Busy May – Winning the City, Leadership and Prayer

Greetings from Sydney

The month of May 2013 will be a busy time for the ministry work in Sydney. We wanted to share some of the events going on in the city and ways you can pray. Please go to the links to find out more.

Winning the City Breakfast, 15 May

Our annual fundraising event with speaker former Deputy Prime Minister Mr John Anderson AO.

As we enjoy a delicious breakfast together in the heart of the city, at one of Sydney’s loveliest establishments, we will share some fresh stories from the coal-face, our exciting future direction.

Pray for our fundraising efforts, help City Bible Forum win the cities.

The Forum: Leading the Aussie Way, 15/16 May

How is leading Australians different?

What are the essential characteristics of leadership?

There are some leaders we instinctively warm to, and then there are others we love to loathe.

Why? What attracts us to good leaders? Is it the oratory skills of an Obama, the courage of a Churchill, the vision of a Jobs, the brashness of a Branson or perhaps the humility of a Gandhi?

Against the backdrop of the imminent federal election, our specialist panel will consider if there is anything distinctive about the way Australians lead and respond to leadership. Has Jesus’ model of sacrifice and service left an indelible mark on our understanding of true leadership?

Our Forum panellists: John Anderson, Mark Scott and Andrew Scippione

Re:think series with Al Stewart; Wednesdays and Thursdays in May & June

We continue through the book of Mark and consider some of the big issues that are addressed throughout this incredible gospel account.

Could Jesus be right about … Leadership, Human nature, Religion, Himself and getting ahead?

Sydney Prayer Breakfast; 24 May

We hope to double last years numbers for the Sydney Prayer Breakfast. Our goal will to have over 1000 people in attendance.

Speaker: General David Hurley, Head of the Armed Forces in Australia

 

Finances: We are praying for our current support needs which are about at a $500/month deficit. We also accept one off donations to assist with the various ministries and family needs. It has been a challenging year and we would appreciate any assistance you are willing to provide.

To give go to this link: ABWE donations/The Matthews and put in our number: 0132363

 

Thank you for all of your support, prayers and we are thankful for all who write us.

The adventure continues,

Rus, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua and Caroline

 


Visits, leadership, a move and 2013

Coming to this end of the year

It is a beautiful spring in Sydney. The year is coming to a close, but this is when things seem to ramp up with activity. We try to plan for it, but November comes around every year and we seem to find ourselves in a new level of busyness. It has been a great year of ministry and the opportunities do not stop during this season.

We will have visits from family and work colleagues from the US over the next few months. It is always a great time to celebrate the work that is being done here and to share our lives with those who pray and support us.

This will limit some of our communication over the coming months. Our next update will be towards the end of December.

Changes at ABWE

We are experiencing an exciting time in ABWE Australia’s history. Our Field Coordinator, Steve Mayo, has been promoted to new position within our region. A much deserved promotion for Steve and it leaves our team with inevitable changes. We will be introducing a new Field coordinator and it will change the structure of our region and the influence our team will have on this area of the world for mission. Pray for wisdom and unity within the team at this time.

A move

Why not add one of the biggest stresses of life into the mix?

As many know, our finances have been a challenge this year. The Lord has provided in a multitude of ways and we have had some of our supporters get behind the ministry with financial considerations. One opportunity presented to us was to move to a different house that will lower our housing costs. It is within a few minutes of where we are now, but the move will be within a month. Pray for us as we move into our new home in November. We will send the details and address out soon.

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 many of the new things going on in 2013 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 for the church and supporters who have increased the support of the ministry in Australia. Please pray for our churches to consider a cost of living increase of 5% on our current support levels. If all churches would be willing to do this increase we would be at 100% of our monthly support. This request is similar to any worker who requests a cost of living increase for the year. Thank you for the prayers and consideration.

Prayer points:
- next series at City Bible Forum: 5 truths that will transform your life
- visits from ABWE team members and family in the coming weeks
- planning for 2013
- leadership changes at ABWE Australia
- Becca and Hope graduate in December (end of the school year in Australia)

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 forum, a talk, a funeral and finances

Thank you for you prayers and support, here is a note to update you on the last few weeks.

