Partners in Christian Mission

UNPLANNED Movie Night, Friday Nov 15

You Are Invited!

Jenny Baxter, Tracy Ortiz and Leeanne Garvin invite you to join them to see the critically acclaimed UNPLANNED. It's the true story of a young Christian girl, Abby Johnson, who tries to care for women in a Planned Parenthood clinic. But discovers one day it is not all it seems.

This is a very sensitively done movie, but it is rated M for mature themes.

When: 7:00pm Friday November 15

Where: Village Eastlands

Cost: $22 payment online by clicking link below

Bookings: https://fan-force.com/screenings/unplanned-village-cinemas-eastlands-3/ >>>

Let us know to expect you: jenny@tasbaptists.org.au

Loved and Not Forgotten

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about Hannah, the mother of Samuel.
Read her story in 1 Samuel 1 >>>

Hannah was one of those invisible women. She was not "seen" nor understood by her husband. Her female counterpart is described as her "rival". And the man of God, Eli, thought she was drunk! In her distress, Hannah turned to God, who did see her. He immediately performed a miracle of inner peace, and she was "no longer downcast".

Do you feel unseen, undervalued and misunderstood?

You are not alone. Many women (and men) feel like this. But please know God sees you, values you, and understands you.

That miracle of inner peace is there for you too.

Jenny Baxter
Tasmanian Baptist Women
jenny@tasbaptists.org.au

Baptist World Alliance Women's Department Announces Officers-Elect

(FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA, USA - October 1, 2019)

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Women's Department is pleased to present Karen Wilson of Maylands, Western Australia, as the new President-Elect and Sherrie Cherdak of Fairfax, Virginia, USA, as the new Secretary/Treasurer-Elect, for the next five-year term running from 2020-2025.

The BWA Women's Continental Union Presidents elected the future leaders in a prayerful, thorough, and joyous search process.

"We were amazed and humbled by the excellent nominations we received from all over the world. We marveled at God's abundant gifts in the outstanding women leaders from every continent we met during the search process," said Dr. Ksenija Magda, current President of the BWA Women's Department. "We are excited and grateful for the great unity in our final decisions. I am convinced the Lord is leading Baptist women to a new level."

Karen Wilson brings to the position her passion for helping people grow into their full potential, coupled with vast experience in ministry, working with women, and organizational strategic management. She is a gifted communicator, widely-traveled international speaker, and cross-cultural change agent. She currently serves as the Director for Strategic Relations for Baptist World Aid Australia/Transform Aid International.

Wilson outlines her vision for the ministry as follows: "I dream of a global ministry where women champion one another and stand together (Zephaniah 3:9); where they understand their responsibility to the family of God and encourage one another forward (1 Thessalonians 5:11); where they meet regularly and are aware that they are not alone (1 Corinthians 14:26); where they come together and await the move of the Spirit of the living God (Acts 2:1); where they stand alongside their brothers in unity (1 Corinthians 1:10); and where they stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the Gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27)."

For the past ten years, Sherrie Cherdak has served as treasurer at Calvary Hill Baptist Church in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, where she also serves on the governing board. She also recently began serving as interim bookkeeper for the BWA Women's Department. Cherdak brings years of experience and skills as a secretary, bookkeeper, and business manager in two nonprofit organizations. She has a deep desire to make a difference in the lives of women.

"The BWA Women's Department is making an eternal impact through their commitment to prayer, mission, and leadership development," said Rev. Dr. Elijah Brown, BWA General Secretary. "I am grateful for the skills and passion that Karen and Sherrie are bringing to these positions, and I encourage all BWA Baptists to join me in prayer for these women of God."

The Baptist World Alliance Women's Department elects new leadership every five years. The Executive Committee is comprised of the President, the Secretary-Treasurer, and the seven Continental Union Presidents - the latter being elected by their respective Continental Women's Unions. All the positions are volunteer. In addition, the Executive Director, a staff position, is an ex officio member of the BWA Women's Department Executive Committee. Moreen Sharp of Canada is currently serving as Interim Executive Director.

