FIVE LEADING AUSSIE POLITICIANS SHARE THEIR CHRISTIAN FAITH

ARTICLE IN THE AUSTRALIAN JULY 23rd, 2018 BY GREG SHERIDAN

Sadly, most don’t recognise who Jesus really is and what only He could do for them. Nevertheless, this article by Greg Sheridan in The Australian is enlightening and worth the read.

I know most about the Liberal MP from Western Australia, Andrew Hastie. He is a committed Christian and understands Jesus is God in the flesh, and only He could provide for us, a way back into a right relationship with our Heavenly Father. I don’t believe the other four are born again believers.

Higher authority: Kim Beazley, Andrew Hastie, Malcolm Turnbull, Penny Wong and Kristina Keneally.

LIBERAL MEMBER ANDREW HASTIE (top left)

When Andrew Hastie went to Afghanistan on combat service with the SAS he wrote a letter to his wife, Ruth, the envelope sealed with wax, to be opened by her only in the event of his death.

He left the letter with a friend, who was to be part of the notification team, the small group that would go and see Hastie’s wife if the worst happened.

The West Australian Liberal MP’s parents have deep religious beliefs. Hastie rebelled against his dad’s beliefs for a while: “Around age 16 to 19 I was very aggressively challenging a lot of what I was taught. The question for me was: can I still be a good person without God? I had embraced the postmodern view I got at school — that I was a consumer and I could make any choices I liked. Partly I wanted to justify under-age drinking and having a good time.”

In 2000 his father took him to Biola University, an evangelical Christian university in California. On that trip he met Chuck Colson, the Nixon staffer who went to jail for his Watergate crimes, found God there and later got heavily involved in the Christian mission to prisoners in jail. Hastie also read a book about Christian belief: “The author started off with the empty self, describing narcissistic, modern man, and I felt he was describing me. That led me to ask the question, did I accept the basic tenets of Christianity? The next question was: how do I practise Christianity? What implications does it have for my weekends, boozing and trying to sleep with as many girls as possible?”

In one tragic incident in Afghanistan, Hastie called in American helicopter support to fire on two Taliban fighters who were planning to attack Hastie’s soldiers and the Afghan base they were visiting when the helicopters came to pick them up. Hastie knew this because the Taliban signals had been intercepted.

In the worst moment of Hastie’s life, the helicopters shot the wrong Afghans, killing two little boys, brothers aged six and seven. Hastie took control of his own emotional state, took a few soldiers with him to go out to where the boys had been shot and see if they were still alive and if there was any chance of saving them, then reported everything back to his bosses. He didn’t eat or sleep for the next 24 hours and for a long time had nightmares about it. The boys are still regularly in his mind.

Later, he pushed to be allowed to go and talk to the boys’ family: “It was about telling the truth and taking responsibility. I wanted to apologise to the boys’ uncle. The uncle was about 45 or 50, with a grey, weather-beaten face. He had assumed the role of defender of the family. The 16-year-old brother, you could see the anger on his face. The uncle acknowledged the ­approach and said: ‘You’re forgiven.’ For me, this prefigured divine forgiveness.”

This tragedy didn’t shake Hastie’s Christian faith: “Imagine if you weren’t a Christian, if you were a closed universe atheist, how bleak and senseless those deaths would be.”

LIBERAL PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM TURNBULL (bottom centre)

I was fascinated a few years back to see that Malcolm Turnbull had, as it was presented at the time, converted to Catholicism. As it turned out, the Prime Minister discovered that he had not been christened at all as a child, so it was not exactly a conversion. Certainly it was an embrace.

In private contexts, Turnbull is quite natural and forthcoming about his faith. When former Labor politician Mary Easson was gravely ill, Turnbull sent a mes­sage to her husband, Michael, saying: “Lucy and I are storming the gates of heaven itself with our prayers for Mary.” Easson herself remembers that when, after her miraculous recovery, she ran into Turnbull at Parliament House, and he hugged her. She was touched by his prayers, and his warmth.

