Support that will take people to The Edge

The team in Sydney is looking forward to an exceptionally busy year in 2017 with our evangelistic endeavours at City Bible Forum. It has been a great year so far, but we have some exciting new projects coming up.

We are looking to introduce a new evangelistic outreach called The Edge (Formerly, The Conversation) in May. All of the details are in place for a set of quality events to occur throughout the year, but we need some help.

We will be charging for the events, but we are hoping to gain supplemental support for the talks to keep ticket prices at an accessible level.

I have attached the details below for The Edge to communicate the details of the funds we need to raise for these events and other projects. We need to raise $10000 for these events.

We are grateful for your prayers over the years and we would like to ask you to consider supporting this evangelistic endeavour or to consider presenting this proposal to your local church for potential support?

After reading through the details, if people would like to support the events.

You can support send in their contribution by going to this link:

ABWE and entering RUSSELL W. & CATHY MATTHEWS (0132363)

If you or others choose to send in support, please have them email us. ABWE does not notify us when gifts are received and we would like to ensure the church or person giving are thanked for their additional support.

Thank you for the consideration and please pray for the upcoming evangelistic efforts in Sydney.

Russ & Cathy Matthews

 Details in place: 

1 The Edge: Thinking for a change

2 Venue: Dendy Opera Quays

3 Frequency:  Once a month, One hour (During  school term) May, June, Aug, Sept, Oct, & Nov

5 Times and nights: Straight afterwork; 6:30-7:45pm;  Thursday

6 Formats: Two TEDtalk style talks with Q&A

Two speakers speaking for 15 minutes 

Talk 1 – Contestability (Head) – (Positive apologetic consideration)

Talk 2 -Plausability (Heart) – (Difference faith makes)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Matthews Down Under

One week in… the questions begin: Concern with water in our toilets

We are excited about the US ministries over the next few months. The jet lag is fading and the motivation to talk about the work in Australia has already begun.

It is one week into our journey and the family has been traveling on the East Coast. We had a chance to talk with our kids about the questions that people ask when they hear we are from Australia. Many questions that we have heard before and some new ones.

We thought it might be a ‘teaching moment’ for all who might be interested. This is not meant to ‘have a go’ at people’s lack of knowledge ofThe Great Southern Land.’ Just to move people along in the process of getting to re-introduce The Matthews family.

The top six questions from this week:

1.  You can do missions work in Sydney? 

90% of the people of Australia live in the cities of Australia. It is one of the most urbanised countries in the world. Also, only 3-5% of the population follow Christ as their Saviour. It is a great opportunity for mission and we choose to do it where the people live. Check out the ministry we work with in Sydney and around Australia. City Bible Forum and Rouse Hill Bible Church

2. Does the water go the opposite way in your toilets?

Americans fascination with our toilet water is interesting. The answer to ever important international question is yes and no. Water does travel in a different direction in the Southern Hemisphere, but our toilets flush differently. Not circling, but more of a whoosh sensation. So, does the toilet water travel a different direction? Not really. It all travels ‘down’ the drain. 

3. Do you have kangaroos and wombats in your back yard?

Nope, we live in a major metropolitan city.

4. That isn’t ‘American’ English’: Why do you use different words?

 We live in Australia and we use the vernacular from our home country. Can we ask that you not correct us on how we pronounce things? It has only been week, but it is getting a bit tiresome. If you have a question about what we are saying, see it as a way to learn more about another culture, mate.

5. Does it snow in Australia?

We do get snow during the winter in the mountains of Australia. The vast majority of Australia does not get snow. Just a side note, our seasons are opposite from the Northern Hemisphere.

Quick Australian weather reference: January: Hot, Summer; July: Cold, Winter

6. How long will this ‘missions thing’ go and when will you be done?

Unless God changes the plan, we are in Australia to stay. It is our home and unless Jesus returns soon, there is work to be done. Also, studying the Bible, we do not see ‘retirement’ as a Biblical precedence. The work may change over the years, but the location will be the same. Sharing the Gospel in the Sunburnt Country, Australia.

