We live in a day of open and increasing rejection of the glorious gospel of the blessed God. As we consider the nations of this world and the perilous state into which mankind has degenerated, we say with the Apostle Paul, that “The way of peace have they not known, there is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom 3:17). Many of our readers will be able to identify with conditions facing the Lord’s work in Australia and New Zealand. The ground is hard, seemingly bearing little fruit, but we are encouraged to continue sowing. In His parabolic teaching, our blessed Lord taught that whatever the conditions, we are to be liberal with the seed, leaving the results to God.
The continent of Australia is comprised of six states and two territories, circumscribed by three oceans. We fellowship mainly among the east and southeast coast assemblies, and some located within the vast interior and southwest coast. This is the present sphere of our ongoing gospel tent work, and we are thankful to see people coming to hear the gospel. We are also encouraged by those who have trusted Christ, and thrilled to see some bearing fruit. My wife Rachael and I, along with our five energetic sons, travel across this vast land in a motor home graciously provided and furnished by the Lord. In this we seek to win souls for Christ, see assembly testimony edified in accordance with Holy Scripture, while maintaining family unity and enabling homeschooling for the children.
Open-air preaching is permitted in Australia and it is a wonderful way to reach people averse to entering a hall. The response has often been hostile. On one notable occasion, after being verbally abused, the perpetrator doused me with a bucket of cold water. Some weeks later at the same location, a masked man dressed in black mimed my every gesture and manner. Yet, we do rejoice that many do stop to hear Christ preached as the Spirit enables. After one torrid session, we returned home quite despondent – only to read the Daily Word Calendar: “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Tears were shed as God imparted comfort to us in this way. Along with knocking on doors and visitation, we also freely distribute Bibles, tracts, and gospel CDs and DVDs.
Our work for the Lord also takes us to New Zealand. We were particularly encouraged this year. In Wellington, the capital city at the base of the North Island, we labored among the saints in a little assembly in Miramar. The faithfulness of the four brothers and seven sisters is a great encouragement, seen in their fervent prayer to the Lord for His preservation of the testimony. Some 3,000 gospel invitations, along with Bibles and New Testaments, were delivered to local homes, as well as on the streets. It was encouraging to speak to many regarding eternal matters. During the week, we conducted open-air meetings in the city streets and in the assembly car park each Lord’s day afternoon. Many heard the gospel as they passed by, on their way to the local cinema and shops. Praise the Lord! We also valued the opportunity for gospel meetings within the Indian community. Most were “nominal” Christians, so it was a good opportunity to reach them with the gospel. A number of denominational believers attended ministry meetings in the local assembly. One was moved to make it her spiritual home and was joyfully received into fellowship. A similar experience was had with the saints in the assembly at Timaru, with two men since being received into fellowship there. We long for others to see the simplicity and purity of being gathered alone to the Lord’s Name. In Dunedin (Mornington Gospel Hall), we helped in the university orientation of students, giving away some 2,800 gospel packs and 197 Bibles over five days. Many conversations were had with students regarding the way of salvation. We also enjoyed a series of gospel meetings in the hall and were encouraged to see people attend. The three midyear conferences in Palmerston North, Wellington, and Dunedin were edifying and encouraging; the believers maintain faithful testimony.
Beloved saints, as we await the shout that shall summon us to the very presence of our Lord, we have a vital work with which to be occupied: the spread of the gospel of Christ. The Prophet Isaiah (52:7) calls to our attention this privileged work: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation.”
The Mountains: Nahum includes the word “Behold” (1:15). As we look upward to the mountains, we learn that the spread of the gospel is a high and lofty occupation; the Son of God descended from heaven itself to meet our ruined need on earth.
The Messenger: In the feet we see the humility of the one involved in this work, the lowest part of his being is drawn attention to; the focus is upon the message rather than the messenger. In the feet we see also the stability and activity of the messenger.
The Message: We have here the sublime uniqueness of the gospel; it is like no other message on earth, heralding a risen Savior! Paul in his quotation (Rom 10:15) reminds us of God-given ability; it is to be sent of God to “preach.”
Though over 2,000 years old, the gospel is as fresh today as it ever was. To those understanding their need as perishing sinners it is favorable; it is full of goodness in every sense, and able to deliver the redeemed into the dwelling of God forever.
There is an effectual and open door here for gospel outreach and assembly ministry. Within the New Zealand assemblies with which we have fellowship, there is no known commended full-time worker. We have been immensely encouraged in Australia with the recent commendation of Steve and Coralie Chapman (Nth QLD), and Willians and Kylie Alcala (Brisbane); but we say to those exercised and called of God,”come over and help us.”