Turnbull is clear that he does believe in the Christian faith. The way he conceives of it, as you’d expect, is individualistic, supple, nuanced. That is not to say it is better or worse than anyone else’s belief or lack of belief, but this is the way Turnbull conceives of religion.

He says: “I think of religion as a mystery. Just as poetry is that which cannot be translated, faith is in many ways that which cannot be explained. The Western tradition obviously wants to analyse and categorise everything. It’s important to remember that Christianity grew as a religion of the East. It grew out of a spiritual world which was a very mystical one. There are aspects of faith and religion that don’t bear analysis.”

Turnbull is not suggesting that faith is against reason, but that parts of it are beyond reason: “I think mystery is a very important part of it. Everything we do and believe and feel is not capable of the precise analysis of an economist or a chemist.”

Turnbull nominates the “selfless love of Jesus” as being close to the heart of Christianity and says that when we love selflessly is when we get closest to the divine.

I ask Turnbull if he prays: “Yes, I do. I’m cautious about talking about it. You’ve asked me a straight question and I’ve answered it.”

LABOUR SENATOR PENNY WONG (top right) – many paths to God

I catch up with senator Penny Wong for a discussion in the comprehensively anonymous offices made available to federal politicians when they visit Melbourne. It is the only discussion I’ve had with her where she seemed a fraction hesitant or nervous. I feel a bit like a dentist, inflicting pain for a (hopefully) greater good.

She says: “I don’t think faith for me is an intellectual exercise. It’s a much more instinctive, intuitive proposition. It’s hard to talk about, isn’t it? The way I like to approach politics, I like to be very rational and factually based and well prepared and talk about things in logical sequences, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt about faith that way.”

Faith is certainly not irrational, however: “The important decisions in our lives we make with reference to what we work with intellectually as much as we can, but they’re generally made emotionally and spiritually …

“It’s a very diverse religion, Christianity. Perhaps I have a certain view because I was born in Sabah (Malaysia). Growing up in a multi-faith society was important. I had friends who were Muslims, family members who were Buddhist as well as those who were Christian. I never had the sense that this (Christianity) is the only way. I always felt there were many paths to God. This was the kind of path that resonated with me.

“When times have been hard, at different times of my life, when I’ve felt alone or lonely, faith has been important to me. There are also moments of joy when you can feel faith or feel grace. You’re with your family and you feel blessed. It’s good to be thankful.” And prayer? “Yes (I do pray). I’m less at church than I used to be. I used to go to Sunday morning communion more often. You pray at different moments, moments when you’re quiet. I have to have moments when I find a bit of calm in my life. If I don’t, I don’t perform … I don’t think of God as a power to go to with a shopping list. I think more of asking for the patience or courage to cope. For me, it’s more asking that he walk with me.

“If I’m with my father and his side of the family, prayer is a much more explicit side of their life. He’ll say grace and give thanks for the family. I do find being in church incredibly moving.”

And what does Wong believe happens when we die? “I don’t know. I don’t believe we just end.”

LABOUR SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY (lower right)

There was a time Kristina Ken­eally was angry with God, deeply angry. Grief-stricken, devastated, Keneally was reacting to her daughter, Caroline, being stillborn in 1999. When Keneally talks of her daughter, even today, she often uses the present tense: “I have a stillborn daughter, Caroline. She’s my second child. I had this real sense I felt I knew how to have a baby. It hit me very hard. I can remember being very angry with God.”

At the same time, faith did not desert her: “I remember having gratitude that I did have faith, that Caroline’s life continued on, that she was not extinguished. At the same time, I was very angry that she wasn’t with me, that God could let this happen.”

I catch up with the US-born Keneally for a long discussion about her religious beliefs in ­Sydney.

She says: “When I first moved to Australia, I was struck by the absence of religion from the public conversation, the lack even of people to talk to about these things. I was starting a doctorate and at parties people would say: ‘What did you study?’ And I’d say religion and the conversation would end. They’d turn away, nothing more to be said.

“Then I joined the Labor Party. It was like: Oh, I found them. Politicians are more likely to be churchgoing than the population as a whole. They’re joiners, they’re inspired by social justice, they’re not embarrassed about saying they go to mass on Sunday.

