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National Christian Heritage Sunday celebrates the Gospel of Jesus Christ arriving on Australia’s shores. The date for 2020 is Sunday 2nd February.

Australia’s first minister, Rev. Richard Johnson, arrived with the first fleet on the 20th January 1788.  Then, on 3rd February 1788, Rev. Johnson held the first Christian service in Australia.  This event is celebrated on the first Sunday in February each year.  As Australia’s first Chaplain, Rev Johnson, spent 12 years in Australia from 1788 to 1800 with several roles as military and prison chaplain, parish priest, missionary to the indigenous community, and as a husband, father and provider during the early years of food deprivation.

He and wife Mary lived on the ship Golden Grove for some months before a building was built with a thatched roof which continually leaked during heavy rainfall.  William Wilberforce and John Newton, the former slave trader of Amazing Grace fame, were the chief sponsors of the Botany Bay chaplaincy.

Newton becoming Johnson’s mentor, confidant and advisor, calling him the “first Apostle to the South Seas”.  Newton with William Wilberforce founded the Eclectic Society seeing Johnson as “the means of sending the gospel to the other side of the Globe”.  It was William Wilberforce in 1786 who suggested to the then Prime Minister William Pitt to have a Chaplain.

Careful preparations were made for the first service.  The convicts were ordered to ‘be as clean as circumstances will permit’ and ‘no man is to be absent on any account whatever’.  The guard was to be changed earlier than usual, so as to give those who had been relieved ‘time to cleanse themselves before Church’, and the ‘Church Drum’ was to beat at 10 0’clock.  The Fleet had been in Sydney Cove the previous Sunday, but no service was held until order had been created on shore, the service taking place the following Sunday the 3rd February 1788, 232 years ago on a nearby grassy hill, the text being Psalm 116:12; ‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?

Watkin Tench reported that the behaviour of both the troops and convicts was ‘equally regular and attentive’.  Little is known about Richard’s wife, Mary as there is only one letter recorded of her corresponding with friends or relatives.  She must have been a very pioneering, courageous, adaptable, patient, caring women.  Johnson was a man of prayer and hope looking beyond the immediate and mortal, believing in God’s sovereign purposes for this new nation.  He had brought with him over 4,000 pieces of Christian literature including 100 Bibles and 400 New Testament’s.

He was encouraged not to yield to the secular battle at the time raging against the Age of Faith being challenged by the Age of Reason & Relativism, a battle that continues to this present day!  After Arthur Philip left in December 1792, Major Francis Grose took over administration of the colony & was uncooperative viewing Anglican Evangelicals and Methodists as trouble makers though he gave significant support to Rev. Bain the regimental chaplain, who was not an evangelical.  Evangelical Anglicans back in England were criticised both externally and within their own church.

He was Australia’s pioneer educationalist establishing Australia’s first schools.  Among Rev Richard Johnson’s qualities were that he had a kind disposition, was generous, humble & devout.  He was humane shown by fostering aboriginal children including a 15 year old girl Abaroo whose parents had died.  He visited on numerous occasions the huts of many convicts and visited before his departure the prison hulks, considerably distressing him.

He was dedicated & hardworking, receiving very little help from the authorities especially building the first Australian church with little help.  He paid for it himself.  He use to get up sometimes at 4.00 AM to travel to Parramatta to preach & performed numerous funerals, marriages and baptisms, as well as consoling those about to be executed.  To be precise by Oct 1792 he had performed 226 baptisms, 220 marriages and 854 burials.  God blessed his farming, producing Australia’s first Citrus orchard.  He grew Australia’s first wheat crop.  His garden in Bridge St in 1790 produced nearly a thousand cucumbers as well as other fruit & vegetables.

On his 100 acre farm granted to him which he called Canterbury Vale, the suburb now named after it, by 1795 he had cropped 38 acres of wheat that yielded 16 to 18 bushels per acre probably becoming Australia’s first wheat farmer, and by 1800 the year he left he had grown an acre of orange trees, nectarines, peaches & apricots as well as a two acre vineyard and stocked 150 sheep plus some cattle and horses.  Tench recorded that he was the best farmer in the Colony.  He also suffered hardship.  In the early settlement they had little food and poor accommodation and he later developed health problems.

