January-April 2008 Missionary Report from Albany, Western Australia

Loving greetings to all who receive this report from Moya & myself. It is hard to believe that we have been back home in Australia for almost 2-months since our visit to the United States. However, our memories are still very fresh of the special times we shared visiting with the Southwest Church of Christ in Amarillo, Texas during the months of January and February. The Southwest Church has loyally supported me in ministry for 30 of my 40 years of preaching. They had arranged for Moya & myself to visit with them in order to discuss with the mission committee our future plans.

On June 16 this year, Lord willing, I shall have my 70th birthday and I have made a decision to take the Australian pension in order to free up funds that the Southwest Church in Amarillo will be able to use in other mission areas.

While visiting in the U.S., not only did we enjoy some very sweet fellowship with our brethren in Amarillo, we also were able to attend and participate in this year’s Sunset International Bible Institute Workshop in Lubbock, Texas. Hearing the inspirational Keynote Speakers and sitting in on some very special classes conducted by some wise and passionate brethren was a spiritual feast for Moya & myself. What a joy it was for me to meet up again with some brethren who had been fellow students of mine at SSOP over 40-years ago, especially Truitt Adair, who graduated with me in 1968 and who in 1993 became the Executive Director of SIBI. Since accepting this role Truitt, who is a man of great evangelistic passion, has done an outstanding job of directing SIBI into the 21st Century.

Moya and I are so grateful to Stuart and Cecilia Jones for taking such wonderful care of us while we were in Lubbock. This very precious couple, who are the Coordinators of the Senior Adventures In Ministry program of the SUNSET International Bible Institute, provided some tremendous encouragement to Moya & myself during our stay and we thank God for their commitment to help retirees become more effective workers in our Lord’s kingdom in their retirement years.

Stuart & Cecilia have visited and worked with the South Coast Church here in Albany on two different occasions during the past 6-years and were responsible for encouraging George and Wilma Jones to come and work with the church here for a little over 12-months between 2003-2004.

The day after the Workshop concluded, Moya & I drove on to Abilene to visit with Dwight and Brenda Whittsett and Everett and Peggy Blanton. While in Abilene, we visited the HERALD of TRUTH Ministries office and were thrilled at their kind offer to provide us with new resource materials for our A Better Life Outreach Ministry. We are so grateful for their willingness to partner with us in this way.

Moya & I left Abilene and drove from Texas, through Louisiana, and on to Mississippee where we had arranged to visit with our dear friends George and Wilma Jones. What a joy it was for us to spend some special days with this brother and sister in Christ who served our Lord so faithfully while they were working with the South Coast Church in Albany. George and Wilma have a deep love for our Lord and a strong desire to lead others to know and serve Him. Moya & I were also thrilled to meet Wilma’s mother, brother and sister and enjoy a wonderful meal with them at Wilma’s mother’s house in Winona. While in Winowna, we also visited with Betty Choate and some members of her family. Betty’s husband, J.C. Choate, had died just the day before after a long battle with cancer.

J.C. & Betty have been faithful missionaries in Asia for many years and founded the World Evangelism Foundation, (a publishing and distribution centre), which is based in Winona, Mississippee. Even with the sadness of her husband’s death, Betty insisted that Moya & I go to their book warehouse and select whatever books and printed materials we could use in our Outreach ministry. What a gracious Christian lady Betty is!

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to George and Wilma Jones and then drove on from Mississippee, through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and back to Amarillo, Texas. By the time we had completed our journey, Moya & I had traveled over 2,400 miles (4,000 kilometres) in just over two weeks and we were exhausted!

While in Oklahoma, Moya & I were able to visit with Marvin and Dot Phillips who kindly invited us to stay the night with them. It was Marvin who baptized me into Christ, nurtured my faith and then mentored me following my graduation from Sunset when I worked alongside him with the City Beach Church in Perth. I will be forever grateful for the spiritual guidance I received from Marvin as a young preacher.

Moya & I also visited with Pat, Virginia & Katherine Smith and Kent Hartman at Oklahoma Christian University. We then visited the office of Mac Lyon, who is the director of the Search/TV Ministries. Although Mac was not in his office, we did get to speak with him via telephone and he arranged for us to be provided with more valuable resource material (DVD’s & booklets) for use in our Outreach Ministry.

A few days after returning to Amarillo, Moya & I flew up to Seattle, Washington, where we were overjoyed to visit with Hazel Morton and her daughter and son-in-law, Connie and Ray Switzer. Hazel and her late husband (Newt) had supported me through the Sunset School of preaching when Fay and I were there during 1966-68. The Morton family are very dear to my heart and I am indebted to Newt & Hazel for the loving support and faith they invested in Fay and myself in order for us to be able to serve our Lord here in Australia. The Morton family have also lovingly embraced Moya since our marriage in 2001. Our visit with Hazel, Connie, and Ray was a very special one indeed. While with them I was privileged to be invited to speak at the mid-week service of the Port Orchard Church, where Ray is one of the elders.

