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EFAC Australia

Evangelism

As we approach the 60th anniversary year of the momentous 1959 Billy Graham Crusade in Australia, Bishop Tony Nichols recalls how Graham touched the people around him, and what flowed out of this and later Crusades.

Bishop Tony Nichols ministers at St Lawrence’s Dalkeith, WA and beyond.

Next year marks the sixtieth anniversary of Billy Graham’s first visit to Australia in 1959 when he led ‘crusades’ across all capital cities over a four-month period. To commemorate the remarkable outpouring of God’s Spirit in which thousands decided to follow Christ, Franklin Graham, Billy’s son, will speak in each capital city in February 2019.

Billy Graham was invited to Australia by the Primate of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Howard Mowll who did not live to witness the extraordinary results. His initiative, however, launched an unprecedented ecumenical movement which saw thousands of Christians from different denominations meeting weekly for prayer for God’s blessing on Australia. Over 8,000 enrolled for counsellor training in Sydney alone. Those training sessions were a great blessing to me personally, not least because we had to learn off by heart over twenty passages of Scripture. Volunteers were also organised for support roles and each of the choirs had a thousand members. The organisation was superb.

Sonya de Lacey gives us a taste of the Bishop’s Training Event in the Diocese of Tasmania.

Sonya de Lacey is the Media and Communications Officer for the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania

The atmosphere had an expectant buzz as 400 plus Anglicans from across Tasmania gathered for the third annual Bishop’s Training Event. This year’s theme was Making Disciples Every Day. It was Saturday 22 September. Music filled the auditorium. Lanyards were handed out. Resource tables were plentiful, covering topics such as: Alpha, Bush Church Aid, Church Missionary Society, Diocesan Training and Youth/Kids ministry info, Safe Church Communities, University Fellowship of Christians and Worldview College—to name just a few. The aroma of freshly ground coffee filtered through the air. This was our biggest event ever with around 350 adults, and 70+ children in the children’s event and creche.

At morning prayer we gave thanks to God that we, his people, could gather together in his name. We asked the Holy Spirit to fill us and empower us to be Christ’s disciples, sending us to go and proclaim the gospel, making disciples in our own neighbourhoods and to the ends of the earth. In the morning session Bishop Richard challenged us to ask the Lord of the harvest prayerfully and regularly for workers to send out into the harvest field.1 He concluded his session by sharing a video of Patricia McCormack who goes into Risdon Prison to share the good news. This lovely story showed how God can take our brokenness and create something truly beautiful.2

Marsha Dale shares how she was challenged to 'Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.'
Marsha is an MDiv student and is in Ministry with her husband Marc at Resurrection Church, Lockridge, WA

I heard a great pod cast on Strategic Hospitality by John Piper on the Desiring God website. In it Piper reminds us that we have freely received the liberating power of God's hospitality, making us a new and radically different kind of people. He challenges us to freely give, reflect the glory of his grace as we extend it to others in hospitality.

I love Pipers analogy...the physical force of gravity pulls everything to the centre of the earth. In order to break free from earth-centred life, thousands and thousands of pounds of energy have to push the space shuttle away from the centre. There is also a psychological force of gravity that constantly pulls our thoughts and affections and physical actions inward toward the centre of ourselves, our homes, our friends, our lives. Therefore the most natural thing in the world is to neglect hospitality.

David Ould went from nervous misgivings to astonished joy when a seemingly unlikely scriptural text brought an old man to new birth. David is Senior Associate Minister at St John's Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta, NSW

'And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.’  1 Thess 2:13

In May 2013 I took up a new ministry position. I went from one of the most affluent suburbs of my city to a place whose name was synonymous with crime and unrest; we switched from an area of tertiary-educated white-collar professionals to equally hard-working tradies. I soon learned it was a place where no-one else used words like ‘synonymous’.

After a while I set my mind to giving evangelism some structure. I grew up on Christianity Explored, leading tables in the enormous basement hall of All Souls’ Langham Place in London where the course itself was developed. It was very clear to me early on that one white upper-middle class man introducing DVDs featuring another white upper-middle class man was probably not the best way forward.

