This declaration was made by Pedro Fernandez de Quiros on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu on 14th May, 1606. Australia was previously known as Terra Australia Incognito.
“Let the heavens, the earth, the waters with all their creatures
and all those here present
witness that I, Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros…
in the name of Jesus Christ…
hoist this emblem of the Holy Cross
on which His (Jesus Christ’s) person was crucified
and whereon He gave His life
for the ransom and remedy of all the human race…
On this day of Pentecost, 14 May 1606…I, take possession
of all this part of the South as far as the pole
in the name of Jesus…
which from now on shall be called
the Southern land of the Holy Ghost
…and this always and forever
…and to the end that to all natives, in all the said lands,
the holy and sacred evangel may be preached zealously and openly.”
These words are the prayer of a Portuguese navigator, who was part of the Spanish
Voyages of Discovery to the Pacific Ocean. There were many ships and explorers of Dutch,
English, French, Portuguese and Spanish origins who passed near the northwest coastline
and so believed that a vast continent in the south was yet undiscovered by other explorers.
Until the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1770, the East coast remained unchartered.
The prayer of Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, invoking the Holy Spirit, so long ago is now,
more than ever, worthy of recalling, for a nation in crisis, built on Judeo-Christian foundations.
As a devout Catholic, Captain Pedro had passed through Rome, prior to this voyage, to seek
the Holy Father’s blessings on his distant voyages, that risked peril or joy and months or years
at sea, seeking a vast southern continent, Australia, we now know and love as home.
Let us, like Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, pray to the Holy Spirit in this time of a virus
pandemic that has brought so much suffering and death so quickly throughout the world.
May the words “Come O Holy Spirit, and Renew the face of the earth” become our prayer.
Edmund Sim has a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from the University of Queensland and is a Professor at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
Su-Hie, Edmund’s girlfriend (now his wife, both Ph.D. students then), invited Edmund to a Renewal meeting at Gateway Baptist Church in Brisbane which I was leading with Hilary Mackerras and some of their band providing the music. During the worship, many would go to the front to receive prayer from the prayer team. We had an open baptistry available there for anyone desiring to obey Jesus in baptism. Edmund was baptized that night. This is part of his testimony, from Chapter 1, ‘I saw Jesus Christ’, in his book The Faithful and the Faithless, by Edmund Sim, Methodist Church in Malaysia, 2013, pp 5-8.
Gateway Baptist Church in Brisbane
On the evening of October 26 of 1997, Su-Hie and her home group brought me to a revival meeting and worship night at the Gateway Baptist Church. It was located at Mount Gravatt on the outskirt of Brisbane city. Ordinarily I would not have agreed to go for such a thing, but on that night, strangely, I did not protest. However, I went with an intention of doubt. I wanted Christ to prove tangibly that He is real to me. Silently, I cried out to Him for proof. I needed to see and feel that He can save me from misery.
The session started in a typical fashion with prayers, a few readings from the Gospel, and songs of praise. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Then as the evening progressed, the crowd grew more upbeat. …
I doubted whether any of the attendees were genuine in their faith, and thought that they may have faked a good show. I thought I would wait and see if there were more events to critique. Silently in my mind, I was still asking God for a sign – just one simple and obvious sign.
Then, all of a sudden, I saw a vision in front of me – a persistent and clear image amidst the echoes of the music and singing. The vision was the image of a tall thin man in a white shining robe. He had a long face, a beard, but I could not make out the facial details because of the bright glare. His arms were opened, reaching out to each side. There was so much light around him. In an instance, I knew who I saw. There was no doubt in my heart and mind that I saw JESUS CHRIST.
As I was still awestruck by the whole experience, the Lord who stood in front of me gently bowed down. I was calm and unafraid, but I was not happy. Tears filled my eyes, and I started to cry. I felt so ashamed of myself. It was my arrogance and pride that blocked me from Christ all this while. Yet as a terrible sinner I dared to ask God for a sign. But He came.
He came for this sinner, and He showed me the greatest humility I have ever seen. He is a God, and King above all kings, yet He bowed down before me. It was such perfect humility that I began to see the reality of my sinfulness. I cried thinking of the many sins and wickedness of my past. I felt unworthy thinking of how I allow pride to lead me instead of Him. Finally I saw His magnificent power – not in physical brawn, but in the strength to bow down to a lowly sinful creature like me.
There was no question what I should do next. I knew I had to repent, and accept Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Not only had He given me a sign, He had revealed the truth of my nature before me, and through the most magnificent of ways compelled me to willingly acknowledge my sins, to repent and believe in Him. It was all clear to me. I know that I could never be separated from Him. …
What is clear to me now is that I saw Jesus Christ, and now it is my turn to help others see Him too.
You, or your group, could include these spheres in your prayers.
From the National Prayer Strategy:
The vision for the ten domains was revealed to Peter Kentley, the former CEO of Australian Marketplace Connections. Since 2009 we have received a number of confirmations to adopt and develop this vision in Australia, and to establish prayer (and mission) strategies for these domains.
The original ten domains were:
1. Trade and Finance (Business) 2. Government and the Military 3. Law and Justice 4. Religion and Philosophy 5. Creative Arts 6. Education 7. Charity and Not for Profit Welfare 8. Health and Science 9. Media and Entertainment 10. Sport and Recreation
During the 20th Century life became multi-faceted and overly busy with Marketplace spheres (or mountains or domains) of influence dominating and competing for the Families’ time, money, affections and ambitions, and drawing them away from the Church (the eternal family) and God our creator.
