Southland Christian Ministry Training

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After Bali

It has been a couple of months since the 10th Anniversary of the Bali Bombing, and though some might consider a trip to Bali a holiday, I can assure you it was work! Since then, I attended the Protestant Chaplain’s retreat which also challenged me to ponder the ultimate questions about life and death. I shared with many who after ten years are still struggling to understand why they had to endure such pain and suffering, and why did God allow this event to claim the life of their son… daughter… partner…? Before I had time to recover from all that we were informed of another Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan.

I’ve got to admit that I don’t have all the answers as to why these things happen. When confronted by death, pain and suffering, all those religious platitudes have a hollow sound. To say that God loves you and cares about you in your pain and loss may be true, but there are times when we need something more. We need to experience God, but sadly all too often people have gone to formal religion and not found him.

Recently I heard quoted the following census figures:

In 1911, 96% of Australians called themselves Christians,

by 1976 that had fallen to 89% and in 2011 it was only 61%.

So, we should not be surprised to find that there are a lot of people out there who just don’t know where to go to find God, and the help they need to keep living. My role is to help you in your search. That is why I went to Bali, that is why I am here at RAAF Base Wagga. I may not have all the answers, but I know the one who does and maybe I can introduce you to Him.

One of the people I shared with in Bali was Danny Hanley who lost two daughters as a result of the bombing and below is part of what he shared in the service:

“It is true we lost loved ones that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Jesus. Leave the broken, irreversible past in his hands, and step out into an invincible future with him.”

He met God, and that made all the difference. Have you? In fact that’s what the Christmas story is all about!

Chaplain Ian S Whitley