The two new officers will be confirmed and inaugurated into their positions during the Global Conference of Baptist Women, taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from July 17- 20, 2020. The quinquennial Baptist World Congress will follow July 22-26, 2020.

For more information about the 2020 Baptist World Congress, visit BWA2020.org.

For more information about the Global Conference of Baptist Women, visit BWAWD.org.

Name Change: Baptist Women's Union of the South West Pacific

President Elissa Macpherson writes ...

Sat November 9, 2019

I wanted to inform you that we have changed the name of the continental union which represents Baptist women of the Pacific region to our global body, the Baptist World Alliance. We are no longer called BWUSWP - Baptist Women's Union of the South West Pacific

Now we are called (drum roll please)...

BWP- Baptist Women of the Pacific!

We felt the previous name was too long and needed to be more succinct and easier to communicate. It is also consistent with the terms of reference used by the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation (APBF). Gosh, we do love a good acronym!

This new name will be rolled out in the next few weeks. This also gives me a chance to thank you sister to sister, for all the amazing ways you serve our great God and his daughters.

Bless you and I look forward to serving in the trenches with you.

Elissa Macpherson
President of BWP (Baptist Women of the Pacific)

WHY CARE ABOUT BWUSWP?

Women of PapuaInsights from President Elissa Macpherson

Why, as an Australian, should we care about the Baptist Women's Union of the South West Pacific (BWUSWP)?

Especially when it feels so far removed?

My reply? Because the Baptist sisters in the South West Pacific care about us! The Baptist sisters of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Papua, Fiji, Vanuatu and Tonga have us in their hearts. (Picture at left shows some women of Papua)

In August I attended the BWUSWP conference in Fiji. It was a colourful palette of Pacific culture which affirmed and encouraged my faith.

I met a gorgeous woman from West Papua. West Papua is a country currently under siege from Indonesia, which seeks to violently and forcefully shut down their right to independence. She spent five years in prison struggling for, as yet denied, self-governance.

My new Papuan sister came up to me, grasped my hands with hers and, in her broken English, asked, "Australian? You Australian?"

"Yes, Australian", I replied overwhelmed by her emotional affection.

Tears in her eyes, she said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you. Australian Baptist missionary come and tell us about Jesus. Our lives were saved." She then bent over and kissed my hands.

The women of BWUSWP deeply care about us as Australian sisters-in-Christ and yearn for us to care about them.

It's not just Papua.

Did you know the highest rates of domestic violence against women in the WORLD is in the Pacific? A girl in PNG is much more likely to be raped than receive tertiary education. There is witch-burning in PNG, not last century, but just last month!

One woman at the conference, from a small village in PNG, left her family for 6 months to live in Port Moresby so she could get a passport and visa to come to the conference in Fiji. Such was her depth of desire to connect with her Pacific sisters!

Another PNG woman hobbled around the conference crouched over her walking stick. I was told: "See that sister? She travels seven hours in an outboard motor dingy to deliver clothes to a poverty-stricken island."

Still another sister shared about God's prompting to go to a village to pray for healing for the villagers. Burdened because they could not afford medical care, she fasted for two weeks, went to the village and prayed. The results: a blind man was healed, a lame man could walk, a criminal gang member walking past fell to his knees in conviction.

Our Pacific sisters care and give so much! The greatest gift they share is their passion for God and their passion for fellowship - communing together with God. It is devastatingly humbling.

It takes four hours to fly from Sydney to Darwin. It also takes 4 hours to fly from Sydney to PNG. These are our geographical, economic and political neighbours.

There were so many other stories like these! I wish you were there!

I could tell you so much more about the wonder and passion of our Pacific sisters who asked me: "Where are the Australians?"

They are longing to connect with you, my dear Australian sisters.

That's why care about BWUSWP.

Elissa Macpherson
Newly appointed President of BWUSWP

How is your Christmas shopping going?

I am sure lots of people reading this are really organized. But I'm often still waiting for inspiration to arrive on Christmas Eve!

Every year I delay my shopping expeditions. I think it's because I feel so guilty. I am increasingly aware of the abundance I enjoy every day, which is in such contrast to those who experience desperate poverty elsewhere.

