Category

News Desk

SOUTH AUSTRALIA SHOULD NOT REPEAT AMSTERDAM’S MISTAKE

By Australian Newsletter

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has raised concerns due to a report from The Guardian exposing the incidence of human trafficking under the Netherland’s prostitution regime.  Prostitution has been legal in Amsterdam since 2000 and continues to be home to human trafficking and criminal gangs who force and coerce women mainly from eastern Europe into prostitution.  ACL’s state director Christopher Brohier said, “South Australia would be foolish indeed not to learn from the mistakes of other jurisdictions.”  “Amsterdam is yet another example of where industrialised prostitution fails to protect women.

“South Australia should not go down the decriminalisation route in relation to prostitution law reform.   Instead, if we are serious in fighting sex trafficking let’s enact the Nordic Model of prostitution law reform.  This model puts the blame on those who traffic women and criminalises the buying of sexual services.  It provides meaningful exit strategies for women wanting to leave prostitution rather than trapping them in an industry they were forced into initially.  This will help end the industrialisation of prostitution and so the demand for trafficked human beings” Brohier said.

“Einstein said the definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing, again and again, expecting a different result.  Let’s not repeat Amsterdam’s madness,” commented Mr Brohier.  ACL will continue to campaign against the Statutes Amendment (Decriminalisation of Sex Work) Bill 2018 introduced by the Greens into the SA upper house earlier this year as this bill will only serve to increase trafficking and further degrade respect for women.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

Print This Post Print This Post

 

SCHOOLS MUST STOP BEING SEXUALISED

By Australian Newsletter

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has urged state and federal governments to stop the sexualisation of school children.  Its reported that in Australia 38% of kids aged between 13-15 have sent a sexual picture or video, and 62% have received one.  Additionally, 50% of kids between 16-18 have sent a ‘sext’ and over 70% of them have received one.  ACL’s managing director Martyn Iles said, “The number of school children engaging in this activity is alarming.  It is incumbent upon governments to exercise their duty of care and remove sexualising influences from schools.”

Mr Iles continued “We are concerned about the impact of programs like Safe Schools, Respectful Relationships and organisations like Project Rockit which actively encourage kids to explore sexuality.  Activists groups like these are making it increasingly possible for young children to be influenced by sexualised messages under the guise of educational content.”  Wendy Francis, director of the Centre for Human Dignity said; “It’s not the role of schools to promote the early sexualisation of children.  Sexting promotes unhealthy and dangerous ideas around sexuality and identity and can seriously harm the development of children’s body image and mental health.”

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

Print This Post Print This Post

 

Another Amazing APN International Watchmen Bootcamp in Israel

By Feature Articles

We could not have imagined just how life-changing and impacting our Australian Prayer Network International Watchmen Bootcamps would be.  Discipling ordinary people in ‘how to pray for nations’ and giving them a ‘bigger vision for Israel and the Middle East’ has to be some of the most rewarding ministry I’ve ever been involved with.

As a Pastor, if I could take my whole congregation through this immersive discipleship program having now led three of these Bootcamps with over 120 people, I’d reckon that they would receive an accelerated growth in these two weeks equivalent to more than 5 years of average church life.  Make no mistake, it is God who transforms us into the likeness of Jesus as we align ourselves with His kingdom prayer inviting Him to ‘let your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.


In two words the Bootcamp was life changing. It has given me a new zeal and focus for praying.  For those contemplating Bootcamp 2019: You will be blessed beyond your wildest dreams and return home with an intense love for Israel, her people and her neighbours, and the knowledge of what to pray for. AC, Hunter Region NSW

It was all so life changing!!! We really see ourselves in a NEW SEASON now, even though we have returned home. TS & RS, Tomingley, NSW

Experiencing Bootcamp in Israel was life changing for me as a Christian, it brought the Bible to life, opened doorways that would have not been possible otherwise.  The amazing team that led us were such a blessing.  I would summarize the journey as “Road to Damascus” a life changing event. SJO, Perth, WA

For me, the Bootcamp brought the Bible to life.  It helped me get “inside” Israel, some of her people & her history.  It helped me get a clearer understanding of the meaning & significance of the Isaiah 19 Highway & brought hundreds of years of history more into focus.  It made me aware of how timeless & alive God’s word is.  If you want a typical “tourist trip”, don’t go on the Bootcamp because we bypass many of the touristy sites.  But if you want to meet real-life Israelis and put into practice what you learnt at the Australian Prayer Network schools, this is the trip for you. RW, Blackall QLD


A House of Prayer for All Nations

Prayer is central to everything we do on the Bootcamp, but it also changes people in their whole Christian walk.  The Bootcamp takes the teaching of the APN’s Watchmen Schools of Intercession (WSOI) and allows participants to apply what they’ve learned not only in praying for Australia, but to practically equip the church in Australia to become a house of prayer for all nations.


