Question. What do koala bears, kangaroos, dingoes, the Great Barrier Reef, the Outback, and Baptists have in common?
Wait a minute. All those mentioned are familiar to Australia, but Baptists?
Well, there are lots of Baptists in Australia and a whole lot more throughout the world. And they are all coming to Melbourne, Australia Jan. 5-9, 2000 for the 18th Baptist World Congress. Okay, maybe not all of them. But many are.
And there will be many Southern Baptists from the United States attending this once-every-five-years event in beautiful southern Australia.
The SBC Executive Committee and Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer, have joined with Wilcox World Travel and Tours to provide a special opportunity for Southern Baptists to join the world's other Baptists for the Melbourne celebration.
Five exciting tours, all escorted by SBC representatives, are planned for Southern Baptists, Chapman said.
"A church can say 'thank you' to its pastor and his wife, or a special anniversary in recognition of the years he has been its pastor, or his birthday, or a wedding anniversary," Chapman said. "There are numerous ways a congregation may want to give a 'love' gift for the years the pastor has so faithfully and unselfishly given himself in ministering to the church family.
"What could be a more meaningful gift than to send the pastor and his wife to the 18th Baptist World Congress in Melbourne?" Chapman said.
Add a new millennium, meeting Baptists from all over the world in worship, celebration, and Bible study, and you may have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"I can assure you they will come home refreshed, renewed, and inspired in the work to which our Lord has called them," Chapman added. "Deacons and church leaders could accompany the pastor for a wonderful trip."
Theme for the World Congress is "Jesus Christ Forever, Yes!"
"On behalf of Australian Baptists, I extend a warm welcome to you. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the beginning of the 21st century than meeting with the world family of Baptists," said John Edmondstone, national president of the Baptist Union of Australia. "Our confident hope is that it will mark a fresh wind of the Spirit that will touch us all."
Some of the renowned speakers scheduled include Nilson do Amaral Fanini, president of the Baptist World Alliance and a global evangelist from South America; Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, and popular speaker and award-winning author; Tim Costello, Australia's leading Baptist; and Henry Beecher Hicks, one of America's outstanding African American preachers. Southern Baptist Bible study leaders include Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God study founder; Ken Hemphill, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Dellanna O'Brien, retired executive director-treasurer of the Woman's Missionary Union; Robert Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board; and Morris H. Chapman.
Also, there will be features at the Congress for pastors, youth, a Global Festival with interactive exhibits, book and music store, women's and men's rallies, mission in action projects, evangelistic/ethnic opportunities, Bible studies, and lots of singing, choirs, soloists, bands, orchestras, praise, and worship.
The five tours sponsored by the Executive Committee and Wilcox World Travel have limited space, officials said, and registration is encouraged as soon as possible. With one of the tours you not only get to attend the World Congress in Melbourne but also a chance to visit some of the wonderful sites in Australia and New Zealand where Baptists are helping people's lives to change through Jesus Christ.
The tours include: 10-day Sydney tour, Jan. 3-12; 14-day, Australian Outback and Great Barrier Reef tour, Jan. 3-16; 14-day Australia and New Zealand tour, Jan. 3-16; 15-day Country Australian and Sydney tour, Jan. 3-17; and a 22-day Grand South Pacific tour, Dec. 28, 1999 through Jan. 18, 2000.
For information on these tours, call 1-800-2-WILCOX (1-800-294-5269) and ask for the SBC Group Division, Ext. 777. Or you can find the information on the Internet at www.wilcoxtravel.com.