Cathy's Corner

Just the other day... Who said that evangelism isn't interesting?

Every week, we get unique opportunities to share the Gospel with people of all ages. Through the work in evangelistic Bible studies, one to one studies and scripture classes.
Lana - In our weekly Bible Study at Westpac Bank, Lana comes every week. She has recently immigrated from China and had never read the Bible before.
We were discussing the subject of the truth of he Bible. Lana seemed confused and asked about telling the truth about someone's clothing. 'Should I always tell the truth about what someone is wearing?'
This little clarification lead to a fantastic discussion within the group about the differentiation between absolute truth and telling a lie.
Gaetana - A woman in our community that we have the opportunity to engage with was asking about my work. We went on to have an hour long discussion about religion, the Gospel and her views of the world. I asked if she thought that my stance on 'only one way to God' sounded arrogant? She stated 'No, because you are merely saying what you believe. Arrogance is more in the tone that you deliver the message. You do not convey arrogance at all.'
Towards the end of the conversation she said, 'This was a great discussion about religion. I think talking about religion is like farting.' This caught my attention... I asked with a grin... 'How is talking about religion like farting?'
She said, 'Well, everyone believes in something and everyone farts. But, we are afraid to talk about either subject. Why? Since everyone does both, why not talk about it? Especially after we do it, we feel better.'
Wow! That is some incredible insight on the world. Now, how do I get that into a sermon analogy?
Evie - The public school where Cathy teaches Scripture classes started Ethics classes. A new government initiative. Unfortunately, she lost some of her students to this new initiative. She was exceptionally disappointed at first, especially since one of the little girls, Evie. She was so inquisitive and seemed so engaged with the Bible. All Cathy could do was pray for her and be thankful for all of students who had remained in the class.
The following week, Evie comes walking into the room and sits down in Cathy's class. With enthusiasm and a smile, Cathy asked what she was doing back.
Evie said, 'That ethics class was boring and I really like being in this class.' Also, Cathy was able to give Evie her first Bible that week.
The Lord answers prayer in his timing!
Please keep praying for opportunities like this and for people to continue to search for answers from the Bible in Australia

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

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)

Cathy's Corner - Rest on the mission field

Russ asked me to write something for the blog. After all there’s a “Cathy’s Corner” that’s been sitting rather empty. At first I sort of dreaded it.  I mean a picture of a meal I’ve made or flowers that grow in my yard on facebook is one thing.  But writing is so personal and really opens a window onto one’s life. At first I thought I’ll just do the “here’s how the kids are doing, here’s what my ministries look like...” blog entry.  But you see how our kids are doing if you have us on Facebook.  They’re doing great! And in the past I’ve told you about my ministries to women and children and how they aren’t too dissimilar to what you may be doing...just add in some different accents and food that might be unfamiliar to Americans.  So what would I write about then... today I got some inspiration.

When was your last family holiday or vacation as you’d say in the US? Did you go to the mountains of Colorado? Maybe one of our past family favourites: Silver Dollar City in Missouri? The beach? Or maybe a big splurge: Disney World? Do you ever wonder if missionaries have a holiday? If so, when? Where? Is furlough a holiday? I remember back to the training we had just before leaving for the field. We were told that vacations were meant to be taken in our field country and furlough (which I think used to be for rest and recuperation) is for getting in touch with supporting churches and supporters and letting them know what our ministry is doing.  Furlough is work.  Plain and simple.

And then, we live and minister in a country that looks like we’re on perma-holiday.  I mean its beautiful.  The weather is almost always perfect. Compared to some other missionaries, our life looks like a holiday.  But ministry can be 24/7. And living on a ministry budget means the cost of a holiday can be hard to scrape together.  Right now its school holidays here in Australia.  It would’ve been lovely to escape to a holiday by the beach or some other restful place.  But when that’s not possible, what do you do? Russ was able to schedule in a “long weekend” away from the city ministry.  He put an “I am out of the office” message on his email.  And with some penny pinching we have been able to do some fun things with the kids. The answer: a holiday at home! We’ve gone to the movies on discount tickets, had a nice date night, gone to a major professional sports game and sat in the cheap seats, and just this morning, had a big breakfast together as a family, read the Saturday morning paper in a slow and leisurely manner, and plan on a walk later.  Also in this “holiday at home” we included a perennial family favourite: a train ride into the city and lunch in Chinatown. Ministry doesn’t take a holiday though.  I’m still taking morning tea to church on Sunday morning and Russ is still in charge of leading the devotional at prayer meeting on Sunday afternoon.  I wish he could change his body clock to “vacation mode” but he can’t. He’s still up at 5:30 every morning.

