How is the family going?

Culture lesson: Greeting in the US – How are you doing? Same greeting in Australia – How are you going, mate? 

So, how is the Matthews family going? Overall, pretty good.

Some of our supporters have asked for an update on our family. In this world of Facebook and Instagram, it can feel a bit redundant, but it is important to realise that there are people behind the ministry work. Five out the six of us have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, if you want those details, check them out.

Our website can tend to focus on ministry opportunities, but here is a bit about the family. This update will be about the kiddos… I will let Cathy do an update on her life in Cathy’s Corner soon.

Back Home – We have been back in Australia for six months and we do feel like we are back home. It took some time getting back into the work of the ministries and life in Oz, but we are feeling like we are finally getting our feet.

Hope and Becca - Busy at work as full-time early childhood teachers. They work in Richmond and experience the daily grind of working with children. It is rewarding, but exhausting. It is hard not to brag, but Cathy and I are so proud of who they have become as young women. They are both in relationships with nice, Christian young men. (Go to their FB sites and you can fill in the blanks). They go to church with us and attend Multi-cultural Bible Ministries (MBM) church in the evening. They live the active life of young adults and we do not see them as much as we would like, but it is exciting to see who they are becoming. Please pray for them and that the Lord will use Hope and Becca for His glory.

Joshua - Coming to the end of year 11 and the intense part of high school called year 12 and the HSC (High School Certificate). It is a whole new level of expectation put on an exam that determines placement in University. In amongst the busyness of school, assessments and exams, he is loving playing for the East Coast Eagles – Australian Football team. Also, he goes to weekly youth group and finds time to play a bit of XBOX. He had a wonderful opportunity to go on a special excursion to the US. It was a wonderful experience for him and for our family in the US. (Go to his FB site and you can fill in the blanks). He recently received the Long Tan Youth Leadership award from his school. Thankful for the young man that he is becoming, please pray for him and that the Lord will use Joshua for His glory.

Caroline – How many children do you know that are upset when school holidays arrive? Caroline loves school, challenging herself and learning more about most things in life. She loves to read, play her violin and piano, do any craft project and spending time with her friends and family. She loves to ask questions of everyone she gets to know and soak up what she learns. Pray for her that she will continue to grow in her love for knowledge and the Lord. As with all of our children, she brings a beautiful spark and enjoyable component to our family.

Thank you for your prayers for our family. We are grateful for your involvement in our lives.

The adventure continues…

The Matthews

 Ministry websites:

City Bible Forum, Sydney

Rouse Hill Bible Church

Russelling Reviews

Merry Christmas from Down Under – A move, kids update and end of the year

Merry Christmas

It is summer in Sydney and Christmas time. Heat, school ending for the year, people getting ready for the holidays & the beach. Christmas carols on the intercom at the shopping centre. It is easy to forget that the time is a time for celebration of Christ’s birth.

Pray we are able to get through all of the distractions and communicate the true message of the Gospel.

Merry Christmas to all of our supporters. Your prayers and financial support helps our family to continue doing what we do in ministry in Australia. The Lord’s work in this sunburned country.

Thank you.

We moved

It was crazy, but through all of the craziness of this year, we moved. As many know, our finances have been a challenge this year.  The Lord has provided in various ways and we have had some of our supporters get behind the ministry with financial considerations. One opportunity presented to our family was to move to a different house that will lower our housing costs.

It was hot and stressful, but we managed to get moved in and we are getting our house organised and making it our home. We hope to make home is ours for many years to come, if it is the Lord’s will.

Address: 74 Advance Street, Schofields NSW 2762 Australia

Thank you for your prayers.

Planning for 2013

This is the time of year we begin to put the final touches on the programme for 2013. We are looking forward to some of the things in regard to church, city ministry and evangelism for 2013. Please pray for our organisation and wisdom in getting an effective programme that will glorify the Lord and introduce Christ to many in Australia.

5%

Thank you for the churches and supporters who have increased the support of the ministry in Australia.  We are getting closer to our monthly support needs. If all churches would be willing to do this 5% increase we would be at 100% of our monthly support. Thank you for the prayers and consideration.

Kids update:

Hope and Becca graduated from high school at the beginning of December. They worked so hard over the last two years and received a high school diploma and did extra work to receive university level diploma for child care. They are looking for work in child care industry. They a looking forward to working at a camp for under privileged children in January.

Joshua is done with school for the year and looking forward to summer break. He is now the tallest in the family and has been doing off season training for Australian Rules Football. He will be doing reading, swimming and being with his mates this summer. He has taken up the guitar and is enjoying the musical outlet.

