Over summer the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to dominate the news in Australia and New Zealand, as cases, hospitalisations and deaths attributed to the virus have escalated dramatically in some places.

We had hoped 2022 would be different – safer and less stressful than the past two years. And perhaps it yet will be. But for now, things remain uncertain.

At times like this, we crave wisdom and reassurance from our leaders in government, health, business and the church. It’s a difficult time for those making decisions, impacting lives and livelihoods. They need our prayers, as encouraged by St Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1,2.

But what makes a great leader? Commanding respect by decisive actions or forthright words? Being consultative and willing to delegate and trust those in their charge? Is the best leader someone who can enact a plan, bringing their team along with them?

We expect a lot of our leaders. We demand that our political leaders deliver prosperity, security and opportunity. We call for the axing of our sporting leaders if they and their teams don’t win premierships, series and championships. We believe our church leaders should oversee our return to the so-called glory days or enact whatever changes we deem necessary to move forward.

And we expect them all to be perfect, without a character blemish or skeleton in the closet. We stand ready to judge them harshly.

But what Jesus asks of all leaders though is both far simpler and far more difficult. He says that to lead, to be first, to be great, we must be servants (Matthew 20:26, Mark 9:35 and 10:43).

Jesus’ model of servant-leadership is the ultimate template for Christian leaders.

This year, there are leadership changes in the LCANZ, so we thought it was appropriate to focus on this topic and to thank God for raising up leaders for each new season. The church welcomes its incoming bishop, Pastor Paul Smith, who will be installed to this leadership role later this month, and we farewell his predecessor Pastor John Henderson. You’ll hear from them both in the following pages, including through Bishop Paul’s first monthly column for us.

You’ll also meet members of the General Church Board and learn more about this crucial governance body of skilled, gifted and committed volunteer leaders. And we’ll also introduce you to the newest pastors of the LCANZ as they begin their parish ministries.

And, along with a Bible study on the theme, our devotional and prayer pages are back this year, in addition to news, views and information about resources and events.

Thanks so much for your support. God bless,

PS. Our popular column ‘Going GREYT’ will return next month.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

Bishop Paul’s letter

Rev Paul Smith
Bishop, Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand

Because we bear your name. I share these words with you, as a prayer for our journey together as people of the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand.

For the coming years of my service as bishop, I would like to use these words as the title for my column in The Lutheran.

Why these words? Many people would recognise these words as the refrain from the song, ‘Lord Jesus, we belong to you’. This Australian Lutheran song was published as number 292 in the All Together Everybody songbook. The words are written by our Australian Lutheran theologian Dr John Kleinig, and put to music by another Australian Lutheran theologian, songwriter, Dr Robin Mann.

On his website, Robin tells the story, ‘Dr John Kleinig, lecturer at Luther Seminary in Adelaide, preached at the monthly student service at St Stephen’s in October 1985. He not only prepared a sermon on Mark 9:38–50 but also this powerful set of lyrics for which I wrote the melody … The text from Mark seems like a collection of disconnected teachings, but John wove these together beautifully under the theme spelled out in verse 41, “Anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ”.’

Let me give a brief explanation as to why I have chosen the refrain from Dr Kleinig’s song as the title for my regular articles to you.

Firstly, the song is a prayer to our Lord Jesus, in whom we live and move and have our very being.

Secondly, the song is wonderfully evangelical. Each verse is caught up in our Christian witness and service in the world, as we serve each other and the world around us in the name of the risen Lord.

Thirdly, the song is filled with the language of ‘us’ and ‘we’. Our Lord has gathered us through the waters of baptism to be with and for each other.

Fourthly, the song is so very hopeful about the presence of the Lord at work in and through us as we bear the Lord’s name.

Finally, there is something of the song that is deeply meaningful to me personally. It is something that is significant in my story as one who did not grow up in the Lutheran Church. (Actually, I did not grow up with any Christian church participation.) When I was enrolled at St Peters Lutheran College in Indooroopilly, Queensland, for Year 11 in 1978, my English teacher was a college chaplain, Pastor John Kleinig. We called him ‘PK’ at the time. PK not only taught me in the English classroom but, in 1979, taught me and three other students in confirmation classes and I was subsequently confirmed by PK that year.

Dr Kleinig later became a lecturer at Luther Seminary in Adelaide where I was studying. In 1988, he kindly took part in my ordination at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Adelaide.

