Chaplain’s Statement: Ahmadi Muslims On Norfolk Island

I have been asked to give my opinion on the activities of the Muslim missionaries currently active on Norfolk Island. While I maintain that religious freedom is the bedrock of all other freedoms, I did think it best to write to you about this group particularly due to our isolation, and lack of contact and context. What we need to know most about the Ahmadi, who have come to us claiming to be “True Islam” – is that they are considered by other muslims to be a cult.

I first became aware of the Ahmadi two years ago when they arrived as guests and companions of the “Universal Peace Federation” who were manoeuvring  to establish a “Peace Embassy” on Norfolk Island. 

The “Universal Peace Federation” was later exposed as a front organisation for the “Unification Church”. You might know the Unification Church by their other name – the “Moonies” (the “Moonies” continue to be known around the world for their mass, public weddings). Today, the “Moonies” in Australia meet in a “Peace Embassy” in central Sydney. A quick google search reveals that the Ahmadi Muslim community and the Unification Church share a strong connection, appearing at many of the same places and events.

It interested me that these two groups were connected, and on closer examination, I discovered that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a significant Islamic cult (the equivalent of a “Christian” cult like the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints – the Mormons).

On their first visit to the island they suggested to me (and to others) that they had been asked to compile a special report for the United Nations. I consider this to be misleading. 

The Ahmadi movement, which has its origins in British-controlled northern India in the late 19th Century, identifies itself as a Muslim movement and follows the teachings of the Koran. However, it is regarded by orthodox Muslims as heretical because it does not believe that Mohammed was the final prophet sent to guide mankind (as orthodox Muslims believe is laid out in the Koran). In fact, the founder of the Ahmadi movement (Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad, 1835-1908) claimed to be the second-coming of Jesus.

While they go by the phrase “Love For Hatred For None” I do urge you to research the history of their movement, using your discernment and proceeding with great caution. Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad was a noted opponent of the Christian mission to British Pakistan.

Ahmad perceived that Islam (as it was being preached and practiced in Pakistan) was inferior to Christianity, and he began a project to reform Islam to better rival Christian teaching. Part of his solution was to include more anti-Christian elements in Islam and he also wanted to remove the respect in Islam for Jesus the Messiah. In fact it could be argued that the Ahmadiyya movement is more anti-Christian than the rest of Islam. 

Source: Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, Oneworld Publications, 2003, 223. 

Post Script:

So, how should we respond to those who want to preach another Jesus? We must pray that they would come to know the Jesus of history, the image of the invisible God. Throughout the New Testament, the Apostles sought to fight false teaching and heresy. In fact, in nearly every letter, some false teaching or heresy is exposed and dealt with. For example, 1 Corinthians deals with teachers who denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Galatians argues against those who said that justification is by Jesus plus becoming a Jew, not faith alone in Jesus alone. In Colossians, Paul warns against a strange Jewish-mystical teaching that seemed to combine Jewish dietary laws with esoteric Greek philosophy. 1 John confronts many who denied that Jesus, the Son of God, came in a human body. Over and over, the church’s leaders fought against false teaching in their churches.

This isn’t to say that in defending the faith we can or ought to forsake courtesy. One mark of our conversion is that we treat everyone, even those in error, with gentleness and respect (2 Timothy 2:24; Titus 3:2). Surely, we can disagree without being disagreeable. And yet, there are truths at stake, and even more than truths, there are precious individuals whom God has entrusted to us for pastoral care and oversight. Our task is to protect the flock even as we examine ourselves to ensure that our teaching and doctrine are pure (1 Timothy 4:16).

God Won’t Give Me More Than I Can Handle And Other Lies I’ve Believed

“God Won’t Give Me More Than I Can Handle And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island on Sunday 12th May 2019.

In a culture that tells us we can be anything we desire, this motivational slogan is meant to encourage, to reassure us that life won’t be too hard. There will be challenges, sure, but God knows my limits. He won’t overdo it.

The problem, however, is that God will give you more than you can handle. He’ll do it to make you lean on him. He’ll do it because he loves you.

