthew’s gospel do we hear the Lord authorise the mission to “all nations”, which is to occupy his disciples “to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

But encapsulated in Jesus’ words is a dynamic that operates widely in the Christian life. Everything we have is the gift of God; all that we have received we are to give/use/pursue for God’s glory.

Jesus is speaking specifically of the disciples having received the gift of the gospel of the kingdom and authority for mission. But the Scriptures teach that all of life is the gift of God. Jesus commissions his disciples to give of what they have received freely, generously, abundantly. And the Christian is to give of what they have received for the glory of God.

The Scriptures exhort the believer to delight in the gifts of God and rejoice in his works (Ps 104). The warmth of the sun and the glory of the created world, the food on our table and clothes on our back (Matt 6:25-34), marriage and children (Ps 127), work and rest (Gen 2:1-2, 15), health and wealth (Eccl 5:18-20; Ps 103:15), sickness and sorrow and persecutions (1 Thess 5:16-18) – as well as “spiritual” realities like salvation, the Spirit and the Word, adoption and our heavenly home – are all gifts of God. Equally, Scripture teaches us that everything we have, and do, and are, is

for God’s glory (Eph 1:6, 12, 14; Rom 12:1; Col 3:17).

To put it another way, we receive breath and food for today from God, so life and energy is to be devoted to the glory of God. Marriage is a gift from God to be pursued in hope and trust and prayer for the praise of his glory and not merely for personal, let alone temporary, happiness. Children are a gift from the Lord so they are to be raised in the reverent knowledge and instruction of the Lord. They will account to him for their lives but those who are parents and those who have influence in the lives of children will give account for our child-rearing.

If we work at something, whether for a wage or not, it is the gift of God and we are to pursue the work of our hands, not as though we were serving an earthly master, let alone a personal goal, but so as to please the One who gives us “power to work”. And when we are blessed with seasons of rest and recreation, to enjoy the creation and the company of family and friends, we are to both receive the gift of a holiday with thankfulness and joy, and to pursue it for the glory of the One who has blessed us so abundantly.

Is it your practice to acknowledge each day as the gift of God? To welcome the hours, the conversations, the opportunities and challenges, the responsibilities and blessings of each day as nothing less than gifts from the hand of our heavenly Father? Scripture teaches us, too, to recognise that even the sorrows and trials of life are appointed by God and “given” to us to be received with trust and hope, for they make us long for the new creation, our true home, in a way that we never would if we were spared every hardship.

And is it your practice to give back to God what he has given to you, for his use, his purposes, his glory? To pursue the day, to live life, to enter into my marriage, my parenting, my friendships, my work, my leisure with a prayerful intention to bless others, to celebrate the goodness of God, to please and glorify him? Freely we have received; let us freely, generously, joyfully give, to the praise of his glorious grace. SC

One of the key dynamics of the Christian life.
SouthernCross May-June 2024 17
Kanishka Raffel Archbishop writes

Confident faith

We have four teenage sons and we are in the phase of life where, as they each turn 16, we are teaching them to drive.

I am learning that teaching teenage boys how to drive is an exercise in reining in their self-confidence. This came home to me one Friday night as I was driving home with my son and he was pulling into our driveway, which has a very tight turn. I calmly said, “You’re not going to make it”, to which he replied, “It’s okay, Dad, trust me. I’ve got this”. He didn’t.

Peter Orr
18 SouthernCross May-June 2024
Moore College

False confidence in that case was annoying – very annoying! But it was hardly a matter of life or death. False confidence in spiritual matters is obviously much more serious. What if we are basing our entire life on a lie?

Paul considers this in a thought experiment in 1 Corinthians 15:32, when he reasons that, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’”.

Maybe you have gone through a period of doubt as a Christian. Maybe you have been confronted with the possibility that everything you believe might be false and that you are wasting your life. Maybe that describes where you are right now. Maybe you know people struggling with those kinds of doubts.

In this article I want to consider how the Gospel of Luke can help us. In his introduction, Luke declares that he is writing to give his reader – Theophilus – confidence. Not just confidence in general, but confidence or certainty about the things Theophilus has been taught (1:4). As we read the book, it can give us the same confidence.

First, Luke tells us that what he has written is worth reading: “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us” (1:1). What have the “many” done before Luke wrote his work? This language of “drawing up an account” does not necessarily have to refer to writing a full gospel (like Mark or Matthew). It can simply refer to composing partial written fragments or even speeches.

It is likely that Luke is here speaking about material such as hymns (e.g. Phil 2:5-11), gospel summaries (e.g. 1 Cor 15:1-8) – even speeches (e.g. Acts 2:14-36). In fact, he uses a related word to the word for “narrative” a few times in the gospel and in Acts to describe people verbally relating something that has happened.

In stressing that many have been communicating about this, he is emphasising that what he is writing about is something that is worth writing about. Lots of people have already been interested in communicating it. It is not an obscure topic. The content of his book is significant and important. And 2000 years later we can see the truth of what Luke writes – the effects of the gospel of Jesus continue to reverberate.

In Acts – Luke’s second volume – he records people describing the apostles as “men who have caused trouble all over the world” (17:6). The books of Luke and Acts narrate events that turned the world upside down. Just that fact alone can give us confidence in the truth of the gospel. Barely 30 years after Jesus had ascended, the message of the gospel was beginning to change the world.