He had dysentery on the voyage out, was continually exhausted from his labours, on occasions had little sleep when guarding his home from looters, and lived in a rain drenched house.  The Johnsons suffered disappointment and grief.  Their first child was stillborn.  Milbah their next child died just after returning to England.  You can read more about the foundations of the church in Australia at  This article was supplied with thanks to Christian History Research founders of National Christian Heritage Sunday.

Source: Dr Graham McLennan, Head of the National Alliance of Christian Leaders and Christian Historian 

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By Australian Newsletter

Central Coast dad and father-of-four Andrew Flaxman is lucky, or blessed, to be alive, along with his wife, four kids and his sister’s family of five, who were all rescued by boat in the middle of a firestorm on New Year’s Eve.  In an interview with Hope 103.2, Andrew spoke about the terrifying minutes at Lake Conjola on the NSW South Coast, when he realised they were surrounded by a wall of fire on all sides, with no way of escape, when a “hero” came out of nowhere on a boat to save them.  “On New Years Eve they said ‘There’s fires coming, but don’t worry, they’ll be 50 or 100 k’s away, and the wind will turn and it’s going to be fine,” Andrew explained.

“We were out on the lake playing with our kids, and at 11:59am, we could see the fires over the hill, starting to rage and you could see the glow and the smoke.  And at 12:09, we were on a boat fleeing across the lake for our lives.  Within ten minutes we were surrounded by fire.  There was darkness, there was smoke, you could hear the fire roaring behind us.  “The situation escalated so quickly that it went from us taking selfies, to ‘Oh my Lord, there’s fire all around.”  Calm in a crisis: Michael Cripps helped everyone on the boat to stay calm, while his son Brett, who drove the boat, refused to be called a hero.

Andrew’s wife Jillie gathered the children together close to the water and kept them calm, and that was when salvation came, in the form of a stranger on the water.  “A boat pulled up in front of us…he was just yelling to us, ‘run to the jetty, run to the jetty’, and so we ran to the jetty and jumped in his boat and he took off.  And 45 seconds later, bang, my car goes up, my caravan catches fire, the other car goes up, the other car catches on fire, and we were out in the middle of the lake.  “If he hadn’t turned up… I don’t want to think what would’ve happened.”  “It happened so quickly.  We went from having a great day to five minutes later surrounded by fire, and fleeing for our lives.”

With 17 people crammed aboard, the small boat stayed in the middle of Lake Conjola where they were safe from the flames, for the next three hours.  Brett’s father Michael Cripps, in his 70s, was a quiet, stabilising presence, who set the tone on the boat and helped everyone else to remain calm.  It’s a remarkable effort, considering that Michael and his son Brett had just watched their own house burn to the ground only moments before the rescue.  “In his darkest time… he pulled in to save our little family,” Andrew said of Brett.  “Absolute hero. If he hadn’t turned up, I don’t know what would’ve happened, I don’t want to think what would’ve happened.”

Andrew and his wife Jillie, who are Pastors at C3 Church in Tuggerah on the NSW Central Coast, lost their car and caravan and many possessions, but are grateful to have everyone alive.  “So many people said ‘we feel so sorry for you, you lost all your possessions’, and we stopped them and said ‘We didn’t lose anything, today we actually won’”, said Andrew.  “’We saved our kids, we saved our lives. All this stuff we have is worth nothing compared to the safety of your loved ones.’”  “Houses burnt to the ground.  So a lot of people lost a lot more than we did. I actually came back and saw everything burnt and gone and felt blessed that I could look at my kids and they were there.”

