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Pastors' Blog

Encounter Youth Centre - Promo Video

Well the Encounter Youth Centre has now been running for a year and so far it has been a great success. However, for those who don't know what happen each week, then check out our promotional video which will give you a glimpse of it. Make sure you share it with your friends and family, and we look forward to seeing you at the Encounter Youth Centre (www.facebook.com/groups/encounteryouthcentre)

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Encounter Youth Centre - Opening 4th Feb

We have been working hard getting ready for the opening of the Encounter Youth Centre.

It is a new initiative of Merrylands Baptist Church opening on the 4th of February 2011. What it seeks to do is to provide all youth in the community, of all nationalities and religious beliefs, a safe place where they can come, hang out with one another, and have fun.

Various activities will be offered by the centre, which includes the following:

  • PS3 hooked up to a Projector
  • Wii
  • Air Hockey
  • Table Tennis
  • Foosball
  • Music Lounge
  • Girl Zone
  • Monthly bands
  • Monthly dinners

All this for FREE.

When? Every Friday night, 5-7pm

Who? For all high-school aged youth

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To Halve World Poverty by 2015? Yes We Can!

"The governments of the world cannot disappoint the children of the world. The need is clear. The goals are clear. The policies are clear. And the timetable is clear. All that remains unclear is whether the governments of the world actually meal what we say."

At the recent United Nations Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), representatives from the 192 member states got together to look at, and review, their commitment to the goals (MDGs) that were set back in 2000, with the vision of halving world poverty by 2015. It was a big vision, but an achievable vision.

Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister, and now Foreign Affairs Minister, represented Australia, and his speech marks one of the greatest speeches in my lifetime. It was a speech which inspired hope that together we can reduce world poverty. It was a speech that sought to bring equality to everyone around the world - not just the rich. It was a speech which reminded us that together we are called, as Micah 6:8 says, to "act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God."

As Rudd says, "The need is clear. The goals are clear. The policies are clear. And the timetable is clear." What isn't clear is whether our governments will do what they promised.

We live in an amazingly lucky country, but over 1 billion people in this world live in extreme poverty. We need to stand up for them, and let our voices be heard so that they might have a voice. We need to put pressure on our politicians and our government so that they will hold to their commitment. So please contact your local members - thank them for their commitment so far, and encourage them to be even more committed, because without our help, those poor will be forgotten.

You can read all of Kevin Rudd's speech here: http://www.un.org/en/mdg/summit2010/debate/AU_en.pdf

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Encounter Youth Centre – A Community Project in Development

One of the reasons Churches exist is to connect with the communities in which they are situated. Over the past few months, we at Merrylands Baptist Church, have been working hard on an idea that will seek to better connect us with the community of Holroyd, and seek to serve the 9,5000 Youth that are in our area.

For many youth, Friday night is a night where all that seems to be available is partying, roaming the streets in search of something to do, or staying at home. What we are in the process of planning, is giving the youth something to do – something that is safe, fun, and productive, that will help to connect them to more people in the community, help foster their creativity, as well as to provide support for the challenges that life bring.

Starting at the beginning of next year (2011), we hope to open up a Drop-In centre that will seek to fill this need in the community. What we hope to be able to provide fun activities such as Playstations/Wii’s/Xboxes set up on a big screen/projector for multiplayer action, tabletennis and foosball tables, and various other fun activities that will appeal to the Youth in the community. Further, we hope to provide a free meal once a month, as well as bring someone in at times to teach activities such as R&B, Hip Hop, Art, Cooking etc, and finally have the youth within the community perform in their bands, so that the skills and creativity of all those involved will be fostered.

Whilst we are a Christian not-for-profit organisation, the idea behind this project is to be a community service that will welcome people of all nationalities and religious beliefs.

The more and more I think about, and plan for, this community project, the reality hits that we need support in this great project. Support through the provision of finances and products is one of the greatest needs we have at the moment. To get a project like this off the ground, we need money to make it happen, and we need products like game consoles and the other items mentioned previously.

Please consider supporting this project. If you are part of an organisation that has money or products available to support community projects then please talk with those in your organisation who makes these sorts of decisions, or feel free to contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Together we can serve the youth in the community.

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What a Day for Australia

Well this morning the Socceroos did us proud and won against Serbia 2-1. Unfortunately Germany also won, ending our tour of the FIFA World Cup. However, this news will be much overlooked with our Government in chaos.

Last night work came out that Kevin Rudd’s position as Prime Minister was soon to be challenged, as support was gained for Julia Gillard. Well 9am today, Rudd, Gillard, and the caucus met to determine the fate of Rudd’s position, and the state of the Government. The result being, Rudd stepping down, and Gillard being sworn in as the first female Prime Minister in Australia.