Second, what he has written is based on eyewitness accounts, “just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Luke 1:2)

Where were you – if you are old enough to remember – when you heard about the September 11 attacks? I had just come out of a lunchtime service in a church in London when I heard the news of what had happened in New York. But can I really trust my memory? A few years ago, Malcolm Gladwell did a series of podcasts on memory and he referenced a study where they asked people to record where they were when they heard about the terrorist attacks. Over the next 20 years, people’s recollections changed – rather than sitting in their living room watching the TV, 10 years later they were convinced that they had been watching at a neighbour’s house. And they were so strongly convinced that they would refuse to believe what they had recorded 10 years earlier. They were convinced that what they had written at the time – just days after the events – was wrong. Gladwell argued

Put your confidence in the right things.

that it shows that memory is an inherently faulty thing and can’t be relied upon.

What does that mean for our confidence in the apostolic witness? Can we really trust their memories? If we were to give a fuller theological answer, we would look at John’s Gospel and Jesus’s promise that the Holy Spirit would undergird their memory (14:26).

But even when we look at these contemporary studies, it turns out that they don’t apply if you were directly impacted by the events – if you lost a loved one that day or you were an eyewitness, your memory stays absolutely consistent, even 20 years later.

The book Luke has written is based on the testimony of eyewitnesses: eyewitnesses who later became servants of the word. People who were both there and were directly impacted by the events. His account is based on their testimony. And it is not as if Luke himself is a dispassionate observer.

Third, what he has written has not remained at arm’s length: “since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3).

What did Luke do before he began to write? Did Luke simply sit in an ancient library and pore over written sources? This is what the Greek historian Polybius said about that kind of historical work:

Book-based research is free of risk and hardship – or at least it is if you ensure that you find yourself either a city where there are plenty of historical works available, or a nearby library. Then all you have to do is recline on a couch while carrying out your research and collating the statements of earlier writers, and there is no hardship involved in that.

By contrast, Luke indicates that he was much more involved. The language he uses of following closely is used in 1 Timothy

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(4:6) and 2 Timothy (3:10) to speak of how Timothy followed Paul’s teaching and example. Luke is an involved historian. He writes as a disciple, from the inside. As such, he is not just interested in Did it happen? but Does it work?

He knows what he writes is true because he knows its impact on his own life. He is not simply writing about something that has had no effect on him. He is writing about something that he is caught up in. The truthfulness and accuracy of what he is writing about matters to him as much as it does to Theophilus because he writes as a follower.

And so, Luke concludes the introduction to his book. He has written so that Theophilus “may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:4).

This is not just confidence in general, but so Theophilus will be more confident – more certain – in what he has been taught about Christ.

Think about Theophilus. Perhaps he is a young Christian. Perhaps he knows Paul’s gospel summary at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15. He knows the basics of Jesus’s life. Maybe he knows some of the parables. Imagine how Theophilus reacts when he reads Luke’s Gospel for the first time!

Our danger is always that we are over-familiar. We have four gospels – we have always had gospels. We read them – we enjoy them. But for the first readers of Luke’s Gospel the depth, the confirmation, the solidity it would have given to their faith in Christ would have been stunning. Here is the Jesus you follow. Here is what happened when he was born, here is his teaching, here is how he died. Here is what happened when he rose from the dead.

So Theophilus can be certain that the things he had been taught – and more! – did actually happen. In the context of persecution, in the context of an early fragile church, Luke shows that Jesus really is worth following. Luke shows how deeply Jesus is anchored in the expectations of the Old Testament, and how significant his teaching, his life, his death and his resurrection are.

Without minimising the genuine doubts many people have it is easy to miss the fact that, in the first instance, God has graciously given us Luke’s Gospel (and the other gospels!) to help us grow in our confidence in the truthfulness of the message of Christ.

So often our instinct is to look outside of the New Testament to have our faith shored up. And there is a place for that. It is helpful to know that non-Christian writers (such as Tacitus and Josephus) also spoke about Jesus – so much so that no serious academic historian would deny his existence. But ultimately the Christian faith is more than simply the existence of Jesus, and it is only God and his word that will convince us of its truthfulness. But in his kindness, he has given us a book in the New Testament that is particularly designed to help us grow in confidence and assurance. SC

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

No masala is exactly the same

Every uncle or aunty I know who makes genuinely stand-out curries never writes down recipes with exact measurements. And so, no masala (mix of spices) is exactly the same.

Just as every homemade curry has a unique masala, so with South Asian ministry, there is no formula that definitely works for every person. Each is a blend of language, culture, upbringing and values. And so, in our thinking about engaging our South Asian friends, neighbours and work colleagues, we need a holistic approach of genuine, messy discipleship.

Let me explain a little.


Sydney is teeming with people who are broadly classified as South Asian. All the statistics are showing South Asians permeating every suburb in Sydney, not to mention every major CBD in Australia. What’s more, government trade agreements mean there are only more South Asians on their way! So how do we understand South Asians, let alone speak to them about Jesus?