Regarding the WSOI a number of Pastors have said, “where has this teaching been for the past 20 years” and “I want to ensure that every person in my congregation gets to hear this teaching.” Another stated, “this is not just about prayer, it is about real life.”

More than 12,500 people have now completed the
Australian Prayer Network’s WSOI Foundation School


The Jewish and Arab ministries we partner with in Israel often comment on the maturity of our teams.  Every participant on the Bootcamp has already completed 3 levels of Watchmen Schools of Intercession: Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced.

In a nutshell what do you do on the Bootcamps?

Our Bootcamps are not a typical tour of Israel.  Our aim is to ‘understand the past, connect to the present and shape the future.’  This is our basic template for every prayer journey we undertake in the nations.  Everything we do is established on the bedrock of Scripture.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 NIV

Our program begins at the place where Abraham was called to, the wilderness around Beersheba (modern day Be’er Sheva).  As we reflect on Abraham, the father of our faith, we understand the essence of the Christian faith is about total availability and radical obedience.  The wilderness too holds special meaning in Hebrew as the place where God speaks (Hosea 2:14).

We also remember our ANZAC diggers of 101 years ago and identify with their incredible courage in the Beersheba Light Horse charge.  In a spiritual sense, we ask are we prepared to lay our lives down to set the captives free?

In order to understand the foundation of the modern nation of Israel founded 70 years ago, we visit Ben Gurion’s desert homestead.  As Israel’s first Prime Minister we reflect on his leadership and his dream to see the Negev Desert bloom and feed the population.  He humbly gave up power in government and moved to a small hut in Sde Boker to serve that vision, which today has become a reality.

That’s just our first day, full of ‘onsite with insight’ experiences to build a framework for both personal spiritual growth and in-depth understanding of prayer for nations.


I would recommend future Bootcamps as there is insight
you cannot get unless you’re on site. FN, Geelong VIC


In brief: we move from our time in the wilderness where we allow God to strip us back, speak to us and prepare our hearts to see the fulness of His unchanging Kingdom plan to save the nations; along the way we engage with a daily devotional built around the Beatitudes and have regular times of prayer and worship; as we consider the suffering of Jews at Masada and in the Holocaust, we contemplate on Jesus as the suffering servant on the Cross through an inspired sculptural artwork, and then in a private Gethsemane garden we reflect personally on his prayer where he cried out “not my will but yours.

While in Jerusalem: we hold our Isaiah 19 Highway: A Bigger Vision for the Middle East two-day residential teaching conference with our team and local guest speakers at Christ Church, the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East; a heart-touching highlight is handing out care packages to Muslims, working with an Arabic evangelical church in the Old City; praying in a 24/7 house of prayer with views of Mt Zion and the Temple Mount is spectacular; plus visits to the Garden Tomb and Western Wall.

Up north in the Galilee: we have onsite exegetical teaching at Megiddo; enjoy a sabbath rest at a lakeside resort; hear from Arabic Pastors and pray for the church in Nazareth; visit young troops at a kibbutz on the northern border with Lebanon; visit Jesus’ hometown of Capernaum with illuminating teaching on the shore of the Galilee; hear plumbline teaching on Jews and Gentiles from the leaders of a Messianic Congregation whose ministry reaches out to the poor; prayer-walk the city of Haifa and pray over it on the slopes of Mt Carmel following onsite teaching.

The Bootcamp concludes: as we visit a house of prayer dedicated for the church to pray over the Tel Aviv metro area with nearly 4 million residents; after more strategic prayer looking up the coast from the old city of Jaffa, we head to our Judean Hillside retreat to wrap up our discipleship journey and reflect on our rewarding times of rich fellowship, reverent focus and rollicking fun.


Bootcamp was a good mix of prayer, praise and worship, new teaching and putting into practice what we learnt. It provided opportunity to see significant sites and visit many ministries in Israel all the while having a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside both Messianic and Arab believers. The Leadership trusted our ability to hear God in our lives and was willing to let us “have a go”. I believe I have grown in my Christian walk as a result. The relationship building throughout was amazing. I attended Bootcamp knowing no one and left with many new friends. RS, Sydney NSW


How Can I Join the Bootcamp in 2019?

