Current Affairs

I’m sure like me you’ve been deeply moved by the heart-breaking image of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi washed ashore on a Turkish beach. This precious little boy is only one of thousands of children and adults who’ve perished trying to reach the safety of Europe this year alone. This tragedy represents just a tiny fraction of over 16 million Syrians in need in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Syria itself. That’s equivalent to almost three-quarters of Australia’s population. World Vision staff are on the ground providing life-saving aid to Syrian families fleeing conflict, including food, clean water, sanitation and hygiene, and education programs for children. But the needs are growing every day. Children are hungry, thirsty... Read more →


Who would’ve thought that one photo could cause so much trouble? It wasn’t the first time I’d been criticized for my friendship and solidarity with the Muslim community, in fact I’d had some threats of violence when I spoke up about Halal certification but this one took it another level. Had I renounced the gospel? Sure, being friends with Muslims, but praying in a mosque? Did I even believe in Jesus anymore? The beard didn’t help any. Had I taken the instructions “love your neighbour as yourself” and “love your enemy” too literally? Too far? 1 John 3. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down... Read more →


The people of Nepal continue to grapple with the after shock of the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook their country last week. So far more than 5,000 lives have been lost with some remote valleys cut off from help - raising fears that the death toll could rise. International relief and rescue teams have poured into Nepal as the scope of the devastation becomes clearer. World Vision has over 200 staff on the ground, responding to the needs of survivors – especially children. At this stage, their role is to provide survivors with clean water, food, cooking kits, temporary shelter and protection for children. Disaster management experts from around the region – including in neighbouring India and Bangladesh -... Read more →


It is becoming apparent that far from dwelling at the ‘end of history’, as was naively envisaged at the fall of Communism, we are, in fact, living in perplexing, turbulent and dangerous days. One of the most troubling, if overlooked, features of our times is the appalling extent and depth of the persecution of Christians. Thirty years ago when we Christians talked of martyrs, we used the past tense; not any more. Whether in North Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Egypt, Syria, China, Pakistan or Columbia, Christians are being persecuted and killed for no other reason than their faith. A Pew Research Center report in 2012 noted that between 2006 and 2010 Christians were harassed in 139... Read more →


Nelson Mandela passed away yesterday at the age of 95. He was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politican and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. After studying law in university he became a lawyer. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid... Read more →


Australia's humanity is the casualty of repugnant asylum politics Article written by: Tim Costello chief executive of World Vision Australia. The Australian philosopher Peter Singer asks students to consider whether a person wearing new shoes and a suit has a responsibility to wade into a nearby pond, thus ruining their clothes, if they see a child in that pond having difficulty swimming. Predictably they respond that the person has a responsibility to save the child and that the cost of the shoes and suit are no reason not to act. In other words, you either think that people have inherent dignity and worth, or not. In the eyes of the bystander, that dignity does not depend on whether you have... Read more →


NEWSFLASH: The Government is considering diverting money from poverty-reducing aid. The Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, recently admitted plans to divert at least $375 million of Australia's poverty-focused aid program to fund rising refugee support costs at home in Australia. Not only would this reduce the amount available for poverty-focused programs overseas, but it would make Australia the third largest recipient of Australian aid. World Vision Australia CEO, Tim Costello, has publicly condemned this decision, “I am stunned by the Government's plans to divert hundreds of millions of dollars away from its intended purpose." What can we do? 1. Call and email Treasurer Wayne Swan (wayne.swan.mp@aph.gov.au and 02 6277 7340) and Foreign Minister Bob Carr (foreignminister.carr@dfat.gov.au and 02 6277 7500). 2.... Read more →


[The following article is by Cole Moreton from the Telegraph] The next Archbishop of Canterbury woke up yesterday with something on his mind. “Thought in the night,” he wrote on Twitter. “Those who made money betting on me give it to their local church!” Chatting wittily online to 6,429 online followers is not something the present Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams, would find easy. But as one observer suggested when the appointment was announced on Friday, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, may be the most worldly man ever chosen for Canterbury. “Good gracious,” he said in response, raising an eyebrow. “That’s putting me up there with some of the medieval archbishops who owned vast tracts of land.” He... Read more →