A funeral: Pam Cain’s funeral went exceptionally well. Pam was Cathy’s best friend since moving to Sydney. It was a great day to celebrate the life of Pam and a good time for many to to come along and hear about her life.  Also, through the eulogies and the message, a clear presentation of the gospel was presented for all 400+ people who attended. It was a good day. Pray that the family will be able to move forward in their lives and the Lord would continue to do a work in their lives. Cathy is doing well, but she is exhausted. She gave the prayer of thanksgiving during the funeral. Pray for her and all that comes with the grieving process.

A forum: London Calling: Probably one of the biggest topics in Sydney would be the Olympics in London. It is happening on the other side of the world and at a different time. Yet, we are a sport driven nation. Especially for the Olympics. We had two great panel discussions with Olympians and key athletic figures in Sydney come along and discuss, what does it take to perform? They are all Christians and will share their experiences in athletic performance and how Christ has had an impact on their lives. Details at citybibleforum.org/the forum

A ‘sharing your faith talk’ in Caringbah: I was glad I had the opportunity to give the talk on Wednesday night at St Philips. 50+ men there to hear about the opportunity of sharing their faith in their area of influence. Good questions and conversations after the talk. A few who had been to various City Bible Forum events in the past. Pray they take on the opportunity to share their faith in the workplace. It preceded one of the most important football events in NSW history, Origin III. Once they got past hearing the American accent from a man wearing a NSW Blues guernsey we had a great time. Good game, wrong result, but the evening went really well.

Another series – Glorious Hope Baptist Church: On a smaller scale, I am currently working through the book of 1 Corinthians at Glorious Hope Baptist Church. We will be in chapter 5 this coming week. Pray for our church as we look at a challenging book of the Bible and how we can learn to be better servants in our church and for God.

Finances: Thank you for your continued support and prayers. It has been an amazing year for our family. The opportunities for ministry continue to grow. We have had the privilege of seeing people come to Christ through the various ministries that we participated in this year.  Through the Lord’s will and your support we have been able to be a apart of this amazing work in Australia.

We committed to communicating our support levels to you twice a year.  With all of the world economic challenges, Australia has been effected by the changes too. We have been very thankful for the continued support from all who have supported us regularly this year.  We have had changes in the Australian economy and a few of our supporters finances. With some of these adjustments we are currently at 90% of our monthly support level.  We are only experiencing a shortfall of $500 per month.

We appreciate consideration from you or your churches when evaluating your upcoming budget discussions. Would you be willing to consider a 5% increase in our support. It is a small request, especially since we have not requested this in our six years on the field. Would you or your church be willing to increase our support but this small amount. This minor increase would get us closer to achieving our monthly expenses.

Thanks for all you do for our family and we look forward to contacting you soon.

The adventure continues…

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua and Caroline

The Forum, Mission to the Atheists & a car (psst… 6 years in Australia & 20th wedding anniversary)

Every year we have people ask us about our ministry in Australia. How we do  ministry in the city and how we are funded. It is a fair question and our opportunity to share that the City Bible Forum is supported by individuals who give generously to the Lord’s work.

Our family costs are supported through churches and individuals in the US and Australia. Yet, the actual cost of City Bible Forum is covered by the donations of many of our ministry partners in the cities of Australia.

Once I explain this to most people the next two question tend to be, ‘Are there any projects that need specific support and how can we help?’

Here are three key projects for 2012 that you could help us with this year. Two of them are ministry costs and one is a personal request.

1) The Forum – In 2011, we started doing large public panel / forums on key topics in the city. Examining current topics calmly without the media hype. Bringing in people with differing positions and discussing the implications of the topic on our society. Allowing the audience to participate in the discussion through questions and answers. After ‘The Forum’ we would follow with a four to six week series on the Biblical position on the topic. Example: ‘Crossing Over: Is the anything after this life?’ if you would like to see the videos click on this link. The Forum or videos of 2011

We will continue ‘The Forum’ in 2012. We have been able to get prominent people to participate in these engaging events. The costs are in regards to travel for the speakers and audio and visual costs. We are asking for assistance to off-set the costs of these Forums.

