Australia's largest prayer gathering 20 years on!

Over the weekend of May 10-11th, termed "The Pilgrimage to Canberra" by organisers, hundreds of young people bussed and flew in to Canberra from every state to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Prayer gathering. It was a very full weekend.

Before the weekend was over they were to hear the Prime Minister's speech writer share his faith journey, see the academy award nominated short film "Most", engage with the Australian mission movement "Aussie Awakening" which was birthed in 1988 and has grown since that time to involve hundreds of young Australians in mission across Australia, and now partners with local Christians around the world.

Pilgrims also visited key sites across the National Capital helping them connect with the spirit of sacrifice that shaped our nation, hosted an open crowd festival for all those who came for the 20th anniversary of the opening of New Parliament house, prayed and celebrated through the night and watched the sun rise over Old Parliament House in a moving dawn service before jumping on the bus to head home and wish Mum "Happy Mothers Day"

Crowds of young "pilgrims" swarmed over the gigantic World War One "Amiens Gun" outside the Australian War Memorial, the capture of which marked a turning point in the war. They remembered the young Aussies whose unique spirit of mateship and sacrifice in the early part of last century forged the character that is helping communities around the globe to find new hope. They moved off singing Waltzing Matilda to stand at the memorial to Simpson and his donkey. Looking back along Anzac Parade towards Old and New Parliament House, the memory of those young lives changing the course of history strongly reflected the potential among the young people assembled there.

There may not have been 50,000 as there were in 1988, but many stood up during the all night concert and prayer vigil when they where asked who among them was ready to take on the call to sacrificial service needed to respond to communities who right now are extending a sometimes desperate "Macedonian" call to bring hope.

Invitations to Germany, Greece, Ghana, Jamaica and especially Asia this August, were among some of the mission opportunities presented to the pilgrims from which there was an enthusiastic response.

Liz (19) from Tasmania said the weekend was "a full on learning experience that explains more of who we are as Australians and God's people and inspires me to change the world!"

20 years earlier over 50,000 Christians from every state and territory had responded to the call to mark the Opening of New Parliament house with prayer.† The then prime minister, Bob Hawke, had indicated there would be no prayers at the opening in the name of Multiculturalism.† This was the catalyst for a rising up of the Australian Christian church in an historic and unique way.† Over the course of that weekend 65,000 prayers were prayed, many gathered from school children around Australia as they reflected on the future they wanted for their country.† One of the outcomes has been the Awakening movement whose first focus in the early 1990ís was to Reclaim Easter as an authentic Australian Christian family celebration.

The story of the remarkable Australian born mission movement called "Fusion Australia", started by teenagers in the 60's was told through the premier screening of a DVD titled "Fusion International - A Remarkable Story" and launch of a magazine also sharing the story of Fusion from the 60's to now.

"As we anticipated, the story of Fusion and how we began with myself and a few mates praying that God would help us reach all the youth of Australia way back in the 60's to the way we are now being invited to have a key part to play in the transformation of non-Christian countries like Sri Lanka, India, east Asia and difficult parts of West Africa, had quite an impact on the young people at the Pilgrimage to Canberra. I pray that God would continue to raise up workers for the harvest," said Mal Garvin, Founder President of Fusion International and Coordinator for the Aussie Awakening.

The Awakening movement and Fusion Australia are planning to hold the Pilgrimage to Canberra annually over Pentecost weekend and the National Day of Thanksgiving for at least the next two years till 2010. Next years Pilgrimage will be held on the weekend of 30-31st May 2009.

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