In my last couple of articles I diverted from commenting on current events to bring you some encouragement. I received some encouragement of my own recently with the below email.
“Thank you for your article on pastors in prison. I was looking for any news on Pastor Paul Furlong in Melbourne and saw this article. I agree! Why are church leaders not awake to what is happening? I spoke to each of my ministers and they all questioned my attitude of choosing to "disobey the government that God had
instituted." No amount of logic or discussion would sway them. I argued that not all that long ago the state told churches to butt out of government matters, now the state is imposing on what happens inside a church - and we just let them!
When we were still meeting but had to be masked and not sing, I and another woman spontaneously joined in when Be Thou My Vision was played. I could not stand there and not worship my God! The minister called me to say that if I continued to do that, I would have to watch online! I asked what would happen if half the congregation started singing, and he replied after a little thought, that he would probably have to close the service. My heart broke. (sorry for all the exclamation marks!)
Have you seen the video of Pastor Paul after he was released on bail after 17 days in prison? 15 people brought to Christ in the 3 days. See youtube, look for "pastor paul release".
It also makes me think of The Heavenly Man, Brother Yun who was imprisoned so many times due to persecution of the church in China. His request to the West for prayer was "do not pray for the persecution to stop, but that God would use him every time he went to prison to bring many to faith."
Keep up the work, and hopefully more people will see and read and
start to question the constant narrative.”
The only edits I’ve made to the email is to remove the identification of their denomination and themselves. The rest I’ve left verbatim as I affirm their stance. If you want to read the article they are referring to all my previous posts can be found via the link at the bottom of this article.
As too many of our churches in Australia are closed to in person services one has to ask why? Finally some Australian court cases are in progress at the time of writing asking the question medically and scientifically how is attending a religious service different to any of the currently permitted activities that are allowed?
In America where some churches chose to keep their doors open despite fines and other legal action taken by their local governments, some court cases have already been settled. According to Paul M. Jonna Partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP tweet on September 2nd.
“Yes— here’s what CA paid in settlements for attorneys’ fees in just the 3 cases our firm filed in response to Newsom’s attacks on religious liberty:
South Bay v Newsom: $1,600,000
Grace Community Church: $800,000 (CA and LA County)
Burfitt v Newsom: $550,000
I’ll never understand why the larger churches in Australia didn’t use their resources to fight restrictions last year and still most curtail to unconstitutional rules this year.
Is it because they are to reliant on government funding or are their leaders only willing to minister to their carefully curated congregation rather than meeting the needs of those most in need?
Knowing history has never been more important. If you know the truth of the history of America in the years leading up to the American revolution church leaders had to send their sermons via ship to England for approval by the king before they could share them with their congregation. That is the truth of the separation of church and state. It was to remove the state’s influence on the church not the other way around.
Yet we still see governments telling pastors around the world to close their doors without providing the evidence to support their decisions, and those pastors complying. While some pastors have stood their ground and there is still an arrest warrant out for a Canadian pastor.
If the church is truly the people and not the building why are pastors more afraid of risking losing their building than they are of losing God’s church?
Neville Hiatt was the 2020 Press Services International Tronson Senior Writers Award Winner for Australia. His previous posts for can be read here.
He spent a decade working for Radio Stations before his career was intermissioned by someone in a hurry to get home from work. For more of his award winning creativity visit http://nevillehiatt.com.
He also blogs for http://altcoincollege.com/covering the way cryptocurrencies and blockchain are changing our world.