South Asian peoples hail from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives. Conservative estimates are that these countries include 650 languages, not including dialects. These languages aren’t just a means of communication, but function as each people group’s heart language , which they use to engage in their most significant life events. So, even if most skilled migrants from South Asia are highly proficient in English,

20 SouthernCross May-June 2024
Talking points

first-generation peoples will likely default to their heart language for religion, traditions, family etc.

Languages and dialects also give an indication of people groups. Taking India as an example, most first-generation Indian migrants identify with their own people (think region) – Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamilian, Malayalee, etc. The only time Indians identify with India is when there’s a significant national event (like Independence Day), or because the Indian cricket team is touring!

Along with languages, people groups and cultures, South Asia is home to a plethora of belief systems: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, Baha’ism and Zoroastrianism – not including the numerous sects within these religious beliefs.

Thus, each culture and subculture have a different value system and, within that, each individual or family’s modus operandi changes as they adopt bits and pieces from their context and experience. Many factors are at play, and so the how of our gospel communication needs to adapt. I don’t think we can assume that our South Asian friends are necessarily hearing the same thing we are proclaiming.


So what do we do? We focus on everyday things. We show and tell . Spending time and energy investing in relationships will mean that you understand the background of the people you are speaking with – their hopes, dreams, struggles and even previous experiences of religion.

By hearing the story of an individual, you are then in the best position to consider bridges to cross cultural barriers and apply the gospel to the particularities of each individual person. Remember, no masala is exactly the same

No matter how you go about building relationships, do it while sharing of yourself and being willing to accept the hospitality of others. For many South Asians, an element of reciprocity is significant to honouring each other and building deep relationships.


Here are some helpful guidelines: rely on Christ in everything, show vulnerability and embrace weakness.


might that look like?

• Yes, pray for those who are suffering. But don’t say you’ll pray and then do so at home. Combat what might be a transactional understanding of religion by praying for and with the person or family, addressing your Father in heaven, and asking for things in Jesus’ name

• Yes, talk about the importance of reading your Bible as a family or even singing songs as a family. But don’t just tell people and assume they know what you mean. Invite someone to dinner with you. Then go about your family Bible time together and invite them to participate as you read the Bible, sing a song, share and pray.

• Yes, share of yourself and your own struggles. But don’t just share that you are struggling with something. Find

Plan for genuine discipleship to South Asian people.
SouthernCross May-June 2024 21

ways to clearly articulate how you have been comforted by Jesus, by hearing him speak into your situation through Scripture, or the certainty of the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God despite our sinfulness. Or, find ways to share how Scripture has challenged you to live differently to your natural instincts, and how you have struggled to persevere in following Jesus even when it might be difficult.

• Yes, speak about how good it was to meet other brothers and sisters in Christ at church on Sunday. But don’t just tell them it was good, invite them boldly. In one sense, it doesn’t

matter if they don’t come the first time you ask. However, it says something about how important Jesus is to you and to the world that you aren’t ashamed to invite someone to come and hear from Jesus in the Bible on a Sunday.

A relationship with Jesus is a matter of heaven and hell. Why wouldn’t you boldly invite people to come and hear about Jesus? Also, for many South Asians, speaking about belief or religion is a normal part of life, so even if you’re not at church, be excited about Jesus!

• Yes, even be willing to invite friends into vulnerable situations like funerals. Death is around us, and there is great power in not just speaking of the hope that we have but living it out in the context of a funeral service. There is great power in witnessing someone living for Jesus in the most dire of situations. You’d be surprised by how much this can lead to an opportunity to speak about the reason for your hope.

Genuine, messy discipleship breaks down many barriers, and communicates what it means to trust Jesus as Saviour and Lord through the words you speak, and in the context of your life and actions.

So, keep clinging to the gospel that saves and sustains you, and holistically communicate it to others by proclaiming the gospel while opening your home (share all of life together), your fridge (bring people into your world, modelling Christian generosity), and your hearts (do not be ashamed to speak the truth that has changed your life forever)! SC

The Rev Ben George is an assistant minister at Auburn & Newington Anglican Church and the chairman of Satya, a network for those keen to minister with and to South Asian people.

ZOOM INFO EVENING 7PM 24 JUNE – SMBC.EDU.AU /EVENTS Are you considering pastoral ministry or cross-cultural mission? Or simply want to know God and his word more deeply? Join us online from wherever you are for our Zoom Info Evening. REGISTER TOGETTHELINK No Place For Misconduct and Abuse 22 SouthernCross May-June 2024
Share deeply: Ben George at last year’s Satya Conference.

Relational evangelism

Sarah, tell us about your journey into evangelism. I was an ESL [English as a Second Language] teacher in Western Sydney before going to Moore College with the plan to be a missionary. I had been involved in summer missions and church evangelism for years, though I’m not a naturally gifted evangelist! I now spend my time helping equip everyday Christians to be courageously speaking about Jesus.

What comes to your mind when you think of evangelism?

For years my answer to that question would have been something involving a Christian approaching a stranger in some vaguely terrifying social situation: doorknocking, walking up randomly, or standing on a street corner preaching loudly. Indeed, due to the wonderful influence of both university and beach mission ministries, for many of us that has been our primary exposure to evangelism!

However, while God can and does use evangelism between strangers in powerful ways to bring people to Christ, it is actually a relatively rare occurrence. Studies indicate that the method most commonly used by God to win people to Christ over the past few decades – far more than any other – has been the influence and impact of Christians with whom they already have an existing relationship. In more than 75 per cent of cases, the common denominator in salvation through the gospel is Christian people.

