We would like to introduce ourselves.
Matt grew up in Hastings, Michigan and Barb grew up in Sacramento, California. We are graduates of Western Baptist College in Salem, Oregon (now known as Corban College). We met singing in the choir. After college, we married and stayed in Salem for several years paying off school bills. We were very active in our local church in many areas.
In 1988 we were challenged with Australia as a mission field by a couple from Sydney going to Africa as medical missionaries. We heard more of what they had to say about the needs in their home land than what they had to say about where they were going. After spending extra time with the missionary couple, we made a visit to Australia to see if the Lord was preparing us to serve Him there. We enjoyed our survey time and learned a lot. We also learned the importance of seeking time in the ministry before we applied to ABWE for service in Australia.
Matt entered full time ministry in 1989 on the California North Coast. At Calvary Baptist Church in Fort Bragg, we were involved first with youth ministry and then also as unofficial interim during the absence of a senior pastor. God taught us so much during this time. It was great preparation for the things He had in store for us.
It was in 1990 that we were appointed to the field of Australia with Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. We arrived on the field in June 1994. Our first term of service was spent North of Sydney in an area known as the Central Coast. We assisted in a church plant as we learned the culture. We were also able to help in the formation of a fellowship of churches in Australia, pulpit supply, church building renovations, beginning of a publishing ministry, and work on a second church plant.
Our second term was spent in Western Sydney. We were again involved in assisting in a church plant as we reoriented ourselves to the field and re-established relationships. We spent 2 years at Cornerstone Baptist Church helping in any way we could. Also during this time we were a vital part of the Eternal Gold Olympic outreach. Matt was also followup coordinator and has had the opportunity to put over 268 people in touch with a local church for them to grow spiritually in. Matt then filled in for a pastor after heart surgery for 6 months while he did much research for a new church plant and served as a member of the council of 3 for the Australian Fellowship of Bible-believing Churches (AFBC) (the group he helped form during the first term). Much work was done to involve the fellowshipping churches in the church planting process. Initial steps were taken to begin the process of “home” missions among the local churches. This was one of our most satisfying ministries of the second term. We worked for a year helping a growing church to understand discipleship and church planting.
In time that church was heavily involved in the formation of Glorious Hope Baptist Church. A couple of years were spent gathering people into this new church. Focus was given to outreach, evangelism, and establishment in the early days of this new church. As a team player, we have worked with a national pastor recommended by the AFBC to pastor Glorious Hope. This also has been a blessing. We have been a church planter - not a pastor/church planter.
Term three had us returned to Glorious Hope serving to fulfill “. . .teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you . . .” Church planting is more than gathering people. It is also making disciples of new believers. We were also involved in the continual training of future leadership for AFBC churches. On October 12 2008 God answered our prayers and completed the church plant. He deserves all the praise, glory and credit! We are now involved in the research for another church plant until the end of this term.
In 2010 we moved just south of Sydney to the town of Corrimal. We came to a church of 3 people and 4 old rundown buildings. By God's grace we are replanting the church. Check out the churches web site at Living Hope Baptist Church!
We look forward to further church planting in the greater Sydney area as long as God lets us serve here! We have passed the 22 years mark and are still counting.