I must admit, as I watch this unfold, I wonder how we got to this point. How do we get to the point where the Labor party will not support it’s own leader, and instead turn and stab him in the back. Now I am not saying whether I support Labor or Liberal – it isn’t about that. What this is about is the devastation we now see as politics has taken its turn for the worst.

So what can we do with this news? Well the Bible is quite clear when it comes to those in leadership over us – we must pray (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2). We must pray not only for the events that have transpired this morning, but also for the future of the government, that they will be able to bring us out of this chaos and lead us strongly into the future, that they will listen to God’s direction, and that more importantly they will be drawn closer to Him who never turns His back on us.

They say change is as good as a holiday. Well holidays can be pretty good, and only time will tell whether this is really in the best interest of Australia.

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The Internet Debate in Perspective

“Australia's broadband may be behind Japan's, and that, of course, 'needs to change' but so many countries are behind Australia in health care, democracy, safety, standards of living... Maybe we could change our policies on international aid and refugees rather than fix our ability to be able to check Facebook and download crap on YouTube really fast...”

Last night, logging on to Facebook, I was confronted with a status update from a friend, which helped put things in a bit of perspective (quoted above). I don’t know about you, but I remember the days of the dial-up modem; where downloads seemed to take forever. But we didn’t know anything different, so we just put up with it, and to be completely honest, it seemed to work fine at the time. Then came ADSL, and then ADSL2+, with speeds pushing up higher and higher, but it seemed the higher the speeds rose, the more complaints there were by many who couldn’t reach such high speeds.

For me, I am lucky that I have relatively quick Internet access – certainly much faster than it was 10 years ago. Yes I can complain that it is nowhere near that of countries such as Japan, and South Korea, but lets put things in perspective a bit.

When it comes to things that are more important, such as health care, safety, good standards of living, democracy, freedom of speech, education, access to welfare and government assistance, clean drinking water, and many other things we simply take for granted, Australia is certainly towering above many other countries in the world. People all over the world live in severe poverty, are forced to work for, and live on, less than $US2 a day, they drink polluted and disease filled water, and most children don’t even live to see their 5th birthday. For these people, the speed of the Internet is the least of their worries – their worries are trying to live through each and every minute of every day.

Back in 2000, all the countries a part of the United Nations signed an agreement to halve world poverty by 2015, through the Millennium Development Goals. This involves every country giving only a measly 0.7% of its Gross National Income (GNI). Whilst Australia signed this agreement, it has fallen far short of this, and in 2009-2010 Australia’s aid commitment stands at only 0.34%, with a commitment to increase that to 0.5% by 2015-16. Even if they reach the 0.5% target by 2015, this is still far short to the original commitment of 0.7%. For a wealthy country such as ours, this should easily be achievable, and many other countries are already giving 0.7% or more.

I wonder what would happen if we were to stop any plans of further improving our Internet access, and instead direct all that extra money into international aid. I can imagine that it would make the government very unpopular. Why? Because the reality is that many people are so selfish, or uninformed, that they would prefer over a billion people go without access to clean food and water, so that they can download more pirated movies quicker, or access Facebook and YouTube more instantaneously than they already can.

Let’s make our measuring sticks not about how fast my Internet connection is compared to yours, but instead about what we can do to help the rest of the world to continue living, and to see themselves come out of poverty. Then, once the problem of poverty is solved, maybe then we can start making such a big fuss about the speed of our Internet.

 

For more information see:

Micah Challenge (and the Millennium Development Goals: http://www.micahchallenge.org.au/

United Nations Millennium Development Goals: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/

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Survive Past 5: A Birthday Party with a Difference

Each year more than 9 million children die before they reach their 5th birthday. These children die mostly from easily preventable causes such as diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia. Every minute in a low income country a woman dies in child birth, and 1 in 10 children die before age 5 – in Australia this figure is 1 in 167.

Julie Owens, M.P. (Parramatta) was a special guest at a “Survive Past 5” Birthday Party in May. This event was hosted by the Catalyst Group of Merrylands Baptist Church to raise awareness of the more than 9 million children who die each year before their 5th birthday.

Even though there was fun and laughter, at this event, the games and skits delivered sobering and sad facts.

Julie accepted 2 gift bags and agreed to deliver them personally to the Hon Stephen Smith, M.P., the Minister for Foreign Affairs. One bag contained a baby’s jumpsuit (pictured) with 67 tags attached – the jumpsuit represents a child under 5 and each tag represents a child who died in the last 4 minutes. The second bag contained 67 handmade birthday cards with a difference. These cards ask the Minister to allocate $1 in every 4 aid dollars to improving health care in developing countries by the 2011-2012 budget as Australia is still not contributing our fair share to the global effort needed to prevent child deaths and achieve the desired outcome of the Millenium Development Goals. These 8 goals were agreed to in 2000 by the developed nations of the world with the aim of halving global poverty by 2015. Goal 4 is to reduce child mortality (cut infant deaths by 2/3) and goal 5 aims to improve maternal health and thereby reduce by ¾ the proportion of women dying in child birth.

