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

Thank you to the First Family Church team for an action packed adventure

Our family would like to thank the team from First Family Church for their willingness to come and serve alongside our family in Sydney.

It may not be known until eternity what sort of impact your service will have, but we are thankful now.
One thing can be said about this team is that they took full advantage of every opportunity to share the love of Jesus.

All played a specific role and willingly jumped in to assist with anything that needed done.

We will add a pictorial depiction of their journey below

Here is a short list of their activities:

  • Set up and serve at the Tracy Trinita evangelistic event in Canberra
  • Work as the photography team at the Canberra event
  • Attended a ‘real football game’ – Australian Rule Football – GWS Giants v West Coast Eagles
  • Set up and participate in three Forum events in Sydney
  • Serve, set up and Keith Fortenberry preached two weeks  at Rouse Hill Bible Church
  • Provided Bibles to the students at a public primary school scripture class with Cathy Matthews
  • Through the support of the church and Vacation Bible School delivered Bibles for the use in other scripture classes in our community
  • Set up and and participated in the Lord of the Lens evangelistic event at Emmanuel Baptist Church (Attended by 70 men)
  • Help with set up and participation in the City Bible Forum national initiative – Reel Dialogue Ben Hur screenings – An evangelistic event with over 800 in attendance nationwide and over 200 in Sydney
  • Roy Meador lead Bible study at the City Bible Forum team meeting
  • Many on the team went out and did ‘walk-up’ evangelism in the streets of the Sydney Central Business District

This is just a few things that the team was able to experience. We cannot list all of the personal relationships that they were able to make in the short trip.

Thank you to Jay McFarling and your leadership on the team. Also, thank you to the First Family Church and the team for your support, sacrifice and impact that you had on our family, ministry team and church. You will be remembered fondly for years to come.

For all of our supporters, please pray for the work that these ‘journeymen and journeywomen’ had on the ministry field of Australia.

The adventure continues…

The Matthews

 

Here comes the First Family Church team… A trip that is bigger than Ben- Hur

 

Visting team from First Family Church

We are excited to have a visiting team from one of supporting churches in August. Please be praying for the team that will be joining us for our City Bible Forum national mission, Reel Dialogue event, city ministries, scripture classes and church events. We are thrilled to have the team along to serve in this exciting mission field.

Pray for their planning, their health, adapting to the Australian culture and for many opportunities for the team to engage with people with the Gospel.

The First Family Vacation Bible School helped to raise money for their journey and specifically to purchase Bibles for our scripture classes. We are so grateful for their sacrifice to come and serve.

Please be praying for Jay McFarling and the whole team.

What does that have to do with Ben Hur?

City Bible Forum and the Reel Dialogue team have been presented with the opportunity for pre-screening events that will centre on the Paramount release of Ben Hur in five cities in Australia.

The First Family team will be assisting with the evangelistic event in Sydney.

Partnering with Heritage Films and Paramount Pictures, Reel Dialogue is proud to offer a special pre-screening event of Ben- Hur.

The Reel Dialogue team would like to invite you to a night a cinema and discussion. We will screen the new adaptation of Ben-Hur and then enjoy a Reel Dialogue panel discussion with The Big Picture’s Mark Hadley and Ben McEachen who will be joined up front by City Bible Forum’s Sam Chan.

Synopsis of the film: BEN-HUR is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

The panel will discuss the themes of the film and allow you to ask questions about the film.

Panel: 

Mark Hadley has been writing professionally for more than 20 years. He has been a journalist for most of that time, employed by a range of prominent radio, television and web publications including the ABC. In addition, Mark has been reviewing films, television programs and children’s books for the past ten years for Australian papers and magazines, nationally syndicated radio programs and internationally read web sites.

Ben McEachen is a professional film reviewer. Seriously. That’s a real, paying job. And he’s even been at it for more than a decade.  He has been editor at Empire magazine, film editor at The Advertiser, lead critic for several News Ltd Sunday papers and a regular fixture on 2GB, ABC and Showtime. Ben also contributes Christian-flavoured film reviews to Eternity newspaper, Hope 103.2 FM, War Cry and Insights magazines.