At that same time, I was experiencing a profound influence from Robin Mann’s song writing. Much of the way that I speak of the work of our Lord Jesus in his life and his death and his resurrection for our salvation has been formed by the language that Robin has taught me in his many songs used for worship and devotion in our church.

So, with these words from ‘Because we bear your name’, I gladly acknowledge with gratitude the witness of both doctors, Kleinig and Mann, in my journey as a Christian. I also want to encourage you, the members of our church, to anticipate our Lord’s delight to be at work in and through each of us, as we ‘bear his name’.

‘Help us receive each other, Lord, for you receive the least of us, and come to us in them – because we bear your name.’

Your fellow in Christ,

‘Lord Jesus, we belong to you,
you live in us, we live in you;
we live and work for you –
because we bear your name’

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

Some Queensland Lutherans would know at least a little about new LCANZ Bishop Paul Smith, who served as their district bishop between 2015 and 2021. But many in our church may not have heard the incredible and inspiring story behind the faith journey of our sixth churchwide leader. Who is Paul Smith and how has God led him to this role?

With a surname like Smith, with no German heritage, and hailing from the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland, it’s hardly surprising that the incoming LCANZ bishop is not a born-and-bred Lutheran.

While God brought him to baptism through the Anglican church in Western Queensland as an infant in 1962, Bishop Paul Smith was not raised as a churchgoing Christian. And, as the biography of Paul in Robin Kleinschmidt’s book Your Most Humble Servant states, his childhood family life gave him ‘no experience of regular worship, religious teaching, prayer or Christian formation’.

But God had his eye on Paul and when family circumstances led to him attending St Peters Lutheran College at Indooroopilly in Brisbane as a boarding student in Year 11, his life and faith were transformed. His teachers – including chaplain and English teacher Pastor (now Dr) John Kleinig and the late Adrienne Jericho, who would later become the executive director of Lutheran Education Australia and took Paul for Scripture classes – were among those whose Christian example and gospel witness greatly affected him. Some of his classmates were instrumental in his early faith journey, too.

He was not only confirmed in his Christian faith while attending St Peters, but he also acknowledged a call to the ordained ministry and began studying at the then Luther Seminary (now Australian Lutheran College) in Adelaide in 1980.

He took time out of his pastoral ministry training in 1982 and worked in factories, studied at Adelaide University and continued with part-time seminary study. After a bout of glandular fever, he returned to ‘the Sem’ full-time in 1984. Also in 1984, Paul met Heidi Muller from Henty New South Wales, who was studying at Lutheran Teachers College and was the sister of his best friend at seminary, Tim. Heidi and Paul were married in 1986 and today they have three adult children, Ben, Felicity and Jeremy.

Today, Bishop Paul calls Heidi his ‘co-worker’. ‘She will pray with me, pray for me, encourage me, listen to me and tell me when I’m being a cranky old goat’, he says of his wife, who has studied theology and is a qualified secondary teacher, as well as having worked as a Lutheran aged-care chaplain. This year she will begin work for the SA-NT District as its chaplaincy ministries coordinator.

‘And so, we have that open and robust relationship. She’s a faithful follower of our risen Lord as a Christian and she loves the community and people of the Lutheran Church. She’s a dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying Lutheran but she understands it doesn’t mean culture, history and community only, it means pointing to the big arrow down – what God does for us, and Heidi is good at keeping me earnest in that way. I’m very grateful for that, so she’s a co-worker in that sense and a team participant in my life as a Christian.’

Having completed his vicarage year at Underdale-Glandore parish under Pastor Clem Traeger in suburban Adelaide in 1987, Paul was ordained the following year at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Adelaide.

Pastor Paul’s first assignment was as the first Lutheran college chaplain at Trinity Lutheran College Ashmore on Queensland’s Gold Coast. This first ordained ministry role continued for Paul what has become a close and valued relationship with Lutheran schools.

His next call was his first parish ministry, at Tailem Bend/Karoonda in South Australia, where he served between 1992 and 1995. To follow were parish ministries at Immanuel North Adelaide from 1995 to 2001 and from 2002 to 2005 at Good Shepherd Toowoomba in Queensland. These calls were followed by a return to service as a college pastor, firstly back at St Peters Indooroopilly and then at Pacific Lutheran College at Caloundra.

