Australia  |  

Six people to watch out for in 2018

We think you’ll be hearing more of them this year.

Take a look at Eternity’s list of some of the Aussie Christians doing interesting things in 2018. Know someone else? Tell us in the comments!

Advertisement

Meredith Lake

Historian Meredith Lake is set to publish her new book The Bible in Australia: a cultural history in April this year. It will be published by NewSouth Books, the publisher for University of New South Wales.

“At a time when public discussion of religion is deeply polarised, Meredith Lake reveals the Bible’s dynamic influence in Australia.”

The book is “the revelatory story of the Bible in Australia, from the convict era to the Mabo land rights campaign, Nick Cave, the Bra Boys, and beyond,” according to the book blurb.

“At a time when public discussion of religion is deeply polarised, Meredith Lake reveals the Bible’s dynamic influence in Australia and offers an innovate new perspective on Christianity and its changing role in our society,” it goes on to read.

Lake published a short book in 2017 called The Bible Down Under: How the Bible helped Us to Shape Australian Culture, History, Art and Everything Else. She spoke at the Sydney Writer’s Festival last year about her research, and you can expect to see her doing the media rounds on her latest offering.

Jen Barker

Jen Barker

Jen Barker

Jen Barker, founder of Fixing Her Eyes, a website to encourage and give a voice to Christian women, is delighted with its diverse and growing audience.

“When we started, we were like any new group speaking to friends. We now have the kind of audience that I had hoped for – wide age, demographic and a fabulous collection of Australian postcodes as well as a fab mix of denominations,” Jen says.

“I hope too that it will encourage the next generation of women to realise that they have a voice.” – Jen Barker

“I think we are heading towards representing the 50 per cent of the Australian church well.”

The site now has 56 contributors and a few more guest writers, more than 150 interviews with Australian Christian women and hundreds more articles.

“I hope to see more women of colour join our contributor group in 2018,” she says.

One of the exciting things for Jen has been seeing connections made between the contributors and other supporters, as they build each other up and encourage one another to keep on speaking and preaching, teaching and mothering and checking on each other.

“During last year there were a few times we responded to what we were hearing from our community as well as what the news was telling us regarding Domestic Violence. I am pleased that we have some very wise, professional women in our midst who were able to respond to what we were hearing with compassion, which all flowed naturally from their desire to point women (and men) to Jesus,” she says.

Fixing Her Eyes will join the conference market in March with an array of speakers giving “short, sharp, Jesus focused talks and worship that I hope will have those in attendance walking away with a full heart, feeling empowered with purpose and a huge spring in their step,” she says.

“I hope too that it will encourage the next generation of women to realise that they have a voice and for the next generation of men to listen to it,” she says.

Matt Darvas

Matt Darvas

Matt Darvas

Matt Darvas, formerly of Compassion Australia, has been named Campaign Director for Micah Australia and will begin the role in February this year.

Micah Australia has undergone somewhat of an overhaul. Micah Challenge, as it was known for its first ten years, was originally formed to address the Christian response to world poverty, and advocate for Australians to be actively working towards the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. Micah Challenge became Micah Australia in 2015, when the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals came to pass.

“We need to put the needs of the world’s poor back on our country’s agenda.” – Matt Darvas

Now, Matt Darvas will be part of a renewed vision for the new Micah: to inspire and empower Australian Christians to become advocates themselves for people living in poverty.

It’s a big task. Darvas will work with Tim Costello, Micah’s Executive Director, but will himself be expected to be a strong voice, speaking for the Christian community in the media and to our politicians on justice and equality.

“Right now we see in our world suffering on a scale not witnessed since the end of the Second World War. We said ‘never again’ to famine, to genocide, and to catastrophic flows of displaced people due to conflict. And yet, here we are,” said Darvas in a statement announcing his appointment.

“I’m looking forward to working with leaders and advocates across the Australian church, who believe the time has come to rise again and declare as the Prophets did, ‘enough is enough’,” says Darvas.

“We need to put the needs of the world’s poor back on our country’s agenda.”

Adam Ramsey

Adam Ramsey

Adam Ramsey

Adam Ramsey will be planting churches this year. Lots of churches.

Adam Ramsey is the new director of the Acts 29 church planting network for Australia and New Zealand. Acts 29 was beleaguered in 2014 when one of its founders, Mark Driscoll, fell into hot water about his bullying leadership of megachurch Mars Hill, and he and the church were expelled from network.

“We have much work to do.” – Adam Ramsey

But the network in Australia has been beavering away, planting churches and doing what the network was created to do: build churches that will build more churches.

The network in Australia has 23 churches up and running under the Acts 29 banner, including City On A Hill, Guy Mason’s burgeoning church group which now has five plants under its belt in Victoria and now in Brisbane. Ramsey’s own church, Liberti Church on the Gold Coast, has planted three churches of its own with a fourth planned for 2019.

“We have much work to do,” said Ramsey when introduced as the new director of the AU/NZ network. “The surrounding culture is growing increasingly hostile toward the message of Christ, and a large portion of the Church has been crippled by an over-obsession with pragmatism, hype, and motivational moralism. So the challenges are many. Yet there is a budding resurgence of gospel-centered theology in many streams of the church (particularly among many younger Charismatics/Pentecostals) that I have found incredibly encouraging, along with a growing desire for churches to become church-planting churches.

Ramsey says over half of the Acts 29 churches in Australia and New Zealand are getting ready to plant another church in the next two years. And plans for church plants in South East Asia are also on the way. We think that’s something to be praying for.

Matt and Lisa Pearson

The Pearsons

The Pearsons

When Matt and Lisa Pearson move to Arnhem Land as CMS missionaries in April, “every day will be like Christmas Day”, says the Anglican Bishop of the Northern Territory, Greg Anderson.

“This is just an incredible opportunity to hear God speak their own language and to keep the message of the gospel safe and then they’ll be able to pass that message on to the next generation,” says Matt.

Greg has been campaigning for more Christians to move to the Northern Territory to disciple Indigenous believers for the past two years. But Matt and Lisa independently began to think about living and working in an Indigenous community ten years ago before they were married, having seen the needs and opportunities to serve God there.

“God has been preparing us for ten years. We’re going with CMS as long-term workers,” says Matt.

Now, having completed their studies at Moore College in Sydney, they are about to start intensive language training in Kunwinjku in preparation for their move to Gunbalanya, a 1100-strong community in West Arnhem Land.

Matt will need to be fluent in Kunwinjku to disciple the male leaders in the church at Gunbalanya on how to use the new Kunwinjku Shorter Bible, which will be published by Bible Society in the middle of this year.

“This is just an incredible opportunity to hear God speak their own language and to keep the message of the gospel safe and then they’ll be able to pass that message on to the next generation,” says Matt.

The Pearsons will carry on the ministry of Steve and Narelle Etherington, veterans in Indigenous ministry and Bible translation, who worked in the Northern Territory for more than 30 years.

Paul Eckert is another missionary and Bible translator who has spent his life in the Australian outback, working with Indigenous people to translate the Bible. He will retire at the end of 2018, and the search for his replacement is continuing.

** Correction: A previous version of this article suggested the Fixing Her Eyes conference was a women’s conference. It is, in fact, for both men and women.

Comments

More