Matthews Down Under Iowa tour – Cold, home sick, but warm welcomes

We will admit it, we have become a bit soft when it comes to the cold.

It is cold in Iowa. Most mornings have been well below freezing and snow has already arrived. This is a thrill for Caroline, since it is the first time she has experienced snow. But, even she admits going out into the cold has been quite an adjustment and makes us yearn for Sydney. Our time in Iowa and the US here has been great, but the cold is quite an adjustment. Yet, Iowa is still an amazing place to be during this time of year. There is a beauty to the countryside and the people.

We are in the last few weeks of our time with our supporters and family in Iowa. All of the churches have been welcoming  and we have been encouraged by the growth of many of the churches. We have enjoyed many dinners and times of prayer with supporters. These experiences have been humbling and invigorating. People have been receptive and excited about the various ministries at City Bible Forum and Rouse Hill Bible Church. Thank you to all of the churches and supporters for the warm welcomes in the cold winter months.

Please pray that we would finish our time in Iowa well, enjoy the celebration with friends and family during the Christmas holidays and celebrate with us as we look forward to getting home to serve in Sydney soon. Our schedule is pretty full until our departure for Sydney, but we hope to see more people before we leave.

Living for Jesus

The Living for Jesus course at Ankeny Free Church has been such a blessing. Over the last few weeks we have had a full room of people discussing the workplace as a mission field and how to share their faith with their work colleagues. We finish this coming week. Pray the Lord bless and people take the information on board and God is glorified through the work of Living for Jesus.

The course has been recorded and if anyone would like the notes and links, please contact me in the coming weeks.

Thank you to Pastor Colyer and the team at AFC. I has been a privilege to serve with you this month.

Funds for ministry vehicle

A specific project we are working on is replacing our current ministry vehicle. If you have the capacity to contribute to this project, we would appreciate the support. Our current van is a 2003 Toyota Tarago with 320km on the metre. We merely what to replace that vehicle with a similar vehicle. We need to raise $20K for this project.

Van Donation link: Enter in these details: Matthews ministry vehicle, Account: 0132363

City Bible Forum : ABWE project

With the ministry in Australia, we are taking the Good News to where people spend most of their time: the workplace. By teaming up with the urban evangelism organisation City Bible Forum, The team is sharing Christ inside businesses and training Christians to reach their unsaved coworkers with the gospel.

You can help us do more. Nearly $10,000 is needed to facilitate the final two 2014 series of The Forum, a bi-weekly public lunchtime discussion that welcomes seekers, questioners, and believers to learn more about the Bible inside their workplace. Your donation will help cover the cost of renting venue space and audio/visual equipment, along with paying for speaker fees and promotional materials.

Will you help us reach more Australians where they live?

If mailing a check: Please make it out to ABWE Foundation and include Urban Ministry-City Bible Forum L1410 in the memo line.

Thank you for all you do for our family and please pray for the opportunities in the US over the next few weeks.

The adventure continues…

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua and Caroline

 

* Just a friendly reminder: We do serve in Sydney and our spelling is based on Australian spelling. Thank you for reminders about our spelling, but we hope you understand that we live in a different country. 

 

City Bible Forum & Rouse Hill Bible Church

Ministries in Australia

We are looking forward to sharing the ministry opportunities in Australia. Hope you are able to come along to hear mire about these exciting groups.

Rouse Hill Bible Church – Pastor Ben Kwok

The vision for the church-

  • Our church has a very simple and joyful style of worship. On a typical Sunday, our service will last for about one hour and it will be a mixture of songs, Bible reading and Bible teaching.  Our format works really well for young families and there is always space on “pram alley” along one side of the room.
  • Because we are a nondenominational church, you won’t find anyone dressed in special clothes and we try not to use words and phrases that are hard to understand if you are new to Christianity.
  • We are an evangelical church. What this means is that we love and follow Jesus Christ as he is described in the Bible.  We’re a community that is interested in spending time with each other – you might find us enjoying a picnic together at Rouse Hill Regional Park, at the movies, or at a local NRL game.

At this point it could be helpful to clear up the most common misconception about Christianity. Most people have some connection to Christianity either through their family background or through school scripture classes. You may think that the point of Christianity is to try and live your life in such a way that the good things that you do outweigh the bad things that you do

Unfortunately, this is not a true understanding of what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian means understanding the fact that there is something that separates us from God and that there is nothing that we can do to fix the problem.