Annual Cost: $15000

2) Mission during the ‘Global Atheist Conference’

In April 2012, some of the worlds leading authors and expositors of Atheism will be in Australia. Richard Dawkins, etc. Our team will be participating in events, evangelism and debates that will be going on at the conference and will be doing outreach. We have been the front runners in mobilising Christians to do outreach during the Global Atheist Conference. Cost will involve venue hire, material production and housing costs. We are asking for funds to off set these costs.

Cost for mission: $10000

3) Ministry vehicle: we are asking our supporters to consider assisting us with replacing our current ministry vehicle. Our current van is getting to point of needing replacement or minimising its usage. Also, we have been given a 1988 Honda Civic to supplement our travel needs, but it is older and in need of replacement.  We are asking for assistance in replacing these vehicles.

Needed funds for vehicle: $5000

Note: Our family does not do a financial appeal monthly, we strive to keep it to special occurrences and a twice a year update for your information.

Thank you for reading through these details and prayerfully considering supporting one if not all of these projects. Please pray for all of the Lord to be glorified through all of these events.

To support any of these projects, you can send your donations to ABWE and enter Matthews City Ministry or Car and number 0132363.

Personal note: We just wanted to celebrate with all of you. We have officially been in Australia for 6 years and Cathy & I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary on 21 March. It has been an amazing ride together and we look forward to all of the years the Lord has to offer us. Thanks for being part of these six years in Oz and 20 years as a couple.

The adventure continues,

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua and Caroline


Experiencing two worlds

Experiencing two worlds

Crest Baptist Church Family Camp

It is summer break in Australia and this is the time for the beach, holidays, Australia Day and camp. Our family was asked to come to a Family Camp for Crest Baptist Church. It is an Arabic church in the heart of Sydney. People from Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and other areas of the middle east. A loving and vibrant church that was getting away for the weekend. The camp was in the beautiful tip of the Southern Highlands.

I was asked to talk to the English speaking portion of the church throughout the weekend. Yet, most of the time it was an interesting mix of Arabic & Australian culture. Consistently I had to remind myself where we were and even though I did not speak the language of the majority of the people, the testimonies and enthusiasm for the Lord was contagious. It was a great reminder that Jesus & the Holy Spirit transcend cultures and languages.

Highlights:
1. I was speaking through Nehemiah, the church leaders asked for this series due to the building time in the church culture. The first night I brought a huge tub of Lego to encourage them to build something individually, a fun way to start the weekend. The following night I asked I asked them to take apart their individual creations and make something as one unit, for one purpose and for one name. Building something together, like the people of Jerusalem in the book of Nehemiah. It was late and the Legos just sat there until I went to bed at midnight. I woke up the next morning for a run and as I came into the main hall, there was a bit of a buzz. As I turned around to see what everyone was so excited about, I saw not just a wall but a city had been built! Pictures are on Facebook.

2. Ammon – on Friday night I got to meet Ammon. He is the same age as Joshua (our son). Quiet and friendly, but kept to himself. After my first talk on Saturday morning, I noticed one of the leaders actively engaged in a conversation with Ammon, who had just started coming to the church. Then I noticed that they went to go pray. After my second talk I had an opportunity to talk with the leader. Ammon had become a Christian that day! Nothing mores satisfying to hear.

3. Gus- after the Sunday morning talk, the music leader asked me to pray for a man who had just come to the camp after. An invitation during a church building project. Gus is a truck driver who was on medical leave from his job. Right after we prayed, Gus came walking up to us and began peppering us with questions about the church, the Bible and why these talks were so different than anything he had experienced in church. He was not ready to become a Christian at that time, but you can be praying for him.

4. The girls were not there! This may seem a bit negative, but it is a gift to us. We wanted to the Hope & Becca to be with us, but they were counseling at a camp on the Central Coast. It was a sacrifice to not have these incredible young ladies with us, but it was worth it. They were counseled at a camp for under-privileged children. It was their third year counseling. This year they had the incredible opportunity to lead 14 girls to the Lord! I know it is all of the Lord, but I am so proud of what the Lord is doing through our daughters. Praise His Name!

Prayer points: we would like to share a few prayer points for 2012

1. Exciting start to city ministry: panels, evangelism training, new fellowships in the city and evangelistic events inside corporations. Please pray for their start this year and for the Lord to sustain the ministry in 2012.

2. Glorious Hope Baptist Church: growth and direction for 2012

3.Hope and Becca’s final year of high school : wow, are they growing up!

