Gafcon – Part 6

Dear friends,

Almost 2000 years ago, on the stairs of the temple, the apostle Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed an enormous crowd saying: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘ “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””
Acts 2:14-21

Not long after, 3000 people decided to start following Jesus and they were baptised.

Today, 2000 people who have called on the name of Jesus and are determined to “preach Christ faithfully to the nations” (Gafcon 2018 theme) sat together to do church on the temple stairs. We sung and prayed together and heard of the great sermon Peter preached. It was a wonderfully moving time – to think, we were doing church on the actual steps where Jesus walked into Jerusalem.

What was most incredible though, was that we were surrounded by Muslim and Jewish people who were listening. Listening to the good news of Jesus Christ being proclaimed. A whole Muslim family stood looking out from a window in the wall. It was a beautiful moment where the theme of this Gafcon was being played out in the providence of God.

All this made me very excited and reminded me of Campbelltown. We do not need to go far from our church to preach Christ to the nations. Walk down Queen St. Go to the Anglicare Mobile Pantry on Wednesday. Come to ESL on Thursdays. Take a look around in your street! The nations are among us. Let us take up Gafcon’s urging and together, preach Christ faithfully just as Peter did on those stairs.

 

In Christ
Nigel

Gafcon – Part 5

Rwanda was the home of a powerful revival in 1929 which spread spontaneously during the 1930’s and became known as the East African Revival. So it would seem to be an unlikely place for terrible violence. Archbishop-elect Mbanda, himself forced to flee his homeland as a child after a massacre broke out in 1959, has reflected deeply on this paradox.

A particularly shocking feature of the genocide was that many were murdered in churches. ‘Rwanda now has a history of bloody sanctuaries,’ Mbanda writes. ‘Pastors, influential lay people and top denominational leaders were often implicated in the tragedies.’ But the core of the problem was a widespread failure to nurture converts so that they become disciples. This inadequate understanding of mission was to have tragic consequences; too often, the killers were church attenders who would even perform rituals intended to stop the spirits of their victims disturbing them in future.

In other words, if converts do not become disciples, they will drift into syncretism. Mbanda writes: ‘We must remember that the impetus of the Great Commission is to make disciples. An initial commitment to Jesus Christ is crucial, but it is an early step in fulfilling the Great Commission; the church’s task demands comprehensive discipleship’.

The Rwandan Church has learned from its history and its leaders have a particular sharpness of spiritual insight. It is not coincidental that Bishop Mbanda’s predecessor as Bishop of Shyira, John Rucyahana, was the first to ‘boundary cross’ in 1998 when he took an orthodox Episcopal church plant, St Andrew’s Little Rock in Arkansas, under his wing. As Rucyahana once explained to me, the West stood by as genocide devastated Rwanda, but the Rwandans were determined not to stand by as spiritual genocide took hold in the West.

The parallel may seem extreme, even offensive, but it does capture the determination of Anglican revisionists in North America to rid their churches of those who would not accept their agenda. A veneer of civility has masked the process on this side of the Atlantic, but it is wearing thin. As Anglican church leaders increasingly accommodate to the post-Christian culture of British society, the lesson of Rwanda is that we need to form Christian disciples who love Jesus enough to resist the challenge of syncretism, whatever form it takes and even when it becomes established in the church.

Despite the failings of church leadership, there were ordinary Rwandans at the time of the genocide who were deeply committed disciples of Jesus and their living faith shone brightly as they died. Mbanda recounts that ‘Those who survived church slaughters testify that the victims often spent time in prayer and adoration. They gave their lives to Christ and died’. The Anglican future belongs to such as these.

Article written by Canon Charles Raven, Membership Development Secretary for Gafcon.

GAFCON – Part 4

Dear friends,

Gafcon’s mission is to ‘Restore Anglican Commitment to Biblical Truth’ and the way we do that by guarding and proclaiming the unchanging truth in a changing world. The authority of the Bible is under attack from aggressive secularism outside the church and progressive groups within, determined to ‘revise’ God’s revealed will in Scripture. Gafcon, therefore, is committed to guarding the truth of the Gospel by challenging the error of false teaching particularly on issues where salvation is at stake.

Gafcon is equally committed to Gospel Mission. We recognise the purpose of our shared lives as Anglicans is to fulfill the Great Commission by proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to all nations. The size, strength, experience and world-wide presence of the Anglican Communion means it still has the potential to be a powerful and effective agent for global mission. But nothing can happen without God being at work so we pray.

