Minister to the lost sheep, deacons urged

Ministering to lost sheep offers great rewards, says Riverina Bishop at ordination ceremony

PHOTO: Janine Eastgate

By Stephen Cauchi

February 5 2018Ministering to society’s lost sheep offered “extraordinary” learning opportunities and unmatched rewards, an ordination service for deacons at St Paul’s Cathedral was told on the weekend.

The Bishop of Riverina, the Right Revd Rob Gillion, also stressed the importance of prayer in tough times and reminded the deacons that God doesn’t call the equipped, but rather equips the called.

The deacons, 15 men and five women, were ordained by the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, on Saturday February 3.

Bishop Gillion, who delivered the sermon at the service, urged the deacons to “make yourself available and search out the marginalised”.

“Perhaps leave your vicar to look after the 99 while you venture after the one that’s gone astray,” he said.

“The extraordinary thing I have found is that those on the edge teach us far more than we can teach them.”

He gave as an example a Chinese triad leader he ministered to while chaplain of a high-security prison in Hong Kong.

He visited the triad leader - who spent 13 years of his 19 year sentence in solitary confinement - every week and helped to turn him to Christ.

The triad leader was a talented artist and Bishop Gillion asked him to draw for the parish magazine, illustrate bible stories for Sunday School, and design Christmas cards and youth group t-shirts.

“After a few years, as our relationship deepened, so his faith in Jesus was slowly fanned into flame. We became soul friends.”

After the triad leader was released, he opened a tattoo parlour in Hong Kong that included such rich and famous clients as UK footballer David Beckham and a middle-eastern Sultan.

Bishop Gillion visited the parlour, where a tattoo design of the Cross was “pride of place among the skulls and Chinese dragons.” The triad leader also gave him a tattoo.

“He thanked me for introducing him to Jesus and sharing my faith with him….he designed (the tattoo) and I suffered!”

Bishop Gillian said the triad leader was an example of a man chosen by God not for his past, but for his potential.

“I saw in him an artist and a man of real passion. He had made some wrong turns but God saw in him such potential.

“When (Jesus) chose Simon Peter he didn’t see the fisherman, he saw the preacher at Pentecost. Matthew – not the tax collector but a gospel writer. Thomas – not a doubter but a courageous man who proclaimed ‘my Lord and my God!’

The lives of the disciples showed that “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called”.

“Jesus invested himself into the disciples to see his character flow out of their lives. I wonder what potential Jesus sees in each of you.”

Bishop Gillion also mentioned Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and the call to put on the armour of God.

While the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith and helmet of salvation were all important, he said, “the most important and often neglected addition” was the “polish of prayer”.

“Without it our faith can soon be tarnished, and we find chinks in the armour. With prayer we are constantly enriched and restored.

“The polish of prayer is essential, before we embark on any new adventure in mission or set out on a new day.”

Believers should be accused of “praying too much”, he said.

Click here for the full text of the sermon.