“There’s still a lack of comfort about politicians of faith who talk publicly about the inspiration of their faith. That’s partly because while politicians tend to be more churchgoing than the population as a whole, they are reported on by journalists who tend to be less churchgoing than the general population.”

I ask whether the New Atheists have had any impact on her thinking: “It’s not persuasive to me to say that Christians have done some bad things; therefore, the Christian God does not exist. I believe human beings have a spiritual dimension.

“Virtually all cultures, including the Aboriginal culture, have a sense of connection with the spiritual dimension.”

What does Keneally believe comes after death?

“I believe I will continue to exist in some kind of spiritual dimension. The idea of existence forever somewhat terrifies me; inasmuch as I don’t want to be extinguished, my human mind cannot wrap itself around eternity … I believe I will be one with God.”

FORMER LABOUR DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER KIM BEAZELY (lower left)

I put Keneally’s suggestion that politicians are likelier to be religious than the general population to Kim Beazley. He thinks she’s right: “I agree that there is a much higher level of practice and belief among politicians.

“There is no such thing as a quiet soul in politics. You’re basically worried all the time in politics. You’re always anxious, always dealing with complex motivations and complex people. Also, politicians get isolated and the more isolated you get the more you need your religion.”

Faith remains fundamental to Beazley.

“I pray spasmodically. Invariably you pray at crisis points. And in ambassadorial life (Beazley was Australian ambassador to the US for six years), in ministerial life and in political life, you’re engaged in lots of crisis points.

“You don’t use prayer to seek an outcome for yourself; you use it to gain peace of mind.

“When I have been worried about my children I have prayed. You’re more likely to turn to your religion at times of stress.

“At times your doubts seem to overwhelm you. At different points of time you feel you’ve got a divine element in your life, then it goes away and you wonder if it was an illusion.”

What does Beazley believe happens after death?

“I don’t know. My faith tells me there is an afterlife, but your faith doesn’t tell you what it is. You have a sense that there will be something there.

“The people you’ve been close to, you feel a sense from time to time that they are still with you.”

CHURCH AS JESUS PRAYED FOR IN JOHN 17

Film “The Last Reformation – The Life”

It is now available for everyone to watch on YouTube for free. You can see the movie with subtitles in around 30 different languages. Since the premiere in Holland, a little more than a month ago, there have been over 1000 screenings all over the world and the response has been amazing. People really loved the movie and after watching the movie many people experienced healing, deliverance, repented, got baptised in water and received the Holy Spirit.

Now it is time to share it with everyone out there, so they can see church  as God intended.

 

SAFEST PLACE TO BE IN THESE LAST DAYS

Love this presentation by Jonathan Cahn. He will challenge you as he did me on how we must live in these last days. Be an overcomer: “Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world”. “Arise and shine for your light has come.” It is time for the church to be like it was in the Book of Acts.

Hear the amazing testimony of how God organised the publishing of Jonathan’s best seller – The Harbinger.

FORMER LGBTQ CHRISTIANS JOURNEY TO FREEDOM IN JESUS

Today’s culture tells people who are homosexual there is no other way and there is no ‘cure,’ but Christians who were once LGBTQ have a different story to tell. And they’re telling it in a new documentary.

Men and women who once embraced gay relationships and transgender identities bravely share how their lives and their sense of self completely changed after coming to meet Jesus.

Just some of the ex-LGBTQ Christians sharing their story in the upcoming ‘Here’s My Heart’ documentary are Brooklyn Wojo, who identified as lesbian aged 12 and transgender at the age of 18, before meeting Christ and being born again.

Kaya Brown, 22, was homosexual for 10 years and struggled with gender confusion during that time until she had a powerful encounter with Jesus on her grandmother’s living room sofa.

Ieacha Lusk was a lesbian for 19 years and homeless for 12 years before God removed her desire for another woman in 2015.

Casual gay sex, drinking and clubbing were all the norm for Davon Johnson before starting his own spiritual quest into his sexual identity and landing at the feet of Jesus.  Today he is a minister and husband.

