Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.


In Focus

How hard can it be to cross from one side to the other?

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

How hard can it be to cross from one side to the other? Ask a child who ignores the zebra crossing. Ask a zebra crossing the Mara River between Kenya and Tanzania. Ask a person who realises they are not onside with God and needs to cross over.

I recently had the most extraordinary visit to Africa. I was privileged to be in the Masai Mara for the great animal migration. Everywhere you looked there was beauty and danger, love and terror, life and death and choices to be made. The safety of the herd offered some security, but the cover of water offered crocodiles ambush, while the scrub hid the power of the pride to ensure a meal. Crossing to the other side was no small decision for a wildebeest, zebra or impala. The dangers however were considered worth it as life followed the rain to the green pastures on the other side. It would seem that sometimes desperation can make for an uneasy but necessary crossings to another side.

My invitation to Africa began with a request to address a Christian convention that celebrated what is historically known as the East African Revival. The story of that revival is a remarkable one. The change that God can make in people’s lives and the impact that change can have on a community for good was remarkable. I remember the stories of a similar revival in England. Such was the impact of the Christian message in the mines that miners stopped swearing. It was a good outcome but the problem was that the donkeys they worked with needed time to understand the less profane commands of their mining masters. It seems that Christian revivals throughout history give consistent testimony to changed lives that lead to gentler more loving marriages and family life, more honest employees, and safer communities. 

From the Friday to Sunday of my African Convention the numbers swelled from four thousand to ten thousand. Like wildebeest that know a dry existence they gathered to follow the rain. Perhaps I should say, to follow the “Reign”.  As one addressing the crowd I thought no one could be more nervous than me. I was wrong.

With the increase in numbers came an increase in people who crossed over from unbelief to belief. Each gave testimony to the dry they wanted to leave behind, the shame of sins committed with all their antisocial implications. Like the herds on the edge of the Mara these people were compelled to cross because they realised that where the “reign” fell was the offer of better and greener pasture. Unlike the herds on the banks of the Mara these people were invited to cross over from unbelief to trust in the God who forgives. No traps, hidden snares, or ambushes just a crossing from dry pastures to greener ones. No false promises of wealth and prosperity. No promises that life would be perfect. Simply the promise that the God of all the universes would forgive, welcome and assist them on life’s great migration toward heaven.

The decisions to cross from unbelief to trust in God was not easy. It is never easy to turn your life over to Jesus Christ and let someone other than yourself be in charge, even if it is God. I think it is particularly hard for Australians.

People stood like the anxious beast on the edge of the Mara wondering if they would be alright. But unlike the beasts on the edge of the Mara, their crossing was the safest journey they’d ever made. All that they feared of God vanished upon the discovery that in Jesus Christ is safety and promise.

I can’t help thinking that there are plenty of Aussies who stand nervously on the edge of crossing from unbelief to belief. There are no shortage of things happening in our nation to challenge the life of unbelief but crossing over can be a hard decision with many questions. If that’s you and you would like the opportunity to talk with me about it please contact my office on 02 6772-4491 and I will make a time to meet and discuss the crossing with you.