I invite you to pray with us as below:

Give thanks for:

  • Two previous Gafcon Conferences; Jerusalem 2008 (where over 1,000 attended) and Nairobi 2013 (where 1,300 were present).
  • The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration, our basis of faith, which unites the movement.
  • The Primates who lead the movement and the ‘Panel of Assistance’ who support them.
  • The launch of Gafcon Ireland in April and the creation of the new province of The Anglican Church in Brazil in May led by Archbishop Miguel Uchoa.
  • The growing resources available on the website and the recent launch of the Gafcon YouTube channel.
  • The ‘Caminemos Juntos’ program which links the ACNA and the Anglican Church in Brazil in a joint evangelistic and church planting initiative.

GAFCON in Jerusalem starts next weekend and your prayers are hugely valued. Please pray for the program of events:

  • For Dr. Peter Jensen, the Gafcon General Secretary and convener of the conference who is responsible for the program as a whole and organising plenary sessions and speakers.
  • For those giving talks, making presentations and leading sessions that they would prepare well.
  • For fellowship: that delegates from 50+ countries would be united in Christ and would form lasting friendships.
  • For the launch of 9 key networks in Jerusalem: Global Mission Partnerships, Church Planting, Theological Education, Bishops Training, Youth and Children’s Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Sustainable Development, Intercessory Prayer, Lawyer’s Task Force.
  • The imminent launch of the Gafcon Church planting network in Jerusalem
  • The focus on outreach in the forthcoming conference with the theme: ‘Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations’
  • For the outcome of the conference: that it would be clear what Gafcon needs to do next.
  • For Canon Daniel Willis, the Conference Director, charged with pulling the whole thing together.
  • For last minute arrangements with flights visas and hotel accommodation
  • For security and safety in Jerusalem and the Middle East as a whole
  • For the chairman of the Primates Council, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and deputy chairman, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali.

In Partnership in prayer for the sake of Christ.
Nigel

Gafcon – Part 3

Dear friends,

The need for Gafcon is increasingly clear. The Gospel is being lost throughout the Western world and Anglican Church leaders are becoming increasingly litigious towards churches who want to maintain their orthodox theology as expressed in the Scriptures and the Book of Common Prayer.

Let’s start with the recent Royal Wedding. If nothing else, it was a celebration of “love”. The words of the prayer book were used expressing the biblical truth that marriage is between a man and a woman. Strangely, however, neither celebrant nor preacher believe that definition of marriage anymore and the preacher is busy removing people from their churches and suing them if they disagree with same-sex marriage and want to distance themselves from leaders who do. That doesn’t sound loving does it?!

One classic example from a decade ago is that of Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, NY. They could no longer agree with their diocese’s unbiblical stance on marriage and decided to leave the diocese and join a Gafcon group. The diocese repossessed their building through the courts but the congregation offered to buy it back at market rates so they could keep meeting. The diocese refused to sell it to them and instead sold it to a Muslim Outreach Centre for one-third of what the Church offered and added a caveat in the contract saying it could never be sold to the church again.

This same story is being repeated throughout the USA right now under the power and authority of the loving, powerful wedding preacher. He is suing congregations out of their buildings because they no longer want to accept the authority of those who deny biblical truth.

What is even more devastating is that the wedding preacher and his church are currently in a three year exclusion from International Anglican affairs as a disciplinary measure for their unbiblical stance on marriage and their open acceptance of actively homosexual clergy. But don’t worry about that, we will invite their most senior leader to preach at the world’s biggest Anglican event this year. It’s a farce.

The spread of this litigious liberal theology in aggressive pursuit of marriage equality in the Anglican Church is continuing – most recently in Scotland and New Zealand. There are rumblings of it on our own shores.

Anglicans wanting to stick to the bible need a place to call home. That place is Gafcon.

Prayerfully
Nigel

GAFCON – Part 2

There are two things that stand at the heart and soul of the GAFCON Movement that its members cling to: biblical authority and orthodox Anglicanism.

