AFES

Next year (part 2)

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we’re excited about our (potential) job for next year – starting a new church at South Bank (in Brisbane’s CBD) with Creek Road. And that is a big part of what we’re excited about for next year.

Check out this video about what’s happening at Creek Road.

But Robyn and I are also excited about something bigger than what’s happening at Creek Road.

Something that’s happening in Brisbane.

Something amazing.

Our friends the Cowlings are coming to Brisbane to work for AFES. Izaac and I grew up together in Maclean – on the New South Wales North Coast. It’s such a thrill for me that several of my friends from Maclean love Jesus. It’s a bigger thrill that Izaac and Sarah are coming north to share that love for Jesus with others – at Griffith University.

Griffith is a uni of 42,000 students. Almost a quarter of them are overseas students. It’s a huge mission field. Spread across multiple campuses. We’re excited about the idea of Izaac and Sarah joining up with AFES. We’re excited about more workers joining the harvest in Queensland. We’re very much looking forward to our kids growing up with their kids. In the providence of God our daughters and sons are the same age.

If you know Izaac and Sarah – you should stop reading now – and head over to their support page at AFES, and figure out how you can help them out.

If you don’t. Then here’s my pitch for you to support Izaac and Sarah.

I don’t normally include what is called, in marketing terms, a “call to action” in my blog posts. I especially don’t try to leverage my blogging into anything like a financial benefit for myself (unless you somehow manage to find an affiliate link for an amazon book I’ve reviewed in the past – but I can confirm that I have made less than $20 from that in a few years).

I’m not on about money.

But if you enjoy St. Eutychus, or if you don’t, but you love the idea of supporting some people who want to see uni students in Brisbane getting a chance to hear about Jesus, then can I ask you to consider throwing some cash to Izaac and Sarah? Can I urge you to pray for them as they make the move, with their young family, to Brisbane?

If you’re in Queensland, and you would consider supporting these guys, but feel like you need to learn more about them – come and have a coffee with me. I’ll make it. And we can talk. Shoot me an email. Tweet me. Text me. Let’s make this happen.

Support Izaac and Sarah using this link.

Evangelism and relationships

We’re doing Introducing God at church this term. We just did week seven tonight. We’ve got an odd mix of people where probably 75% of the regulars are Christians who are hoping their irregular non-Christian friends will turn up, or are just there in lieu of small groups.

I’ve been sitting with a couple of guys – one of whom is a new Christian from a very non-Christian background (the guy I’m cooking with), the other is his housemate who has grown up in a staunchly Christian home who is not a Christian. Tonight was good. We’re at the stage where a relationship exists and some pressure can be comfortably exerted.

Having a relationship with someone is pretty important if you’re going to understand where they’re coming from in order to offer an alternative or a critique on their life.

Mikey Lynch is an AFES worker in Tassie who has handed out tasks to his student leaders to make sure they have relationships with non-Christians. These relationships are important. And his challenges look fun.

The challenges are things like:

  • Catch up with an old school friend,
  • Be chatty to everyone you interact with,
  • Catch public transport and chat to the people you sit next to,
  • Go to the pub and talk to people at the bar,
  • Piggy back on someone else’ hobby.

Izaac needs your help

Izaac works for AFES at Cumberland College. They have been putting up posters. The atheists have responded with some wit. Izaac is preparing for a tit-for-tat battle of the poster. So he’s looking for some witty responses in order to start discussions.

Here are the slogans;

1. INFINITE BEING IS AN OXYMORON
2. WE’RE A NON-PROPHET ORGANISATION
3. BLASPHEMY IS A VICTIMLESS CRIME
4. IF GOD CREATED THE UNIVERSE THEN WHO CREATED GOD?
5. WE JUST BELIEVE IN ONE LESS GOD THAN YOU

#00AF33 is the new #000000

For that title to make any sense at all you’d need to google the hexadecimal codes. Go on. Do it. You know you want to…

It’s clever. And it recognises the fact that I’ve truly scraped the bottom of the barrel when it comes to writing headlines about the Green debate.

I’m still working on my WebSalt article – and thought I’d bring you – and the debate – up to speed with my progress. Our local perennial Greens candidate, Jenny Stirling, also happens to be an Anglican chaplain/minister/social worker. I sent her an email with some questions about how she sees the Green party in relation to her personal faith. Here’s a summary of her responses:

I am a Green because of my Christian spiritual values including a strong belief in social justice; respect for God’s creation and the certain knowledge that  all creation groans from our misuse of what is essentially a custodial role; the grass roots nature of our organisation which is  respectful of difference and mindful of marginalised discourses; and last but not least because it talks about peace and non-violence.

