Australian church reaches marginalized youth

by | Sep 30, 2001 | Charisma Archive

Meeting in a warehouse, a church of mostly 20-somethings has rescued people from suicide and homosexuality
By the time Jane Summers (real name changed) of Brisbane, Australia, was 21, she had moved 25 times, lived with six lesbian girlfriends, marched in four gay-pride parades, spent more than $5,000 on drugs and had flings with more than 50 people of both sexes, including one transsexual.


Then, two years ago, a fellow acting-school student offered her another new experience. They went together to Christian City Church Westside (CCCW), and that day Jesus became Summers’ “best mate,” she says.


“I went up for a prayer. I’d been to fortunetellers, and I thought I was going to experience the same thing. Boy, was I wrong,” Summers said. “I cried: ‘I’m sorry, Jesus. I didn’t know. I wasted so much time.’ The presence of God hit me like a freight train.”


Brisbane’s inner-city West End neighborhood hosts a large student population amid a milieu of theater, music and arts. The lifestyle of the area removes moral boundaries. Drugs and extramarital sex are rife, as is youth suicide.


Grant Windle, senior pastor of CCCW, founded the church in 1995 with his wife, Cheryl; their sons, Joel and Ben; and several who shared their vision to create a culturally relevant church that would connect with the area’s youth. Meetings were held in community halls, but the young church struggled.


“For five years the church I was looking at did not resemble the church I had in my heart,” Windle said. “That can be a pretty tough scenario year after year.”


Then, some 20 months ago, they leased and renovated a West End warehouse. Suddenly the church burst into growth.


“It started with one or two from the acting [community] that got dramatically saved, and then they brought somebody, and then they brought somebody else,” he said. “Before long we had quite a crowd.”


The current congregation of 200 has an average age of 24. Windle is careful not to force newcomers into a mold but to accept them for who they are. “They come into our church and think: These people are just like me. They look like me; they dress like me; they’re into the same things I’m into.”


Bradford Power, 23, was the friend who introduced Summers to Westside. “After three failed relationships with girls I began to question my identity and sexuality,” he said. “The gay scene introduced me to recreational drug-taking. Every weekend was an escape from my search for love. I was lonely, insecure and afraid that no one could truly love me.

“I was desperate, so one night I cried out to God, ‘If You’re real, please help me!’ Two weeks later my flatmate Cindy got saved and led me to the Lord.”


Windle believes social change has stranded many churches, leaving them powerless to influence people such as Summers and Power. Though Windle focuses on genuine conversion and renewing the mind in Christ, he also fosters a party atmosphere.


“We’ve deliberately done that so they can bring their friends to church,” he said. “They’re bringing people all the time. I’d say 90 percent of the unsaved people who walk through the doors respond to the altar call. There are people who get saved every Sunday.”


For Korinne Bradley, 19, salvation came just in time.


“I attempted suicide at least seven times before I even left secondary school. In 2000 I was a top student at university, politically active on campus, talented and [in] medical school. By all accounts I had a bright future,” Bradley said.


“Despite all I had going for me, I felt no reason to live. Then somehow I ended up at a youth home group and gave Jesus my heart. I knew I really wanted to live, so I began to fight back for my life.


“I fought through my depression, my past abuse, my lesbianism, my pain. God gave me back my life.” Bradley was taken in by one of CCCW’s few families, who Bradley said has “built me up so I could face the world again.”


Windle honors God for the growth, but stresses it is only a beginning.


“The evidence is in the changed lives and the mobilization of these young people. They’re going to preach; they’re going to go for it. They’re going to be awesome in what they do.”
–Adrian Brookes in Australia

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

During the past two years, I believe the church at large has been in a season of returning to God. Repentance is crucial when it comes to revival. Scripture shows a clear pattern that repentance precedes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Joel 2:12-28 and Acts...

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

All of us at some point will hit a place of getting the wind knocked out of us. We all experience unexpected detours and times when there seems to be no way out. But there is One who lives in us, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us the strength to overcome obstacles....

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Whether it is the Spirit leading or forbidding in the book of Acts, or the Spirit leading throughout Christian history, it’s clear that the leading of the Spirit is important. In the Old Testament, it appears that the Spirit of God could be withdrawn completely from...

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Everyone has a race to run. That just means we all have a life to live. The apostle Paul says in Hebrews 12:1 (NIV), “Therefore...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for...

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am the Consuming Fire’

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am the Consuming Fire’

God says that during this season, He is turning up the heat, finding the gold and bringing His refining fire. Job makes a powerful statement of faith as he says of the Lord, "When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold." God knew Job's heart and Job knew the heart...

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

In 1971, I was invited to spend one month in Singapore at a new institute that had been started by John Haggai. It was still in the formative stages then—a place where Asian church leaders would be trained and challenged to witness for Christ. Today, more than 40...

RECENT ARTICLES

Bill Johnson: Reformers Are Arising to Transform Our World for Christ

Throughout history, reformers have lived with the conviction of the superiority of the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform individual lives, communities, and ultimately, nations. Recently I had the...
37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

It was a Pentecost bloodbath and most Christians never heard about it. More than 50 Christians were killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks on Nigerians this year. Scores of gunmen rushed in to kill Christians in the midst of worship. All told, over 360 million...

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

One of the most amazing facts about the Founding Fathers of our nation is this: The one referred to as the "voice" of the revolution (John Adams) and the one referred to as the "pen" of the revolution (Thomas Jefferson) both died on the same day—July 4, 1826—exactly...

Why Did God Give ‘This’ to Me?

Why Did God Give ‘This’ to Me?

It’s a question I frequently hear. It’s one I’ve asked. And maybe it’s one you’ve asked, too. The question is, “God, why did You give this to me?” This can be any number of issues, from emotional or psychological struggles to symptoms or sicknesses, disabilities or...

No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

I sense it. And I perceive a growing number of people in massive proportions sense the increasing momentum of power and might worldwide. Something is on the horizon—something more eerie and ominous than what the people of the world have ever before experienced. Even...

Pin It on Pinterest