While this information has consequences for all of us who are Christians, I want to suggest that it has an especially profound impact on women, for two reasons.

First, there are more Christian women than men in Australia (54.7 per cent of those who identify as Christian, and 60 per cent of church attenders). Second, women on average tend to have more, and deeper, friendships than men. So, it should come as no surprise to us that there are more Christian women than men, because women are far more likely to invest relationally with more people (usually other women) than men.

The question is, how can women approach evangelism within these relationships in a wise and godly way? I approached Sarah Seabrook, the director for lay evangelism with Evangelism & New Churches (ENC), to get some answers.

What are some challenges and opportunities women face in this area?

We do long to see our friends and family won for Jesus, but women are often concerned about evangelism leading to relational fallout. That can come from, or lead to, a lack of confidence in speaking up when the opportunity presents. Then there’s the fact that lots of us are stretched relationally and investments in evangelism can feel a bit much.

However, the opportunities for women to share the love of Jesus and to explain the hope we have are enormous, especially because many of us have a vast array of connection points with other women in our community. It may be through work, or secular community groups, or even through church activities like ESL and playtime. Sometimes we just need encouragement to know how and what to say when!

If you could sit down with every Christian woman to talk about evangelism, what are the top three things you’d say to help them make the most of opportunities?

First, it’s so important to feed your own spiritual life with the Lord. We want to be women overflowing with the gospel of Jesus, which helps us remember that what we have is what others are eternally lost without.

Second, pray expecting Jesus to do what he loves to do: find the lost, save sinners and gather the harvest! God isn’t done saving people in Australia; he does so all the time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know on the last day that we were part of God’s salvation plan in that way and to discover that our evangelistic efforts were the answer to other Christians’ prayers!

Finally, start addressing what’s stopping you from talking about Jesus. If it’s something you’re afraid to be asked about, investigate it. Listen to podcasts such as Fire Up! or Undeceptions, look up a website like or CPX [], or get some training on storytelling, testimony giving, or how to evangelise. If anyone would like to chat or think more about any of this, they can reach me through the ENC website (

Women are leading the way. Dave Jensen
Fire up!
SouthernCross May-June 2024 23
Dave Jensen is the assistant director of Evangelism & New Churches and co-host of the Fire Up! podcast.

The days of your youth

We love seeing youth across Sydney gathering together, encouraging each other to live for Jesus and having fun!

This year there have already been multiple combined youth group events across the Diocese. It’s a great reminder that many teens are eager to know God, love God and live for him.


Hornsby area

One hundred and eighty youth from four youth groups around Hornsby gathered in Term 1 to build up Christian youth in the area. They’ve been meeting twice a year for 13 years with the sole purpose of spurring each other on to live for Jesus.

Pray that youth across the upper northern youth ministry network will take up their cross and follow Jesus each and every day.

Youth events


Illawarra, Shoalhaven and South Coast

More than 800 youth and leaders gathered at Figtree Anglican for the region’s annual combined youth night. For a decade local youth groups and their friends have come together to build relationships, have fun and be challenged to take the next steps of faith, wherever they might be in their walk with God.

Groups travelled from as far north as Helensburgh and as far south as Ulladulla to sing, compete in games and be challenged by the gospel from Matthew 14. There were at least 23 youth groups gathered, and 100 teens responded or recommitted to the gospel.

Pray for those who were challenged by the message of Jesus and for local youth leaders as they disciple and walk alongside these teenagers.


Eastern suburbs

These combined youth evenings happen twice a year, aiming to strengthen, inspire and reach teenagers in the eastern suburbs. Seventeen youth groups from a number of denominations gather and bring friends along to hear gospel teaching and experience Christian community so their lives will be transformed by Jesus. The most recent event had more than 250 teenagers, and about a third were invited friends.

“One of the youth from my group said he loved the talk [on John 3:16-18] because everybody could understand the message of God’s love for the world so clearly,” says Mark Taylor, the director of kids’, youth and families ministry at St Luke’s, Clovelly. “We also heard a great story from a Year 12 girl [who leads] a lunchtime group at her school and it’s been encouraging for her and others.”

Pray for teenagers in the eastern suburbs, that those who don’t know Jesus will come to know God’s love for the world, and those who do know God’s love will boldly share this hope with their schools and communities.



For more than three decades youth from across NSW have been travelling to Katoomba for KYCK combined youth convention, with this year setting attendance records. Across three weekends in April (and a fourth planned for September) a total of 6600 people will attend KYCK 2024.

With a combination of talks and deep-dive seminars, youth explored Genesis 3 and what it means to be image bearers and live out their identity in Christ. A highlight of the weekend was the youth discussion panel, where three senior high students from different schools across the state shared what it’s like to live as a Christian at school today. They all shared the importance of accountability buddies and prayer partners, and said regularly attending youth group and meeting with Christian friends was game-changing for them growing in their faith.

Pray that youth come away from KYCK with confidence and clarity in being made by God in his image, and living as God’s image-bearers in a confused world.

The church as our village

During COVID lockdowns I started collecting memes about parenting to get the vibe of how the internet portrays being a mum.

