The joy of Christ amid the challenges of ministry

An update from Langham Partnership Australia CEO, Gillean Smiley

Recently our CEO Gillean Smiley was interviewed by our counterparts at Langham Partnership UK on the highs and lows of the work of Langham in Australia! Read on to learn about our ministry or watch the video below. 

Beyond the legacy and looking to the future

Gillean knows it’s vital for people to have the Bible “explained to them and be able to really explore it in a way that enables them to engage with it at the deepest level.” This is a major driver of the work of Langham Partnership globally, and personally a passion of Gillean’s as well!

A major aspect of Langham Partnership Australia’s (LPA) work recently has been engaging with younger people in order to increase the number of younger people in our supporter base.

“Remarkably, we find that the majority of people who engaged with Langham certainly as it was being established were people who had a personal connection with John Stott,” Gillean says. “People who’d either been impacted by his teaching or read his books or had in some way come into contact with him.”

The legacy of John Stott is long, but the awareness of his life, name and ministry is no longer as prevalent as it once was. So our challenge is working to improve awareness of the Langham Partnership ministry more broadly!

Currently, LPA attends conferences and engages with like-minded people. We also visit churches and seek to share about Langham with theological colleges, where the next generation of gospel workers are being raised up.

A key aspect of reaching a younger profile of supporters has been employing ‘Young Adult Engagement Coordinators’ whose brief is to try and connect with a younger demographic.

These two men, Simon and Edgar, have started a monthly meeting, a book club (reading books by Majority World authors) and are working on releasing a series of podcasts to grapple with issues relevant to younger people. Gillean shares that this is a challenge for most Christian charities, as giving to missions isn’t necessarily how younger people have been raised.

Supporting Majority World leaders and scholars

Langham Australia is not just involved in raising funds and awareness. Currently, two Langham Scholars are studying with Australian institutions. One is on a split site program, so he’s mostly working at home in Uganda and flying into Australia once a year for a short trip. The other, Crystal, is from East Asia but studying in Australia and is very close to completing her studies.

“We would particularly appreciate prayer for Crystal,” Gillean says, “because it’s proving to be quite a challenge for her to be able to return to her home country. There are challenges in being able to find an appropriate theological college where she will be free to do her work without government interference and other pressures.”

Langham Partnership Australia is also very involved in the Langham Preaching work on the islands of the South Pacific.

“One of the big challenges is there are very small islands scattered around the South Pacific,” Gillean explains, “and it’s very expensive to travel between them or to be able to travel to them. Even though it’s not necessarily one of the largest parts of the Preaching program, it is one that requires a lot of support.”

Another aspect of the Langham Preaching program is expanding the work with indigenous Australian people in remote areas. Gillean says, “We’ve already started working with some of the urban Aboriginal folk, but the remote areas are a very great challenge and one that we would really appreciate prayer and support for.”

Gillean shares that as Australia becomes increasingly secularised, the Church is feeling more and more pressure. “Unfortunately there are some parts of the church who are compromising their own position and their faith in order to try and have a stronger connection with society in general, and so we have a problem with an increasingly liberal Church.”

A key issue affecting LPA is the government restrictions on fundraising that affects our ability to apply for grants, reducing the money we can raise to enable the equipping of people like Crystal and the preaching program of the South Pacific.

In all things, we rely on God to provide! So please raise Langham Partnership Australia to Him in prayer. 

  • Pray for the focus on developing  a new, younger support base through the Young Adult Engagement Coordinators
  • Pray for the ongoing work in the South Pacific and especially for the indigenous Australian work
  • Pray for the Board, especially the Chair Jill McGilvray, who has overseen amazing growth in the role and participation of the International Council
  • Pray for the Scholars studying in Australia, especially Crystal who is facing challenges in being able to return to her home country in East Asia when she finishes early next year
  • Pray for the small number of Langham staff, dealing with a very large country, that we might have wisdom, energy and opportunity to grow our impact

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