Preaching the gospel in rehab

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Port Hedland Minister Philip Knight says that some of the best gospel discussions he has during the week are when he goes to rehab.

He visits Turner River drug and alcohol Rehabilitation Centre to hold a Bible study with residents and is encouraged by their genuine interest and engagement with the scriptures.

“The residents are in a place where they recognise they need help. So many people never get to that point. How precious it is to meet people who are open to talking about God in the midst of their struggle to change.

“Everything else they relied upon - such as relationships, work, money and things - has been stripped away and they have nowhere else to turn. The gospel speaks powerfully into their situation.”

“Each week I print out a passage of the Bible and we spend about an hour discussing it verse by verse to find out the meaning.”

Turner River draws people from all over the state and almost every resident has asked Philip for their own copy of the Bible.

Philip reminds them of Ephesians 2:8-10: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourself, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.’

“I have had a front row seat in seeing a person move from claiming to be an atheist, to agnostic to finally repenting of their sins and putting their trust in Jesus. It is truly amazing how God draws people to himself and makes them new.”

Like many Christians, Philip prays regularly that God will open the door for him to proclaim the gospel.

“When the rehab rang and invited me to run a bible study, I thanked God that he had opened a door, and I run through that door each week!”

Please pray for people in rehab to know God’s grace and peace.  

Steve multiplies ministry in Broome

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Broome Associate Minister Steve Combe is seeking to set up a combined church youth group to help disciple teenagers and strengthen them in their faith.

 With plans to launch in term 3, Broome Anglican Church and Broome Baptist Church will combine their young people to create a group meeting together each fortnight for Bible study, fun and fellowship.

 Steve says that youth group was important in helping him to trust and follow Jesus in his own teen years, and he wants to support local young people to grasp hold of the gospel for themselves.

 “The world bombards teenagers with messages that are not consistent with God’s Word and we want to help them lay down a solid foundation for the rest of life,” he says.

 Steve was in the Royal Australian Navy training as a Maritime Warfare Officer before, out of the blue, he was struck by severe vertigo and diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. He had planned to become a Navy Chaplain, but a medical discharge closed that door. He still had a heart for ministry which lead him to study for a Bachelor of Theology at Sydney Missionary & Bible College.

 “A verse that had a strong impact on me going into ministry is 1 Timothy 4:8 where Paul writes to Timothy; For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

 “Training in godliness is something of great worth! It is our continued growth in our knowledge of the truth – understanding the Bible as God’s true and living word. I enjoy helping people to train in godliness.”

 Steve and his family have been in Broome for about two years and plan to stick around for a while yet. Steve’s other priorities include Indigenous outreach, evangelism and supporting Minister-in-Charge, Michael Baines.

 Says Michael: “Most regional churches don't have the benefit of an Associate Minister, and it's a benefit for which we are very grateful to God and Steve's supporters. With Steve's help, we've been able to make progress in areas where I struggled on my own (especially youth ministry). Like any good Associate Minister he just makes everything better through countless small acts of service, encouragement and leadership.”

Support Steve to disciple young people in Broome.

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Faith, fellowship, food at Bluff Point

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 Table of Grace, the newest ministry at Bluff Point Anglican Church, draws dozens of people from the local community for a simple meal and nourishing words of life.

Each Friday lunchtime, this humble ministry reaches out to the disadvantaged, the lonely and people from all walks of life with whom the church has some contact.

Bluff Point Minister-in-Charge Paul Spackman says the initiative came from members of the congregation who wanted to live out their faith in Jesus.  

“It was started out of a desire to be a blessing to our community in both word and deed, offering food, friendship and faith.

“Over lunch of soup and sandwiches we share a message of God’s grace through a Bible talk or a personal testimony.”

The faithful team of organisers also prepare and distribute food parcels to those in need.

Paul says Table of Grace has been an unexpected gift for some older housebound members of the congregation who enjoy the regular outing. There’s a warm welcome offered to all, so one church member is even accompanied by her husband who doesn’t come to church. 

Volunteers Jenny and Rob Jamieson helped launch the ministry which is about to celebrate its first birthday. Jenny was excited to hear one diner say that she couldn’t stop thinking about the talk because it had prompted her to reflect on her life priorities.

Please pray for people to hear and respond to the gospel through the Table of Grace ministry

Wedding bells - Wangkatjungka

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Wedding bells rang out at Wangkatjunka when Tony and Audrey decided to marry after coming  back to the Lord at a recent Christian convention.

“They wanted to bring their lives into line with God’s word in all sorts of ways,” said Broome Minister-in-Charge Michael Baines, who had the joy of helping them tie the knot.

“They desired to get married because this is what God wants for men and women who want to live together. Tony was happy for his community to see him being affectionate to his bride because he wants to be a good example of how to love your wife.”

The joyful occasion brought together the whole community of about 280 people who live some nine hours’ drive east of Broome.  

Michael explains that Broome Anglican parish has two services, a morning gathering and an evening indigenous service called the Broome People’s Church. The parish enjoys a growing partnership with the brothers and sisters at Wangkatjunka People’s Church.

“Tony assists in leading this church and it’s our privilege to help equip and support him with ministry resources provided by CMS Missionary Chris Webb, who leads the Broome People’s Church.”

Members from Broome have also helped repair the remote church building to make it suitable for meetings. 

NW ministry training program

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My heart’s desire is to clearly share the gospel with youth and young families, in the hope that God would save many.
— Brendan & Laura Hurley

The first candidate in our Training for North West Ministry program has been ordained in Geraldton for gospel ministry in remote WA.