The 2012 Global Atheist Convention is back in Melbourne this year (April 13-15th). Some Christians become concerned and worked up about events such as this. Personally, I don't believe that people of faith have anything to fear about doubt or skepticism. No need to picket or boycott events. In fact, dialogue and discussion can be helpful in all areas of belief. Events such as this give us a terrific opportunity to talk about God and faith with those around about us. Let's pray and show the love of Christ. One of the main speakers is Richard Dawkins, one of the world's most influential atheists. I have read his book The God Delusion and it only strengthened my faith. It is... Read more →


Many of you would be aware of the dire situation in East Africa right now. More than 11 million people in the Horn of Africa countries, particularly Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, are in need of our prayers for relief from one of the worst prolonged droughts in 60 years. Children are especially in need of prayer for nourishing food, opportunities to go back to school to learn, spiritual nurture and safe places to live and play. The crisis is worsening by the day, and is highly complex and urgent. UN and media reports point to a spreading famine across the entirety of southern Somalia. Some 3.6 million people, mostly children, are in increasingly dire need of help, while famine conditions... Read more →


The biggest breaking news of this week has been the killing of Osama bin Laden, the self-confessed orchestrator of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the USA. The execution was carried out by a US Navy SEAL team and watched by a American national security team, including President Obama, via video.This has been the culmination of a 10-year military project of tracking down this terrorist leader. Response to this news had been wide and varied ... jubilation, relief, sorrow, as well as fear of increased in terrorism. Here are a few quotes: "I think we can agree this is a good day for America. Our country has kept its commitment to see that justice is done. The world is safer,... Read more →


Some old but good news ... in August last year, new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised to extend the use of state funds to put staff chaplains in both public and private schools (as it has since 2007) through to 2014. State-funded chaplains now serve 2,700 schools and Gillard wants to add another 1,000. Gillard, a self-professed atheist, pledged faith in the chaplaincy system shortly after taking office. "We think it has been a great success, and wanted to make sure schools around the country were fairly benefiting from it," Gillard told Australian Christian Lobby director Jim Wallace. The program is voluntary. Chaplains offer comfort and support to students and staff as well as general religious and personal advice.... Read more →


Some of you may have heard about the brutal attacks from militant Muslims on Christians in Egypt at a New Year's Eve Mass. Tragically, at least 21 people were left dead at the Saints Church in Alexandria after a car bomb exploded outside. The attack rocked the nation. This kind of religiously motivated terrorism is evil and continues to create fear and havoc across our world. An inspiring story has emerged since this time, with Muslims turning up in droves for a Coptic Christmas Mass, offering their bodies, and lives, as “shields” to Egypt’s threatened Christian community. Read the full story here. Deep in the heart of every human, regardless of race, social status, or personal belief, there is a... Read more →


It has been 18 months since America elected Barack Obama to be it's president. His presidency began with a lot of excitement and anticipation, partly created by his inspiring messages about "Yes we can!" It has not been an easy run for him, with many complex challenges and problems ... Gallup reported last week that the president’s average seventh quarter approval rating among Americans stands at 44.7 percent – its lowest point since Obama took office but still significantly higher than among Protestant pastors. A new survey by LifeWay Research indicates that 61 percent of Protestant pastors disapprove (47 percent strongly) of President Barack Obama’s job performance. The survey, conducted by phone Oct. 7-14, found that 30 percent of Protestant... Read more →


A Florida pastor by the name of Terry Jones plans on hosting a Koran burning event at his church to commemorate the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the USA - 9/11 (this coming Saturday). He is doing this to target Islam extremists. Protestors are rallying in various countries around the world and their are growing security concerns in the US. The move has been criticised by many people, including President Obama.Violent attacks of retaliation on innocent people could occur. So what do you think? Is this an appropriate response by a Christian leader to Islam extremists? What would Jesus do? What happened to "love your enemies?" It sure doesn't help the cause of Christ and the reputation of His... Read more →