Over the next couple of days, the local community of Lake Conjola surrounded Andrew and his family with love, fed and clothed them, the local caravan park putting them up in a deluxe cabin on the beach.  “It was phenomenal,” said Andrew.  The family’s trip home, although long (24 hours!) was “amazing”, said Andrew, when during a 10-hour holdup on the freeway, generous locals came out offering food and water and looking after them up until 1am.  “People went above and beyond to make sure strangers were doing okay in this crisis time of need,” Andrew said.  “It was so beautiful to see everyone come together and work together in community. It was amazing.”

Andrew’s advice to anyone facing a similar crisis, is to put your family first, and remember that possessions are nothing compared to the value of your loved ones.  Brett Cripps said that he was “not a hero” and was “just in the right place at the right time”.  “It wasn’t just me, there were a lot of local residents with boats and jet skis helping people out.  I just happened to be in the spot,” he said.  But Andrew has swapped numbers with Mr Cripps and plans to stay in touch, and hopes that his rescuer can be honoured somehow.  “I would like to think he would get a bravery award,” he said.  “He saved 11 people, who, I think if he hadn’t popped up, potentially wouldn’t be here.”

Source: 103.2FM

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By Australian Newsletter

As bushfires began to close in on the South Coast of NSW across Christmas and New Year’s Eve, among the many people affected were hundreds of Christians camping in holiday parks for Beach Missions.  Run by Scripture Union, Beach Missions are annual family camps held every summer, where residential communities of Christians spend up to two weeks camping, running programs for kids and families, and sharing the hope of Jesus.  There are over 40 camps held each year on NSW beaches and some inland holiday locations.  Simon Flinders from Scripture Union NSW said that 8 teams on the NSW South Coast, south of the Shoalhaven River, were evacuated and sent home.

“We’ve had 7 or 8 teams affected to varying degrees, some in very scary situations,” Simon said.  “We’re very thankful to God that our teams have all been kept wonderfully safe in some difficult situations.  Due to the fires however we made the decision to evacuate them.  They’ve headed back home, there are no longer any teams in that region continuing their ministry.  “It’s a regrettable decision but for the safety of the team member and for the sake of the emergency efforts in those places we felt it was the best thing to do. So they’re all safe and sound now.”

Simon said stories are now coming in about the ways teams have reached out to help families and communities affected by the fires.  Beach Mission teams have to prepare Risk Management Plans every year before they head on their trips, but nothing quite prepared them for how dangerous the situation became this year.  “This year we asked all our teams to have a Bushfire Plan, so the teams were well prepared, and team directors have followed those plans and communicated well with our Emergency Response Team.  “But no doubt there are good things for us to learn from this year. It probably has been more serious in parts than we could have ever imagined.”

Source: 103.2FM

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By Australian Newsletter

Prior to rising for the Christmas break last year the South Australian House of Assembly rejected the latest attempt at prostitution law reform, with a private member’s Bill rejected by 24 votes to 19.  “This is a victory for South Australian women,” Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) South Australian director Christopher Brohier said.  “It is a victory for the courageous prostitution survivors who spoke from the heart against this Bill.”  Many ACL’s supporters attended the crucial vote and have lobbied members of parliament to consider proven and superior reform.

“This is the 13th attempt in 25 years to change the prostitution law in South Australia (SA), with most previous attempts comprising a pimps’ protection model.  SA clearly needs a new approach, namely, adopting the internationally successful Nordic model of prostitution law reform.  This Equality Model decriminalises the selling of sex, criminalises the buying of sex and provides real exit strategies for prostituted people.  The Nordic model has been adopted in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Canada, Northern Ireland, France & Ireland, and comes into force in Israel in 2020.  The ACL calls on the South Australian Parliament to adopt this Model urgently.” Brohier said.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

We will not be providing a running commentary on the bushfires or drought situation in our nation as the wall to wall media coverage means that all aspects of the situation is covered better than anything we can provide.  We will however pass on any reports we receive that give greater spiritual understanding of what God may be saying to us through the current crisis we are experiencing.  We will also endeavour to provide any statements issued by Christian leaders or articles that are considered of interest and relevancy to Christians as we focus on and pray into the current and ongoing crisis.