Why am I sharing this? To make you feel guilty about your family vacation time? Not at all.  But instead of the usual missionary update, I thought I’d share another perspective on being a missionary.  If it causes you to think of us, pray for us, give generously to missionary families, great! But also, if it causes you to think outside the American box, of how others do life in ministry in other places, that’s really good too.

I read a good quote by Charles Spurgeon the other day: “Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength...It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.” We are headed into summer here in the Souther Hemisphere. That will mean we can go to the beach on the occasional Saturday or Sunday after church.

Pray that we “gather fresh strength” on this “holiday at home” and on such occasions.

Thanks for your prayers and reading a bit from Cathy's Corner,

Cathy

Daily Update 4 - Bible Study Fellowship & City Bible Forum

BSF: Bible Study Fellowship Cathy will be one of the children's leaders at Bible Study Fellowship this year. In the past few years, this has become one of the most rewarding ministry opportunities for Cathy. She has been involved in leading in the children's ministry, develop key relationships with the women in the community and grow in the Word.

This ministry has been a blessing on many levels for Cathy. Evangelism, Discipleship and personal growth in the Word.

This year they will be going through the book of Genesis.

City Bible Forum

 This year we will continue with the evangelistic talks at our weekly meetings. We have started off the year with good attendance and many new people coming along each week.
We are working through the book of Mark this year. We will break it up into 5-6 week blocks between some of our other events. So, each block will look to be a stand alone project, but will follow the outline of Mark's Gospel.
Example: this first sereis is Ok God... What do you want with me?
February 6 / 7 Ok God... are you there and do you care?
February 13 / 14 Ok God... what is the plan and where is it taking me?
February 20 / 21 Ok God... what's the number one priority in my life?
February 27 / 28 Ok God... what do I need most in my life?
March 6 / 7 Ok God... but why is religion so often ugly?

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

A "Stay-at-Home" Ministry Worker's Harvest

Today I took the opportunity to take the dog for a walk after I dropped the kids at school. As I walked up the footpath I was greeted by a man who has his own lawn mowing business and who’s daughter goes to school with our children. He was tackling someone’s deep grass. He said, “Dropped the kids off, now you have the day to yourself, huh?” I laughed but it got me thinking. How do I spend my day? Is it that different to yours? On furlough many asked what I did do with my day. I don’t usually add to Russ’ updates on our website or Facebook page, but today I thought I’d share what my days look like. Not long into our first term on the ministry field of Australia, I began to struggle and wonder if what I did mattered or helped in any way. At the time we were homeschooling, and yes, I know that was very important and vital, but it was more than that. I spent most of my days at home.

How did that help? My truly wise husband helped me to see that as I did my “job” well, it enabled him to do his that much more effectively. Coming home each evening to a clean, orderly home, dinner waiting, happy children, washing done...well, those things freed him to study, prepare, or even stay late at an event sharing the Gospel. But now the children are “in” school. That means I have approximately 8:30 am to 2:30 pm to fill as I please. Not much has changed and as you’ll see, my day isn’t that much different than yours. It is still my responsibility, one of my highest callings and I might add a great pleasure to be a manager of our home. Getting the washing caught up, grocery shopping, and even dusting or cleaning a toilet (two of my least favourite things) fill my day. Baking special treats for lunchboxes or after school is a highlight. There’s also the chauffeuring that a mum gets to do. As the year picks up Bible study starts. Friday afternoons I have the privilege of reading and helping in Caroline’s classroom.  As opportunities present themselves or as I organise them, I build into other women’s lives. Maybe sharing the truth of the Gospel over the back fence. Or having a cup of tea with a fellow believer who is struggling or just needs some encouragement. Sometimes its preparing a Sunday School lesson for the little ones in our church or preparing a brief devotional to share at a ladies night.

But its not all work, work, work.  I do allow myself some down time. I have regularly found ways to get out in the community and connect. Weight Watchers, karate classes and at the  present, going to Curves. When I’m out and about and I pass a second hand shop or antiques shop, I love to stop if I have the time and peruse the shelves. I have enjoyed collecting a variety of tins, both Australian and American to decorate the top of my kitchen cupboards. I’m no master gardener, but there is something very satisfying about getting my hands dirty and making something grow in the earth. That first commission God gave man in the garden still rings true today. A good read on my Kindle is always a good escape. And finally a real luxury is the occasional afternoon nap.