Finally, after two and a half weeks of speculation and negotiation, we have a government - a Labor government led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Support from a few independent MPs has given Gillard the narrowest of margins. Labor's position on broadband and climate change were influential in the final decision. This has been Australia's first hung parliament since the 1940s. Without doubt, Australia is a divided nation politically and only time will tell how well the new government will perform in leading the nation forward. Labor voters will be pleased with the final outcome while Liberal voters will naturally be disappointed. Whatever our personal stance politically and however we may have voted, as followers of Christ now is the... Read more →


While those of us who live here in Australia wait anxiously to see who is going to become our next Prime Minister after such a close federal election, let's be sure to lift our eyes and realise that we are only one small part of what is now a global village. We live in a networked world and through technology we can be instantly aware of what is taking place anywhere on the planet. This can become overwhelming at times but we can also become numb and immune to the issues and suffering that others are experiencing right now. God is clearly at work. He is building his church and expanding his kingdom, more often than not in in hidden... Read more →


The voting is over and the 2010 Australian federal election has turned out to be the closest election result in our short history as a nation. No out-right leader has emerged yet and we may end up with a hung parliament. A few observations are clear: 1. The Labor Party has had a large swing against them right across the nation, with many seats falling to the Liberals. Maybe the de-throning of Kevin Rudd has come back to haunt them after all. Julia Gillard looks a little shaken, to say the least. 2. The Liberal Party has made a remarkable comeback, after losing the nation's leadership a few years ago. Who would have thought that this would have occurred so... Read more →


The Liberal Party of Australia has been the opposition party since losing the 2007 federal election. Prior to that, it had held power since the 1996 election. At the state and territory level, the Liberals hold government only in Western Australia. The Liberal Party was founded after the 1943 federal election to replace the United Australia Party. When in government, the Liberals usually govern in a coalition with the National Party. Tony Abbott is the current leader of the Liberal Party with Julie Bishop as his deputy. For more background on Tony Abbott, click here. For more details about the history, structure and policy of the Liberal Party of Australia click here. For more information about the current Liberal Party,... Read more →


The Australian Labor Party has been the governing party in Australia since the last federal election in 2007. Labor currently governs all states and territories other than Western Australia. Labor is the country's oldest political party, having been founded in 1891. Julia Gillard is the current leader of the Labor Party and the Prime Minister of Australia. The former Deputy Prime Minister became Prime Minister on June 10th, 2010 when former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stepped down, after losing the support of his party. She is the first female Prime Minister and the first not to be married. For more background on Julia, click here. For a full overview of the history, structure and policy of the Australian Labor Party,... Read more →


The Family First political party was founded in South Australia in 2002 and spread nationally in 2004. The Family First party has not sought to promote itself as a Christian or church-based party but rather as a party with a primary focus on looking out for families. Family First currently has four members in parliament, two in SA, one in NSW and one in Federal Parliament - Steve Fielding, who was elected in 2004. Steve and his family attend CityLife Church. However, I do not act as Steve's policy adviser. We have casual conversations from time to time about various issues but as a politician he is there to represent the views of his party and he is accountable to... Read more →


The Australian Green's Party is gaining more and more interest here in Australia, especially amongst the younger generation who seem to be looking for an alternative to the Labor and Liberal political parties. It is estimated that the Greens could win anywhere between 10-16% of the Australian vote. There is also a high probability that they will hold the balance of power in the Senate after this election, which will place them in a very influential role, much like Family First member Steve Fielding has had over the last term (Family First does still have a chance to be re-elected if enough people vote #1 for them with their Senate vote). Overall, people tend to love the Greens or hate... Read more →


The Australia federal election is just under two weeks away (Saturday, August 21st). Every election is a very important time in any nation and as followers of Christ we should take our responsibilities as citizens seriously. Voting is a privilege and we should be diligent in our research of each candidate and the various political parties vying for our support. The Australian Christian Lobby has done us an excellent service by compiling the various viewpoints of each party on a wide variety of issues. See their web site here, which includes a recent interview of Julia Gillard who was not the Prime Minister at the June 21st Make it Count event in Canberra, when the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and... Read more →