Simply complete the 3 levels of APN Watchmen Schools of Intercession (WSOI): Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced.  Visit our School Calendar for 2019  for more details on available schools.  You are eligible to apply to join our 2019 Bootcamp if you have completed or are registered to complete an Advanced School prior to the trip during 31 October – 15 November 2019.

For information on our next Watchmen Bootcamp take a look at our APN-Bootcamp 2019 Brochure and to apply complete our Bootcamp Application Oct-Nov 2019.

Intermediate & Advanced Watchmen Schools of Intercession planned for early 2019

MARCH 1-2         Intermediate Servants of Jesus Sydney NSW
MARCH 7-10       Intermediate Mt Pleasant Baptist WA
APRIL 12-14        Intermediate Toowoomba QLD
JUNE 14-16         Advanced Bindoon WA
JUNE 21-23         Intermediate Canberra ACT
JULY 5-7              Advanced Albury VIC/NSW
JULY 12-14           Advanced Blacktown NSW

Print This Post Print This Post

 

SYDNEY ANGLICANS BAN SAME-SEX WEDDINGS AND PRO-LBGTI ADVOCACY ON CHURCH PROPERTY

By Australian Newsletter

The Sydney Anglican diocese has voted to ban same-sex weddings from any Anglican church or building, and prohibit its properties from being used to promote homosexuality or “transgender ideology”.  Critics within the church say the policy could stop pastors and teachers from speaking in favour of marriage equality, and stifle student-led LGBTI support groups at Anglican schools.  The Church sees the current debate about its right to fire gay teachers as a “key threat” to its ability to foster a Christian ethos at its schools.  The 51st Synod of the Sydney diocese voted to introduce the property policy to ensure church-owned buildings are used only for “acts or practices which conform to the doctrines, tenets and beliefs of the diocese”.

The policy specifies it would be inappropriate to use church-owned property for “advocacy for transgender ideology (e.g gender-fluidity)” and “advocacy for expressions of human sexuality contrary to our doctrine of marriage”.  It also bans local Anglican boards from allowing property, such as school halls, to host same-sex marriages or receptions associated with same-sex weddings.  Under Archbishop Glenn Davies, the conservative Sydney diocese of the Anglican church was one of the key forces opposed to same-sex marriage, donating $1 million to the “No” campaign last year.

Bishop of South Sydney Michael Stead, the senior clergyman who authored the proposal, said that the use of church property had “always been governed by various regulations” and the new policy merely sought to consolidate those into a single document.  “The new policy doesn’t represent a change in our position and I wouldn’t expect it to have an effect on any activities currently occurring on church trust property,” he said.  “Because the federal government has changed its definition of marriage, the policy makes clear the church’s doctrine of marriage has not changed and that property use scenarios relate only to man/woman marriage.”

Bishop Stead’s report noted “man-woman marriage” was not explicitly defined as a tenet of the Sydney Anglican church, and it would be “prudent” to do so in order to harness the power granted to the church through exemptions to NSW anti-discrimination laws.  “A key threat to maintaining the Christian ethos of our Anglican institutions is in relation to the employment of Christian staff,” he noted.   The Ruddock review of religious freedom, which is currently before Federal Parliament, urges new laws to “make it clear” religious schools are not required to provide their facilities for any marriage providing the refusal conforms to the tenets of their religion.

Mr Ruddock also recommends schools retain their right to hire and fire teachers on the basis of their sexuality, provided they have a written policy on the matter.  However, Labor, and some Liberals, are seeking to propose removing that right altogether.  The government intends to remove religious schools’ right to discriminate against gay students a policy that is supported by the Labor Opposition.  Bishop Stead said the bill was intended primarily as a necessary protection against being accused of, or sued for, discrimination under anti-discrimination legislation in a world he described as increasingly at odds with the conservative Christian world view.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post

 

LABOR RADICAL GENDER POLICY WATERED DOWN BUT FOR HOW LONG

By Australian Newsletter

Bill Shorten’s claims that birth certificates and other legal documents will not be de-gendered under Labor are contradicted by his own written policy platform; the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has pointed out.  Managing Director, Martyn Iles said, “Bill Shorten denies his party have any plans to remove gender from birth certificates and other legal documents.  However, the ALP draft policy platform taken to the recent ALP National Conference affirmed the Yogyakarta Principles, Principal 31 of which says “States shall end the registration of the sex and gender of the person in identity documents such as birth certificates, identification cards, passports and driver licences, and as part of their legal personality.”

