The decision, described as the equivalent of removing Wimbledon from the world tennis circuit, has removed a key event of the world professional tour, which now has been reduced to 10 events. (www.smh.com.au)
The article went on to explain that it is a decision that has far greater significance for Billabong and South African surfing. Jeffreys Bay, on the east coast of South Africa midway between Port Elizabeth and East London, has one of the most perfect waves on the planet. The enormous crescent-shaped bay funnels the massive Antarctic swells that sweep up the east coast of Africa each winter, to form one of the fastest rideable surfing competition scenarios in the world.
For years it has been home to one of Billabong's biggest and most successful licences. The decision to downgrade the event has been interpreted as a signal that not only is Billabong's founder Gordon Merchant back in control (who is based in Burleigh on the Gold Coast), but he is deadly serious about resurrecting the company's fortunes.
Salutary lesson for churches and missions
This is a salutary lesson for many Christian mission agencies. The wisdom is that Missions require a broad data-base and it may come as a surprise to many outside the faith financing of missions' arena, that many missions depend not on the one or two large donors, but rather a host of widows and widowers who are astonishingly faithful with their monthly gifting.
As these treasured elderly people are called to Glory, it is a necessity of life Missions constantly need to be spreading their message to an ever widening network of possible supporters.
My wife and I have been a faith financed missionaries for 30 years. We were advised many years ago to established a wider net of regular financial supporters as many of our supporters will eventually be drawn to their twilight years.
This has not been easy as we realise that Christian young people need to be supporting their 'peers' engaged in mission, not necessarily those who have been around for decades. In the past three years we have seen seven faithful monthly elderly benefactors rewarded to Glory or moved into other situations.
We have engaged, an in-house program to invite the adult children of those supporters to take up the slack, and linked in with those who serve as volunteers in our Well-Being Australia mission.
Missions around the world send an untold amount of Christian fund raising literature through the post or increasingly on-line to meet their financial needs and some have even moved to professional fund raisers.
The Holy Spirit
After these 30 years in faith finance, we have perceived it is more to do with the Holy Spirit than business techniques. The Lord has never seen our family and ministry destitute nor have we ever had more than that which was required to meet our family's needs or missions' activities. This has included large sponsored gifting for respite facilities and art galleries.
The essence of mission funding is Philippians 2 verse 10: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, the things under the earth, And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
In recent months we have heard some disturbing stories by faithful givers to Missions who were called home, and their families have reported not one note of a thank-you for such faithfulness. These stories are not uncommon. My late father (died 2002), said that after mum died in 1995 after a life time of generous and sacrificial giving to selected missions, not one of those missions, wrote to dad to say thank you.
The biblical illustration is resplendent. Jesus healed 10 lepers and only one returned to say thank you.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html