AMT exists to enable churches to do the job that Jesus has given us to do: making disciples from every tribe, tongue and nation to worship our risen Lord around His throne eternally. We seek to facilitate, motivate and educate to this end. A small number of staff and numerous volunteers serve our missionaries, missionaries-to-be and returned missionaries. AMT is governed by a Board that is spread across the country. The Board normally ‘meet’ via teleconference — it’s very inexpensive!
Once a year however, the staff, the Board and representatives from the Missionary Advisory Councils (MACs) from each state come together for a weekend of planning, strategizing and fellowship, together with missionaries who are nearby at the time. The group is known as the National Advisory Council (NAC) as the combined group gives guidance to the Board. It is always a great time of encouragement to spend time face-to-face with others whose heart’s desire is to see God’s kingdom grow around the world for His glory. From 25-27 May 2018 we met at the CYC Camp at Burleigh Heads.
At NAC, there is always the ‘business’ side. Each state MAC, and Gordon Cowell on behalf of the Board, reported on their activities for the past year. We spent some time considering the opportunities that Encounter (encounterstm.com) and other short term missions provide, and how they could be improved. We thought through the ‘commendation process’. The AGM was held. But what really prodded, challenged and enthused us was some great teaching from Don Fleming on ‘Catching the Fire’ — learning from churches in the developing world.
Don exposed a number of blockages in our western culture that prevent us from being the radical disciples of Jesus that he has called us to be. Convenience topped the list (crossing cultures with the gospel is usually more than a tad inconvenient). We don’t pray like Christians in the majority world often do, because we are not forced to depend on God the way that they have to. Our Western view of the world can persuade us to believe that God has a vested interest in us, but this displays a lack of understanding of the Bible. We expect a pain-free life — daily life for most of us is so easy and enjoyable that we have no need to walk by faith and we mistake western sophistication for spiritual maturity. We give from our excess, and not generously, although we are some of the wealthiest human beings on the planet. Severely declining hospitality (those of us in the city could learn even from our country brothers and sisters in this regard) and our desire for personal advancement (and the advancement of our children, if we are parents) relegates any desire to seek God’s kingdom into a vastly less significant position. Our perspective on time and our constant busyness further diminishes the priority we give to God’s kingdom and, instead of hungering for the Word of God, we hunger for the things of this world.
In short, the church in the west is in crisis, but we can learn from the church in the majority world (with whom Don has many, many connections), as well as those we read about in the New Testament. It’s imperative that all of us — individuals and churches — take up the challenge to be the change our world needs so that He might become greater and we might become less. May the Holy Spirit enable us to repent so that Jesus does not vomit us out as vile and disgusting, as He threatened to the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-22). The full text of Don’s messages to us is free to download at www.bridgeway.org.au (under Book Titles).
On Sunday morning, David Smith, an elder from Duncraig Christian Community Church, Principal of Perth Bible College and the current chairman of Christian Community Churches of Australia used Jesus’ words in Luke 12:35-37 to challenge us to think through what the Australian church could be if we allowed God to transform us. Are we ‘dressed and ready to serve’? What are we doing this year so that we are better prepared to serve Jesus next year, and ultimately so we can finish well?
Sharing an African proverb ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’, David reminded us that we are never called to be solo Christians, but to be a community of God’s people, who show that we are Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another. Since we are stronger when we work together, our churches need to be interdependent (while maintaining local autonomy) if we are to accomplish the job that Jesus has left us to do.
We don’t write this as doctors who are able to heal the church in Australia of its ills; rather we are fellow-patients, recognising that we too need the clothing and eye salve that only Jesus can provide.
By Juliette & Wendy