4. School year begins on 31 January: New uniforms, new teachers, new challenges

5. Finances: we would appreciate anyone willing to assist us with a new ministry vehicle

6. 20th anniversary: Cathy & I celebrate 20 years of marriage this year. We are looking to get away in March for a long weekend.

7. Wisdom in our decisions with ministry partners and direction for 2012

Thanks for your faithful support and prayers.
The adventure continues,
Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua & Caroline

Holiday Conversations, Visiting Team and the Car

Holiday conversations  

We had friends (One of my work colleagues at City Bible Forum and his family) invite us to go to Griffith, NSW for a short holiday. It was a great time of relaxing and enjoying a unique part of the country. Griffith is the farming centre of New South Wales. They have an irrigation system that allows for the growth of grapes, citrus, rice and various other foods. It was beautiful part of the country.

One night we were invited to go out to dinner with a high school mate of my friend, Craig. It was a great time of conversation and making new friends. Craig’s friend had brought his new girlfriend. She began to enquire about what Craig and I do for a living. As we were able to share about the work of the Gospel, she started in on the questions. Everything from creation to cults to death was out on the table. It was great. At one point the friend said to Cathy, “I did not know she had some many questions…” As things began to spiral around more questions, it came down to differentiation of beliefs. How were we different?

We were able to say that with all that is in the Bible, it all points to one thing, to one point in history to one person, Jesus. Once you can see that, the differentiation is how we respond to Him and the offer he gives to us. Grace within the Gospel. The difference from other beliefs, Jesus.

It shows that regardless of the time and place, you never know when you will have the opportunity to share the Gospel. Also, it made us appreciate your part in this process through your prayers and support.

Prayer Points

FFC team - We are excited to have a team coming from First Family Church in Ankeny in October. Pray for all the preparation, opportunities for ministry and their experience of the culture. The Lord did provide for us to borrow an additional car to assist with transport. The team will be participating in evangelistic outreach, scripture classes, Kids Clubs, Young Adult outing in Sydney, street evangelism, the Smith Lecture, church and many other events. Pray for their safe arrival, their many opportunities to minister and for the Lord to be glorified in it all.

Introducing God (Church) - It has been great, speaking through the Introducing Course at Glorious Hope and Grace Baptist Churches this past month. Pray for many to hear the Gospel and for Christians gain the training to share the Gospel with others through this clear presentation of the message of the Bible. We close each talk with a Q&A time. People have been searching out what they believe and we have been able to develop an atmosphere for them to engage with the Bible and God.

Investigating Christianity - In October,Russ will begin teaching a course on how to walk people through the four weeks of Investigating Christianity.  It is a great course  It is rather intensive with practical application, pray that the participants will be willing to go through the work and develop their skills in sharing their faith in Jesus Christ.

Life of Jesus- We begin a Life of Jesus course. It is a walk through the book of Luke and explaining the life of Jesus. Pray for Christians to gain a clear view of their faith. Also, for those who are not followers of Christ would see that Christianity is not a religion or another list of do’s and don’ts, but life- style that is centered on this person, Jesus.

The Car 

We have had one vehicle, a Toyota Tarago mini-van, since arriving in Australia. We bought it used and it has served us well, but it is beginning to show it’s age. With a family of six, which includes three teenagers, you can imagine the wear and tear on the van. It currently has 265000 km (164663 miles) on it and it is beginning to need a fair amount of work. We were hoping for to hang on to it for awhile longer, but we could use a smaller vehicle to help with getting us around and to lighten the load on the Tarago. We prayerfully considered it and we wanted to share this need with you. Would you and/or your church be willing to assist us with the expense of a new vehicle? We are looking to raise approximately $8000+ for a used car.

How can you help? If you are able to assist with the car we would appreciate your contribution. You can go to the ABWE website and either give one-off and state the contribution is for the ministry vehicle. Also,  you can send cheques to ABWE or Saylorville Baptist Church for these gifts. If you would like to contribute to the vehicle, merely mark on your contribution O&P funds for Matthews vehicle. If you or your church sends in funds to ABWE, could you cc us in the correspondence? The only way we can know about it is if you send us a message. Thanks for the consideration.

Thanks for your prayers and support.