During his time at Toowoomba, Pastor Paul was first elected as a member of Queensland’s District Church Council, a role he would fill from 2003 to 2007, rejoining in 2010. Later that year he was elected as the first vice-president of the LCA’s Queensland District, a role he would fill until being elected bishop in 2015.

Committed to encouraging and progressing the service of younger leaders in the church, Bishop Paul committed to serving two terms and so did not stand for re-election in 2021.

He returned to St Peters as an interim college pastor in the latter half of 2021 and was elected as bishop of the LCANZ in October last year during the church’s historic first online sessions.

He believes God will use his life and ministry experiences in his service as churchwide bishop.

‘I believe God continues to prepare you for any and every role and God will always surprise you’, he says. ‘Has God equipped me especially with experience for this role? Yes, the people in the church have given me the opportunity to make mistakes in the name of Christ and in the cause of the gospel. The people of the church have given me great privileges.’

Bishop Paul comes across as a great optimist when it comes to people and the church. He whistles while he walks, smiles often, loves speaking with people and describes himself as ‘not a glass-half-empty person, nor a glass-half-full person, but a glass-overflowing person’.

He lists three main hopes for the coming years in the LCANZ. ‘The first one is that we would find good dialogue with young Christian people’, he says. ‘At the moment we don’t have a good dialogue with them. What we say, young people aren’t really hearing too well. What they say, is often not heard or properly understood.

‘The second hope that I’d have is that we would discover a growing collaboration with Christian sisters and brothers of our New Zealand and Australian church communities around us.

‘The third one is to discover the way Lutherans are evangelical in the 21st century. How are we Lutherans being evangelical to bring Christ to the nations? We have this great tradition of Lutheran witness, let’s see that grow and flourish in a way that’s authentic to who we are.’

Bishop Paul Smith will be installed as bishop of the LCANZ at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Adelaide on 20 February. Attendance will be by invitation only, but the service will be livestreamed.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

by Lisa McIntosh

The LCANZ’s General Church Board (GCB) is often described as being ‘Synod in between synods’.

And that’s true to an extent, but after tapping the wisdom of members present and past, it becomes apparent that the role of these highly dedicated and gifted church volunteers is more multi-faceted than that.

Known as the General Church Council (GCC) until 2018, GCB has an extensive range of responsibilities when it comes to the functioning of the organisation of the church.

In reality, GCB does not have the scope General Synod does to enact change. But many regulatory, compliance and administrative matters handled by GCB need to be dealt with in the three years between Conventions. The board also takes direction from Synod to research, explore, expand upon or deliver policies and programs, and supports and facilitates the work of departments and agencies of the church.

Members donate many hours each month to prepare for and attend meetings, and in follow-up to directions or decisions. Some members take annual leave from their paid employment or lose wages to attend meetings and, in pre-COVID times, also may have had to be away from home for several days each month to serve.

While previously all district bishops sat on GCC/GCB and most lay members were put forward by their districts, since 2018 the board has comprised the churchwide bishop and assistant bishop, one pastor member and six lay members, all elected by General Synod.

Former lay member Faye Schmidt, who served on GCC/GCB from 2015 to 2021, says those changes brought great benefits. ‘I think it increased both the efficiency of the General Church Board and it also helped to coalesce and strengthen the role of the College of Bishops’, she says.

The longest serving member of GCB and a 13-year veteran of District Church Council for Victoria-Tasmania, Tim Wiebusch, agrees. ‘We were tying our bishops up unnecessarily with a whole lot of governance and administration’, says Tim who is interim chair of GCB as part of a lay chair trial designed to allow the churchwide bishop to be a more active participant in board meetings. ‘But for those things that they are critical to, such as the doctrine of the church and the health and wellbeing of the pastorate, we’ve been quite deliberate in setting up a regime to make sure they are connected in.’

These days GCB is a skills-based entity rather than a purely representative one, with experience and expertise required in areas including mission, law, governance, finance, human resources, and organisational and change management. The aim is, however, to still include people of a mix of perspectives and backgrounds with a geographical and gender balance.

The 2021 GCB cohort includes two farmers, a chartered accountant, a corporate governance professional, a barrister and three pastors. Tim, whose ‘day job’ is as Victoria’s State Emergency Service Chief Officer of Operations, says the LCANZ is ‘blessed to have such breadth and depth in terms of the skillsets that our GCB members voluntarily bring and offer to the church’.

