Matthews Down Under Prayer Points

One of our supporting churches has a wonderful group of people who contact us monthly and merely ask for our prayer points. They want to know about ministry opportunities, but more importantly, they want to know some of the personal things we need prayer for in our lives.

What is so encouraging about this faithful team of prayer warriors is that we know that they are praying for us. When we visit the US, they ask us specifically about the things that they have been praying for our family. We are exceptionally grateful for the prayers and the encouragement of knowing someone is there for us. Thank you to our Harvest team at Grace Church.

This update will not be a list of things we are doing, but merely prayer points.

Family

  • Becca’s wedding in April
  • Hope’s pregnancy and the birth of her baby in March
  • Caroline starting a new year of school (Year 8)
  • Joshua working at Saylorville Church and PDI this year
  • Cathy and my adapting to new seasons of life with adult children, new in-laws and a grandchild

Ministry

  • The Edge – Leadership that sticks – 22 March
  • Reel Dialogue event – Mary Magdalene national screenings
  • Bible Study Fellowship beginning in February
  • Scripture classes in public schools beginning in February
  • Rouse Hill Bible Church – Growth and starting a new year
  • Russ attending the FELTS conference in Indonesia at the end of February
  • Raising support due to increased expenses from ABWE and support adjustments at supporting churches
We appreciate your prayers and know we are grateful for your support in 2018
Russ & Cathy Matthews

With the craziness of Christmas around the corner… we appreciate your prayers

Thank you for your prayers for The Edge / Beyond Worry event. We had a full house and great feedback from the event. Please pray as we follow through with all who came along and look ahead to 2018.

Specific feedback
“Great combination: to hear the scientific and personal stories was very helpful” Jessica H
“The topic and delivery of this was relevant, engaging, informative, personal, and in touch. Thank you for pulling this session together. This was the most helpful talk that I have heard on Christian world view and mental health issues. This was really helpful!” Julie H
“It was wonderful – so much information but snappy, easy to understand and venue was easy to get to.”
“Probably the best Edge this year” Joshua L

Upcoming Events for prayer consideration

Reel Dialogue is proud to partner with Icon Films to offer a special pre-screening event of The Man Who Invented Christmas

After the film, The Big Picture’s Mark Hadley and The Edge‘s Justine Toh will be on a panel to discuss the history and themes brought about by the film.

Please pray for the evangelistic opportunities of this event as we challenge people to consider  the joy of the season and the real ‘inventor of Christmas.’

Synopsis: Based on the book by Les Standiford, THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS tells the story of how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens from TV’s Downton Abbey) actually revived the holiday of Christmas with his self-published novel, A Christmas Carol. Facing pressure with looming debt, a feckless father (Jonathan Pryce) and recent critical failures, Dickens confront his past by conjuring up fantastic characters including Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), for his now classic Christmas tale. Full of wit and warmth, THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS will bring out the holiday spirit in everyone.

What if there was no Christmas?

30 November

Most of us have mixed feelings about Christmas. There’s the fun, feasting, and family part. But there’s also the running around, the busyness and those ugly Christmas jumpers. We also sense that there should be more to my life than mere survival.

Pray for Sam Chan as he shares what life would be like without Christmas and how we might need it more than it needs us. This is an evangelistic talk to conclude the season of talks in the city. This is an extension of The Edge ministries.

Speaker: Sam Chan is a global citizen – born in Hong Kong, studied Medicine in Sydney, got his PhD from Chicago. Just like you, he senses that our world has changed – we work more, but are less happy. Sam loves helping people rediscover the joy that comes from faith, spirituality, and the Christian tradition. But he also knows that Australians don’t want to be too serious. That’s why Sam has discovered humorous ways to talk about the important issues in life.

Family prayer requests and praises for the rest of the year

Praises

  • Successful conclusion to The Edge ministries for 2017 and plans for the 2018 season
  • The announcement that Hope and Matt Gibb are expecting thier first child and our first grandchild  in February
  • Growth of the Bible Study Fellowship, SRE and Reel Dialogue ministries in 2017

Requests

  • Wisdom with plans for the ministry efforts for City Bible Forum and Rouse Hill Bible Church in 2018
  • The Lord would bless the plans and wedding of Becca and Warrick
  • Wisdom and direction for Joshua in the US (Provision of a car)
Thank you for your prayers and support
Russ, Cathy and the family

Getting Reel with Reel Dialogue

Thank you for your interest and support of Reel Dialogue

During our recent furlough to the US, we had opportunity to share about the work of Reel Dialogue.

