Greetings from Melbourne!!
I pray that you are having a blessed day! I don’t know about you, but the last several months have been a whirlwind of craziness that has constantly demanded our attention and time. Life in ministry can definitely be challenging, and trying to find that balance between commitment and family is a constant struggle. Thankfully, the Lord always gently reminds us of what’s important and where are attentions need to be focused.
I stand in awe that at the end of May, we will have served the Lord here in Melbourne, Australia for 5 years. That’s right, 5yrs! What an amazing journey it has been.
Stepping out in faith and having to trust God for everything has definitely stretched and matured us (as well as giving us heaps of gray hairs). We have grown so much in our walk with the Lord over these past 5 years and are amazed at the lessons our patient, gracious and loving God has walked us through. We have experienced some of the most painful times in ministry to some of the most exciting times. We have developed thick skin due to the many difficult issues we have faced, and have been engulfed by our Heavenly Father’s love. We sometimes have moments of doubt andwonder, “Is it worth it?” The answer is always yes; it is absolutely worth it! There is no better place to be than
right in the center of God’s will.
We are loving and enjoying the assignment the Lord has given us to pastor this wonderful church here in Melbourne. What an honor and privilege to serve the Lord and His precious people, especially in another country. It is a whole different ball game when you are working in foreign soil and in a different culture other than your own.
Here are some things the Lord has both taught and affirmed time and time again in our life and ministry. With the Lord, nothing is impossible. He is the Sovereign Lord of all. He knows what is best. His grace is sufficient. He will provide. His Word is powerful to transform lives and eternal destinies. Simply teach the Bible. Just love my people. Grace. Pray without ceasing. The list can go on and on.
I can still remember like it was yesterday, jumping on the plane with my family, leaving LAX
airport…destination Melbourne. The spiritual battle began as soon as we stepped on the plane. I remember the enemy saying to me (trying to speak fear and doubt into my mind) “What are you doing, taking your family far away from the comforts of the U.S., away from family and friends? You haven’t even raised the proper support. You are going to fail!”
I rebuked that thought, and leaned on the promises and the confirmation of God’s call on our lives. I stood on the many miraculous things the Lord had done in our lives to get us to that point. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding came over my heart and mind.
The other day, I was looking at some pictures of when we first started out in ministry here in Australia. It was quite an emotional moment to reflect back to the beginning of our journey. Looking at the pictures of our youngest son (Christian) who wasn’t even walking at the time, to seeing the church grow from 7 people on our first Sunday to now close to 100. It was truly one of those “WOW” moments! Time has gone by so fast, and so much has happened in our lives since May 28th, 2006, the day we left our home in California.
Vision and direction for church
In this next year, we are praying about starting a Bible College/School of Ministry and planting another church or a satellite campus on the other side of town or in another city in Australia. At the moment, we are just in the praying, planning, and assessment stage. Both of these decisions are massive and will require an immense amount of time and energy in planning, praying, funding, staffing, etc.
We would appreciate your prayers for wisdom, discernment, direction, and a clear vision from the Lord.
Current teachings and focus
On Sunday mornings, we are teaching through the Gospel of Matthew. Then on Sunday evenings, we are going through the Minor Prophets. In our midweek study, we are going thru the Book of Acts.
The Women’s Group meets on Tuesday evenings and is currently going through the Book of John. The Men’s fellowship, which meets once a month, has been going through a book called, “Disciplines of a Godly Man.”
There has also been a steady increase in counseling and leadership meetings over the past 2-3 months. It’s exciting to see new growth and health within the congregation.
The key is to stay faithful, keep your eyes on the Lord, stay a humble, keep loving and giving grace to the people.
Pray for wisdom, direction, discernment, protection, provision, and strength (health) for the ministry, family, and marriage.
Pray for a closer walk with the Lord, and to stay sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for making a difference in the lives of so many by your prayers, your faithful support, and your partnership.
PS. For pictures from this update and a printable version, please click here.
Until next time……
Pastor Andrew Russell
Andrew, Niki, Joshua, & Christian