Because we can’t fix the problem, God sent his only son Jesus Christ to live a perfect life and then to die in a sacrificial act so that his death covers what we have done.

We believe that Jesus defeated death and rose again in triumph. What we have to do is to believe in Jesus and live in the reality of what he has done for us.

Simply put, our vision is to be a place where people can learn more about Jesus and a community which loves one another and tells others about what Jesus has done.

City Bible Forum – Director: Peter Kaldor  Founder: Craig Josling

City Bible Forum is a partnership of Christians working together to proclaim Jesus Christ to People working Australia’s major business districts. We have ministry teams in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Why does it exist?

  • Over 500,000 people work in Sydney’s major business districts (Over 1.5 million in business districts across the country)
  • The workplace is a great place to get to know people and to talk to them about Jesus
  • Christians need help and encouragement to make the most of these opportunities

Sydney Prayer Breakfast 

The Sydney Prayer Breakfast is an annual event for Christians to pray for the city of Sydney. The organising body is the Sydney Prayer Breakfast Limited.

Thank you for your support and prayers.

Check out the links and the ministries and come along to hear more details of the work being done in Australia.  

 

Ask God and Iowa tour ’14

A new series at The Forum, Sydney

If you had a chance to ask God one question, what would it be?

And would you get an answer? Christians believe God speaks to us through the words of the Bible, which has answers to life’s important questions.

Each week in September, our lunchtime forums will be addressing questions posted on the askgod.com.au web site.  You can post your questions there and at the beginning of each week, a question will be chosen and announced on our website and Facebook page.  Our regular speaker, Ian Powell, will present an answer from the Bible, followed by an open Q&A with the audience.

Pray for the events in Sydney in September.

Iowa Tour ’14 

We are settled into wonderful house by Saylorville Church. Thank you to all of the church family for your work on this home and preparing a great place for us to live for the doing months.

We begin our tour of Iowa and our supporting churches. We will be traveling all over Iowa and to some of the surrounding states. We will be presenting to the churches information about Australia, City Bible Forum and Rouse Hill Bible Church.

If you are interested in coming to hear about the work we are part of in the sunburnt country, email us and tell us where you live. We can share with you dates and the church that is closest to you. We invite anyone to come along and join in the conversation. Come ask your questions.

Thank you for your support and interest in the Lord’s work in Australia.

The adventure continues…

The Matthews

Who are you and why missions? Urban Ministry Strategists + repost of answers to questions

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We are preparing for our US ministry. So, we are going to help all to get some more background on us before showing up at your church.

This is a re-post of a previous update with a few additions. Every year we get questions from various missions classes from around the US. We have had the privilege to share these questions many times over the years with students. Interestingly enough, they are the same questions people ask us at churches. So, here you go, the answers to your questions. Class or church, you are welcome to utilise these answers to your questions about missions.

I will forewarn, my answers will be a bit different than other missionaries, but I hope they encourage and challenge you to think differently about missions.

Description of mission work:

Urban ministry strategists: (this description was approved by the ABWE Australia team) Russ: Bible study leader, marketing, personal evangelism training, public meeting coordinator, In House ( ministries inside corporations) coordinator, and promotions coordinator, church responsibilities, preaching & Bible studies. Cathy: Children’s leader at Bible Study Fellowship, scripture classes in public schools, women’s Bible study and successful management of our missions home.

What were some specific accomplishments in the area described above? Growth of the numbers and spiritual component of the people involved in ministries and church, (www.rousehillchurch.com) part of the team behind all City Bible Forum events in Sydney (www.citybibleforum.org/Sydney), growth in numerous evangelistic Bible studies throughout Sydney Business District. Please read through many of the events and stories on www.matthewsdownunder.com . You will find many of the events, stories and prayer requests on our monthly updates. If you are not receiving them currently, please sign up for the free RSS feed.

 

Answers to other questions:

1) Why did you choose missions?
I do not think we choose missions, I think that God chooses to send people to the mission field. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, God mobilises his people to do his work. The better question is: How did God direct you to missions? Studying the Word, Prayer and direction from Godly men and women. Interestingly enough, this answers the ‘call’ to missions questions, too. The question that needs to be asked to most people: are you even listening to God?

