Questions about furlough

“ I just jumped on the train after leaving Circular Quay, the home of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We completed the City Bible Forum today where close to 100 people came to hear from Ian Powell on ‘Jesus – Mad or Majestic? I am the Bread of Life.’ We have a swim carnival this afternoon and we were preparing for an evangelistic weekend away with the City Bible Forum group.” – Russ

This was just in one day, how do we begin to communicate all the Lord has brought into our lives in four years? It is a challenge, but a challenge we look forward to sharing with you. We are coming to a church near you. As it gets closer, we have been getting more questions. Here are areas where you can pray or assist us with in the process of furlough.

Will you be doing school? – Cathy and the kids have been asked if they look forward to having a holiday from school for the months we are in the US. We will have a few weeks of travel where the family will not be able to do school work, but once we are in Iowa, school begins again. The kids will work on school through a distance education programme at Australian Christian College.

Do you have a full schedule? – We have been fortunate to coordinate a time to spend with all of our current supporting churches. Also, all of our individual supporters and church families are welcome to come to our Matthews Family BBQ on 27 October @ Saylorville Baptist Church. During our church visits and at the BBQ we will be presenting our ministries and the opportunities of sharing about our Saviour, Jesus Christ, in Australia. We will be in a different church every weekend and our schedule is very full now. I appreciate all who have responded to or have requested assist with different ministry opportunities in the US. We do love sharing about what the Lord is doing in Sydney and in our lives. Our schedule is filling quite quickly.  I would encourage anyone who would like for us to come to any events or groups while we are in the US to email us prior to 15 July.

How are you doing for funds? Based on the projected budget, this furlough will cost approximately $25000. The costs: plane tickets, petrol, a van for travel, prayer cards, rent for housing in the US and maintaining our home in Australia, phone, etc. The airplane tickets and accomodations in Maryland and Iowa are taken care of in the US for furlough, but we could use some assistance with the travel funds. Anyone that is willing to assist us in this area, please contact us at matthewsdownunder@bigpond.com. We can direct you to where to send the funds. Thank you for this assistance.

How are you getting around? We are blessed to have a van for the time we are on the East Coast, but we are still looking for support for a van for our travel from the East Coast to Iowa and for the time we are in Iowa. Does anyone have any contacts or access to a van we could utilise during this time? Please send any information to the email address above.

Thanks for the questions. We look forward to seeing you soon.

The adventure continues…

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua, & Caroline

A Sydney perspective

John 21:16a

16He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

We are so grateful to God for all He is doing in our lives.

I know throughout John 21, we find different applications of the word love in the Greek. Yet, in studying this word, love,  many times we lose sight of who we love. The object of our affection is lost in the action that He calls us to do. In the passage, Jesus asks Peter to feed and tend His sheep. But we can only do that through our love of Jesus. It is easy in Christian ministry to begin to focus on the work or the people. This is good in a human sense, but if this is our focus, because the sheep and the work can be quite frustrating to care for, many times bitterness and frustration begin to enter into our thoughts. It was made apparent to me that our focus and our love has to be first to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus. Surprisingly, something I preach daily, but still have to be reminded to do. No wonder Jesus had to ask Peter three times if he loved his Lord.  Only from this position of love for Jesus can we begin to love Christian work or love His people. I am thankful to be reminded to always remember my first love, Jesus.

Thanks for the prayers for the events going on this month and what is coming up soon.

Winning the City Dinner – This is an annual fundraising event for the ministry in the city. The three weeks prior to the event we had seven people registered and on the night we had 98 people attend. A great night to communicate the opportunities and the needs of the ministry in the city. We had many new people come along and we did get some new supporters. There are always room for more, please pray for more supporters of this unique and groundbreaking ministry, City Bible Forum. (Link provided on this website)

Fellowship plant- We had a great time in Coogee with an evangelistic event in the Eastern Suburbs. We met at a friends house, had a BBQ and a good talk from Al Stewart. There were 8-9 couples there and 50% of the room were not Christian. (with children there were 30+ people there the first night) Exciting night and has the potential for a fellowship. Please pray for the next event on 6 June. Could this be a new church in the future?