We only had two nights in Washington and, sadly had to say farewell to Hazel, Connie, and Ray and return to Amarillo, where we left a few days later for our return to Australia.

Moya & I arrived back in Perth at 7.00 AM on Thursday, February 21 and took the opportunity to visit with our children and grandchildren before returning to Albany.

It was so good to be re-united with our church family here in Albany and there was a lot of catching up to be done in regard to the many responses we had received from readers of my weekly newspaper column. Moya & I were greatly encouraged by the fact that our brothers Max Meade and Murray Attwood had done such an excellent job in leading the South Coast Church family while we had been absent.

Wednesday, March 5th, I was honoured to be invited to attend a Community Luncheon with our State Cabinet Ministers. I was one of a number of people selected because of our valued contribution to the Albany community.

Saturday, March 8th, our sister Bonnie Douglas flew out from Perth and returned to Texas. Bonnie, you may remember is a graduate of the SUNSET International Institute Seniors Adventures in Ministry and had been working with the South Coast Church of Christ here in Albany for six months. We are grateful for the good work she did for our Lord while visiting with us and the encouragement she was to us all.

Thursday, March 13th, Moya & I drove up from Albany to Perth where I had an appointment to conduct the Marriage Ceremony for two members of the Central North Church of Christ (the now Everald & Colleen Trelloggen). Their wedding was on the island of Rottnest, which is12-miles off the Perth Coastline. This was a very special occasion, as 31-years earlier I had enjoyed the privilege of conducting the Marriage Ceremony for Colleen’s parents, Richard & Mary Greenwell.

Sunday, March 16th, I was privileged to preach for the Central North congregation in Perth. The next day, Moya & I returned to Albany.

Saturday, March 29th, 18-brethren from the Malaga Church of Christ in Perth traveled down to Albany especially to have fellowship with the South Coast Church family here. They stayed at some holiday units and invited and arranged for us all eat brunch with them and a very special time of sharing was enjoyed by us all.

Sunday, March 30th, six brethren from the Malaga Church conducted the worship service here in Albany. It was especially meaningful for myself to witness some of these men whom I had taught in Perth over 30-years ago, now leading us in worship of our Lord. What a wonderful occasion this was! It was a spiritually enriching experience for us all!

The South Coast Church, on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month, continues to visit the Gwen Hardie Aged Care Hostel and conduct a worship service for the senior citizens who are resident there. It is always a blessing for us to witness the genuine joy these special people experience in having us come to spiritually invigorate them at a time in their life when they are unable to come out into the community to attend worship services. We feel privileged to have been invited by the Hostel Committee to conduct these services every month.

The South Coast Church family at present has a number of our senior members who are afflicted with various physical ailments, but they maintain a bright and optimistic spirit.

May 1st and 2nd, I need to be in Perth in order to attend the annual (Mandatory) Ongoing Professional Development course for Marriage Celebrants.

Sunday, May 4th, I have been invited to preach for the Malaga Church of Christ in Perth. Some of you may recall that this congregation is a merger between the City Beach and Darling Range Churches where I had served as a preacher during the 60’s and 70’s. The Malaga Church is now in its new facility, has 2 full-time ministers and has recently installed 6 elders to oversee its spiritual progress. We can praise God for the mature growth these brethren have made!

After my preaching for the Malaga Church on May 4th, Moya & I intend to spend a few days in Perth visiting with our family before travelling north on the first stage of our intensive missionary journey into remote and isolated parts of the States of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. I have already been invited to speak at Dongara/Denison (May 18th) and Coorow (May 25th).

This journey is something we have prayed about and planned for many years. And now, Lord willing, and with the blessing of the South Coast Church family, we are launching out in faith to visit with many people who have made contact with us over the years through our A BETTER LIFE MINISTRIES media outreach, which is a dedicated effort to connect people to Christ, provide spiritual encouragement to Christians in isolation, as we seek to lead others to commit to a relationship with Jesus. family, we are launching out in faith to visit with many people who have made contact with us over the years through our

Brethren, many people throughout Australia are lonely and exist in a spiritual vacuum. They are searching for the ‘something’ which they hope will lead to an increased level of fulfillment in what they see as an increasingly meaningless and isolated existence. A growing number of these people are turning to all sorts of options in an attempt to express their spirituality in meaningful ways.