Joshua Buchanan spent his high school years feeling confused about his sexual identity before fully embracing the homosexual lifestyle at community college. He tried drugs, partying and homosexual relationships before hitting rock bottom in 2009 when he was diagnosed with HIV. That’s when he started going to church and met God in a magnificent way before fully accepting Christ into his life at an altar call. His identify was never the same again and he went on to graduate from Heritage Bible College with a degree in Worship & Music.

The documentary is being put together by MJ Nixon, author of The Journey Back Home and a member of the Refuge Ranch Atlanta deliverance ministry.

She’s not documenting these powerful stories as an outside observer; rather she herself also struggled with same gender attraction before experiencing a fundamental change in her heart after meeting Jesus.

‘The Lord started showing me all these people that I knew in the different groups and communities that I’ve been a part of in the last six years since I’ve been saved,’ she told The Activist Mommy.

‘All these men and women who have powerful testimonies of only the power of God being able to set them free from being transgender, being bisexual, being homosexual.’

She has so many hopes for her documentary. One of them is, of course, to give a witness to the power of Christ.

But that’s not all, though; she also wants to ‘equip the body of Christ on how to minister more respectfully to the LGBT community.’

And importantly, she wants the documentary to minister to those within the church who deny that homosexuality is a sin.

‘What I have found is that one of the hardest groups to reach is the Christians who believe it is OK to live this lifestyle and love Jesus,’ she said.

‘I look at Romans 1:26 I cannot deny that this is unnatural. No matter how much I try to justify it, it’s unnatural. When God showed me the truth of His Word, it set me free. And I couldn’t look at it and say ‘no God, I wanna live the way I wanna live.’

extracted from article by Rachel Howard in Christian Post

IN THE LAST DAYS MANY WILL COME TO CHRIST

Most of us are familiar with the story of the 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt who held fast to their faith and were beheaded by ISIS in February, 2015. But did you know that only 20 of them were actually Copts from Egypt? Did you know that one of the martyrs was from Chad, and he had not been a Christian prior to the day of his beheading?

All 21 men had been working in Libya when they were kidnapped by ISIS. But as can be seen in pictures where they are lined up on the beach to be killed, one of them had darker skin and different facial features. This was the man from Chad.

The Coptic Christians were given a choice to deny Jesus or die. They refused to deny Him, knowing it would cost them their heads.

When the terrorists ordered the man from Chad to deny Jesus or die, he answered, “Their God is my God,” thereby sealing his fate.

That’s how moved he was by the faith of these Christians. Their refusal to deny their Saviour, even at the point of death—literally, at the point of a knife to their throats—moved him to make a profession of faith, one that would cost him his head as well. Can we grasp the intensity of this story?

The man had not been a believer. All he had to say was, “I don’t believe in Jesus” or “Jesus is not the Son of God,” and he could walk away a free man.

He would be with his family again. He would not die a brutal death. He would live to see another day.

How many Christians would be sorely tempted under such circumstances? How many would waver and, for that moment, deny their Lord, just to avoid beheading?

Yet this man, who had not been a follower of Jesus before then, was so moved by the dedication of these Christians that he became a believer on the spot.

“Go ahead and behead me,” he was saying. “Your god is not my God. Their God is my God.”

That is the power of the gospel, and that is how we overcome Satan, by not loving our lives to the point of death (Rev. 12:11).

That is why this story needs to be told and retold until the faith of those martyrs becomes our faith, until people look at our lives and say, “Your God is my God, whatever may come my way.”

And here’s something striking. As I have listened this week to the stories of persecuted Christians, even hearing from family members of martyrs, I have not heard a word of self-pity. Not a word.

I have heard words of courage and dedication. I have heard words of great love for Jesus. I have heard requests for prayer and help. But I have not heard any self-pity.

The daughter of an Iranian pastor martyred 20 years ago spoke of her own life experience and of her father’s refusal to back down. Now, 20 years after her father was buried in an unmarked grave, she could speak of multiplied hundreds of thousands of Iranian Muslims coming to faith in Jesus. Her father’s blood was not shed in vain.

That is how a seed planted in the ground first dies and then produces much fruit (John 12:24-25).