The adventure continues…

The Matthews family

 

Caroline quote of the week:

Caroline: ‘Did you know we were going to Hong Kong?’

Sunday School teacher:  ’No, when are you going to Hong Kong?’

Caroline: After thinking about it for a minute… “No,no… not Hong Kong, we are going to Wollongong, Wollongong.” (It is where were are picking up the borrowed car.) 

So don’t believe the rumours, we are not going to Hong Kong!


It may be cold in Sydney, but we are not slowing down: Answered Prayer and Financials

Well, it is the cold season in Australia, but things remain very ‘hot’ for ministry. I wanted to give you a quick update on various ministry opportunities and then our twice a year financial update.

Most of our friends in the Northern Hemisphere are sweating through the summer, but we are pretty cold down under. That does not mean things slow down for ministry.

  • Youth Rally – It was an exciting night at the youth rally a few weeks ago. 80+ people came along and many non-believers. The talk was well received and the gospel was proclaimed.
  • Panels – Hot disucssion and new opporutnites in the city ministry. Religion & Extremism: Does Religion always lead to extremism? We had a Christian, a Muslim and Atheist discussion this topic.  You can watch the videos of the panel discussions. It was exciting and heated at times, but the best part was we had a whole new group of people that we were able to contact. Various backgrounds and our following series has seen a growth of people who are interested in engaging with the Bible.
  • Introducing God – We will be starting a new evangelistic event with the Introducing God series on Wednesday nights, starting 20 July. An 8 week series that gives an overview of the Bible for Genesis to Revelation. We had great attendance at the introductory night and we are asking for prayer for many Christians to bring along their workmates and friends to the upcoming series.
  • Helping Doubters with their Doubts Course – Russ just completed a 4 week course in helping Christians to get Jesus and God into conversation. We looked at the various aspects of the ‘defeater beliefs’ found in the Reason for God book by Tim Keller. Then the group went through and discussed the opportunities they have and could have in introducing the Bible into everyday discussion. The class went very well, but four weeks went too fast. We hope to do a follow-up course in the coming months.
  • FFC team - We are excited to have a team coming from First Family Church in Ankeny in October. Pray for the preparation and opportunities for ministry and experiencing the culture. Pray for the team as they are raising funds for the trip.
  • House and ‘Rivo’ – We have really enjoyed the transition to Riverstone NSW (Rivo as it is known). Small country feel, but right next to the city. We have enjoyed getting to know our neighbours and the community. The older girls are working at the local Subway and Josh is playing for the Quakers Hill Bombers (AFL team). Caroline is taking violin lessons and they all are enjoying their new school. Pray that we continue to reach people in this area for Christ.

 

Financials – We continue to commit to only communicate about our financial needs (except for emergencies) twice a year. We always want to keep the focus on the ministries and not continually on the finances. We find that most people will not read the rest of the newsletter if we constantly remind them of finances. But we do need to communicate our needs, this allows you all to be involved  and to see that you are partners in this ministry of the Gospel in Sydney.

  1. Support - The Lord has blessed and we have been able to maintain most of our support levels this year. We are currently $116 per month under-supported. The biggest challenge for our finances has been the exchange rate. The Australian dollar is the strongest they have seen. So, things are very tight financially,but the Lord continue to bless. Pray for improvement in the US dollar, too.
  2. Car- We want to thank all of the churches and the individuals for the quick response to our financial needs in regards to the van. When it broke down, it was challenging. The cost was not as much as originally thought, but we are still about $1411 in deficit for the repair of the van. Also, we are looking to purchase a smaller support vehicle for the ministry. The cost for a small used vehicle would be approximately $8000.
  3. How can you help? If you are able to assist with any of these needs we would appreciate your contribution. You can go to the ABWE website and either give one-off or become a monthly supporter. Also,  you can send cheques to ABWE or Saylorville Baptist Church for one-off gifts. If you would like to contribute to the vehicle, merely mark on your contribution O&P funds for Matthews vehicle.

Addresses of organisations:

Saylorville Baptist Church

6429 NW 6th Drive, Des Moines IA 50313

ABWE

PO Box 8585, Harrisburg, PA 17105

Thank you for your continued prayer and support. You are a part of this ministry an we are grateful for you all. 

The Adventure Continues…

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua & Caroline