This is the latest blurb that is published on the front of our weekly bulletin

Changed lives in Fiji

Leaving the comfort of Australia, I arrived in the unfamiliar, foreign land of Fiji… a different place, climate, and people, but the same God.

Along with the 75 other students in the Youthworks Year 13 Gap Year program, we were given opportunities to learn how the Fijians live, eat, work and function as a society. We then learnt to apply this to our teaching, ministry, and relationships. 

From organised ministry at youth groups, churches and schools, to unplanned opportunities with workers, and shopkeepers, we shared the gospel with many people.

I quickly learnt that the mission was God’s, not ours, which meant that things often did not go as planned. Sometimes we were disappointed or confused, like when our homestay visit with a family was suddenly cancelled.

Other times we were overjoyed with surprise opportunities, like when we turned up to a local primary school in Suva, prepared for a single 15-minute assembly, only to leave having done 17, simultaneous classes.

My highlight was the ten days spent in the small village of Nakavu, where I was welcomed into the home of a beautiful family from the Methodist Church. We were totally immersed into the village life, living with the people and learning from them.

So much of the mission was unstructured, playing with the children at the stunning Navua River, forming friendships which provided many amazing chats. This has made me realise the importance of investing in children outside set hours of ministry events.

Most of all, I was challenged to be totally reliant on prayer, not only when things go wrong, or as a backup, but as the most important thing for effective ministry. 

I am so thankful for each and every one of you, for your generosity in prayer and financial support. Lives were changed in Fiji, and my life was certainly one of them.

Jemimah McNeill – Year 13 student

Our problem with David and Goliath

David and Goliath is one of the most famous and well-loved stories in the Bible.

It’s the classic tale of the underdog winning a battle against an unbeatable enemy.

It’s a story we love, because we all have our own challenges in life that seem impossible, and yet this story shows God achieve something that seemed impossible.

The temptation is for us to imagine ourselves in the shoes of David.

Then we assume that this story means that if we trust in God then he will help us achieve the impossible.

Yet, this is the biggest mistake that we make with this historical account of the battle between David and Goliath.

Because in this story, we should see ourselves in the shoes of the people of God, not of David.

For, in David we see one man, chosen by God to represent his people, who then fights an impossible battle, and whose victory gives salvation to all of his people.

But the story comes to life even more when we realise that the battle of King David against his archenemy is a foretaste of the battle of King Jesus against the greatest enemy of all: the devil.

As we read in the Bible in the letter to the Hebrews:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15)

So, if we choose to have Jesus as our king, then his victory over the devil will become ours, just like how God’s people enjoyed King David’s victory over Goliath.

And this makes the story of David and Goliath even better news for everyone on God’s side.


The biggest problem our children face

Whilst it is true and powerful that children are our future, the problem is that society doesn’t quite know what to do.

We look at the current problems of our world and then look to the next generation to solve them… problems like violence, alcohol, crime, poverty and the environment.

The cause of each of these problems, so the reasoning goes, is a lack of information about the impacts that each of these problems may result in.

So to help our children overcome the issues we introduce educational programs at the earliest appropriate age to arm the next generation with the knowledge and skills to overcome them.

Now all this is well intentioned and not without benefit, but this strategy has always and will aways ultimately fail.

This is obvious when you realise that some of these programs have been going on for generations.

Issues to do with alcohol are a tragic example: we are now trying to teach our kids the very same things that we were taught but have ignored.

And the reason why these educational reforms have failed is that the problem is misdiagnosed.

The problem is not lack of information: the problem is sin, and so our children carry within them the problem itself.

Our children need saving.

While this is profoundly politically incorrect to say unless we understand the problem we will never be able to offer children the answer.

Jesus said “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them,  or the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:14,16

Jesus is the answer because Jesus came to save us from our sins: he came to save children from their sins.

Simon Chaplin

A benefit of less reported religion

Australia Day Crowd

It was no surprise to read that this week’s Census 2016 results showed a drop in the number of people claiming to be religious in Australia.

Notably, we read that only half our population (52.1%) say they are Christian, which is a drop from 61% in 2011, and 88% in 1966 (read more about this in Eternity News).

Given the low attendance at churches on weekends, and even ‘holy’ days like Christmas and Easter, it seems there are many people who identify as a follower of Jesus, but don’t really act like they mean it.