I came across memes that played on the old African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. One said this: “They say it takes a village. I believe it also takes a vineyard”. Which might tell you something about how people found those months of home learning!

Another was: “I keep hearing that it takes a village to raise a child. Do they just show up? Or is there like a number you call?” I like this one because it tells us a lot about how today’s parents are finding parenting. I think we know we need a village.

We know it’s not good to be isolated, without support. We want to be part of a community and have the wisdom and care of others poured into us and the lives of our children. But this is not the experience of parenting for many. We’d like more involvement from others, but we don’t know how to go about getting it.

Historically, young parents lived close to extended family, but these days that’s often not the case. People often move away from the area where they grew up. While in the past people mainly lived in multi-generational households, this is less and less common in the West.

For many, other adults in their children’s sphere are often those paid to be there: nannies, childcare workers, coaches, music instructors and schoolteachers. It might feel like there is a lack of regular involvement in our kids’ lives from people who choose to be there and freely love and invest in them.

Many women look online for a village. I’ve often seen women

post anonymously on internet “mums” groups asking for advice with complicated, personal parenting issues – or they go to the Instagram accounts of big platform, self-described parenting “experts”. They are asking strangers!

Of course there are helpful aspects to information we can get online, but an internet village is very different to you and your children being known and loved in real life. I think this is just one reason why being a disciple of Jesus, and being part of a community that he has gathered, is such an incredible blessing.


God has given his followers something even more profound than a village. He has given them a family. We have been made brothers and sisters in God’s household.

His design is for his people to enfold their biological families into this spiritual family – formed not with shared biological blood but the shared fact that the blood of Jesus has redeemed all of us.

The church is a real gift God gives to each person he has called. The church is where God envisages parents will be supported in the work of raising their children in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Consider Titus 2. Paul gives instructions for older men. He encourages Titus to be an example to younger men. And he instructs older women to “urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (2:4-5).

What’s on view is a church family where older women will take

Jocelyn Loane
26 SouthernCross May-June 2024
Mothers’ Union

younger women under their wing to encourage them in the way they love their families. If you are an older woman, you are needed by your younger church sisters!

In the church we have real relationships with people we know, who know us. We can see women further on in the parenting journey, their lives and their godliness. We can learn from their mistakes and regrets and glean wisdom on what has worked.

We can watch them interact with their children and see them apply biblical principles to their varied circumstances. We might see them applied to a child who is not neurotypical, a child who rebels, or is a people pleaser. As we envelop our own family into God’s, we have this provision of the “village”. Let’s not cut ourselves off from God’s good provision for us.


The Bible is very clear about the responsibility of parents to raise their children to be disciples. We see this in passages like Deuteronomy 6:5-9, when parents are told they are the ones to impress the commands of God upon their children. This wasn’t a one-time event, but something to be woven into every moment of every day: “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (v7).

We see a similar priority in Psalm 78, which speaks about God’s command that parents teach their children to know him. And it’s continued in the New Testament, with the directive to bring up children “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Parents are to act intentionally and consistently to pass their faith on to their kids. It’s not something we contract out.

Yet we can so emphasise our role as the ones to bring our children up in the training and instruction of the Lord that we diminish the incredibly important place of the church. While it is right to see the responsibility as ours, it is also right to ensure our children are raised to be disciples in the wider church family.

How thankful I am for the many Christians who have sought to encourage my kids to grow in faith. As we have talked to our kids about the love Jesus has for them, they have been shown this love through people in the church: cakes on their birthdays, asking about school, teaching them at kids’ church, spurring them on.

As our kids join in church life, they see what it means to faithfully follow Jesus lived out by a variety of people. They see the difference Jesus makes as others face joys, sorrows and decisions. And these saints testify to my kids about the goodness and all-sufficiency of God.

Our children should also be treated as part of the church family now . I’m not saying the children of believers are automatically Christians – each child must come to repentance and faith for themselves (God has no grandchildren!) – but in the Bible the children of believers are included in church family life.

God includes children as part of his covenant community from the beginning (Gen 17:10-12). Kids are included in the ceremonies of God’s people so this will lead them to ask questions about God and his ways (Ex 12, Josh 4, Deut 31).

In the New Testament, Jesus validates the importance of children: “Let the little children come to me... for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt 19:14). And when Paul writes instructions to Christian households in Ephesus and

SouthernCross May-June 2024 27

Colossae, he specifically addresses some of his teaching to children (Eph 6:1-3, Col 3:20). He treats the children as the church of today.


We want to explicitly teach our children that church is not just another thing we “do” as a family. We need to teach them it’s much more significant. God has saved himself a people, and we belong to other Christians just as they belong to us. This will be expressed by committing to our local gatherings. It’s an incredibly significant and vital thing in the life of a believer.

Treating our children as part of the body also means they have a role to play in building up the whole. Part of raising them up in the Lord should involve us teaching them to serve, not just be served, at church. We want to ensure our kids don’t see church as something we do for ourselves.

However, there are things that make church hard. We are busy

Many of us are incredibly pressed for time. The juggle of jobs, housework, family and friends can leave us feeling like church is another thing we’re obliged to do. But it is so, so important we keep our priorities in order. We can’t let other good things crowd out the best thing.

