Put Your Head Down and Labour

Put Your Head Down and Labour

By Tami Brown and June Sparks, first published in Compass Winter issue 2022

Theresa Suan has had an incredibly fruitful ministry at Macquarie University ISM. She shared with us recently how it has changed over time, giving us a glimpse into the journey the Lord has taken her on.

There were times when Theresa felt alone, struggling without a helper or staff working alongside her. There were moments she felt hopeless and helpless. (more…)

Next Door to Everywhere … in Brisbane!

By Luke Midena, National Leadership Team

The National Leadership Team met with the National Council on the first weekend of April to hear from God’s Word, pray, study Job, and plan and discuss this year’s priorities. Luke gives us a glimpse into what’s happening in one of our communities Brisbane (and Queensland, for that matter) usually “flies under the radar” and we don’t often hear about what’s going on up there. But, the Lord continues to work in people’s hearts, whether we see it or not. He is prompting established and new generations to reach out in cities, universities, churches, local communities, all the way up to remote regional areas. (more…)

Community-based Evangelism

By Fran Johnson, Melbourne Labouring Community, first published in Compass, Summer 2021

What if we prayed for 21 days for our city?

What if twenty or so Navigators focused prayer for 21 days on their city? Do you think it would have an impact for theadvance of the Gospel?

Wanting to seek the welfare of our city and to pray with insight, the Melbourne Navigators did some research and then, beginning with God’s attributes, each day for three weeks prayed through the Council Areas of Melbourne. This was an aspect of working together to intercede based on God’s promises and values, while appealing to God for mercy and grace for sins and varied needs of our suburbs. By faith we believe this time was a bit of ‘plowing hard ground’ more broadly while taking steps to sow locally amongst our neighbourhoods.

This was but one aspect of the prayer we have going on in support of community evangelism. Weekly, a women’s Nav team gathers for prayer. Sometimes it is  only two of us, but usually five of us show up to share prayer requests and go before the Father. We pray for what is personally on our hearts and without fail, one – but usually more of us – request prayer for the people we are reaching out to within our neighbourhoods.

Personally, Mike and I have been reaching out to the couples in our neighbourhood while praying for more labourers. John and Sue are one of these couples. During a conversation over afternoon tea, we chatted about our spiritual journeys and John mentioned that he was an Alpha dropout and Sue said she’d like to go with us to church sometime. We anticipated follow-up conversations, but then the first lockdown occurred. This hindered momentum a bit, but as soon as the lockdown lifted, I asked Sue if she would like to go to lunch to catch up. We enjoyed a wonderful time together and she began to tell me about David, their neighbour over the back fence, who had been having spiritual conversations with John.

David lives on a different street from us, and we had never met this fellow labourer. The over-the-fence conversations he was having with John led to John agreeing to do his second Alpha course. John then, knowing that Mike and David were both men of faith, decided to introduce them and go for breakfast together. Mike came back from that breakfast rejoicing that David and his wife are also actively reaching out to their neighbours. We are beginning to sense that God is answering our prayers for our suburb, for labourers and for the gospel’s impact. God is working to advance His gospel. God is answering our prayers for our neighbourhood and, we believe, for our city. We are excited to be a part of a Nav community that takes prayer seriously as we team together to be a part of what God is doing.

Will you pray with us, too? Will you pray that God will soften the hearts of all our neighbourhoods here in Melbourne as we take steps to befriend those around us for the sake of bringing Jesus to them? Also, you could add the prayer that Paul asked the Ephesians to pray, “And pray on my behalf that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.” Eph.6:19

Sharing Hope in Community

By Julie McIntosh, first printed in Compass, Summer 2021

Cancelled. Postponed. Online. In contrast to the event-oriented lifestyle many of us were previously accustomed to, these words seem to characterise our current schedules. Today, perhaps more than ever, we are faced with the truth that we cannot expect evangelism tosolely exist within well-curated public events or eloquent sermon series. As our calendars continue in this state of “tentative” and many of our states endure lockdown, people all around us continue tocrave community and fellowship and unknowingly need the gospel as much as ever before.

As 2020 began, the Macquarie Navs community was buzzing with a heart to proclaim Jesus. We planned pub nights, prepared for walk-up and had a core of students ready to engage. In the third week of semester, university campuses closed as Australia faced the realities of COVID. Although we celebrated the opportunities students had to intentionally invest in those closest to them, we eagerly anticipated the reopening of university and, with it, the opportunity to engage with the broader campus.

As I write during extended lockdowns in Sydney, our community seems paradoxical. Some are facing stressful workplaces with high exposure risk, others are facing deafening loneliness or chaotic family life amidst remote learning. Repeatedly, we hear of a desire for authentic connection and fellowship beyond Zoom.

In this season, the biblical description of believers as aliens and strangers is profound. As friends fear the “new normal”, riding the relational and  psychological rollercoasters of lockdowns, I am struck by the stark contrast between our realities. A student recently shared how her unbelieving friend summed up his reality; he questioned if he had anything left when university, the gym and travel were not accessible. We experience these similar struggles, but our reality cannot be defined by this hopelessness.

We have hope that is living and grounded … to share with the multitudes living without it. 

We have HOPE that is living and grounded. Our hope exists outside of cognitive understanding, reaching beyond our daily circumstances. Our hope is the reality of the Spirit’s work in and through us in all seasons. Our hope is the glory of our eternal inheritance. What a treasure this hope is, not just to hold, but to share with the multitudes living without it.1

As he exhorted the early church to revere Christ as Lord, the apostle Peter tells them to: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Pet 3:15-16). Similarly, Paul asks the Colossians to pray for gospel proclamation, before exhorting them to be wise in how they act towards those outside the church, letting their “conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that [they] may know how to answer everyone.” (Col 4:2-6)

It is tempting to read these passages with a caveat of receiving explicit questions. But these exhortations were not written to provide an excuse to avoid evangelism.2 We, as Christ’s ambassadors, are to be present in the world that we are representing him to. We are to prayerfully respond to both explicit questions and to the realities our communities face with our gospel hope. It is at this point that our wholehearted presence within our communities is imperative.