Pamper Day – Glorious Hope Baptist’s women’s group puts on an evangelistic event to reach the community around the church each year. Many of the women in the neighbourhood do not get to get their hair and nails done. So, the ladies of the church put on a Pamper Day with volunteer hairdressers and other nail & make up professionals. They have 60+ women come through and then have a lunch which includes an evangelistic talk. Cathy and the girls love assisting in this event. This year the first four women that Cathy served were Muslim and Cathy had the opportunity to pray with most of them. An exciting event for God’s glory.

Dating, Rating and Mating …a biblical perspective – Let me share a perspective on ministry in Sydney. I was asked to do a two part series for a young adults group in Bankstown. Worked all day on preparing for the Sydney Prayer Breakfast in the city. Took the train home and then I ate dinner with a good Lebanese friend at Habib’s Charcoal Chicken shop (Yummy), then go to the church and speak on Dating (finishing with a gospel presentation on the ultimate relationship with Jesus) to a group of 40-50 young people and then counseled a young Iraqi Christian on his relationship with his Maori (native New Zealand) girlfriend. How they can live godly in their relationship and whether they should get married. No one can train you for this experience, the Lord has done some amazing things in our lives (There is a video link for this series on this website and on Russ Matthews Facebook account.)

Furlough – We could use your prayers on this area. We are excited to see our family, friends and church families, but it will be hard to be away from home (Yes, Sydney is home) and all that the Lord has opened up to us here in Sydney. Here are some key prayer points:

  • All of the paperwork will be completed prior to leaving
  • We will be able to organise all things for the ministries while we are away
  • We will be able to be part of a swearing in ceremony for citizenship prior to July
  • We need a van for our time from Maryland to Iowa and while we are in Iowa
  • Extra finances for the trip: Higher plane costs, fluctuating exchanges rates and additional costs in the US have put a pinch on the budget
  • Churches in the US will see the need for the work in Australia and the opportunities that the Lord has allowed us to be included and God would be glorified in this whirlwind tour of the US

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Exciting & exhausting days, but we are grateful to be part of all the Lord is doing in Australia.

The adventure continues…

Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua & Caroline

Easter, Fireproof and AFL

Welcome to April. It is raining and moving into Autumn in Australia. Exciting time of year, football season (3 different codes), cooler weather, and Easter. Thanks for all of your continued support and prayers.

What is happening in Australia?

Easter: Russ will be sharing the Good Friday message at Glorious Hope Baptist Church,”Eyes on the Road”. Looking at the historical implications of the witnesses of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. He will be sharing a evangelistic message at a group at Commonwealth Bank, also.

Bible Reading Groups and Investigating Christianity: Russ has been working through the Bible with various groups around Sydney. Many of the studies are BRGs, which appeal to a non-Christian audience, due to their format of allowing for many questions about the specific portions of the Bible. He will, also, be teaching two Investigating Christianity courses in the city and assisting with a evangelistic series called, The Christ Files.

Fireproof: The Urban Fight Club (Men’s ministry) is sponsoring a night out for couples to watch the movie, Fireproof. Great film and it looks to be a great evening of fun and outreach.

Home-school and Sunday School: The house has been busy this year. Through new laws in the New South Wales system, the kids are enrolled in a distance learning program at the Australian Christian College. They attended classes for a week at the school, through a special program for the Distance Learning kids. Made for a crazy schedule, but they thoroughly enjoyed it and have learned many new things about our ‘home’ country in the process. Cathy is coordinating and teaching Sunday School at GHBC this year. She is enjoying the time with the kids and they truly enjoy her.

Kids Corner: The kids are excited about the school break coming up next week. (Remember, we are on a year round school system.) Hope and Rebecca will be going to a Youth Convention. Josh has finished Little Athletics (Track and Field) and has joined an AFL team (Australian Rules Football). He is loving it and enjoys the time with his mates. (Pray for Mum on this one!) Caroline just finished Little Athletics, too. She is enjoying pre-school this year and continues to be a light to all she comes in contact with at church and in the neighbourhood.

That is it for now. Love hearing from you all. We will be sending details out for our 2010 furlough soon.

We appreciate your prayers and pray you all have a wonderful Easter season.