So, we need to get people to own up to what they say they believe, and to help them know what it really means to be a follower of Jesus.

Maybe you might ask your friend, colleague or family member to share what they think about this drop in religious interest in Australia.

You could ask them whether it seems to match what they believe about religion.

And then, best of all, you might get them to tell you what they think about Jesus.

And if someone is a little vague about Jesus, then why don’t you ask them, “would you like to read the Bible with me?”

And if they say “yes” then just grab a Bible, open it to Mark’s gospel, and read a few verses. If you want to read online right now, then read the Bible right here right now.

Start chatting about who Jesus is, and best of all, don’t feel you have to be the ‘expert.’

And then, as you and your friend come face to face with the ‘real’ Jesus, then it just may be that the Holy Spirit might lead them to have a real hope in the real Jesus.


Vital support for missionaries

When we think of support for missionaries, we most naturally think about finances.

After all, when we and our partner missionary organisation send someone to a distant location to preach Christ, we know that there are many costs that need to be met.

Our church loves to financially support missionaries, and we do so by allocating a proportion of your regular financial gifts. Yet, we must never forget that our support for missionaries extends also to our prayers.

When I sit down for my morning prayers, I use an app called ‘PrayerMate’, which helps me remember to pray for CMS, the Church Missionary Society. Alternatively, you might just like the paper version, which works just as well!

But the main point is that we need to keep remembering that God uses our prayers to do his will to share the saving message of Jesus to all the nations.

When we pray for our missionaries on our own each day, or together each weekend in church, we are providing critical support for those who work with us to share the great news of Jesus with the world.

This weekend, as we celebrate CMS Sunday, let’s make a commitment to personally pray for our mission partners, and for CMS as well, who encourage us to use these words:

God of love, whose will it is that everyone should be saved, bless the Church Missionary Society and all who have gone out in its fellowship to preach, to teach and to heal. Guard, guide and use them; raise up more people in your world wide church to pray and to work, to care and to understand, to give to you and to go for you, that your church may grow, you will be done, your kingdom come and your glory be revealed through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Identifying our identity

One of the best ways to understand our Australian identity is to travel to another country.

During my recent trip to Canada, I discovered many ways in which Aussies differ.

Canadians love eating poutine (a fancy version of chips and gravy), but we love meat pies, and of course, Vegemite.

Canadians love ice hockey and curling, but Aussies follow rugby and AFL.

But beyond food and sport, there are other ways in which our identities different, even though we share so much with our Commonwealth cousins.

When it comes to our Christian identity, it’s sometimes difficult to see a difference between us and those in the world.

After all, we still battle with the same temptations that all humans face.

Yet, as those who have been given freedom by Jesus, we now have the Spirit of God in us, leading us to bear his fruit.

And that will lead us to show love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians chapter 5 verses 22 and 23.)

This is our new identity, as we live the new life that God has given us.

And the result of this is a new community that enjoys this fruit through the special relationships that stand on the foundation of the love and mercy shown us in Christ.

Which means that the benefits of following Jesus don’t stop at our personal forgiveness and hope: they extend to the richness of life together, as we enjoy a taste of the perfect life in Heaven.

So, Christians, let’s pray that God would continue to bring forth in us the fruit of his Spirit.

And if you’re not yet a follower of Jesus, then there’s no better time to find forgiveness and hope in him, so that you might also feel the love of true community.


Can good come from evil?

Flower tributes to terror attack (CREDIT: Matt Brown via Flickr)

It’s hard to imagine the pain of the parents of those Australian girls killed in the attack in London, from the terrible silence when they no longer answered their phones till that final awful moment when the news is confirmed.

There was a father named Jacob who knew of this terrible moment when his children return home with a coat stained with blood belonging to one of their brothers. They told him the news that Joseph, their brother was dead.

However after 20 inconsolable years he discovers that this was a lie and that his son was alive.

As for Joseph the good news for him was that he wasn’t dead, but there were times over the next 20 years that he may have wished he was. He had been sold by his brothers into slavery, falsely accused, thrown into jail and without hope. And yet he trusts in God, and as the story unfolds he rises from a prisoner to a decorated governor leading Egypt though a terrible famine, securing an abundant food supply.

