“Be doers of the word, not hearers only’ came to mind as I researched the life and times of Dr Graham McLennan and his wife Pam. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians chapter 2, verse 10) a verse inspirational for the McLennans.
Graham recalls his dad made it to the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald in the 1950’s, for killing 28 snakes around their house in one day. “During the hottest times, we used to walk to school barefoot with Condies Crystals, just in case we were bitten!” he said. It may be this childhood memory, which prepared him for an active, agile lifestyle.
Graham McLennan was born in Dubbo in 1945 where he grew up and was schooled. He attended Hurlstone Agricultural High school as a boarder and finished his Dental Degree at Sydney University where he became a Christian.
He married Pam in 1969. They have 3 children and 3 grandchildren.
Graham was a Captain in the Australian Army and received the Defence Medal and the National Serviceman's Medal for services during the Vietnam War. In 1973 Graham studied with Francis Schaeffer in L'Abri, Switzerland.
He was on the executive of the National Gathering of 1988 and the Bicentennial of Christian Education in Australia in 1993, He helped initiate the National Christian Heritage Sunday celebrations in 2012.
Graham McLennan up till recently was a team member for the Australian Christian Values Institute and the National Day of Prayer and Fasting. He was the founding chairman of Rhema FM 103.5 and of the Orange (NSW) Christian School.
The Christian school is interesting. It came about in the earlyn 80’s partly from discussions on secular humanism during a Rev Fred Nile election campaign. Graham and Pam studied various Christian school movements in the USA. They observed secular humanism encroaching into the public school system.
He recalls a telling quote from The Humanist Jan-Feb 1983: "The battle for mankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their roles as the proselytisers of a new faith... these teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilising the classroom instead of the pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of educational level - pre - school, day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new - the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism."
Among his great initiatives is the National Alliance of Christian Leaders (NACL), formed in 1985. Christian leaders from around Australia met at a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) base to formulate a national alliance to provide Christians with networking connections. A Religious Freedom Institute was established to help lawyers defend Christian civil rights. NACL like salt was to act as a preservative for Christian values, Dr McLennan notes.
Key national events were jointly planned and facilitated. These included the National Gathering, which brought over 50,000 Christians to celebrated the opening of the new Federal Parliament House.
“It was interesting to see how the theme changed throughout the weekend: starting with the march to Parliament House – to prayer, reconciliation, celebration and worship – as the evening prayer vigils of concern for the nation – to intercessory prayer leading to repentance and finally, at the NACL Assembly on the Monday, to humility – “If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves…” he recorded.
Dr McLennan has shared his dental expertise through outreach programmes with Healthcare Christian Fellowship Medical Camps in Vanuatu. From notes of their 2012 trip: “ 2000 patients were seen at the Lenakel Hospital, 1750 were counselled. 469 made first time decisions for Christ. One young man was converted out of a cult started by his grandfather seventy years earlier.” Dr McLennan recalls: “We did make an HCF Vanuatu record by extracting 171 teeth in one day!”
A press release from the Director General of Health (Vanuatu) said: “"The first Medical Team that visited and ministered to the people could be dated back to the early Christian Missionaries who landed on our shores more than a hundred years ago. Some of the current public health facilities in operation throughout Vanuatu today, were established by these early missionaries. The missionaries back then did not come to just share the gospel of Jesus Christ, but also they were carpenters, auto mechanics, teachers and healthcare professionals like doctors or nurses.” He received the Presidential Medal from the President of Vanuatu for 'services to the nation'.
Dr McLennan helped initiate the first Christian programme on Radio Nepal through the Message of Hope which also commenced Nepal's first Christian radio station and is a founding director of United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Vision FM, also the Australian Christian Lobby.
In 2012 Dr McLennan was chairman of the local Billy Graham Association, which hosted the outreach of evangelist Will Graham, the grandson of Rev Dr Billy Graham.
During the 1980’s his interest in Australian Christian history was developed. He started the Christian History Research website (chr.org.au). Along with the National Christian Heritage Sunday website (nchs.net.au) they receive well over a million hits per year.
Among the writing available is a PDF publication ‘The Hand of God: His Story of Australia’ by Dr Graham McLennan. “While many Australians look to a convict past with its fear of authority and feeling of inferiority, rejection, isolation and loneliness, there is another history yet to be written, that of our Christian forefathers and their faith and contribution to the kingdom of God - a positive affirmation of a nation with a providential destiny. It is encouraging to look at some of the godly elements in Australians foundations,” he wrote in an illuminating 8000 word study. (see chr.org.au)
He continues his dental surgery in Orange where he also tutors at the nearby University Dental School and supervises dental student teams to Cambodia.
Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.
His career started at WINTV (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ron Ross' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html