The events, reviews and resources are all available on reeldialogue.com

We are excited to share that you can get regular updates from Reel Dialogue. 

We have had followers of the Reel Dialogue site requesting a way to get regular updates.

Here is your chance… On the front page of reeldialogue.com you can sign up for our newsletter

Thank you for the interest and support of the work of Reel Dialogue.

Get Reel and sign up today!

reeldialogue.com

 

The Edge: Behind the magic – Why do films matter? – City Bible Forum event

What does the film industry do to keep you coming back for more?

Each and every year, people line up all over the world so they can hand over billions of their hard-earned dollars, to sit in a dark room together … and dream.

Hollywood, Bollywood and dozens of other movie industries exercise an undeniable influence over our public consciousness. They are the modern myth-makers. Their stories excite our imaginations, shape our aspirations and inform our expectations.

Why do some films soar while others bomb? Which stories are destined to find a home in our hearts – and why? In short, what’s the formula to creating Movie Magic?

Join us at the Edge

Join us at the Edge on 22 June to consider why movies still matter, and why there are only 3 Australian films.

When you register, you may also buy tickets for a special screening of The Case for Christ.

Why movies still matter

Thanks to the Internet, we’ve got thousands of hours of streaming TV at the flick of switch, and millions of miniature stories to follow on our portable devices. But two-hour movies still persist as a major medium.

Despite technological changes, these long-form tales continue to occupy the heights of story-telling. Some succeed; some flop. Others annoy the critics but still do well at the box office.

One thing is for certain: genres may wax and wane, characters enter and exit, but our 150-year fascination with film shows no sign of faltering.

Giles Hardie has an enviable CV: he watches film for a living. He is a regular entertainment reporter and critic for the ABC, as well as the Assistant Showbiz Editor for Daily Mail Australia. His opinions air nationally across ABC radio, are collected in the Culture Wars podcast, and distilled for your reading pleasure in Time Out Sydneyand ABC online.

There are only 3 Australian films

The Australian film industry is a collection of diverse stories that highlight the rich panoply of people, histories and faith-positions that make up our culture – or not.

New, locally produced titles surface at the cinemas with seasonal regularity but, like those seasons, they present strangely familiar themes.

In fact there are only three genres that appear to make it from pitch to popcorn – and they say a great deal about the way we see our world.

Mark Hadley gets paid for telling true stories. As a documentary scriptwriter, he’s worked for all of the big acronyms: the BBC in Britain, PBS in the United States, the ABC and SBS in Australia, as well as all of our home-grown commercial networks. He works all over the world, but lives in Sydney where he writes regular reviews and co-hosts the national radio show, The Big Picture.

Our moderator

Justine Toh is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Public Christianity. She worked at Fairfax Digital and Reuters Australia before completing her doctorate in Cultural Studies at Macquarie University. Justine speaks and writes about the way the Christian story renews all of life, and is especially interested in exploring big questions of meaning and purpose through the (seemingly) mundane moments of the everyday.

 

More details at citybibleforum.org

 

 

Prayer points for the next few months: Australia Day is the ‘re-set’ button

The new year brings new possibilities and exciting opportunities for ministry in Australia.

City Bible Forum, Reel Dialogue, Rouse Hill Bible Church, Scripture classes and Bible Study Fellowship have moved into ministry mode and we could use your prayers.

Just a friendly reminder that Australia is at the end of summer and this is when all things begin afresh. After Australia Day on 26 January, the country comes back into the reality of work, school and ministry work. Not that these things stopped during the summer, but Australia Day is like the ‘re-set’ button. People get back to life and we hope to be in the thick of it all.

Here are the prayer points for the first few months of the year:

The Conversation: Change your mind, change the world

Venue: Dendy Opera Quays

Cost: $25 per attendee

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

Preferred times and nights: Straight afterwork; 6-7:30pm;  Thursday 

Format: TEDtalk style with Q&A

  • Multiple speakers on the same topic. 
    • Two speakers on the same topic with an interactive Q&A at the end
    • Both speakers having 15 minutes to communicate their position 

The topic that is up for consideration is The Imposter Syndrome. 