Every month we dedicate prayer for these 12 spheres (click on each):
To a great extent God is being largely relegated outside these spheres of our society. The cost of this relegation has been incredible: costs to society in the form of corporate ethical failures, physical and mental health burdens resulting from people failing to engage with Biblical solutions such as forgiveness, and the near-meltdown of the whole global financial system (the ‘GFC’ and potential ‘GFC2’) as a result of debt-driven artificial wealth creation that was not based on Godly values and principles.
Even the Church has been largely seduced into a Greek world view of the division of sacred and secular, creating a separation of Sunday from Monday. This resulted in the Church only accessing some 5% of its people’s waking time and Christian discipleship becoming emasculated (minimizing the impact of the Great Commission).
Yet the Marketplace is the place where Christians spend some 67% of their waking time Monday to Friday. It is in the workforce that the Christians’ attitudes and character are put to the reality test…
…and if the Christians’ Monday behaviour does not reflect their Sunday belief, why would anyone believe their belief?
From this we can conclude that the BIG answer for the Church impacting the world is not primarily in programs, as good as some of these may be. The answer is in the excellence of discipleship expressed into the world: i.e. into the workforce, into the marketplace, into the shopping centres, into the schools, into the hospitals, into the courts and onto the sports fields and so on. This is our original Commission from Jesus in Matt 22:37-40 and 28:17-20 and John 17:18.
Our Principles are God’s Principles; ‘… on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:19)
(Reviewed by Ps. Geoff Armitage)
At this time in history we are living under God’s grace, where good and evil can produce order or disorder (respectively), and according to our obedience or disobedience to God. In this reality two doctrines work in parallel: the free will of man and the sovereignty of God. While God calls all people to himself through His truth and kindness, not all will respond. God is not responsible for our sin and He will ultimately have the last say.
Ultimately, for the life we have been given we will all be held individually accountable (John 3:16-18). The time will certainly come when the Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth to rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over the whole earth from the city of Jerusalem (Micah 4:1-8).
Therefore, our faith is in Christ the Son of the Living God (John 3:18), and this is where we stand.
Our Mission is to pray and connect people who are passionate about participating in growing the governance of Christ in every sphere/mountain/domain of influence in our society and follow God’s command to love one another as He loved us (John 13:34-35).
We look to connect Christians, who are passionate about the Great Commandments (Matthew 22:34-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in everyday life. This connection is without regard for denominational affiliation.
Our ethos is vibrantly alive around nine magnificent truths:
The Government rests on the shoulders of Jesus and his government and peace will never end – the Lord Almighty will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
The offices of Jesus in Heaven and Earth are Prophet (Hebrews 1:1-2), Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and King (Revelation 19:16).
The three institutions of God on earth are Family, Government and Church.
Church and State have separate jurisdictions under Jesus. For the Church Jesus is the head and high priest. For the State Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Society operates through spheres/mountains/domains with a multitude of sub-spheres/mountains/domains.
The foundations of the Kingdom of God are Justice and Righteousness (Psalm 89:14).
The Power of God works through all spheres/mountains/domains.
Jesus Christ will come again to rule and reign over the earth.
Our connection with God is through humility, faith and obedience (Matthew 18:4, Hebrews 11:6).
We are implementing these truths through praying and encouraging many church and marketplace leaders who represent their spheres/mountains/domains of influence.
On Tuesday 20 April 2021, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave an address to Christian Leaders at the Australian Christian Churches conference on the Gold Coast. This is not the first time Mr Morrison has spoken about his faith, nor did he say anything particularly controversial, but that has not stopped a storm of news and social media coverage about the place of faith in politics.
Following is a transcript of what he had to say (after his initial greetings):
“I do want to share something with you tonight, a few things that are on my heart. I need you help… Jenny sends her best by the way, thank you for your prayers for Jen, particularly most recently. She’s amazing. I’m just thrilled the rest of the country is getting to work out what I’ve known for a very, very long time. She’s a great blessing, you know, she’s got an amazing heart, the way she’s used the opportunity God has given us for such a time as this. The way that she has been able to reach out to people and just be a blessing to them and a comfort to them. Her heart is just as big as it comes and God is using her, I think, in great ways, in political ways. I didn’t come to talk about politics tonight … the opportunities that have come her way. Leila and Danny Abdallah, I don’t know if you know Leila and Danny? They lost their three children, when they were run over at Oatlands and Jenny has forged an amazing friendship with her and that family, and the other families that are affected, and that’s an amazing faith that forgives and they’ve been a blessing to this country.
But, I do need your help. My father-in-law was an amazing Christian. There wasn’t a day that went past when Roy wasn’t in complete wonder about how God saved him. He grew up in Bondi when it was a lot tougher than it was today, and he had a bit of a rough time growing up. He was a bit of a loner and God reached him through a great church where he was and he just lived the rest of his life saying “I can’t believe how great God is” and he would just give thanks every single day. And, when I was younger – because I started going out with Jenny when I was 16 – I would sit and we’d have discussions, Roy and I. Even back then I was interested in things political and so was Roy. We would talk about government and talk about all this and he’d get veryfrustrated with me because I wouldn’t answer all the questions. And I said, “you know Roy, you know, I can’t fix the world. I can’t save the world. We both believe in someone who can”. And that’s why I’ve come here for your help tonight because what you do, and what you bring to the life of faith of our country is what it needs, in my view.