Church “wish-dream”

This is a phrase from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together . It means we can come to church with expectations of what it will mean and, when it fails to meet our vison, we can become embittered and resentful.

Bonhoeffer goes on to say that because it is God alone who has laid the foundation for our fellowship, we need to come to that community as thankful recipients, not demanders. It is the treasure of the gospel that gathers us, not our outside impressiveness. We are all chosen by God’s grace, so the right response is to thank him that the same treasure has saved others, and us.

Church is where God’s work of restoring our relationship with him is evident – it is where his saving work is displayed. But it’s also where his work of removing the hostility between people is seen and his wisdom demonstrated. It’s as we look to God and what he has done in rescuing us that we can love and forgive our fellow Christians, so let’s not give up meeting together as we see the day of Jesus’ return approaching.

Pride and self-sufficiency

There is not much that is more lauded in our world than being capable, resilient and independent. We don’t like needing others, but we all do. We were created to be social beings. We were made to need each other.

The body image in 1 Corinthians 12 shows us this. We are not all fingernails or knees or eyeballs! Our difference is a good part of God’s design because we need the variety he has created.


We want to teach our kids the significance of church in the life of a believer. And we want to teach them that our decision to attend blesses and encourages others and our absence is potentially discouraging, so we choose to put this in our calendar first.

When we moved to England the first four parties our eldest was invited to fell on a Sunday morning. She was struggling with loneliness at school, and it was hard for her to lose those opportunities at connection.

“We can’t let other good things crowd out the best thing” : Jocelyn Loane at the Mothers’ Union Sydney conference.

I suggested to my husband at the first invite that perhaps we should just let her go. But he gently reminded me what it taught our daughter if we accepted: that church is just something we do unless something we want more turns up. In time, close friends have chosen not to have Sunday morning parties so our kids can attend.

In this consumer-driven world it says something that we put our church family first – both to our kids and the world around us.


Getting your kids involved in praying for your church, its leaders, ministries and people in need is a wonderful way to express their part in the body. Ask them to pray for you and the ministries you are involved in and pray for ways they are seeking to serve others.


There are many little ways to get children involved that mean so much to them. Distributing handouts, serving morning tea, being in a youth band, Bible reading, leading Sunday school, picking up rubbish. They can look out for younger children and make newcomers feel welcome. Kids love being useful and needed. It helps them learn to love others and provides a sense of belonging.


Spend time before church preparing your family for it. Perhaps read the passage, pray for the service, pray for those who might be new or feeling lonely or hurting. Discuss how you might use the time afterwards to look out for new people, or those who have no-one to talk to.

Encourage your kids to help serve the body by being on the lookout for those that need loving. Tell them you look forward to hearing what they learn and asking them about it afterwards.

Talk to other kids

Adults need younger members of the body as they need us. So, let’s make the effort to get to know them. Engage with other

28 SouthernCross May-June 2024

Hammond steps down

The chairman of the Anglicare Sydney board, Greg Hammond OAM, will retire from the role in September after eight years.

He led the board through the many changes following the merger of Anglicare Sydney with Anglican Retirement Villages in 2016, and the organisation noted that, under his leadership, Anglicare Sydney had “grown into the largest provider of retirement living in Sydney and a leading provider of aged care and community services to older Australians and families and children in need”.

Anglicare Sydney CEO, Simon Miller, praised Mr Hammond’s “outstanding contribution”, adding:

“His commitment to our vision, mission and values has been a great encouragement to the board, our executive, and our organisation as we serve people in need, enrich lives and share the love of Jesus.

“During his time as chair, Greg increased and broadened the focus on mission and the gospel of Jesus Christ. This has included increasing the impact of Anglicare’s work and mission into regional NSW through the merger with Anglicare New England North West in 2018.”

Mr Hammond said it had been

“a privilege and a blessing” to support Anglicare’s work in the community as board chairman but believed “the time is right for me to step back and serve the Diocese in other roles, as well as pursuing professional and personal interests.


List of parishes and provisional parishes, vacant or becoming vacant, as at April 17, 2024:

Asquith/Mt Colah/ Mt Kuring-gai


Baulkham Hills

Belmore with McCallums Hill and Clemton Park

• Beverly Hills with Kingsgrove

Concord and Burwood

• Cremorne

• Dapto

• Eastwood



Helensburgh and Stanwell Park


Liverpool South**



Regents Park*




• South Head

• South Hurstville**

Strathfield and Homebush

Turramurra South


* provisional parishes or Archbishop’s appointments

** right of nomination suspended/on hold

people’s kids and encourage your kids to interact with adults. A friend at my church has her kids each prepare a question in advance to ask adult guests when they come for lunch. It is so lovely to be asked with genuine interest what my favourite colour is!

When we have guests from church who aren’t the same age as our kids, we still ask the kids to hang about and be involved. Being part of the church family means we want to relate to all of it, not just people the same age as us.

Not just Sunday

Church isn’t the building but the people. The New Testament speaks about a family, where brothers and sisters genuinely seek to love and encourage each other and carry one another’s burdens. That won’t happen in just two hours on a Sunday morning! Invest

“I will remain a strong supporter of Anglicare and thank all our employees for their dedication to serve those in their care and in our communities”. Added Mr Miller: “We are thankful for [Mr Hammond’s] dedication to the organisation

As of February 19, the rector of Dapto, the Rev David Rietveld , is working as a lead consultant for City to City Australia and in intentional interim ministry.

