An Athlete, an Entrepreneur, and More Share at “Down Under” Conferences

God at work in New Zealand and Australia

March 6, 2024

Between January 11–26, Gabriel Cleator and his wife Sara traveled to both New Zealand and Australia to help with the Family Conferences there. The theme for both conferences was “In Everything by Prayer.”

The trip started in Foxton, New Zealand, less than two hours from Wellington, the nation’s capital. Conference speakers included Gabriel Cleator, plus Evan Tyler and Isaiah Smith, as well as live video sessions presented by Pastor John Huffman, Pastor David York, and Angelo Oliverio. They also had an encouraging video session with Colin Noble, a Christian entrepreneur from Western Australia.

The families eagerly received the Biblical teaching and enjoyed the uplifting fellowship with others. One family with young children attended for their first time. They appreciated the fellowship and spiritual encouragement so much that the family may extend a preplanned trip to the United States and attend the Big Sandy Family Conference in April!

Ten days later, on January 21, the Australia Family Conference began. The Australia young people’s program focused on running the race of the Christian life with their eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of their faith. They learned how Scripture teaches that they, through the power of Christ, need to set aside those activities or practices that hinder their relationship with Him. As they lay aside those “weights” (hindrances), they can better focus on Christ and run the “race” (life) that Christ has for them to live.

One highlight for the young people was hearing a message from a professional Christian athlete! Via video call, Arlen Glick, an American ultramarathon runner and a strong believer, spoke of his life experience. As a professional athlete, Arlen understands long distance running! He shared several practical truths with the group and spurred them on to staying faithful and running the distance in their Christian life.

Meanwhile, the parents were challenged in their sessions by various speakers to consider the importance of prayer in the Christian life. Midweek, an entire hour for prayer was scheduled into the conference time. For that dedicated time, each person was encouraged to spend five minutes praying through twelve areas (e.g., thanksgiving, intercession, and confession) of their lives. By spending five minutes praying through each section, people were able to spend one full hour talking with God. During that time, God’s people scattered about the conference venue to spend personal time with Him in prayer!

Following both the New Zealand and Australia conferences was a special “mini-conference” for fellowship, encouragement, and edification for the young people who worked diligently as support staff throughout the main conferences.

In New Zealand, the students focused on God’s desire that they be transformed into the image of Christ instead of being conformed to the world. Students were encouraged to focus on looking to God and living for Him rather than succumbing to worldly pressures. One special event was a photo scavenger hunt. The students excitedly traveled to various locations and took team pictures with sought-for items and landmarks. An event time limit required the teams to plan and prioritize the activities which would yield the most points. The discussion afterward helped the students connect the importance and impact of the choices they make.

In Australia, the young people were inspired to go deeper in their walk with God. They heard three messages by Gabriel Cleator and then participated in small discussion groups. !e students also viewed two inspiring video presentations—one from evangelist Tom Harmon and the other from Chad Christiansen.

“Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” Missionary William Carey’s famous quote was the theme of the student conference. The young people were exhorted to live wholeheartedly for Christ. The challenge was grasped as, at testimony time, many openly shared how God worked in their hearts during those two days.

Participants at all conferences expressed their appreciation for this special time to come together and be encouraged in their faith. We rejoice to see God at work in people’s lives in New Zealand and Australia!

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