Reel Dialogue – Silence national pre-screening + Take 2

Reel Dialogue has been an exciting new initiative at City Bible Forum. Thank you to all who have been supporting us throughout the years.

We have had an unprecedented number of events in the last few years and we are looking forward to more in 2017.

Silence is the next Reel Dialogue screening. (It is at capacity) We have screenings in Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Due to the length of the film, we are not able to have a panel discussion after the film, but that does not mean we cannot discuss the themes of the film.

Here is your opportunity…

We are going to introduce a new initiative - Take 2

What to expect:

  • Table discussion on film, faith and the bigger questions of life
  • Experts in the field discussing themes
  • Explore the Biblical applications to the themes
  • Coffee and drinks
Rouse Hill Bible Church – We welcome Nathan and Kristin Muse from the US to be part of the church.
Scripture in the public schools - As the school year begins, Cathy will begin teaching in the coming weeks. Pray for the class she will have and the children’s receptiveness to the Bible. (remember, we have a year round school schedule that begins in January)
Personal notes
  1. Caroline begins High School – We do not have middle school, which means our year 7 student begins her venture into high school
  2. Joshua internship at Saylorville Church – Josh is spending his gap year in the US. He will serve alongside the sound and technology team at Saylorville.
  3. Hope and Matt celebrated their first anniversary
  4. Hope and Becca began the new year of teaching

Thank you for your support and prayers!
Tha Matthews

 

New address and new opportunities

Planning for 2017 and a new house

It is hard to imagine that we are planning for 2017, but we are wrapping things up for the year in the city and at church. This puts us in planning mode for all things in 2017.

Please be in prayer about some key things happening in 2017:

  • The Forum is winding down and we are in full on fund raising mode and planning for 2017. Pleas pray for some of our plans for the public talks, groups within organisations and individuals that are close to coming to Christ this year.
  • Reel Dialogue has taken off this year. We have had numerous evangelistic events and the opportunities will continue into 2017. Please pray for wisdom with this ministry and that God will be glorified with it all.
  • ABWE Australia will be going through a change with our team leadership. Please pray for our team and the wisdom on what to do with the responsibilities he has overseen.
  • Rouse Hill Bible Church is flourishing and growing. Please pray for us as we look to bring on a youth director and have to adjust to some building issues in the coming months.
  • Family - One biggest changes is our address: 32 Oleander Crescent, Riverstone NSW 2765 Australia.
  • We have been given a wonderful new home, but it will take some time to transition into the new digs.
  • Josh finished his final exams and will graduate in December. (That is the normal graduation time in Australia) Pray for him as he will be doing an internship at Saylorville Church in 2017 with their sound and audio team.
  • Pray that Australia would get some rain, we are looking at an exceptionally dangerous fire season in the coming months

Thank you for your prayers and support,

Russ & Cathy Matthews

 

What do the numbers say?

It is hard to imagine, but our family is getting close to our 11th year of life in Australia. We continue to be amazed at this opportunity. Even as the seasons of life change with children getting older and ministries maturing, we continue to thank the Lord for the gift of serving in our adopted home. 

As the years progress, Australia continues to become part of our DNA. We have a ever-present love for our American heritage, but we feel our love of Australia grow. It is not easy sharing the Gospel in this melting pot culture, but with the various ministries and people we work alongside the opportunities continue to present themselves every day. We enjoy sharing this experience with visiting friends, family ranch mission teams, but we have to remember that most of our visitors have a very limited view of our sunburned homeland. 

One thing that is very different to America is that in Australia it is compulsory to vote and to fill out our census form. Due to this requirement, our national statistics are exceptionally accurate. Based on our last census report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and further research from McCrindle Research, here are a few statistics that might help people to see that Australia is a very different place than they thought. 

1. If Australia were a city, at 23.5 million it would still only be the world’s seventh largest (after Tokyo, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Jakarta, Seoul and Delhi).

2. The average street of 100 households has 10 babies (aged under 3), 27 cats and 45 dogs.

3. The average Australian stays with their employer just 3 years and 4 months – only a third of the way towards long service leave. If this plays out in the lifetime of a school leaver today it means they will have 17 separate employers in their lifetime. 

4. In Australia there are almost 100,000 more women than men, with six out of our eight states and territories experiencing a man drought.