Rabbi Jonathon Sacks, you may know of him, he was the chief rabbi in a synagogue in London. If you haven’t read any of Rabbi Sacks’ work, I strongly encourage you do. He wrote a book just before he died called Morality. Now, it wasn’t about what you might think or I think, most people who are outside of faith communities would think when you say “morality“. And he said this about it, he said: “You lose your morality and you’re in danger of losing your freedom.” He said “Our rights used to be how we were protected from the state and now, it’s what we expect of it.” He said “What we once expected from family and community, now we can track this to the state and to the market.”
And he channelled someone else, famous economist Friedrich Hayek: “Freedom has never worked without deeply ingrained moral beliefs.” He was talking about community, and you can’t replace community with governments, with the market, with other institutions, you can’t. You can’t replace the family, you can’t replace marriage, you can’t replace the things that are so personal and ingrained and come out of us as individuals with systems of power or systems of capital. These are important things but they can’t replace community.
At every church people say to me, “what church do you go to?”… I say “Horizon Church, used to be known as Shirelive Church”. You know other churches, there are Baptist churches, there are Brethren churches, I’ve always been at a community church. That’s where I want to be, and a church that believes in community and creates community. And the essence of community is each individual understanding that they’re valued, that they’re unique. That they can respect one another. That they can contribute to one another.
We cannot allow what we feel entitled to be to be more important than what we’re responsible for. This is very important stuff that Rabbi Sacks is talking about, because he gets it, that the essence of morality is not what others would think it is, about sexuality and all of these issues. Of course, these things relate to it, but it’s about the dignity and value of each and every human being and the responsibilities that they have one to another. Now, you cancel out one human being and you cancel community because community is just human beings who God loves, and, and is intended to connect us one to another. Morality is about focusing not on ‘you’, but on the person next to you. It’s about focusing, for me, on you, not me. That is the essence of community. You can’t pass a law for it. You can’t create a building for it. It is essentially what springs from each and every one of us. Community. It’s born of what he likes to call a covenant and a covenant as we read, particularly in the Old Testament – he tends to read the Old Testament a bit more often than you! He seems to understand it a lot better than many…
But he speaks about this in a way, it’s not a transaction because in a covenant there are responsibilities. Not just obligations, but responsibilities. There is relationship in covenant, which is what God sought with Israel, in covenant, deep relationship, it’s personal. It goes beyond. There’s the giving of oneself the respect, the dignity, the caring together. The sharing of interests, the sharing of lives. The pledging of faithfulness and achieving together what cannot be achieved alone. A covenant, more than a transaction. Family and marriage, God has created in the same way, to reflect that covenant that we can have. And so I need you to keep building community in this country. I need you to keep doing the things that you do which allows Australians, right here, wherever you may be. Brad [Bonhomme] does amazing work up in Papua New Guinea. I know how much he loves going up there and I’m sure there are many other teams that have blessed our Pacific family. But it’s so important to continue to reach out and let each and every Australian know that they are important. That they are valued, that they are significant. Because we believe they are created in the image of God and that in understanding that, they can go on a journey that I’m very confident you can take them on. And I’m relying on you to do that because that’s not my job, that’s yours.
There are some threats to this that I want to share with you. There is a fashion these days to not think of Australians as individuals, there is particularly, I think, amongst our young people, and I worry about this. It’s called “identity politics”. People think of themselves by the things they can describe and connect them with others. These are important things. One’s ancestry. One’s gender, where one’s from. If you’re from The Shire, well, that’s great, starting ahead of everybody else. As they say, “prayer in The Shire is a local call”. It’s Cronulla for those of you not familiar with what I’m referring to. But there is a tendency for people not to see themselves and value themselves in their own right as individuals. And to see themselves only defined by some group and they get lost in that group and you know when you do that you lose your humanity. And you lose your connection, I think, one to each other and you’re defined by your group, not by, I think, I believe who God has created you to be. And to understand that. And that’s a big thing going on in our community, in our society and it’s corrosive, it’s absolutely corrosive and, I think it’s undermining community and, I think it’s undermining the self-worth that Australians can have because if you‘re only defined by what pack you’re in or what group you’re in or what group you’ve been in or what box you’re put in, how others have defined you or sought to define you either to enlist you to their cause or whatever that might be. Australians need to understand that they themselves individually and personally are unique and wonderful. Because, you know, if you look at each other not as individuals but as warring tribes, you know, it’s easy to start disrespecting each other. It’s easy to start not understanding the person across from you, and this is important for politics for us too, that there is a beating heart over there, there is a unique individual with a unique set of issues and challenges and opportunities and possibilities and all of these sorts of things. And when you stop seeing that and just see someone as, well, they’re of that view and that group.
That’s why people start writing stupid things on Facebook and the internet, being disrespectful to one another and we all know how that is corroding and desensitising our country and our society, not just here but all around the world. I think it’s an evil thing. I think it’s a very evil thing and we’ve got to pray about it, we’ve got to call it out and we’ve got to raise up our spiritual weapons against this because it’s going to take our young people. It’s going to take their courage. It’s going to take their hope. It’s going to steal their hope. We’ve got to pray about that, we’ve got to pray against that because it is such a corrosive thing that we’re seeing take place. Yeah sure, social media has its virtues and its values and enables us to connect with people in ways we’ve never had before, terrific, terrific. But those weapons can also be used by the evil one and we need to call it out.