Caroline was disappointed school is over for the year. She loves school and the time with her friends. She is playing violin, loves swimming and reading anything she can get her hands on.

Prayer requests:

  1. Planning for 2013
  2. Financial support level at 100% by year end
  3. Clear direction in regard to church in 2013

The adventure continues and Merry Christmas to you,

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua & Caroline

The paralympian, sharia law and the commitment + family update

“Our Lord’s making of a disciple is supernatural. He does not build on any natural capacity of ours at all. God does not ask us to do the things that are naturally easy for us- He only asks us to do the things that are perfectly fit to do through His grace, and that is where the cross we must bear will always come.”  -Oswald Chambers, His Upmost for His Highest

The Paralympian

Blokes Breakfast with Glenn Pyne

This past weekend on a beautiful Spring day in Sydney, we had a Blokes Breakfast. Bringing men together from various churches in the area. We had the privilege of having Glenn Pyne speak to our men. A double amputee who has represented Australia in the Paralympics in canoeing, weight lifting and volleyball. A testimony of a man who went from being angry for his physical situation to a man glorifying the Lord for the uniques opportunity he has to represent his country and his Saviour around the world.

Usually we have a challenge getting men to come along on an early Saturday morning. Not this Saturday. We had a packed cafe and heard a great talk of sport, working against the odds and how grace has a way of lifting men who choose to follow the Lord out of the challenges in life.

Thank you for your prayers.

Sharia law

The papers had headlines of protests throughout the past few weeks. A warning for Americans to not go into the CBD for safety reasons. Why? The worldwide protests over a silly film out of California.

Interesting how the Lord provides through trying times. The City Bible Forum will be having  a Forum and series that will be addressing the issues of Sharia Law and the comparison of opposites of Christianity and Islam. It had been a challenging topic, but the recent events gave us a platform to promote this Forum.

Pray that many would come interests in hearing the discussion and maybe introduced to Christ in the process.

Commitment

Can you believe it will be seven years of service in Australia as of February? Look through the updates over the years and you can see how the Lord has directed us to many great things that He is doing. We continue to see amazing things here and we are committed to being in Australia. We do not see the Lord changing the direction on what we are doing in Australia and we are committed to His service here.

This year has presented one of the most challenging years of service in Australia. We have been part of great opportunities in regards to ministry, hopefully you have been getting our regular updates. The challenge has been on the financial side of things. We continue to have our finances taken care of by the Lord and our faithful supporters, but due to some attrition of supporters and cost of living increases, we have found ourselves in a difficult monthly support level. Please pray for our supporters and churches to consider an increase in our monthly support of 5% ($5 for every $100 of support). One already has helped us with this increase. If this challenge was met, we would be at our necessary support levels. Thank you for the prayers and the consideration

Family update

If you have not had the opportunity to catch up on Facebook with the many things going on in our lives.

  • Hope and Rebecca graduate fro Australian Christian College with a diploma in Child Care Services. We are so proud of them.
  • Joshua completed his first season on the Under 16s Hawkesbury Bombers Australian Football team. He is looking to join the swimming team this summer. (Yes, we are going into summer)
  • Caroline loves school and is taking violin and enjoying swim lessons.
The adventure continues…
Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua and Caroline

A “Stay-at-Home” Ministry Worker’s Harvest

Today I took the opportunity to take the dog for a walk after I dropped the kids at school. As I walked up the footpath I was greeted by a man who has his own lawn mowing business and who’s daughter goes to school with our children. He was tackling someone’s deep grass. He said, “Dropped the kids off, now you have the day to yourself, huh?” I laughed but it got me thinking. How do I spend my day? Is it that different to yours? On furlough many asked what I did do with my day. I don’t usually add to Russ’ updates on our website or Facebook page, but today I thought I’d share what my days look like.

Not long into our first term on the ministry field of Australia, I began to struggle and wonder if what I did mattered or helped in any way. At the time we were homeschooling, and yes, I know that was very important and vital, but it was more than that. I spent most of my days at home.

How did that help? My truly wise husband helped me to see that as I did my “job” well, it enabled him to do his that much more effectively. Coming home each evening to a clean, orderly home, dinner waiting, happy children, washing done…well, those things freed him to study, prepare, or even stay late at an event sharing the Gospel. But now the children are “in” school. That means I have approximately 8:30 am to 2:30 pm to fill as I please. Not much has changed and as you’ll see, my day isn’t that much different than yours. It is still my responsibility, one of my highest callings and I might add a great pleasure to be a manager of our home. Getting the washing caught up, grocery shopping, and even dusting or cleaning a toilet (two of my least favourite things) fill my day. Baking special treats for lunchboxes or after school is a highlight. There’s also the chauffeuring that a mum gets to do. As the year picks up Bible study starts. Friday afternoons I have the privilege of reading and helping in Caroline’s classroom.  As opportunities present themselves or as I organise them, I build into other women’s lives. Maybe sharing the truth of the Gospel over the back fence. Or having a cup of tea with a fellow believer who is struggling or just needs some encouragement. Sometimes its preparing a Sunday School lesson for the little ones in our church or preparing a brief devotional to share at a ladies night.

