TURNING THE LIGHTS BACK ON IN A SMALL COUNTRY TOWN
Comment by Editor: This is just one of the exciting stories beginning to emerge from our Watchmen Schools of Intercession as now almost 4,500 people have been trained by the Australian Prayer Network in how to pray for their community and nation. As they are putting the teaching into practice this is the kind of results beginning to emerge.
This is the story of God bringing together resources from across the Nation in response to three faithful prayers in a small Western Australian country town. The town of Woodanilling, population of the town and surrounding farms of 450, is situated in the middle of the sheep/wheat belt of the Great Southern Region of WA. The town contains a Post Office/General Store, A CWA Hall, a Men’s Shed, a small Primary School, a Pub, a Park, a Recreation Complex and golf course, Council Office/Library and a closed Baptist Church. The Church was closed about 20 years ago but the Shire Council has maintained the building as a matter of community appearances. Two of the residents of the town had progressed through the Australian Prayer Network’s (APN) Watchman School of Intercession (WSOI) to the Intermediate level by 2014.
As a result of the teaching at these schools they began to gather together with another believer to start praying consistently for their community. They started prayer walking the town and making a note of interesting or unusual historical events or sites. They asked the Lord to provide a way for the Church to become the spiritual centre of town again. In June 2015 these believers invited two APN Field Directors to their town for two days as a follow on from a DVD WSOI they had organised and run in the town and spend time with them praying around the community. As part of that time they spent time praying inside the old Baptist Church. The locals were encouraged to continue to meet in the old Church and pray that the Lord would provide a way for the Church to become the Spiritual Centre of Town again.
They faithfully continued to pray, worship and confess the sin of their community each week. This group who are part of a fellowship in nearby Wagin met to pray with the pastors there about the possibility of the Wagin fellowship starting regular services in the Woodanilling Church. Having heard a clear no or not yet from God they left it in God’s hands again. Meanwhile, independently and at the same time as all this was happening, the Missions Coordinator of a Fount of Life Ministries International (FOLMI) in Perth was walking down the street of his local suburb to get a paper when the Lord spoke to him saying “to find a church without people”. He wrestled with this, it seemed absurd ‘a church without people!!’ So he sent an email out to his contacts to pray into this unusual request from the Lord.
The email lands in the inbox of a retired Ministry couple in Bunbury. They have a backslidden daughter in a small country town that has a Church without any people in it. They reply to the email “Try Woodanilling”. Sensing this as the Lord’s direction, the Missions Coordinator from FOLMI contacts the Shire Office of Woodanilling to enquire about the possibility of using the old Baptist Church to conduct a worship service. Arrangements were made with FOLMI to conduct a worship service in the old Woodanilling Baptist Church every month for a trial period of six months starting in September 2015. The local believers soon learnt of the arrangements as the Deputy Shire President is the husband of one of the three prayers .They made contact with FOLMI to share and hear each other’s heart for the town.
So now each month FOLMI come down from Perth with a bus, musicians and between 8 – 12 people and stay on after the service for a fellowship lunch with the locals. Further to the story, the couple from Bunbury who replied with “Try Woodanilling” are a retired ministry couple working with Youth for Christ as Senior Servants. FOLMI placed them on the preaching roster for Woodanilling. They have been travelling across from Bunbury to each monthly service. God was beginning to speak to them about being more involved in reaching the Woodanilling community. So after they preached at the November service the locals invited them to consider moving to Woodanilling permanently. God gave them clear confirmation that this was His plan for them so they said “yes”.
The Shire Council has made a brand new unit available to them to rent at $160.00 a week. It is one of four Units the Council built with Commonwealth and State Govt. assistance for isolated communities. They picked up the keys in last month. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the two original prayers were sharing their story at a Ministers Fraternal meeting in the nearby regional town of Katanning, when a School Chaplain who was present said “you’re not going to believe this but the WA State Government has been pushing to get as many Chaplains in as many Schools as possible and I have just been appointed as the School Chaplain at your small School for one day a week starting in 2016”.
God is turning the lights back on in this small county town. At the beginning of 2015 they had no Public Worship, no resident minister, and no School Chaplain. But they did have three faithful prayers who had a heart to see the Church back as the spiritual centre of the community. As from last month they will have regular worship services, a resident ministry couple, and a School Chaplain. How amazing is God!!!