Paul Argyle, a farmer with governance experience in national grower organisations in New Zealand and member of the NZ Council of Synod, believes the diverse backgrounds and God-given skills each member brings to the team is a real strength, as they ‘come together as a team with a common objective to offer servant leadership to the LCANZ’.

The GCB pastor member since 2018, Rev Dr Tim Stringer, also reflects on the teamwork of the group. ‘We do not act as individuals, but as a board. Yet we bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table for discussion and to assist decision-making’, says Pastor Tim, who has also served on the Victoria-Tasmania District’s Church Council since 2017 and is on the LCANZ’s Church Worker Support Committee.

But while the members’ CVs make impressive reading, as Faye says they are primarily committed to serving the interests of the church, including upholding its confessions and constitution and adhering to its objects.

Corporate governance professional Charmaine Harch, who joined the board in 2018, also says GCB members ‘take their role seriously and endeavour to make God-directed decisions that are best for the LCANZ’.

‘GCB discusses and prayerfully considers strategic matters that need to be dealt with, ensuring “the mission of the church, the proclamation of the gospel of Christ, remains central in the work of the church”’, she says, citing the relevant by-law relating to the board’s responsibilities.

Chartered accountant Mel Zerner stresses, too, that GCB members are ‘ordinary members of congregations in the LCA’. ‘God has provided us with skills, experience, time and energy to serve the church in governance and planning for future directions of the church’, says Mel, who has been on GCC/GCB since 2009 and has served the LCANZ as its Finance, Audit and Risk committee chair since 2013, in addition to 20 years on the South Australia-Northern Territory District Church Council.

Farm business manager Peter Zweck, who has also served at district church council level in New South Wales and has been on GCC/GCB since 2016, agrees. ‘We are just like any of the other countless volunteers in the LCANZ who use our talents to serve God and the church we love to the best of our abilities’, he says.

But while there are many dedicated and selfless volunteers across the church, there is no doubt GCB members are a willing, committed and well-credentialed bunch. A newcomer to the board in 2021, Kim Baumeler, a barrister and former chair of the LCANZ’s Ecclesiastical Discipline Review Team, says in her short time on the board, she has seen ‘that everyone is very dedicated to serving the LCANZ’.


  • PAUL ARGYLE – GCB member since 2018, farmer, member of St Lukes Palmerston North NZ
  • KIM BAUMELER – GCB member from 2021, barrister, member of St Peters Hobart Tas
  • CHARMAINE HARCH – GCB member since 2018, corporate governance professional, member of Good News Middle Park Qld
  • REV NEVILLE OTTO – GCC/GCB member 2009-2018 and from 2021, LCANZ Assistant Bishop, pastor of St Pauls Box Hill Vic
  • REV PAUL SMITH – GCC/GCB member 2015-2018 and from 2022, LCANZ Bishop, former LCA Queensland District Bishop 2015-2021
  • REV DR TIM STRINGER – GCB pastor member since 2018, pastor of Calvary Greensborough/Thomastown Vic
  • TIM WIEBUSCH – GCC/GCB member since 2008, interim chair since 2021, Victoria State Emergency Service Chief Officer Operations, member St Pauls Box Hill Vic
  • MEL ZERNER – GCC/GCB member since 2009, chartered accountant, member of St Peters Blackwood SA
  • PETER ZWECK – GCC/GCB member since 2016, farmer, member St Pauls Henty NSW
Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

In his eight-and-a-half years as bishop of the LCANZ, Pastor John Henderson was known as a servant-leader and ‘a pastor who kept Christ at the centre’ for those he served alongside.

In December at his home church in suburban Adelaide, Bishop John laid down his pectoral cross as part of a final rite of farewell. Having announced earlier in 2021 that he wouldn’t seek re-election as bishop at the Convention of General Synod in October after three synodical terms, he also retired from active pastoral ministry after nearly 40 years.

South Australia-Northern Territory District Bishop David Altus led the rite that day and, as the longest-serving member of the LCANZ’s College of Bishops (CoB), also spoke as part of a farewell to Bishop John during the online sessions of General Synod.

‘Together with the other members of CoB, I thank God for your availability and support, your vulnerability and strength, your encouragement and direction, and ultimately your reliance on Christ which is our best witness to each other’, Bishop David said. ‘For all these gifts and ways in which you have served, and more, we thank you and we thank God for you.’