A Syrian Christian leader shared how a radical Islamic group offered to arm them to fight against another radical Islamic faction. He replied, “We already have two arms: love and forgiveness. We don’t want to become another militia.”

That is how we overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). Some Christians even said to ISIS, “Thank you for helping to unite us!”

Yet it would be wrong to think of these suffering believers as super saints, which is another lesson for us all.

Most of them are just ordinary Christians, not preachers or pastors and certainly not big-name evangelists. They are mothers and fathers, young people and old people, laborers and housewives, educated and uneducated. Yet they have remained faithful under hellish pressure, enduring unspeakable suffering.

Yet rather than curse God, they bless Him, and rather than retaliate against their enemies with hatred and vengeance, they offer forgiveness and love.

Earlier this year, a couple told me about their trip to Ethiopia where they met with family members of the Ethiopian Christians beheaded by ISIS. They spoke with the widow of one of the martyrs, who was pregnant when he was killed, making his death even more painful.

But when they talked with this young woman, rather than bemoan her terrible loss, she said to them, “How is it that I had the privilege of being married to a martyr for Jesus?” She was an uneducated woman with no social status, and she was humbled beyond words that she was chosen to be the wife of a martyr.

This is why radical Islam will ultimately fall before the name of Jesus, and why every other force that seeks to wipe out the church will fail in the end. It’s also why we should stop feeling sorry for ourselves when things get a little rough. Are we not also more than conquerors through Him who loved us? (See Rom. 8:37)

Extract from article by Dr Michael Brown in Charisma News

SUPERNATURAL CONVERSION OF MUSLIMS

How often, do we mistakenly believe the church in the west has to send missionaries to the unreached people groups of the world, otherwise they will never hear the gospel and get saved.

Those of you who have read Heavenly Man by Brother Yun, realise that after Mao came to power in China, Christian Missionaries from the west were deported or killed. The Chinese church went underground, now with its total dependence on God. Has God built His church through forty years of persecution under Mao? Yes! emphatically Yes! He has, and much like the early church, they experience all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the miraculous.

Well the same is true in the middle east, Muslims are coming to Jesus without coming into contact with missionaries from the west. God is not waiting on Western workers to reach the peoples of the world!

God always takes the initiative. He is always seeking ways to reveal Himself in the darkest corners of the earth.

live-as-christian-die-as-christian

Nik Ripken in his book, The Insanity of Obedience – Walking with Jesus in tough places, reveals that more than 90% of Muslim background believers had come to faith without the help of an outsider or a believer from another culture.

Hence if Muslims are coming to Jesus (and they are), and if these conversions are not currently aided by Western workers (and they are not) then exactly how are these conversions happening? This question is of course crucial.

It was discovered that for Muslim Background Believers (MBB’s), there are three major components in their journey to faith in Jesus.

DREAMS & VISIONS

First most experienced dreams and visions which set them on a spiritual pilgrimage. In talking to hundreds of MBB’s, they heard repeatedly of a period of time lasting three to five years when dreams and visions were present and life-shaping in their pilgrimage to Jesus. It was very common for them to hear a voice without a body speaking to them and they knew it was Jesus or on occasions thought it was the angel Gabriel (Gabriel is significant, because it is believed that he gave the Qur’an to Mohammed). It was common to see a bright white light. A strong desire to get and read a Bible was common (Qur’an refers to Jesus as the “Word of God”).

It is interesting, to many Muslims, dreams and visions are not considered to be miraculous events; they are in fact quite common. What is miraculous, is how God breaks into those dreams and visions and overtime leads the seeker to begin a spiritual pilgrimage. The dreams and visions are not salvific. The dreams allow God to get the recipients attention and eventually lead them to Jesus.

Strangely, when these dreams and visions begin, a Muslim will typically turn to the mosque for answers and explanations. This is of course, the natural place a Muslim would seek answers. Typically, a first question to a spiritual leader in the mosque was “What do these dreams mean? Interestingly, spiritual leaders in the mosque invariably affirmed that the dreams and visions are from God, and they will often tell the seeker that the instructions in the dreams need to be followed. Strangely also, is that when God begins to break into their consciousness through these means, Muslims begin to visit and pray in the mosque like never before. The males may grow a long beard, change the way they dress, become a conservative practitioner of I slam.