There are millions of normal people who can only dream about having clean water pour out of a tap in the kitchen - let alone all the other things we take for granted. On the other hand, I know gift-giving is very special. Gifts received and given, are like those gifts presented to Jesus by the Magi.

As well, receiving of Christmas gifts reflects I am known, loved and appreciated by family members.

However, I am a bit confused about why I should increase how much 'stuff' owned by those near and dear to me. So, I delay, and I live with the questions. Eventually, I bow to the usual pressure of friends and family, and do it all over again.

Perhaps, a better Christmas list

This year though, I've found a new list of gift suggestions.

Yes, I am facing those gnawing questions at last! It's not the usual sort of gift list but perhaps more real and honest.
These gifts appear to cost very little financially, but they could be quite pricey in a personal sense:

To my enemy, forgiveness.
To my opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, my heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To myself, respect.

No doubt I will still make a dash to the shops on Christmas Eve, but I'll keep this list in mind. Perhaps it will mean I buy more thoughtfully.

And maybe, it might help me give gifts with more meaning, love and consideration than my normal Christmas ritual.

In all honesty, I want to honour the one who is the giver of life, and who was responsible for the costliest gift ever: God's gift sent from heaven in the form of a baby. Jesus Christ.

Jenny Baxter
State Director, Tasmanian Baptist Women

Big Hearted GiftsTo give a gift to help end poverty visit: baptistworldaid.org.au/big-hearted-gifts

ABW State Leaders Gather

For a couple of short days in November, the State Directors of Australian Baptist Women met in Mlebourne. They listened to one another, and prayed for their respective ministries across the nation. These meetings were part of the gathering of all Baptist ministries that week: Admninistrators, Youth Leaders, Multicultural Leaders, BaptCare, Baptist World Aid, Global Interaction, Crossover Asutralia - and more - all had their state reps present.

So What's Happening with ABW?

Baptist women's minstries are thriving around Australia with regular connection and events for Baptist women. These include conferences, breakfasts, dinners, prayer times, movie events, leadership training and many more. And all of them encourage Baptist women (and often their friends and family members) across the nation.

Some Intiatives to Action!

  • Thursdays in Black - Let's Do it

Thursdays in BlackDid you know you can raise awareness about family and domestic violence by wearing black on Thursdays?

The Thursdays in Black campaign is simple but profound: Wear black on Thursdays.

Thursdays in Black grew out of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998), in which the stories of rape as a weapon of war, gender injustice, abuse, violence, and many tragedies that grow outward from such violence became all the more visible. But what also became visible was women's resilience, agency and personal efforts to resist such violations.

LIKE the ABW Facebook page for for fortnightly posts on Thursdays.

And maybe in 2020 you could start posting what you wear on Thursdays!

  • Baptist Women World Day of Prayer, Monday November 2, 2020

Women prayThe first Monday of every November is the Baptist Women's World Day of Prayer. (But events can be held anytime during November)

The theme for 2020 is "LIFE!"

The Day of Prayer program is translated into well over 80 languages so thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of Baptist women gather to pray for each other on that special day.

It is called DAY of Prayer because literally as the world turns, women are praying from the eastern hemisphere all the way around to the west.

Baptist women link arms, standing in solidarity with each other on that special day.

Who's Who in ABW

ABW leaders November 2019Australian Baptist Women State Directors

NSW/ACT: Linnah Hahn

  • NT: Toni Rehrman

  • Qld: Cathy Knechtli

  • SA: Holly Whitewell

  • Tas: Jenny Baxter

  • Vic: Vacant

  • WA: Yvette Cherry (National Leader)

(L-R Back: Toni, Elissa, Linnah, Jenny. Front: Yvette, Holly, Karen, Cathy)

International Presidents

Karen Wilson - President-elect, Baptist World Alliance Women's Department 2020-25
With Jenny Baxter, ABW Tasmania

Elissa Macpherson - President, Baptist Women of the Pacific
With Jenny Baxter, ABW Tasmania

Responses to UNPLANNED

In November there was a great opportunity to watch UNPLANNED at Village Eastlands which has caused all sorts of ruckus around the world as it tells the supposed true story of an abortion clinic worker.

