ARISE Australia is five years old and each year has been a wonderful experience. The dedicated staff of the North New South Wales (NNSW) Conference and the workers directing the program make the impact of this 15-week Bible school tremendous.
Here are the numbers:
- 48 students (including 3 last minute additions in week 12)
- 4 rebaptisms
- 5 first time baptisms
- 1 contact from last year baptized
- 13 requests for baptism (contacts from this year’s outreach)
- 1 atheist physics lecturer converted
- 1 heroin addict delivered
- 1 powerful community service project in the wake of a natural disaster
- 1 testimony after another of God’s grace and power
Let’s start with the cyclone that hit the Queensland Coast right in the middle of the school session: record-breaking floods; several deaths; and thousands of people evacuated from their homes. The planned evangelistic series was postponed and so the students fully engaged in community outreach during the day time which meant that classes ran at night. Students spent three weeks engaging with the locals by shoveling mud, water blasting houses, and clearing flood debris from properties, public schools and businesses. One student asked a local home goods store to donate three new washing machines and three new dryers that were then set up in a local Adventist church which advertised the service to the community who had lost their downstairs laundries.
Another interruption of sorts was “Big Camp,” the conference camp meeting where the class picked up three extra students; one was an atheist ethics lecturer, and another was a recent ex-heroin addict.
In so many ways it was hard to tell Tijl was a brand-new, one-week-old Christian believer.
Tijl (tell), was from the Netherlands. A broken relationship led him to take a year off in Australia and (through a long train of circumstances that we would call Providence) he ended up at Big Camp, the NNSW Seventh-day Adventist camp meeting. There he accepted Jesus, though he still had many questions about the Bible, especially creation. In so many ways it was hard to tell Tijl was a brand-new, one-week-old Christian believer. He engaged in the classes, the door-to-door outreach, lived with the students, and even ended up delivering one of the best sermons in the preaching practicum. The students embraced him and loved him, taught him and learned from him. They were a magnetic class, a group of amazing students, an evangelistic machine!
And many of them were brand new Christians like Lawson, a former world-class motorcycle racer whose life fell apart when his wealthy parents went bankrupt and then divorced. In the process of recovery from deep depression, two ARISE “for life” students knocked on his door and invited him to lunch. It was just what he needed to move toward a new life with Jesus; and in less than six months he was in ARISE himself, door knocking and asking to study the Bible with others.
Another of our week three additions was Brenton, a now former heroin addict, raised SDA. Wrong influences in his teenage years eventually lead to some jail time and for years all his family could do was pray for him. But prayer is so powerful and so is the impact Brenton is having on anyone who hears his testimony.
So what happens after the 15-week course finishes up? ARISE for life (AFL)! takes what the students have learned to the next level. This year it will include 24 of the 46 students who will continue on to volunteer for six months at churches, church plants, schools and even on a traveling evangelistic team, doing full-time Bible work. What they give and receive from the mission work they do in AFL is shaking up enemy territory and saving souls from addiction, darkness, and pain, by bringing hope, healing, and salvation.
This class of 45+3 was the largest ARISE Australia yet and there is so much more to tell. To see it, to be part of it, and to know firsthand what God wrought through the men and women who are ARISE Australia 2017 was truly wonderful.
Please pray for these ARISE students and all who have graduated this year and every year as they take to heart the parting words of Christ—“Go Ye.” Amen.
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James has spent more than 30 years preaching the gospel around the world in revival seminars and evangelistic meetings. He and his wife Risë have two adult children, Jeiel and Kierra.