As Life Ministries is about to close, I thought it might be good to reflect on the work of the ministry over the past 40 years.
Sheila and I, along with our two young daughters Michelle and Sarah, arrived in Western Australia in November, 1977, when I was 25 years old and had recently graduated from Lincoln Christian College in Lincoln, Illinois. For the next four years I served as the minister of the Church of Christ in Morawa, a small town of about 800 souls located 380 kilometres north east of Perth.
In January 1982, Sheila and I met with David Drew, the Director of Life Ministries, and members of the board. At the conclusion of that meeting Sheila and I were invited to join the ministry team.
One of the remarkable blessings of working with Life Ministries has been the faithfulness of two of our board members who founded the ministry in 1981. David Drew and Graeme Scott have both served continuously on the board from the inception of the ministry right up to its closure some 41 years later. Both are now in their 80’s. Graeme’s eyesight is failing, but not his faith. They are not only colleagues in ministry, but Christian friends and the ministry owes them a true debt of gratitude.
In May 1982, after spending four months in the USA seeking to raise support for Life Ministries, Sheila and I moved to Perth and I began working for the ministry. We had three young daughters at the time, and one year later our fourth daughter was born. Since then, each of our daughters has matured into fine Christian women with Christian husbands and children. Sheila and I feel truly blessed to have four daughters, their four husbands and our 16 grandchildren.
From its inception, Life Ministries was deeply involved in running seminars at churches and campsites across the city of Perth and in country towns. These seminars dealt primarily with prayer, renewal and discipleship, and were conducted over several years in dozens of churches. They provided sound biblical teaching thatmotivated several churches across Perth to host gatherings of people that met on a monthly basis in order to pray for revival in what we called “Concerts of Prayer”.
In February 1983 the Labor Party in Western Australia gained power. In addition to opening the floodgates to pornography, the government gave notice of its intention to legalise homosexual sex, prostitution and abortion. In response to this Life Ministries produced a full-page advertisement entitled “Australia in Crisis” that was published in the West Australian, Daily News and Sunday Independent. It advertised a public gathering at the Perth Entertainment Centre dealing with each of these matters.
David and I felt that when the government openly attacked Christian moral values on non-negotiable matters such as the nature of marriage, the sexual abuse of women and the killing of innocent children that we had an obligation to respond. Over 4,000 people attended the “Australia in Crisis” gathering in July 1984. Andrew Lansdown, author of Blatant and Proud: Homosexuals on the Offensive was one of the keynote speakers, and this was the beginning of Andrew’s long and productive association with Life Ministries and enduring friendship with myself. The rally broadened the scope of Life Ministries’ work from that point onward.
From the beginning of our marriage, after reading Dr John Willke’s Handbook on Abortion, Sheila and I were both determined to speak out against abortion. We knew that the Bible records the history of many individuals from the moment of their conception (Cain, Jacob and Esau, Job, Jesus and others). We knew that human beings, unlike the rest of the creation, were made “in the image and likeness of God” as eternal beings, and that God loved them deeply and desired to have fellowship with them. We knew that God’s intention was to protect the innocent, and that no humans are more innocent than babies in the womb. Convicted by these facts combined with the knowledge that 8,000 – 9,000 unborn children were being killed illegally in Western Australia each year prompted us to act.
And so when we learnt from its platform that the Labor Party intended to legalise abortion, it compelled us to address that matter, and other matters covered at the “Australian in Crisis” rally. Our motivation was a love for God and his word, and a belief that humans are the most content when they live in obedience to his standards.
After the rally we started receiving a steady flow of requests for guidance in relation to the matters covered at the rally, but also for help on a broader range of current issues confronting Christians, and this led us to broaden the scope of Life Ministries. Our desire became to help Christians “take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
We determined to provide Christians with sound arguments based upon the teaching of Scripture in order to help them remain true to the Lord, and to enable them to defend and promote Christian values in their communities.
In 1985, four years after founding Life Ministries, David Drew, believing that God was calling him into other Christian endeavours, resigned and I assumed the role of Director. David and I had worked extremely well together, although we were as different as “chalk and cheese”, me being the chalk! I remain grateful that David had the vision to start Life Ministries.