So, this is the help I need from you. I need your help to keep doing what you’re doing. I need your help to remind Australians how precious they are and how unique they are.
Can I finish with four verses? I just wanted to share this with you in closing. Things that I have learned while I’ve been Prime Minister and, indeed, long before that.
 The first one is 1 Chronicles 13:3. It’s about David. It talks about how in the time of Saul they didn’t inquire of the Lord. And it’s important for us to inquire of the Lord. And this is how David established and set up when he became King. That all other kings, Saul had not done that and we know that over the course of Israel’s history that those who didn’t inquire of the Lord, those who neglected the Lord, those who put what the Lord had put in their heart to one side, then their kingdoms went where they went and the people followed them where they went. And we all remember what happened when that occurred and this is a constant reminder to me just in my own personal walk and I’m encouraged by the people I’ve mentioned already tonight and many more. That is something I seem to do and a lot of people outside this place you will understand what I’m talking about, it’s not a political thing. Faith is very much an ingrained part of my life and I just seek His wisdom in the same way you do each and every day and it’s important we do that.
 The second one, I like this one, it’s Psalm 23:5, where he talks about preparing the banquet for you in the presence of your enemies. We’ve got to sit down with them at that banquet. I sit down at that banquet every single day. But that’s where we‘re called. He didn’t prepare a banquet for us in the presence of our greatest admirers and friends who would tell us wonderful and lovely things, as nice as that is. He said, “I have prepared this banquet for you in the presence of your enemies that I will be with you at that table”. It is a wonderful reminder to me each and every day.
 I was up in The Pilbara the other night, and Jenny, many many years ago got me this lovely little verse and she put it in a frame so I’d see it each morning, about being strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged, from Joshua 1:9. There was a young fellow who was up there, he worked in the mines. And he just came up to me because people were just saying “G’day” and we were talking, just came up and said, “Joshua 1:9”. Now, I said I’ve got that one, I’ve got that one.
And when you read, as we all do, the thing that keeps coming back to me over and over and over again, any of us in leadership understand that, is yes, He’s prepared that banquet and yes we inquire of the Lord, but you must be strong. You must be courageous and you must not be discouraged. What I like about that verse is He knows that we’ll be discouraged. He knows that those who will seek to hold us back would have us feel discouraged, so He knows it’s going to happen. It’s no surprise to Him that we may feel like that so He simply says “don’t be”… Be strong, be courageous, do not be discouraged.
 And this came home to me, importantly, during the last election campaign, in fact, and I was up on the Central Coast, and I was up there with Jenny. It was a pretty tough week actually. The last couple of weeks of the campaign and I was at Ken Duncan’s Gallery. And I hadn’t, I didn’t know we were going to go to Ken Duncan’s Gallery, we were speaking at a rally that day and we had to go and hold somewhere as we often do before we go over to the next event. And, I must admit, I was saying to myself “Lord, where are you? Where are you? I’d like a reminder, if that’s okay”. And so I didn’t know I was supposed to be at Ken’s Gallery. Ken’s a great Christian guy as you all know. And I walked into his gallery and there right in front of me was the biggest picture of a soaring eagle that I could imagine. Of course, the verse hit me that soaring on the wings of an eagle, run and do not grow weary, walk do not grow faint. [Isaiah 40:31] But the message I got that day was, “Scott, you’ve got to run to not grow weary. You’ve got to walk to not grow faint. You’ve got to spread your wings like an eagle to soar like an eagle”.
So, I hope those few things encourage you. They certainly encourage me and Jenny every day. We are very grateful for the amazing prayers and support that we get from Christians all around the country. It is an avalanche, the letters we get, the support we get, the books that are sent to me. I’ve got them all there, down in Canberra, it’s quite a library that’s building up. People send me verses, they tell me their stories, they share things with me. They share things with Jenny.
It’s a privilege, it is an absolute privilege. I’ve been in evacuation centres where people thought I was just giving someone a hug and I was praying. And putting my hands on people in various places, laying hands on them and praying in various situations. I was just in Kalbarri, where the cyclone just has gone through. In all these places, it’s been quite a time and God has, I believe, been using us to, in those moments, to be able to provide some relief and comfort and just some reassurance. And we’ll keep doing this for as long as that season is. That’s how we see it. We are called, all of us, for a time and for a season and God would have us use it wisely, and uh, for each day I get up and move ahead. There is just one little thing that’s in my head, ‘for such a time as this, for such a time as this’. God bless you, thank you very much.”
Christian faith sustained and guided 6 boys, aged 16 to 13, marooned on a small island for 15 months – the opposite of William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’.
“We were very happy, but the first thing we did, we say a prayer, thank God for what he brought us to.” “Their days began and ended with song and prayer. Kolo fashioned a makeshift guitar from driftwood, half a coconut shell and six steel wires salvaged from their wrecked boat. … It’s time we told a different kind of story. The real Lord of the Flies is a tale of friendship and loyalty; one that illustrates how much stronger we are if we can lean on each other.”
