Australian rugby hero Nick Farr-Jones was the headline act at the first of a series of rallies designed to show that SRE – Special Religious Education in NSW, and Religious Instruction (RI) in Queensland – has mainstream support.
“The reality is that in NSW, with 70 per cent of parents in primary schools choosing to send their kids to SRE, 380,000 primary-school-age children will be in SRE classes in the next couple of weeks,” Professor Mark Hutchinson, Dean of the Faculty of Business, Arts, Social Siences and Education at Alphacrucis College told the meeting in Sydney.
“Every child deserves the right to hear the gospel.” – Nick Farr-Jones
More SRE rallies are planned to be held during the coming months, around Australia.
Farr-Jones has a personal reason to value learning about Jesus at school. “My parents are not Christian, although they were incredibly committed to my brother and I,” he said.
“When I was 12 my parents put a straw boater on my head and sent me to Newington College [A Uniting Church School]. Looking back, I think of how important Christian Studies were for me at 12, 13, 14 and 15.
“Later one night, I went up to the Caringbah pizza shop, and met two pretty girls. They told me, ‘We’ll see you next Sunday at church.’
“I received salvation a couple of months later after turning up at Caringbah Baptist Church.
“I have now been a Christian for 40 years and can say [that] after one is saved, there are challenges – because there is a fellow called the Devil. I have had a challenging few months.
“I was taught by my coach Alan Jones about what he called the Gucci factor: ‘Long after the price is forgotten, the value remains.’
“Every child deserves the right to hear the gospel – there are so many youngsters that have no clue about the love of Jesus and that he hung on a cross for them.”
Farr-Jones, his wife Angela, and Jeanine Treharne founded the Stand Tall event which, while not directly evangelistic, also seeks to have a positive effect on high schoolers, especially their mental health. About 12,000 students will attend this year’s event at the Sydney International Convention centre in July. They hope to take the event interstate; you can contact the organisers for more information.
“My wife was sick and tired of my daughters going to funerals, even though they went to high socio-economic schools,” explained Farr-Jones about the creation of Stand Tall.
“At the age of 57, I am not ashamed to stand up for Jesus. But young people need a safe place that SRE provides to openly ask a faith question.”
“There is no more exciting minority than Scripture.” – Paul Green
Paul Green the National Director of Christian Religious Education, and a former MP, has fond memories of the Reverend John Onions who taught him at Wingham primary school, in NSW’s Manning Valley region. “It was a rescue point in my life,” said Green.
“As teenager I was able to use that seed, but as an adult, after crashing and burning, I gave Christ my life.
“Who would have known when Rev Onions was teaching little ratbags like me that, one day, I would get into the NSW Parliament and move the first Modern Slavery Bill.
“There is no more exciting minority than Scripture.”