Sam Chan is a regular speaker at City Bible Forum. He is also a conference speaker, ethicist, ex-rugby player (Sydney Uni 5ths!), retired marathon runner and now a student of Krav Maga (his mid-life crisis activity). His PhD in theology examined the application of speech act theory to the theology of preaching. 

Tracy Trinita event

Another event that the First Family Church team will be assisting with during the the evangelistic events with Tracy Trinita.

As Indonesia’s first supermodel Tracy went on to model clothes for top designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gautier, Kenzo, and Benetton on the catwalks of New York, Milan and Paris. In Indonesia, Tracy also starred in movies and TV dramas.

You might imagine this was everything she’d hoped for in life. But surrounded by fame and glamour, she felt terribly empty. Real happiness eluded Tracy until she realised that people with faith were happier. But which faith? Her family had Muslims, Hindus, Christians, which faith should she consider? So Tracy cried out to God – “Please reveal yourself to me!”

You’re invited to hear Tracy tell how she finally met the designer she’s been modelling for since birth. Please pray for these events to be used for God’s glory.

What else will the team be doing?

They will hit the ground running and not stop for the ten days that they are in Sydney.

Please pray for the team and for their experiences in Sydney.

Thank your your support and prayers. Please be praying for these events and more opportunities in the future.

The adventure continues… The Matthews

 

That crazy personal issue, The Forum, Sydney Prayer Breakfast and a visiting team

Thanks for your patience over the last few months. It has been an exceptionally busy month with personal events and ministry.

The crazy, personal event

We are grateful for all of your support and prayers. Russ had a bit of a health scare at the end of April and ended up in the hospital for a bit. Due to some irregularities in his heart rate and an abnormal ECG (EKG in the US) the doctors had to find out what was causing some of these health issues. After a few stressful weeks of tests, monitors and a shaved chest (Ouch! One of the most painful parts of the experience), the diagnosis was he has an athlete’s heart (slightly thickened walls of the heart, due to regular exercise) which threw the ECG out of whack and stressful lifestyle. So, some healthy evaluation of lifestyle issues is in order, but all things are back to some level of order. We will keep you posted.

We have tried to keep this as a private and personal matter, but thought it would be worth asking for prayer. Thank you for all who have been involved in the process.

In amongst all of this and other personal challenges, we had a multitude of ministry situations come up. We are praising the Lord for these great opportunities to share the Gospel in some unique areas.

Rouse Hill Bible Church

It has been an exciting time at RHBC. We have been having multiple guests every week at the church as we are working through the Gospel of John.

Not only are we seeing new families and individuals, but they are staying to make this church their church home. In this we are seeing growth in all of our home Bible studies which means the leadership team is having to consider some of the upcoming challenges of church growth.

Please pray for Pastor Ben Kwok and the leadership team as we plan for 2017.

The Forum

We had a great series in June called 4 difficult questions /4 confronting answers. We saw many people engaging with the Gospel of Luke and new people coming along each week.

Also, the Bible studies in John at Westpac Bank continue to see many enquirers (Those who do not know Jesus, yet) coming along to learn more from the Gospel of John.

Please pray for the upcoming Forum series: Four Hard Truths That Will Set You Free

We live in a world that tells us:  you can do anything, be anything, believe in yourself, and all your dreams will come true.

To be blunt this is nonsense and makes for a world of disappointment and frustration. Jesus tells us some hard truths about life, and reality and yet ironically, embracing these truths will give us freedom and joy.

Sydney Prayer Breakfast

The Sydney Prayer Breakfast is an annual event for Christians to pray for the city of Sydney. Every year we have seen growth in this fantastic and encouraging event. We had close to 930 people come to the full room at The Westin.

The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Glenn Stevens, gave a great talk full of wisdom and insights into our world.

Please pray as we prepare for next year as we hope to get closer to 2000 attendees.

Visting tea from First Family Church

Please be praying for the team that will be joining us in August for the our national mission, city ministries, scripture classes and church events. We are thrilled to have the team along to serve in this exciting mission field.

Pray for their planning, their health, adapting to the Australian culture and for many opportunities for the team to engage with people with the Gospel.