While Life Ministries broadened its scope, our highest priority remained the spread of the gospel in order that people might come to know and love Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. We did this through preaching and teaching at churches in metropolitan and country regions, through printing over 1,000 articles over several decades penned by Andrew, myself and others,and through producing and distributing upwards of 100,000 gospel pamphlets presenting Jesus Christ as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” In addition, when the technology became available, we produced Life Ministries’ website, located at www.lifeministries.org.au which contains hundreds of articles and pamphlets that can be accessed.
And what is remarkable, and fairly un-usual today, is that Life Ministries operated as a “faith ministry” from its beginning to its end! We have never charged for our services, whether preaching, or speaking, or freely giving thousands of copies of Life News and Life Pamphlets. We trusted that if Christians believed in the importance of our labours that they would contribute toward Life Ministries’ running expenses. From time to time we sent out appeals when our finances were running critically short, always trusting that our readers would respond to our needs. And for the past forty years, God, through the channel of his people, has faithfully met them. We will be closing our books in the black, just as our Treasurer Graeme Scott predicted.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of Life Ministries’ board is that they encouraged me not to focus solely on the work of Life Ministries, but also to invest time and the resources to help establish and build other Christian-based organisations that existed to promote Christian values. In fact, the board considered my work with and for these organisations to be part of my work for Life Ministries.
Other Christian-based organisations that Life Ministries helped to start and have continued to support are: Pregnancy Problem House; The Coalition for the Defence of Human Life; 40 Days for Life; and Australian Christians.
Pregnancy Problem House
In 1986 I, along with several other concerned Christians, helped to found Pregnancy Problem House (PPH). I have served as Chairman of the Board for almost the entire period up to the present time.
The life-affirming work of PPH has provided practical, physical and emotional help to thousands of pregnant women and their precious children, some of whom otherwise might have become sad memories, but who are now living and thriving. Some of these women have given their hearts to Christ, and they in turn have had a positive impact on their children and friends.
Over the past 35 years God has richly blessed the work with Pregnancy Problem House. While I believe I have provided some stability and guidance, I do not take credit for the remarkable work of PPH. For the first 20 years or a little more Lucy Musgrave, a caring Christian woman played a central role in the day-to-day operation of PPH. Since then our eldest daughter Michelle Macormic, the Executive Director, has led the organisation forward at an incredible pace. There are now five branches of PPH located in Balcatta, Langford, Hamilton Hill, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie. I am now the last person who helped to establish the work to still be directly involved in its running, and I am looking forward to passing on my role as chairman of the board to a younger capable person at some time in the not-too-distant future.
Coalition for the Defence of Human Life
In 1988 Brian Peachey (a Catholic pro-life friend of mine) and I were the co-founders of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life. Brian invited Catholic pro-life organisations to join the coalition, and I invited Protestant pro-life organisations. We believed that it was important to form a coalition of Christian-based groups to defend the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.
The Coalition is made up of more than a dozen organisations that work harmoniously together to oppose all government legislation promoting abortion, human embryo experimentation, infanticide and euthanasia.
Prior to the legalisation of abortion in Western Australia in 1998, the coalition organised public rallies on the Esplanade–including one rally where 9,000 white crosses, each representing one child killed illegally by abortion each year in WA were displayed in the form of massive cross.
In addition, the coalition organised Life Chains along the causeway with placards carrying the messages, “Abortion Kills Children” and “Jesus Heals and Forgives.”
The Coalition promised at that time to hold an annual memorial service to re-member every child killed with the sanction of the WA Parliament until the laws were reversed. For the past 23 years this promise has been faithfully kept with crowds steadily increasing from around 250 after the legislation passed to over 2,000 last June.
In 1998, in an effort to stop the Liberal Court Government from legalising abortion, I chaired two rallies at Parliament House attended by approximately 2,500 people. The Coalition ran many full-page advertisements decrying legalisation in The West Australian. I helped to write several speeches presented by the late Ted Cunningham, a Labor pro-life member of the Legislative Assembly. In spite of our efforts, abortion was legalised on 26th May 1998.
40 Days for Life
For several years in the 1980’s I helped to organise peaceful protests that hundreds of Christians supported at two abortion facilities in Rivervale and Midland.
