By australianmissionary

Why I Love Ten-Minute Ministry Presentations

IMG_0023Recently I was part of a Missions Conference where on the last evening each Missionary was asked to share their ministry in ten to twelve minutes.

As you can imagine this was quite difficult, especially for someone like me who takes twelve minutes to say hello.

This shortened presentation was a blessing however, because it forced us (Missionaries) to share the burden God has placed upon our hearts in a direct way.

You see it’s very common for Missionaries to share things that focus peoples minds on the spiritual need.

  1. Things like their personal testimony
  2. Stories from the mission field
  3. Pictures of people they have ministered to
  4. Facts about the need of people in that Country
  5. Or history and culture of that mission field

These things aren’t bad at all…in fact they make the ministry presentation more powerful. But I find myself sometimes focusing so much on the testimonies, stories, pictures, or history that little time is spend on the actual spiritual need.

Sadly some missionaries even rely on these things to “sell their ministry [1] instead of allowing the Holy Spirit do the work [2]

Which is why every once in a while it’s a good thing to just let God do the work.

  1. No jokes
  2. No stories from the mission field
  3. No testimony of how God led you there
  4. No pictures of you doing ministry
  5. Just play a nine minute video of what the Lord is doing in Melbourne, thank the people, and sit down

Because in the end it isn’t all of that extra stuff that lays a burden on individuals hearts, but the spiritual need.

Oh that doesn’t mean Missionaries shouldn’t enjoy spending a half-hour presenting their ministry. But maybe the best thing we can do sometimes is just sit down, and let God do the work.

  1. Lead people to remember theirs more than others, which leads to financial gifts  ↩
  2. I have even found myself doing this at times, it’s easy to fall into this trap since the Economy means less Churches or individuals are able to give financially.  ↩

How To Bring Structure to Children Who Have None

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt an early age I learned that God had given me a love for working with young children. This has created a burden to see all kids accept Christ, but there is a special one for a specific group of children in Melbourne.

Most of them come from an area of the city that is filled with crime, poverty, and broken families [1]. This results in the children having little structure or discipline in their lives, which means they can’t succeed in the normal school system.

While some of them do struggle with academics, most of their challenges are social…

  1. A little boy after I told him he couldn’t draw an ugly picture of his classmate threw down his chair, kicked open the door, and proceeded to give me the look of death while using profanity
  2. A girl who wanted a pink marker instead of asking screamed at the top of her lungs, I want a pink one
  3. Any games involving competition like basketball would end in a fight
  4. Substitute teachers didn’t want to fill in there because the children were so much trouble

The Lord allowed me to help there as a volunteer teachers aid [2] in English and Art classes (proof God has a sense of humor).

Bringing structure into this kind of environment is challenging since most discipline strategies have little effect, even the dreaded “naughty chair” didn’t bring the desired result!

Unfortunately this led to staff and teachers relying on yelling or threats in order to bring structure.

I don’t really blame them for this because it was easy for everyone (myself included) to become frustrated by the students lack of discipline. However this actually made the problem worse because we displayed very unhealthy responses to stress (portraying anger).

What these children needed more than a list of rules is to see someone who actually responded to the challenges of life without losing their temper

I’m not saying of course that there shouldn’t be rules in their lives. But it’s vitally important that young people have someone living out a pattern of healthy responses in front of them.

In my opinion the core problem with these kids has little do with their school environment, many of them are surrounded by friends and family who respond to everything with anger, profanity, or violence.

They must be not only taught there is a better way, but shown what that better way looks like.

  1. In 2011 two cars drove down the road firing bullets at one another two blocks from thier school  ↩
  2. which basically means I was crowd control  ↩

Why I Miss Board Game Nights



Out of all the things I miss from Melbourne one of the greatest is board games.

Not because of my success at them [1] but the opportunities they give for community, and deeper relationships.

In 2010 I came to an Australian Church plant as their Associate Pastor. After about three weeks of getting to know people, a young couple asked if I was interested in playing board games.  The next Sunday evening I came over to find Settlers of Catan set up on their dining room table [2].

I was a bit concerned since all the other young adults there had played Settlers many times, while I had never played it before. The husband assured me this wasn’t a problem.

Sadly I didn’t see the little smile on his face as he said this.

One of the goals with Settlers is to obtain a certain number of the same cards, so trading items is a big part of the game.

When they put me between the husband and his wife I didn’t think much about it. However it didn’t take long to realize none of the trades he made with me was in my favor (no matter how much he said they were).

It wasn’t till the game was almost over though that I realized his wife’s deals that seemed good, were much worse for me than his.

Over the years those games nights became precious because they allowed me to be JB for a few hours [3].

JB is what people call me when I have fully embraced my entertaining side. It basically involves making people laugh, and eating lots of chocolate.

We all have that entertaining side but it’s rarely seen.

  1. Because there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done
  2. There is a need for maturity and professionalism in daily life
  3. Only those who we really trust can see our entertaining side
  4. And there is always the danger of going too far and embarrassing ourselves (or someone we care about)

I will be the first person in the world to say self-control is desperately needed when it comes to our entertaining persona…however it’s incredibly liberating to let it come out for a few hours over a board game.

  1. I always come in last  ↩
  2. A strategy board game that takes about two hours to play  ↩
  3. JB stands for “Johnny Boy” and no you aren’t allowed to call me that  ↩

My First Australian Cuppa

One thing I love about Melbourne is their emphasis on spending time with friends or loved ones and having a real conversation. This is seen in lots of ways, but never more than when experiencing a “cuppa.”