The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months
In the 6 October 1966 edition of Australian newspaper The Age, a headline jumped out at me: “Sunday showing for Tongan castaways”. The story concerned six boys who had been found three weeks earlier on a rocky islet south of Tonga, an island group in the Pacific Ocean. The boys had been rescued by an Australian sea captain after being marooned on the island of ‘Ata for more than a year. …
I was bursting with questions. Were the boys still alive? … Most importantly, though, I had a lead: the captain’s name was Peter Warner. When I searched for him, I had another stroke of luck. In a recent issue of a tiny local paper from Mackay, Australia, I came across the headline: “Mates share 50-year bond”. Printed alongside was a small photograph of two men, smiling, one with his arm slung around the other. The article began: “Deep in a banana plantation at Tullera, near Lismore, sit an unlikely pair of mates … The elder is 83 years old, the son of a wealthy industrialist. The younger, 67, was, literally, a child of nature.” Their names? Peter Warner and Mano Totau. And where had they met? On a deserted island. …
Peter Warner [captain of the rescue ship, the man who rescued six lost boys 50 years ago, now living at Tullera, near Lismore in northern NSW] went to work for his father’s company, yet the sea still beckoned, and whenever he could he went to Tasmania, where he kept his own fishing fleet. It was this that brought him to Tonga in the winter of 1966. On the way home he took a little detour and that’s when he saw it: a minuscule island in the azure sea, ‘Ata. The island had been inhabited once, until one dark day in 1863, when a slave ship appeared on the horizon and sailed off with the natives. Since then, ‘Ata had been deserted – cursed and forgotten.
But Peter noticed something odd. Peering through his binoculars, he saw burned patches on the green cliffs. “In the tropics it’s unusual for fires to start spontaneously,” he told us, a half-century later. Then he saw a boy. Naked. Hair down to his shoulders. This wild creature leaped from the cliffside and plunged into the water. Suddenly more boys followed, screaming at the top of their lungs. It didn’t take long for the first boy to reach the boat. “My name is Stephen,” he cried in perfect English. “There are six of us and we reckon we’ve been here 15 months.”
The boys, once aboard, claimed they were students at a boarding school in Nuku‘alofa, the Tongan capital. Sick of school meals, they had decided to take a fishing boat out one day, only to get caught in a storm. Likely story, Peter thought. Using his two-way radio, he called in to Nuku‘alofa. “I’ve got six kids here,” he told the operator. “Stand by,” came the response. Twenty minutes ticked by. (As Peter tells this part of the story, he gets a little misty-eyed.) Finally, a very tearful operator came on the radio, and said: “You found them! These boys have been given up for dead. Funerals have been held. If it’s them, this is a miracle!”
In the months that followed I tried to reconstruct as precisely as possible what had happened on ‘Ata. Peter’s memory turned out to be excellent. Even at the age of 90, everything he recounted was consistent with my foremost other source, Mano, 15 years old at the time and now pushing 70, who lived just a few hours’ drive from him. The real Lord of the Flies, Mano told us, began in June 1965. The protagonists were six boys – Sione, Stephen, Kolo, David, Luke and Mano – all pupils at a strict Catholic boarding school in Nuku‘alofa. The oldest was 16, the youngest 13, and they had one main thing in common: they were bored witless. So they came up with a plan to escape: to Fiji, some 500 miles away, or even all the way to New Zealand.
There was only one obstacle. None of them owned a boat, so they decided to “borrow” one from Mr Taniela Uhila, a fisherman they all disliked. The boys took little time to prepare for the voyage. Two sacks of bananas, a few coconuts and a small gas burner were all the supplies they packed. It didn’t occur to any of them to bring a map, let alone a compass.
No one noticed the small craft leaving the harbour that evening. Skies were fair; only a mild breeze ruffled the calm sea. But that night the boys made a grave error. They fell asleep. A few hours later they awoke to water crashing down over their heads. It was dark. They hoisted the sail, which the wind promptly tore to shreds. Next to break was the rudder. “We drifted for eight days,” Mano told me. “Without food. Without water.” The boys tried catching fish. They managed to collect some rainwater in hollowed-out coconut shells and shared it equally between them, each taking a sip in the morning and another in the evening.
Then, on the eighth day, they spied a miracle on the horizon. A small island, to be precise. Not a tropical paradise with waving palm trees and sandy beaches, but a hulking mass of rock, jutting up more than a thousand feet out of the ocean.
[Mano Totau adds, “We did not get to the island until nighttime, in the dark, so I had to swim ashore,” says Totau. “I had to go first and I told the boys: ‘We have to say a prayer first before I hop in the sea.’”
Despite the fact that the reef was not far from the boat, Totau said he had a “very, very hard time” reaching it because he was so weak from “lying in the boat for eight days without food, without water”.
“When I reach the shore, I tried to stand up but when I stand up the whole world is spinning, so I laid down and crawl ashore and when I touch the dry grass, then I lie down.”
The other boys called to him from the boat to see if he had made it, but he was so weak he could not stand, he could only call out to them that he was alive.
These days, ‘Ata is considered uninhabitable. But “by the time we arrived,” Captain Warner wrote in his memoirs, “the boys had set up a small commune with food garden, hollowed-out tree trunks to store rainwater, a gymnasium with curious weights, a badminton court, chicken pens and a permanent fire, all from handiwork, an old knife blade and much determination.” While the boys in Lord of the Flies come to blows over the fire, those in this real-life version tended their flame so it never went out, for more than a year.