Everything Happens For A Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Believed)

Inspired by the best selling book Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved (see link) our new sermon series explores five lies that we are tempted to believe as Christians:

“Everything Happens For A Reason And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, Sunday 28th April 2019
“We Do Church The Right Way And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, Sunday 5th May 2019
“Everything Happens For A Reason And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, Sunday 12th May 2019
“The Devil Made Me Do It And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, Sunday 19th May 2019
“A Decision Makes Me A Christian And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, Sunday 27th May 2019

Thirty-five-year-old Kate Bowler had finally had a baby with her childhood sweetheart after years of trying, when she began to feel jabbing pains in her stomach. She lost thirty pounds, chugged antacid, and visited doctors for three months before she was finally diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. How can a good God exist, in the face of all the injustice and suffering in the world? This book describes, in a very honest way, her search for the answer to that question, as well as her experiences with doctors, relatives and her own thoughts whilst on her sickbed.

28 April Lies I’ve Believed:  Everything Happens For A Reason
5 May Lies I’ve Believed:  We Do Church The Right Way
12 May  Lies I’ve Believed:
God Won’t Give Me More Than I Can Handle
19 May  Lies I’ve Believed:  The Devil Made Me Do It
26 May  Lies I’ve Believed:  A Decision Makes Me A Christian

A Rookies Guide To Holy Week

Holy Week is the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
It’s got a few moving parts. Here’s an overview:

Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday, we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into
Jerusalem (see Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19).

The Days of Holy Week: 

Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Spy (!) Wednesday

Let’s be honest. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday,
Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday get the lion’s share of the
attention during Holy Week. However, Monday through
Wednesday ought not to be forgotten!

OK, so this is cool. Holy Wednesday has traditionally been called “Spy” Wednesday, as a reference to the “ambush” of Jesus by
Judas Iscariot. 

“Maundy” Thursday

Maundy Thursday commemorates the first “Last Supper”
(see Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-30; 1 Cor. 11:23-25) and Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet (see John 13:1-15). The
word “Maundy” most likely derives from mandatum, meaning
“mandate” or “commandment,” in reference to Jesus’ words: “A
new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).

“Good” Friday

On Good Friday, we remember the events leading up to and
including the Crucifixion. 

“Holy” Saturday

On Holy Saturday, we remember the time that Christ spent in the grave. 

Easter Sunday

On Easter Sunday, we remember and celebrate the triumphal
Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! Easter Sunday then
kicks off a period of 50 days traditionally known as Eastertide –
ending with Pentecost Sunday.
 

Maundy Thursday Meal | 6pm | Parish Centre Prayer | Praise | Fellowship


You are invited to join us on Thursday night for a Maundy Thursday Communion Meal.

We will style this meal on a Seder or Passover. Having said that, we won’t go overboard on the Jewish-ness of the meal. Why? Because the truth is that we know very little about Jesus’ Passover meal and the Seder meal as we know it developed well after Jesus lived!
 

Maundy Thursday Menu

Needed:

1. Matzah (or Wholewheat Unleavened Bread)

2. Lamb Dishes

3. Sprigs of lush green parsley

4. Juice of the vine (wine, grape juice, non-alcoholic wine)

5. Horseradish in dish (bitter herbs)

6. Chopped apples and raisins in dish (called Haroset)

7. Boiled eggs

8. Small dish of salted water

9. A goblet of wine (or juice of the vine) for the centre of the table



Good Friday | Friday 19th April

10.00am All Saints Kingston (Combined Churches)

Easter Sunday | Sunday 21st April

9.00am St. Barnabas Chapel (Holy Communion)

5.00pm All Saints Kingston (Evening Prayer)

A Holy Week Bible Reading Plan

Monday

  • Matthew 21:18-19, 21:12-13 (Matthew does not record the events in chronological order)
  • Mark 11:12-19
  • Luke 19:45-46

Tuesday

  • Matthew 21:20-25:46
  • Mark 11:20-13:37
  • Luke 20:1-21:36

Wednesday

  • Matthew 26:3-5
  • Mark 14:1-2
  • Luke 21:37-22:2

Thursday

  • Matthew 26:17-46
  • Mark 14:12-42
  • Luke 22:7-46
  • John 13:1-17:26

Friday

  • Matthew 26:47-27:61
  • Mark 14:43-15:47
  • Luke 22:47-23:54
  • John 18:2-19:42

Saturday

  • There’s no mention of Saturday in scripture. Meditate on the emptiness and fear the Disciples must have felt with the loss of their Lord.

