Simon Manchester has been one of only two bible teachers that Australian Missionary News IPTV anchorman, Mark Tronson, has utilised for his monthly newsletter over 28 years.
His first two questions related to how Simon came to faith in Jesus Christ and his call to Christian ministry.
During Simon Manchester's final year at Sydney Boys High School, he happened to attend a co-ed camp in which there were sessions on Christianity. Thinking he was already a Christian, Simon just sat at the back and listened. To his surprise, he discovered he was not (yet) a Christian after all.
He heard the dangers of unbelief and its consequences; and the seminar showed how to become a Christian. He recognised this was a Gospel of forgiveness. As a consequence of this thought-provoking teenage camp, Simon Manchester became enmeshed with becoming a preacher of this Salvation story, went to Bible College and saw how the local church was the ideal vehicle by which to tell others of Jesus.
He claims that he did his second 'apprenticeship in ministry' in London when he spent three years under the ministry of Dick Lucas who specialised in mid-day bible teaching to the City's business men in their pin-striped suits. Dick Lucas' greatest ability was his capacity to study the bible text itself, to discover what the text revealed, and then to bring this into his preaching with great authority, integrity and affection.
The influence of that period in London, Simon Manchester explained, shaped Christianity in England for a generation. The centrality of the bible text became a catch-cry with 1000 men each day packed to hear Dick Lucas' teaching on the text.
Mark Tronson then asked Simon Manchester what, in his view, is the central message of Jesus Christ. To this he replied that Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God is at hand. "The Kingdom of God is at work today, The Lord is within reach, and there is a need to respond to Jesus as King. Taking up this offer of mercy and forgiveness is the key to the door of His Kingdom," Simon Manchester explained. "The outworking of this decision to follow Jesus is that of serving the King."
Simon Manchester has always had a ministry to men, and in Mark Tronson's view, this has been one of the outstanding figures of men's ministry in Australia in his generation. Simon explained that in his two churches, he has always had men coming, and men who were won to Christ before their wives. This meant that these men had a passion for Jesus and prayed earnestly for their wives first, then their children to come to faith in Jesus Christ.
These men saw that they had a spiritual responsibility for their wives and children. It is a constant joy of his at St Thomas to see the men of the church speaking to other men about Jesus and the Salvation Christ offers.
As to Christianity in Australia and its future, Simon Manchester is very optimistic. Where ever the bible is taught well, the Spirit of Christ is at work. He is constantly seeing lives changed, men and women coming to Christ, and also young people coming in droves to Jesus Christ and then to service.
"The bible being well taught is central!" Simon Manchester exclaimed. "This enables the Spirit of God to call forth young people to Himself, which I see happening in pockets all around Australia."
This Australian Missionary News IPTV interview with Simon Manchester can be viewed at either tv.bushorchestra.com/Mission/videopages/simon_manchester.html or www.safeworlds.net