Shirtfronting havoc at G20

abbot and putin

Two weeks away from the G20 meeting in Brisbane, typical press stories have started to appear. They set out a narrative that’s all about conflict: Vladimir Putin is seen as the bad boy of the meeting whom the Australian Prime Minister is keen to put in his place; and already police have already started to talk about security problems.

PM Abbott is angry about the loss of Australian lives in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and in a colourful Aussie turn of phrase said he will “shirtfront” the Russian President.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner of Brisbane police, Katerina Carroll has warned, “There are some groups we know who will come to (the G20) to create disorder and to basically wreak havoc.”

The tendency to report on high level political meetings as personal testosterone fuelled dramas – Tony Abbott vs Vlad Putin and the police vs activists – fulfills the demands of newsworthiness. The Courier Mail in Brisbane has gleefully claimed, “police are bracing for an ­invasion of interstate and overseas thugs.”

But this style of talk and news reporting masks the real work of this G20 gathering involving thousands of negotiators from official delegations, journalists, security staff and civil society groups.

It’s designed to make people nervous but does not help us understand what is really going on.

The G20 will be talking mainly about financial issues, not usually a topic to excite great passion, but actually of vital importance to all of us. Jobs depend on businesses making the right decisions and the wealth of nations depends on generating taxes.

So hundreds of local Christians are going to be holding worship events and public actions to amplify the voice of churches around the world to talk about God’s economic agenda. As Dave Andrews, a respected Brisbane church leader says,

“Our churches want to find a strong-but-gentle way of confronting the worst aspects of predatory capitalism, with dignity, integrity and grace.”

We will not shirtfront or act like thugs, and we will hopefully represent God with dignity and grace over the next two weeks.

Isaiah 51:4,5 says “Pay attention my people. Listen to me nations. Revelation flows from me. My decisions light up the world.”

I pray God’s light shines in the meeting rooms of the G20 and in the media reporting.

80,000 voices from 172 nations going to Brisbane


Waiting at Heathrow for plane to Australia. It’s a trip I’ve done many many times but none with this much scary significance.

Christians in Australia will represent over 81, 450 people from 172 nations who have signed the Global Call – people from Vietnam, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, Andorra, The Bahamas and China. From Slovenia, Malta, Nigeria, Romania and Suriname. It’s been wonderful to see the global response. People everywhere want to stop corruption.

We all know it’s not right and in the last year, we have also taken action rather than just shrugging our shoulders in despair or blaming other people for the problem.

As well as the 80,000 signatures – most of them signed in hard copy at church meetings – we have hundreds of selfies, and we have the support of the leaders of all main Christian networks – Evangelical, Pentecostal and Ecumenical – via the Open Letter.

All of these actions will be prayed over, and presented to political leaders in the coming weeks. There’ll be a  youth worship night on Friday 7th with Hillsong and Tim Costello; a contemplative worship time followed by a big public event on Saturday the 9th in Queen St Mall where we’re hoping 500 people will call for action on tax evasion; and a business roundtable with leading business people like Graham Power from South Africa, academics, Graeme Cooper and Ranjit Voola; and Greg Thompson from Transparency International on Tuesday.

Can we make a difference? Certainly.

God’s integrity, power and goodness are bigger than the kingdoms of earthly rulers – yet we also know the might of lies and greed.

So please pray for a turnaround in the attitude of corporations, governments and individuals to economic affairs. You can pray each day for 10 days from Saturday 7th to Sunday 16th.

Put it in your diary now. And could you organise your church to pray on Sunday 9th and Sunday 16th? Effective decision making could put billions more into development projects.

And in the meantime, pray for people on all sides of the tax debate to be reasoned, to listen carefully, to speak without rancour and to act with humilty.

Going to Brisbane

October 20th

I’m off to Australia this weekend to prepare for EXPOSED, #shinethelight events in Brisbane.

Lots of things on the to-do list:
1. Arrange meeting with the Treasurer to present Global Call signatures, shinethelight selfies and the Open Letter.
Together, these actions represent half a billion people!
Which is amazing.

2. Get lots of people in Brisbane involved – youth, activists, worship groups, politicians, media, Brisbane Council. And to do all that you need an uber-organiser so very grateful that Lauren, a law student in Brisbane is willing to give her time and energy to this project. Without the Laurens, Daves and Mikes, we could not represent and amplify the millions of Christians who have prayed, taken part in vigils, signed a petition and emailed a politician.

3. Blog, tweet, facebook, and contribute to our media effort. Communicating the message is important of course. How can people get excited and involved if they don’t see and hear the message.

So…..I’d love you to come with me (via this blog) as we see the impact of the EXPOSED campaign.