Last week I received a phone call from Barney Zwartz, a journalist from the Melbourne AGE newspaper. He wanted to get my pulse on the upcoming federal election. We had a 5-10 minute conversation together and talked about a range of issues. In his actual article, I ended up with one quote ... "Mr Conner, senior pastor at Melbourne's biggest church, CityLife, said he was not concerned by Ms Gillard's atheism: 'Primarily you are looking at them to have what it takes to run the nation' - but felt Mr Rudd's dumping would cost Labor more than the party realised." In fairness to Barney, he didn't have space to quote everything I said or give the full context of the... Read more →


Julia Gillard became the 27th Prime Minister of Australia on June 24th, 2010. This occurred after the resignation of Kevin Rudd. Julia had served as the Deputy Prime Minister in the Rudd Government. She is the first woman Prime Minister in Australia and the first to have never married. She is also a red head - bring on national ranga day! :) Discussion has taken place concerning the ousting of Prime Minister Rudd, but let's not forget that Rudd did a similar thing to Kim Beazley and similar situations have occurred in other parties. Political leadership is not for the faint of heart. Although brought up as a Baptist, Gillard has recently declared that she is not religious and has... Read more →


Kevin Rudd was the 26th Prime Minister of Australia. Under his leadership, his party won the November 2007 election against former Prime Minister John Howard. As the new leader, he made major announcements about climate change, education, a national broadband network, and health. He will be remembered for a number of things, including his reading of an apology to the Indigenous Australians for the 'stolen generations.' Mr Rudd started well, gaining fairly broad rapport with the general population and giving some inspiring speeches. Over time, his popularity declined and he didn't deliver on a number of his promises. Was this due to an inability or lack of discipline to implement change or did he lack internal support for his change... Read more →


Last week saw the swearing in of the 44th leader of the United States of America as Barack Obama officially began his role as president. President Obama's inauguration and speech can be viewed on You Tube by clicking here. A full transcript of his address is available from the New York Times web site (click here). Not everyone likes Obama. There are concerns about his policies on a number of important issues, including abortion (see Jim Wallace's recent article on this). President Obama is not perfect. He is not the messiah. He needs our prayers and God's wisdom. He plays a crucial role at this important time in world history. Overall, I thought President Obama's inauguration speech was very inspiring.... Read more →


Today is Australia Day- an annual celebration, held every January 26th, of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, marking the colonisation of Australia by Great Britain. Having just read the book The First Fleet by David Hill, it is amazing that our nation, as it is today, even got started. England was sending convicts from its overflowing prisons to America when America's sudden independence (on July 4th, 1776) closed that door. Other locations were discussed, with Botany Bay being a last resort. The long trip out from England was marked by frequent crises and challenges, let alone the first few years of trying to establish a colony in such tough conditions. Although intending to make peaceful relations with... Read more →


Many have lauded the election of President Barack Obama as a new day for African-Americans, after a long history of abuse and mistreatment. Unfortunately, racism is still alive and well in America. Click here to read a shocking report of recent incidents since the election. Prejudice based on skin colour is not only sad, it is morally wrong. Each human being is created in the image of God and is to be treated with dignity and respect. The apostle Paul tells us that 'in Christ' there is neither Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male nor female (Galatians 3:28). This does not mean that racial, socio-economic, and gender differences cease to exist (they don't) but that are no longer to... Read more →


Yesterday, the American people voted in a new president - Barack Obama. Winds of change are in the air and there is a lot of anticipation about what kind of leadership Obama will bring to his nation. There is no doubt that he is a charismatic speaker who has captured the attention of people from all sectors of society. The challenge for Obama now is to try to turn around a nation that is in crisis financially and in regard to its place in the world arena. Regardless of our personal thoughts about Obama, we need to pray for him - that God will give him wisdom to lead America. The apostle Paul put it this way back in the... Read more →


On Tuesday, November 4th, Americans will vote for a new president as their presidential election takes place. Who will win - Barack Obama or John McCain? Who would you vote for? Some people tend to vote more 'conservative' while others vote on the 'liberal side'. Here is an article on the election by American political commentator, Jim Wallis (author of God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It). You may not agree with everything he says but his comments are very thought-provoking ... "In 2004, several conservative Catholic Bishops and a few megachurch pastors like Rick Warren issued their list of 'non-negotiables' which were intended to be a voter guide for their followers. All... Read more →