An Ecumenical Life and Ministry

Please forgive the acronyms in this post, I’m not explaining them because they don’t really matter for the point I’m trying to make.  I am simply thankful for the Church (capital C- Church) behind us and our heart for Western Australia.  My goal is to highlight how amazing it is to be blessed by each and every one of these congregations and individuals. Even more so, I want people to know that we deeply appreciate everyone who is a part of our sending team no matter what background or denomination you come from, distance yourself from or claim to be now.  The pictures and video in this post are from the wonderful congregations in Pardeeville and Rio who have loved on us and welcomed us this past month.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 9.46.42 PMGrace Presbyterian Church– Pardeeville’s very own PCA church.

Ryan and I have had an ecumenical ministry from the very beginning.  For those of you not familiar with the term, ecumenical means representing a number of different Christian churches or promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian churches.  We didn’t plan things to be this way, instead it is just a by-product of our histories and how God has lead us so far in life and ministry.  Whether PCA or AG or any other Bible believing, respecting and preaching church, we appreciate the value you bring to our lives.

Campfire evening with the Pardeeville United Methodist Church

Ryan and I grew up in denominations that some might say are on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as theology and how that plays out in services as well as ministry.  For our first two years of marriage we attended a church from a different denomination, not because we were looking for neutral ground but instead because that was where Ryan was working and it was a solid, Bible teaching church that is also very involved in our local community.  But that didn’t stop us from making strong connections with other churches from different denominations in the area.  And as we continue in this process we find ourselves gaining supporters individually and as churches who are a wide variety of wonderful, Christ proclaiming, prayer warrior, Christians.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 9.47.28 PMRyan preaching at Rio Assembly of God– The church where he grew up!

We look forward to continuing life and ministry in this way.  We recognize that there are reasons for some of the divisions between denominations but we also recognize that we have something to learn from everyone who believes in the gospel proclaimed in the Bible.  It’s wonderful to know that the gospel is greater than these man made distinctions and we will continue to proclaim God’s truth and welcome anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of what God is doing in Australia to join us.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 9.58.16 PM.pngPardeeville Wesleyan Bible Church

Advertisements

The Flogging Parson

Facebook reminded me today that I posted a newsletter 3 years ago with some of the history of Christianity in Australia.  3 years ago today, Ryan and I were dating but waiting to see what God would do.  So I just kept moving towards Australia, trusting that this was part of God’s road for us.  Now I want those of you who didn’t get the opportunity then or maybe forgot this information to hear a little about who the flogging parson is and what he has to do with the history of Christianity in Australian.  The original newsletter can still be found here under the About tab on our website but here is a slightly updated version that you hopefully find insightful and interesting:

Let’s compare and contrast Christianity in the US and in Australia. America is often referred to as a Christian nation. We were founded on Christian principles and you can find statistics stating that 75% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. But identifying yourself as a Christian and being a follower of Christ are two very different things.

Australia on the other hand was founded as a penal colony. A good amount of its people brought over as convicts were protestant and catholic. This remnant of history is still a part of the fabric of Australia today. There were missionaries and clergy on the transportation ships as well. And just to be clear, as far as I can tell, the missionaries and clergy were not convicts themselves.Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 9.27.09 PM.pngIn this collection of clergy one name stands out, Samuel Marsden. He was an English Anglican well known for his pioneering literacy and community development work among the Maori who had come as sailors and visitors to New South Wales. Sounds like a great guy, right? Except, he is more famously hailed as “The Flogging Parson”. His hatred of the Irish Catholics led to his most severe punishments in which those receiving the lashes were flogged so brutally that their “haunches turned to jelly”. He was of course not the only one who ordered beatings as a form of punishment for the early colony, so to have his savageness so clearly recorded in history shows you just how harsh he was. If you were a Maori, you might have loved this man but there was no grace if you happened to be Irish Catholic.

Today, there are statistics that would lead us to believe that Australia became a Christian nation on the heels of the early protestant and catholic convicts. However, the reality is quite different. Christianity is received with skepticism and often outright hostility. More recent statistics for Australia say that only about 7% of its people would claim to be churchgoing Christians.Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 9.27.21 PMNevertheless, God’s fingerprints are evident and certain places in the city have visible reminders of Christianity. For example, this sculpture of Jesus with the scripture Luke 23:44-46. Even so, there is still a compelling need for the light of the gospel to be proclaimed.

