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

A great season in ministry

For those in the frozen Tundra (The Northern US), to give you a warmer perspective on things. We are currently in the middle of the hot season here in Australia. It has been unseasonably humid, but February is generally hot every year. (30+ Celsius everyday) Also, this is the time of year when things start to ramp up in ministry opportunities. We would appreciate your prayers on many items that are on our plate at this time. It is exciting to be part of all that is going on in Sydney. [Read more...]

A tale of two nights…

We were given a gift to come and housesit at a mate’s house for a summer holiday. We did get some time to relax and rest after a busy year. During that time we had friends stop by for a bbq, a swim and/or coffee throughout the stay. In a matter of two evenings we had the privilege of being part of conversations that challenged and encouraged us. The conversations also were a small glimpse into the spiritual state of Sydney. [Read more...]

Thankful in 2009: Action and Waiting

Psalm 130:5-6
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

“All that wait on the Lord, cheerfully stay themselves on him. This redemption is redemption from all sin. Jesus saves people from their sins… All that wait on God for mercy and grace, are sure to have peace.” –M. Henry [Read more...]

Thanks for your prayers

Evangelistic talks – I finished a series of five evangelistic talks in the city. Lighten your Load – The Answer to the Atlas Syndrome – based in Matthew 11:28-30. Each talk grew in attendance throughout the past few weeks. The oragnisers stated that 30-50% of the audience for each talk was from a non-Christian background. Each session had various questions on the issues of rest, the yoke and the burden of the human race. We had over 20 people interesting in Life of Jesus courses or Bible Reading Groups as follow up to the talks. Thank you for your prayers with these events.

Church leadership change- One prayer request was for a potential leadership change at Glorious Hope. Through well managed discussions and prayer, our Youth Pastor will be stepping down from his role in January. We have a new leader starting in the New Year. The youth is excited about the process and what the New Year will bring. Please pray for our current youth pastor and his new journey of ministry and our youth programme in 2010.

Citizenship- Please keep us in your prayers for our application for citizenship to Australia. We will begin the process next month. Also please be in prayer for all the preparations for our furlough in 2010.

We are grateful to you all for your support and prayers.

The adventure continues…

Russ and Cathy Matthews

Visitors, talks and a dust storm

We have had an amazing time with Kevin and Jeanie Thomas. These good friends came to serve from Saylorville Baptist Church for the past two weeks. The plan was for them to serve in Australia and it has been an encouraging, intense (in a good way) and incredible journey. Kevin and Jeanie have been a blessing to the church and the team that does outreach in the city. They have assisted with all of the evangelistic events in the city over the last two weeks, which has been exhausting and fruitful. Then on top of that work they have done a parenting seminar, spoken to a mens and ladies groups at Glorious Hope Baptist Church, Kevin preached on Sunday and has given three seminars on effective, Biblical communication. Their service has been amazing.I think they might need a bit of rest when they get home and I do not think they will have a problem sleeping on the plane.

They have had some great experiences with the people, the city, the beaches and we will be going to the Blue Mountains this weekend. Yesterday morning, as we were waking up, the sky was red. Thankful it was not a bushfire, we came to realise it was  the worst dust storm in 40 years. It dumped 1000 tonnes of red dust on Sydney. Trains were covered, cars were covered and it made its way into everything. We felt like we were walking on Mars. Kevin and Jeanie have had quite an experience here in Sydney. Our family, friends and church have been grateful for their time and service. Caroline said to them, “Why can’t you just stay here?” Thank you to Kev and Jeanie for this time in Oz. It will be hard to let them go. Please pray for their safe journey home on Monday.

Thank you for all of your prayers and recent correspondence. Here are the latest prayer requests from our family and ministries.

1. Seven more evangelistic events and follow-up courses in the city in September and October. Please pray for strength and perseverance of our team throughout the preparations, promotion and attendance for all these events. The events are called Inspiring People. We have had close to 400 people come to the past five events and 65+ people desiring to be in a follow up course called ‘Life of Jesus’ (Six week course on the life of Jesus). Please pray that many people would come to know Christ through these events and courses.

2. Russ will be preaching an evangelistic message at Glorious Hope Baptist Church on Sunday, 27 Sept. Please pray for many to come and that the Lord would be glorified in the talk.

3.Russ will speaking at five evangelistic events in November; the talk will be ‘Lightening your Load”.  Based out of Matthew 11. A talk on rest, but with a twist. Please pray for preparations & many would be in attendance.

