Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 6, 1968

Report From Australia

Robert Harkrider

'(Editor's note: Ordinarily we do not like to publish 'news-letters from the brethren in foreign lands when those letters have already been sent to any appreciable number in the States. But this time we feel Brother Harkrider's letter is so informative and so encouraging that we want to share it with those of our readers who are not on his mailing list. If you have already seen this report, bear with us. But we feel that there are several thousands of you who have not previously read it. And for your encouragement we publish it.)

I began this letter with mixed feelings of guilt and gladness: guilt, because I have neglected writing a report since February 21st; and gladness, because of the many wonderful opportunities which have been set before us in the work of the Lord. In fact, so many things have occurred that I could write a full page for each of the last eight weeks, but since you don't want to read that long a letter, I shall try to summarize the most significant events. First, let me assure you that we are all in good health and that we never cease to give thanks to God for your faith in Him and for your interest and prayers in our behalf. Your personal letters are a great encouragement. Though this report is mimeographed, we hope you will understand the monumental task of corresponding to all who are interested and accept this as a personal greeting from us.

Three Baptisms: We rejoice to report that three souls hate obeyed the gospel: one in Caringbah, one in Gunnedah, and one in Armidale. Mrs. Tucker, a former 7th Day Adventist, was baptized into Christ on February 27th at Caringbah. She had called in response to the newspaper articles and had studied privately with Jim Everett and attended Sunday services. The church in Caringbah now is composed of 10 Christians. Mrs. Matthews was baptized into Christ on March 2nd at Gunnedah. She had attended a Bible study the night before and had discussed the Scriptures with bro. Squires and me until midnight. She returned the following noon prepared to be immersed for remission of sins. Actually, we taught her little as she had studied for herself and was seeking someone who preached what she had already learned through reading the New Testament. She confirms the fact that a person, even if separated from all other Christians, can read for himself and understand what he must do to be saved. The church in Gunnedah is now composed of 3 Christians. Lynn (I forgot her last name) was baptized into Christ on March 10th at Inverell. Lynn lives in Armidale and is a close personal friend of Diane Stone, the daughter of Cecil Stone. She had come to Inverell with the Stones to attend the gospel meeting and to study privately with Jim. Lynn is 17 years old and seems to have a mature attitude, being ready to obey only after much questioning and serious thinking. The church in Armidale is now composed of 6 Christians.

Gospel Meeting At Inverell: The week of March 3rd-10th Jim Everett and I assisted the brethren in Inverell in a series of special services. Jim preached at each service and I led the singing. Together we distributed 2,000 invitations throughout the city. The 12 Christians at Inverell had approached the meeting with the attitude, "it won't do any good." However, we persuaded them to try, which they did, and as a result they were strengthened. Thirteen aliens attended the services and interest was keen. The brethren closed the week saying, "this is the best meeting we have ever had" and "wish it would continue another week." We believe much good was accomplished both in edifying the brethren and teaching the lost.

"Doing Truth" — Quarterly Publication: The church in Caringbah has undertaken the work of publishing an 8 page quarterly which is to be used primarily in teaching the lost of the local community. We advertised our gospel meeting in the first issue with the intent that the people who did not attend the services would at least have teaching by the printed page. We distributed 4500 copies the last week of March, placing them in Mailboxes (which is legal here without postage). We also mailed copies to brethren throughout Australia.

The response has been significant. One couple came to services as a direct result of the invitation and teaching of the paper. Several acquaintances stated appreciation for receiving the paper, and at this writing, three have sent queries for the "Question Box." We have also received a warm response from brethren throughout Australia, many asking for additional copies.

Trip To Gunnedah, Inverell, and Armidale: The weekend of March 24th, two weeks after we closed the gospel meeting, I made another visit to these cities. Jim Everett and I continue alternating every second week making this 1,000 mile trip, and although it is a strenuous four days we believe fertile soil is receiving the word and fruit of our labors should be born in the months to come. We eagerly look forward to the arrival of bro. and sis. Sam Binkley, Jr. and their son, Dan, sometime in August, the Lord willing. The Binkleys are tentatively planning to live in Armidale, and I know that their presence will be a great assistance in advancing the cause of Christ in this area.

