Catching the vision—an amazing story!

by Gary Bates, CMI–Australia

9 September 2003

Owen Butt, the pastor of Padstow Uniting Church in Sydney, Australia, felt a strong conviction of the Lord, along with some others from his church, to go and hear one our creation speakers at a local seminar. This was despite Owen’s belief that ‘the creation/ evolution debate was a non-issue and a lost cause with which I had no desire to be associated’, as he put it.

Due to his engineering/science background, he had no problem with blending the ‘scriptural’ record and millions of years of earth history.  But all of this started to change as that evening, Our speaker implored folk to wear ‘biblical glasses’.  Suddenly, Owen felt as though God was challenging him, as he realised the foundational importance of Genesis to the Gospel.  Feeling that this was now an important issue for the wider church, Owen nervously approached his congregation, asking them to be involved in this ‘battlefield’ and was delighted and even a little surprised when they agreed.

The church had previously run several Alpha Course programs, so they decided to run a similar program using one of our multi-DVD teaching/study series. Not wanting anyone to miss out, it was run twice a week—daytime and evenings.  Inexplicably, there were mishaps, serious illnesses and problems with many individuals, almost causing the church to go into shock.  After much prayer, they were recognised as spiritual attacks from the enemy.  Pastor Owen reflects, ‘Satan now saw us as a threat to his kingdom of darkness.’  Their resolve was now stronger than ever.

As they ran the series, Owen says: ‘Reports started to come in of lives being changed; for example not one but three of our young fathers who had been hovering around the edges of the church, suddenly became more excited about Jesus as some of the barriers and obstacles in their lives came crashing down. … One of the major outcomes has been a growing confidence in the Holy Scriptures … .  And with the growing confidence in Scripture has come a growing confidence in the Jesus of the New Testament and in sharing Him with others’. 

With two successes behind them, the decision was made to run two more DVD courses in the first half of 2003.  But Owen’s excitement at meetings of the local Minister’s Fraternal also led to an invitation to lead a CMI DVD series/course in the Baptist church in the same suburb.  In addition, some folks from another Uniting church attended one of the courses, and their local minister and his wife came along to ensure that these parishioners ‘were not being led astray’.  The effect was instant.  This church has since already had an CMI speaker, and has started running the series in their church also!

A local Anglican minister is keen to commence the series also and enquiries continue to trickle in from other churches.  What a success story—praise God!

Owen now has a strong team that is providing the leadership assistance for churches who wish to host their own course.  Owen says, ‘Our church’s longer term vision is for the series to be offered as widely as possible for people outside Jesus’ Kingdom—as a form of pre-evangelism to break down some of the barriers so that they are more likely to understand and respond when they hear about Jesus’ offer of salvation and call to follow Him.’

We are thankful to Owen and all at Padstow Uniting for catching the ‘vision’.  It has also given us the inspiration to canvass our many keen supporters out there, and find out whether you are able to organise something similar for your group or church. 

Published: 6 February 2006