A Victorian church is celebrating 20 years of growth, church planting and discipleship. Gateway Adventist Centre has expanded to four established churches, seen 12 of their members enter pastoral ministry and ministered and planted churches around the world since they began in 2003.
“Gateway was started by 19-22 year-old young people supported by five adults. It has grown from 35 people in the first worship service to four churches with an average weekly attendance of 360 people”, said Johnny Wong, Elder of the church. He added that “Gateway is a unique church in Australia that has given birth to multiple churches in a relatively short time.”
Twenty years ago the fledging church was planted in the heart of Melbourne City to reach the growing inner city population, especially university aged students. Adventist Record reported on April 26, 2003, that “now a new church has been born–Gateway Adventist Centre. Care Groups are an integral part of our church and the way we worship and fellowship”.
Judy Cheng, the first treasurer of the church reflected, “sacrificial missional spirit was a vital ingredient. A young adult gave up a lucrative career in New York to be part of the church plant. Families left the comfort of the mother church to a plant with no established children programs. A grandmother on Centrelink allowance gave all she had for the church plant. Today, we praise God that more than $A9 million dollars of tithe has been returned.”
On Gateway’s 20th Anniversary Sabbath, guest speaker Pastor Graeme Christian, Victorian Conference president, challenged Gateway to continue their church planting DNA. He spoke about the example of the disciples in Acts 2 where total dependence on the Spirit coupled with a strong sense of mission. Pastor Christian charged the church “to go and make disciples and enter more areas” in the vast city of Melbourne.
Close to 400 members, guests and friends attended the combined worship with Dr Samuel Sidharta as the Divine worship speaker. The four churches gathered at Gateway Adventist Centre–Lighthouse church venue at Doncaster East. People were dressed in traditional attire to reflect the 25-plus nationalities that attend the churches.
“We appreciate the unity in diversity in Gateway,” said Joe Leeterakul, who was born in Thailand and now serves as one of the church elders.
The worship was followed by an international lunch.
Pastor Chris Guo and Pastor Steven Liu, both pastoring Gateway churches, were both baptised due to the ministry of Gateway. “Today is a high Sabbath as we viewed the baptismal video of each of the 240 people that were baptised, including me.” said Pastor Guo. Pastor Liu, who gave Bible studies to Pastor Guo when he was a seeker, rejoiced to see a young man now serving as a pastor.
This is the story of Gateway, disciples making disciples.
“It is not merely making disciples in Australia but also in 30 countries where Gateway has an impact through the Gateway alumni or training conducted by Gateway leaders,” said John Kitevski, an elder at Gateway. He added that “by running a 3-month Bible school and providing a field school at Gateway, we have seen 12 young men became pastors and 11 churches planted outside of Gateway.”
Training disciples continues to be a core value of Gateway church.