But its not all work, work, work.  I do allow myself some down time. I have regularly found ways to get out in the community and connect. Weight Watchers, karate classes and at the  present, going to Curves. When I’m out and about and I pass a second hand shop or antiques shop, I love to stop if I have the time and peruse the shelves. I have enjoyed collecting a variety of tins, both Australian and American to decorate the top of my kitchen cupboards. I’m no master gardener, but there is something very satisfying about getting my hands dirty and making something grow in the earth. That first commission God gave man in the garden still rings true today. A good read on my Kindle is always a good escape. And finally a real luxury is the occasional afternoon nap.

Why do I share all this? Besides the fact that it may satisfy some curious minds, I hope it encourages those whose days are similar to mine. Just done in a different country or culture. Today I read in my devotions:

 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 

This verse can be applied on so many levels. But today it encouraged this wife, mother, daughter, friend, ministry worker to keep on keeping on. My harvest may be different than yours. But God isn’t into the comparing game and I shouldn’t be either. So as I sign off and get ready to hang a load of washing, thanks for letting me share. I hope a page from the book of my days encourages you in yours.

(Russ had to comment- I am so thankful for the incredibly talented partner in ministry that the Lord has given me to work with daily. Your hard work makes me able to do my work more effectively. Cath, thanks for your transparency and I hope this encourages many who do the work you do for the sake of God’s glory. Well done and I love you!)

Joshua’s knee

We would appreciate prayer for Joshua. He had an accident awhile back and now is suffering from damage to the cartilage in his knee. Josh  will need surgery on his knee soon.

We have been to a knee specialist (orthopedic) and had the spectrum of tests run and the mri shows  the cartiledge behind his knee cap on one side is pretty much destroyed and there is some bone poking into the back of his knee cap. Most likely from a fall  at a skate park, but then sports made it worse. He will have to have “keyhole” surgery to fix it and hopefully get cartiledge to regrow or else he will suffer from major arthritis when he is older. We are getting a second opinion just for peace of mind and will keep you up to date on details and all that.

We just need wisdom in who to take him to for surgery, how we are going to pay for it and a quick recovery for him.

Thanks for your prayers and support,

Russ & Cathy

Links to VBS videos

A few years back we did some videos for a VBS. Quality is a bit lacking, but thought if you would like to utilise them you can.

Also, Here are some links we did for VBS in the States a few years back:

Australian Theology – Caroline style

There is no greater joy as the parents of missionary kids. The day when they get accustomed to the country we now call  home.

Especially when the culture and theology come together. We hope that this is so the kids can reach more kids for Christ!

Back story: Caroline has come to enjoy having a meat pie for breakfast or lunch regularly. It is truly an Australian food and she loves them. Yummy.

So, while she was in Sunday School the other day, the teacher was teaching the kids a rhyme. It was to help them to remember the 10 plagues in Egypt in the book of Exodus. 

Here is how it went…

Teacher:

Water to blood

Frogs in the mud

Gnats and flies

Livestock dies

Caroline:

…and they are they are made into pies!

You have to love it when theology, culture and the mind of a child come together.

Well done,Caroline. Praise God.

Fruitful and Challenging (What a Great God We Serve)

Good morning to all,

Well, it is the 22nd of May and we are still here praising the Lord.  Thank you for your continual support and for your prayers. I wanted to take the time to get you all up to speed on what has been happening over the past month in our lives.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” – CS Lewis

It has been one of the most fruitful times and one of the most challenging times for us, since being on the mission field. The Lord has provided in mighty ways, we have seen salvations, I have been able to do my first baptism and the opportunities to speak around Sydney have been non-stop since the beginning of the year. Thanks for the constant prayer cover and we hope you are able to celebrate with us in all that the Lord has done.

School: Since the beginning of the year, the kids have started to attend Australian Christian College. It has been a blessing, but quite a change from homeschooling. The school has been great in helping Cathy and the kids to transition to the school atmosphere. The biggest challenge was the travel, Cathy was having to commute to the school each day for the kids.