The Rev Tim St Quintin finished up at St Peter’s, Cremorne on April 7 to become rector of Cudgegong Valley in the Diocese of Bathurst.

The rector of Strathfield and Homebush, the Rev Roger Kay, retired on April 30 after 34 years of ordained ministry in a

and prayerful support, as well as his continued wisdom and leadership as he seeks to facilitate a smooth transition for Anglicare at a time of exciting strategic direction and significant reform for the sector”.

range of locations around the Sydney Diocese and in Africa with the Church Missionary Society.

The Rev Ian Morrison finished ministry at Central Mountains Anglican Church late last month to become assistant minister in the parish of Albion Park. After 15 years as rector of the far northern Sydney parish of Asquith-Mt Colah-Mt Kuringgai, the Rev Brian Heath retired on April 30.

in relationships with people at church. Show hospitality and share your lives with them.

We are called to love God and others. And the Bible gives a special priority to the love we are to show fellow believers. Consider Galatians 6:10: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”; or Jesus’ command for us to love one another, for “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35).

It’s not just children who need a village, it’s all of us. In Jesus’ church, we are a family. So, let’s seek to live like one. SC

This is an edited form of a talk from the Mothers’ Union Sydney conference in March. Jocelyn Loane’s book, Motherhood, will be published by Matthias Media in October.

Clergy moves.
SouthernCross May-June 2024 29


The Rev Stephen Gabbott died on March 8.

Born Stephen Leonard Gabbott on October 8, 1939, he grew up in Maroubra and studied aeronautical engineering in the science degree he received in 1964 at the University of NSW.

His son Bernard, now a vicar and archdeacon in the Diocese of Armidale, gave the sermon at the memorial service in Mr Gabbott’s former parish of Maroubra, and noted that “Dad was a disciple – a wholehearted student-follower – of Jesus Christ. From the day he sat in a cave at the north end of Maroubra Beach – too embarrassed to go forward at a Billy Graham crusade in front of the youth group kids he brought – through his time working and studying to be an aeronautical engineer, on the day he both finished his degree and resigned to go to Moore, onto the mission field even after the grief of [losing a child],

through countries and cultures spread across Australia, Africa and South-East Asia, from the city to the bush, Dad was – Dad is – a disciple of Jesus”.

While studying at Moore, Mr Gabbott met his future wife Marion, and they married in 1967 with an eye to overseas mission. After ordination he became curate at Ryde (196870) and Darling Point (1971), but in 1972 the couple began serving in Africa with the Church Missionary Society – first in

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Tanzania, then Maseno, Kenya. The Gabbotts returned to Australia with their family in 1979 and the following year Mr Gabbott became rector of Kiama – taking up the role of Shoalhaven area dean for much of his time in the parish. In late 1987, the family moved to his old stamping ground of Maroubra, where he was rector for the best part of 11 years.

Answering a further call to overseas service, he and Mrs Gabbott served at Christ Church, Bangkok with CMS from 19982006 – broken up by a year or so in Broome with Bush Church Aid, and followed by some months in Sabah.

“Dad had a strong sense of justice and when he spoke of the plight of the Karen people in refugee camps in the Thai jungle he just choked up,” Mr Gabbott’s younger daughter Martha Boye told the congregation at his memorial service. “Seeing the Karen debased by the removal

of their human rights made Dad white with anger and passionate about their cause. Being with the Karen men left an indelible mark on Dad. They were so brave as they defended their families from the harm and terror of civil war.”

Despite his having reached retirement age in 2004, the Gabbotts continued to serve. Mr Gabbott was senior assistant minister in the parish of Cronulla – looking after the church at Kurnell – from 20072011, followed by another short stint in Tanzania. Then, although officially retired, he and Mrs Gabbott took on regular locums in parishes throughout the Armidale Diocese for the best part of a decade.

“Dad poured himself out as a minister,” Mrs Boye said. “It didn’t matter what time the phone rang or when there was a knock on the door, Dad would always respond. He was patient and kind with those who were suffering. Dad saw his fellow believers as his family, and he was committed to them.

“Once he and Mum were married, they made a conscious decision to serve God together for the rest of their lives... [Now], in God’s timing, our Dad is in heaven with Mum and all the saints who have gone before him. He has a new body. He is not sad, and he is worshipping our great God alongside the heavenly hosts.”

Dr Amelia Haines

Dr Amelia Haines

Dr Amelia Haines

Dr Amelia Haines

Dr Amelia Haines

Dr Amelia Haines

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Journey with Jesus

About Love

If you want to learn from Jesus’ most sustained and intimate teaching to his disciples, read this book.

Dave Mansfield wrote About Life (2001) on the first half of John’s Gospel (1-12). The long-awaited sequel covers the second half of this magnificent book (13-21).

You do not need to read the first book to appreciate the second. It could have been called About Life Together, because so much of it deals with how we follow Jesus as a community. I’m convinced more than ever that this is John’s intention.