In response to our recent article on the bushfires we have been inundated with dozens of emails, each suggesting what God may be saying to us as a nation, however there has been no single theme that has come through.  The Australian Prayer Network does not pass on prophetic words from individuals but rather waits on God until several confirmations are received from a number of sources before going public.  Our earlier article conveyed the word received by thousands of individuals who sought the Lord for 40 days on the matter.  Nothing has yet come through that surpasses or challenges what we believe is the accuracy, relevance and timeliness of that word.

As well as praying for all in any way affected by the bushfires we also suggest prayer for our Prime Minister, State Premiers, State Emergency Service Commissioners and all in positions of authority and leadership, that they would be given wisdom to make right and impactful decisions that will address the individual and corporate needs of the people of our nation at this critical time.  Pray too that they will not be diverted from their task nor personally impacted by criticism, and that their marriages and families will be protected given the amount of additional time that they will be required to commit to the recovery task ahead.

Below are some organisations and initiatives that have specifically been operating to provide support to bushfire victims throughout the eastern states of Australia.  Give what you can, your generosity could make a world of difference to those who have been hardest hit.

List of Organisations Dealing with Disaster Relief
(click on the name of the organisation for more information)
Information supplied by Rev Fred Nile – NSW Member of Parliament

NSW Rural Fire Service
Donations to the NSW Rural Fire Service directly benefit the volunteer firefighters on the frontline. You can donate by contacting your local fire service or by clicking the link above and following the instructions.

Geoffrey Keaton, Andrew O’Dwyer and Samuel McPaul Family Support
You can also donate to the young families of Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer, who were killed during the Green Wattle Creek fire, and Samuel McPaul, who was killed at the Green Valley fireground.

The Salvation Army

The Salvos have launched a disaster appeal to support the communities affected by the devastating bushfires.  To donate to the disaster appeal, you can call 13 SALVOS (13 72 58), donate at any Woolworths checkout, or follow the link in the name above.

Australian Red Cross

The Red Cross has specialist emergency volunteers who are providing psychological first aid, working at evacuation centres and helping people to get in touch with their loved ones.  You can help by clicking on the link above.

The St Vincent De Paul Society

The St Vincent De Paul Society is running a bushfire appeal to help those affected rebuild their lives with food, clothing, furniture, other essentials, and funds to pay bills.  They explain exactly where your money might go:

• $50 “can provide food for a family who have been evacuated from their home.”
• $150 “can help with bills and unexpected expenses for a household recovering from a bushfire.”
• $300 “can provide clothing for a family who’ve had to leave their belongings behind.”
• $1,100 “can help those whose homes have been damaged or destroyed to set up again with bedding, furniture and appliances.


Charities like Givit specialise in goods, where the exact items people need are listed via charities and the public can match that or register the items they have, in case someone has use for them.  Givit is currently running two specific campaigns supporting NSW and Queensland bushfire victims.


Foodbank is delivering emergency food relief and water to East Gippsland, helping firefighters and local communities caught up in the bushfires.  It is fundraising to send about 5,000 food relief hampers in the coming days.

Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund

The Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund was established in 1978, and is operated by local volunteers for Gippsland communities affected by natural disaster events.  Donations can be made via Paypal at or at any branch of the NAB across Australia, or in person at Alan Wilson Insurance Brokers at 40 Argyle St, Traralgon.

Bendigo Bank Bushfire Disaster Appeal

Bendigo Bank have partnered with The Salvation Army to establish an appeal that will raise funds for fire affected communities including East Gippsland, Hume, southeast New South Wales and Adelaide Hills.

Airbnb for NSW and the Victoria

Airbnb have set up pages to share free accommodation for people who are evacuating the fire zones. Find emergency housing or list your property via the NSW or Victoria page.