 Thanks for the questions. We pray you consider the intent of this update. We love talking with people about Australia, especially about the ministry work in Sydney. We thought we would answer some of the key questions up front. Please keep the queries coming and we look forward to seeing you in the churches and homes of the US.

Thanks for your support and prayers,

The Matthews

 

 

 

Urban Missions Summit – Arrival in Bangkok – Missionaries are weird: Part 2

Tell me a job where someone enjoys going to an area of the world that is completely different, extremely muggy, no one understands you, there is every type of food available and most are not identifiable (and other unique smells), people laugh at you as you attempt to communicate with them and you honestly enjoy it. That, my friend, is the life of an Urban Missionary.

I have shown up in Bangkok with many of my friends and colleagues. Protests going on down the street (Not because of us, but because of the politics of the country), every type of food being made out on the street, it is so hot, I cannot stop sweating, we flew all night and got about three hours of sleep and I am having a blast. Do you know why? Yep I am going to say it again, ‘Missionaries are weird.’ We are freaks of the ministry world. We are an odd lot, but I think most of us would be comfortable with this label, because the Lord has given it to us.

I know this job description is not unique to Urban Missions, there are other traveling careers. Other jobs in ministry and outside of ministry that get paid more and see many parts of the world, but the difference is purpose. Do those other job careers get to consider how we can do more for the Lord to reach more people for our Saviour? Probably not. Urban Missionary is a great gig, in a bizarre way.

In one day I have sat with people from India, Thailand, the US, Australia and more. Looking at the cities of Southeast Asia and how we can capitalise on the opportunities the Lord affords us in the city centres. How can we engage people with the Gospel, how we can equip Christians to do the work, how we mobilise Christians to do the work and how we can establish new believers in good churches?

I was talking with a good friend, Kent, today. We were discussing how the ‘tribes and tongues’ come to us in the cities. Chinese, Nepalese, Thai, Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, English,  and the list goes on.  They are here in Bangkok and in the other city centres.

My question to many of you, have you ever considered Urban Missions? The mission where the mission comes to you.

The Urban Missions Summit begins tomorrow. Pray for direction and wisdom. Pray for support and unity. Pray for creativity and courage. Pray that a room full of missions freaks would wrestle with the issues, disagree, pray, talk about the opportunities some more and come out on the other side with direction for the future. Most importantly, pray the Lord’s will be done.

Thank you for your support and prayers.

Urban Missionary Russ Matthews

Christianity, Belief and Six Steps – Feb 2014 Update from the Matthews

Please be praying for the various events and series at The Forum and Rouse Hill Bible Church.

What is so Great about Christianity? 

This is the new series at The Forum in Sydney 2014. We were looking to start the year off with the some of the positives of our faith.

Despite appearances, following Jesus has much to commend it. Some have claimed that Christianity has been disproven by science and discredited as a guide to morality. But despite this, and much that is bad in the world, many reasonable people still trust Jesus. Intelligent, educated people still believe what the Bible says. And Christianity has proven it is not just another mindless religion.

Weekly topics:  Compassion, Confidence, Purpose & Peace

What do you think of the image?

Towards Belief

I will be leading this series at two locations in the city at Westpac bank. This ten-episode series follows Australian pastor and host, Karl Faase as he travels the world and interviews over 30 leading authors and speakers about the top “belief blockers” of our time. Contributors include John Lennox, Nicky Gumbel and John Dickson.

Topics: Suffering, The Bible, Supernatural, Religious Violence, Exclusive Faith, Church Abuse, Science & God, Homosexuality, The Church & Towards Belief

Pray for many to come along and participate in the series. Also, Karl will be concluding the series with an evangelistic set of talks in April.

Go to the website and get a preview, it is good material.

 

Six Steps to Sharing Your Faith – A new study at RHBC

We will be going through this series at our church for the first few months of the year. It makes think of the people around you: your family, your workmates, the man at the news agency, your neighbours. Is there a single one of them who doesn’t need to be following Jesus?

Six Steps to Talking about Jesus is a short course that goes back to square one, and helps people make a start.