So I looked around at a variety of different options and finally settled on a different course out of England; the Good Book Company’s Jesus and You. The course has lots going for it—it’s only four weeks and so in a low-commitment culture the ask is minimal. Even better, each week can stand alone as a gospel presentation so there’s not the same gap in understanding that can happen in other structures. The presenters come from a similar blue-collar background; a nice contrast to the posh Englishman pressing play on the DVD. Finally, there was more than one rotation of the course—Tales of the Unexpected, Close Encounters and The King and I—so people who were still interested could come back for another round of new material to engage with.

We ran the course over four weeks, morning and evening. There were still some aspects I was uncomfortable with, most particularly the choice of texts. The local stockist only had Close Encounters on hand when we began but when I looked over the material I had my doubts. Week 1 was great—Luke’s account of the paralytic lowered through the roof. I could work with that! But week 2 I wasn’t so sure about—we were being asked to work our way through the complicated Parable of the Strong Man. It wasn’t even the simpler version recorded in Matthew and Mark but the full-blown Lukan retelling (Luke 11:14-26). The course booklet included a chart for participants to work through comparing the demon-possessed man, Jesus and Beelzebub with the various characters in the parable. It was a chart that I wish I’d had the first time I tried to work out this intriguing teaching of Jesus. It’s fair to say that I wasn’t confident going into that week. I thought the text was too complicated, I had no confidence that it would be understood and I wondered what on earth had possessed (no pun intended) the authors to include this Close Encounter when there were so many better options.

My quiet despondency was only increased when at 10am on Tuesday morning there was just one person there. Robert (not his real name) had been in church all his life. He sat in the same place every Sunday morning and was friendly without ever fully engaging in things. But he wanted to come along and here he was with his booklet and a quiet anticipation. I was the opposite. Frankly, because of my misgivings over that week’s text I was glad that only one person was there.

Over the next hour we read the Bible together. We saw Jesus cast out a demon and then declare that he was master over even the great Beelzebub, prince of demons. Then we turned the page to our chart and mapped out how Satan might be a strong man but that Jesus was far stronger. We discovered that it isn’t enough to have the house of our life cleaned out once; we need Jesus to stand permanent guard at the door.

And then, a few minutes after 11 o’clock in the morning, Robert had gentle tears running down his cheek. Well into his 70s, he quietly declared that he had spent his whole life unsuccessfully trying to keep his own house in order and it was time to ask the stronger man Jesus to do the job instead. He moved from darkness to light and I was both ecstatic and deeply ashamed in equal measure. It’s not the text that I would have chosen to declare the gospel but it was, in God’s good timing, exactly what Robert needed and so we prayed right there and then that he would stop trying to clean up his own life and let someone far better and greater do it for him.

And because God is so good (not least in humbling us) he did it again that evening. We had 6 people there and began with me asking what people had made of the previous week with the story of the paralytic lowered through the roof. As we worked our way around the small group there were various comments about how interesting it was, how they were surprised and so on. And then we got to the last person, a young lady whose life had already been complicated enough to prepare her to understand how good grace is when she stumbled across it. She looked up and gently said, ‘I went home last week and prayed the prayer’.

A few months later she and Robert and a number of others stood in front of a packed church building and publicly declared their faith as we held baptisms and confirmations. All because of the powerful word of God. And all despite my lack of confidence.

Katrina and Jonathan Holgate share how they have seen ministry grow up among refugees in Perth, WA. Katrina and Jonathan were formerly at St Alban’s, Highgate, and are now at St Matthew’s, Guildford.

Imagine: You can’t quite hear, you don’t know the geography of where you are living, the rules are all different and seem to be harsh. Living here in Australia, we live with much tacit knowledge. We know how the school system works, how public transport works, where (generally) places are within your city or region. Refugees (and often backpackers) don’t have this tacit knowledge that we all live with not realising what seems obvious.
Jesus taught us the parable of the good Samaritan; Deuteronomy 29:11 says that we can only have a relationship with God if we treat the alien in our camp well; Leviticus 24:22 says we must have the same laws for the alien as we have for ourselves. It seems to us that we are living outside of God’s ordinances when it comes to the way we treat asylum seekers and refugees here in Australia.

In this context, we have been ministering to refugees for several years. God gave us plenty of opportunity to welcome the alien whilst we were at the Parish of St Alban’s Highgate. During ‘mission week’ one of the younger members of the congregation suggested an outreach to some of our local backpackers. We soon discovered the local backpacker hostels were largely populated with refugees. Their most desperate need was to learn and practice English, to develop an understanding of Australian culture and, believe it or not, our colloquialisms.

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