My name is Elliot and I am from Sydney Australia. Like you, I am incredibly excited to be part of the upcoming Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering.
God is doing amazing and awesome work all throughout the globe, and I can’t wait to personally hear your stories about how God is working in and through you and your ministries.
Before we get there though, I thought it’d be a good idea to give you a snapshot of Australia to help you see the harvest field that is this beautiful country but also to show you some of the significant challenges at present.
The 2011 census shows that about 61.1% of the Australian population professed to be Christians. Like all research findings of this sort, there is no doubt that some of those who’ve ticked the ‘Christian’ box can perhaps be more identified as ‘cultural Christians’ than professing or practicing Christians. For example, some of them may attend church once or twice a year or have been baptized as a younger child, but apart from that, Jesus Christ has little or no influence in their lives. This is a real shame and is indeed a mission field, so please pray that churches here would be effective in reaching those who verbally profess to be Christians yet do not want Jesus as their Lord and Ruler.
However, because of mass secularisation, especially in the recent few years, this number is reducing radically. People no longer see the need to identify as Christians anymore – in fact, there are times when identifying as one will make you seen as someone who is ignorant, unintelligent, and biased. So I’m looking forward to the findings in the upcoming census, but I suspect that the 61.1% that I indicated earlier will probably be halved.
Of course, Australia being a multicultural society means that there are also other religions present, most prominently Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. I live in a part of Sydney where there are a lot of Muslims and it’s wonderful to see their rich culture bringing beauty to our city. Yet, it breaks my heart to see that their zeal is misdirected. So while their population is smaller (each religion being around 2%), they are nonetheless loss and in desperate need of the Gospel.
As such, I hope you can see from the brief data that (in my opinion) the biggest challenge in Australia is irreligion, atheism, or agnosticism (at best). There is a great dependency on ‘self’ which is undoubtedly influenced by Western individualism and this is one of the largest obstacle to evangelism. People don’t want to hear that they need a Saviour anymore than they want to hear that they are sinners. In many of their minds, they are ‘good people’ who do ‘good things’ and so even if there is an afterlife, they should be accepted by whichever ‘higher power’ because they never hurt anyone. So please pray that the Holy Spirit will soften their hearts and minds and give them eyes to see their blindness and lostness. On one hand, we need stronger apologists who will be able to show that flaws in their beliefs but on the other, we also need prayer warriors. So will you join us?
There is much work to be done and I play a small (yet prayfully, a fruitfully one) role in God’s plan. I serve as a student pastor at my local Presbyterian church, with a specific role in preaching and leading a university students group. These young men and women are growing in their love for Jesus and I’m training them to be personal apologists and evangelists. My prayer is that our time together will empower them to love and serve their neighbors whether it is in their schools or workplaces. So please support me as I pray and strive towards that end.
I am also praying that God will provide clarify as I consider church planting. At this stage, there are three key church planting partnership agencies: 1) City to City (which is the Asia Pacific branch of Tim Keller’s Redeemer City to City), 2) Acts29, and 3) Geneva Push (a local Australian church planting group that started just a little under a decade ago). All of them are working hard at reaching our city and they serve people pockets of society. They are effective in their own ways, so please pray that God would help the planters and pastors who are part of this network to be fruitful in their work.
God has been gracious with regards to religious liberty in Australia, and as such, Christianity has quite a strong presence on university campuses. The biggest organization that oversees the work is the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES). Apart from that, there are other groups of Campus Crusade, Student Outreach to the World (SOW), Hillsong, and other ones that are trying to win our university students for Christ. Please pray that these groups would be effective. One of the challenges that I know they’re facing is financial funding. The staff workers in these organizations are not paid by the university so they rely on external funding. Therefore, it is always hard work trying to raise money (as most of us have experience as we tried to fundraise to attend the YLG). So please also pray that Christians here will be generous in their finances and realizing that what they have belongs to our Lord first and foremost.
We also have various mission sending agencies like SIM, Pioneers, and OMF (to name a few), and they are doing great work in sending people overseas. Pray too for them that they will effectively support their missionaries who are serving all over the world.
Australia also has relatively strong theological institutions/seminaries. The biggest name that you might have heard of is Moore Theological College which is an Anglican College that trains pastors and missionaries, with a more specific aim of training clergy for the Sydney Anglican Church. There are also others, like Christ College (which is where I’m undertaking my studies), Sydney Missionary Bible College, Morling College, Malyon College, Ridley College, Alphacrusis College, and many others. All of these are small compared to North American standards but they are doing good work in training Gospel workers near and far. My seminary in particular works with the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Dehradun India by training some of their faculty and sending our professors to teach intensives, and I know that other seminaries are serving in other parts of the world too. So please pray that our schools will continue to uphold the inerrancy of the Word and labor in training pastors and teachers who are fit for leading Christ’s Church.
So, I could go on and on, but here are some highlights. Please ask me any questions you may have and I’d love to keep the conversation going. Do have a surf around my blog to check out more of my reflections about ministry in my unique context.
We really value your prayer support. It reminds us that we are part of God’s invisible and visible global church and it helps us put our priories in perspective.