Global responses to the movie vary, but in the US there are now proposed changes to some laws in some states as a result of this story being told.

UNPLANNED has not been genreally released in Australian cinemas. Instead, special screenings have been set up by request and demand through fan-force.com

The movie is the story of Abby Johnson - a Christian woman who worked in an abortion clinic. Yes, you read that right.

Abby was keen to ensure that women in difficult situtaions were helped, and offered appropriate choices, including keeping their baby. But the more she got involved in the system, the more blinded she became by what was happening in it.

However, as the youngest ever manager of an abortion clinic, she was only involved in counselling and the admin side of things. Everything became unstuck though, the day she was asked to assist in the surgery. And that's where the movie begins.

Here are some responses:

Diana:

It is not a good movie. I believe any adult, well, really most teens or older should see this film. It is another view of what happens behind the closed doors of clinics. The main actress is very relatable, cute, and plays the role strong and unforgettable. It's eye opening, sad, and does make you wonder how it's going to end. Yet, it leaves you realizing the world needs changed and how can one person make an impact like the one woman portraying Abby Johnson.

Joy:

It was quite graphic. But I'm so glad I drove down to Hobart to see it. We need to know these things.

Anon:

Powerful movie, extremely informative yet difficult to watch. Excellent acting and no filler scenes were added. Has both sides of the pro-life/pro choice debate with facts incorporating an honest reality. This movie does not point fingers or judge those who have had abortions but instead represents those who have a difficult choice ahead of them, nor does it attack or judge those who think they are doing good by working there.

Kristin:

A must see no matter what side of the issue you fall on!!! This is such an important movie. Tastefully done, kind approach for both sides of the argument, but showed the actual facts.

Sonya:

I took my teenage daughters. It was difficult for them to watch. But so good to help us see what happens, and talk about this tricky issue.

INTERVIEW TO LISTEN TO: Tas State Director Jenny Baxter chatted with UNPLANNED prayer warrior Lorraine Varella before the movie was made available in Australia. Lorraine and her husband led the ministry team who covered UNPLANNED in prayer, from its inception to distribution. At the time of the recording there was still uncertainty as to whether or not it would hit any Autralian cinemas at all.
Listen to the interview and watch the trailer here >>>

Gaye James - CEO Esther's Australia

Gaye James, of Citywide Baptist Church in Hobart, is the Founder and CEO of ESTHERS Australia, formerly known as Esther's House. Gaye is also mum to seven children aged 14 to 34, and has eight grandchildren. Three of her children still live at home, her fifth child lives with an intellectual disability.

ESTHERS Australia is a social entrepreneurship organization run by women for women. As a not-for-profit charity and a registered deductible gift recipient (DGR) as a Public Benevolent Institution, they are registered with the ACNC.

ESTHERS is a women's support and pregnancy help service, set up to assist women at their most vulnerable times by providing free services such as counselling, advocacy, pregnancy support, reproductive choice information, mentoring, referral services and community connections.

The services are carried out by professionals and non-professionals; and are both centre-based and delivered via outreach: meeting people in their own homes and/or within local community spaces/offices.

You can hear Gaye talk to Jenny Baxter about how she began her work with Esthers HERE >>>

About Gaye

Gaye grew up in Tasmania and experienced a dysfunctional home life. As a pre-schooler she was sexually abused by a friend of the family, and this became a stumbling block for much of her life.

At the age of 16 she suspected she might be pregnant and went to a doctor who confirmed her suspicions. The doctor suggested an abortion, and Gaye agreed.

She said, "I mean, what else do you do in my situation? There was no way that I was going to tell my mum."

In fact, sadly the only real reason she agreed to the abortion was for fear of her mother's disappointment in her. Gaye believes that had the doctor offered to go with her to talk to her mum, or even offered a support person to go with her that, today she would have eight living children.