Sessions: 

» the core motivation for reaching out to others;

» how to depend on God in prayer;

» how to invite people to read a book or come to an event;

» how to tell your own story of what God has done for you in Christ;

» how to explain the gospel of Jesus in a simple way.

Pray for fruit from this series and growth of His people and the church.

I have taught this course in the past and is a good motivation for evangelism.

Thank you for your prayers and support,

The Matthews

 

Keep getting our updates on www.matthewsdownunder.com

Written by Russ Matthews for Matthews Down Under ( We do live in Australia, the Australian spelling is correct )

A grumpy day that God used for His glory (A ‘Just the other day story’ )

I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me. (Proverbs 8:17 NLT)

I was having one of those days. One of those days where I wish I could roll back over and go to bed.

I did not want to do anything. I was grumpy and it is not a day I want to talk to anyone.

But in my life, that is not an option. I had to get up. So, I got up at 5am, did my devotional, did my workout, had breakfast, kissed my kids and my (exceptionally understanding) wife and then I got on the train into the city.

Usually on the train, I study, I read or I work during the hour long commute.

This day, I stared out the window. Nothing profound to think about. I just did not want to engage with anything or anyone.

I got into the City Bible Forum office, bought a $1 coffee (all I can afford today) and it tasted like a 50 cent coffee. Everything and everyone seemed to irritate me. I put in the earbuds, checked email and got some work done or at least pretended to work.

What was running through my head?

‘Am I supposed to be be doing ministry at all? What is God doing to me? I don’t want to be here!’ (Just being real)

You may not have these days, but the reality is, that is what ran through my head.

I went to City Bible Forum with one of my best friends. How do I know he is a friend? He put up with my incessant whinging (complaining) for the trip to the event.

We set up for the talk. All was going fine. I was able to put on the good game face. (That means faking it!)

What was the talk for the day?

How humility makes a difference by Dr John Dickson.

Great talk. Actually, it was too good. I needed to hear it, but I did not want to hear it.

During this incredible talk came the passage: For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 NLT)

I wanted to crawl under the tables. If you look at the beginning of this update, the update is chock full of ‘I’s. I started the day thinking about me. The mirror of the passage in Luke was on me. I was gutted. I was at a loss to how to respond.

So, what did I do?

Got out of there. Once we were done tearing down the event, thanking john for the talk, I excused myself and escaped.

I went to get a haircut.

I was a fool.

The lady, Maria from Ireland, cutting my hair started chatting with me. Innocently about the day. I sat there thinking, ‘Don’t ask the question. Please do not ask the question. Yes, keep talking about your camera. Do not ask the question.’

She asked the question.

‘So, what do you do?’

Ugh! I thought to myself, ‘Not today, I am not on my game. I am not focused. Honestly, the last thing I wanted to talk about was God.’ I know, shame on me, but the it is reality of the moment.

What did I do?

I told her what I do.

My job, my life is to talk to people about Jesus and the Bible. It’s what I do.

What happened?

I had one of the most significant conversations with someone about what it is to be a Christian. Comparing other belief systems, personal testimonies and I was able to lay out the Gospel from beginning to end. She did not take any other customers, but was engaged in the conversation. She took my information and thanked me for the time. (I ended up with a very short haircut,  the more we talked, the more she cut. It was worth it.)

Guess what. I was thrilled and interestingly I was still grumpy. Yet, The Lord used me. Despite myself. He was glorified. Maria heard the Good News, even though I was in a jerky mood all day.

In the end,  God gets all the credit. Nothing was of me today and that is how it should be.

You truly are incredible. Thanks Lord, I am a bit less grumpy now.

(As a ‘just the other day’ story. This is dedicated to a great friend and mentor. He encouraged me to pray for these things. He even put up with the lack of humility in recent correspondence with him. Thanks, mate. You are a blessing and an example of humility.)

Can we make a difference? (Also, The Nemmers arrival!)

We are so excited to have Pat & Marilyn Nemmers with us for the next few weeks. Please pray for this special time with them. Also, they would be able to see and meet the ministires and people we have come to love in Australia.

