Ben Cochrane – Somerset

Ben Cochrane, Somerset

Ministry Profile

Ben Cochrane Moves In

Ben began as the new pastor at Somerset in March 2022. Having had a few months to settle in, it’s a good time to touch base and find out more about him.

Pastoral beginnings

I was born in the Northern Suburbs of Brisbane and am the second of four siblings. My dad was (and still is) a pastor in the Pentecostal Church, so much of my childhood revolved around the church. My parents modeled for me a sincere passion for Jesus and a costly commitment to His people.

The Cochranes
Ben Cochrane, and Sharmani, with their daughter Margo

Because I grew up in a Pastor’s household, I was exposed to the Gospel from an early age. However, after experiencing a number of personal crises in my late teens, I started engaging with my faith with fresh eyes. All of a sudden it was as if the Lord Jesus became real to me in a way that He hadn’t in the past. Since then, I have been on a spiritual path of discovery in the Lord.

My wife, Sharmani, and I arrived in Tasmania in March 2022. For some years we felt drawn to this beautiful place and to serve God’s people here. It all came together when an opportunity arose to serve as Pastor of Somerset Baptist.

Sharmini and I love the wild beauty of the North-West. The cooler climate is also a welcome change from the sweltering humidity up in Queensland. But what we enjoy most about living here is the people. The locals have just been so warm and generous towards our little family.

Changes, changes everywhere

Be patient, Ben Cochrane Somerset

The best piece of advice I have ever received is to be patient! God works in His own time! Because I have the tendency to rush and be impatient, this was some sound advice.

I am the pastor of Somerset Baptist. As a pastor of a small church, you tend to have to wear my different hats! But I consider the primary focus of my role to be helping others follow Jesus. In a world that is rapidly changing, this is getting harder and harder to do. 

I spend my time shepherding people. Depending on the given week, this may look different. It may look like doing an Alpha Course with someone exploring the Christian faith. It may look like visiting an older member in a nursing home and encouraging her in her faith. Or even meeting up with a younger member for a coffee and reading the Bible together and thinking about how it applies to our lives.

All this variation is part of what makes ministry exciting. 

I get excited by witnessing God’s transforming power at work in the lives of everyday people. This might sound really basic, but I get a front row seat to this!

My big challenges focus around how our culture is becoming more and more post-Christian. Many of the older ways of reaching the lost are simply no longer effective. Part of the challenge of ministry today is having to think of new ways to re-engage people with the message of Jesus.

Please pray for our family as we continue to settle into a new community. Pray for boldness to step out of my comfort zone and make connections with people in Somerset. And, most especially, pray for patience. 

And briefly

am looking forward to . . . seeing God show His faithfulness.

I am worried about . . . whether I have what it takes.

I am confident that . . . God has my back!

I am joyful about . . . watching my family grow and seeing God’s transforming grace in people’s lives.

I would like to change . . . my pessimism.

I am at my best when . . . I’ve spent five minutes in silent prayer, and had my morning coffee!

With thanks to Frans Ammerlaan (Sassafras) for his assistance in compiling this interview.

Ben Cochrane

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Matt Holloway – Westbury

Matt Holloway and Lacey

Ministry Profile

Matt Holloway

Matt began as the new pastor at Westbury in April, moving from Shepparton Victoria when Tasmania called him back!

From TAS to NSW

I was born in Burnie, and lived there until I was about four and a half. Burnie was a wonderful place to live. I loved living on a hill and seeing the beach every time we went into town. It’s so good that I have many great and funny memories of life in Burnie.

My dad trained for, and began ministry, as a Baptist Pastor in NSW, so I began and completed my primary school life there . This let me experience a wonderful mix of city life and outback living, as life as a pastor’s kid moved us around. I didn’t enjoy the busy city life, but I loved the life in the outback and all the adventures that came with it.

