Am I just a Big April Fool?
Am I a delayed adolescent or just a Big April Fool?
Today (April 1st) I am embarking on a journey to attempt to read the Bible in every mainland parish in the Sydney Diocese, several retirement village and two theological colleges across the month of April.
Call me an April Fool. Many have. Call me something worse or just a little crazy. I’ve been called a lot of things and most of them are pretty true.
Two years ago, with the company and support of some long-suffering friends, I rode 2,500 km into central Queensland and back to ‘Smash the Cycles of Poverty’ that cripple so many people and communities throughout the world.
Last year, with many of the same even longer-suffering friends, I surfed 100 beaches in 10 days to ‘Break the Waves of Poverty’ that engulf some of the world’s poorest.
The physical needs of our neighbours, near and far; their safety and shelter, sustenance and nutrition, primary health and education, dignity and empowerment to take personal responsibility for their own welfare, are crucial life-issues where we who have been blessed with so much can share those blessings with others.
But this year I want to focus on the massive spiritual needs of those who live in what some people call the ‘Global South’ (Africa, Asia and The Pacific and Central and South America). In some regions of these vast parts of God’s world the church is growing rapidly but is in desperate need of men and women who can preach the gospel and teach the Bible with accuracy and integrity.
Many who do the work of evangelism, plant churches and pastor congregations have had no theological education and very little general education. The only models of preaching and Bible teaching they have observed come from watching North American tele-evangelists some of whom peddle a dangerous cocktail of ‘prosperity gospel’ and pop-psychology. Some even pour their own ancient tribal, occultish and ‘ancestor worship’ practices into the dizzying mix.
The need for men and women in the Global South to receive a solid and sound Biblical and theological education so that they may reach out to Jesus’ lost sheep and feed his found sheep is urgent and enormous.
So, Big April Fool or not, I am taking on this extreme challenge of different kind to celebrate the wonderful heritage and legacy we have always enjoyed as Sydney Anglicans of having well-trained, faithful Bible teachers. I am going to highlight the need that I have described above for others to receive and enjoy what we have in such abundance but what they lack with such distressing paucity.
And I am going to appeal to our joyful generosity to provide funds for bursaries to help meet this urgent need through Anglican Aid’s Overseas Ministry Fund (OMF).
I have called this extreme challenge the ‘Flawless Bible Tour’. This name is taken from Proverbs 30:4 where we read, ‘Every word of God is flawless . . . . ’ With my team (many of the same long-suffering friends from previous challenges) and with local brothers and sisters, we will read chapter of the Bible at each location, on the hour, every hour.
The vehicle driving this drive for bursary funds will be known as the ‘Chappo and Hope Partnership’ because I will keep telling the story of these two servants of God, one Australian and one African, who filled their lives with humble service to Jesus, his gospel and his people through his word, the Bible.
Chappo’s legacy is so well-known and appreciated throughout this diocese and indeed throughout the nation and beyond. I preached in a Geelong church just last weekend and told a story that involved Chappo. Even I was surprised by the number of Geelong-ites, crazy Cats supporters, who spoke to me over coffee about the impact of Chappo’s Bible teaching ministry on their lives.
Hope is a young man who, like Chappo, is now with Jesus. His story is less well-known. In 2011 he was an outstanding second year student at the George Whitefield College. He was studying to prepare for a lifetime of serving Jesus in Johannesburg preaching gospel, teaching the Bible and planting churches. After Christmas that year he went to Mozambique and drowned while attempting to rescue one of his friends who was caught in an ocean rip.
Two servants of God, one who lived to 82 and another to 27 whose stories of confidence in the Bible, and the Bible alone, as God’s flawless word need to be told again and again.
What a privilege it will be, this month, to tell their story and read the word of God with brothers and sisters throughout this wonderful Diocese of Sydney.
What a privilege it is to invite us all to share in the blessing of sacrificial generosity to provide many young men and women with the opportunity to train at a Bible College where God’s word is honoured as flawless, perfect and true.
Call me crazy. Call me a fool. Whatever, call me on 1800 653 903 (or visit anglican aid's website ) and make a donation to the Flawless Bible Tour to provide bursaries for future Global South leaders.