Sunday (Easter)

  • Matthew 28:1-20
  • Mark 16:1-20
  • Luke 24:1-53
  • John 20:1-21:25

What’s The Point Of Preaching?

We do a funny thing at church.

Every week, roughly the same group of people (the congregation) come to hear the same person (the preacher) speak.

If the average preacher speaks 100 words a minute, that means you’ll hear 2,500 words a sermon – maybe around 130,000 words a year. 

What difference does it all make?

Luke 8:1-18 Preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, April 7, 2019

10 REASONS TO GET MORE INVOLVED AT CHURCH

At the beginning of any year most people tend to evaluate their priorities. This is a good thing. In fact, one of our problems is that we do not assess ourselves enough. Let me encourage you to evaluate the level at which you are involved in serving the Lord at church. In no particular order, here are some important things to consider:

1. Serving is the purpose of our salvation.

Sometimes when we emphasise that salvation is not by works, we fail to fully appreciate that we have been saved to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). To be stationary or sedentary is to neglect God’s purpose for your life.

2. I have been gifted to serve.

Several Bible passages help us to understand the concept of spiritual gifts. Among them are Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. In these chapters we learn how God graciously and supernaturally gives to each believer their own distinct ministry gift!

What a privilege!

3. Serving demonstrates the reality of my faith.

Nobody has said it better than James when he taught us that faith is not about what we know (or have heard), and it’s not about what we say. Faith without works is dead.

4. The workers are few.

Our Lord Jesus said: “Pray for more workers for the harvest!” If you are not already serving, somebody somewhere is praying for you to get involved. The need is greater than ever. The harvest is ready. The workers are few.

5. Do it for the kids (they’re watching).

When Jesus selected His apostles, He chose them to be “with Him.” Ministry is more often “caught” than “taught.” What is the next generation learning about positive, heart-motivated ministry by watching us?

6. The commission is great.

Our master and commander, the Lord Jesus Christ has given us our marching orders!

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18

7. Ministry involvement enhances biblical understanding.

As we put the Word of God to practice in our lives, the Lord brings His purposes and His will into focus. At the wedding in Cana, the servants understood Jesus and His ways better than anyone else in the room: “the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew (John 2:9).

Serving God enhances our knowledge of God.

8. Doing anonymous or little things for the Lord is like whispering, “I love You” in His ear.

We don’t do in order to measure up. We do because we measure up in Christ! God can’t love you any more than He already does! You are His treasure. He has redeemed you and called you by name. With this mindset, mundane duties became majestic acts of service. Serving becomes its own reward.

“Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart”. Ephesians 6:6

9. I will forge long-lasting and valuable friendships.

One of the major fringe benefits of serving the church is the building of genuine friendships. Those to whom we feel the closest in life are typically those with whom we work. Adam and Eve began their marriage side by side, working together – he the gardener and she his helper. Checkout Romans 16, where Paul takes time to assign value to his coworkers in ministry. Read it. Sense his heart. Ministry partners are the best lifetime friends and great sources of encouragement.

10. We will stand before the Lord.

He loves me. He died for me. He has given me purpose. Only what’s done for Him matters. I will meet Him face to face. Someday. Maybe today.

Involvement in ministry is living for Jesus, being like Jesus, and being with Jesus. If that doesn’t inceltivize us, I don’t know what will!

What would you add to this list?

Crucified By Email

Pastor@BelmontCommunityChurch.org wrote:

Dear Jesus,

I have been praying that you are sensing God’s presence during this difficult week for us all. Last night the Church board and I held an emergency meeting and I am writing to inform you that we have come to a difficult decision. Writing this email is one of the hardest things that I have had to do at my time here at Belmont Community Church. Before I tell you of our decision, I felt that it was only fair to explain how we as a Church leadership came to our decision and for me to share with you how I have been affected by your behaviour. In order to maintain clarity I will address the various issues regarding your employment as a pastor at our Church. Before I start I really want to say how difficult this has been for me and Alison, I am not above stating that I cried before I wrote this email. Things started so well when you came on staff, it was a joy to have you around the place and the congregation loved having you. I am still struggling to comprehend what went wrong. But here goes;

Behaviour During Church Services

I have communicated time and time again in our leadership meeting the idea that how we as leaders act, affects the whole congregation. Sundays are meant to be a fun, upbeat and inspiring time. We are trying to create an atmosphere that communicates the idea the gospel is good news and that those who put their faith in God will receive abundant life. Your constant habit of crying and weeping over the fate of our neighbourhood, completely works against this. I have been so confused by your mood swings, one minute you are full of joy – the next you will be weeping for the whole service. After talking to Dr Blackby I am more and more wondering if you suffering from a form of Bi Polar disorder or manic depression, I really encourage you to go and get this checked out. You can be so dark sometimes, which is not attractive to unchurched people and a totally different place to where we are going as a church.