In my activism for the Greens and on Green issues (which encompass  all of people’s issues and not just the environment) I employ what I understand to be  the Jesus model of  working with people, that is; compassion; giving respect; opposing oppression; speaking truth to power; standing along side people who need support; listening; acting out of God’s strength and not my own and being mindful that it is  better to be the ‘salt than to have power’ – this quote comes from Bonhoeffer’s  “Seize The Day” which is a daily reflection on the bible from his cell in a Nazi concentration camp. I try to read it most days.

I mentioned the standard “Christian” criticisms of Green’s policy – in fact I sent her a copy of the article so far – which you can find in the comments section of this post. Here’s what she had to say about that:

I belong to the Anglican church and we do not oppose people having the right to express being gay.

I strongly suggest that the public perception is wrong in understanding that we are  soft on drugs. Our policy is in line with most organisations that deal with the link between drugs and crime, including the police. We favour decriminalisaton because it takes away the lure of  the anti-social, robs crime bosses of much of their power to corrupt and we basically want to make drug abuse a health and medical issue. I say that with full confidence because my son is a detective with the CIB and  deals with the standard approach and its failures to make any difference to the drug culture and crime. It is not working and kids lives are going down the drain because we have our heads stuck in  the  sand. Prohibition has never worked. Along with decriminalisation of drug use we support harm minimisation programmes and would continue to throw the book at hard drug dealers.

As for abortion, I am against it personally.  That said I cannot justify putting my values over someone else’s. There will always be women who are abused, raped  and abandoned in pregnancy. I cannot force them to have a child they do not want or leave them to back yard abortionists. I do not see abortion as an acceptable form of  contraception and would vote against that and late term terminations.

I am really impressed with two things – her willingness to speak and act for her convictions and the fact that she took the time to answer my questions (which went over a few different emails).

I don’t however agree with her on some points of theology – or at least the emphasis. But I’m sure some of you – my valued readers and commenters – do. So let me know what you think the most important things she had to say were and what you agree/disagree with. I’m also thinking that I should read some Bonhoeffer.

Salt: of the earth

I’m writing an article for WebSALT – the online edition of the AFES magazine. The next edition is all about the environment.

My topic: “How should Christians relate to the green party in the political sphere?”

It’s a good question – and I’ve shared my own thoughts on the Greens – or at the very least the environmental lobby here in the past.

In the interest of objectivity – I’d be interested in hearing the thoughts of some others.

If your thoughts are good enough I may even include a quote in the piece.

If they’re not they’ll no doubt shape the final product anyway.

Nothing Eggsiting

Haha… A pun, and an Easter pun no less – what a way to start this week’s post. I just had my first Easter Long weekend away from my family (unless you count the time I went on Easter camp, which I’m not – I was within 150km and I still got eggs). I guess my hope for chocolates to be posted was unfounded – unless they’re still in the mail. What sort of parents let their children go an Easter without eggs. My parents, that’s who. The kind of parents who spend Easter on holidays on the Sunshine Coast.

My Easter long weekend was good – in a productive kind of way. I achieved something major on each day – as well as doing the church thing on Friday and Sunday. On Friday I installed a new car CD/MP3 player in my car – albeit with the help of a qualified electrical engineer – I got him to help just in case I blew up the unit which would have been a waste of money. On Saturday I went to a breakfast de-brief session for the Da Vinci Code mission team at AFES staff worker Dave Walker’s house. I spent most of the day entertaining the Walker children and putting up a post for the Walker’s new deck area. Chris, if you’re reading this – Dave says I remind him of you – or something like that. I’m worried that he thinks we have a similar sense of humour. On Sunday I confronted all my fears and led the singing in church – something I haven’t done since my voice broke (except this one time for a Qut Christians service). I’ve decided I’d rather MC, preach or do stand up comedy – anything up the front is less intimidating than songleading – I had about 20 minutes to practice 4 songs. I think the difference between singing and other stuff up the front is that you only really get one bite of the cherry. When I MC I’m happy to make mistakes and then redo them – there’s just no scope for that in the middle of a song – you can’t resing a line. So that was Sunday. Yesterday I did my laundry and played indoor soccer – one of those was a very painful process. I’m in so much pain today. I’m walking around the office like a robot. In my defence we did play two games (we lost both of them after winning 14-1 last week we’re just trying to make it hard for the competition organisers to grade us).

So there you have it – nothing exciting as promised in the title. I bought a copy of the new Augie March CD yesterday. I can highly recommend it. It’s on high rotation in my car – unfortunately this means I’m driving slow, mum says the speed I drive at is modulated by the pace of the music I’m listening to.

To all the netball commenters (or commentators) out there – go get your own blog. GOSH.