As you and I know, the Bible clearly states that the only true way to experience fulfillment in life is through Jesus Christ our Saviour. However, large sections of our Australian society exist without His forgiving love in their lives. And it is to these people that Moya & I feel strongly called to reach out and touch with the life-saving message that is centered in Jesus. In fact, each of us, as God’s people on earth, have the calling and obligation to act with a sense of purpose and conviction when faced with this reality.

Brethren, the lives of most Australians are affected by their use of written and electronic media. In regard to this, the A BETTER LIFE MINISTRIES media outreach of the South Coast Church of Christ is enthusiastically making the most of opportunities presented to us by our written and electronic media to help us reach our goal of bringing men and women to relationship with Christ and nurturing the faith of those who are already in Christ. During the past 15-years we have received well over 3,000 responses from every part of Australia, as well as other parts of the world. This has resulted in us mailing and distributing many thousand pieces of literature and hundreds of Bible Correspondence Courses. The time has now come for us to travel into remote and isolated areas of Australia in order to personally meet and minister to many people who have, up until now, been faceless people who have reached out to us in their time of need for spiritual support.

Perhaps the email letters of response I have pasted below might indicate to you just how real the need is for us to take this journey.

(1.)

----- Original Message -----
From: -------
To: -------
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 8:58 AM

Good morning,

I am from Katanning & read your article in the Great Southern Advocate this week. I normally just skim through the news paper & local papers waiting for something to jump out at me, something interesting, maybe someone I know.

Well, I guess your article did.

I am a Christian & probably don't have anything to complain about. We live in a safe place, have a nice house & jobs etc etc. Yet I am feeling somewhat down.

I pray every day for God to go before my day & deal with what ever comes along, usually cope quite well. I try & help people that I see might need a lift.

But having a few struggles of my own. I am not sure what God is doing in my life & I guess I just wanted to chat to someone & maybe have someone else pray for me & my situation.

I am recently married, only a few months now. This is my third marriage. Not something I thought I would ever be doing again. But I thought, this man is a Christian too & has been brought up in the Baptist Church, so all should go well. He would be a great role model for my children, (I have 4, 20, 18, 14 & 10). The only 2 living at home at the time were the 2 boys 14 & 10.

We moved to Katanning from Narrogin back in October last year. Have had to overcome some difficult situations as my husbands ex- girlfriend lives in town & has caused some grief for me.

It was hard for kids to settle here & to have a whole lot of new rules to deal with & a step dad. I thought, with God's help, all would go well.

Well, it didn't & hasn't & is still a struggle.

My boys have gone to live with their dad in Perth, which is causing me a fair bit of pain. My husband says I just need to get over it & realize it's the best place for them. I miss them terrible & feel like I have abandoned them. My youngest feels like I have chosen my new husband over them, which is probably how it looks to everyone.

I couldn't stand the arguing & fighting any more, I have spent most of the last 5 months in tears, wondering what I have done.... to myself & my kids. I keep thinking is this really what God wanted.

Because my husband is a Christian, I believed this was where I should be & stay. He kept telling me "this is what God wants & he allowed it to happen. The boys are in the best place."

It is very hard for me & I don't know what to do. I have tried counselling here but my husband doesn't believe in that & got quite angry when I said I was going. SO I have stopped.

He says I "should be very happy. For the first time in your life you have no money worries, you don't have to go to work, have somewhere nice to live & don't have to worry about my kids." But I am not happy. I am not content with being here, which also then makes me feel terribly guilty & ashamed with myself.

He makes it very difficult for me to see the kids, by saying there has to be more than 1 reason to go to Perth, it's a long trip & we are not just going to see the boys. I feel terrible. I used to be such a big part of their life, well I was the mother. Now I don't get to see them play football, or get awards at school or even be their when they are sick. I know their dad is quite capable & that's not my issue. It's just I wont to be able to see them when I want & not be told when I can. My ex-husband & I don't have any animosity with each other, but he has said he doesn't want the boys down here with my husband.

The whole thing is actually making me sick. I have been unwell quite a lot since December. The doctors can not find anything medical wrong with me, so put it down to stress.

I guess I just want to feel better about the whole thing. To know that it is the best place for them, the God is in control & that he will heal my mind so I can except it all. I don't want to be sad all the time.

I hope you are able to offer some prayers or something.

Thank you very much.

Regards,
Marnie

 

(2.)

I always look farward to reading your articles in the Dongara Local Rag each week. I have contacted you previously and received a bible study book from you to give to a friend who was in prison.

We visited him regularly while he was in prison and he was keen to learn more about God and the Bible. Once he came out of prison he kept in touch with us for a while then drifted off back to Perth and his old life. We still pray for him and hear from him occasionally and know that God can turn his life around.