5. Three decades ago the median age of an Australian was 30.5, today it is 37.3 and in 2044 it is projected to be 40.

6. The average Australian spends 10 hours and 19 minutes each day on screen time – and due to ‘multi-screening’ this is achieved in just under eight hours of linear time.

7. By the time generation Z (five-19-year-olds) begin to retire (beginning in 2063) the average median capital city house price will exceed $2 million and the average retiree will need $600,000 more than today for a comfortable retirement.

8. If you lived on an average sized street in Australia comprised of 100 households, on that street there would be a marriage every 9 months, a death every 7 months and a birth every 14 weeks.

9. Currently there are almost 105 baby boys born for every 100 baby girls born in Australia

10. The most widely said Australianisms are “no worries” (74 per cent of Australians have used this phrase), “arvo” (73 per cent), and “G’day” (71 per cent).

11. Swimsuits in Queensland are known as togs, in NSW cossies, but in Victoria, bathers. And while Victorians use the word cantaloupe, in the rest of the country the fruit is known as rockmelon.

12. Australia is currently growing by 1 million every 2 years – that’s an additional city of Adelaide every 2.5 years.

13. Three decades ago almost two in three Australians were married while today less than half are, and the “never married” proportion of Australians has increased from a quarter to a third.

14. There are more people in Sydney today than lived in all of Australia a century ago.

15. A quarter of Australians (27 per cent) were born overseas and almost half of Australian households (46 per cent) had at least one parent born overseas.

16. The average age of a first marriage is 29.8-years-old for men and 28.1 for women.

17. The median age at which men first become a dad is 33, and women have their first child at 30.7 years.

18. Australia is growing faster (1.8 per cent a year) than any other country in the OECD. 

19. Australia’s death rate is at an all time low. And Sydney is the state capital with the lowest probability of death (5.3 deaths per 1,000) while Darwin and Hobart have the highest capital city death rates (6.6).

For people who love to analyse numbers, these are fascinating numbers and help us to see where we need to be reaching people and figure out unique methods of reaching Australians. Also, that Australia is not the same as the US and we need to adjust our strategies for reaching people for Christ. 

The one statistic that grew the most over since the last census is the number of people who said they were ‘non-religious.’ Going to church is not a regular thing for our nation. Sunday is considered Sport Day. It is a time for football, cricket or netball. 

To merely start a church is not going to reach the people of Australia. We have to have active evangelistic endeavours to reach people. We do this through workplace evangelism and unique events in cinemas. We are seeing fruit through these ministries at City Bible Forum (citybibleforum.org) and Reel Dialogue (reeldialogue.com). 

Not to be discouraged, through these evangelistic efforts we are seeing church growth throughout our nation. With partnerships with Geneva Push (genevapush.com) and local pastors we have seen a steady rate of churches starting and growing throughout Sydney. Alongside Pastor Ben Kwok and with the Rouse Hill Bible Church family we have been serving for the past three years. (rousehillchurch.com) We are seeing regular growth and exciting stories of people coming in contact with Christ for the first time in their lives. 

We want to thank you for your regular support, prayers and teams. It is a world away, but it means so much to us and helps us to continue the work of the Gospel in the land of Oz. 
The adventure continues..
The Matthews family

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

 

Visting team from First Family Church

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

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

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

Please be praying for Jay McFarling and the whole team.

What does that have to do with Ben Hur?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panel: 

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

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

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

Tracy Trinita event

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

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

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

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

What else will the team be doing?

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

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

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

The adventure continues… The Matthews

 

He is Risen, indeed – Two evangelistic screenings

Reel Dialogue – Two evangelistic screenings of Risen

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

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

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

Check out the review of the film on Russelling Reviews. 

Reel Dialogue in Message Magazine

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

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

Thank you for all of your support and prayers,

The Matthews

 

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

Welcome from the Matthews in Sydney,

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

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

The meaning of life with Dr Sam Chan

Morning + commute = too early + crowded… again

Lunch + food = leftover sandwich… again

Evening + commute = late + crowded…again

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

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

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

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

Leviticus series at Rouse Hill Bible Church

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

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

Reel Dialogue – Brooklyn screening

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

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

DO YOU WISH LIFE HAD A RESET BUTTON?

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

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

 

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

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

The adventure continues..

The Matthews