Bishop David had also asked his District Church Council members what they wanted to thank God for regarding Bishop John’s time of leadership. Among their responses was that he was ‘a pastor who kept Christ at the centre for us’ and someone who ‘approached complex issues and situations in a calm, reasoned, organised and balanced way that used (his) gifts’.

The SA-NT bishop also acknowledged the service, gifts and sacrifice of Bishop John’s wife Valmai and those of their family.

As part of the farewell, Bishop Mark Whitfield from the Lutheran Church of New Zealand thanked Bishop John for the way he had conducted his ministry, sharing ‘the breath and life of the church’. ‘You have shared in the challenges and joys of our ministries, always reminding us that the only breath that really matters is the breath of the Holy Spirit of Jesus, which makes us new in Christ’s love and compels us to and empowers us for ministry in his name’, Bishop Mark said.

‘Thank you for your servant-leadership of “Te Waka o te Whare Karakia” – the ship of the church. You have led us with a sense of purpose and direction and have reminded us to always be filled with the hope of Jesus that will not disappoint us.’

Bishop John’s successor, Bishop-elect Paul Smith, will be installed on 20 February in Adelaide.

The members of the LCANZ thank John and Valmai for their years of service and sacrifice for the church and pray for God’s richest blessings on the Hendersons as they step out in faith into a new chapter in their lives.



1981 – Vicarage at Manawatu Palmerston North Parish NZ

1983 – Ordained at Woden Valley ACT

1983–2001 – Parish ministry at Woodville West SA, Dalby Qld, Croydon (Melbourne Outer Eastern) Vic

2002–2008 – General Secretary National Council of Churches in Australia

2006–2011 – LCA Vice-President

2009–2013 – Principal, Australian Lutheran College

July 2013 – Installed as bishop of the LCA, the first leader to have that title and the first non-South Australian to occupy the role

Dec 2021 – Retired as bishop and from pastoral ministry

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

Pastor John Henderson has a simple and yet all-encompassing hope for the church he led as bishop from 2013 until retiring late last year.

‘It’s the familiar adage that it’s all about Jesus and that Jesus is the answer to everything’, he says. ‘My hope for the church in everything is to hold to our faith in Jesus our Saviour – and practise that faith in an authentically Lutheran, biblical, sacramental and liturgical setting. The church should remain true to who it is.’

John also believes the Lutheran faith has a strong role in the ecumenical scene in Australia and New Zealand, because ‘it brings a focus and a special contribution that adds to the richness of the Christian scene’. ‘We shouldn’t step away from that’, he encourages. ‘I don’t mean our Germanic, Scandinavian, or locally developed cultural peculiarities. I mean the hard-fought Reformation truths of the 16th century translated into the 21st century. We must discern those things that we must at all costs hold to and recognise those that we can legitimately change or let go of.’

Another of his prayers is that the church will continue to foster peaceful dialogue and respectful methods of engagement when there are points of difference over such issues as the ordination of women. ‘We need those skills more than ever now in COVID times and with the various community compliance issues confronting us, we need to learn to talk together peacefully about what matters’, he says.

He says that during his time as bishop ‘the world of the church became more complex’, through increasing regulatory requirements. These, along with an ageing population and diminishing resources, add to the challenges facing churches, but he remains optimistic about the future.

‘We’re increasingly subject to regulations and higher community expectations than we have been in the past. Society is expecting us to set the highest standards’, he says. ‘Complying with those expectations may seem to absorb some resources that otherwise we might have put into mission or helping others. But we must do it for the sake of the gospel and for the good of society. We can no longer take the goodwill of the population for granted.

‘I am a great believer in the church. It has been a lifeboat for me all my life. It is a lifeboat for me because Jesus is in it, no matter what the current storm may be.

‘And the LCA has such fabulous people in it. We’ve got fantastic people in the churchwide office. We’ve got wonderful people in the districts. We’ve got amazing volunteers and committed people; they’re just marvellous.

‘So, thank you to the church for allowing me the privilege of serving you as bishop. In each one of you, Jesus is present. And if I’ve been able to be Jesus for you once or twice, I’m grateful to God for that opportunity and that’s my life’s purpose now fulfilled.’

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

Each of these three pastoral ministry graduates from Australian Lutheran College has grown up with ordained ministers in their families, with Ben Graham and Mitch Kitson being the sons of Lutheran pastors and David Cherry having an Anglican minister as his grandfather. But, apart from that, their ministry journeys differ greatly. Recently ordained, they will all be stepping out in faith to begin their first assignments as LCANZ pastors in 2022. Read on to discover more about our newest shepherds.