“ACL has been concerned about the ALP’s national platform for some time.  It is riddled with identity politics including opening the door to criminalising parents who don’t blindly facilitate their child’s chosen gender identity.  Labor’s gender agenda is clear in their policy platform and was succinctly explained by Miranda Devine in the Daily Telegraph” Iles said.  For instance there are 64 mentions of “sexual orientation”, 59 of “intersex”, 42 of “LGBTI”, 36 of “transgender”, 33 of “bisexual”, 31 of “lesbian”, 29 of “gay”, along with several mentions of transphobia, biphobia and homophobia.  “Gender” gets a whopping 138 mentions including 19 mentions of “gender identity”.

The recent National Conference of the ALP voted to remove a number of contentious sections of policy surrounding gender identity however the fear is that it was only for purposes of window dressing to avoid scrutiny prior to the election and does not reflect a permanent change in the policy direction Labor will take following the election should they win it when it is held, probably in May.

Source: Compiled by APN from various sources

Print This Post Print This Post

 

HUMAN RIGHTS BILL FOR QUEENSLAND MISGUIDED

By Australian Newsletter

Queensland’s Attorney General Yvette D’Ath has introduced the Human Rights Bill 2018 to the Legislative Assembly.  A bill the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) considers a misguided policy priority of the government.  Martyn Iles, ACL’s managing director, said “Human rights issues are by nature, political, and it is already the responsibility of parliament to protect these human rights.  A bill of rights that shifts the power of parliament to electorally unaccountable judges is extremely concerning.  It will erode the nature of Queensland democracy forever.  ACL is deeply concerned that this bill could lead to politically contested rights issues being handled by unelected officials.”

“Queensland parliament considered this issue in 2016.  At that time the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee was unable to agree on whether it would be appropriate and desirable to introduce a human rights act.  A human rights bill has also been considered in federal parliament since federation. Referendums to create a bill of rights in both 1944 and 1988 were defeated, while the government responded to the 2008 National Human Rights Consultation Committee by creating a Joint Committee on Human Rights.”  “Parliament must remain as the essential body to handle human rights as it consists of elected members who consult widely,” said Mr Iles.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

Print This Post Print This Post

 

WHAT IS THE FUTURE WHEN CHRISTIANS ARE AFRAID TO STAND OUT AND DISTRUST IS GROWING

By Feature Articles

Source: by Stoyan Zaimov of The Christian Post

As the religious landscape of America continues to change and those identifying with faith continues to decline, the fear of standing out as a Christian is growing.  And that is impacting evangelism efforts.  There’s a greater apprehension among those who do count themselves as Christians to not only share their faith but to even appear differently from the rest of society, according to Bo Rice, assistant professor of evangelism and preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  They’re too afraid to stand for beliefs that might be seen as offensive to others in a diversifying culture.

“I believe in the politically correct, politically charged climate of our culture today, believers are afraid to take a stand and to look different for fear of being accused of being intolerant toward others.  Unfortunately, we have reached a point in history where Christians are afraid to speak biblical truth in love out of fear of retribution,” Rice said. “Many Christians have just assimilated into the culture of the world, so they won’t ‘offend’ anyone.” New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Charles “Chuck” Kelley Jr., laments that Christians are simply blending in with the secular world.

While it can be argued that the older generations might have been “overchurched,” the reality today is that some people have “never stepped foot in a church,” said Noel Heikkinen, lead pastor at Riverview Church in the Lansing, Michigan.  Many people in the current generation don’t have the church experience that previous generations were exposed to. As a result, “their view of Christianity is what they have seen in pop culture, and what we are seeing even more so is that it’s derived from social media,” Heikkinen explained.  He said that for a lot of younger people, “their whole perception of Christianity is not about the Gospel, or Jesus, or any of that.”

Unlike previous generations, young people today “have very much an ‘a la carte’ approach to spirituality,” meaning that they want to “pick and choose what strands of their spirituality are important to them,” the Michigan pastor said.  “Even if they hear a preacher say Scripture has to be the ultimate authority in their lives, there is always going to be an “asterisk” next to that, and they will turn to their “own truth” if they hear something they disagree with, he noted.  For many young people, “there is no real truth that lies outside of their own personal experiences, biases and assumptions.”