I think this speaks to two aspects of evangelism through community fellowship. The first is our active presence within the communities of our friends and family who don’t know Jesus; authentically listening, deeply knowing, and truly serving them. This is when our ears are pricked by the intersection of their hearts and the gospel. One of the ways we have attempted to do this at university has been moving our community gatherings from a comfortable, private space to the chaos of the university terrace. This provides challenges but has made us visible and present in a comfortable space for students. As you consider your friends who don’t know Jesus, how can you be present in their communities and contexts, exchanging your comfort for theirs?

We also need to be authentically vulnerable. Do our friends hear our gospel hope communicated in how we respond to joys and challenges? Are our gospel communities and relationships accessible to our friends who do not know Jesus? If we desire our friends and family to hear and trust the reason for our hope, they need to see that hope at work in our daily thoughts, decisions, and behaviours.

As Navigators, we heed the call to live and disciple amongst the lost. It is my prayer that we may see the opportunities the Lord has given us to share his gospel authentically as we fellowship with both those who know the Lord and those who don’t. I pray that we may have discernment to hear the questions our communities are asking, to be present and accessible, and to respond authentically, declaring the true, living hope we have in Christ with gentleness and grace.

[1] McKnight, S., The NIV Application Commentary; 1 Peter, 211-217.
[2] Dickson, J., Promoting the Gospel, 133-135.

Stories of “New” Life in 2020

The Lord continues to do great things in people’s lives. Neither a pandemic, strict lockdowns, fires or other catastrophes have stopped our labourers from labouring in various circumstances despite the variables that were thrown at us this year.

Precious young students in Melbourne and Sydney meeting and giving their lives to Christ. Military trainees in Canberra being introduced to Jesus for the first time. Individuals and (more…)

The Dynamic of Reproduction

By Ram Marrero, first published in The Discipler, Issue 21, Winter 2020, used with permission.

The strategy is generations of disciples reproducing generations of reproducing disciple-makers.

I can remember meeting [with] Jono early in the morning on Coolum Beach. He would bring his surfboard and a Bible; I would bring my lawn chair and my Bible. We would have a quiet time and I would share with him on the subject of discipleship. (more…)

Your Questions Answered! – by Tiew Tuan and Rose

An Australian Navigators Interview, first published in Compass Winter edition 2020

Tiew Tuan and Rose Lau are Perth labourers who consider their office and neighbourhood as their mission fields. We interviewed them to find out how they create community in their local area in order to bring Gospel conversations into their daily interactions.

How do you intentionally engage with people around you?

Rose: Tiew Tuan has lunch with his colleagues during lunch hour. I take the initiative to approach [people in my neighbourhood] and spend time with them. When a young Indian family moved right next to us, I baked an apple pie and brought it over to welcome them. There is also a lady a few doors away. She is a chef. We visit each other often, with our conversation centred around food.

How do you bring the Gospel into these interactions, and how do you create a community among the Christians and pre-believers?

Tiew Tuan: In my office lunch group, there are some Christians as well as pre-believers. An Indonesian colleague, Rudy, asked a lot of questions about God. So I invited him to do a Bible Study with 2 other colleagues. Rudy accepted Christ and has since been inviting other colleagues to do the (EBS) study. We have now been through 3 rounds of EBS during our lunch hour with different people!

Rose: With a passion for parents with young children, I have a Mothers’ Group that supports young mothers and we learn about parenting using Christian books. There are both Christians and pre-believers in the group. I invite the pre-believers to do EBS separately outside the Mothers’ Group.

Apart from these, we also have potluck dinners, go on holidays or camping with their families. We try to integrate our groups together.

God-talk, the Gospel and the Pub

By Luke Midena, first published in Compass Winter edition 2020

Friday afternoons at the ANU campus are a highlight of every week – I get to meet with a group of believing and unbelieving students at a pub, to  discuss life’s big questions around meaning, suffering, belief, freedom and morality. (more…)

Community Evangelism

By Grant Dibden, first published in Compass, Autumn 2020

In our last Compass we talked about being a sent people (John 17:18; 20:21). And the question is, how do we live out that identity? (more…)

Small Initiatives

By June Sparks, first published in Compass Winter edition 2020

At the Neighbours to Nations Conference, I was reminded once again and encouraged to continue taking small step-by-step initiatives in the lives of those around me in the process of pointing them to Jesus.

Jesus said the greatest command is to love God with heart, soul and mind, and the second is to love your neighbour as yourself. Attending, paying attention, listening, noticing, seeing are the first steps in influencing the people around you toward Christ. Jesus had compassion on the crowd, he saw them as lost, like sheep.

Prayerful seeing and hearing leads to connecting. Our encounters move from knowing by sight into acquaintance and a deepening relationship. Prayerful encounters (being with/among the lost at life events, weddings, funerals; socially – just getting together for coffee, dinner; in crises – over time, friendships develop and trust is built) can become mutual and intentional friendships.

Prayerfully taking small initiatives leads to further insight and Spirit-led seeing and seizing of opportunities: seeing obstacles to faith that need to be removed; seeing truths that need to be shared; seeing practical help to be applied.

All of it – under God – becomes God-stories within the big picture of His redemption story. Some may be stories of sowing, others of cultivating, others of reaping and seeing generations spring up. In a world where distrust and suspicion are on the rise, small random as well as planned consistent initiatives have a big impact.

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