On January 26, 1788, Australia was claimed by the British and the Union Jack raised under the authority of Governor Phillip.
After a 36-week voyage, where all 11 ships were spared miraculously by God, the First Fleet brought the Word of God and the English form of Christian Government to the land down under.
The Bible had arrived in the Asia Pacific region under the providential hand of God.
But have you ever wondered why Indonesia, or India or one of our other near neighbours did not claim Australia for their own? Why didn’t the Muslims colonise this land? After all they had been visiting our northern shores for hundreds of years before the Europeans came.
What about the Chinese? They were some of the great explorers and traders of their day, colonising most of South-East Asia. Maps from ancient China showed the north coast of Australia, yet they never tried to settle here.
The Hindus colonised Bali, which is only a few hundred kilometres from Australia. Why didn’t they sail on and claim Australia as well?
Could it be that God had been preparing this land since time began? That He had chosen this nation as the launching pad for the Gospel into Asia, the Pacific, and the world.
After thousands of years the Holy Spirit delivered the Word of God to a part of the earth inhabited by almost two thirds of the world’s population.
Amid a virtual sea of Buddhist, Islamic, Taoist, and Hindu peoples, God was at work establishing a Christian democracy which He would use in these last days.
Remember, God makes no mistakes.
The discoveries of Captain James Cook in 1770, along with England’s need to find places for its convicts, led to great interest in a land then known as “New Holland.”
During this time John Newton, the writer of the hymn Amazing Grace, and a group known as the Eclectic Society, began considering how they could further the cause of the Gospel at the Cook-named Botany Bay.
Newton wrote “A minister who should go to Botany Bay without a call from the Lord and without receiving from Him an apostolic spirit, the spirit of a missionary, enabling him to forsake all, to give up all, to put himself in the Lord’s hands, to sink or swim, had better run his head against a stone wall.”
Enlisting the help of anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce, a member of the British Parliament, Newton’s goal was to convince the new Prime Minister William Pitt to appoint the Gospel preaching Richard Johnson as Chaplain.
As providence would have it, the man Newton approached for assistance just happened to be good friends with Pitt and their goal was achieved.
In October 1786, Richard Johnson received a royal warrant as Chaplain to the colony of New South Wales. Thanks to Newton and the generosity of the Eclectic Society Johnson brought to Australia 2,000 Bibles and other Christian books.
Providentially Reverend Johnson was the first Chaplain of New South Wales and delivered the first message and challenge to the new colony. What a testimony of God’s grace.
Heritage is something of value that has been passed down from generation to generation!
As Christians we are to pass on the heritage of our faith.
We must consider and cherish Australia’s Christian Heritage so we can:
- a) earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3)
- b) establish character, lives and families based upon Christian principles (Joshua 24:15)
- c) teach the next generation so Australia’s Christian Heritage is preserved (1 Peter 2:9)
- d) bring glory and honour to our great God (1 Timothy 1:17).
Celebrate our Christian Heritage on Australia Day Friday January 26, 2024.