They will be able to be part of many of the upcoming events. Pat will be speaking at various events and they will be staying with us.

Pray as they come along to City Bible Forum, Rouse Hill Bible Church and experiencing Sydney.

What is happening this month?

Have you ever wondered why October is the tenth month and not the eighth? Possibly.

Does it make a difference? Probably not.

Throughout October City Bible Forum is considering the things that really DO make an impact on our society, positive or otherwise.

Read on to find out more. We hope these events make a positive difference to you and your friends.

The Forum at lunch: Can we make a difference?

What impact do philanthropy and social activism actually have? Can one person make a difference? How has the virtue of humility made a difference?

Please be praying for the lunch forums at 1:05pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays and find out…

• 9/10 Oct: The Forum features a panel of influencers: Nic Lochner,Malcolm Wood, Rachel Scott and Edward Santow. They will answer your questions on Can we make a difference?

• 16/17 Oct: International Justice Mission Legal Counsel Amber Hawkes asks How can one person make a difference?

• 23/24 Oct: Best-selling author, historian and TV presenter Dr John Dickson will show us How humility makes the difference in the private and public sphere.

Citywoman Career-Wise Conference

Women – do you want to inspire others to make a positive impact?

On Thursday 10 October, 6:15-9:00pm the Citywoman Career-Wise Conference is all about Positive Power and Influence at Work.

 

At lunch: the points of difference

What is unique about Jesus, his life and teaching?

Following The Forum discussions on making a difference, national City Bible Forum communicators Al Stewart and Ian Powell will explore the points of difference about Jesus that make a powerful and positive difference today.

30 Oct-5 Dec: weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 1:05pm.

Read more…

Christianity: A Short Course for the Curious

Please pray for the upcoming course for people who are curious about Jesus?

A Short Course for the Curious, 5 sessions which uncover the life and teaching of Jesus using eyewitness accounts and original documents.

• No Biblical knowledge is assumed, and all questions are welcome.

• Led by experienced teachers Al Stewart and Ian Powell.

Wednesdays, 6-8pm 16 October to 13 November 

Read more and register …

The Smith Lecture: 24 October at AGNSW

Prof Patrick Parkinson (Professor of Law at University of Sydney, specialist in family law and child protection) will be delivering this year’s Smith Lecture on a timely topic:

Child sexual abuse and the churches: A story of moral failure?

Why did this happen? What assurances can be given that this will not happen again?

This special annual event will be held at Art Gallery of NSW, Thursday 24 October, 6:00-8:15pm. Group discounts apply.

This is an ideal lecture for friends, family and colleagues for whom this issue is a stumbling block to considering the Christian faith. We encourage you to have dinner afterwards with your guests to discuss this sensitive and vital topic.

Thank you for your constant prayers and support.
The adventure continues…
The Matthews family
More details on our Facebook page; Take time to like it!

Missionaries are weird

John 15:19

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

I am going to take you back to one of my weakest moments. I remember sitting at a camp and hearing a missionary speaker. I was distracted. I was distracted by his clothes, his manner and his words.

Then I am horrified by what came next. What I had planned in my heart for this poor man. The infamous questions. The questions that I wanted to ask the poor man during Q&A time. ‘How many people have you lead to The Lord?’  ‘How many churches have you planted?’ ‘Share with us the last time you shared your faith.’  They may seem innocent enough, but this was not the case.

Unfortunately these questions were not for his edification or to glorify the Lord, they were to be asked to measure his evangelistic prowess and communication abilities. My purpose was to show him to be a bumbling fool and a poor communicator. An unfortunate judgement, that would come back to haunt me.

Had I taken any consideration for him? Did I ever step back to think that he was having to do reverse translation in his head? Or that he was suffering from the sheer exhaustion of the curse of furlough? Or maybe the last evangelistic conversation, as with most of these conversations, was not one of any significance and maybe he was trying to remember a ‘positive’ one for my benefit?

Shame on me. I did not think of any of those things. I just saw a weird guy who needed to be humiliated. I will admit, I thought it and I am not proud of it, but in my head was the question…

‘Are all missionaries weird?’