“The self becomes the arbitrator of personal truth; personal truth becomes greater than absolute truth,” Heikkinen said. Rice also believes that the number of people who have never heard of Jesus Christ is growing.  “We are seeing and hearing of more stories of people coming to faith in Christ after hearing about Jesus for the first time.  However, I also do agree that we often encounter those who are ‘disillusioned’ with ‘religion’ altogether,” Rice said. Many polls have painted a complex picture of the religious landscape in America and the west as a whole.

One overarching trend that has emerged in most surveys and analyses is that the proportion of those identifying with Christianity, especially young people, is shrinking.  A study by Gallup has found that while 71% of Americans identified with a Protestant denomination back in 1955, the percentage decreased to less than half (47%) of the population in 2017.  Roman Catholics retained a more stable rate of identification, making up 22% of the population in 2017, compared to 24% in 1955.  Young people were found to be one of the chief drivers of the rising “nonreligious” demographic, with 33% of those aged 21 to 29 stating that they follow no religion.

J Warner Wallace, a cold case detective, author and senior fellow at the Colson Centre for Christian Worldview, chronicled more than 50 similar surveys back in January and concluded: “Fewer people claim a Christian affiliation than ever before, and those who claim no religious affiliation are the fastest growing group in America.”  Researcher George Barna of the American Culture & Faith Institute noted, following a survey of 9,273 American adults in November 2017, which found that only 31% of adults identify as born-again Christians, that faith is undergoing a “substantial challenge.”

“The Church at-large is not likely to grow in the future unless some fundamental changes in practice are made,” Barna warned.  The survey found that people are most likely to accept Christ as Saviour before they finish high school, with two out of every three individuals who say they are born again revealing they made the choice before the age of 18.  Currently, evangelism, defined as the act of proclaiming the message that Jesus Christ is Lord, is in what Rice calls a “confused” state.  One of Merriam Webster’s definitions of confusion is “a state or situation in which many things are happening in a way that is not controlled or orderly.”

“I believe that this is a good picture of evangelism today.  We are not seeing the large-scale, structured evangelism campaigns emphasized as strongly in present-day churches like we have in the past,” Rice, who is also the dean of Graduate Studies at the Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated NOBTS, observed.  “So we have lost the ‘controlled’ aspect of systematic approaches and more accurate reporting of numbers.”  Evangelism is still being done by individual churches and individuals but for Rice, the main question is whether their approach is effective in “reaching people for the Kingdom of God.”

Heikkinen is involved in another approach to evangelism: church planting.  He serves as the U.S. Midwest network director for Acts 29 Network, which focuses on planting churches where there is “a lot less Gospel influence.”  There are pockets in America where there’s been a good response to church planting and evangelism. “Some of the most successful efforts in the past 30 years” have been “in suburban areas,” Heikkinen noted.  “It’s been a much easier place to plant churches.”  He acknowledged that churches in America are “declining faster” than they are growing and church planters are struggling to plant in an urban context as well as in small rural towns.

In the major cities, people, especially in economically disadvantaged zones, are “suspicious of those coming in from outside” and would ask “why are you here?”  Suspicion against the church has intensified with the rise of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements.  People are seeing churches “as a place to cover up” sexual assault and to “protect those who are hurting vulnerable people,” Heikkinen added.  Church planters are encountering a lot of that sentiment, particularly from the younger generation.  Both the Protestant and Catholic world have been mired in sexual abuse cases.

The sexual assault accusations against, and downfall of, high-profile megachurch pastor Bill Hybels, as well as Andy Savage in Tennessee, have prompted much discussion on accountability in evangelical circles.  While the Catholic Church has faced scandals worldwide, decades of clergy sex abuse and institutional cover-ups were revealed in Pennsylvania and other states earlier this year.  Underlying those scandals have been the thousands of #ChurchToo stories shared in online circles by people, mostly women, who say they have suffered rape and other forms of sexual abuse by Christians in leadership and others within churches.

All of this has a direct consequence on how Christianity is perceived and creates challenges for evangelism, both Rice and Heikkinen affirmed.  “When a believer falls, especially clergy and lay leaders, it’s a deterrent to the advancement of the Gospel,” Rice commented.  “Satan uses the ‘fall’ of leaders through the abuse of innocent children or women, or adultery, to name a few, to attempt to destroy the credibility of all believers and the Gospel.  Their sin is magnified and these ‘Christians’ are made out to be ‘worse than the world’ so that all who see their fall and who do not know the story of Redemption through Christ have no desire to be associated with them.