David Mansfield is a pastor, an evangelist, a Sydney Anglican, an international Christian, a husband, a father, a friend, a disciple of Jesus Christ and a passionate and skilled storyteller. David draws deeply on his connections with South Africa, his previous work as CEO of Anglican Aid and his friendship with John Chapman, among others.

Reading About Love is like going on a journey with Jesus, as well as a journey with David – who has seen the hardest things and sees relatable illustrations everywhere. He has walked and swum in the text of John’s Gospel for many years and, in this book, it is the person of Jesus who shines most brightly.

There are parts of the book I just had to read out to my wife because they were so hysterically funny; other parts were transformational. The chapter on the vine, the insight about “the royal treatment” of being hated like Jesus and the chapter on real peace were spectacular.

My favourite parts of About Love are Mansfield’s reflections on the words of Jesus: in the upper room, in his prayers and on the beach with his disciples (John 13-17,21).

There is even an appendix with poems, soliloquies and dramas

from page 32

Helen chooses to have confidence in the words of Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”. And she begins to see daily miracles as, in God’s time, even their most ambitious prayers begin to be answered.

Helen is who we’d all like to be in our Christian walk. But it’s David Smallbone (played by son Joel from for King & Country) who is probably a closer match for most of us in difficult times, walking an uncertain path between faith and worldly cynicism, trust and confused anxiety.

But while dealing with his emotional rollercoaster is hard viewing at times, we also need to recognise the gift it is to us. Because Unsung Hero isn’t really about achieving success after

that link to some of the chapters of John.

One chapter begins: “I have never met a follower of Jesus who doesn’t want to make a mark for their master. Nor have I met a Christian who feels that they have done all that they could for their king or that their life has been as fruitful as it could be”.

The thesis of the book is that we are “loved by Jesus, the king of community” and that God calls us to be “loving like Jesus, in the community of the King”.

At 451 pages About Love is a large book, but when you get into it there is energy and life in each page.

I think this book could be read as a daily devotion. It goes for 40 days. That’s almost biblical, isn’t it? Designed for less juggling and more reading, the verses of John’s gospel from the NIV are printed on the facing page of every chapter.

At my church we’re preaching on John 13-21 right now. David Mansfield came and spoke to some of our leaders about this part of God’s word, and we encouraged them to purchase a copy themselves.

David Mansfield is a storyteller and, unlike some of us, he is very good at it. As a fellow-sufferer of great tragedy, I also read David’s book as a kindred spirit. But let me re-emphasise the main reason to grab About Love. This part of Jesus’ ministry is so deep and profound. Jesus’ teaching of his disciples is like an even more intimate version of the Sermon on the Mount, taking place on the edge of the cross. Jesus calls us to love one another and to do so in a profound way, as he has loved us. SC

The Rev Andrew Barry serves with Christ’s people at Menai

struggle – although it’s always nice to see a happy ending. The film is about how to bring up our kids to know and trust the Lord; how to love each other deeply, from the heart; to nurture and use our gifts but also to humble ourselves before the Lord so he can lift us up.

It’s about prayers answered but not in the way we expect, and trusting God’s plans, even when we don’t understand them. It’s about life in all its messiness and making wise choices about how we will live it from day to day.

The film also provides a very powerful window into the life experiences that have shaped the music and faith of St James and for King & Country. And I, for one, will never hear their music in the same way again. SC

Book review.
Anglican Church.
SouthernCross May-June 2024 31

Song of faith

Judy Adamson

Unsung Hero

Rated PG

Opens May 30 for a short season

People plugged into the Christian music scene will be familiar with the names Rebecca St James and for King & Country. What may not be as well known is that the duo and soloist are siblings, all born and raised in Australia – until a financial calamity in the early 1990s saw their parents resettle their large family in Nashville, Tennessee.

This move and the events following it are the basis for the film

Unsung Hero

David Smallbone was a successful music promoter, bringing numerous Christian artists to an enthusiastic Australian audience, until a big risk taken just before the “recession Australia had to have” meant he lost everything.

With nothing but a job offer and a six-month visa, Smallbone took his pregnant wife Helen and their six children to the States, only to have his job evaporate as soon as they arrived.

On the surface, this looks like a series of disasters. The Smalbones have very little money, six children to feed and no job prospects. What could God’s plan possibly be in all this? Should they just do as Helen’s mother suggests and come straight home?

We know now that the Lord’s hand was on the family in an extraordinary way. They relied on him for all things and were

blessed in ways they could not have imagined, but it was a long road fraught with uncertainty. And in this, the trust and faith of Helen Smallbone come to the fore.

Hearing a thumbnail sketch of the plot, you might be forgiven for thinking that the hero of the title is David: a Christian man who does not give up after a huge setback but, instead, takes his family across the globe for a new start and ends up becoming the manager of three of his children in successful music careers.

All that is true, of course. But what we see onscreen is someone assailed by sorrow and doubt, ashamed of his inability to care for his household and struggling with the pride that would say “No” to potential opportunities and even the support of Christian friends.

It is Helen who, despite her initial misgivings about going to the US, turns the children’s uncertainty into comfort – even fun. Having no furniture becomes an adventure; she is confident they are where God wants them to be.

It is she who encourages the kids to be brave, to care for each other and pray simply and earnestly for what they need, trusting that the Lord will provide. And he does.

Amid major pitfalls and moments of real fear and distress, continued on page


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