The adventure continues…

Russ and Cathy Matthews

Fires and new initiatives

Thank you for your continued prayers. It is an exciting new year for us in Australia ’09. Yet, as many summers in Australia begin, this year has been extremely hot (40-44 degrees Celcius). With extreme heat comes forest fires and unfortunately loss of life and property. Please be praying for the victim’s families of these devastating fires as they continue to burn in Victoria. Thank you for all of the enquiries, but the worst of the fires are about ten hours away from us. New South Wales (our home state) has experienced fires, but in the outer portions of the State. No one has been hurt in NSW. Our family is safe and a cool front has come in this week. So, our request is that you continue to pray for the people of Victoria, Australia. Through this tragedy, God would be glorified.

Additional prayer requests: New Initiatives

City Bible Forum: We will begin a new season at CBF and the first series will be Connections for Life. A look into the first four chapters of Revelation and how people can have life in Christ. Our usual attendance for CBF can be approx. 150-200 with 40-50% being non-Christian. Pray for great attendance and many non-Christians would come to hear this year’s series. Also, many would come to a realtionship with Jesus.

Investigating Christianity: (evangelism) I have started a new class in the city. We have eight people in attendance and five of them are non-Christian. Please pray for the class and that people will come to have a relationship with the Saviour.

Glorious Hope Baptist Chruch: (Church) We have many new initiatives at the church. Changing things around for the congregation to attend an additional prayer meeting, new kids outreach programs and Helping Hands (caring for the needy in our community).

Urban Fight Club: (Mentoring) This month we will be having an Action Day within the community to assist with cleaning up the community for Australia clean up day. Next month will be a movie event, showing the ‘FIREPROOF’ film for the community.

An exciting new year and we look forward to all the Lord has planned for our family. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

The adventure continues…
Russ and Cathy Matthews

Simeon’s gift, Urban Fight Club and ‘Australia’

Team Australia,

What an exciting time of year. So, many opportunities this time of year for sharing the gospel. Exciting times. We have been having many In House evangelistic talks inside companies this time of year. Westpac, Oracle, Ernst and Young, KPMG, etc. With the current economic climate, many people are asking questions and seeking the answers from the Bible. Difficult times, but many opportunities to share the truth about Jesus.

Simeon’s gift: I will be speaking at City Bible Forum and PwC this year. The Evangelistic talk will be ‘Simeon’s gift: Joy in a joyless season.’  Based on the Luke 2 account of Jesus’ presentation at the temple. Please pray that many would come to the talks and here the story from the New Testament of anticipated gift that God promised Simeon, to see the Saviour. Then his response and gift of ‘Simeon’s song’ to Mary and Joseph.

Urban Fight Club Sunday: This Sunday will be the Sunday where the men take over the church. Our Men’s group (UFC) will be doing all of the work and service on Sunday. Serving the ladies and proclaiming the Word as men do. Exciting day and many friends and family will be visiting. Please pray for the men as they have this unique opportunity to serve and present the Gospel to the world.

‘Australia’ the movie: The movie has opened around the world. A campy, epic for this generation. We anticipate that many will come away amazed at the scenery, culture and beauty of this sunburned land. God has created a beautiful land, Down Under. Just a small warning for our supporters and friends. We hope that people do not come away from the film thinking that is today’s Australia. The film is based in Darwin and the outback. The reality of ministry in Australia is in the modern cities.  We hope that if you do see the film, that you come on holiday (vacation) to see the land depicted in the film. (That is the desire of the Australian tourism board.) Please go to the Northern Territory and Queensland and enjoy the outback. (Australia could use a boost in tourism.) If you come away from the film and want to come to experience the ministry of Australia, it is nothing like the film. The ministry is in the city, no kangaroos, Aborigines, or vast plains. So, not to dampen your mood after seeing th film, just a small reality check. Come ready to work in the city with people from all over the world. As many who have come before, there are not many times for riding horses, seeing kangas or traveling across the outback. Please pray for our ministry in Australia in the urban jungle, not the fictitious land of ‘The Drover.’ It is an amazing land, amazing opportunities for sharing the Gospel and an amazing open door into taking His Word to the world. (Just a small caveat, we do have a limited number of spots per year for coming to Oz and there is an approval process. So, make sure if it is something your church is planning, contact us early and we can work you through the process.)

‘The mythology of Australia is in the outback, the people (ministry) are in the cities.’ – Peter Jensen

We choose the city.

Thanks for your continued support and prayers.

The adventure continues…

Russ and Cathy Matthews