Recently, I couldn’t help but think of this passage of Scripture,
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:9–10)
Let me explain.
Overwhelming Response to Overcomers Conference
From the end of June through early July, I was in Australia speaking at an Answers in Genesis conference called Overcomers (1,500 in attendance), a Christian school conference (550 Christian school teachers), and a young people’s camp. I must say, I experienced a “different” Australia from when we first started the apologetics ministry in our home in Brisbane in 1977.
Dr. Georgia Purdom and Martyn Iles (our new Chief Ministry Officer and speaker) spoke with me at the Overcomers conference, and Dr. Purdom also spoke at a women’s conference in Sydney. The 1,500 seats for the Overcomers conference were sold out within three days, with many expressing dismay they couldn’t come because it was full.
At the Overcomers conference, I had so many people come to me and plead with us to bring more solid Bible and apologetics teaching to Australia.
At the Overcomers conference, I had so many people come to me and plead with us to bring more solid Bible and apologetics teaching to Australia. These people want this! They are hungry for it. After Dr. Purdom spoke at a women’s conference in Sydney, many came up and said they are tired of so much “fluff and stuff” at conferences and that they want more “meat,” as Dr. Purdom gave. They pleaded for her to come back to do more such conferences.
At the end of the Overcomers conference in Australia, we announced that Martyn and I were coming back in March 2024 to conduct a series of conferences in the capital cities in Australia, and we opened up preregistration for the Brisbane conference at that time. We had over 1,200 preregistrations! And that’s without any other marketing! We are actually renting convention centers in each city so we can have a few thousand people in attendance. The hunger is so great, we believe we will fill those. It’s just amazing.
I had never seen such a hunger like this in Australia before. It reminded me of the hunger we see in Latin America. Whenever our ministry to Latin America, headed up by Joe Owen (who resides in Mexico), runs conferences, the auditoriums are packed to overflowing. The hunger is enormous. Now, although we get thousands of people visiting the Ark and Creation Museum attractions each day and we see wonderful responses to our conferences and numerous resources, I must admit there does not seem to be the same hunger overall as we see in Latin America and as we are now seeing in Australia.
As all this happened, I kept thinking of the man from Macedonia.
Hunger for Truth in Post-Christian Australia
When we first discussed the idea with Martyn Iles (who was still residing in Australia at the time), he told us that there is an incredible hunger from God’s people in Australia for Bible teaching and for being equipped to defend the Christian faith. He also said there was a phenomenal hunger for the truth in the younger generations like Generation Z.
Martyn has, in recent times, led major meetings across Australia in big convention centers in the capital cities. People flocked to those facilities, packing them out as they wanted to hear the Word of God preached, understand how to deal with the secular culture, and learn how to live in such a pagan culture. This was a grassroots movement—not from church leaders but from the people—led by a young man (Martyn) who clearly was like the men of Issachar “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).
I asked Martyn why there is such a hunger as I’ve not seen before (it’s been many years since I’ve spoken at a conference in Australia). He said that from his observations, Australia, a very pagan nation, is around 15 years ahead of America regarding the secularization of the culture. For the real, dedicated Christians in Australia, they have had to learn how to live in “Babylon.” They have had to learn to be like Daniel. They are bold for their faith as they stand out. And they are passionate for their faith.
Martyn also said he’s noticed in America that many Christians snipe at each other over denominational differences and nitpick interpretations of various theological words and positions. But in Australia—without giving up orthodoxy, of course—Christians have had to learn to work with each other and be more unified as they live in “Babylon.”
Now, here is something else that’s exciting. When Martyn conducted the major conferences in Australia, he had special outreaches called “The Download” for young people, particularly Generation Z. These young people also exhibited an extreme hunger for the truth of God’s Word and being equipped. They struggle with knowing how to deal with the worldview issues of the day, like LGBT, climate change, identity, etc.
Now that Martyn is in the US, he has such a heart to continue to reach these young people as well as young people in the US and other countries.
An Opportunity to Equip Young Australians
I was also thrilled to meet family after family who told me their parents supported our ministry when we first started in Australia in the ’70s and they remember as kids hearing me and being brought up on what are now Answers in Genesis resources. They shared how they are bringing their own children up on these resources, and they brought their kids (many of whom were teenagers) to the conference. They were pleading for more equipping conferences for their families.
