Archives for May 2017

John Morrison – 28 May 2017

Kristine and I attended REVIVE, the annual conference of the Baptists of NSW & ACT, in Sydney last weekend. The theme was “See – Local and Global”, deriving from John 4:35 – “Wake up and look around, the fields are ripe for harvest”. As usual, the speakers for the main sessions were inspiring and challenging and the workshops we attended were also excellent.

For me, the highlight was the two sessions from Andrew Palmer, the State Director for Global Interaction. In his second address, which concluded the conference, he talked about the impact Jesus had on the Samaritan woman he met at the well of Sychar, and the impact that she had in turn on her community as she shared with them about her encounter with Jesus. By contrast, the disciples had little impact on this occasion. They failed to see what Jesus saw and failed to share what they knew of Jesus.

Andrew’s address tied in neatly with the consideration of this story by Baptists throughout NSW and ACT during May mission Month this year. The themes of the Global Interaction material are The Barrier-crossing God; The Gift for all Cultures – Jesus; The Transformational Encounter; and The Power of Testimony. As you can see, there is a focus on sharing the Gospel cross-culturally, something we have been taking to heart.

I understand Cameron Eccleston from Baptist World Aid Australia brought a similar challenge in his sermon here last Sunday, but from the story of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan and the Jew he helped didn’t just have different racial identities – they also had very different theological and religious backgrounds. That highlights the vision and scope of Jesus’ message and its challenge to us.

There are many ways in which we have the opportunity and the call to be modern Good Samaritans. The following letter is a heart-felt response from someone we have been able to help in the spirit of Jesus’ teaching. It’s from a detainee on Manus Island, called Naeem, a leader who has been able to co-ordinate assistance to many fellow-detainees through the help we have provided. This letter was read at the Church Quarterly Meeting last Sunday, but I include it here as an example and inspiration for us all.

A Commendatory Letter
Canberra Baptist Church

I Naeem Bangash extremely indebted to you all (Glenn Jackson and Family) for their precious help and support in my all these days of chaos and uncertainty. You have not only imparted your help to me but also a number of refugee and asylum seekers have been benefited by you and your church through precious gifts and necessities of life. Although we are not able to repay these gifts and timely helps materially but we believe almighty will surely reward you with heaven in the life to come. May God bless you with all sorts of happiness and success. Ameen.

Love From Manus

John Morrison

Belinda Groves – 21 May 2017

It is good to be back! It is good to be back among friends. It is good to be worshipping again with all of you. And it is good to be working with you, especially during this exciting time as we are thinking and praying about who we are as a church and what God is calling us to be and do.

I am facing the dilemma of all returned travellers, however: how to relate the amazing things we saw and experienced without boring you all senseless. So, I have decided, each week when I am writing in the bulletin, to share one short story from each section of our itinerary. (So rather than boring you all at once I can do it slowly!)

We started in London and after loading our Oyster cards and finding our accommodation, we headed for Westminster. The plan was to walk from there up to Trafalgar Square, across to Buckingham Palace and back – staying in the open air the whole way – to deal with any jet lag.

We were expecting to encounter a strong police presence in London as we had arrived just one week after the Westminster Bridge attack where British man, Khalid Masood, drove his car deliberately into pedestrians on the south side of the bridge and Bridge Street, injuring more than 50 people, four of them fatally, before leaving his vehicle to fatally stab a police man.

And there were police everywhere; officers carrying serious military hardware and the streets blocked by armoured personnel carriers.

But the streets were also full of people, a large proportion of whom were wearing Islamic dress. We discovered, as unwitting tourists, that we had arrived in time for a silent vigil by police and children and faith groups, one week after the attack, under the banner “love for all, hatred for none.” It was a moving moment and a reminder that there are many many people – of all faiths and none, of all walks of life – who, as the prophet Jeremiah says, seek the welfare of their city, praying and working for good.

The comments of one man there, Brenden O’Connor, had an echo of Martin Luther King Jr’s statement that light drives out darkness. “There’s love here,” the 59-year-old said, surveying the people holding hands and walking together across the bridge. “You can’t kill love with hate. Love always conquers.”

As we continue to pray and work and love – in our community here and through agencies such as Baptist World Aid in communities in Bangladesh – let us radiate that light and love to others.

