50 Plus

“When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realise no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.”
Winston Churchill

50 Plus is a group designed for people for whom this is true (no matter what your age) - a group who meet and share ideas, where you can be yourself, bring your friends along and get to know others in a friendly informal setting.

Now in its 4th year and still going strong, 50 plus meets from 10 - 12 on the third Tuesday of every month in the ministry centre at St Johns.

There are engaging speakers like Tom Tresseder who was instrumental in helping to design the first solar powered audio bible which is now available to millions around the world.

Or we have the very entertaining Bruce Shying speaking to us on not so well known Sydney Harbour history.

In March we are going to North Head for a picnic. Other activities include quizzes, a music recital or even games, but there is always morning tea with a cuppa and a chance to catch up with friends or to make new ones.

It is a very easy group to join and be part of.

I would commend it to those members of CCIW who are 50+ (or really anyone who is past caring what other people think) both for themselves and as a way of bringing your friends into the church community.

If this group is not for you then perhaps you could consider supporting by praying as we meet and seek to care for one another and reach out as Gods people to the community around us.

Fiona Holt
Pastoral Care 8am

CCIW prayer meeting

On Wednesday February 7 we had the first of our CCIW prayer meetings for 2018. Our hope is that when we as a community bring our prayers to our Heavenly Father, that God answers those prayers and we are encouraged to keep praying without ceasing.

Over the course of the day, with morning and evening meetings, we brought before God prayers for the start of the church year coming out of Vision Sunday and for the many events and programs of CCIW in the coming term. 

We used this personal prayer of dedication adapted from Ephesians 3:14-21 and I commend it to you as a prayer to keep praying throughout the year.

Lord God
According to the riches of your glory,
grant that we might be strengthen in our inner being
through the power of your Holy Spirit
so that Christ might dwell and reign in our hearts.  
Lord, grow us deep in your love so that we might,
together as a community
and by your power,
grasp more and more,
what is the breadth and length and height and depth   
and that we might know the love of Christ
that surpasses knowledge,
so we might be filled with the fullness of God.
Amen
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There will be further opportunities to join in prayer as a whole CCIW community on the first Wednesday of each school term at both a morning meeting (with child care) and evening meeting. Those dates are Wednesday May 2, July 25 and October 17. Listen out for location details.

I highly recommend these prayer meetings for your own encouragement and the excitement of seeing how God will answer our prayers - for he can do far more than we can ask or imagine.

Your sister
Megan

Romans

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Some years ago, there was an exhibition in Canberra of rare and historically significant books. It’s an incredible experience, to see these documents which changed the course of history – the so called Guttenberg Bible, which is the first Bible every printed on a  printing press; the actual bit of paper that Einstein first wrote e=mc squared; the original handwritten copy of Darwin’s Origin of the Species. 

Those are impressive documents, but even more impressive is the document we are about to cast our eyes over, arguably among the most historically significant ever written, and we have the privilege of carrying it around in the bottom of our bags getting crinkled, or as an app on a phone. 

It was the letter to the Romans that ignited Martin Luther and the 16th century Reformation, which changed the course of the spread of the gospel; it was the letter to the Romans that ignited John Wesley and the Evangelical Awakening in 18th century England and America, applying the blowtorch to the belly of a church that had gone to sleep and become feeble; and it was the letter to the Romans that ignited Karl Barth early in the 20th century, halting the progress of the watery liberalism that had seduced the church then. 

I suspect God has used this letter more than any other part of the Scriptures. And our joy over the next few weeks is to allow it to do its work on us. And to get started, here’s a video overview!

Warmly, 
Andrew

Big Steps Forward

It’s an interesting thing to explain to people overseas how and why the Australian year begins in the week after Australia Day in late January, especially to those from the Northern hemisphere. They look longingly at our long, languid summer from Christmas Day to Australia Day!

Perhaps you are feeling the sudden increase in traffic again! Kids back into school routine! Or politicians back trying to win our votes.

Our year at CCIW also takes a big step forward this week, with some key events. In particular, this Sunday we join together as one congregation for Vision Sunday, a wonderful occasion of giving thanks to God for the year past, and setting ourselves for the year to come in the grace and service of the Jesus Christ. This year, we meet at St John’s at 10am, and with the Ministry Centre now well settled in, we will have the opportunity to rejoice that God is wonderfully and powerfully present with his people.