My dad was my inspiration for becoming a Christian. In his early life, my dad had been a chronic alcoholic. He didn’t have much education, and couldn’t really read or write, only enough basics to get through everyday life. He gave his life to Christ after marrying my mum.

During my early years he felt called to ministry and accepted God’s call. I watched my dad grow in faith, and I watched God give him the abilities to study and complete his college work. Seeing God at work in dad, I wanted to know and have this God in my life. One night as dad was heading out for street mission, I decided this was it. I grabbed him by the leg and told him I wouldn’t let go until I had Jesus in my life.

And from VIC to TAS!

Matt Holloway and Lacey

My wife Lacey, my son Larry, and I moved to Tasmania in April this year. I had wanted to move back to Tasmania for some time. Lacey and I had a belated honeymoon in Tasmania, and she expressed how good it would be to live here one day. After God heard our hearts and with much discernment, God opened an opportunity to come to Tassie. We moved over to Westbury after being called to pastor Westbury Baptist.

I enjoy how beautiful Tasmania and Westbury are. After living in such a flat part of Victoria, I love the mountains and the nature around us. I am excited to find time to get out and explore it. I also love the people. People here are so friendly and engaging. I am excited to get to know my local community.

The way I spend my time is constantly changing. It is a mixture of preparing for Sunday worship service, engaging with the local community, meetings, coffee meet ups, appointments, and time with family. What I should to say is Loving God, loving family, and Loving others.

Connection and challenge

I am privileged to be the Pastor at Westbury Baptist church. My role is to nurture and grow believers in their faith and to engage with the local community to make Christ known and grow his kingdom. I love connecting with people and discovering people’s journeys. It is such a privilege to be let into other people’s lives, to journey with them, and share Christ with them. What excites me most is seeing God at work in people’s lives and situations, especially people finding Christ for the first time.

There are many challenges in ministry and everyday life. There is time management, making time for church, community engagement, appointments, most importantly God and family. As a newcomer to town, there are challenges as I seek to engage with the community. Finding where and how to connect in the community. Many people have been hurt by churches in the past and this presents challenges on connecting with them now and then there is the constant spiritual battle that goes on daily as I seek to gain ground for God.

Praying for Matt and Lacey

I would really appreciate if you would pray for us. Pray that God will open doors to reach into the community of Westbury and the surrounding area. That God would give discernment on how to manage time to be effective, that my heart and focus is on Jesus and the people he wants me to engage with. And finally, that I would see and overcome the spiritual battles waged against us as we seek to do God’s will.

The best advice I have had is to give God your availability and he will give you the ability to do what he calls you to do.” It is only through Christ, his strength and empowering that we can step into the calling on our lives and carry out his will.

And briefly

I am looking forward to … exploring Tassie with my family, including my mother-in-law who I hadn’t met until recently because she lives in Georgia USA!

I am worried about … homelessness and housing shortage and the wider unseen implications. It is very concerning.

I am confident that … we are where God wants us, and God will use us.  My aim is to always be seeking God’s will.

I am joyful about … serving God and spending time with my family.

I would like to change ... church from being comfortable inside to going beyond the walls to the people and places that God calls us.

I am at my best when … close to God and functioning in God’s strength.

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Dan Evenhuis – Citywide

Dan Evenhuis with Dannie and thekids
Dan Evenhuis - Citywide

Ministry Profile

Dan Evenhuis recently began working at Citywide Baptist as the Executive Pastor.

I hail from Smithton, and I spent my early years with my four siblings on a cattle farm. My family had a strong Christian focus, with Bible readings and prayer at mealtimes. Currently, I am Executive Pastor for Citywide Baptist Church. My job is to help the smooth running of our church. I’m also focusing on worship, pastoral care, and outreach.

