A report of the Lords work in the land of Australia.
The year 2000 began with great celebrations right across Australia, especially on the East coast, where the population was among the first in the world to view the sunrise of a new millennium. The city of Sydney sought to outdo the rest of the world in its display of fireworks. As the bells tolled heralding a new year and a new millennium, there were twenty-six minutes of spectacular color, followed by the word “Eternity,” illuminated on the Sydney Harbor Bridge for one million local people to see. It is estimated that at least another billion people across the world viewed this on television. The reality of Eternity so gripped Arthur Stace, that day after day he went out to write this word, in copperplate writing, on the streets of Sydney. During his lifetime, it is estimated that he wrote it over five hundred thousand times. He was named the man of the Century and for those who wish to know the full story, we will be happy to forward a gospel tract giving the details.
We discovered that while the nation was celebrating, there was an air of uncertainty, and a measure of the fear of God gripped the people. There seemed to be an ear for the gospel. This was particularly evident at our annual open-air meetings over the New Year holiday season at Burleigh Heads, Gold coast, where many people heard the gospel. The interest was exceptional with many coming forward to receive the gospel literature, Bibles, and Scripture texts which we were distributing.
As the weeks and months slipped past and none of the false predictions of the end of the world came to pass, the people seemed to settle down and the general spirit of apathy which so often characterizes Australians, was again evident.
We are thankful that a few brethren had some short gospel series in different areas during the year and many local brethren were engaged in distributing framed Seed Sower texts, tracts, and Bibles at different agricultural shows throughout the country.
Olive and I continue to post out gospel literature to remote areas where there are no assemblies, and this year we have covered approximately three hundred thousand homes. The level of acceptance of gospel literature was very encouraging when we shared with the brethren in Sydney during the period of the Olympic games. Many thousands of people from all over Australia and, indeed, all over the world, received Gospel tracts.
We are thankful for the liberties we enjoy in this land to proclaim the gospel so freely. Australia would like to portray itself as an open, fair, democratic society where there is complete freedom of speech, and so we have the opportunity to preach the gospel in the open-air right across the continent. The people generally are pleasure-loving and, in many cases, sports fanatics. This was evident at the recent Olympic games. It has been our privilege, however, to bring the good news of the gospel to all classes of society, sometimes working amongst the Aborigines who represent less than 2% of the present population of 19 million. We have also worked amongst the down-and-outs, drug addicts, and alcoholics, many of whom live very loose lives.
On the other side of the scale, we have had the opportunity to bring the gospel to those who have been very successful so far as this world is concerned, amongst whom we found professed atheists and agnostics. While there is a general spirit of apathy, we are thankful for the many searching souls whom we have met, and rejoice that some have found the Savior. Our days are very full bringing the good Word of God to saint and sinner, not only in preaching but also in correspondence.
While we enjoy complete liberty for the gospel, there is also increased activity by the cults and Eastern religions, with Jehovahs Witness halls and Moslem Mosques springing up in different parts of the country. One alarming feature of recent months is the increase of Satan worship and demon possession. The Queensland government has decriminalized witchcraft. On one occasion this year, we witnessed a young woman being physically abused by the spirits. In such a situation, we realize our complete dependence upon God for His help, but how good to prove in such circumstances that the gospel is still, “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.”
While we thank God for a few who have been saved, baptized, and added to the testimony, sadly we have to report a decline in numbers in assembly testimony in many areas and many assemblies consisting only of an older generation. We would value your prayers that God will raise up young men with a love for souls, a heart for the gospel, and a deep conviction in relation to the truth of God to meet the challenge of these last day conditions.