“However, it is our job to make sure we preach the Redemptive portion of the story.  We need Jesus because of those very sin issues.”  Heikkinen reflected that there is mistrust in the U.S. toward authority in general, and that mistrust “bleeds into the church,” especially when it comes to cases of sex abuse.  Looking at just how many people have been accusing Christian leaders and churches of varying degrees of abuse and cover-ups, the Michigan pastor said that he can’t claim to be surprised.  “But I would say I am heartbroken,” Heikkinen said.

“I want our churches to be a light to this world,” Heikkinen emphasized, admitting that “it’s hard right now to be a voice in our culture” due to the scandals. Christians need to regain trust and the universal Church has to take big steps in that regard.  He pointed to 2 Timothy in the Bible, where the Apostle Paul says in part: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my Gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal.  But the word of God is not bound!  Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

Rice turned to Acts 1:8, which reads: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth.”  Rice insisted that the future of evangelism is not bleak.  “If the believers of Christ will look to Him for His promised Spirit, direction, and power, then we will see Him accomplish great things through us,” he underscored.  “In short, evangelism will be successful because Jesus is on His throne, and He still desires to use His people to bring about His purpose and will.”

Traditional methods of evangelism include preaching on the streets, which was popular in the ’70s, but it might not be as effective as before.  For Heikkinen, the most effective way to spread the Gospel message and bring people to Jesus is through relationships.  ”I think what we are discovering is that evangelism is about being friends with people,” speaking with them honestly, and not hiding one’s own sins, he explained.  Rather than starting with theological teachings right away when engaging with nonbelievers, he emphasized the importance of building friendships with them first.

When something happens in their lives and they need someone to talk to, the Christian friend can step up and share how their beliefs have helped them, he said.  “Some of the people I have personally been able to lead to faith in the last several years have all been my friends first,” he revealed.  Heikkinen noted that the opportunity presents itself when something happens in people’s lives, and then they think of him: “He is a pastor and a Christian, I should talk to him.”  That strategy is also discussed in Friend of Sinners: An Approach to Evangelism by author and pastor Harvey Turner, also of the Acts 29 Network.

The book details how the approach mirrors the ministry of Jesus Himself, who had conversations with everyday people and chose to be a “friend of the sinners.”  Rice noted he also tries to practice what he called “Gospel conversations,” namely “taking the time to develop relationships with people and then transitioning to a Gospel presentation in regular conversation.”  And that presentation must be the “full truth,” Rice stressed.  “To many, the Gospel and biblical principles are controversial and offensive.  But we are called to be witnesses of the full truth, not just the parts of the Bible that make us ‘feel good’ or ‘comfortable,’” he said.

“So yes, the culture is changing, and the context of ministry might be more difficult in our postmodern world, but that doesn’t mean we should water down biblical truth just to make it ‘easier’ for us because if we do that, what Gospel are we preaching?  Our own?  May we never make a mockery of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross in such a way.”  Christians must also not forget to extend a clear invitation to respond to the message of Jesus Christ.  Rice observed that in recent decades, fewer evangelicals ask for an “explicit response to the Gospel.” “Some no longer extend an invitation because they are fearful it might come across as manipulative,” he cautioned.

“I believe we must never use any form of manipulation in calling people to respond to the Gospel, but we must call for a clear and decisive response of people to repent of their sins and trust in Christ as Saviour and Lord.  We must plead and urge people to respond to the truth.”  Heikkinen often wonders what the state of Christianity will look like in the future.  “The trend that I see happening, and I hope I am wrong, is that American churches will continue declining in influence,” he said.  But that doesn’t leave him pessimistic in seeing more people in America gain salvation through Jesus because the work of evangelism will still go on, but not always from within.

There’s another trend that can’t be ignored, the Christian faith is growing overseas, such as in China and in parts of Africa and South America.  And they will send a new “generation of missionaries to come to the nations of the west and preach,” Heikkinen said.  Those overseas churches are earnestly praying for faith in the west, he highlighted. “God is going to use that.”

Print This Post Print This Post

LAST AUSTRALIAN NEWSLETTER FOR 2018

By Australian Newsletter

This is the final Australian News for the year.

We thank all of our readers for their support throughout the year and wish you all a Happy Christmas full of joy and spiritual blessing. The next edition of Australian News will be produced on Wednesday 9th January 2019.

Brian Pickering
National Coordinator
Australian Prayer Network