Grace and peace,


John Morrison – 14 May 2017

Today is a special day. We could say that about every Sunday, of course, because we have the opportunity to gather together and unite in praising and worshiping God. But this Sunday is extra special.

For a start, It’s Mother’s Day – a dedicated day to remember mothers and to thank and bless those who are still with us. When I went on-line to work out whether it is Mother’s Day or Mothers’ Day, I learnt that the original campaigner for the day, Anna Jarvis, explicitly wanted the apostrophe to go before the “s”. She wanted the singular possessive, and for each family to personally honour their mother, not the plural possessive commemorating all mothers of the world. Nonetheless, have a happy day, especially all mothers.

Today we also welcome back Belinda, Aron, Grace and Zac after their travels in Europe. Miriam returns in 2 weeks after some further touring. They no doubt have plenty of stories (and photos?) to share with us, and we look forward to those and to reconnecting.

Today is also special, as are all Sundays in May, because of the focus on cross-cultural mission. May Mission Month is promoted by Global Interaction, our Australian Baptist mission agency, and is celebrated by Baptist churches throughout the nation.

GIA’s mission is: “empowering communities to develop their own distinctive ways of following Jesus”. GIA says: “Our mission flows from the radical commitment to God’s mission to fulfil his redemptive purposes for his creation. God calls his people to be participants and it is the church’s privilege and responsibility to live out God’s love for the world.”

On it’s website, GIA has a laudable theology of mission statement which is worth reflecting on. The main points are that mission:

* flows from the heart of God;
* is centred in Christ;
* is directed and empowered by the Spirit;
* is by people to people;
* is contextual and corporate; and
* involves all areas of life.

One further thing that is special about today is having Bonny and Avo Resu and their friends Nibu and Apheu Nagi with us. Welcome! Bonny is the General Secretary of the Asia Pacific Baptist Fellowship and will bring a very appropriate mission emphasis to this 2nd Sunday of May Mission Month.

The ABPF is a regional organisation of the Baptist World Alliance and represents over 33,000 local churches in 21 countries with over 5 million baptised members across the Asia Pacific region. Its next congress, held every 5 years, is in September in Indonesia. The theme, based on Acts 1:8, is “Never-ending Good News”.

We celebrate that Good News today – yet another reason why gathering together today is special. Welcome to worship on this special day.

John Morrison

John Morrison – 7 May 2017

At this time of year, I quite often have flashbacks.  It’s not related to the change of season, but to the beginning of May. Having grown up in a Baptist Church, May for me has been associated with “May Mission Month” for as long as I can remember.  The flashbacks involve memories of pot-luck fellowship teas, missionary deputationists from around the world and fundraising for Australian Baptist Missionary Society (now Global Interaction.)

Another flashback is: “Good morning Mr. Phelps. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to…”  The connection between these words and May is the theme of mission.  The words always introduced the TV show “Mission Impossible”, one of my favourites growing up.  It originally screened from the mid 60’s to the early 70’s and was revived for a couple of new series in 1988.  There have been several movie spin-offs since then for a new generation.

At the beginning of the shows I watched as a youth, Jim Phelps, played by Peter Graves, would listen to a taped message which would outline his mission.  Five seconds later the reel-to-reel tape (that’s how long ago it was!) would self-destruct in flames.  Jim would then gather together a team of other undercover agents to tackle the covert mission.

As disciples of Jesus, we too have been given a mission, though it’s hardly a covert one.  Jesus gave it in person to his original disciples following his resurrection and before his ascension, and it has been passed on to all disciples since.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Mt. 28:19,20a)

The mission Jim Phelps would receive would never be easy.  It always involved risk and danger.  There would inevitably be difficulties on the way no matter how careful the planning.  So it is with our mission.  He would always undertake the mission with a team of other dedicated people, and that is how we are to undertake ours.

Each taped message would say: “should you decide to accept it”.  Of course, Jim always did.  There’s a good example for us to follow when it comes to our God-given mission.

There’s a big difference when we undertake our mission however.  The taped messages would tell Jim: “As always, should you or any member of your IM Force be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”  In contrast, we are told: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:20b)

With Jim and the other agents, their gifts, planning and commitment would always lead to the eventual success of the mission.  Those elements are also vital for us, but ultimately the success of our mission is assured because Christ is with us and it is his mission.  That’s why our mission is not “Mission Impossible”.