Home: We decided to find a home closer to the school. Also, close to a train line for my work in the city. Part out of necessity, our rental home was being sold and we had to find a new place. The rental market is only 1% of the Sydney housing market, making it very challenging to find a home we could afford and that would fit our family. It took three months to find the house. (I will not go into all of the details, but at many homes viewings there were 50-100 people to see the house) At the end of March, The Lord provided a new home and we were planning to move in at the beginning of April. It is a lovely house, smaller, but meets all of our needs and we are able to serve effectively here.

Robbery: The weekend before the move, I was planning to preach at a sister church. We went to bed on Saturday night and during the night thieves broke into our home (while we were sleeping) and stole all of our computer, phones, bags (which contained our ids, money, etc.) and even my sermon. Feeling very violated and without many options, the Lord provided, but we needed to get our lives back in order. We only had a few days to move, but no immediate means of paying for a truck. We started moving the house, one van load at a time. It took many kilometres, but by the end of the week we were able to do get the move done. (We did eventually get some bank cards toward the end of the week and were able to secure a moving truck for the large items.) Fortunately, we were insured and the majority of items were replaced.

Van: A week later, as Cathy was coming home from setting up for an outreach event at church, the van broke down. Looking back, it is amazing that the van made it this far with all that it had gone through over the last few months. It broke down on a Friday night. No mechanics open until Monday in Australia. At 1am in the morning on Saturday, I sent out a brief prayer request. Within minutes, one of our supporting churches had offered to pay for a hire car for us until we were able to get the van fixed. Once we secured a van, we were still able to go the outreach on Saturday and I was able to preach on Sunday. We sent out a request to our supporters and WOW the Lord provided mightily. It was overwhelming and we hope you know how thankful we are for all of the responses. All the costs of the van were covered by the donations.

We are currently driving our faithful van and we are praising the Lord for the opportunity to serve.

Once again, thank you for your generosity and assistance with this process.

The Lord has been teaching us quite a bit about ourselves and Himself throughout this process.

  1. He is in control, even when we do not understand.
  2. We need to allow others to serve and learn through our situations.
  3. To rely on Him completely.
  4. He works through our good and bad times to speak to us and others.

Prayer requests:

  • John Series ar Glorious Hope Baptist- Five Speakers on different areas of the Gospel According to John
  • Planning for the team from First Family Church
  • Challenges and growth of the work at City Bible Forum – We would be able to secure the right panelists and speakers for the weekly talks
  • Aussie dollar ,it is strong (30year high)and the US dollar is weak. Puts a challenge on the finances

Thanks for your continued support and prayers.

The Adventure Continues…

Russ & Cathy Matthews

 

 

Serviettes, The Panel, Afterwork, House & School

Hello from the land Down Under,

Luke 18 :17 (ESV)

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

The kids started attending Australian Christian College (college is the term for primary & high school in Australia) this year.

Serviettes: A tradition that my Mum used to do for my brother & I, was to write a note on my serviettes (napkin in Australian) in my Speed Racer (or was it Fat Albert) lunch box. If anyone saw it while I was at school, I would act like the note was not cool, but I will admit I looked forward to her words during the day. So, I thought I would do that for our kids. Something simple, but a message, from their Dad,  to encourage them during the day. One day after school, I tried to use the serviette  to clean Caroline’s face, because I saw that it was still in her lunchbox. A look of terror went over her face and tears started to form. Ahh…What had I done to cause the waterworks? (I am pretty hopeless when it comes to understanding the hearts of girls, sometimes) Later that night, Cathy explained the reaction to me. Caroline saved all of the napkins, because Daddy had written messages to her. She has all of the napkins stashed away in her little corner of special things. This explained why I am sternly reminded if I ever forget to write her a message. Also, I pity the person who touches the serviettes or tries to ‘recycle’ them. She loves getting the message from Dad and she cherishes the notes. (Please do not send me any messages on idols, she is five!) Children always are great for lessons in life and it continues to  amaze me how we can learn something from the devotion and love of a five year old.

I would be going too far to compare my messages on serviettes to the Word of God. Yet, the Bible is the Father’s message to us. Do we treat His message to us with this level of devotion? I was taken back with the impact that this simple action by Caroline had on me and my response to God’s Word. I do my devotions, I study the bible daily and I seek out good bible teachers to study under. Yet, do I look for His message with this fervor? Do my actions on responding to His message to me, show the same level of conviction? All of these are rather self-examining questions and to my shame the answer would have to be, ‘no’.  Thanks to Caroline and the gift she is to us, I have learned to love the Lord’s Word with a new vigger and I saw again why we are asked to have a child-like faith.