Just Ace

So… who took my Motor Ace CDs? I remember lending them to someone but I can’t remember who. I figure this is as good a forum as any for chasing down lost property. Feel free to post anything you’re missing in the comments page. Material possessions only please, not personality traits, Matt I’m afraid they won’t be able to find your charisma anywhere. That joke could have been directed at anyone. Hopefully Matt can take it… and he did suggest I should start hugging echidnas.

There’s not really much news here at the moment. It’s been quiet at work for the last couple of days, I can now catch up on my employee induction procedures and do all the background reading on our major projects.

I’m going garage sale shopping tomorrow. Last time I was up here I did a little bit of treasure hunting with Tim and Katrina (new AFES staffworkers up here). Katrina was horrified when I made snide comments about some terrible stuff that was being sold. Tomorrow she has a girl’s breakfast so it will just be Tim and me. I plan to be noisily critical of anything tacky being sold. I will try to get photos of the most offensive items with my phone. I may even buy the worst bit of glassware and offer it as a prize in some blog related contest. That’ll get the hits up. Hopefully one day my blog will be more popular than google. There are two ways I can see this happening – Google may experience a sharp downturn in popularity as a result of revelations about the sweatshop like conditions they have set up for employees in third world countries. Or I could experience a sharp upturn in popularity, achieving global fame and use the blog as my method of maintaining my connection with you ordinary, common, everyday folk. Neither of these are likely to happen. Even with the incentive of kitchy 70s crockery.

Wednesday, Bloody Wednesday

Apologies firstly for the use of vernacular in the title. It would seem though that as a result of Tourism Australia’s “where the bloody hell are you” campaign the word bloody is now an acceptable, but slightly cheeky, piece of Australiana. Actually I should really be apologising for a reference to a U2 song. I guess it’s a song from before they were middle aged political activists trying to be cool while writing inoffensive, sugar sweet pop music that you could play your gran (hi gran if you’re reading this again). How cool is my gran – she posted a comment on a blog. I bet your gran doesn’t do stuff like that.

This is my first blog post on a Wednesday. Wednesday’s have traditionally been lambasted as terrible office days – the furthest point from a weekend. In fact right now, in the middle of the day, must be the absolute middle of the week. How significant. Today I didn’t want to get out of bed. It was drizzly, my airconditioning and quilt were combining to keep me at optimal sleeping temperature and my alarm clock was just a distant buzzing problem which could be solved by a quick press of the snooze button. Or several quick presses of the snooze button. Luckily after 22 years I know myself pretty well so I set my alarm to go off much earlier than it has to.

The post cyclone activity cycle is on the down hill run now. We had Fran Bailey, the Minister for Small Business and Tourism come through town yesterday. She addressed a power lunch/forum on the issues in her portfolio post cyclone. I got to go. My free meal count for the week is up to 4. It could have been 5 but I blew off a church dinner arrangement last night to do important other things (nothing really, well a phone call or two and a DVD – I bought Run Lola Run from the local Video Ezy for $10 – a bargain at twice the price, unfortunately it was a badly dubbed version rather than the subtitled version… but I digress. End Brackets.). So far I’ve had sausages, bacon, eggs and croissants for breakfast at an animal park, crab, chicken and prawns at a resort, a roast at the church’s youth minister’s house, and Atlantic Salmon followed by a cheese/fruit platter at the casino. I capitalised Atlantic Salmon because that’s the way it should be served, as a proper noun.

Free food aside, it was interesting hearing from the Hon Fran Bailey MP. She spoke about baby boomers hogging all the good jobs in traditional big business. This has apparently forced the youth of today into more entrepreneurial roles. Big business now outsource a whole lot of niche things like training and stuff. So I quit my job and started a company. Well I didn’t. But if anyone has any good niche ideas that come with free food…

The dinner at the youth minister, Dave Hopper’s house was good. We’re/we were discussing the direction to take young adult stuff at the church in. There’s a bunch of uni student types who are so heavily involved in AFES stuff they’re not doing anything at church and there’s a shortage of people involved in leadership roles for teenage and children’s stuff. Which brings me to my favourite topic at the moment – the relationship between church stuff and parachurch stuff. I think one day I’m going to write a book on the whole church vs uni ministry conflict. It’s bizarre that it even operates as a conflict – surely as part of the one kingdom or wider church there should be a more synergetic or symbiotic relationship between the two groups. Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out. Both the AFES staff workers up here go to Willows so there’s this occasionally tense undercurrent somewhere in the background (which I assume is where most undercurrents operate.)

So there’s a rambling update free of fake news (not that my stories about breaking an artwork and killing a national icon were fake it’s just that as Matt so rightly pointed out in his comments, or at least the sentiment in those comments pointed out – they weren’t really news. Actually I’m not sure his comments were pointing that out at all – I just wanted to put his name in the main bit to encourage further comments so did it in a way that vaguely supported my original point. I’ve been spending too much time with politicians.)

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