2) What were your first steps in becoming a missionary? 

  1. Pray about it…
  2. Being in the Word constantly
  3. Work: Are you doing the ministry work where you are now? If you are not doing the work that you will be doing on the mission field, where you are living now, then you cannot expect to do it here.
  4. Pray with family and friends
  5. Asking the question : Are you really meant for missions or full time ministry (I have met quite a few people who go to Bible College who are not meant for this work)? Asking God, our pastor and others on this direction.
  6. Pray some more… Praying involves listening. Are you listening?

3) Where did you receive your training for missions?

  1. Evangelism training
  2. Bible Knowledge – Church and Bible College
  3. Interviewing missionaries – Anytime a missionary is in our church or at our school, I would strive to grill them on life in missions
  4. Real Life – Doing work in the real world. I worked for 14 years in retail and sales. Cathy worked as a teacher. We saw people where they were living. We knew how to discuss things with them and how they live.

4) How soon after you graduated from college were you on the field? Bible College: 2 months; University: 14 years

I have a degree in business and a Masters from a Bible College. I went to Bible college after I had been in business for 14 years. So I went to the Australia quite awhile since I went to university, but shortly after I went to Bible College.

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5) Do you believe that the courses and life at your college adequately prepared you for your ministry on the field?

Yes and no, we think more of our skills for missions came from real life and learning from people. The Bible school portion was valuable and needed, but not nearly as important as real life.

Honestly, life on campus at a Bible College is not ‘real’, get out and experience the real world. Why? Because that is who needs Jesus.

6) Can you describe some of the gifts God gave you to minister on the field?

  1. Talking
  2. Listening
  3. Teaching
  4. Laughing
  5. Organisation
  6. Our family

I know the question is seeking spiritual gifts, but this is what truly helps us with moving forward with missions.

7) What was (is) the greatest challenge to you while on the mission field?

Other ministry workers & fellow believers who prefer tradition over sharing the Gospel.

8) If you have children, were they involved in the ministry?
They are one of the amazing gifts that the Lord has given us to know others. Having children allows us opportunities to be involved in our neighbourhood, local activities and school to reach out to people around us. They serve in the church in various and valuable capacities

9) Would you be open to having a short-term group on your field of ministry?

a. Yes with reservations, they would have to be a very special person. Someone who would be open to learning how to reach people here in Australia. Not someone who constantly is looking back at their experience in the US. Also, anyone who comes with the attitude that the ‘US is the best place for Christianity’ should not leave the US. Come to the field with a love for people and a desire to reach them for Christ.

b. The people who come should know their Bible, but not relying on their lessons in Bible College to communicate the Gospel.

c. A person who would be willing to come to Australia to serve the Lord, not to push their thoughts of what church should be based on their limited experience in life. (Sorry, kiddo, but anyone who is 18 years old or younger  is limited in life experience)(If that offends you, please choose another field to visit!)

10) If you were to begin your mission career again, would you go to the field as a member of a mission agency or independently?

Mission agency – Even though they have their challenges. There are not too many people who could go to a foreign field on their own and succeed without a team around them. These ‘pioneers’ know who they are and do not need to hear any of these things, because they already think they know the answers. The majority of people (99.9%) would be better suited to go with a mission agency.

11) What tips would you give us as we prepare for global missions?
a. Pray about it…
b. Get a real job first, go work in the real world for a few years and live with, talk with and understand the real world.

c. Get involved in as many evangelistic activities in your church and community as possible. (If you ain’t ‘doing mission’ where you are, why do you think you can ‘do missions’ somewhere else?)

d. Go on a short term trip

e. Be willing to go wherever God wants you to go (That could be the most expensive city in the world, Sydney)

f. Learn a different language

g. Pray about it some more

h. Talk with your pastor… should you even be considering this adventure of missions?

i. Pray about it again!

j. Know there are two categories for missions: Those who should be on the mission field and those who should pray and support missions.

k. Commit… if you are convinced you are going to do this and this is what God wants from you, go in 100%. No one year plan, no two year plan, no four year plan… jump in with both feet!

l. Go to our website www.matthewsdownunder.com or our Facebook page: Matthews Down Under, research us and other missionaries.