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And then, on Wednesday, Feb 7 from 7:30-9pm, having thought and talked about our vision, we’re going to gather in an extended way to pray about it. This year sees a new initiative, with a “Launching Prayer Meeting” to be held the first Wednesday of each term, to bathe our efforts in outreach and inclusion and growth in prayer. 

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I hope you can make a priority of these important events in our life as a church, as we begin another year in the Lord as his people. 

Warmly,

Andrew

Persuing Justice by Ken Wytsma, a book review by John Loxton

“Pursuing Justice” by Ken Wytsma (founder of the Justice Conference in the USA) 2013.  
It’s an easy read and available through Koorong. 

I was very pleased to receive this book for Christmas as a biblical perspective on justice is a valuable thing. It enables us to understand how we can follow Jesus better, and answer the prophet Micah’s call to “live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”

Ken Wytsma writes that “Justice  is a hallmark of God, a distinctive and pure feature of His character” and is “the broadest, most consistent word the Bible uses to speak about “what ought to be.” 

He says that to “do justice” means to render what is due to each person, and to God. Central is the notion that all people are made in the image of God. This means that all people have inalienable dignity and infinite worth (see Genesis 1.27). And Jesus taught that what you do for the least of people you do for Him.

I found the book helpful in the way it looked at the history and meaning of the terms “social gospel” and “social justice” and how these relate to evangelicalism. It also considers how politics intersects with attitudes to justice and to the poor. 

The author writes, really by way of conclusion, that “injustice is a cold, unrelenting reality. It can be tempting for us to use our comfort to ignore injustice or rationalise it away. But God would have us join His work”. This does not mean that we have personal responsibility to fix every injustice in the world, but does mean we should take positive steps consistent with God’s will wherever He puts us in this world. In doing this we will be showing that we have grasped the meaning of God’s grace to us.

I recommend this book to you.

John Loxton

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Imbeciles by Adam Cohen, a book review by Jono McKeown

Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen (published by Penguin Press, New York 2016). A brief recommendation by Jono McKeown.

I heard Adam Cohen interviewed on Radio National a while back and was at once intrigued by the subject of his book – the shadowy history of American eugenics – but also impressed by the fact that when asked about his motivation for writing it he linked the endeavour explicitly to his Christian faith and vocation. I scrawled down the author’s name and the title of his book on a scrap of paper (while stopped at a set of lights) with the intention of ordering it on-line when I got home later that evening, but in the hurly burly of the day lost my note and it slipped my mind. Until one day, a couple of months later, while shopping in Gleebooks for a present for a friend, I came across it and was reminded. I bought it, took it home and it sat on one of my piles for a few months more before I got around to actually reading it, but once I’d embarked there was no looking back. It is a well written book and more compelling than many novels I’ve read (or started to read). The story of Carrie Buck is told in a series of biographical sketches of the key players and personalities that were decisive in her fate. Carrie was a humble, helpless, unfortunate young woman who was used as the “test case” culminating in Buck v. Bell and the Supreme Court ruling handed down in 1927 that “championed” the mass sterilization of undesirable citizens for the greater good of the country. (That’s right, 1927, before the Nazis gave eugenics a bad name.) Before doing this, however, her “people” (as she trustingly referred them on the one occasion she was invited to speak for herself in court) had to build a case that Carrie was a hereditary “mental defective” who would produce more “feebleminded” offspring which the state would have to support unless and end were put to it – that is, by state-sanctioned sterilization. The process of building this case entailed, among other highly dubious methods, being assessed by scientific experts of the day using the Binet-Simon intelligence test, as a result of which she was designated a “Middle grade Moron.”

What struck me most forcefully as I was reading was just how suasive ideologies can be, in this case Social Darwinism. From the beginning to the end of the story it was not unintelligent or uneducated people (though they were certainly ignorant) that were tempted and ultimately perverted by a ripening idea, it was the elite of American society: doctors, lawyers, politicians, scientists, academics. “The 8-1 ruling was signed by some of the most revered figures in American Law – including Chief Justice William Taft, a former U.S. president … Louis Brandeis, a progressive icon … [and] Oliver Wendell Holmes, considered by many the greatest Supreme Court justice in history.” Interestingly (although this was not over-stated in the book), the one and only dissenting voice to this ruling was a Catholic Christian. To see how ideological convictions perverted the highest legal court of justice in America was eye-opening to say the least. And the result was not just the sterilization of Carrie Buck for the good of the nation; seventy thousand other Americans were also sterilized as a consequence of that ruling before the horrors of German Nazism woke American justice from its moral and intellectual slumber.

