Just the other day… Who said that evangelism isn’t interesting?

Every week, we get unique opportunities to share the Gospel with people of all ages. Through the work in evangelistic Bible studies, one to one studies and scripture classes.
Lana – In our weekly Bible Study at Westpac Bank, Lana comes every week. She has recently immigrated from China and had never read the Bible before.
We were discussing the subject of the truth of he Bible. Lana seemed confused and asked about telling the truth about someone’s clothing. ‘Should I always tell the truth about what someone is wearing?’
This little clarification lead to a fantastic discussion within the group about the differentiation between absolute truth and telling a lie.
Gaetana – A woman in our community that we have the opportunity to engage with was asking about my work. We went on to have an hour long discussion about religion, the Gospel and her views of the world. I asked if she thought that my stance on ‘only one way to God’ sounded arrogant? She stated ‘No, because you are merely saying what you believe. Arrogance is more in the tone that you deliver the message. You do not convey arrogance at all.’
Towards the end of the conversation she said, ‘This was a great discussion about religion. I think talking about religion is like farting.’ This caught my attention… I asked with a grin… ‘How is talking about religion like farting?’
She said, ‘Well, everyone believes in something and everyone farts. But, we are afraid to talk about either subject. Why? Since everyone does both, why not talk about it? Especially after we do it, we feel better.’
Wow! That is some incredible insight on the world. Now, how do I get that into a sermon analogy?
Evie - The public school where Cathy teaches Scripture classes started Ethics classes. A new government initiative. Unfortunately, she lost some of her students to this new initiative. She was exceptionally disappointed at first, especially since one of the little girls, Evie. She was so inquisitive and seemed so engaged with the Bible. All Cathy could do was pray for her and be thankful for all of students who had remained in the class.
The following week, Evie comes walking into the room and sits down in Cathy’s class. With enthusiasm and a smile, Cathy asked what she was doing back.
Evie said, ‘That ethics class was boring and I really like being in this class.’ Also, Cathy was able to give Evie her first Bible that week.
The Lord answers prayer in his timing!
Please keep praying for opportunities like this and for people to continue to search for answers from the Bible in Australia

What do the numbers say?

It is hard to imagine, but our family is getting close to our 11th year of life in Australia. We continue to be amazed at this opportunity. Even as the seasons of life change with children getting older and ministries maturing, we continue to thank the Lord for the gift of serving in our adopted home. 

As the years progress, Australia continues to become part of our DNA. We have a ever-present love for our American heritage, but we feel our love of Australia grow. It is not easy sharing the Gospel in this melting pot culture, but with the various ministries and people we work alongside the opportunities continue to present themselves every day. We enjoy sharing this experience with visiting friends, family ranch mission teams, but we have to remember that most of our visitors have a very limited view of our sunburned homeland. 

One thing that is very different to America is that in Australia it is compulsory to vote and to fill out our census form. Due to this requirement, our national statistics are exceptionally accurate. Based on our last census report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and further research from McCrindle Research, here are a few statistics that might help people to see that Australia is a very different place than they thought. 

1. If Australia were a city, at 23.5 million it would still only be the world’s seventh largest (after Tokyo, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Jakarta, Seoul and Delhi).

2. The average street of 100 households has 10 babies (aged under 3), 27 cats and 45 dogs.

3. The average Australian stays with their employer just 3 years and 4 months – only a third of the way towards long service leave. If this plays out in the lifetime of a school leaver today it means they will have 17 separate employers in their lifetime. 

4. In Australia there are almost 100,000 more women than men, with six out of our eight states and territories experiencing a man drought.

5. Three decades ago the median age of an Australian was 30.5, today it is 37.3 and in 2044 it is projected to be 40.

6. The average Australian spends 10 hours and 19 minutes each day on screen time – and due to ‘multi-screening’ this is achieved in just under eight hours of linear time.

7. By the time generation Z (five-19-year-olds) begin to retire (beginning in 2063) the average median capital city house price will exceed $2 million and the average retiree will need $600,000 more than today for a comfortable retirement.

8. If you lived on an average sized street in Australia comprised of 100 households, on that street there would be a marriage every 9 months, a death every 7 months and a birth every 14 weeks.

9. Currently there are almost 105 baby boys born for every 100 baby girls born in Australia

10. The most widely said Australianisms are “no worries” (74 per cent of Australians have used this phrase), “arvo” (73 per cent), and “G’day” (71 per cent).

11. Swimsuits in Queensland are known as togs, in NSW cossies, but in Victoria, bathers. And while Victorians use the word cantaloupe, in the rest of the country the fruit is known as rockmelon.

12. Australia is currently growing by 1 million every 2 years – that’s an additional city of Adelaide every 2.5 years.

13. Three decades ago almost two in three Australians were married while today less than half are, and the “never married” proportion of Australians has increased from a quarter to a third.

14. There are more people in Sydney today than lived in all of Australia a century ago.

15. A quarter of Australians (27 per cent) were born overseas and almost half of Australian households (46 per cent) had at least one parent born overseas.

16. The average age of a first marriage is 29.8-years-old for men and 28.1 for women.

17. The median age at which men first become a dad is 33, and women have their first child at 30.7 years.

18. Australia is growing faster (1.8 per cent a year) than any other country in the OECD. 

19. Australia’s death rate is at an all time low. And Sydney is the state capital with the lowest probability of death (5.3 deaths per 1,000) while Darwin and Hobart have the highest capital city death rates (6.6).

For people who love to analyse numbers, these are fascinating numbers and help us to see where we need to be reaching people and figure out unique methods of reaching Australians. Also, that Australia is not the same as the US and we need to adjust our strategies for reaching people for Christ. 

The one statistic that grew the most over since the last census is the number of people who said they were ‘non-religious.’ Going to church is not a regular thing for our nation. Sunday is considered Sport Day. It is a time for football, cricket or netball. 

To merely start a church is not going to reach the people of Australia. We have to have active evangelistic endeavours to reach people. We do this through workplace evangelism and unique events in cinemas. We are seeing fruit through these ministries at City Bible Forum (citybibleforum.org) and Reel Dialogue (reeldialogue.com). 

Not to be discouraged, through these evangelistic efforts we are seeing church growth throughout our nation. With partnerships with Geneva Push (genevapush.com) and local pastors we have seen a steady rate of churches starting and growing throughout Sydney. Alongside Pastor Ben Kwok and with the Rouse Hill Bible Church family we have been serving for the past three years. (rousehillchurch.com) We are seeing regular growth and exciting stories of people coming in contact with Christ for the first time in their lives. 

We want to thank you for your regular support, prayers and teams. It is a world away, but it means so much to us and helps us to continue the work of the Gospel in the land of Oz. 
The adventure continues..
The Matthews family