Biblical Authority
GAFCON is a Bible-based movement which submits to the authority of the Scripture.  The Apostle Paul reminded Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that:

All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’

Paul was making it clear to his young protégé that although written by men, the words in Scripture were originally breathed out through God’s lips into the writers’ hearts and the Bible is therefore God’s written Word. And because God is sovereign and incapable of error, so is his Word. It contains the key principles and teaching for mankind to be fully ‘equipped’ to live the way God wants.

As well as the Bible, God has given humans reason and the historical witness of the church to discern matters of faith but GAFCON believe that Scripture is the higher authority.  It is the final court of appeal for doctrine because it is His revealed will.  All the foundational documents of Anglicanism, the Thirty-Nine Articles, The Book of Common Prayer and the Homilies all insist on this supreme authority.

Sadly, there are those within the Anglican Communion, including whole Provinces, who have rejected the authority of God’s written Word and have put their trust in their own reason.  This has been most evident in the area of sexual ethics and human sexuality.  And it is for this reason that GAFCON was formed; to restore the Bible to heart of the Communion so that the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ might not be compromised.

Orthodox Anglicanism
GAFCON is steadfastly orthodox.  We stand by the founding principles and doctrines of the church which are rooted in Scripture as affirmed in the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration which states: “The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal”.

Revisionists within the Communion would have the church move away from its Bible-based orthodox roots. They have ignored Paul’s warning not “not conform to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2) and have allowed western secularism to dominate their world view.  GAFCON is here to gather faithful Anglicans around the world to contend for the truth as passed down from the apostles.

I’m looking forward to gathering with more than 2000 people in three weeks in Jerusalem who have these dual commitments that lead to a passionate desire for ministry and mission!

In Christ
Nigel

GAFCON 2018 – Part 1

Dear Friends,

It is no secret that the Anglican Church is in crisis. As a Global Church we are shrinking, we have abandoned our historical and theological moorings and we have little vision for what we should be doing in the world. In many ways, everyone appears to be doing what is right in their own eyes. This is an enormous problem. It is almost like the reality and authority of God has been methodologically excluded from many Anglican churches and leaders’ theology, thought and life. Churches have left God and his Word out in the cold.

It is for this reason that in the second half of June, I will be heading to Jerusalem for the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). GAFCON is an opportunity for like-minded Anglicans from across the world who believe in the authority of Scripture, the evangelistic mission of the church and the resurrection of and uniqueness of Jesus to gather, to pray, and to strategise. The GAFCON movement is a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion.

Our mission is to guard the unchanging, transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ and to proclaim Him to the world. We are founded on the Bible, bound together by the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008, and led by a Primates Council, which represents the majority of the world’s Anglicans.

GAFCON works to guard and proclaim the unchanging, transforming Gospel through biblically faithful preaching and teaching which frees our churches to make disciples by clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ in all the world.

The GAFCON journey began in 2008 when moral compromise, doctrinal error and the collapse of biblical witness in parts of the Anglican communion had reached such a level that the leaders of the majority of the world’s Anglicans felt it was necessary to take a united stand for truth. A crowd of more than one thousand witnesses, including Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, clergy and lay leaders gathered in Jerusalem for the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON).

The second conference, GAFCON 2013, was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013, at which over 1,300 delegates from 38 nations and 27 Provinces of the Anglican Communion were present. The gathering gave the Primates a mandate, through the Nairobi Communiqué and Commitment, to take forward the work of the GAFCON movement.

This year, almost 2000 will gather to encourage each other and pray for the work of authentic Anglicans around the world.

Over the next few weeks I want to share some stories about the faith and faithlessness of Anglicans from around the globe so you might be able to see the crisis clearly and pray. If you have any questions about GAFCON, please feel free to ask.

In Christ,
Nigel

Introducing the French Family

Dear Friends,

We were pleased to announce at the AGM that we will be supporting Jim and Tanja French and their family as they go to do mission in Spain with CMS.

Here is some more information about Jim and Tanja….

Jim and Tanja are seeking to serve in theological education in Spain. While the majority of Spanish people identify as Christians, for many this is more about culture than conviction. They have no personal relationship with Jesus. Many described themselves as ‘non-practicing’ and have no contact with the church.  A growing number are rejecting the church completely. The small evangelical church in Spain is in desperate need for Christian pastors who are trained to teach God’s Word and equip others.  They are excited about the possibility of serving in Spain through theological education and training.