THE NATIONAL SCHOOL CURRICULUM AND THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION
Australia’s ‘Christian heritage’ will be taught for the first time in Schools across Australia, in lessons on ‘how Australia is a secular nation and a multi-faith society’. In 2006 Graham McDonald, Executive Officer of Diduno Network and a couple of his colleagues met with the then Federal Minister for Education, Ms Julie Bishop. We discussed the upcoming national school curriculum and pointed out how Christianity through various people and organisations had significantly contributed to the development and well-being of this great nation. The Minister’s response was ‘What exquisite timing! Please have your submissions to me as soon as possible.’ Within six weeks they were in her hands and subsequently we were led to believe that either all or most of these submissions were accepted.
With the change of government, Mr McDonald and two of his colleagues in 2007-8 were invited by the then Labor Government to sit on some of the advisory panels. However the national school curriculum that was later released had very little to say about our Christian heritage or our Western culture. With the return of the Coalition Government in 2013, the National School Curriculum was revisited. The then Federal Minister for Education Mr Christopher Pyne engaged the services of Mr Ken Wiltshire and Mr Kevin Donnelly. Ken Wiltshire is a professor of Public Administration at the University of Queensland Business School and Kevin Donnelly in 2008 established the Education Standards Institute in Melbourne and is also a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University.
Mr Pyne said the changes would also boost the teaching of phonics and strengthen references to Western influences in Australia’s history’. Mr Pyne said he was “absolutely delighted’’ the states and territories had backed the reforms, which have been driven by the federal and NSW governments.’ Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) chief executive Robert Randall said the new curriculum would give teachers more time to teach the basics of maths, literacy, science and history in primary school. Mr Randall said the new curriculum had a greater focus on Western civilisation. “Historically, the influence of the Christian church has been important,’’ he said. You too can have free access to these stories that tell of our Christian Heritage.
Please go to the www.diduno.info website and sign up with the many other Australian teachers, clergy, Chaplains and parents who already receive their free monthly Christian heritage story and distribute it widely to all their friends and colleagues. We would encourage churches and schools to use their social media contacts to distribute these stories far and wide. Each of us can support and encourage the teachers of the State and Federal Education Departments by having ‘family’ discussions about the studies. Parents and students alike will see how Jesus and his teachings have benefited our society. Children will be inspired by some of the great Christians of the past and encouraged to embrace a similar lifestyle.
NAURU DETENTION FOR CHILDREN UNACCEPTABLE SAY ANGLICAN CHURCH BISHOPS
Melbourne’s Anglican bishops have again urged the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Turnbull, to change the narrative on children in detention despite the High Court decision that there is no legal impediment to returning more than 250 asylum seekers to Nauru. In a published statement The Bishops claim “The fact that a legal determination has been made does not require the Government to act to return women and children to off-shore detention. No reasonable Australian wants to encourage people smugglers in any way, but it is simply morally unacceptable to leave children to languish in appalling conditions in off-shore detention centres. If the nation can agree on these two principles, surely it is not beyond us to find a solution.”
The Bishops statement went on, “The Anglican Church in Melbourne will continue to support asylum seekers and refugees with services and advocacy and spiritual help. The Church and its welfare agencies have long had considerable involvement in resettling refugees and helping them build a life in Australia. We applaud the motives of those Christian churches who intend to test the ancient common law notion of sanctuary, but our churches are not equipped to provide temporary accommodation. A better answer would be for Mr Turnbull to exercise compassion and moral principle and allow the asylum seekers to remain in Australia as the processes unfold.
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, says Anglicans along with other Christians in Sydney are concerned by the prospect of 91 asylum seeker children being returned to Nauru following the High Court ruling, a situation which he said ‘should concern every Australian’. Australia is currently detaining around 80 children, at Wickham Point, and about 70 children on Nauru. The High Court’s ruling means that dozens of asylum-seeker families, including babies born in Australia, could be deported to Nauru. Dr Davies says the Human Rights Commission Report (2014) and the contemporary testimony of paediatricians indicate that the overwhelming majority of children suffer considerable trauma during detention. “There is no safe level of exposure when it concerns children in detention” Dr Davies said.
Dr Davies said he was mindful of the difficult decisions that the Immigration Department, under various governments, has had to make. “It is my sincere hope that the Immigration Minister and his Department can find a way to keep these children in Australia” the Archbishop said. “The Anglican Church in the Diocese of Sydney stands ready to offer help and facilities in whatever way we can.”
Source: Press Release from Anglican Church in Australia