We are so grateful for their sacrifice to come and serve. Please be praying for Jay McFarling and the whole team.

Thank your your support and prayers. Please be praying for these events and more opportunities in the future.

The adventure continues… The Matthews

 

We are gearing up for an exciting May – We need your prayers

We are gearing up for a busy month of ministry in May – Could we ask for your prayers?

As school starts for the autumn term in May (Remember, we experience opposite seasons to the Northern Hemisphere), the various ministries we are involved with in Sydney are ramping up. Please be praying for these various events:

EXTRA ordinary

City Bible Forum in May

Do you remember what it was like to have the wonder of a child? Everything seemed new and magical.

But as adults we often lose this sense of awe. In a world that over-promises and under-delivers, can we still find something extraordinary?

Earlier in the year, Sam Chan asked audiences in the city to consider the question of Meaning as he looked at the Bible book of Ecclesiastes.

In May we will return to look at what this book says about the extraordinary. Pray for many people to come along for this fantastic evangelistic series.

Flourishing in a hostile city

City Bible Forum Workplace conference – 6 & 7 May

To flourish is to grow vigorously, to thrive, to prosper. Is this possible for Christian workers when the world around them is driven by egos and commercial outcomes?

Most certainly yes! Pray that workers come to this leaders’ conference and that they will be inspired to serve God at work.

Who is this conference for? We are encouraging Christian workers from Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney to attend. People who see the workplace as strategic opportunity for Christian ministry and outreach. We hope they will be equipped and encouraged by the presentations and the fellowship of like-minded believers.

City Bible Forum’s 25 year anniversary dinner

19 May

Celebrate with us and pray for the night as we celebrate 25 years of the City Bible Forum (formerly Ecom) ministry.

  • We will relive the journey from home office ministry to large national team.
  • Supporters will gather to say thank you to God for 1,000s of city workers who have heard the message of Jesus.
  • Supporters will catch up with people and relive memories.
  • Our team will be able to share some of our hopes for the future.

Celebrate with us and celebrate all the Lord is doing with our team.

Scripture classes and Bible Study Fellowship

Cathy will continue the ministry of teaching scripture in the public schools and being a children’s leader with Bible Study Fellowship.

Rouse Hill Bible Church

In May, we will be travelling through John 13 & 14 as a church. Pastor Ben Kwok and Russ Matthews will Jesus’ responses to key topics in people’s lives: Service, betrayal, searching for truth and knowing the way to God.

10 years

Our family is thankful to celebrate 10 years of service in Sydney. Thank you for all that you have done to support our work and we look forward to what the Lord has in store for us in the future.

Thank you for your prayers,

The Matthews family

 

 

He is Risen, indeed – Two evangelistic screenings

Reel Dialogue – Two evangelistic screenings of Risen

Early in the week, City Bible Forum had two screenings of Risen plus two panel discussions after the screenings.

Christians were able to invite their work colleagues to the Sony Theatrette and they followed the brief well. Over 50% of the audience came from a heritage besides Christian. They enjoyed an engaging evening of film, discussion and the Gospel.

The discussions afterwards were fantastic with Giles Hardie, Al Stewart, Dr Greg Clarke and Dr Andrew Dunstall.

Check out the review of the film on Russelling Reviews. 

Reel Dialogue in Message Magazine

Also, check out the write up for Reel Dialogue in the latest edition of ABWE’s Message Magazine

We are thankful for the retelling of the discussions on how to introduce the Gospel in the theatre.

Thank you for all of your support and prayers,

The Matthews

 

An exciting start to the year – Ecclesiastes, Life’s reset button, Leviticus and Brooklyn

Welcome from the Matthews in Sydney,

It has been an exciting beginning of the year in the work in Sydney this year. After Hope and Matt’s wedding in January. Thank for all of the wonderful support and for all who were able to come along to the wedding. It was an incredibly God honouring day and a beautiful start for this lovely couple. Please pray the Lord continues to work in and through their lives.

After the wedding, things kept going in the world of ministry. We were able to get things started off well for the year in the city and at Rouse Hill Bible Church.