This book gave me a better vantage from which to reflect more critically – not just on the contemporary (potential) forms of eugenics on offer (screening pre-natally for down’s syndrome and other “defects”, “designer” babies, our (medical) culture of abortion on demand, IVF, and euthanasia) – but on other ideologies that have taken possession of our own era and that make it virtually impossible for us to see anything other as possessing rational or moral plausibility, let alone validity or legitimacy: “gender theory” and its dogma of “gender fluidity”; “globalization” whose dogmatic buzz word is “economic growth”; even, dare I say, “feminism”. (To see, during the recent staging of the same-sex marriage “debate”, how even public institutions like the ABC can be hijacked by ideological agendas was a wake-up call to me.) Or most subtle of all (because most profound) is the Nietzschean-Heideggarian-Foucauldian ideological program of “deconstruction” which has all but succeeded in remaking categories like “true” and “good” and “beautiful” (to name just a few) into mere trophies of a will to power.

Imbeciles inspired me to be more vigilant and clear-sighted as a Christian. I closed the book feeling many things but above all proud (in a humbled kind of way) that it was a Christian, justice Pierce Butler, that had courageously dissented to the Supreme Court ruling, and that it was another Christian, Adam Cohen, that had bothered to do the painstaking work of research and writing to bring this secret history to light. That was how they served and, in so doing, bore witness to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

P.S. My holiday reading list: I am currently reading a book of short stories by Anton Chekhov About Love and Other Stories; The Hidden and the Manifest: Essays in Theology and Metaphysics by David Bentley Hart; Birds: Poems by Judith Wright; and have just finished Who Is That Man? In Search of the Real Bob Dylan by David Dalton. Next on my list is Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany by Norman Ohler.

Summer and Reading

Boxing Day to Australia Day - is it unique to Australian culture to stage a collective ‘relaxed’ month, when the usual intensity that marks the rest of the year is both over and hasn’t yet started? Either way, it’s a great invention!

One of the joys it provides is a space for more sustained reading. Making time for reading can be challenging, and there’s not much about a twitter world that encourages the kind of deep thought and sustained commitment that are needed to get through a whole book! But reading has always been a core Christian discipleship practice.

I try to be fairly picky about what I’ll read over summer - usually a novel, a Christian / theology book and a ‘secular’ non-fiction book, to try to keep a balanced diet. 

How about you? If you read something, and would like to share some thoughts, send them in to Meagan Lacoba, who puts together the eNewsletter each week, and we’ll include your review / reflection in the next edition. Meagan can be contacted on: meaganl@cciw.org.au

Happy new year!

Warmly,

Andrew

Fresh Eyes

Fresh eyes are always a gift! 

Some weeks ago, we had a visiting preacher for our Missions sermon series. As I often do, I asked him what he noticed about us - our church life, our culture, our services - because he was seeing things with fresh eyes.

He mentioned a few things, but one that stood out was how encouraged he felt by the extent and diversity of the outreach activities we were doing. And it got me thinking, he was exactly right!

In December alone, we have had 2 Christmas festivals, a Fifty+ Christmas gathering, an English Corner Christmas party, gingerbread making, Christmas wreath making, and of course Basecamp, each of them wonderful occasions.

Overall, I would guess more than 300 non-church people of all ages have directly connected with us and heard of the grace of God in the gift of a Messiah, and that’s before we’ve even had the Christmas services! It’s been a great team effort, with a huge number of people from CCIW involved, which says something really significant about our heart to reach those who are strangers to the love of Jesus. Praise God!

Do keep praying that God would use these events - the songs sung, the relationships strengthened, the conversations had, the Bible talks heard -  for his glory as he draws people to Christ.

Warmly,

Andrew

Basecamp & Kingdom Growth

We’re five days away from our third time around at Basecamp, with a record number of kids (120!) coming from Tuesday to Thursday to hear the gospel clearly taught through Luke’s account of the Christmas story.

There are two particular ways that I think God is using Basecamp to grow his kingdom.

Firstly, of the 120 children attending, at least a third, and maybe up to a half, are from non-Christian or nominal Christian backgrounds. Praise God that these children will hear the gospel next week, and pray that it would take root in their hearts.

Secondly—as things stand—over 50 people in the CCIW community will be helping by leading groups, running activities, supervising free play times, cooking for leaders and in a number of different other ways. What an awesome way for God to be building us up as a church through service!