Panel + Series:

We started a new method of reaching out to  the communities around Sydney. Prior to every series at City Bible Forum we have been coordinating The Panel. It is a panel of three ‘experts’ on a topic from different positions. They come in for the lunch time and discuss/debate a topic and then open the floor for questions form the audience.

We have had two panels and they have met with Standing Room Only. Great discussion and questions. Also, it has translated to increased attendance at our lunch time meetings. We are meeting new people, especially non-believers, who are coming along to hear what our speakers have to say from the Bible.

If you would like to watch the videos, be part of the discussion or see the images from the panels go to City Bible Forum, Sydney. The two panels that have commenced, Imagine no religion…would we be better off? and Crossing Over… Is there anything after this life?

CBF Afterwork:

We have been looking for options to consider people coming together for a potential church plant. Afterwork is one of those considerations. We have contacted people who are seeking to know more about the bible and Jesus. They are not currently connected to a church and are looking for further study or just getting started. So, we are currently meeting with a group of about 15+ people on Wednesday nights. Please pray for the growth and fruit from this ministry.

Glorious Hope Baptist Church:

Peaks and valleys – We started this year with the hiring of a youth pastor and the youth group was quite excited about the consistency of good Bible teaching and fellowship. Unfortunately, the young man had to resign due to family issues a couple weeks into the term. So, the kids have acted well to the situation, but we could use your prayers on this issue.

School:

The kids are getting adjusted to school. Rebeca & Hope are getting adjusted to the rigors of year 11. It is very intense compared to homeschooling, but they do love the friendships they are making. They are a blessing to the school and the teachers do appreciate them in class. Josh seems to have a good ‘band of brothers’ in his classmates. School is challenging, but he is excelling in Mandarin (Chinese) and Art. Also, he placed second in swimming (50 M Freestyle) and cross country (2km run) and qualified for zone. Caroline, as the principal stated, could be left alone with the class and could teach it for the day. She loves school, her teachers and all of her classmates. She is ‘tutoring’ some of the other little girls in her class. (Yet she thinks the word tutor is a funny sounding word, ‘tooter’… must get it from her uncle)

House:

The house we rent is on the market for sale and we are looking to move closer to the school. The rental market is less than 1% of the housing market in Sydney. Needless to say, it is quite competitive. We could use your prayers. We need a house for ministry, that fits out family and that we can afford.

Well that is the info on the Matthews for now. Thanks for all of your prayers and we look forward to hearing from you soon. Keep glorifying the Lord.

The adventure continues…

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua & Caroline

 

Panel + Series, School, Youth & House

Hello from Down Under,

Thanks for your prayers and questions about our various ministries & our life in Australia. It has been a busy couple of weeks in Sydney and we wanted to get you up to speed on all that is happening.

Panel + Series: At City Bible Forum we have looked at trying a new format for our talk series each week.

Format: Each month the Forum would begin with a Talking Point issue. We would have a panel of 3-4 ‘experts’ on the various topics. Then from the panel, the following weeks would be a series answering many of the discussion points from a Biblical perspective.

Imagine series: Panel discussion would utilise the lyrics from the John Lennon song and discuss the idea Imagine there was no religion- would we be better off? Then Al Stewart would do a series for three weeks on the Biblical perspective of these implications based in the New Testament. Our panelists are Dr. John Dickson (Biblical historian), Jane Caro (Writer/Atheist) , Dr Tanveer Ahmed (Writer /Clinical Psychiatrist), Simon Smart (Director of the Centre for Public Christianity) & Antony Leowenstein (Jewish- Atheist / Writer). Find out more on our website: City Bible Forum

Results: We had both panel discussions and it was exciting to see rooms with standing room only and an approximate attendance of 300 people. All of the details can be seen on our Facebook page City Bible Forum, Sydney. If you would like to dialogue with our panelists on the topics, please write in on the Discussion boards. You will have pictures, audio, and discussions on Facebook site, video of the events should be added after Wednesday.

School: The kids started their school year (Our school year starts in January, at the end of our summer) at the Australian Christian College (College is the name for primary & high school in Australia). There are many changes and challenges going from home schooling, but they are adapting to the home work and classroom setting. They enjoy the school, their new friends, sport and many of their teachers. Pray that their transition goes well and they continue to serve our Lord and Savour in all they are doing.

Youth: Glorious Hope Baptist hired a new youth pastor this year, Rubin Noel. The kids are excited about his leadership and input. He looks to be a good addition to our church family. Pray for him as he teaches through James this term.

House: We are looking to find a house closer to the school and on a train line. Pray we can find the ideal house for us to serve in ministry and will be closer to the school.

Thanks for all of your prayers and support.

The adventure continues…

The Matthews Family