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18 August 2016

What were the Arthurs doing down under?

Eddie Arthur Eddie Arthur
Sydney Opera House (Eddie Arthur pic)

Eddie and Sue Arthur, two of our Sent Mission Partners, recently spent some time in Australia. We asked Eddie to tell us why they went.

We were tourists in Australia. We walked around the Sydney Opera House, took photos of the Harbour Bridge (which is inferior to the Wearmouth bridge in my, not unbiased, opinion) and took the ferry out to Manly. We took a train out to the Blue Mountains and saw kangaroos out of the window on our way back. We also drove for hours and hours on a long straight road without appearing to cover any distance at all on the map – it’s a big country, Australia!

However, whilst it was fun doing the touristy things, that wasn’t why we were there; it was work, honest. Missions' Interlink is the Australian national mission’s movement, and this year they held a conference in Sydney and a one-day workshop in Perth. I was the main speaker at both events.

Sydney Harbour Bridge (Eddie Arthur pic)

The Sydney conference, in particular, was excellent. There was lots of good input from Australian mission leaders, which I found both fascinating and challenging. I wish I’d taken a few more notes. Sue gave a seminar on training Bible translators at a distance, which was very well received. I gave a couple of seminars, too, but my main input was lengthy sessions teaching from the book of Acts and applying it to contemporary mission situations. It was really encouraging to see a bunch of mission leaders getting to grips with the Scriptures and using them as a lens through which to view the issues that they face on a day-to-day basis.

The Perth workshop was more intense. There was less input from others and I gave my three talks back-to-back, despite suffering from the worst virus that I’ve had in years.

Being in Australia was a great experience. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit, but which I never dreamed that I’d see. I’ve always liked Australians and the good-natured teasing which typifies most interactions between Aussies and Poms. I quite like being heckled when I’m speaking at a conference!

Eddie Arthur in Australia

However, the big question is what was I doing there in the first place? Why would people pay for me to travel halfway round the world to speak at a conference? If I get invited to speak at conferences in the UK, it’s usually to give poorly attended seminars on mission, not to be the main speaker. There are much bigger-name speakers who they could have invited (at much less cost) from within Australia. So why did they invite me?

In a sense, the answer has very little to do with me. The conference organisers wanted someone from outside of their context, someone who could bring a different perspective and approach to the issues that they face, and who has a background in mission. Through a number of mutual friends, my name cropped up and I was invited. Inviting a relative unknown to their conference was a bit of a risk, but one that seemed to pay off.

Just a thought: when did you last listen to a talk or read a book by someone from outside of your usual circle?


Image credits: © Eddie and Sue Arthur, used by permission.

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