Why do I share all this? Besides the fact that it may satisfy some curious minds, I hope it encourages those whose days are similar to mine. Just done in a different country or culture. Today I read in my devotions:

 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 

This verse can be applied on so many levels. But today it encouraged this wife, mother, daughter, friend, ministry worker to keep on keeping on. My harvest may be different than yours. But God isn’t into the comparing game and I shouldn’t be either. So as I sign off and get ready to hang a load of washing, thanks for letting me share. I hope a page from the book of my days encourages you in yours.

(Russ had to comment- I am so thankful for the incredibly talented partner in ministry that the Lord has given me to work with daily. Your hard work makes me able to do my work more effectively. Cath, thanks for your transparency and I hope this encourages many who do the work you do for the sake of God's glory. Well done and I love you!)

Joshua's knee

We would appreciate prayer for Joshua. He had an accident awhile back and now is suffering from damage to the cartilage in his knee. Josh  will need surgery on his knee soon.

We have been to a knee specialist (orthopedic) and had the spectrum of tests run and the mri shows  the cartiledge behind his knee cap on one side is pretty much destroyed and there is some bone poking into the back of his knee cap. Most likely from a fall  at a skate park, but then sports made it worse. He will have to have "keyhole" surgery to fix it and hopefully get cartiledge to regrow or else he will suffer from major arthritis when he is older. We are getting a second opinion just for peace of mind and will keep you up to date on details and all that.

We just need wisdom in who to take him to for surgery, how we are going to pay for it and a quick recovery for him.

Thanks for your prayers and support,

Russ & Cathy

Fruitful and Challenging (What a Great God We Serve)

Good morning to all, Well, it is the 22nd of May and we are still here praising the Lord.  Thank you for your continual support and for your prayers. I wanted to take the time to get you all up to speed on what has been happening over the past month in our lives.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” - CS Lewis

It has been one of the most fruitful times and one of the most challenging times for us, since being on the mission field. The Lord has provided in mighty ways, we have seen salvations, I have been able to do my first baptism and the opportunities to speak around Sydney have been non-stop since the beginning of the year. Thanks for the constant prayer cover and we hope you are able to celebrate with us in all that the Lord has done.

School: Since the beginning of the year, the kids have started to attend Australian Christian College. It has been a blessing, but quite a change from homeschooling. The school has been great in helping Cathy and the kids to transition to the school atmosphere. The biggest challenge was the travel, Cathy was having to commute to the school each day for the kids.

Home: We decided to find a home closer to the school. Also, close to a train line for my work in the city. Part out of necessity, our rental home was being sold and we had to find a new place. The rental market is only 1% of the Sydney housing market, making it very challenging to find a home we could afford and that would fit our family. It took three months to find the house. (I will not go into all of the details, but at many homes viewings there were 50-100 people to see the house) At the end of March, The Lord provided a new home and we were planning to move in at the beginning of April. It is a lovely house, smaller, but meets all of our needs and we are able to serve effectively here.

Robbery: The weekend before the move, I was planning to preach at a sister church. We went to bed on Saturday night and during the night thieves broke into our home (while we were sleeping) and stole all of our computer, phones, bags (which contained our ids, money, etc.) and even my sermon. Feeling very violated and without many options, the Lord provided, but we needed to get our lives back in order. We only had a few days to move, but no immediate means of paying for a truck. We started moving the house, one van load at a time. It took many kilometres, but by the end of the week we were able to do get the move done. (We did eventually get some bank cards toward the end of the week and were able to secure a moving truck for the large items.) Fortunately, we were insured and the majority of items were replaced.

Van: A week later, as Cathy was coming home from setting up for an outreach event at church, the van broke down. Looking back, it is amazing that the van made it this far with all that it had gone through over the last few months. It broke down on a Friday night. No mechanics open until Monday in Australia. At 1am in the morning on Saturday, I sent out a brief prayer request. Within minutes, one of our supporting churches had offered to pay for a hire car for us until we were able to get the van fixed. Once we secured a van, we were still able to go the outreach on Saturday and I was able to preach on Sunday. We sent out a request to our supporters and WOW the Lord provided mightily. It was overwhelming and we hope you know how thankful we are for all of the responses. All the costs of the van were covered by the donations.

We are currently driving our faithful van and we are praising the Lord for the opportunity to serve.

Once again, thank you for your generosity and assistance with this process.

The Lord has been teaching us quite a bit about ourselves and Himself throughout this process.