Please pray for the leaders and the kids next week, that God would sustain the leaders and most importantly put his word on the hearts of many children.

Kids ministry

Jared Attia has been serving as a children's ministry intern at St John's this year. Here are some of his reflections on the year:

1. What does your week look like as a children’s ministry intern?

My week normally involves organising different aspects of the kids ministries at St John’s such as Kid’s Church on Sundays and our kids clubs, Splatt and Basement. I also teach two scripture classes at Dobroyd Point Public School, which was a new experience for me.

2. What keeps you going in kids ministry?

Kids ministry is especially exciting, not only because kids can bring something new everyday, but often, especially in the scripture class context, you get the opportunity to tell a child the gospel for the first time or teach biblical stories that they have never heard before, which I think is really special.

3. How has God been growing you over this year?

I think I have grown especially in regards to my ability to teach and understand God’s word which in the future will helpful in my individual growth more and more. But also in both general and spiritual maturity, being amongst the staff at CCIW has been a real eye opener for how Christians act and the wisdom they display. 

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6 brilliant resources for Advent

This Sunday we begin a new Advent series, as we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas.

Below are some great resources you might like to use in the lead up Christmas as we still our hearts and focus our attention on the gift of the newborn King. If you know of any other great Christmas resources please send me an email and let me know.  I’d love to hear from you!

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1. Video - Meet the Nativity
Glen Scrivener is a gifted evangelist and author who has just released a fantastic five-episode evangelistic mini-film, called Meet the Nativity, for Christmas 2017.  It is fabulous and a great production worth checking out.
Watch it online for free here.

2. Book - Hidden Christmas by Tim Keller
Tim Keller unpacks the surprising truth behind the birth of Jesus.  A great read to understand more about the surprising background of the nativity and God’s gift to us in Jesus.  
Order online here.

3. Devotional - Advent for Everyone by Tom Wright
A fabulous resource to use in your devotional life in the lead up to Christmas.  Each day there is a short Bible reading and an insightful reflection from author and theologian Tom Wright.  
Available from the St John’s bookstore or order online here.

4. Children’s Book - The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell
A beautiful and captivating kids retelling of the Christmas story for 4 to 7 year olds. 
Order online here.

5. Traditional Music - Christmas Star: Carols for the Christmas Season byThe Cambridge Singers
A beautiful album of carols and traditional Christmas music.  
Download online here.

6. New Music - The Peace Project album by Hillsong
A brand new Christmas album that combines new tracks along with fresh arrangements of five of the most beloved Christmas classics like ‘Hark’, ‘O Holy Night’ & 'Joy To The World’.
Download online here.

May God grow us all this Christmas as we ponder and treasure the gift of a saviour.

with love in Christ,
Fiona

A service with a difference

Over these last few weeks we’ve been in a sermon series about global mission. We’ve looked at how God calls us to go and make disciples of all nations, and to be partners in the gospel alongside those who have been sent out from among us as we look forward to the day when every nation, tribe, people and language will be gathered around the throne, worshipping Jesus the lamb.

This Sunday we conclude this mission series with a special service. We’ll be moving from a focus on ‘mission out there’ around the world to ‘mission around here’ as together we explore how we are called to be on mission to our local community and those in our immediate networks. 

It will be a church service with with a difference!

Instead of one sermon we’ll hear multiple short TED-style Bible talks. It will be interactive with time to give feedback and valuable input into emerging plans and new initiatives for 2018.  We have incredible opportunities alongside real challenges in the inner west as we seek to proclaim the grace of Jesus so we’ll also take extra time to pray as together we lift our nation, suburb and networks up to our God of mercy.  

One exciting new initiative you’ll hear more about on Sunday is ‘Summer of Fun,’ a series of focussed outreach initiatives coming up in January 2018. You can find out a bit more about this by joining the ‘CCIW Summer of Fun’ Facebook group which you can do now online here.  

May God continue to convict all of us at CCIW of the truth of the gospel of grace and its wonderful significance for all people from all nations for all of life.  

With love in Christ,
Fiona
 

Encouragement and support for Gospel Partners

In our current sermon series we are exploring the nature of global mission and in particular this week about how we at home can support and care for those we send as Gospel Partners.