The kids agreed to work in teams of two, drawing up a strict roster for garden, kitchen and guard duty. Sometimes they quarrelled, but whenever that happened they solved it by imposing a time-out. Their days began and ended with song and prayer. Kolo fashioned a makeshift guitar from a piece of driftwood, half a coconut shell and six steel wires salvaged from their wrecked boat – an instrument Peter has kept all these years – and played it to help lift their spirits. And their spirits needed lifting. All summer long it hardly rained, driving the boys frantic with thirst. They tried constructing a raft in order to leave the island, but it fell apart in the crashing surf.
Worst of all, Stephen slipped one day, fell off a cliff and broke his leg. The other boys picked their way down after him and then helped him back up to the top. They set his leg using sticks and leaves. “Don’t worry,” Sione joked. “We’ll do your work, while you lie there like King Taufa‘ahau Tupou himself!”
They survived initially on fish, coconuts, tame birds (they drank the blood as well as eating the meat); seabird eggs were sucked dry. Later, when they got to the top of the island, they found an ancient volcanic crater, where people had lived a century before. There the boys discovered wild taro, bananas and chickens (which had been reproducing for the 100 years since the last Tongans had left).
They were finally rescued on Sunday 11 September 1966. The local physician later expressed astonishment at their muscled physiques and Stephen’s perfectly healed leg. …
It’s time we told a different kind of story. The real Lord of the Flies is a tale of friendship and loyalty; one that illustrates how much stronger we are if we can lean on each other. After my wife took Peter’s picture, he turned to a cabinet and rummaged around for a bit, then drew out a heavy stack of papers that he laid in my hands. His memoirs, he explained, written for his children and grandchildren. I looked down at the first page. “Life has taught me a great deal,” it began, “including the lesson that you should always look for what is good and positive in people.”
Mr Peter Warner, third from left, with his crew in 1968, including the survivors from ‘Ata. Photograph: Fairfax Media Archives/via Getty Images
In the four days after its publication in The Guardian, this article was read more than 7m times and shared by Russell Crowe, US senator Ted Cruz and former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, to name a few.
Dr Stuart Piggin wrote as Director of the Centre for the History of Christian Thought and Experience at Macquarie University. He lectured in history at Wollongong and Macquarie Universities before taking up his appointment. His books include studies of Australian Church History and of Evangelicalism.
Be encouraged to pray
until the inundation of the Spirit comes
I want to advance four propositions about the history of revivals in Australia, and then comment on the prospects for revival in Australia today.
1. Local revivals have been frequent in Australian history.
In my research I have found references to 71 local revivals in nineteenth century Australia. And far from being impervious to revival, the twentieth century has witnessed more revivals than any previous age. This century has witnessed the greatest growth ever in the Christian Church, and revival in Africa, Asia, and South America is endemic.
In Australia the new century began with the largest evangelistic campaigns in Australia’s history. R. A. Torrey arrived in Melbourne (April 1902) following successful evangelistic tours in Japan and China. Attendances totalled a quarter of a million each week when the population of the whole of Victoria was only one million. Meanwhile, in 1902/3 a tent mission crusade throughout 200 country towns of NSW reported 25,000 inquirers.
In the 1920s there were rather spectacular revivals associated with Pentecostalism. In 1925 a revival broke out in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine. Hundreds came under conviction of sin, were filled by the Great Baptizer, and created such excitement that people came from all over Australia to receive blessing. Out of this was formed the Pentecostal Church of Australia.
The 1930s, the decade of the African revival, witnessed scenes of considerable spiritual vitality in Melbourne. The Methodist Local Preachers Branch was very vigorous and had an impact on evangelical life in Australia. Teams of these local preachers went all over Australia and New Zealand. For many years it held a Holiness Convention each King’s Birthday weekend in Melbourne. It was conducted entirely by laymen. A Baptist minister, George Hall, who trained in America under Dr R. A. Torrey and Dr Campbell Morgan, and who knew evangelical life in USA intimately, said the Methodist Local Preachers Melbourne Branch Holiness Convention was the greatest spiritual force he had ever experienced.
The 1930s also saw scenes of revival in Queensland, especially connected with the Pentecostal branch of Methodism. Revivals were reported at Woombye, Kingscliffe, and Toowoomba. One who was used in this work was Booth Clibborn, grandson of William Booth. Other effective evangelists were Gavin Hamilton, Hyman Appleman, Garry Love and Gypsy Smith. The aboriginal pastor, Rodney Minniecon, now at Griffith, was a product of the same movement.
There were revivals associated with the name of Geoff Bingham in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s, some remarkable occasions associated with the Jesus movement, particularly among young people in Melbourne, and, of course, revival broke among aborigines on Elcho Island in March 1979.
2. Evidence indicates that local revivals have been genuine.
Consider the revival at Kiama in 1864 under the ministry of the Rev. Thomas Angwin, a Methodist. His sermons revealed a knowledge of ‘the deep things of God’, and congregations and prayer meetings grew in number, swelled by Presbyterians and Anglicans who sought a richer fare than they were receiving in their own churches. On ‘one of the later Sundays’ in July 1864 the revival came:
“The arrows were sharp in the hands of the King’s messenger that night. They were straightly aimed, and shot with all the intensity of a love baptized with the compassion of the Christ. … The next night there was almost equally as large a congregation at the prayer meeting. Then began what the good old people called ‘a breaking down’. The communion rail was crowded with seekers. Some hoar-headed men were amongst them; a storekeeper in the town, notorious for his fearful temper and furious conduct when under its influence; some gentle-spirited women; a number of senior lads from the Sunday schools … Night after night for the rest of the week and into the middle of the next, the meetings continued. … It was a revival which gave workers to the Church, teachers to the Sunday School, local preachers to the circuit plan and ultimately several ministers to the Australian Methodist Church” (Carruthers 1922:32).