4. Cathy  working through current children’s Sunday school curriculum at Glorious Hope Baptist.

5. GHBC’s church camp in October. Looking ahead to 2010 and how we will reach our community for Christ.

6. The kids will continue to have a servant heart at church. Also, Little athletics (Track and Field) has started for Josh and Caroline. Also, Karate will continue for Cathy, Hope, Becca and Josh, they all have achieved their orange belts.

Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your prayers and support.

The adventure continues…

Russ & Cathy Matthews

The Lord does work…

If you have followed our updates of the past few years, you may remember and evangelistic event at Chatswood Baptist last year. I had the opportunity to speak to at an annual event put on by the church after a large dinner. English was the second language for many in attendance that night. I was not sure how my accent and lack of knowledge of Chinese would work with the group. I gave a talk on ‘ Connecting with God.’ Some came to know the Lord that night and many began courses to investigate more about Christianity. It was an exciting evening.

The annual evangelistic event is coming up this week. A friend of mine, who attends the church, told me an encouraging story. One of the men who came to know the Lord after my talk last year was giving his testimony during the dinner this year.*  In the church newsletter, he stated that after hearing the talk last year he came to realise that he had no more excuses for not accepting Christ as his Saviour. He had been putting up barriers all of his life. After that night he was left without any excuse. He accepted Jesus as His Saviour on the evening.  He is growing and hungry to know more about the his Saviour everyday. My friend has been amazed to watch the growth of this man and how he continues to seek what the Lord wants to do with his life.

It is exciting to be part of this process. It is humbling to see the Lord doing His work and to think he wants to utilise us for His glory. What an amazing privilege. Thank you for your prayers and financial support. This is how the Lord continues to include you in His work  around the world. This is how you get the Gospel to people who do not know Him, ‘yet!’

The adventure continues…

Russ Matthews

*I cannot give names out over our website. If you want more details contact me.

Matthews Down Under – June 2009

Matthews Down Under – June 2009

July in Australia, we are in the middle of winter and it is cold. Football season, winter school holidays are around the corner (year round school), global financial crisis is still the blame for everything and ministry opportunities are happening everywhere. Thank you for your prayers and support, it is exciting to see what the Lord can do with your prayer and financial involvement. I will try to give you a quick summary of all that is going on in Sydney.

Glorious Hope Baptist Church

The church continues to grow and we have visitors every week. We are finalising our constitution for the incorporation of our church. We appreciate your prayers for wisdom of the leadership and the involvement of the church members during this process. Russ preached through Nehemiah 1-2 on Sunday and he will continue to work through this portion of the Bible in 2009. Pastor Sam is working through Galatians and challenging the church in many areas. We are looking to have 3-4 baptisms in August.

City Bible Forum

It has been a engaging and challenging season in the city for the past few months. We have had a two different series. One in the book of Luke called the Essential Jesus and another called, Running from God – Jonah: Prophet on the Run. We could use your prayers for the upcoming series in Hebrews: Getting Real with God and a short series on Relationships and Sex: What the bible has to say about both. Attendance has fluctuated through out the last few months, but we are continually having new people coming each week. We recently had a BBQ on Martin Place (in the heart of the business district) and many gospel related conversations with hundreds of people who came by for the free sausages and coffee.

Life of Jesus

After the completion of the Investigating Christianity courses at Westpac, we looked to do some other classes to keep the momentum and dialogue going. We started with a DVD series called The Christ Files (Dr. John Dickson*) a series on the Bible as a trusted historical text and what we can prove historically about Jesus’ life. The class grew each week, which is different than the trend, usually we experience a decrease in participation after the start of a class. On completion of The Christ Files we had further interest in another John Dickson series, a straight forward presentation of The Life of Jesus (great short DVD presentation on the basics of Jesus, leading to in-depth discussion on what we know about Him.) Pray for the growth of these groups and the 50% of attendees who are not Christian.


Urban Fight Club

There continues to be a need and a growth in this unique men’s ministry. We had ‘Fight Night’ around a bonfire last weekend. This is a time for the men to discuss, in confidence, their personal ‘stories’, the things the Lord is doing in their lives and the struggles they are having as men. Great time, sorry I cannot go into detail, but exciting days ahead for many of these blokes. This is a training ground for men, coming together as men to be …men. In the process they are getting to know God and the bible better. Tough row to hoe, but it is good to see the Lord working in these men’s lives.

Etc.