 

Just be Still

“The Lord will fight for you.  Just be still.” Exodus 14:14

These words, from the kid’s church verse from last week, are a powerful reminder to me in this season of business.  Ryan and I have gone from place to place, speaking engagement to speaking engagement and this is just the beginning of our busy summer.  We swing from low, exhausted lows to energized, determined highs and back again.  Yes, this is our job but we have to be careful that we don’t start relying too much on our own abilities and forget the underlying foundation of our work.ExodusI’m not good at being still.  I’m not good at resting.  Case in point: As I type these words, I’m actually feeling a little guilty because it’s Sunday afternoon and I should be napping or otherwise really resting but instead I’ve convinced myself that writing a blog entry to maintain my blogging schedule is more important.  And although I am going to finish this,  I’m reminded that I need to remember the words of this verse even more.

“The Lord will fight for you.  Just be still.”  The deeper we get in this process, the more convinced I am that my own words and abilities are severely inadequate.  It’s only by God’s grace, through the Lord fighting for us that we will see everything fall into place, raise the support we need, finish the training we have to complete and make it to Australia.

We have a loving heavenly father engaged in this battle, we have his son Jesus who is also in on this fight and the Holy Spirit is constantly doing battle on our behalf.  We have a whole army fighting for us…now to just be still.

Visiting Nexus Portland

Today Ryan and I had the privilege of visiting Nexus Portland, a Calvary Nexus church plant.  It was really nice to be able to visit and worship together with a church that we’ve heard so much about and with people we’ve been praying for.  Ryan was able to reconnect with people he’s known and I was able to meet people who I feel like I already know.  I got caught up in visiting and sharing with everyone so I forgot to take a picture but this screen shot from the Nexus Portland website will have to suffice.Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 4.45.59 PMRyan and I were also able to share about Australia and were prayed for multiple times during the morning.  One of my favorite things about being the body of Christ is being able to worship together and feel connected with very little background or introduction required.  This is our Christian community.  We’re thankful for this church and their heart for Portland.  We look forward to seeing how God continues to work and grow His Kingdom in the neighborhoods Nexus Portland is reaching.

Folding for the Kingdom

As Ryan and I live through this time of preparation, many of the tasks we do seem mundane.  After all, life goes on, I continue to teach, Ryan continues to work at the church, we still need to eat, clean, etc., all the while we do our best to engage potential supporters.  One way we hope to share our work is with a little brochure that includes more pictures and information about our hearts for the area in Perth, Brookton and beyond.

20151118_083007

This brochure has been a work in progress but this week we printed 250 copies and started folding them.  Then last night while I prepared dinner and cleaned up the kitchen, Ryan sat down to fold some more.  By the time I was done and had sat down to join him, I ended up folding less than 10.  We were finished!  If you want to print your own, click on the picture below and it will take you to a pdf.  Simply print front and back along the short side of the paper and then fold the paper in half twice, let the pictures be your guide.

PictureBrochure

These brochures are now ready for our next two Sunday, prayer and connection times with our church here in town as well as to include when we mail out prayer cards.  I’m thankful that Ryan and I are a team.  We are working together for the same goals.  And I’m thankful that even something as monotonous as folding can be a part of great Kingdom work.

Art, the Gospel and Welcome to MTW

MTW has a magazine, called Network, that tells stories about their work, the people and the vision.  I’m sure there is more to it but that’s the general gist.  In the Fall/Winter edition, there are two exciting sections.  First of all, our Australian team leader’s wife, Berenice wrote an article about her recent trip to Cuba.  It’s a story of art, artists, the church and the gospel.  Read it for another perspective on the greater Perth team and our art filled world.  Click on the links above or the magazine to read the articles.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.26.43 PM

The other exciting section is the introduction of Ryan and I as new members of MTW.  We took the picture that is towards the end of the magazine, after our last training in Atlanta and we’re excited to be working alongside these other men and women. We’re just the new faces in the MTW family but we represent teams working across the globe on mission for the kingdom.  If you want to subscribe to MTW’s Network Magazine- scroll down on MTW’s resources page.  Happy Reading Everyone!

Prayers and Praises…But Mostly Prayers

Each week I receive many pages of prayer requests into my inbox.  I’m part of a group of a couple hundred people who receive prayers and praises from the people in our church throughout the week.  It’s a privilege to read and pray for the numerous, heartbreaking requests and it’s amazing to be able to celebrate people’s praises alongside them. 20150608_081518

How I go about praying for these requests varies depending on my time and energy.  Each request is precious and already known to God.  Sometimes I pray for the list as a whole.  Sometimes I read through each and every request.  Sometimes I pray for requests to stand out and I concentrate and pray for only a handful specifically.

The one constant is that there are a lot of very heavy requests from health concerns to job and financial worries.  Families breaking apart and families grieving.  Requests for salvation and God to change hearts.  This week there was even a request to pray for a woman’s broken heart.

I love that I can serve the church in this way.  I know that God hears our prayers (1 John 5:14) and that we are told to pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  On my own these prayers would be overwhelming but I’m praying along with hundreds of others to a God who listens and responds (Psalm 116:1).