Gaye's life reflects that of a woman who has experienced early childhood trauma. During her later years she endured many years of family violence while living on the Sunshine Coast. It was during this time that she committed to following Jesus and gave her life to God.

It was at the end of this relationship when she felt God leading her to do something in order to help other women, who had similar life experiences, in a beneficial way.

In 2008, as a 43-year-old solo mum with six of her seven children still under her roof, she applied to do a Bachelor of Social Science with the Sunshine Coast University, and much to her genuine surprise was accepted in their 2nd round offer to commence study in 2009.

A move to Tasmania later in 2009 meant transferring her degree over to another university and in 2012, Gaye graduated from Tabor Adelaide and gained and Award for Excellence for her commitment to social justice.

The Beginning of ESTHERS

A culmination of her life's experiences was the catalyst that sparked the heart of ESTHERS Australia.

Gaye founded ESTHERS on the back-foot of the Tasmanian Government's passing of the Reproductive Health Bill in 2013. At the time she wasn't involved in the pro-life movement, and wasn't even really aware of it.

She recalls listening to the debate in 2013 and hearing the stats on abortion in Tasmania as being approximately 1,000/year. Through her own deductions she was appalled to acknowledge that abortion is taking the lives of approximately 28 children/week in Tasmania - that's one classroom full of children every week!

An estimated 80,000 - 90,000 surgical abortions are performed in Australia each year. 90,000! That's one abortion for every 2.8 live births. Australia-wide that figure blows out to 250 children a day - 25 classrooms full of children/day! Gone! And this figure doesn't include medical abortion.

One in three Australian women will have an abortion in their lifetime. This includes the women in our churches because being a Christian doesn't mean we are excluded from the lies of the abortion industry.

The call to get involved came loud and clear in 2015. And after a second successful fundraiser, a small but dedicated team of women put the wheels on the organisation, and applied to become an Incorporated Association.

What does ESTHERS do?

Since its inception, through much hard work, prayer, soul searching and dedication, the team have developed a program for ESTHERS that mostly focuses on enhancing a woman's self-worth, through strength-based and solution-focused approaches, ultimately achieving the heart of the organisation - to love women.

Many of the clients who contact ESTHERS for help are struggling with a myriad of issues.

"As a service, our job is to help the woman to identify her most pressing problem and work with her to overcome that problem," Gaye says.

However, this task is not simple. Many of the women have varied and complex issues on top of an unexpected pregnancy.

From the mum who is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and wants some options to consider; to the mum who has chosen to parent but is now losing her child into state care; to the mum who chose to have an abortion 20 years ago and is now processing her grief . . . every woman comes with her own unique set of circumstances.

What's next for ESTHERS

Gaye and her team are excited, as they are terrified, at the fast pace growth and the enormous vision that God has given them for ESTHERS.

Over the past 12-months there have been many changes for the organisation, including changes to the company structure and name. However, the greatest change is the growth and expansion into a national organisation.

After a successful fundraiser on the Sunshine Coast in November, ESTHERS is now preparing to open a hub of on the Coast early 2020!

Gaye and her family will relocate to the Sunshine Coast in January to get the service up and running by May 2020. This Gaye believes, will be one of many ESTHERS hubs around Australia.

If you would like to volunteer, donate to, or find out more, about ESTHERS please go to www.esthers.com.au or email info@esthers.com.au

READ A REAL-LIFE STORY - Gina, who decided NOT to abort, with help and support from Esther's

Gina's Journey with Esther's

Gina (not her real name) is a 36-year-old woman who was homeless and pregnant. She came to ESTHERS and asked for help finding permanent accommodation. She was tired and discouraged.

Gina said, "How can I bring a baby into this life ... it's so screwed up, I can't even put a roof over my own head!"

ESTHERS promised to do the journey with her. We told her she's not alone and we said - we are in this together - boots and all, no matter what the future held.

"We are here for you, and we are with you."

We called around the shelters, but they were all full. We fed her, gave her towels and toiletry items, and offered her the use of the shower in the building that houses our office. We gave her warmer blankets, and a fuel card to put extra fuel in her car so she could keep the motor and heater running overnight.