  1. He is in control, even when we do not understand.
  2. We need to allow others to serve and learn through our situations.
  3. To rely on Him completely.
  4. He works through our good and bad times to speak to us and others.

Prayer requests:

  • John Series ar Glorious Hope Baptist- Five Speakers on different areas of the Gospel According to John
  • Planning for the team from First Family Church
  • Challenges and growth of the work at City Bible Forum - We would be able to secure the right panelists and speakers for the weekly talks
  • Aussie dollar ,it is strong (30year high)and the US dollar is weak. Puts a challenge on the finances

Thanks for your continued support and prayers.

The Adventure Continues...

Russ & Cathy Matthews

 

 

Caroline's Doctor's appt, School & Panel + series

Caroline's Doctors Appt We wanted to update you on Caroline's doctor's appt. with the pediatric cardiologist. If you remember last year, Caroline had been diagnosed with a development of tissue on one of the valves of her heart. It causes a slight leakage or murmur in her heart. The specialists at the time stated there was no concern at that time and we would need to come in for an evaluation each year. If there is any growth, she would need to have surgery.

Come to find out this condition only occurs in approx. 2% of people and usually needs surgery. Our cardiologist has had to operate on all of her patients that have this condition in the past.

It has been a year since Caroline was diagnosed with this condition. She has not had any ill effects since the diagnosis. She was a champion at the doctor this week. After looking at her heart, the cardiologist saw no growth in the tissue and did not see the need for surgery at this time. Caroline even said, "I like going to the doctor, " as we left the office. What a trooper. We will need to go back for another evaluation in 12 months. Thanks for your prayers.

School

A big day for all on Monday, all of the kids start school at the Australian Christian College (Colleges are the schools prior to University in Australia) Yes, our school year starts in January, after summer in Australia. Quite an adjustment from homeschooling for Cathy and the kids. Please be praying they all adjust well to the transition.

Panel + Series

City Bible Forum is changing the format for the Forums for 2011. It is exciting changes, but not without its challenges. We would appreciate your prayers for it. Details about City Bible Forum at www.citybibleforum.org

Format: Each month the Forum would begin with a Talking Point issue. We would have a panel of 3-4 ‘experts’ on the various topics. Then from the panel, the following weeks would be a series answering many of the discussion points from a Biblical perspective.

eg: Imagine series: Panel discussion would utilise the lyrics from the John Lennon song and discuss the idea Imagine there was no religion, God, heaven or hell... Then Al Stewart would do a series for three weeks on the Biblical perspective of these implications based in the New Testament. Our panelists are Dr. John Dickson (biblical historian), Jane Caro (Writer/Athiest) & Dr Tanveer Ahmed (Writer /Clinical Psychiatrist/ Moderate Muslim).

Panel format: Three to four individuals would be willing to discuss their view on the topic. It is not a debate, but an interactive discussion with a moderator and the audience. We would have key people set in the audience who have a specific view on this topic to set in motion the conversation. We are following the model of SBS ‘INSIGHT’ for the format. Time: 1:10-1:50 (Wednesdays and Thursdays) First week of each month.

Panelists: We would like the panel to be a mix of differing view points. We have a mixed audience of approximately 200+ each week. The experts we are contacting are not desiring to recruit for their own cause, but willing to intellectually discuss their view with an audience and others in a panel atmosphere.

Panel and series topics: Imagine no religion, Crossing Over: Is there anything after this life?, Why do we do what we do? Analysing the Human Condition, 2012 and end times: A look at the book of Revelation and others. All will follow with a series based on a biblical perspective of the topic.

We would appreciate your prayers for this format change and that many non-Christians would come to hear the panel and the series.

Thanks for your support and prayers.

The adventure continues...

The Matthews Family

How to reach a community of predominately hurting women? Pamper them!

Our church meets in an economically & spiritually challenged area of Sydney. Most of the women in the area live hard and fearful  lives. To be treated with respect and love is a rare thing in many of the lives of these ladies.  On Saturday 2 May, 2009; Glorious Hope Baptist Church held their third annual Pamper Day for the ladies of the community around our church. Women of all races, faiths, economic and social backgrounds arrived for a day of hand & foot massages, makeovers and haircuts. Also, included in the day were a delightful morning tea, a delicious lunch and a gift bag. A speaker shared her testimony of hope through here family's journey to coming to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Over 70 women came through the doors on the day and many left changed. Cathy was overseeing one team of service. She was able to talk and pray with most of the women who came to the day. One of the highlights of the day was having the opportunity to share and pray with two Muslim women who had come for the day. Hope and Rebecca were able to serve child care and with whatever areas needed assistance on the day. Every woman walked out feeling and looking transformed and all were given the opportunity to know the transforming power of the Gospel.