More to tell but that is all for now. Hope you enjoyed the VBS videos on Youtube. (Five days worth: e-mail me if you would like the link) Thanks for the prayers. Also, if any of the churches are looking for a project to sponsor this year, please keep us in mind. We have various projects through City Bible Forum and the Glorious Hope Baptist church that are always looking for assistance. We are grateful for all you are doing for our family and the ministries the Lord is doing in Sydney.

The adventure continues…

Russ & Cathy Matthews

PS- Thanks to all who comment on the Australian spelling. I am grateful you are reading our letters so thoroughly.Hope you are enjoying the cultural differences.

*www.publicchristianity.org   (John Dickson’s website)

Easter: exciting, exhausting and encouraging

Thanks for all of your prayers. This has been an exciting, exhausting and encouraging month. This is a quick note on all that we have asked you to pray about during this critical month. Easter opens the door to communicate to others about what we believe as Christians. Parades in the city, editorials in key newspapers, special services at church, and everything that comes with this month allows for open dialogue on Jesus. With your prayers and support, you are part of this process and we are grateful for you. There is quite a bit to share this month, so this note will be longer than our normal updates. Thanks for taking the time to celebrate with us and pondering the privilege it is for us to be part of this amazing ministry.

Easter

At City Bible Forum and Glorious Hope Baptist, we had many different events throughout the city. City Bible Forum had our talks on during the week and many new people coming along to ask the tough questions about the Bible and Jesus. We work with many different groups from all over city to have evangelistic events within corporations. We assist with the preparation, the talks and communication. The goal of the events are to give people opportunity to come to effective and timely follow up and we assist in teaching these classes called Investigating Christianity. One of Sydney’s largest banks allowed a group within the firm to run not one but four events. This bank is going through very difficult times of redundancies (mass firings), mergers and reorganisation. You would not think this is not an ideal time to be planning evangelistic events, but the result shows that God can do an amazing work all of the time. Inside this bank, we had over 100+ people come to the various events, with upwards of 40+ signed up for courses on finding out more about Christianity.

Church events: We had special services on Friday and Sunday. Russ had the opportunity to preach on Good Friday. He taught through 23-24 Luke and the witnesses throughout the death, burial and resurrection of our Saviour. Many people were challenged to know the Lord and communicate to others about what He is doing in the lives of the people of the church.

Fireproof

Great film, great conversation and great results.


Many of you may have seen this film in the US, but it was not shown in theatres in Australia. After seeing the film, the Urban Fight Club (Men’s’ ministry) committed to have a professional showing of this film for the people of our community. It reflected two of our key values, fighting for our faith and for the family. It was quite a bit of work, but it was worth it. Our goal was to get the non-Christian spouses of our church members to come to this great film. So, we were originally thinking a small group of people on a Friday night. Well, God had different plans. We started giving out tickets and the numbers grew steadily every week and on the night we had over 60 people come to the evening with close to half being visitors. Many atheists, non-Christians, skeptics, single adults and married couples came to the showing of Fireproof. We had good food, nice venue (not at the church) and a good quality film. Explaining to the crowd it has a Christian message, insight into marriage and that it was good entertainment value. After the movie, claps and cheers, but the best part was most people turned their chairs around and started talking. Asking questions and discussing the film. Some complaints from the atheists, but they were impressed with the quality of the event. As a pre-evangelistic event, it was perfect to plant the seeds and for our group to effectively meet with many non-Christian men who would not come to our church in the past. Pray for many of these families and lives of these men.

The Face of Suffering

During this difficult economic time in world history, many people have questions. Where is God? If he does exist, how could he allow things like this to happen? Is he even listening?

During this month it is school holidays in New South Wales (year round school in Australia) and many people are out of the city. CBF is usually at its lowest attendance, but not this year. We had a series delivered by Justin Moffat, ‘The Face of Suffering’ -Three things you can do with God in the face of suffering. Wrestle, Wait and Rely- based out of the book of Habakkuk. (I know not your typical Easter passage, but doesn’t the entire Bible point to Jesus?) What a great series and many people coming along to ask some of the hard questions, also, getting the answers. Again seeing how even the Minor Prophets point us to the redemptive message of Jesus.

Prayer requests:

1. Ladies outreach in the community around Glorious Hope Baptist.

2. Working through the growing pains of a church plant.

3. Thinking through the growth of the church and how to effectively minister within our community.

4. Investigating Christianity courses in the city.

5. Furlough details for 2010

Thanks for hanging in there and reading through this update. It is amazing to see what God is doing in this city. Thanks for your support and prayers.

The adventure continues…

Russ & Cathy Matthews

(To those concerned, we try to use the Australian spellings for our updates. Thanks for your feedback.)