This is an Australian tradition which basically involves drinking a cup of coffee or tea with biscuits (cookies) while you have a long talk (usually more than an hour). It can be done at home, but it isn’t unusual to have one at the local coffee shop.

Since relationships are very important to Aussies they treasure having a cuppa with friends. In fact turning down a cup of coffee or tea is viewed as a slap in the face. However if they offer you International Roast brand coffee, you must report them to the local authorities, and have their citizenship revoked [1].

This form of connection was challenging for me since I didn’t drink coffee. Of course the Australians still allowed me to take part in the cuppa conversations (I was given water) but it just didn’t seem the same.

Then came the night I was at a Church dinner and the pastors wife offered me a cappuccino. As she did this it seemed to get very quiet in the room as everyone turned to see my reaction [2]. Not wanting to be rude I accepted her offer, and haven’t looked back since.

From that time cappuccinos and cuppas became a huge part of my ministry, to the point that everyone at the local coffee shop knew my name and order, all I had to do was hand them money!

Of course I don’t miss cuppas just because of the coffee (I can drink that at home).

  1. it’s about the connection that takes place through a long talk with a friend.
  2. Slowing down enough to relax and enjoy life
  3. Ministering to the needs of one another in a direct way
  4. Being able to share the Gospel and explain it in a one on one conversation
  5. And having a transparently honest conversation that brings Glory to God

In a perfect world we would slow down and have those kinds of conversations all of the time, sadly we don’t live in a perfect world.

Which is why we have create our own cuppa experiences. Times in our day or week when we can connect in meaningful conversation with those in our community.

I’m not saying it’s easy or simple to do this, but I can guarantee that it’s incredibly meaningful to the other person.

It’s amazing how much a cup of coffee and “so how are things with you?” can make.

  1. That probably doesn’t make any sense to you, but trust me if an Australian ever reads this they will laugh hysterically  ↩
  2. in my mind they did this in dramatic slow-motion  ↩

Why I Stopped Teaching English

IMG_0296A few weeks before running in the Marine Core Marathon I returned from a tough workout to news that I had been accepted as an English teacher in the YMCA literacy initiative.

This was an answer to prayer since a big part of my ministry in Australia is sharing the Gospel through conversational English classes.

For over a year the Lord has allowed me to teach students English while explaining the truths of Scripture. What began as two classes a week became six [1] and I was able to become a great influence on their lives for Christ.

Which makes walking away from it that much harder

This morning I emailed the literacy initiative director to say I couldn’t continue teaching, after telling this to my students last night.

Why quit on a ministry like this? Because it took away from what’s truly important…Missions and returning to Australia

We tend to forget reaching the lost takes lots of time and energy.

  1. For Bible study and preparation of material that can be used to share the Gospel
  2. Relationship development with the unsaved that builds a bridge into their lives
  3. Meeting with them to explain the Gospel in a direct way, which can lead to a Bible study together
  4. Discipling that unsaved person once they accept Christ as their Savior
  5. And training them so that can go reach others

Though I’ve been trying with the Lord’s help to do these things lately it’s been very difficult because I couldn’t find the energy or time for them.

So I have to walk away from something that I enjoy in order to reach those who don’t know Christ.


The return of Australia takes lots of work as well, but in my heart I believe if I’m doing missions the right way [2] then God will open doors in that situation.

Please pray for me as I continue walking away from things that distract me from the real goal of fulfilling the Great Commission.

  1. three hours of class time became nine  ↩
  2. giving all of my time and energy to it  ↩

John Wilburn Ministry Update

SAMSUNG CSCSeptember 8, 2014

Dearest Friends,

In May the Lord led me to focus my energy on meeting with pastors and starting bible studies for discipleship, or sharing the Gospel as the Visa process is completed.  With God’s help this has resulted in some wonderful praises I would like to share with you this morning.

1.     I’ve been able to meet with about five pastors each week in the Piedmont Triad area for thirty minutes (which is a blessing because the original plan was for ten) and learn important lessons about reaching the lost, while sharing my burden for Australia.
2.     These meetings lead to Sunday morning visits that help me give a brief ministry presentation, or develop relationships with Believers there
3.  The Lord has helped me get in touch with a number of Pastors by phone or email, which is an incredible blessing since since their incredibly busy schedule makes contacting them difficult.
4.  Starting Monday I will be meeting with an unsaved friend so we can run together and have a coffee.  He knows I’m a missionary and that’s opened the door for us to have conversations about the Gospel.  Please pray as we meet together weekly this could become an opportunity to study the Bible together.
5.  Tomorrow I go through training to begin mentoring students in the public school system.  This is something that I did last year, and really enjoyed because after gaining their trust students began opening up about their personal struggles.  Though this may not become a Bible study (bringing a Bible to the school could cause issues), pray I can clearly share the Gospel
6.  An exciting opportunity is being able to meet the two students I mentored last year at a coffee shop or restaurant.  This allows me to begin studying the Bible with them since it’s apart from the school campus, so please pray God would give wisdom
7.  Finally the couple I teach English have begun bringing their two daughters to class with them.  This not only makes class a lot more fun (they love helping mom and dad answer questions) but gives the opportunity to share the Gospel with an entire family at once!  Pray that as I use Gospel based materials in class it would clearly show their need for Christ.

Thanks so much for your prayers as I with the Lord’s help build bridges into the lives of the unsaved.
In Christ,

John Wilburn