Toby and Mary Grace Anderson are serving in South Asia doing language development work. They packed up their three children and left us, (their home church), friends, extended family,  and neighbourhood in Ashfield to live with the T-people in a jungle setting, with new culture, language, community, church and friends. They are currently home in Sydney awaiting new visas to return to South Asia in the new year.

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This quote is Mary Grace reflecting on how our support is a real partnership and encouragement to them.

We need encouragement to persevere in mission. The encouragement of words, prayers and financial support. We are your representatives among the minorities of South Asia, being and speaking God's love with them as we help them in accessing the riches of God's word and world. 

When we send out our newsletter things happen - God answers your prayers, he really does. We remember countless times of weariness and difficult relationships when we sent out prayer points and God answered with creativity and breakthroughs in the community. 

Your practical provision so we can leave our jobs in Australia and live as guests and foreigners, offering our services free of charge to the disadvantaged, pushes us on in service when we miss home and find things hard. 
Thank you for partnering with us. 

When we are worshipping Jesus in the eternal kingdom we look forward to introducing you to those you have prayed for and sent us to. Keep encouraging us. Use your words, time, prayer and finances so we can be useful in God’s work in South Asia.

To every nation

Unique among all the major religions of the world, Christianity is a global phenomenon. It is not dominant among only one ethnic group or geographical region, but is spread out roughly evenly throughout the entire world.

And there’s a reason for that!

As the Apostle Paul exclaims emphatically in Rom 3, God is the one, true and living God, and therefore he is the Lord and God of the whole whole world, Jew and gentile, slave and free, women and men - everyone, everything. 

Which is why Christians going into all the world is one of the three ‘necessities’ of the risen Jesus - it was necessary that the Messiah should suffer, that he should rise from the dead, and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to all nations.

Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring how we at CCIW obey this Great Commission of Jesus, both through our gospel partners, as well as in our own immediate network.

Because the vision of the gospel is people from every nation, tribe and language, a great multitude that no one could count, worshipping the Lamb who was slain for them

Andrew

Puggles Playgroup!

Mocha playgroup ( MOther's CHildren Ashfield), has been a ministry of St John's for over 10 years. It is a playgroup for the local community to bring their toddlers and preschoolers to enjoy toys, songs, craft and bible stories. The playgroup involves parents too, with real opportunities to meet people from our community.

Mocha has undergone a few changes during that time and so has our neighbourhood.  No longer can our name include only mother's as many other carers come with children, notably dads. More importantly we have had so many families coming, up to 40 kids and 40 adults some weeks that we could not learn the names let alone remember them or have any meaningful conversation.

 It was time to make some changes. 

The group is now called Puggles playgroup. (A puggle is a baby echidna).

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Puggles meets every Thursday morning of term between 9:30-11:30am in the Ministry Centre. 

Most of our group do not come to our church but some do. Most come from all sorts of places around the world including Poland and China, though predominantly we have a large group of families from the sub-continent.

Puggles playgroup still has toys, craft and songs and bible stories and a wonderful team of volunteers (from each the St John's congregations) who work very hard to make it a friendly and inviting place to welcome the neighbourhood into our christian community.

Please keep the team and this ministry in prayer, that the great news of God's love for all the nations is for them.

Megan Winch

Puggles Playgroup team co-ordinator

Ndabuko, Macha, and God's Goodness

Almost one year ago to the day, we had the privilege of hosting a ‘wedding' - and when I say hosting, I mean everything, from the invitations, to the service itself and the cake and food. The reason? The wedding was for a couple seeking asylum in Australia from their birth country of Zimbabwe.

Ndabuko and Macha reaffirmed their vows before people from multiple communities, in a wonderful celebration of God’s goodness. And afterwards, we had one of the most memorable moments of Jazz in the Graveyard, when hundreds of people from church and the wider community joined in a spontaneous bridal dance to classic African contemporary pop music!

Now, one year later, some more good news. The family has finally been issue temporary protection visas, which means that they are free to work and study, as well as rent a home in a location of their choice.

We continue to support this family. Please pray that they will find both work and good accommodation. 

And look out for them possibly to visit us at church for the 1 year anniversary!

Andrew

Synod

For five days over the last two weeks, the ‘parliament’ of the Anglican Church in Sydney met. Each parish is represented by its rector, as well as the Synod reps elected at the Annual General Meeting - for us, that’s Yvette McDonald and Gabriel Lacoba.

In all, that means around 800 people gather for a meeting! Necessarily, formal meeting procedure becomes a part of the experience, but important issues are raised and decided at Synod.