The meaning of life with Dr Sam Chan

Morning + commute = too early + crowded… again

Lunch + food = leftover sandwich… again

Evening + commute = late + crowded…again

Years come and go = So, what is the point of it all?

If this is an impersonal universe made up of impersonal atoms, then any sense of meaning is just imposed on us. We are one of many random events.

But what if the universe is personal? What if there is a loving, personal God behind it all?  Could beauty and wonder be part of our story? Could there be a point to it all?

Sam Chan started off the year at The Forum with a new series where he answers these questions from above as he presents the answers from the book of Ecclesiastes.

Leviticus series at Rouse Hill Bible Church

Throughout the beginning of the year, Ben Kwok and I will be working through the book of Leviticus.

Please pray that we can share how the richness of this Old Testament text can apply to those who live in the age of grace.

Reel Dialogue – Brooklyn screening

We had a fantastic start to the Reel Dialogue ministry opportunities. We had an evangelistic event that included the screening of Academy Award nominated Brooklyn.

It was an engaging evening of film and discussion with some of the industry’s commentators. After the film, Ben McEachen, Mark Hadley (The Big Picture ) and Adrian Drayton (Insights Magazine) will discuss the film and what it says about immigration, love and value of community. It was a great lead into Gospel conversations and an opportunity to invite people to various events throughout the city.

DO YOU WISH LIFE HAD A RESET BUTTON?

What would it take to hit the reset button in life?
Ever considered how God may be able to help?

Al Stewart and Craig Tucker will be working through the book of Luke to discuss how Jesus provides us with a reset button in life. Please pray for this series in the month of March.

 

Cathy will begin the ministries at Bible Study Fellowship and scripture classes in the public schools this month. We hope to have an update from her in the coming months to give you an update soon.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers. please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. You can read more about our work in Sydney on Facebook: Matthews Down Under, Reel Dialogue, Russelling Reviews, Rouse Hill Bible Church and City Bible Forum.

The adventure continues..

The Matthews

Thank you for your support – A friendly reminder from ABWE

We want to thank all of our supporters and pray that you have a wonderful new year.

Just a friendly reminder from ABWE, we want to ensure you get the tax benefits for 2015.

Please make sure that all 2015 provisionals and checks from donors have been sent to Donor Services no later than January 6, 2016, so the donors can still get the tax deduction in 2015. If you have any questions please feel free to contact donor help at either 800-901-2293 or donorhelp@abwe.org

Thank you for all you do for our family. Please keep praying for the ministries in Australia!

Happy New Year…

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua and Caroline

 

Resources for 2016 ministries – Great resources and great Gospel partners – Please pray for them

We wanted to repost these details for our supporters. Over the past we have had the privilege to work alongside some amazing organisations. Through Facebook, our website and conversations we have mentioned various ministry connections.

We get requests for the names, websites and contact details for these people or groups. We thought we would do a simple list of the organisations we work with regularly. Check out their websites and contact us with any questions.

Our ministry partners

ABWE - The church planting mission agency that we work with in Australia and throughout the world.

City Bible Forum - Russ oversees evangelistic events and Reel Dialogue at City Bible Forum which is reaching city workers with the Gospel. Check out our latest promotional video 

Rouse Hill Bible Church - Pastor Ben Kwok and our church family in Rouse Hill, NSW Australia

Bible Study Fellowship - Cathy is a childrens leader with Bible Study Fellowship

SRE – Scripture Reading - Cathy teaches scripture in the public schools

Geneva Push - An amazing Australian initiative for effective church planting

Russelling Reviews - Russ’ blog of recent reviews with a Gospel challenge

Reel Dialogue - Partnership with reviewer and editor Adrian Drayton with Gospel conversations through film

The Big Picture - Podcast and radio ministry work from cultural commentators Ben McEachen and Mark Hadley

Sow and Harvest - ABWE Australia’s publishing

Vinegrowers – Col Marshall’s ministry that  helps build churches around biblical discipleship: sacrificing, serving, speaking.

Throughout 2016, we will highlight some of these great ministry opportunities.

Thank you for your prayers and support,

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua and Caroline