We assisted her to contact the housing gateway and kept an eye out for suitable properties for her. Her low income meant most rental properties were out of her reach. She found temporary housing on and off, and finally moved temporarily to Burnie to take up emergency accommodation in a shelter.

During this time, we checked on her progress, ensured she made her ante-natal appointments. Within our capacity, we ensured her basic needs were met.

Finally, through sheer persistence, Gina was offered a home through Housing Tasmania in the South. We were amazed at how quickly she furnished her house through Facebook groups, and charity second-hand shops! We sourced a fridge for her, and baby items and clothing.

With Gina's most basic needs met, we started working on her other issues. This included our attachment and bonding program, that teaches a mum the importance of bonding with her baby and how to create a healthy attachment. We also addressed her mental health.

Gina was thrilled to learn about herself, how her negative thoughts were affecting what she believed about herself, and how those beliefs affected her behaviour.

Gaye recalls, "It's an indescribable honour to be with someone when they have an "aha" moment, when suddenly the penny drops in place."

Pre-birth drama

Two weeks before Gina was due to have her baby - she called ESTHERS distraught and fearful as Child Safety had contacted her and she feared losing her baby. Gina's mental health was in question and Child Safety wanted a mental health assessment done to ensure the safety of the baby.

For ESTHERS, this started a huge journey navigating the Child Safety system. We were about to demonstrate to both ourselves, and those involved in this case, just what it means to do the journey with someone. What it really means to put our promise into action:

"We are for you, and we are with you."

And post-birth drama . . .

Just three days after Gina had her baby, the same day her milk came in and she could give baby her first real feed, Child Safety took the baby into care.

Gina was expecting to continue supervised visits with ESTHERS and her baby at the hospital for another week. This didn't happen. Five long days passed before Gina saw her baby again. Five gruelling days of utter heartache and despair for her.

The first court appearance was the day after bub was taken into care. As Gaye was scheduled to have a biopsy, an ESTHERS volunteer mentor accompanied Gina to court. Child Safety were issued with a 6-week temporary care order, so a psychological assessment could take place before placing bub back into Gina's care.

From there, ESTHERS began supervising visits for mum and bub for as often and as long as their limited resources allowed. Their service stepped up the volunteer hours and through a combination of Child Safety supervision and our own, mum and bub had five visits each week for 2-hours/day over a two-week period. This is often unheard of, as the human resources aren't available to other organisations.

At the second court appearance (which was adjourned) ESTHERS negotiated extra hours with Child Safety for mum and bub, which resulted in overall more hours - twice a week for 6 hours a day.

Bonding issues

Sadly, the bonding and attachment education ESTHERS had given Gina earlier, now meant she recognised the trauma being caused through the broken attachment. This broke Gina's heart. She had worked so hard.

At the sixth week Gina was back in court, now with a Mental Health assessment, and Gaye had written a full report on ESTHERS work, including observations during supervised visits.

After many discussions back and forth between lawyers before court, Gina's lawyer came and talked to her. She looked at Gina with a solemn face and said, "You're taking her home!"

Gina cried. So did Gaye. Even the lawyer shed a tear. It was a glorious moment for Gina - her hard work had paid off.

Today, Gina and her baby are really well, and she has recently applied and been accepted to university. Gaye visited Gina and her baby recently, and sitting on the floor playing with baby, she told her a friend had asked her to go to church.

Gina is aware of Gaye's faith and the organisation's faith base. For professional reasons ESTHERS cannot share any more than an awareness. But they can pray. Gina agreed to go to church. She said she enjoyed it and is going back.

Choosing life: Against the odds

Gina's case is not an isolated one. Sadly, through unrealistic expectations of self, and even fear of asking for help, many women who choose to parent against the odds still lose their babies. In fact, these are the types of cases where some would suggest that termination of a perfectly healthy child is justified, and the mother is encouraged to do so. She is often even made to feel guilty for not terminating.

PLEASE PRAY FOR GINA, AND OTHERS, WHO ARE TRYING THEIR BEST TO CARE FOR THEIR BABY

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