In particular, this year we passed several Ordinances (church laws) related to a national Anglican child protection system, as well as a policy on helping parishes respond well to situations of domestic abuse, and to gender identity issues. A new scheme for professional development for ministers was adopted, as well as a proposal to tax parish property income (although it will have minimal impact on us!). 

Lots of other items were debated and decided, and for the keen curious, a full report will be available on the Diocesan website.

Perhaps the most noticeable feature of the Synod, however, is it’s Christian character - little to no nastiness, back biting or antagonism, although plenty of engaged and robust debate and disagreement. 

Andrew

Lament

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears
Oh, hard times, come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door
Oh, hard times, come again no more

“Hard times” by Australian song writer Paul Kelly is a modern day lament. His opening line is a powerful reminder that our attempts to push on through hard times can be damaging not to mention dishonest about the harsh realities of life in this world.  And so "Hard times” is a protest not only against suffering but against our attempts to minimise it or move on quickly from it. We might be afraid of letting people see that we’re not coping. We might be scared of admitting to ourselves that we’re not holding life together. But Paul Kelly says “let us pause” and face the reality that there are times when life is devastating. Let us cry out against those times.

And yet “Hard times” doesn’t hold out much in the way of hope. Perhaps this is because it doesn’t show us who we can cry out to.

And this is one thing which makes the laments we find in Scripture stand out. They are no less honest about the realities of hardship. They give voice to fear and confusion. They cry out in pain and ask difficult questions. But most significantly they direct these laments - not to the universe - but to God. The Psalmist asks:

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?


He accuses:

You have put me in the depths of the Pit, in the regions dark and deep. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves.
You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples… Because of you we are being killed all day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord?


And as he creates for us a tradition of lament he gives us permission to do the same.

On Sunday 1st October St Alban’s 10am and 6pm held services of lament. This was an opportunity to pour out our souls to God. If you would like to listen to the talk from that Sunday it is online at this link.

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While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay
There are frail forms fainting at the door
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh, hard times, come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door
Oh, hard times, come again no more

'Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave
'Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
'Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door
Oh hard times come again no more
Oh hard times come again no more

Growing as Leaders

Each week there are over 45 leaders serving in children’s and youth ministry across CCIW.

This Sunday we’re gathering together for the first time as a cohort of leaders involved in ministries to the young across CCIW.  We’re running vision and training event to sharpen and align our convictions and focus as a leadership cohort.  Leaders who serve in everything from playgroups to Kids’ Church to Basecamp to teaching Scripture in schools to youth group will be there.

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It will be a diverse group! Some of the leaders are in their retirement, seasoned leaders who serve a morning each week in our children’s and family ministry.  Others are in junior high school, just starting to discover their gifts as they take their first steps into serving in ministry and teaching God’s word to others.  Some are in their first year of serving at CCIW.  Others have been part of serving on a particular ministry team for almost a decade.

Amidst the range of ages and experiences, these leaders are united by their heart to reach young people and see them grow into maturity.

They are a wonderful group of leaders motivated by God’s grace and shaped by His word.  Can I encourage you to give thanks to God for them this week.  Pray for an encouraging and fruitful time together at our vision and training day on Sunday.  Ask too that God will continue to work in our youth and children’s ministries and give these leaders the joy of seeing much fruit from their labours.

End Slavery

Last Sunday CCIW joined more than 2,700 churches across the world in Freedom Sunday, as we spent time together in prayer calling on God to end slavery. Today, more than 45 million people are estimated to be in modern day slavery. It is a current reality that is vast and brutal.

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It was a privilege to hear about the work of International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org.au) and their vision to rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible. IJM seek to protect the poor from violence by partnering with local authorities to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.

If you’d like to learn more about the work IJM does there are a couple of next steps you could talk:

TED Talk: Gary Haugen: The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now
This is a fabulous TED talk worth watching.  IJM Founder and International President Gary Haugen explains why IJM’s approach is so powerful as he addresses some of the hidden systemic problems that keep poverty alive.

Pray with IJM
IJM sends regular prayer updates with praise points, specific requests and current needs to bring to God.  If you’d like to pray for the work of IJM and join them in the fight to end slavery you can sign up to receive their prayer updates here.

In the Psalms we’re reminded that God's righteousness is like the mighty mountains, his justice like the great deep (Psalm 36).  By his grace and mercy may we see an end to slavery.

Fiona