I would like to request two of your pamphlets. One titled 'You can't be human alone' and another one from several weeks ago which I can not remember the name of but when I read it I thought it would be good to give to a friend who was sexually abused as a child. (I hope that you can make some sense of that).

We live on a small farm at Greenough and had hoped that we would be able to use it in some way to benefit God's kingdom ( or I should say let Him use it). However as our youngest daughter is about to leave home and my husband is getting impatient stating that we are still going to be here waiting, when we are eighty! we are thinking that perhaps it is time we moved. Do you know of any 'Early church' type community anywhere (not a 'hippie' commune) which consists of Christians who want to do God's will and outreach to people. Sounds a bit idealistic doesn't it? We fellowship at a small church in Dongara which is getting smaller
although outreach in the form of a kids club and youth group have recently started and the increasing numbers of kids attending is very encouraging.

I look forward to receiving the pamphlets. Walkaway. 6528

Thanks
Kerry

 

(3.)

Dear Ron

While in Albany I read your article in the local newspaper:

Watch the signals, avoid a train wreck. It was very good. I really liked your straightforward approach and the great message - there's not one person who doesn't fear some sort of dislocation from family, friends or God, because of the frantic pace of life.

I would be interested in the booklets "The Secret to building a Positive Atmosphere in your Home", and also "Dealing Positively with Crisis".

In the wheatbelt Anglican parish of Wongan Hills-Dalwallinu, we have lots of young families and many crises, due to the nature of the seasons, farming and family life, so both booklets would be greatly appreciated. The booklets would be useful for our young mums, community groups and a resilience group (of community leaders) which I have contact with.

Many thanks, Kathy

 

(4.)

I HAVE TWO SISTERS WHO RECENTLY LOST THEIR SONS AND ALSO A HUSBAND TO SUICIDE--ONE WAS MURDER-SUICIDE--I WOULD LOVE TO HELP THEM WITH THEIR GRIEF--COULD YOU SEND TWO OF YOUR BOOKLETS?? THANK YOU--AMY ROEHRENBECK PATASKALA, OHIO 43062

 

(5.)

Hello, I reside in Brisbane QLD and was quiet moved by your article on the DO’S and DON’TS of helping someone that has lost someone close by suicide. I am 43 years old and found my young brother (40 yrs) suicide in late 2007 and I am struggling to get up and do things every day, I just cry my heart out and and go back to that day I just dropped in to see him (as I had been in WA actually with my job for 14 days working at a craft trade show and repping all the craft stores in Perth and coastal stores as I did for past 3 years) it was just a quick hi ya visit on my way to work something I not do much as he was a shift worker and most days he is at work. I relive that shocking day in my mind so much and it haunts me. There was only the 2 of us and I feel like I have lost my twin it hurts so bad and I cannot get angry, nor can I even ask myself could I have done more cause I am in shock still and so so numb of the sight that is embedding in my mind it is like a movie that has no off button.

The other sad thing is trying to find a support group in Brisbane is so hard, they are always out of QLD and sights like yours are gold.

I wish people, friends and family would stop to say life goes on and you have to take steps to go and do stuff to keep busy, it takes time I know but I am in this moment and I know my husband & 2 teenage children are also here but I had 40 years with him and I was his big sister who took care of him and in hard times we had a lot of them from our teens, but it is very hard to change of the things I have done for my family. This world we live in has no time allowing us to grieve and go at ones pace that is ok for them, it is all about life goes on but it is not them that is living this turmoil, I am! I am also dealing with our father who hasn’t seen him or spoken to him in 30 years but as he had no will our so called father with the concession act here in Qld share his estate with our mother and he is taking it and it so so wrong, my brother would be mortified to know this, this too is my pain and I can do nothing about it cause it is the law. Our mother struggled in those days to keep a roof over our head and feed us educate us but he morally so out of line.

I thank you again for you letter from the sad parting of the rural man friend. I know what he is going thru.

I would love a copy of your free booklet “surviving a loved ones suicide” if possible.

Many thanks Robyn

 

Brethren, The above letters, which are representative of the hundreds we receive each year, speak eloquently for themselves in regard to the real hurts and needs of people. People who deserve to know about the hope, comfort and salvation Jesus makes available to all who are willing to place their trust in Him.

The church needs to live in the real world. It needs to lead the lost to know Jesus, feed the hungry, liberate the enslaved, comfort the hurting, and give hope to the hopeless.

Who is the church? It is you and it is me. We have a lot of work to do! Please pray for Moya & myself as we travel into the remote and isolated parts of Australia in order to follow up with those men and women who have reached out to the Lord’s people here in Albany, Western Australia for help.

Your brother and sister in Christ’s service,

Ron & Moya

Ephesians 3:20-21

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