Revival in Australian Methodism in the second half of the nineteenth century is mainly associated with John Watsford, the first Australian-born Methodist clergyman. In Ballarat in the 1860s, in Parramatta, in the inner city suburbs of Surry Hills and Balmain, and in country town such as Windsor and Goulburn, Watsford was used to ignite the fires of revival. Of a service in the Bourke Street Methodist church, Sydney, in 1860, Watsford (1901:123) reported:
“To a congregation which packed the building I preached from ‘Quench not the Spirit’. What a time we had. The whole assembly was mightily moved, the power was overwhelming; many fell to the floor in agony, and there was a loud cry for mercy. The police came rushing in to see what was the matter; but there was nothing for them to do. It was impossible to tell how many penitents came forward; there must have been over two hundred. The large schoolroom was completely filled with anxious inquirers.”
3. Revivals have raised moral standards of whole communities.
The 1902/3 tent meeting crusade in rural NSW crusade which resulted in the conversion of 25,000 was nowhere more wonderful in its manifestation than in the coal mining villages of the Illawarra when 2735 professed conversion or some 15% of the region’s population. The fire of the Spirit fell on each coal mining village in a work described as ‘gloriously monotonous’. At Mt Kembla 131 professed conversions; Mt Keira 214; Balgownie 183; Bulli 292; Helensburgh 234 and so on. At Mt Kembla ‘an intense emotion with an evident assent to the Preacher’s burning words were imprinted on every face and feature’.
What about the impact on the moral tone of the community? At Mt Keira swearing disappeared and the pit ponies in the mines stopped work as they could no longer understand their instructions, a phenomenon also reported in the Welsh revival 3 years later. Asked what was the evidence that the revival was genuine, the Rev. D. O’Donnell replied that the question was a very proper one, since there should be ‘works meet for repentance’. He catalogued four evidences:
“First, payment of debts. Tradesmen report the settlement of accounts they had long regarded as bad. Second, a pure language. … It is said that in the Mount Keira pit an oath has scarcely been heard since the Mission . . . Third, a fair day’s work. The proprietor of one of the mines told me that the biggest day’s output of coal they ever had, followed the Mission. Fourth, attendance at Church. All the churches report greatly increased congregations and increase in the membership” (Colwell 1904:630).
The great revivals of the past have always resulted in a decline in national illegality and immorality. The same is true of the Billy Graham Crusades in Australia in 1959. The number of convictions for all crimes committed in Australia doubled between 1920 and 1950 and then doubled again between 1950 and 1959 when the population increased by only one quarter. Then, in 1960, 1961, and 1962, the number of convictions remained fairly constant, resuming its dramatic upward trend in the middle and late 60s.
The illegitimate birthrate was also investigated to get some rough index to noncriminal community standards. In the period 1955 to 1965 this index rose every year to almost double the 1954 figure, but the year it rose slowest (.06%) was in 1960. The illegitimate children not conceived in 1959 were not born in 1960!
Turning to alcohol consumption, the Bureau of Statistics supplied the following figures.
Annual Per Capita Consumption of Beer in Australia in Litres 1958-59 111.01, 1968-69 113.5, 1978-79 133.2.
This also reveals the same deteriorating trends as we have seen in all the other social indicators. It is therefore striking to learn that the figure for 196061 is 100.1, that is 10% lower than the 195859 figure, an unexpected and dramatic fall.
4. Revival comes with social salvation to marginalized and underprivileged groups.
Today’s aborigines, who number about 150,000 in Australia, are experiencing revival, with some of their own movements emerging. There has been a change in the tone of communities touched by revival: less drunkenness, petrol sniffing, and fighting; greater conscientiousness in work; an increased boldness in speaking out against social injustices. At the Anglican Roper River Mission (Ngukurr) which had been reduced to a social disaster area by the granting of a liquor licence, the revival, which began in 1979, came as a form of social salvation. Sister Edna Brooker exclaimed: ‘New life has come to Ngukurr. Half the population say they have turned to Christ and the transformation from alcohol, petrol sniffing and immorality is very wonderful’ (Boyd 1986).
At Warburton in Western Australia 500 came to the Lord and were baptized. At Wiluna crime dropped to zero and the local publican had to put on free beer to entice people back into his pub.
So, revival comes as a form of social salvation to a needy people. In Australia the major perceived problems are economic recession and malaise; unemployment; marital breakdown and the poverty of relationships; drugs; death on the roads; environmental rape; demoralization of the young. Revival would be the chief means of energizing the Church in general and Christians in particular to address these problems.
Prospects for revival in Australia
1. Revivals are often caught rather than taught.
Many people, particularly in the missionary movement, are learning about revival which is endemic in other parts of the world and are bringing what they have learned back to Australia.
Australian missionaries working in Africa learned much from the East African revival which began in Ruanda in 1931. Revival has been endemic in the Solomons since the early 1970s. Among the missionaries was George Strachan who has written an instructive book entitled Revival: its blessings and battles. There, for example, he answered the important question, ‘Why do revivals not start?’
“Lack of real prayer is a major hindrance. For many of us prayer is of no great importance. It is just an ‘extra’ to a busy life. But prayer that brings power takes precedence over all else. Nothing should be allowed to steal away time spent with God in prayer” (1989:55).
