Just as September 11 brought huge changes to America and the world, so the Bali bombing has brought big changes to Australia. Prior to this, Australia had a sense of remoteness and a false sense of security. Now, however, there seems to be more of an awareness of just how vulnerable we are. With 140 million Indonesians on our doorstep to the north, and other predominately Moslem countries in the Pacific region, we are within easy striking distance with the modern weaponry availble to countries sympathetic to terrorism. Australia has aligned itself closely with the United States, upon whom we are very dependent for assistance should we come under attack. This of course makes us a target – so we are being continually reminded by the authorities of the need to be vigilant. This is not something new to us personally, having lived for some years with the threat of the IRA in Northern Ireland. We are thankful for a good measure of stable government, and our present Prime Minister has been very courageous, always acting for the good of the country in spite of adverse publicity by the news media.
We believe that God has been speaking in Australia in 2002. We suffered the worst drought in over 100 years and there also have been some horrific fires which at times were completely out of control. In one part of the country, an area much larger than Ireland was totally destroyed.
In this multicultural, affluent society, there are vast differences in the attitudes of the people. Quite a percentage of the population are pleasure fanatics. For others, their consuming interest is the accumulation of material possessions, while others are steeped in sin and wickedness. The Gay movement is gaining influence in high places and spiritism is on the increase; so we are seeing last day conditions before our very eyes.
In the midst of such conditions we are thankful for an open door to proclaim the gospel. One of the difficulties we face in a climate which is so conducive to outdoor living and outdoor activities, is to get people to come into the hall to hear the message. In many places those present for the evening gospel meeting are only those who were breaking bread in the morning. Some of my brethren have had short series of gospel meetings, but in most cases have found it difficult to get people to attend nightly. Our exercise has been to go out with the gospel and preach in the open-air. We have knocked on doors in many towns and villages and have been encouraged by the response. We also mail gospel literature. In 2002, some 353,000 homes have been covered. Permission has been obtained recently to extend the display of the Word of God on billboards on the main highways, so that many hundreds of thousands read the scriptures daily. We are also thankful for a number of brethren who visit the agricultural shows with gospel texts and tracts.
The open-air meetings on the Gold Coast over the holiday period were very encouraging with many listening to the Word of God, and most accepting the calendars and tracts. We were so pleased to have had the support of the brethren and sisters locally, as well as some brethren from Brisbane and Chinchilla. From these different avenues we are thankful for an encouraging response. Seeking souls have contacted us by phone and letter, some requesting additional literature, and others inviting us to visit them in their homes. Often we feel, as the Apostle Paul expressed, “Who is sufficient for these things?” “The harvest is great but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth laborers.”
We do thank God that in the midst of much weakness and reducing numbers there are godly brethren and sisters who are seeking to maintain scriptural assembly testimony. Some of these companies are very isolated and we count it a joy to visit such and share with them, as the Lord enables. We can rejoice that in the past twelve months a number have been saved, baptized, and added to the believers, some of whom are remarkable trophies of grace. In recent times baptismal tanks have been opened after many years.
For health reasons, we have found it necessary to reduce the pace recently, and yet we feel we should be redoubling our efforts with the Lord’s coming so very near. We ask for your prayers for the Lord’s enabling as we continue to sow the good seed of the Word of God, that souls may be saved and assembly testimony strengthened for the glory of God. Please pray that God will thrust forth laborers into such a needy field.