Banner of Truth in Australia
The 2012 Banner of Truth Conference at Collaroy, Australia, was an answer to prayer, writes Rev. Iain H. Murray. He says:
The same day I heard a Sudanese pastor and Chinese missionary speak of their countries, I read the text ‘Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them’ (Matthew 13:17).
Even our little conference in New South Wales was representative of the blessing now come to the world — men and women of different nationalities united in Christ and all placed by him in their various localities.
Most came from Australia, three pastors from New Zealand, and a few from further afield. This conference, begun in 1979, has struggled to survive. The persistent attendance of a comparatively few ministers and elders, some of them coming a considerable distance, has been the anchor. It is true to say we were greatly encouraged.
Chairing the opening session, Allan Blanch suggested the subjects for the main addresses might be summarised under the heading ‘Carefulness and confidence’. The former had to do with ourselves and the times in which we are living, the latter with what we have in the Word of God.
The first address, in which Peter Barnes spoke on ‘Prayer for more fruit’ (Philippians 1:9-11), set the tone for all that was to follow.
David Jones took the three evening sessions from the letter of Jude, under the headings ‘Knowing the times’, ‘Understanding ourselves’ and ‘Safe ministry’. Wales parted with Mr Jones in 1981, when he began twelve years’ ministry at Grove Chapel, London. Since then, he has served both a local and larger mission field in Hobart and Australia.
Two main addresses were given by Bruce Winter, whose ministry has been largely among students in Singapore, Cambridge and Brisbane. His was a new voice in Banner conferences and greatly valued.
Concentrating on 1 Corinthians 1 and 2, he demonstrated how Paul’s principles of teaching were in marked contrast with the popular methods admired in the Greek and Roman world, and how therefore he was in direct collision with the contemporary scene of his day.
The relevance of this to dangers now facing evangelicalism was as disturbing as it was compelling. Other main sessions were taken by Lee-On Tan (‘China, today and tomorrow’), Todd Stanton (‘The happy pastor’) and Iain Murray (twice on John 17).
In addition to the main addresses, there were short contributions of an informative nature from several speakers. Major Howard Davies of the Salvation Army (SA), on the first night, told us how the splendid Collaroy Conference Centre came into being.
In the 1890s, the site — a bushland hillside above the ocean — had only the homestead of a Mrs Elizabeth Jenkins. This Christian woman was impressed by the witness of the young Sarah Kells, who led SA outreach among gangs and others in Manley. So, in 1900, she left 1800 acres of prime land to the SA. Thereafter, Collaroy became a place of quiet and devotion for thousands of Christians, with prayer often marking the lives of those who came to enjoy it.
Major Davies told us of how, as a SA officer, Banner of Truth books and its magazine brought him to Reformed convictions.
Others who took five-minute slots were: Stephen Bignall, with Australian Indigenous Ministries; Rob Flinders, with the Seamen’s Christian Friend Society; Noel Weeks, on the Middle East Reformed Fellowship; Tut Wan Yoa on the church in the Sudan; and Andre Holtslag, a pastor from earthquake-stricken Christchurch, New Zealand.
Mathew Murray led the morning prayer meetings. The conference noted with sadness the recent deaths of Martin Holdt, twice a speaker with us, and of John Campbell of Adelaide. Family needs detained some who would otherwise have been there, but younger men swelled the numbers to around 100.
The addresses are available on mp3 for Aus. $15 from [email protected]