AGE: 30

FAMILY: Wife Kayla, daughters Esther and Eloise


ASSIGNED TO: Wagga Wagga and Milbrulong NSW

Who were the most influential people in your life as you were growing up? My grandfather, Bruce Ellis, a minister in the Anglican church. He would go to different parishes where priests had been removed and work with the congregation in their problems until a new priest could be called. Witnessing that ministry showed me the importance of forgiveness and how God’s word can speak into our problems.

Who are the most influential people for you now? My vicar father Pastor David Kuss. Going on vicarage with him showed me many things about ministry.

What did you do before you went to ALC? I started out in carpentry, then completed three years as an apprentice boilermaker. I volunteered with the NSW Rural Fire Service and the Vic and NSW State Emergency Services. I also completed a Certificate III in Civil Construction. I had a gut feeling where God was calling me and kept trying to avoid his call.

Who or what encouraged you along the journey towards beginning pastoral studies? I am still not sure, but while I was working in Albury/Wodonga I received a letter from ALC asking me if I was interested in studying in the pastoral stream. That was all the encouragement I needed. After that, everything fell into place, as if I were finally going where God was calling me.

What is your most relied upon Bible verse and why? Ephesians 2:8–10, because when I was in a really dark place and could see no way forward, that verse told me I was created in Christ Jesus to do things God had already prepared for me. That gave me hope and peace.

The most important thing people need to know about God is … Christ died for us, for our sins, which means when we struggle and are trying to find our own way out, we need to simply be still and know that he is God, that he loves us first.

Which privilege of being a pastor are you most looking forward to? Being able to bring peace, hope and love to people through the words Christ has given us.

What is your favourite leisure activity? Working with my hands, whether metalwork and welding, or carpentry, or repairing my car and things around the house. Also working on farms remains a favourite.

What is your favourite movie? I don’t really have a favourite movie, but I do have a favourite TV series – Dr Who.

If you could chat to any famous person, living or dead, who would it be and why? I would like to sit down and talk with three people: C.S. Lewis, Hermann Sasse and Martin Luther.


AGE: 36

FAMILY: Wife Brianna

HOME CONGREGATION: St John’s Bundaberg Qld

ASSIGNED TO: Lowood Parish Qld

Who were the most influential people in your life as you were growing up? [Writers] Raymond E Feist, Isaac Asimov, Douglas Adams and HG Wells

Who are the most influential people for you now? My wife, Brianna

What did you do before you went to ALC? I spent 10 years as an industrial chemist working for Bundaberg Sugar.

Who or what encouraged you along the journey towards beginning pastoral studies? Mostly Jesus, but also my dad [who is a pastor] and good friend Tony Bowes.

What is your most relied upon Bible verse and why? Philippians 4:13 for two reasons. I cannot so much as wake myself up from a nap if it were not for our Heavenly Father. We need his grace and mercy to accomplish anything. Also, the verses around this remind me what is really important … mercy, humility and forgiveness.

The most important thing people need to know about God is … written in the Bible. You should have a read for yourself and see if you can find it. What is most important for one person might not be most important for another.

Which privilege of being a pastor are you most looking forward to? Blessing God’s people. I really like the part of the liturgy where the pastor gets to say, ’The Lord be with you’.

What is your favourite leisure activity? Playing computer games, learning how they work and overcoming the challenges that they set before me.

What is your favourite movie? Possibly Redline (2009) or Gurren Lagann the Movie: Childhood’s End (2008). Both are pretty and have great characters. [Also] Avengers Assemble (2012). Of all the Marvel movies, this was the most fun to watch.

If you could chat to any famous person, living or dead, who would it be and why? Apparently, Albert Einstein was really good at telling jokes, so he might be a fun famous person to hang out with.


AGE: 24

FAMILY: Wife Olivia


ASSIGNED TO: St Martin’s Mount Gambier SA

Who were the most influential people in your life as you were growing up? I’ve had many different influences in different areas of life: family and friends, teachers, sports coaches, church members and others.

Who are the most influential people for you now? A range of people influence who I am today. I’d add lecturers and pastors to the list as well.