“We (Tanja & Jim) met and married in Spain. We have a daughter Evie (b. 2009) and a son Silas (b. 2010). As a family, we are actively involved at Bulli Anglican Church in Northern Wollongong.  Tanja has been involved in Playgroup, Women’s Bible Study, Crèche, teaching and coordinating SRE and is on the missionary support committee.  Jim regularly preaches, leads the gatherings, and leads a weekly Men’s Growth Group.  The children are active participants in church, kid’s church and kid’s club and they bring their friends along.

Tanja was born in Germany and converted at 16. With an interest in overseas development work, her Christian faith moved her interest toward mission work. She became convinced that knowing Jesus changes hearts and can change societies.  After completing school Tanja began a traineeship in banking in Spain and joined a church plant in Madrid.  She then completed theological study in the US before returning to Spain to serve with a German Mission organisation in church planting, children, youth and women’s ministry.

Jim is an electrician by trade and studied full time ministry at Moore Theological College, Sydney (1992-94). He served in parish ministry for 13 years before moving back to Sydney to work with Anglican Youthworks College. For the past 11 years Jim has lectured in OT, NT and Ministry subjects and more recently served in the role of Vice Principal. Prior to Youthworks College, Jim spent a year as short-term missionary in Spain.

Evie and Silas are a great blessing to our family with their different personalities. Both children are being raised bi-lingual and enjoy different cultures and countries. Evie is very social and enjoys singing, playing keyboard and speaking in public but also quietly reading books. Silas is social and quietly confident. He works hard at reading and swimming, but his great passion is the ‘world game’: Soccer! Both children enjoy bike riding, circus (fun gymnastics) and friends.

After prayerful consideration, we trust that God has suitably positioned us to do cross-cultural mission as a family. We believe God has prepared us for a place like Spain, given our backgrounds, experience and personalities.  We’re excited at the possibility to be doing in Spain what we are doing here: training & equipping, leading & learning, mission & discipleship, church planting & growing people so that they too can do what we do.”

In February 2018, Jim and Tanja French began their 6 months training at St Andrew’s Hall.  They will spend the rest of the year building relationships with their link churches and partners before going overseas early 2019.  We are excited to be partnering with them as they seek to serve and encourage God’s church in Spain?

Jim and Tanja will be visiting us from 4th November and we look forward to sharing the week with them.

In Christ,
Nigel

Serving in Ad-Ministry

Dear Friends,

The Annual General Meetings for our Church were held late last month and they were well attended and stimulating meetings. Thanks to everyone who came and participated and for all the recommendations that were made to Parish Council and the ministry team to follow up.

We are particularly engaged in the areas of seniors’ ministry, SRE and Property infrastructure.

I want to commend Arya Darmaputra, Kevin Hines, Chris Main and Andree Holloway for their work in managing and presenting the finances. At both our churches (St Andrew’s and St Peter’s) we have significant financial challenges pressing upon us for the year ahead and I encourage you to read the reports that were given out and consider your own personal response to the information given and the grace of God. Throughout this year, I will be asking the wardens of both churches to make regular reports on finances.

We had a number of elections at both meetings and I am thankful to all who stood for election. So to the results!

Wardens are actively involved in ensuring the proper management of property and finances on at least a weekly basis. They also assist in managing ministry and staff.

At St Peter’s, Barrie Atkins, Kevin Hines and Jason Manning will be our 2018 Wardens.

At St Andrew’s, Ian Bannerman, Margaret Hiron and Jack Starmans will be our 2018 Wardens.

Parish Council make decisions on how money and property should be spent and used in light of the church strategic plan. They also assist the minister and staff in directing the ministry.

Our elected Parish Councillors are John Brackenbury, Bek Culbert, Arya Darmaputra, Kerry Olsen, Sharon Richards and Lindsay Schroder. There are two people prayerfully considering my invitation to join this group.

Parish Nominators are the people who select a new Senior Minister for the Parish if the current one leaves. Our elected nominators are Sarah Manning, Nicole Schroder, Derek Poole, Chris Main, Cameron Jansen.

We did not elect Synod Representatives this year as they are elected for a three-year cycle so David Busutel and Sarah Manning will continue in that role.

So we are now into the work of governing and managing our church together. Our Parish Council meetings, to which all 6 wardens and 8 Parish Councillors are invited, are shared opportunities to think, talk and pray. Our first meeting is next Wednesday and I ask you to pray for us as we meet and discuss important issues together.