Now, before I tell you about something that I am so excited about (and I know you will be too), let me explain a situation to you. At times, particularly on my social media, I’ve had some people complain about having to pay admission to visit the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum attractions.
However, not only do we allow ages 10 and under in free (most attractions would never do that), but our ticket prices are also not expensive compared to the secular world. But we need to have realistic prices to pay for the enormous cost of the daily running and maintenance of these facilities. Actually, for the many new exhibits and attraction upgrades, we need to raise funds from donations, as admission revenue doesn’t cover these costs.
I would say that people in America should consider themselves blessed. Let me tell you why. While in Australia, I had many families say to me something like, “People in America are so blessed. It’s so much easier for them to take their families to the Ark and Creation Museum. We would so love to come, but it costs around $3,000 a person just for airfare to the US at the moment, let alone all the other costs (accommodations, food, other transport) associated with such a trip.”
I really get burdened when I hear this from families. Oh, how I wish they could all come. Yes, I do believe people in America are blessed.
Now, Martyn and I discussed how we could help young people in Australia. And we came up with an idea. At Christmastime, when most Australians have vacation time (like our summer vacation time, June–August, here in America), we just don’t have enough seasonal workers to help at our Christmas events at the Ark and museum.
What if we offered these Australian young people a place to stay in our on-site housing facility at the Ark, and they came over to be with us for 10 or more days? They would then volunteer to work during our Christmas events to help us with our staffing needs, and we would run teaching programs for them; and of course, they would get to spend time during the day in our attractions as well. With dormitory-style housing for 48 males and 48 females, along with staff who have volunteered to drive vans to transport them between the attractions, all these young people would need to do is pay for a plane ticket and pay a nominal amount for meals.
You see, there’s nothing in Australia like the Ark or Creation Museum.
You see, there’s nothing in Australia like the Ark or Creation Museum. There are no Christian universities in Australia to speak of. These young people do not have the Christian opportunities we have here in America. It’s another way in which America is blessed. And even though we see how pagan America has become, as Martyn said, America is still very Christian compared to Australia.
When Martyn announced this to the contacts he has in Australia, 70 young people immediately applied. Either they or their parents have committed to pay for their airfares. What a phenomenal opportunity for these young people to be impacted by our ministry and be able to help us at the same time.
The demand for this is so high, Martyn believes we could (if we were able) run this program about three times a year and also run programs from other countries. Right now, we can only do this once a year because we use our on-site housing to accommodate all the out-of-state seasonal staff during the busy summer season. But if we had a second building, we could use it for ministry impact like this throughout the entire year for young people from both overseas and America. I think God is burdening us and opening up opportunities that we haven’t had before. Now that’s a lot to pray about!
An Investment with Eternal Value
In many ways, we are subsidizing this outreach (called Catalyst) to Australian young people—but that’s part of our mission. And as the AiG ministry begins to be established in Australia now with Martyn overseeing it, we will be subsidizing that too. Although we’ve already had some Australian Christians give generously toward the conferences in March, I believe the Australian ministry can get on its own feet fairly quickly as we invest in reaching the country with the truth of God’s Word and the saving gospel through the AiG ministry. We already have some staff members in Australia and strong interest from others for the future. It’s all very exciting.
I believe God has brought Martyn to AiG not only to help take this ministry in the US to higher levels but also to impact Australia and other countries as we have never done before. God is opening doors. Be encouraged. I see God moving in this ministry in ways that make me just stand back in awe at what he’s doing.
Thank you, our AiG family, for supporting us prayerfully and financially. There’s nothing more important than proclaiming the truth of God’s Word and the saving gospel to this world, as that is the only answer to all the problems we see.
Please pray for these young people from Australia as they come over in December. And pray we can bring over many more—not just from Australia but from other countries. The ministry of AiG and our attractions are for the world. I have such a burden to make sure we do all we can to impact as many as we can all over the world.
I ask that you prayerfully consider supporting AiG with a gift of any size today—your support is vital to enable these impactful outreaches and help us answer the “Macedonian call”!
I trust you will be thrilled to see how your financial support is being used to help impact the younger generations who really do need to be equipped to “live in Babylon,” as our Western world (as well as other countries) is becoming more pagan daily!
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.