To help the NSW wildlife victims, you can donate to the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) by clicking the name above.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

More than 2000 koalas are feared to have perished in NSW since September.  The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital have raised money for the wildlife affected in that area, with the initial aim of using the money to distribute automatic drinking stations in the burnt areas to help in koala and wildlife survival.  The organisation are now sharing the funds with other wildlife organisations in the fire affected regions across NSW.

Kangaroo Island Wildlife Emergency Fund

Kangaroo Island is well known for its thriving koala population however over 150,000 hectares has been lost due to recent events, this will affect our koala population dramatically.  The Fund is working around the clock with a highly experienced, qualified and dedicated team of volunteers including qualified vets, vet nurses and wildlife carers to rescue, rehabilitate and care for all of the animals coming in from the bushfires.


Raising money to aid Mogo Zoo Foundation Fire Recovery and to provide care for injured, sick and displaced wildlife.  Through the overwhelming commitment of staff all 400 Zoo animals were saved.  The Zoo staff and vet will assist injured wildlife and will play a vital role in getting Mogo and the surrounding towns on their feet in the coming weeks and months.

Source: Australian Prayer Network

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By Australian Newsletter

The nation’s top universities are “not interested in promoting the study of things Australian” and are “failing in their responsibilities as national institutions”, leading academics and historians have warned.  Greg Melleuish, a professor at the University of Wollongong, has told a parliamentary inquiry that universities are “primarily international in their loyalties” and are becoming “highly authoritarian”.  Dr Melleuish’s view was supported by one of Australia’s leading historians, Stuart Macintyre, a former dean of the Faculty of Arts at Melbourne University, who said that universities should “pay some regard to their national responsibilities”.

Flinders University English professor Robert Phiddian said international scholarship was ranked more highly than local scholarship.  The role played by the higher education sector in framing Australian identity and democracy is being examined by a Senate inquiry.  The committee’s deputy chair, Amanda Stoker, warned that identity politics and postmodernism had “shamed” ordinary people into abandoning the political centre ground.  She said that “academic disdain” for Australian culture and identity had contributed to minimising the study of Australian history and resulted in a diminished sense of national pride within the university sector.

In his submission to the legal and constitutional affairs references committee, Dr Melleuish said:  “It is positively disadvantageous to have an Australian focus to one’s research, especially in the humanities and social sciences.  “Articles on Australian topics rarely make it into ‘top-level international journals’ and Australian journals are generally not highly ranked.  There is little incentive for academics, especially in the humanities and social sciences, to pursue Australian research projects.  “There is a strong argument to be made that Australian universities, funded by Australians, are failing in their responsibilities as national institutions.”

Professor Macintyre said some fields of Australian research were being disadvantaged because of “silly” university policies.  “Universities, partly because they are competing for international students, need to score well in international research rankings. And they are based primarily on journal citations on an international basis,” he said.  “That has disadvantaged various fields of Australian research.  It arises from the competitive nature of the system with deans who issue lists of journals you can and cannot publish in, which are starving these fields.  And it’s particularly silly because most of the deans haven’t done research in decades.

Professor Macintyre said it was a “form of competition” that was disadvantaging the national interest.  “We put an enormous amount of money into enabling Australians to go to university and a smaller amount into supporting research at universities,” he said.  “We should expect them to pay some regard to their national responsibilities.”  Professor Phiddian agreed that universities’ focus on doing well in international rankings had resulted in Australian and also New Zealand studies, being downgraded.  “International scholarship is more highly ranked than local scholarship,” said Professor Phiddian of the Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres.

Professor Phiddian went on “It probably makes perfectly good sense in chemistry and mathematics.  But in the arts and humanities, it generates a bias against Australian and New Zealand research.”  He said Australia had university leaders “who think universities are machines for generating university rankings”.  Maurice Newman, a former chancellor of Macquarie University, said opposition to the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation exemplified a major problem in Australian universities.  “Western civilisation is something which is impossible to defend in a modern university,” Mr Newman said.  “What is inferred to us is that we are part of an inferior culture.”