We are looking forward to seeing many of you in the coming months. Well, hope all of this helps you to know us better.

Thanks for asking and please feel free to ask me more questions, if you survived these answers.

Sincerely yours,

Russ & Cathy

(Yes, we use Australian spelling, because we are Australian)

July in Australia – Towards Belief, Bible Reading Groups and travel

It is the middle of winter in Australia. Yes, it does get cold here and we are in our winter school holidays. Even with the holidays and cold, we are still excited about the opportunities for ministry in July.

Towards Belief at Rouse Hill Bible Church has been a great series for our church to participate. It is a study where leading Christian thinkers diffuse the belief blockers of our time. We have gone through topics like suffering, the supernatural and the Bible. Our groups have grown and people love the discussion after we hear for these speakers from the UK, US and Australia confront each of the blockers to Christian faith in the western world. Suffering,

Pray as we engage both Christians and non-Christians who come along to discuss these belief blockers.

Bible Reading Groups: Reversal of  Fortune – Ruth series and the Cost Benefit Analysis of Following Jesus

For many of our evangelistic Bible Reading groups in the city, we will explore how God is in control of this world.  That God has an answer for life. In the Reversal of Fortune study, we look at whether suffering is an indication that God isn’t there, or that God doesn’t care and what is he doing within out suffering.

While in the Cost Benefit Analysis of Following Jesus analyses the value, challenges, sacrifice and hope we can have in following Jesus. A great study for those who like to go deeper into what it means to  follow The Saviour.

Traveling mercies : Our family will be travelling to the US in a few weeks. Please pray for our trip and our ministry opportunities.

Thank you for all you do for our family and please pray for these ministry opportunities.

Cheers,

The Matthews

 

Towards Belief, Son of God and Scripture Classes in public schools

The next few months are looking to be a great time for ministry in the city and at Rouse Hill Bible Church. As we look ahead to furlough, you might things would slow down, but that is not the case. Things seem to get busier, but we would not want it any other way. We appreciate your prayers for the next few months and all that the Lord has presented for us.

Towards Belief

At Rouse Hill Bible Church we will begin the great series, Towards Belief. It is a study where leading Christian thinkers diffuse the belief blockers of our time.  We will do the study we will hear for these speakers from the UK, US and Australia  confront each of the blockers to Christian faith in the western world. Suffering, The Church, Science and God, Exclusive Faith and many more.

This is a study that welcomes both Christians and non-Christians to come along and discuss these belief blockers. The challenge for our church is to come along and to invite their friends and family to this series.

 Son of God movie event + panel discussion

City Bible Forum will be seeing a special screening of the movie Son of God followed by a Q&A session. It will be an evangelistic evening of film and discussion with some of the industry’s thought leaders.

After the film, join Ben McEachen (Empire Magazine, Open House), Dave Brown (Current editor of Empire Magazine) and Will Mitchell (film/TV professional) for a discussion on the topic ‘Jesus Christ – superstar?’  Does Hollywood’s depictions of Jesus and the Bible improve or diminish people’s perception?

Pray that we fill the theatre and people bring friends and your questions about the fact and fiction of Jesus on the Big Screen.

 Scripture Classes in the public schools

Every Thursday Cathy is privileged to teach 20+ eight year olds truths from God’s Word in our local public school.  Parents can choose to send their children to Protestant or Catholic Scripture classes, or to ethics classes or to none of those. Cathy gets 50 minutes to tell these children God loves them, Christ died for them and that they can know God if they put their trust in Him. All though most are familiar with the more well known stories from the Bible, almost none of the children attend church. They are really interested in the things Cathy has to teach but 8 year olds are really starting to think and so she gets questions like, “Who made God?” and “How is God and Jesus are the same?” There is a great need for more Scripture teachers in the schools and the government is constantly threatening to put an end to being able to teach Scripture in the public schools.  Please pray that God would allow this to continue and that more people would step up and teach.  Also pray for real inroads into these children’s lives, that real fruit would come from teaching them about God.

Fun furlough Fact: Joshua has been signed up with the US Australian Football League and will be having a go playing with the Des Moines Roosters, the local club. we will keep you up to date on the games. Thanks Tyler for giving Josh a go!

Thank you for your support and prayers.

The adventure continues…

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope Joshua and Caroline