It has been a busy six days in Australia. The people here of the Lutheran Church of Australia, Lutheran Media Ministry, and the Theological College in Adelaide have been exceptional hosts, and so very much seem to appreciate the fact that someone from Lutheran Hour Ministry has come to visit them. It has been ten years, almost to the day, that the last representatives from LHM visited our partner, Lutheran Media Ministry, here in Australia. It has been since 2004 that Rev. Richard Mau, the director of the office here, has been to our offices in St. Louis. I believe that we have a great opportunity to partner into the future.
During the week I had the opportunity to speak to two separate classes at the seminary (theological college). In one class I was able to talk about the church in China, based on our recent experience there. There are many Chinese people living in Australia, and, in fact, one of the students was originally from Hong Kong. They students were encouraged to hear about the life and vitality of the Christian church in China. We spent some time talking about the challenges of ministry in that context.
The other class was “Mission and Ministry in the Australian Context.” Australia, like the United States, is a very multicultural society. 25% of the population is foreign-born, and those immigrants come from not only Asia, but all around the world. Besides that, Australia has its own aboriginal population. The Lutherans here have from the very beginning of their arrival here in 1838 have been working among the aborigines. The very first Lutherans to step on terra firma here were missionaries who were sent by the Dresden Mission Society to begin that work. Today, aborigines make ups fully 10% of the Lutheran Church of Australia, which has a membership of around 100,000. I spent some time working through the topic of “How Worldview Conditions Our Interpretation of Scripture.”
Friday night, however, was the big event, where I was asked to be the speaker at the banquet held to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Media Ministry in the Lutheran Church of Australia. It began, as I mentioned earlier, on September 2, 1945, when Dr. Walter A. Maier was heard on 36 stations across the country here. The banquet was attended by some 80 people, and was by invitation only. During the evening we also heard presentations on current and future ministries of Lutheran Media Ministry. One of the key future items is the web presence which is being redesigned at this time, and will include social media and portability. At the end of my presentation I was able to present Richard Mau with one of the “Spirit Driven” windmills from our 2010 convention. Unfortunately Richard was not able to attend.
This morning I met with the Board of Directors for Lutheran Media Ministry here in Australia, and was given about an hour on their agenda. In the meantime I’m learning some Australian English. For example, the normal greeting is, “How ya goin, mate?” Of course, “mate” is pronounced “mait.” Instead of “man,” you say “bloke.” Instead of “gas” you say “petrol.” Instead of “inn” you say “pub.” Instead of “program” you say “session,” etc. I also recounted the following joke, which got a big laugh.
In the United States we have a certain group of people called “Texans.” You may have heard of them. They live in a state called “Texas.” Here is a picture of how the typical Texan sees the United States. Texans think that they are the biggest and best at everything! For example, the very first word spoken, when the astronauts landed on the moon for the very first time, was “Houston.” Why, they even built their capitol building so that the rotunda is seven feet higher than the rotunda in Washington, D.C. Texans are always bragging that they have the biggest and best of everything.
But once, a Texan farmer came to Australia to visit some of his long-lost relatives who had immigrated here, when his ancestors went to the U.S. So his relative was also an Aussie farmer, and of course, he was going to show him around. So the Aussie farmer takes the Texan out to show him his big wheat field. But the Texan just says, “Oh! We have wheat fields that are at least twice as large.” So then they walk around the ranch a little and the Aussie shows off his herd of cattle. The Texan immediately says, “We have longhorns that are at least twice as large as your cattle.” The conversation has, meanwhile, almost died when the Texan sees a herd of kangaroos hopping through the field. He asks, “And what are those?” The Aussie asks: “What? Don’t you have any grasshoppers in Texas?”