Meeting Challenges Down Under with a Smile

We were especially grateful to be joined by CEO of Langham Australia Gillean Smiley on this month’s Langham Live, as it was 2am her time – that’s commitment!

Please use the prayer points at the bottom of the page to guide your prayers for the work in Australia.

Gillean shared her testimony, having been brought up in a Christian home, with parents who prayed faithfully for her and her five siblings. All of them now are following the Lord, and she is blessed with a large extended family.

The Lord brought her to work for Langham after twists and turns in her professional life, including being a high school teacher, working in daycare, being a public servant and the Assistant Director of the Botanical Gardens South Australia.

Engaging with the Bible at the deepest level

She heard God’s call to work for the Bible Society, and after a number of years it was a “natural progression” to move on to Langham: from wanting everybody to have access to a Bible in their own language, to everybody having access to good Bible teaching. Gillean knows it’s vital for people to have the Bible “explained to them and be able to really explore it in a way that enables them to engage with it at the deepest level”.

John Stott
Many supporters of Langham in Australia came on board through a connection with John Stott, Langham’s founder.

Her role as Langham CEO involves everything from liaison at an international level, being a member of the Langham International Council, but also emptying the waste paper basket: “it’s all hands on deck!” as it’s a small team.

A major aspect of Langham Australia’s work recently has been engaging with younger people in order to boost the age profile of their supporter base.

Gillean explained: “remarkably we find that the majority of people who engaged with Langham certainly as it was being established were people who had a personal connection with John Stott, people who’d either been impacted by his teaching or read his books or had in some way come into contact with him”.

The next generation

So now, Langham Australia attends conferences and engages with like-minded people. They also visit churches and seek to share about Langham with theological colleges, where the next generation of ministers are being raised up.

A key aspect of reaching a younger profile of supporters has been employing “Young Adult Engagement Coordinators” whose brief is to try and connect with a younger demographic.

These two men have started a monthly meeting, a book club (reading books by Majority World authors) and are working on releasing a series of podcasts to grapple with issues relevant to young people.

Gillean shared that this is a challenge for most Christian charities, as giving to missions isn’t necessarily how younger people have been raised.

The University of Sydney where Scholar Crystal is studying. We cannot share photos of Crystal or name her home country for security reasons.

Involvement with Scholars and Preaching

But Langham Australia is not just involved in raising funds and awareness. Currently two Langham Scholars are studying with Australian institutions. One is on a split site programme so he’s mostly working at home in Uganda and coming once a year for a short trip in Australia. The other, Crystal, is from East Asia and is very close to completing her studies.

Gillean said: “We would particularly appreciate prayer for Crystal because it’s proving to be quite a challenge for her to be able to return to her home country. There are challenges in being able to find an appropriate theological College where she will be free to do her work free of government interference and other pressures.”

Langham Australia is also very involved in the Langham Preaching work on the islands of the South Pacific.

Gillean explained: “One of the big challenges is there are very small islands scattered around the South Pacific and it’s very expensive to travel between them or to be able to travel to them. Even though it’s not necessarily one of the largest parts of the Preaching programme, it is one that requires a lot of support.”

Prayers for Langham Preaching in remote areas of Australia

Another aspect of the Langham Preaching programme in Australia is expanding the work with indigenous Australian people in remote areas. Gillean said: “We’ve already started working with some of the urban Aboriginal folk but the remote areas are a very great challenge and one that we could really appreciate prayer and support for.”

Langham Preaching is hoping to expand the work with indigenous Australians in very remote areas of the country.

During the call, Gillean shared the pressures facing the Church in Australia, as the country has become more secularised:

“Unfortunately there are some parts of the church who are um compromising their their own position and their their faith in order to try and have a stronger connection with Society in general and so we have a problem with a an increasingly liberal Church.”

One side-effect affecting Langham is the way the Government is not allowing Langham Australia to claim the equivalent of ‘Gift Aid’ on supporters’ donations, which is affecting their ability to approach foundations for grants (and preventing more money being raised).

Prayer Points

Please use the following prayer points when lifting up the work of Langham Australia:

  • Pray for the focus on developing a new, younger support base through the Young Adults Engagement Coordinators
  • Pray for the ongoing work in the South Pacific and especially for the indigenous Australian work
  • Pray for the Board in Australia, especially the Chairman Jill McGilvray, who is also the International Chairman, and has overseen amazing growth in the role and participation of the International Council
  • Pray for the Scholars studying in Australia, especially Crystal who is facing challenges in being able to return to her home country in East Asia when she finishes early next year
  • Pray for the small LPA staff, dealing with a very large country, that we might have wisdom, energy and opportunity to grow our impact

Please do join us for the next Langham Live call at the end of October.