All the ladies of the church came away exhausted, but encouraged by the opportunity to touch and pray with women of our church community in a unique way. Touching many women that this world considers untouchable. They arrived in the morning to bless the people of the community, but at the end of the day, came away blessed indescribably  by the opportunity to be the hands and feet of our Saviour, Jesus.

Yes, it was a good day!

Thanks for your prayers and maybe consider being  part of this incredible ministry in years to come.

We all like sheep have gone astray. Ba Ba Do Ba Ba…

This story feels like I am setting up a joke, but all of the details are true.After being in Australia for seven months, we have seen the opportunities of church planting. I have been excited to be apart of ‘shepherding’ a flock in the future. Jesus refers to sheep throughout his ministry, in reference to the church. We have applied this to our ministry and then I received a call from Cathy the other day… Cathy had been talking with Becca up in her room and Becca began to stare out the window. An odd sight walked by the house, a small herd of ten sheep coming down the street. Realise, we live in a suburban neighbourhood on the edge of the city. This would not be a normal experience, even though we are in Australia. They were causing problems with traffic and walking all over the neighbourhood lawns. At one point they were all in a neighbour’s carport. The lady came home, not seeing the sheep until sheep got out of her car. Screamed and jumped back into her car. Josh felt he needed to help out.  Josh, feeling adventurous, first on his scooter and then on his bicycle, went and rounded up the sheep, with Cathy’s help, got them corralled in our backyard.  Our relatively small backyard. Now what? Cathy called around to all of the local animal authorities and no one knew what to do with a small herd of sheep. After a bit of investigation, Cathy was able to get up with the ‘Rangers’ here in New South Wales (Our state). Cathy explained the story and without much hesitation the lady said, “We can have someone out in about an hour to pick up the sheep. He is currently out on the M7 (local interstate highway) picking up some cows.”  Hmm… we are in Australia? As they waited, the kids watched the sheep and Cathy took numerous pictures. Caroline would go up to the window, get excited and hit the window. The sheep would scatter and she would go to the next window, hit it and the sheep would scatter. She had great fun, maybe we need to get our own flock of sheep. The ‘ranger’ showed up to pick up the sheep, about an hour later. Just think of an older Jim Craig from ‘The Man from Snowy River.’ Great guy. Backed up the truck to the yard and commenced to wrestle each sheep into the truck. The kids watched in amazement as he tackled each sheep and literally threw them into the back of the truck. He encouraged Josh to come out and ‘have a go’ at wrestling the sheep. (Josh left it to the expert.) The excitement around the house was electric. Then the ‘ranger’ got to the last sheep. He had the sheep cornered in the backyard and the sheep, terrified, jumps into the air straight at the man. Incredibly, he caught the frightened animal in mid air. Wrestled him onto the truck and bid the family a g’day, just another day in the suburbs of Sydney. (Pastors, ever feel like a day in the church?) Now it may seem like I am leading you astray or that I am pulling the wool over your eyes, but it really happened. We will attach some of the pictures to prove it. (They have been uploaded to our wesite.) I know this makes for an analogy-rich environment for the pulpit. The application for the church is more than a reality. We hope you enjoy the story and you have our permission to use it for illustrations. Each of us has gone to his own way. Ba Ba Do Ba Ba

Cathy's Corner

I have been regularly attending Weight Watchers down here and have befriended a lady named Melanie.  She is a sweet single mom with a sad and hurting past.  Please pray that we might grow closer and that I might be able to share the love of Christ with her. Being from the States always inspires many curious questions from Aussies and sharing that my husband is a church planter and that we homeschool actually opens the door to many other questions and opportunities to share. Otherwise, life continues as we adjust to the higher costs of living in a big city in a far land.  Grocery shopping is always an adventure, but I'm getting better at it.  Each week we discover something else that we won't have here (like cornbread) but we then discover something new to enjoy here (like lamb chops!).  The weather is still beautiful during the day, but it truly is feeling like fall.

Its interesting how there are so many similarities between the States and AU, but yet its just slightly different.  Fall feels similar but the trees all stay green and shed their bark instead of leaves!  At night it gets very chilly in a house with no heat and we are thankful for the electric blankets we were able to purchase. We have one week of school left before Easter holidays when most Aussies take a big holiday trip.  We have plans instead to take some day trips like the one the children mention in their update!