We lived in Melbourne when I was between the ages of four and 12, while Dad ministered to the Melbourne Jewish Community. Then, when I turned 13, we returned to Smithton. I found the transition very difficult, although it was during this period I met Jesus, who became my best friend. I was constantly aware of His presence and a natural friendly relationship developed, and I was very conscious of God with me. As I rode my bike to the milking shed at 5:30am, I’d talk to Jesus along the way as though it was the most natural thing.

As an adult, I have loved working with the Youth and Community organisation Fusion, with committed godly communities around the world, seeing others being saved. I loved to see the effect no matter what the denomination.

Reaching our communities is the long-game.

Dan Evenhuis

My most recent experience with Fusion was in Oxfordshire UK, bringing the community together in a three-day festival. It was an amazing few days, ending a quite depressing year. I felt people were feeling something like, “I respect and admire these people and know they are Christians. They’re smart and don’t seem deluded, but they really believe in this God stuff. I must be missing something.” Reaching our communities is the long-game. It’s a lot of work and investment, but so worth it.

Family and the BIG move

Danni and I have been married now for 21 years. Back in the UK she taught and did dance instructing. Now, she’s teaching at Calvin Christian School in Kingston. We have four children aged from 11 to 17 years old. When I am asked how I do spend my time, I say: “I have four kids!”

Last year, we decided to come back to Tasmania after 18 fulfilling years of ministry in the UK. Back in 2014 a few of us in Oxfordshire started a less formal, and more welcoming, family-friendly Church. It continued to grow due to its unique ministry and had become stable. Now that the church is sustainable, Danni and I thought it’s time to go back to Tasmania. Family is important, and yet for 18 years we’d been doing mission on the other side of the world. It was time to expose our English-born children to Aussie culture as well as give them time to get to know their cousins, grandparents, uncles and aunties. Slowly, they’re beginning to settle into Tasmanian life. It’s going to take a lot of time though for them to feel like they belong. Please pray for them after this big international move.

Evenhuis children 2022

In Tasmania, we love the nature and the outdoors, the beauty, and the stunning surroundings. We always thought Hobart was one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and now we live here! My family also enjoy having extended family around. It’s different to being in a country on our own. I remember on a holiday here seven years ago, my kids were surprised someone had a photo of them up in their loungeroom. It was my Auntie from Burnie. Family is like that.

I am really looking forward to getting to know the Citywide family, and other Christians across the state. I think the church seems to be struggling a fair bit here in Tasmania, and I’m so keen for us to work with God and throw all we have into His ministry.

Life Challenges for Dan Evenhuis

Dan Evenhuis received some great advice: "A calm sea never made a good sailor"
“A calm sea never made a good sailor”

The best advice I have received is: “A calm sea never made a good sailor”. God does not ask us to cram our Christian mission beyond our busy life. We decide how much time to allocate. I’m keen for the church to be a source of enlightenment in our community – for us not to be in our Christian ghettos, but to bring Christ within reach of those around us.

I have many challenges in everyday life. Running a church is busy work and I want to be careful that we manage how much of our effort goes into a Sunday Service. Many churches invest around 80% of their time and resources into that one Service. I would instead love to say, if you want to get to know our church, don’t just turn up on a Sunday, come and see us through the week as well. For example at Citywide, there is an amazing craft group which meets on Thursdays, with about 100 attendees. Our purpose is to stay outward focused because we exist for those who are not in the church yet!

I’d really appreciate your prayers for me, that I can stand back and have some time with God regularly so I can work out what he wants me to work on. There are no end of jobs to do, but I want to do what he has for me today.

And Briefly

I am looking forward to … bushwalking with my family.

I am worried about … many struggling churches across Tasmania.

I am confident that  I’m where God wants me.

I am joyful about … being around family.

I would like to change … church being performance- and sermon-driven. I’d love to see the church becoming a vibrant, God-centred community of believers involved in whole-life ministry.

I am at my best when … I am close to God and aware of His love for me.

FIND OUT: Citywide Baptist Church
READ: Jeff Percival (Lwr Barrington) Ministry Profile

Dan Evenhuis

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