Being a Good Example

I hear things about where and with whom you hang out. I really do hope that some of the stories that I am hearing are wrong and merely gossip. But I have to admit that some of the people who you bring to church do make me wonder what circles you are mixing in. I certainly hope the stories about the party at Matt’s place are not true. As a single guy it is never a good look to be hanging around with women who work in the adult industry. To turn up to leaders meets smelling of dope can only lead others into bad places. You need to get into an accountability group ASAP.

The Jewish Thing

I totally understand that you were raised in a Jewish home and in the Jewish faith. We loved the service that you put on during passover it was great to hear you sing the psalms so beautifully in Hebrew. The ladies at our Golden Gals ministry loved you teaching them Jewish Dancing. But I really do not understand why you continue to wear your prayer Shawl and yarmulke to church. At the interfaith city dinner Rabbi Rosen told me that you attend synagogue weekly??? He was under the impression that you were a practicing Jew and did not refer to yourself as Christian??? For goodness sake you need to work out where you stand, and who you identify with! Are you Jewish or are you Christian, what team are you playing on? Where do you loyalties lie??? Your behaviour just makes things confusing for people.

The Night at @tomic.

After ripping my hair out for months wondering where to place you, I finally thought that our emerging young adults congregation @tomic would be the best place for you. It is edgy, justice focused, andthey love conversation, it is in a bar, and filled with Christians who don’t like the vibe of our sunday services. But then the morning after you speak – I am inundated with emails from angry young adults telling me that you got all ‘hellfire and brimstone’ on them. They even started a facebook group to keep you away from the bar! Seriously what were you thinking telling them that ‘they will always have the poor with them’.??? Don’t you know that half that crew work for Christian aid organisations? I had to promise them that you would not come back! They said that you were too full on, too fundamentalist.

The Incident at Belmont Reformed Church

After the @tomic incident I was totally at my wits end of what to do with you. I mentioned the incident to my friend Rev Peterson and he said that he would love to have you come and spend a month preaching at his church and that he loved a young preacher who had the guts to talk directly about hell and eternal consequences. I thought all of my problems with you were solved. Then you go there and deliver a bunch of confusing stories that seem to skirt around the issues. Half the congregation walks out and you end up in the car park with the remainder explaining yourself. Rev Peterson is still rope-able, he not only thinks you are unable to preach the gospel he has serious concerns over your theology.

The Incident Last Sunday

And now to the straw that has broken the camel’s back. You know as well as I that it is so hard to get a Preacher like Pastor John Rosetti to speak at our church, he is world class. Ok even for me he can be a little ‘prosperity focused’ but he is such a gifted speaker and the Church was packed. When you overturned his merchandise tables I wanted the ground to eat me up. The damage that you caused to our ATM cash machine in the lobby will put the church back around $10,000. I can put up a with a lot, but vandalism I cannot. Your actions were a direct undermining of my leadership.

So I am writing to inform you that we will be making you redundant. I have with great difficulty convinced the Church board to not press charges and we will not be referring the matter to the police.

I am so heart broken, you are one of the most gifted young men I have met. I find you maddeningly frustrating. I have barely slept since last sunday, I keep wracking my brain trying to figure out why you are like this. I wonder if it is your age, 32 is pretty young for a pastor role at a church our size. I can’t help think that it must be mental health issues, probably the bi polar condition that Dr Blackby referred to.

We don’t want to turf you out on the street so we will be giving you a generous severance package, plus Jane has sent you a card that the staff has signed which includes a gift voucher to Brysons Christian Bookstore.

It will always perplex me why things did not work out. In your heart I know that you mean the best.

Sadly Jesus we must ask that you never come back to our Church.

Yours in him

Pastor Craig Clements

(A fictional email by Mark Sayers)