Last week I commented in my blog about Bones’ terrific contribution to the Johannesburg conference.
One point that he made very powerfully in his teaching on Paul in Corinth included a reference to Paul working alongside Aquila and Priscilla. He was fully involved in his trade while also planting a church.
Bones spoke of the strategic significance of church-planters being involved in business. He contrasted it with the historic situation in Africa where pastors effectively take money away from their people and make huge demands upon them. (Tragically reflecting the role of many a politician in Africa, as I am noting in the super book The State of Africa by Martin Meredith, which is a heart-rending exposé of the cruel style of political leadership across Africa in the last 50 years.)
Bones argued that this is not simply a pragmatic development in helping guys to get started, but actually an outstanding illustration of commitment by those leading church plants, and something of very great worth and importance which Paul was keen to highlight regarding his Corinthian ministry.
Since then I have recently visited our church plant in Brisbane, a city of just under 2 million and the fastest-growing city in Australia. It was a tremendous joy to spend time with Craig and Sue Cosijn, formerly of Jubilee Church, Cape Town and Sidcup, UK. Craig is working hard in secular employment but also planting a church. 30 enthusiastic people crowded into their home – people have gathered in from South Africa, UK and the local scene.
Steve Brading and I had an excellent time with the nucleus church plant. God came in power and people were healed and blessed through the preaching.
Interestingly, the previous week the preaching had been by projecting a video of my teaching at CCK in Brighton. They had all heard me the week before when I was many miles away!
It is amazing to me what can be accomplished by a devoted couple, raising a family, holding down a job, pressing on steadfastly through setbacks, heartaches, encouragements and blessing, until now they have a great group for a great city! Steve Brading and I greatly enjoyed our morning after the evening session when we spent time praying and prophesying over Craig and Sue. What a massive testimony! What great heroes! What a great church God is going to build in Brisbane.
Finally, here in Sydney Julian Owens joined me at 7 am for an hour of prayer. Julian comes from The Coign Church in Woking, where Steve Brading first testified that God had called him to move to Australia. Steve approached Julian and simply said to him, ‘You could take your business to Sydney.’ Julian mentioned it to his wife and said to me, ‘It went down like a lead balloon.’ A few days later, his wife said to him, ‘What are we doing about Australia?’ She had encountered so many contexts in which Australia was pressingly brought to her.
They began to pray and God spoke to him from Psalm 2. He mentioned to his wife that God had promised His Son the nations. She said, ‘God gave me that verse in my Bible reading this morning.’ They obediently came to Sydney. God has blessed his business and opened doors in an extraordinary way. He has had setbacks, discouragements and is still looking for God to do something fresh for his business in Sydney. Meanwhile, the UK base has prospered phenomenally.
He is a man of considerable faith. I first met him as a young man when he came to Brighton on one of our New Life Teams. He is now a man of great faith in our Sydney church plant, having believed God for the formerly nearly empty Church building to be filled and believing that God has promised him that Newfrontiers will see 50,000 across Australia. That is he did believe that until P-J Smyth came recently and told people that whatever was in their hearts they should multiply by 5. He is now looking to God for 250,000 across Australia. What a businessman!
We need to rediscover a completely missional church with entrepreneurial businessmen as part of our advance helping us to penetrate the nations for the glory of God. While the world trembles with the financial shake up lets press on wholly confident in God who knows how to prosper men and women of faith.
We are currently involved in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, with people from Melbourne asking questions. My faith grows for many cities across Australia to have Newfrontiers churches and when I meet businessmen like Craig and Julian my faith grows.