(Pause for effect…)

Definition: weird (in Australia it is pronounced wid, now that is weird) 1. Of, relating to, or suggestive of the preternatural or supernatural. 2. Of a strikingly odd or unusual character; strange. 

As I ponder this question, I know the answer. You might not like it, but the answer to this question is ‘Yes.’ They (we) have to be weird. Before you judge me and start to write a scathing status on Twitter or Facebook, keep reading.

All missionaries are weird. At the time, due to my own short sightedness and sinful nature, I was focused on the external of this man. I did not take the time to meet this bloke, I cannot remember his name, but now I realise I was missing something. Missionaries have to be a bit different, dare I say weird, to even consider doing what they do. Going to a foreign country, sharing a strange message and setting themselves up as counter culture in a new culture, and then do the unthinkable. Fall in love with the country, the culture and the people they are sent to by God. I know, weird.

Fast forward to 2013: Our family is classified as missionaries. We call Australia home, we have lived here close to 8 years and we have become citizens. I do not wear white shirts  and we call ourselves ministry workers, not missionaries. Why? Because otherwise we are thought of as Mormans. I know, weird.

Weird Words: Relating to the original example, I understand why the missionary struggled at the camp. The longer we are in Australia, it is harder to communicate with people from our country of origin. We dress differently, we talk differently (Mate!), we like different food, we communicate the Gospel differently, and do you know why? The explanation is… We live in a different country. I know, weird.

Visitors: We had some Christian friends come and visit. They experienced the ministry, our life, the country, the people that we serve with here and our Australian friends that had become some of our closest friends. As we described the experience of ministry in Australia to our US friends, one word kept coming out, ‘Weird.’ It was strange, but this caused me to get angry. The word hit me in the face and the reason that term frustrated me was this visitor was in ‘my country’ and kept calling it weird. The culture, the food, the language and the churches were all apart of this country. Technically he was the odd man out. Based on the definition, he was the the weird one. Yet, even in my frustration, he was right. It was weird from his perspective.

In the near future, we will be weird with an audience: We will be the guy standing in front of a crowd trying to communicate what we do in Australia. Our family will be going to the US for the infamous furlough. A strange position from both sides of the ocean. Americans think we come back for rest and refreshment. Our friends in Australia that think that is is a time for holiday in the US. Yet, it is one of most challenging and exhausting times in ministry.

To give you perspective, try leaving your current career, country and home. All your work, the relationships and career objectives you have been building over the last eight years and travel through a foreign country and raise funds for months. Hoping that all the work and people will be there when you come back. Each week you pack up to travel to a different church every week. Deliver the same message to every church. The expectation is to keep it fresh & make sure there is enough rah-rah! Oh yeah, now you are the one who gets asked those questions. During the Q&A sessions, if you talk too much about the challenges, people think you are depressed. If you talk of too many successes, you are bragging and need a dose of humility.

I will let you in on a little secret, the goal and ultimate desire of missionaries is to get back to the country that is now called home. So, we can recover from furlough. Getting back to the people and country, that we see as where God has directed. Deep in the hearts of missionaries, we want to go home. I know, weird.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

If you have made it to this portion, you might think this is a poor judgement of a people group, a personal lament or a pity party. You would be wrong.

I am a missionary and I am weird. 

Guess what? This is the life the Lord has directed us. We understand it and in a strange way, we enjoy the process. Through all of the challenges, all the travel, all the rejections and humiliations, we come out the other end better for it all. If weird means loving the country the Lord has sent us to serve, loving the work we do, loving the people we serve alongside and loving the God who sent us here. I am good with that.

I know, weird. 

 

The adventure continues…

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua and Caroline


I think I need a Bible…

At our weekly group at Westpac, we have been going through a four week evangelistic Bible study called Investigating Christianity. Through the course we answer the questions: Who is God? Who is man? Who is Jesus? & How can you be right with God?

The team had been quite excited about the number of guests that had come along to the course. Many of the g’enquirers’ were engaging in the Bible discussion for the first time. It is always encouraging to see Christians getting excited about evangelism. After completing the course, we began a new series called Authentic Spirituality: How to follow Jesus without being religious.