In 1962 Geoff Bingham, who had been influenced by the East African revival, returned from Pakistan. That year Bingham taught at a teaching mission at Thornleigh. He taught all the great truths which had crystallized for him when he experienced revival in Pakistan: the holiness of God; the tyrants which hold people in bondage, namely sin, the flesh, Satan, principalities and powers; God’s wrath, the conscience, the law. He then showed how all of those have a hold over us because of guilt, but that when the guilt was taken away in the cross so the bondage is taken away.
A prayer meeting before the mission was held in the home of Fred George, a returned CMS missionary from Tanzania. About thirty people attended it. At first the meeting was fairly routine with prayer for the church and mission, and then Geoff said ‘I think that the Lord wants to bring home to us now what the Lord thinks of us.’ He read from Psalm 24, ‘Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.’
Then he suggested that those present should come to the Lord and ask him to reveal himself. They all knelt down in a circle, and then someone began to weep, and a great conviction came over all of them. Some tried to pray, but dissolved in sobs.
One who could not attend that mission because he was sick was John Dunn. At that home prayer meeting there came over John Dunn an incredible sense of his own depravity in the sight of God. He saw something extraordinary. It was as if he were standing outside himself, looking at himself. And he wanted to flee from himself as fast and as far as he could because of the horrific sight he had of his own sin. He was crushed and broke down and sobbed convulsively, and the others around him were prostrate on the floor, broken-hearted.
Then a gentle quietness came over the whole group, and then a wonderful sense of God’s total forgiveness. Then they sang and sang until they were hoarse. The singing and intercession just went on and on, until someone said, ‘It’s half past four in the morning’. Everyone was staggered that so much time had elapsed.
2. The Theology of Revival is increasingly studied and understood.
The thinking of some of the most influential evangelical teachers and preachers of the twentieth century leaves room for revival e.g. Martyn Lloyd Jones and J. I. Packer. Packer, for example, tells us that the Puritans did not use the word revival much they spoke of godliness, by which they meant revival. There is an increasing study and appreciation of the writings of the church’s greatest theologian of revival, Jonathan Edwards. Bingham has written over 150 books. Many of them bear on revival. Then there is the excellent study material of the Fellowship for Revival’s Academy prepared by the Rev. Robert Evans, 57 Talbot Road, Hazelbrook, NSW, 2779. So there is ample opportunity for the Christian to study the whole issue and theology of revival.
3. Revival is usually preceded by unprecedented unity.
Unity among Christians must involve greater cooperation between Evangelicals and Charismatics. This will require godly leadership from those who have been given leadership roles in those branches of the Christian church. I think that there has been such a stand off between the two that I have been advancing a theology which might bring them both together on what they agree about the Holy Spirit rather than have them arguing over what they disagree about the Holy Spirit.
We all agree that the most fundamental work of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin and to regenerate and sanctify. Let us all evangelical and charismatic meet together and pray for a great outpouring of these things rather than arguing over disputed matters such as gifts and exorcisms.
4. Revival comes when we move together.
Revival is the river of God’s love flowing freely and fully through the Church, and it may come when the existing tributaries start to flow together.
a. In late 1989 the first of the prayer meetings for a spiritual awakening within the Anglican church was held in Lindfield, a Sydney suburb. That has expanded and some 26 regional groups are now meeting to pray for revival. This involves about 6000 folk in prayer for the revival of the church and the spread of the gospel. Much blessing is being reported. There are churches which as a result of their involvement with this are reactivating their prayer life. One church reports conversions every week. At a time when the Anglican church is divided over so many issues it is great that Anglicans should be able to draw together to pray in this way.
b. The Fellowship of Revival in the Uniting Church has nurtured such wonderful Christians as Dr Robert Hillman. His life and his lectures on the ministry of intercession will continue to speak to the Church and sensitize it to its need for revival.
c. Then there are such groups of faithful souls longing for revival as Intercessors for Australia, and Aussies Afire launched by the Bishop of Grafton in 1989. There is also Fusion and Aussie Awakening, headed up by Mal Garvin.
d. Bishop Dudley Foord, an organizer of the Sydney Anglican prayer gatherings, spoke at the National Parliamentary breakfast in Canberra. This was a great opportunity to remind the nation that national regeneration or the restoration of a demoralized people is a spiritual matter primarily and only secondarily an economic matter. Then Bishop Foord and Glenda Welden, the wife of the publisher, Kevin Welden, and a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, attended the first international Prayer Leaders Conference organised as part of the Lausanne Commission on World Evangelisation.
The rain clouds of blessing are gathering. Be encouraged to pray until the inundation of the Spirit comes.
Boyd, Jeanette (1986) ‘The Arnhem Land Revival of 1979: An Australian Aboriginal Religious Movement’, unpublished paper, October.
Carruthers, J. E. (1922) Memories of an Australian Ministry. London: Epworth.
Colwell, James (1904) Illustrated History of Methodism. Sydney: William Brooks.
Strachan, George (1984) Revival: its Blessings and Battles. An Account of experiences in the Solomon Islands (Revised 1989). Laurieton: South Sea Evangelical Mission.
Watsford, John (1901) Glorious Gospel Triumphs. London: Charles H Kelly.
(c) Renewal Journal 2: Church Growth (1993, 2011), pages 59-68.
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