Australia Report

Robert Harkrider
Caringbak, Australia

When Harold Comer, Jim Everett, and I moved to Australia in May, 1967, much groundwork had been laid to warn the brethren against us. One preacher from Perth wrote and circulated a letter to all the churches in Australia admonishing Christians to beware of us, that our "anti" convictions would jeopardize cause of Christ in Australia. The misrepresentations of our views had a telling effect, at least in regard to our initial reception. Even the brethren of conservative convictions were wary of us and uncertain about extending the right hand of fellowship.

However, these efforts served a good purpose by causing some to investigate for themselves. As our personal contact with brethren enlarged, we have been surprised and thrilled to find the strength of convictions maintained by many. Lessons that we have labored to teach in the U. S.A. were easily explained and a frequent comment has been "we have always believed that." This reaction has been true especially of brethren who made the initial break some 10 to 13 years ago from the Associated Churches of Christ (Christian Church).

The promotional spirit manifested in U. S. churches has reached Australia mostly in the form of "end result." In other words, these churches are not large enough to contribute financially to the programs, but they have been on the receiving end of Herald of Truth and the Ivan Stewart Campaigns. I have been aware of the pressure exerted on the "supporting side" of these centralized cooperation programs, but now I am convinced of the pressure which is exerted on the "receiving side" too. Many brethren in Australia have expressed how they have been sickened at heart to now see similar innovations within independent churches which they had formally opposed in the associated churches.

In January I circulated an "open letter to Christians" in which the scriptures were set forth regarding the Lord's church and its work. This letter was mailed widely throughout Australia in order to clarify and expel misrepresentations which had been made. This week I received a tape recording from a man who I have never met, but who was so thrilled to have received the letter and to know our convictions that he made this response. Let me share with you a portion of his statement:

"I know from north to south, east to west of this continent there are people of like mind. Over the years I have preached in Bundaberg, down to Sydney, Albury, Wangaratta, Melbourne, Adelaide, and in Perth; and I met many people in these places, some whom I have known for many years, that most certainly will agree and stand fast with this position. This is the reason why we are so thrilled, that at last things have come to a head. It is out in the open, where people can make a choice for themselves without needing to blindly swallow everything they are told. We know what it means now when James wrote that 'the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much.' Over many years I believe many people in this country have been praying for such teaching, for such a stand for truth as ii was in the first century.

"In such a vexation and turmoil of spirit and soul over this last decade or so, coming to a point where we can't go any further, on a dead end road; we can't afford to take a turn that we know is wrong. We come to a point where we just wonder what to do for the best. We can't turn around and go back, we can't turn to the left, and we seem to be up against a brick wall. Then we see answered prayers. What a thrill it is, what an encouragement, and I believe that as you listen to my words, you too may feel encouraged that not all of Australia seems to be giving you a poor reception."

And what an encouragement this tape was to us! However, as I considered it, I began to feel an impending need for able men and women to come to Australia to assist these brethren shine forth the light. The brethren here are few in number and scattered; one family here, perhaps two families there. The largest congregation in Australia has only 80 members, and the majority of cities have no known Christians at all. Brethren, Australia beckons - can you come?

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XII: 9, pp. 15-16
June 1968