The most significant part of my trip was a discussion with the university student who I mentioned in the November report. Peter Upton is a sincere Anglican who has intentions of entering the seminary in a couple of years to prepare for the ministry. We have had a thorough study of baptism: its purpose, subjects, and mode. He expressed that he was "almost persuaded" I was teaching the truth on the subject; however, he had other doctrinal questions that also needed discussing before he was ready to be immersed. He has carefully studied writings of John Calvin, thus now we are discussing predestination and eternal security of believers. I am most impressed with this young man and believe that if he can be converted he would have great ability in preaching the gospel to others. To my pleasant surprise, Peter asked if he could return to Sydney with me and stay a couple of days. He wanted to see some friends in Sydney, but the fact that he felt at ease to be in our home afforded us additional time for our study together. I ask that you pray for him that he keep an open mind and that he have the courage to stand if he is convicted of the truth.

Gospel Meeting At Caringbah: The week of March 31st-April 7th, Roily McDowell, of Bundaberg, Queensland, preached for us in a week of special services. Roily did some excellent preaching which certainly edified all of the members. Eleven alien sinners attended, three of these returned to a second service. We wished for and expected others to attend, but the fact that these 11 came gave us cause for rejoicing. Progress is being made in Caringbah although it is slower than we anticipated.

We have learned in our 11 months in Australia that the most popular religion is INDIFFERENCE. As another Australian preacher has said, there is no language barrier in Australia, but the Lord's work has other problems. The God of heaven is not the God of Australia, but beer, beaches, legalized and government operated gambling attracts the attention of the average Aussie. This is a great country, but converting men to Christ is accomplished only through slow, patient teaching. However, the ones who have been converted have developed into the strongest of Christians. Men and wives like that of Roily McDowell, Harry Henderson, Cecil Stone, Mervin Squires, and others I could name have impressed me as being of the finest brethren I have ever known.

Melbourne Trip: On Monday after our gospel meeting closed, Rolly and I left for a week visiting brethren in Melbourne, 600 miles south of Sydney. I have received letters from brethren in each of the six congregations in Melbourne, as well as from Wangaratta, a city 150 miles north of Melbourne. These letters have been in response to the "open letter to Christians" which I mailed in January and to the "Doing Truth" publication. Most of the letters expressed agreement with the convictions I stated; others expressed appreciation for the spirit and attitude of the letter and were willing to discuss the matter further with me. The purpose of our trip was to meet these brethren face to face and to afford them the opportunity to ask any question. Much misrepresentation had been left in their minds by brethren who had warned against us, and many thought we were anti Bible classes, located preachers, and individual communion cups. These suspicions could be cleared up best by meeting them in person.

I find it impossible to adequately describe the warm reception extended Rolly and me. We discussed the scriptures with fourteen different men and found ourselves in full unity of the faith with most, especially with those brethren who have come out of the Associated (Christian) Churches. We were asked to preach at two of the congregations on Sunday; however, we were not able since we returned home on the Saturday. We did both speak at a special service on the Friday night. I know that a closer bond of fellowship exists as a result of this visit, and I believe we will be asked to come back in the future to work side by side with these brethren in preaching the gospel.

We were greatly saddened to learn that bro. Alan Moroney, a man who had written encouraging us to come and who had made arrangements for our accommodation, died suddenly with a heart attack, April 18th. He had a serious attack last November, but the Lord had spared him until now. Although he was a man not without fault, he had many good traits, and I am grateful that I had the privilege to meet him and be encouraged by him. He has a 22 year old son, Ken, who shows great promise of carrying on the work in his father's steps.

The Future: We are preparing articles for the second issue of "Doing Truth" and also for the newspaper column which appears every second week. We are also seeking a suitable place to buy as we believe a permanent meeting house would be of great advantage to the work; however, we have been unsuccessful thus far. Jim Everett is away this week preaching in Bundaberg, and I am preparing for two weeks in Gunnebah, May 5th-19th. The first week will be spent in home Bible studies, and the second week in special public gospel services, the Lord willing.

"Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you" (II Thessalonians 3:1).

P.O. Box 52, Caringbah, N.S.W. 2229, Australia