Reunited with his brothers he has this to say

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”

What does it mean that God can take evil and use it for good? It doesn’t mean that God simply re-labels something bad as good. It doesn’t mean that given enough time we can look back on a tragedy in a new light, as if all that is needed is time.

Evil remains evil.

But God’s goodness is so good that even through evil he can work. It’s terribly hard to see that in our experiences, and I can’t imagine the pain of a father losing a child. But God can because this is his story. What humanity meant as evil in the killing of his son, God planned for our good (Acts 2:23). 

The way through the evil in our lives, is not to minimise or redefine it away but to know the good which comes in Jesus – the good that came through evil to bring peace into our world and peace into our hearts.

Simon Chaplin

Mission to Fiji

After months and weeks of planning, preparation and nervous anticipation, this is my last week at church before I leave for Fiji. Earlier this week I received my needles, and whilst I really do not enjoy strangers stabbing me with medicine, I am so excited as I know this is one of the final things I need to do before I go! I leave in just a few days for my month long mission to Fiji, and everything is finally falling into place!

I would like to thank each and everyone of you for your generosity, both in prayer and financial support. Your support has allowed me to successfully raise the money needed, and I am very excited for the mission to begin!

While I am overseas I will be travelling around the main Island of Fiji, serving the communities and preaching the gospel through word and song. In particular, we decided the focus of our mission will be on preaching from the gospel of Mark, chapters 4 to 6, and as we delved into these amazing passages, I was reminded again of the amazing power of God: that this is his mission, and that no obstacle is too great for the Lord of the Universe! I am so excited to see how I will grow whilst overseas, learning from the Fijian people and the Year 13 community.

If you wish to be updated about the mission whilst I am away, you are able to sign up for the Year 13 ‘Bula Blog’, where you can see the word being done, and the prayer points of our team whilst we are overseas. You can find this at:

So, thank you so so much for supporting me, and I ask that you would continue to pray for me in the next few days, and while I am away! Pray that the ministry would be fruitful, and that the children and adults would be able to grow in the knowledge and understanding of our great God.

Jemimah McNeill, Year 13 student

What’s our greatest blessing as Christians?

If I were asked that question my first answer would be this: justification by faith.

And in the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation my answer would come all the more readily. But I’d be wrong.

I can still remember first reading Knowing God by the famous theologian J.I Packer where I discovered my mistake.

There he explains the greatest blessing we have as Christians is this: adoption as sons.

“Adoption is the highest privilege that the gospel offers, even higher than justification. Justification is the primary blessing of the Gospel because it meets our primary spiritual need. We all stand condemned under God’s judgment. So we need forgiveness of sins and assurance of a restored relationship with God before we need anything else in the world.

But this is not to say that justification is the highest blessing of the Gospel. Adoption is higher, because of the closer relationship with God that it involves.

Justification is a forensic idea conceiving God as judge. Adoption is a family idea conceived in terms of love and viewing God as father. In adoption God takes us into his family and fellowship and establishes us as his children and heirs. 

To be right with God as judge is a great thing. But to be loved and cared for by God the Father is a greater.” (p187)

Packer immediately goes on to cite Galatians where justification leads to the greater blessing of adoption:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  Galatians 4:4-6.

And so next time you are thinking of what the greatest blessing we have as Christians is, remember that we are adopted as children of God and we are able to call him our Father.

Simon Chaplin

A budget response to disabilities

Scott Morrison’s budget has been praised (mostly by the more right wing) and rubbished (ditto left wing). One of the issues Mr Morrison has tried to address is paying for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Under this scheme Australians with a permanent and significant disability are to receive the financial support they need. The scheme was begun by the Gillard government in 2013, but we are now told it never had enough money set aside to fulfill its aims.

Should we all pay an increase in the Medicare levy so that the scheme can have sufficient money? Or should the higher income earners pay a higher percentage than others, or even contribute all of the funds needed?

Certainly I myself would be way out of my depth if I were to try to figure out a budget for all Australians. But Scripture teaches that the strong should take care of the weak.

In this debate it means that those who work for remuneration should see it as their responsibility to share with those who are limited in their income because of a disability.

In our sermon on Galatians 2:1-10 we saw that the Jerusalem apostles added nothing to Paul’s gospel, but they asked Paul to do one thing in addition to preaching this gospel …

all they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” vs 10.