I’m excited about all God is doing among us and hope you are too.

In Christ
Nigel

Is it well with thee?

This article was previously published on sydneyanglicans.net

There is one religious inscription on an Australian headstone in the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery in France that I often recall because of it contains both a statement and a question:

REDEEMED WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF JESUS

IS IT WELL WITH THEE?

The inscription is on the headstone of Private William Leonard Walker, aged 18, who was killed in action on August 8, 1918. The first line of the inscription is taken from 1 Peter 1:18-19a and it is slightly altered but not significantly: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ”.

I know very little about Private William Walker apart from what can be deduced from his service record. His headstone states that he was 18. He may have been younger. He joined the army in November 1916 when he was 17. Perhaps this is the reason he spent all of 1917 and the first half of 1918 in Australia: he was too young for overseas service. He did eventually go to the Western Front where he joined the 19th Battalion (AIF) in July 1918. He was killed in action 19 days later.

What must it have been like for William’s parents to have learnt of his death: the loss of expectation they would have felt, the pain of having a child predecease them, the immense sadness of not being there with him as he died? And, yet, when they came to choose the personal inscription for his headstone they chose something that spoke of hope and life rather than hopelessness and death.

For that is how Christians respond to death: grief, yes, but hope built on the certainty of Jesus’ death and resurrection that transcends the grief and pain. And so, they chose REDEEMED WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF JESUS. For the grave and headstone was not the end, is never the end, for those who have been redeemed by Jesus.

And note the second part of the inscription: IS IT WELL WITH THEE? This could be a question directed at William himself or a more general question directed at the reader. Most people I spoke to who have read his inscription have opted for the latter reading: Is this how it is for you? That is what it is asking.

William’s epitaph speaks of the assurance of those who have trusted themselves to the Lord Jesus. And yet it does more because it challenges all who read to consider where they stand with regard to the Lord Jesus. A thoughtfully chosen epitaph can certainly engage and challenge the reader. William’s thoroughly Christian inscription certainly does that for me.

The Rev Dr Colin R. Bale is the vice principal and academic dean of Moore College as well as head of the department of Church History.

Jesus was … !

Dear friends,

Our Mission and Easter have come and gone in a flurry and it is now time to reflect on and learn from the work we have done by God’s grace and in God’s strength. As a first port of call, here are some statistics from Peter Hayward about the impact of the mission across the Region….

  • About 10,000 people attended events where they heard the Gospel (not including church or schools ministry).
  • About 700 visitors attended performances of The Mark Drama.
  • More than 10,000 students heard the gospel in public and Anglican schools.
  • About 6500 Flyers were handed out at railway stations
  • About 90,000 Flyers were placed in letterboxes or otherwise distributed
  • About 9000 items of Jesus is merchandise were on display

And here we get to the guts of it in my books…

  • 6000 conversations about Jesus were had during March
  • About 450 people made decisions of some kind to follow Jesus
  • About 2500 people are being followed up

Hallelujah! All glory be to Christ.

And how good it is when brothers and sisters work together in gospel unity.

What’s next? Here are some reflections. We would be glad to hear yours!

1. You should keep wearing or using the “Jesus is” merchandise and seeking opportunities.

2. If you wore or held or displayed the name of Christ, but did *not* get a conversational opportunity be encouraged. Your willingness to go public for Jesus meant lots of other people were helped to get opportunities in the pretty massive way mentioned above!

3. I think it would be good for us to learn a “conversational closer”. We insisted people should learn the conversational opener off by heart (“We’re interested in people’s opinions, Jesus Is _____. What goes in the blank?”) – now I reckon we need to learn this off by heart, ready to use where appropriate (*not* every time like a robot):

“I’m looking for someone to read the Bible with me… Would you be interested?”
(This courtesy of Dale Stephenson of Crossway Baptist in Melbourne.)

4. Please keep your t-shirts, keep cups, wristbands and badges etc. for another go at this campaign in the future. We will probably do another big Jesus is mission in 2020. I know this might feel a little frustrating because now you’ve got the vision you may want to go again almost straight away; but if we go again straight away next year, I am very sure it will actually lose momentum and feel old hat. Other’s experience is that the good will and the learnings can be retained for a couple of years, and then returned too more freshly.

Anyway, that’s my 2c.

What are your thoughts?

In Christ
Nigel