Together we can make a difference.

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I've killed an Orangutan!

The name “Orangutan” means “man of the forest”, in the Malay language, and if you were to see these amazing animals, then you would understand why. These apes are said to have the same intelligence level as that of a 5 or 6 year old child.




However, there is a sad reality that we are coming to, and that is that these amazing animals are being killed, and we are all responsible. 85% of Palm Oil, which is an oil used extensively in much of the food we eat, comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, the home of the Orangutan, and it is estimated that Palm Oil is responsible for killing around 50 Orangutans each week (that’s 2,600 each year). How is Palm Oil responsible? In SE Asia alone, the equivalent of 300 football fields of forest are cut down and destroyed EVERY HOUR, in order to make way for Palm Oil plantations to be produced. Slowly these Orangutans are losing their homes, and if we don’t act now, we may lose this species altogether.

The difficult thing is that Palm Oil is not listed as an ingredient on any of our food products; it is simply labeled as Vegetable Oil. So the only sure way, at the moment, to avoid purchasing products with Palm Oil is to boycott all products that use Vegetable Oil (some of which don’t actually contain Palm Oil).

The good news is that some companies are seeing the importance in not using Palm Oil. KFC and Cadbury have both committed to removing Palm Oil from all of their products, and instead switching to another oil, which is much better for the environment and animals. However, more action needs to be taken. A Campaign is currently running to enforce the labeling of products that have Palm Oil, so that way the consumer has the choice whether to purchase that product, or not.

Whilst I find it hard to believe any normal human being would be ok with this level of deforestation, which will eventually result in the extinction of the Orangutans, I believe that we, as Christians, have an even greater need and desire to fight to stop this.

When God created the world, in Genesis 1, he deemed everything he created to be good. Following that humanity were issued the command to look after the world, and to care for it – a command that was issued again to Noah and the generations to come, after the Great Flood in Genesis 9.

So often I look around and I can see how poorly we have done in our task of looking after this world, but I want to say that it isn’t too late to make a difference, but it requires that we all take the responsibility of how we have neglected this world, and work to bring about change.

I encourage you to at least, watch the video below, sign the petition for the labeling of products with Palm Oil, and choose products that don’t contain Vegetable Oil. Lets put an end to the destruction of these rainforests, and the killing of the Orangutans.

Don't Palm Us Off from Zoos Victoria.


For more information see the following websites:
http://www.zoo.com.au/palmoil
http://www.palmoilaction.org.au/
http://www.orangutan.org.au/
http://www.orangutans.com.au/Orangutans-Survival-Information/Helping-you-buy-responsibly-Palm-oil-free-alternatives.aspx

 

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A New Day

Welcome to today!
A beautiful gift.

Yesterday, a memory.
Tomorrow, a hope.
Today, an opportunity.

What will you do with the day you are given?
What will you make of the time that you have?

Our days are like grass;
like wildflowers we flourish,
but the wind passes over and we are gone.

Do not let time pass you by with no intention;
another day, another week, another year
with nothing to show.

Do not be complacent,
let the fire burn within.

For there is a higher purpose,
a greater hope,
a brighter future.

And it starts today.

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Give a Card that Gives Life

With Christmas fast approaching, we are all busy running around making plans, and giving our Credit Cards a good workout with all the presents we are buying. However, year after year, presents are purchased which are continuing our selfish, consumer-driven lives. I heard recently that around $1billion is spent each year on presents that are either never used, or only used once.

This year, why not give a present that gives life? Whilst we are spoiling ourselves and others through the abundance of presents, why not instead turn to the majority of the world who cannot afford presents, or a special dinner - people who can barely afford enough food just to survive.

Organisations like Compassion and Tear offer present ideas that certainly will be thoroughly used and appreciated. For only $5 you can provide eyesore for someone in Bangladesh, or for only $11 you can provide an insecticide-treated net to protect children and their families from Malaria, which kills one million people each year.

Each of these gifts you buy, come with their own gift card, which you can then give to a friend or member of your family, to show them the gift you have bought for them.

What my wife and I do is we, instead of buying Christmas or Birthday cards, we often will buy cheaper Compassion or Tear gifts, and then use the cards that come with it as their Christmas or Birthday card - it ends up being a card that gives life.

So this Christmas, instead of contributing to the $1billion of unused presents, instead replace part of all of your present offerings, or even replace the Christmas Cards you were going to give, with something that will save the lives of millions of Children and families around the world.

To browse for Gifts, visit the following websites:
Compassion Australia's Gift Catalog: http://www.compassion.com.au/shop/product_list.php?intcategoryid=10
Tear Australia's 'Arguably, the World's Most Useful Gift Catalogue': http://www.usefulgifts.org/
Baptist World Aid Australia's Gift Catalog: http://www.baptistworldaid.org.au/GiftOpportunities/

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