After those protests ended, I was eager to see 40 Days for Life prayer vigils get started in WA. And so for a short period of time I served on the Perth board of 40 Days for Life. I believed that some babies’ lives would be saved as a result of Christians praying and making help available to pregnant women at abortion facilities. And so I helped to produce leaflets and promotional materials to get 40 Days underway, but stepped down from the board once it was up and running.
I have also been actively involved over many years in the formation and development of Australian Christians (formerly the Christian Democratic Party). On four occasions I stood as an AC candidate promoting and defending Christian values. I have served as the National President, as well as the WA state president of the party. I believe that Christian people should engage at every level of society including the media, academia and politics, or our laws will become increasingly hostile to Christian values, including our freedom to worship.
In March of this year I stood as the Australian Christians’ candidate for the Lower House seat of Mirrabooka in the WA election. I stood in order to help Maryka Groenewald, Australian Christians’ State Director and Upper House candidate for East Metropolitan Region, get elected. She came close, but unfortunately, missed out.
I believe that each of these organisations, combined with Life Ministries, have accomplished a great deal of good in Western Australia. For example, not only have we advocated a Christian view on abortion in churches, but we have helped to establish and support organisations that offer life-affirming assistance to pregnant women in the community; we have helped to establish and support organisations that defend the sanctity of life before our parliament; we have helped to establish and support a Christian political party, Australian Christians, that contests elections and advocates a Christian world-view on a wide range of topics, and so forth.
Concluding Life Ministries
This edition of Life News is the final edition of Life Ministries’ magazine. Over the years the magazine has expanded from 4 pages to 16 pages with latter editions containing up to 14,000 words of text. Andrew and I have always believed that if we printed sound, biblically-based content, our readers would take the time to read it. We have spoken to couples who read aloud every article in every edition. We know of others who have kept every edition of Life News for decades. Andrew deserves credit for this: he has done an excellent job, not only in terms of his own writing where he weighs over every single word in every sentence, but also in deter-mining what articles to include, and what subjects to cover. For forty years it has been our delight to send Life News to hundreds of churches and thousands of families for free. Thank you for receiving and reading our publications.
We are in the final stages of printing a book entitled Certain Concerns for the Christian Life written by Andrew. It deals with gospel matters (such as be-coming a Christian), theological issues (such as the deity of Christ), moral issues (such as abortion), as well as a collection of articles on various subjects printed by Life Ministries over the years. We will be giving copies of Certain Concerns to people who have financially supported Life Ministries as an expression of our sincere thanks to them. The book will also be available to people who wish to purchase it.
While Life Ministries will be closing about the end of August, it is not as though the work of Life Ministries will come to a complete halt then. God willing, Andrew and I intend to continue to work in partnership in some capacity well into the future. For example, we intend to keep Life Ministries’ website operational, as well as adding new content (located at www.lifeministries.org.au). This site provides people all over the world with a wealth of resources including hundreds of articles dealing with a broad range of topics, and dozens of pamphlets dealing with current issues and presenting the gospel in an engaging manner. We will continue to be available to preach or speak at churches. I hope to remain involved in some capacity with organisations like the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life, Pregnancy Problem House and Australian Christians, and Andrew will hopefully continue as an adjunct lecturer at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education, a Christian tertiary institution in Perth.
On behalf of Andrew, the board of Life Ministries and myself, we would like to express our deep thanks to all of you who have prayed for and financially supported the work of Life Ministries. We feel that you have been partners with us in all that we have accomplished for the cause of Jesus Christ. So, from the very bottom of our hearts, please accept our heartfelt thanks. May God bless you in all of your endeavours.
In closing, I would like to share a letter I received from former Australian Federal Senator, the Hon Joe Bullock, who upon hearing of the closure of Life Ministries expressed sadness, which Andrew and I identify with:
The fact that you warned me that this day would come in no way diminishes my sadness at its arrival. A world suffering from the remorseless advance of godlessness can ill afford to lose an institution such as Life Ministries.
While I understand that there comes a time for rest, I wonder who will come to take up the fight. I understand that [others] will take an increased role in organising the Rally [for Life] but the closure of Life Ministries leaves a hole unlikely to be filled.
I wish you and Andrew well as you wind back your work and thank you once again for the support which you gave me during my brief and unsuccessful attempt at public life.