“It goes to the whole issue of how we came here and questions the legitimacy of our civilisation and our society and that’s what seems to be pretty much the broad view in universities these days” Newman said.  He said universities and the corporate world were “looking more to the global view than to national interests” and adopting theories on climate change and identity politics without critical assessment.  Professor Melleuish, a political conservative who has specialised in political ideologies and systems, used his submission to sound the alarm on universities being increasingly motivated by rising in international rankings and attracting as many foreign students as possible.

He said universities had shifted from being institutions with a “strong democratic flavour to ones that are run top down by individuals who see themselves as absolute rulers”.  “Australian universities have increasingly become highly authoritarian institutions,” Professor Melleuish said.  “There is clearly a connection between their desire to become international institutions and their increasing authoritarianism.  They have moved away from being national institutions, devoted to the national interest and imbued with the Australian democratic spirit to being something quite different that is inimical to the democratic culture of Australia.”

Senator Stoker said universities played a “key role in shaping identity and culture”.  “There is some force in Professor Melleuish’s submission that academic disdain for Australian culture, combined with measures of performance that align incentives with international rather than Australian interests, have expunged our history and national pride from the curriculum,” she said.  “They have been replaced with cultural cringe, embarrassment about our history and aspiration to a globalist outlook.  As a consequence, students can fail to appreciate the freedoms that made our nation rise so swiftly, or the history that shows our democracy is worth valuing and protecting.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Queensland’s most senior religious leaders, have united in a bid to push against the legalisation of euthanasia in that State.  An open letter signed by 16 religious authorities urges “high quality palliative care” over voluntary assisted dying.  Catholic Archbishop Coleridge, along with Anglican Archbishop Aspinall, Uniting Church Rev David Baker as well as Jewish, Islamic, Wesleyan, Lutheran, Baptist and other leaders wrote that voluntary assisted dying (VAD) is “not dying well”.  “The Queensland Government should maintain the current laws and improve palliative care for a flourishing Queensland based on human freedom, human dignity and the common good,” the letter stated.

A parliamentary committee has been tasked with assessing aged care, end-of-life and palliative care and VAD.  It is due to report back by March this year.  The religious leaders argue that to legalise VAD “is a failure because we have done nothing to improve the circumstances that lead to people experiencing such unnecessary and avoidable suffering in the first place”.  “We have failed in our responsibility to affirm the worth of every Queenslander and the meaningfulness of every life, leading some among us, especially the most vulnerable, to believe that they are worth nothing and that they would be ‘better off dead’,” the letter stated.

They added that VAD “undermines efforts” to tackle the “crisis of suicide”.  “We believe better end-of-life care begins with better conversations about death and dying and how we can die well in ways that do not undermine the foundational values of our society,” they wrote.  The leaders said Queenslanders didn’t yet have universal access to specialist palliative care that addresses the physical, psycho-social and spiritual needs of people.  Independent MP Sandy Bolton has urged the major parties to work together to ensure parliament voted on new laws to legalise euthanasia before the State Election in October 2020.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The Australian Psychological Association (APA) is making moves to totally exclude parents where transgender children are concerned.  Children under 16 should be allowed to go ahead with irreversible transgender surgery against the wishes of both parents and without mandatory counselling, the Australian Psychological Association says.  In an unpublished law reform submission, the peak body representing 24,000 psychologists says opposition of both parents should not stand in the way of a child under 16 consenting to surgery, such as a double mastectomy, as long as the doctors are “competent” in assessing the child’s capacity to make decisions.

Currently court approval and counselling is required prior to surgery.  But the APA say this creates an “an unnecessary burden” as the child would have had enough medical care by that point.  The APA say parents can be a “a significant barrier” to children seeking to transition.  The APA would prefer hospitals and the courts have authority over children.  Not all experts agree.  A paediatrician with more than two decades’ experience said the brain’s frontal lobe, crucial to complex decision-making, does not reach maturity until the age of 25.  “Young people are making life-changing decisions about their bodies before their brains and cognitive function have fully matured,” he said.

Source: Binary

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