Vol.XI No.I Pg.5
March 1974

The Australian Trip (Part 5)

Robert F. Turner

While we were in Perth, Harry was in a mission with Jim Beech, at Wagga Wagga. Now, we met at the Melbourne airport, and Harry and I began a one week. mission with the Heidelberg church. American influence has broken and rolled over this church like surf of the sea. Campaign converts have come and gone, U. S. preachers have split the church when they couldnt have their way, personal feuds have taken their toll. Credit should be given Bill Hall (now in Birmingham) for working among these folk without trying to Americanize them. But I saw a church of loose ends that must somehow be pulled together if it is to accomplish much. We preached, and talked —and felt a little like the very thing we did not want to be, i.e. another wave, that would soon flatten out and be gone. Of course waves have a way of changing coast-lines. Hmmm!

One Sunday, Harry made a 90 mile trip to preach at Geelong; and I rode across town to preach at Footscray, Boronia, and then at Heidelberg— a full day. There are five small conservative groups meeting in Melbourne (2,500,000) plus one liberal church; but the work is scarcely begun in so large a place. Bob Wickham and his bride (former Susan Dow, daughter of the late Alf Dow, preacher) are awake to the needs; and there are several live workers in Boronia with my friend and helper, Max Burgin.

For our last full week, I flew to Tasmania; while Harry had a two-day debate in Wagga (Holy Spirit), then had a short meeting in Boronia before joining me in Tassy. I really like Launceston, and enjoyed preaching for the wonderful little church there. My days were taken in study and preparation of charts for a public debate on institutionalism, with U.S. Jim Waldron. Launceston brethren arranged this, intending a study with formal and informal sessions of questions, audience participation, etc., but Jim insisted on formal debate. As I had only negative speeches, I had to plan a counter-affirmative, hoping to let the people see what I really taught, and this made for a crammed study. So much useless quibbling and sectarian spirit could be avoided if brethren would try to understand one-anothers position, and calmly discuss it. Poor Jim thought I opposed several churches sending aid to a needy church or support to an evangelist. Oh me!!

Phil Morr and family were in Tassy on a short vacation, and when Harry and Max Burgin came for the debate we had a regular reunion. John Grimditch, Barry Huine, Max Hillier, Harry Martin, —these are names to be long remembered, for they and their families made us feel at home on that far-away island. But— Harry and I forced ourselves to board a jet, come Dec. 18, and headed for Sydney, Fiji, Hawaii, and smog-filtered sun-kissed L.A. (I asked Harry to refrain from kissing the ground— just pat it lovingly.)

Australia is a mature, English-speaking country, with sound money, a stable government, and immense natural resources. Closely tied to America and England, it may well be the mixture of the best of both. A nucleus of sound churches exist, giving us open doors. Will God forgive if we neglect this clarion call??