Vol.XIV No.XI Pg.6
January 1978

Australian Summary

Robert F. Turner

For three months, from September 20 to December 12, Bob Harkrider and I journeyed to Australia and worked among brethren there. We contacted 22 congregations, and preached to 15 of them. I traveled over 7,000 miles and Bob traveled about 6,000 miles within the country. We tried to stress training for service; and we taught classes in Romans, Revelation, and The Cults, because of the need for information in these fields in day-by-day encounters. We cannot know the true measure of accomplishments, nor do we desire to publish glowing reports. We only know that we tried to save souls and strengthen brethren.

As reported in Sept. '77 P.T., the Australian brethren paid all of my travel expenses. Most unexpectedly, they also assisted in my personal support, and in bro. Harkrider's support. This is supposed to be a "touchy" subject; but I believe there is a genuine awakening in Australia to such responsibilities, and recognition and thanksgiving for such is in order.

Australian churches are small and widely scattered. We did not visit a conservative church with more than 45 members, and oftimes we met with six or eight. With 50 in attendance, we "stood before a great sea of faces." Where such conditions prevail, there or in the U.S., family problems, petty jealousies, doctrinal peculiarities, etc., become major problems and detract from the Lord's work. Perhaps associated with smallness in number, yet growing out of an ultra conservative background and honest conviction, are other hindrances to growth. Only seven of the fifteen congregations to whom we preached had a permanent meeting place. Some either object to, or are not positive in their efforts to obtain such. "Mutual edification" is something more than a necessity to a few. They have seen preacher abuses and will have to recognize mutual edification abuses before they are likely to sort out this matter. And there are always some who are satisfied to "keep house for the Lord." Need I remind you of comparable U.S. problems?

But there are encouraging signs in Australia. Some congregations have grown numerically and spiritually since my last visit (1973). We met perhaps a half-dozen young men who study and are anxious to prepare themselves to preach full-time; and there are churches willing to support them to the extent of their ability. An attitude of self-sufficiency is developing, and a recognition of the need to move forward. Two men have bought a press, and plan to print tracts and study materials. Liberal brethren who accused us of "dividing churches," have greatly underestimated the capacity of Australians to think for themselves. A highly sectarian history (?) of "Neo-Conservatism" in Australia has backfired. One brother told me he had two copies; one to study and mark; the other to lend to anyone interested. He found the book answered itself in unprejudiced hands.

The "needs" in Australia are about like "needs" here in areas where few brethren exist -- like "needs" in the Dakotas, Montana, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, etc. Workers, support, and genuine prayerful interest in the "faithful few" are sorely needed.