What did you do before you went to ALC? After high school I completed a Certificate IV through ALC and then tried starting a Bachelor of Arts at Adelaide University.

Who or what encouraged you along the journey towards beginning pastoral studies? I felt that my life had a purpose that my degree wasn’t directing me towards. A few people suggested that I inquire about studying at ALC and I soon found myself beginning pastoral studies.

What is your most relied upon Bible verse and why? It has to be Ephesians 2:8–9. We can all be very good at patting ourselves on the back or blaming ourselves for our shortcomings. This verse reminds me that I am saved purely by God’s grace.

The most important thing people need to know about God is … that he isn’t distant or impersonal, but the exact opposite, which is why he sent Jesus into the world.

Which privilege of being a pastor are you most looking forward to? Living and breathing God’s mission in the community he has placed me in and working alongside people in that great task.

What is your favourite leisure activity? Olivia and I love going camping together. I’m also a keen follower of a few different sports.

What is your favourite movie? I’ve always loved the whole Star Wars saga, but Return of the Jedi is my favourite.

If you could chat to any famous person, living or dead, who would it be and why? Melbourne Demons AFL ruckman Max Gawn. He seems like a genuine bloke with a brilliant sense of humour.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

The Lutheran Church in Malaysia (LCM) is one of the LCANZ’s overseas partner churches. Among LCM ministries supported by our Lutheran family is its mission alongside the Orang Asli, the indigenous peoples of Peninsular Malaysia. We asked Rev Aaron Yap, who served as bishop of LCM from 2013 to 2021, to share his thoughts on Christian leadership.

by Aaron Yap

When we talk about ‘leadership’, we are also addressing ‘servanthood’. It is blended together according to biblical teaching. Jesus called his disciples and sent them out to serve and reach out to those in need.

Jesus addressed the servant-leadership role model as the One who came to serve, not to be served (Matt 20:25–28), which was echoed by St Paul (Phil 2:6,7).

A leader must be humble to seek the Lord by receiving his vision and mission for his people.

After the past eight years serving as the bishop of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia, I see that we need to emphasise two ‘Ss’ when we talk about leadership – succession and sustainability.

We can’t merely occupy a role without carrying out the responsibility, mission and ministry entrusted by God – as the church is bigger than any individual.

Succession emphasises ‘internal matters’ covering all levels of leadership, including congregations, ministries, districts, subsidiaries, institutions, and the offices of bishop and executive officer. We need to train our people in leadership and discipleship. In preparing church leaders, we need to identify, call, have fellowship and worship with them, practise giving and learning as a lifestyle, and encourage theological education and training.

We want to enable younger pastors and leaders to have an opportunity to serve and grow. And among the Orang Asli peoples (OA), we are creating a systematic way of growth and empowerment by training OA community members to be their own leaders and pastors.

We are developing their capacity to be self-governing and sustainable through the formation of an ‘OA District’ and providing educational opportunities for younger generations so that they can return home after studying to rebuild their land and community.

We are also emphasising outreach mission and evangelism. There is a wise saying, ‘it is by the local, for the local and through the local’. We recognise that Orang Asli are the indigenous people in Malaysia, hence we create and recreate new avenues for reaching out.

We have set up the OA Training and Cultural Centre and encourage personal evangelism training to bring the gospel to younger generations. Through our Social Concern Ministry, people become God’s legs, hands, eyes and ears and can walk, touch, watch and hear what God is doing and seeing in a holistic manner.

As the prayer of Archbishop Oscar Romero says in part, ‘we cannot do everything … it may be incomplete, but it is a beginning … an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest’.

All this is being done for, on and through our Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord. May all glory be unto our Triune God!

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

Some people question what God is doing through the suffering of the COVID-19 pandemic. But no matter what the circumstance, God can and does continue to change hearts and lives, says Pastor David Christian.

God is at work … even in a pandemic 

by David Christian

God works wonderfully and mysteriously.

In the 1960s, I feared I might be called to kill people in Vietnam. Fifty years later I was among LCA pastors called to teach and preach eternal life to people there through the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Vietnam.

Before COVID, through five visits I have met amazing Christians – pastors, interpreters and students who are hungry to be taught the gospel. Among them are Esther and Mai Duong. Both were drawn to Christ, out of Buddhism.

Mai Duong was unhappy and unwell. About seven years ago she was led to a church, heard the good news of Jesus, and in desperation became a reluctant believer. Within a week she was healed and began to tell others about Jesus’ love.