Stephanie has been coming to both courses, she is an ‘enquirer’ and very engaged in the discussions on the Bible. At the end of the first session of the second course, she turns to me and says, ‘You know, I think I need a Bible. Can you get me one?’ The person who had been inviting her to come along was beaming with excitement and trying to contain himself. I said, ‘I think I could find you one.’ Then Steph commenced to pick up all of our flyers for the upcoming events in the city and said,’I think I would like to get along to these, too.’ Her friend said, ‘ I will go with you.’

This is just one of the many stories of the work in the city. Seeing people interested and engaged in the Bible. people from various backgrounds engaging in the Bible for the first time and some coming to Christ.  It takes time and we have to ‘earn the right’ to share the Gospel with them. This is done through prayer, diligence & building relationships with people. Please pray for Steph and others who will be coming to the various events this year.

Life, the Universe and Nothing – Krauss and Lane Craig in August

In August City Bible Forum hosts eminent cosmologist and theoretical physicist ProfLawrence Krauss and theologian, philosopher and Christian apologist Dr William Lane Craig.

These two high profile international speakers will discuss the VERY big issues of Life, the Universe and Nothing over three conversations:

7 August - Brisbane: Has science buried God?

13 August - Sydney: Why is there something rather than nothing?

16 August - Melbourne: Is it reasonable to believe in God?

Tickets go on sale very soon. In the meantime, check out the event website and contribute to the conversation on Facebook.

Read the website here …

Short course for the curious

Led by Ian Powell, this Short Course provides the opportunity to review Jesus’ teachings, look at original documents, and ask your own questions about Jesus’ claims.

Commencing Wednesday 24 July, the 4-week Short course for the curious meets Wednesday evenings 6:00pm for 6:15-8:00pmat 580 George Street, Sydney.

Read more and register …

Upcoming Forum: Australia – The happiest place on earth? 31 July /1 August

Australia has taken the top spot on the OECD Better Life Index as the happiest country on earth for the third year running, ahead of 35 other OECD countries. As Australians, this should make us happy. But why are we seeing an increase in the number of Aussies being treated for depression? Why do 1 in 3 of us work over time?

How do you define happiness? Are we happy? What leads to lasting happiness?

Come and bring your questions to The Forum, as panellists Mark McCrindle (social demographer and analyst), Thubten Chockyi and Ross Gittins ask if Australia is indeed the “Happiest Place on Earth”.

Read more …

Conclusion to the  Secret Hollywood Forums

This has been a great series at City Bible Forum for the month of July.

Utilising the interest in film to communicate a Gospel message. Our panellists have been fantastic to work with and we look forward to doing this type of event next year. Please pray for the conclusion on 24 July.

Here is the video link to the latest Forum, Hollywood’s greatest villains and why we love them.  I had the privilege of being the moderator that day.

 Rouse Hill Bible ChurchWe are thrilled with the move to our new church Rouse Hill Bible Church. We recently had a young adults event in our home and had a great time getting to know the church family. It is only 10 minutes from our home and we have been able to invite many to the church.

Pray for us as we look to see how we can assist with this young church and work alongside Pastor Ben Kwok and the team. Seeing how we can reach more people for Christ in our area.

Russ will be preaching through Revelation with Pastor Ben this year.

Winning the Cities newsletter available online

Would you like to know what City Bible Forum has been up to nationally?

Our latest National Newsletter is available on the City Bible Forum web site on the Support Us page. In this issue we address what we’ve been doing to engage city workers with the good news of Jesus in the first half of 2013 in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Read more …

Thank you for your prayers and support.The adventure continues…Russ, Cathy, Rebecca, Hope, Joshua and Caroline

A day in the life? Thought you might like a look…

Saylorville Church requested a ‘Day in the Life’ from our work in Australia.

We shared it with the church recently, but thought you might like a look into some of the things The Lord has going on in Sydney.

Some of it is jus for fun, but I hope this gives you a glimpse into a bit of our lives here!

Enjoy…

Matthews Down Under 2013