The next steps are radical and usually involve the seeker asking questions of their Muslim spiritual leader that he cannot answer to their satisfaction. Questions such as, “How can I know God loves me?” and “How can I be sure I go to paradise when I die?” The answer from the Muslim leader to both questions will be, “Well, you can’t know that.” Often the seeker will be harshly commanded to stop asking such questions and to simply submit to Islam and obey the Qur’an. At some point, unanswerable questions like these will lead to frustration. And often, within three to six months, the seeker will leave the mosque and look for answers elsewhere. In most cases the seeker will never return to the mosque.

ENCOUNTERS WITH THE BIBLE

Always as part of the MBB’s spiritual quest, there were dramatic encounters with the Bible. Often these encounters were miraculous. Bibles are simply not available. In some cases, Muslims simply began to dream about the Bible (God’s Word), but still have no idea where to find one. In Central Asia, one seeker, who had been attempting to find a Bible for months, went to an all male market and there, a stranger simply appeared in the busy marketplace and handed him a Bible. The stranger simply said, ” the Holy Spirit told me to give this to you”. He then disappeared into the crowd. In another case, a seeker having been told in a dream to get a Bible, wandered through a bookstore filled with green Qur’ans. There at the back of the shop was a single blue covered book which he was drawn to, it turned out to be a Bible, which of course he purchased. Another female Muslim seeker shared her dream about a Bible with her family and discovered that her father was also a seeker who shared his bible with her. Nik and his team heard many stories like these and because of the miraculous way these seekers obtained their Bibles they treated them as prize possessions and read the voraciously. Most had read their Bibles through multiple times even up to twenty one times before coming to faith in Christ. What this meant is that most MBB’s have a profound knowledge of Scripture before making their faith decision. Nik concluded that “Where there is no Bible, there is no salvation” .

The centrality of Scripture to this salvation process is so important. The dreams and visions even required that kind of encounter with the Bible. And that kind of encounter is indispensable to the conversion process. This of course poses a big problem for the seeker who cannot read and there are many Muslim women who are illiterate. Fortunately, there are Christian radio stations able to get there signal into Muslim countries and report some success but no doubt God is also using MMB’s to witness to them.

ENCOUNTERS WITH IN-CULTURE OR NEAR CULTURE BELIEVERS

After dreams and visions, miraculous encounters with the Bible then third, there are encounters with in-culture and near-culture believers. These encounters often take the form of “divine appointments” where someone simply appears on the scene to provide guidance, counsel and instruction.

In Scripture, these kinds of encounters happen frequently. Philip’s meeting with the Ethiopian eunuch, Ananias role with Saul to become Paul and many others. How did the Ethiopian eunuch have the Isaiah scroll? Likewise, how do Muslim seekers get a Bible, but miraculously.

Nik also discovered that Western missionaries can be a negative, as they can fear persecution and avoid it at all costs. Also, dreams and visions are not the norm for most missionaries so would they be able to discern what God is doing. Moreover providing a Bible is no problem which would deprive the MMB of God’s miraculous provision. If an outsider provides everything for the seeker what is left for the Holy Spirit to provide?

It is obvious that God is perfectly able to draw people to Himself and our task is not to co-opt this process but to prayerfully discern what He is doing and join Him as insrructed. Much like Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch, God brings him into the story miraculously at exactly the right time and takes him out again just as suddenly and miraculously.

This is obviously not the only way God works but clearly we see that He needs to be directing the work. Our role is supportive, in league with Him. One role in particular, that Nik saw God use MMB’s to initiate, was to start churches particularly of the Book of Acts variety.

Bring on the persecution Lord, if it means we get to experience YOU more, to know You love us, and are providing what we really need to build our relationship with You. Give us a hunger for Your Word like these MMB’s we have read about.

It is great to know, You are constantly reaching out to the lost. Help us Lord to get in step with You.