Every week she writes to tell how she has led people to Christ, seen them healed in answer to prayer, and followed up to teach them and gather them into Bible study groups.

She is poor, and when COVID struck, she fasted so she would have food to share. As she gave people food, she told them about Jesus, and many were saved. Mai Duong does not know her birthday but knows she will be 50 in 2022. She also knows the day of her birth into God’s kingdom and the day she chose my wife, Joy, and me to be her ‘parents’.

In Esther’s case, while at university, a fellow student noticed how unhappy she was and said, ‘I will take you to the place of joy’. That place was a church. There she heard the gospel and was saved. Esther is an interpreter when we teach and preach in Vietnam. She has also chosen Joy and me to be her ‘parents’.

When COVID-19 came, Esther continued to share food with hungry people and tell them about Jesus. Each week she wrote of people she cared for and led to Christ. In preparation in the event she had to go into a quarantine centre, she bought food and Christian tracts. Then she caught COVID. And every day in quarantine she led people to faith.

‘I shared that Jesus was born into this world, he was crucified, and he rose again, she explained. ‘I said that God loves them, and I asked them to pray to receive eternal life.

‘There were about 136 people in the quarantine centre. I told all of them about Jesus and 118 of the 136 people accepted Jesus.’

She has since followed up with people by phone, visiting them and leading them to nearby churches. This has led to more people accepting Christ.

What a privilege and blessing it is to teach, encourage and pray for this Lutheran church every day. Nothing has inspired me so much as seeing and being part of what God is doing in Vietnam. Glory be to him.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

Our Lutheran family and friends in Australia helped to send more than 14,000 refugee children to school through Australian Lutheran World Service’s Walk My Way in 2021.

A record number of 4,178 people from around the country took part in the 26km walking challenge last year, with walkers asking friends and family to sponsor them. As of 12 January, the $368,708 raised was enough to support 14,181 refugee children to go to school through ALWS. Each $26 raised helps a refugee child in East Africa go to school for a year by providing teachers, textbooks and tables. And there will be more walks and opportunities to give your support in 2022.

Participants walked, wheeled and woofed their way in more than 30 events from the southwest coast of Western Australia, through South Australia and the Northern Territory to Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The young and the not-so-young, people living with a disability, mums and dads, kids in prams, dog walkers and cyclists all united in changing the future for refugee children.

While 610 people walked their way through the largest walk of 2021 in SA’s Barossa Valley in May, many schools, churches and groups who lived further afield organised their own walks locally.

Members of St Matthews Lutheran Church in the small Queensland town of Maclagan cheered on their 10 Sunday school children – with a few extras – as they walked 26 laps of the church and Sunday school building for their Walk My Way.

St Matthews member Margaret said: ‘The congregation, as well as various mums, dads, grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts, cousins and neighbours, helped fill the donation box with a wonderful amount of $1394. The kids gave it their all with lots of sweat and “are we there yet?” comments and were thoroughly busted when done, but they all felt strongly about helping the children in Africa to go to school.’

Although a small church, St Matthews helped 54 refugee children to go to school – five children for every Sunday school child!

Meanwhile, in October, almost 200 people came together at Hervey Bay in Queensland for a special walk to honour the late St James Lutheran College teacher and ALWS rep Christian Stern, who died last year of cancer.

Before he died, Christian shared his dream of getting his community involved in ALWS’s Walk My Way challenge, to help a preschool in Cambodia.

Walk Sterny’s Way has raised more than $22,616 as of 12 January to support the people of Mean Serei village, who will now have a preschool for their children. Walkers included Christian’s wife Tanya and 10-year-old son Jasper and many from the college community.

ALWS Executive Director Jamie Davies said the scale of the challenge to support refugee children is ‘astounding’.

‘We live in a world where more than 80 million people have been forced to flee from their homes – that’s more than three times the population of Australia’, she said.

‘We can take heart in this amazing outpouring of love and compassion – it is truly an example of our church in action bringing love to life!

‘Thank you – whether you walked, wheeled or woofed, with every step, you’ve shown your refugee neighbours that they will never be forgotten.’

You can find out more about Walk My Way on the website (https://walkmyway.org.au/)

Walk My Way returns this year. Email walkmyway@alws.org.au or sign up to ALWS eNews (https://www.alws.org.au/contact-us/) to stay informed.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full