Brendan Hurley is working alongside Paul Spackman at St George’s Bluff Point for four years as he prepares for the challenges of leading a church in this isolated region.

The North West Diocese recently launched the program which provides on-the-ground training to secure a pipeline of future gospel workers willing and equipped to serve.

Bishop Gary Nelson said the Diocese had concluded it was the only way to guarantee shepherds to lead God’s people.   

“We regularly have parishes without ministers and Mission to Seafarer Centres without chaplains. I travel all over Australia, speaking with many men in a bid to persuade them to consider ministry here.

“For example, Karratha is a big vibrant city and we’ve approached more than 40 people but sadly the post has been vacant for a year now.

“Yes, it’s isolated, the weather can be extreme and there is a high turnover of residents. However, there is great joy in proclaiming Christ and helping raise disciples in this part of God’s creation.”

In Geraldton, Brendan’s focus is on bringing the gospel to the next generation which means he will also work in partnership with the Cathedral parish.

“I became a Christian at 15 and since then I have just wanted to tell as many people as possible about what Jesus has done for them.

“My heart’s desire is to clearly share the gospel with youth and young families, in the hope that God would save many,” he said.

Brendan grew up in Sydney and worked as a banker but felt convicted that he should help grow God’s kingdom instead of growing customer bank accounts.

Finding freedom in gaol

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I often speak about 2 Corinthians 5:17, that if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.
— Prison Chaplain David Hilton

Prison Chaplain David Hilton is helping inmates at Greenough Regional Prison break free of their past as they hear about Jesus, study the Bible and worship God.

Thanks to a partnership with the Bible Society, David has Bibles to give away and lend.

“A man came to faith in Christ while in prison and requested a Bible to take with him on release. He spoke about how beneficial his prison time had been, and how his new faith had given him a fresh perspective on life. He was an avid reader of the scriptures and was very happy to do this with his own Bible.

“Another prisoner asked me for a Bible in Arabic. Literature is strictly regulated in prison and I had no idea how to source one from an acceptable non-English supplier.

“I found it impossible until a Bible Society grant enabled me to get a prison-approved copy within one week!

“It was very significant for this man, because he has almost no functional English and is facing a very substantial prison term. He was overjoyed to receive the scriptures in his native language.”

David’s workday is full of difficult experiences. He may be talking with a parent who has murdered their own child, meeting with a prisoner who has killed their partner or singing hymns with violent criminals.

However, he’s had the privilege of baptising a prisoner (after he was released) and encouraging others – generally up to 12 men - who have chosen to enrol in correspondence bible study units run by Crossroads Prison Ministries.

David believes in ‘Christianity with sleeves rolled up’.

“Jesus went to the outcasts and if you want to meet outcasts you go to prison. It’s full of people whose circumstances and lifestyle has led them into a tragic place,” he said.

“However, being in prison doesn’t mean your soul is imprisoned. You can have freedom when you meet Jesus in prison.

“I often speak about 2 Corinthians 5:17, that if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.

“This is a powerful message for prisoners because they are often full of self- loathing and self-hatred. They struggle to define themselves beyond what they have done. Even their clothing – prison garb – tells them they are a sinner. Knowing they can break free from the past is important.”

David warns that working in prison is stressful and difficult. This requires you be ‘gentle as a dove and wise as a serpent’, quick to listen and slow to speak.

“The human heart is not naturally directed to do good and a lot of people are quite happy in their sinfulness. You need wisdom to know how to talk to people and to be appropriate in what you say.”

Please pray that prisoners would find the true freedom that comes from accepting Jesus’ forgiveness

Kids hear of God's salvation plan

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In Exmouth almost every child from Kindergarten to Year 4 has heard the good news about Jesus and God’s plan of salvation, during Anglican Church minister Frank Nicol’s school visits.

 It was a wonderful answer to prayer for Frank, and his wife Jo, who had been praying fervently for such an opportunity following a conversation with a school parent.   

 Jo explains: "A school mum told me she wanted her children to know the story about Christmas but didn't like to deceive them, especially because they were intuitive boys. To my shock, she was talking about Santa — not Jesus, and I realised how far the true meaning of Christmas was from her radar,” Jo said.

 "How terrible it is that people don't know Christmas is about Jesus!"

Frank, who is also part-time school chaplain, approached the Exmouth District High School principal in the lead up to Christmas. He was thrilled to be invited into classrooms to tell children about the first Christmas. 

Using the Bible Society resource pack The Really Good News of Christmas - for Me!, Frank explained God's big plan to 11 classes in junior primary. He was supported by Jo and a friend from the Exmouth Christian Fellowship. Parents were given the choice to opt out and a handful of children didn’t attend the lessons. 

Later at the town’s annual Community Christmas Carols, some 150 children joined in to perform the song they had learnt - On that very first Christmas - and receive a free gift of the book. 

Meanwhile, in Dongara there is a waiting list of children for the one-day kids’ club run by David and Traci Mitchell at Easter and Christmas time.

“Hardly any children are involved regularly with any church in town, so we have been running holiday clubs to engage more with primary school students,” David says.

Many of the kids from David’s scripture in school class also choose to come along.

“It has been very encouraging to see our church members prepared to serve God with their different gifts and so now we can pretty much run the clubs without relying on outside volunteers.

“For each club we use resources generously donated by Sydney supporters — a wonderful partnership in the gospel which enables us to grow ministry here and equip members of our church for ministry.”

Please pray for children and their families to know the Living Lord