Author Charles Ringma gains AM honour

Charles Ringma

Charles Ringma, a contender for the most prolific Australian Christian Author, has been made a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the King’s Birthday Awards.

His citation reads, “The Reverend Dr Charles Richard Ringma For significant service to theology, to the community, and to youth.” Ringma has had over 30 books published – the most recent on missional spirituality published by Langham Global called “In the Midst of Much Doing”.

Born in the Netherlands in 1942, he migrated to Meanjin/Brisbane with his parents when he was ten years old. His BD came from the Reformed Theological College – unsurprising for someone of Dutch descent – and he founded Teen Challenge in Australia.

In 1991, he was appointed as a lecturer at the Asian Theological Seminary (ATS), Metro Manila, Philippines and was also involved in work with the urban poor. In 1995 he was appointed Professor of Theology and Mission at ATS. In 1997, he was appointed as Professor of Missions and Evangelism to the faculty of Regent College, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, while continuing to teach part-time in various Asian countries. In August 2005 he retired as Emeritus Professor from Regent College.

His published works include The Seeking Heart: A Journey with Henri Nouwen, a guide to the well-known spiritual writer, and Resist the Powers, which takes the reader through Jacques Ellul’s thinking that links social responsibility and personal faith.

In warmingly commending In the Midst of Much Doing, Melbourne-based theologian Gordon Preece writes, “Charles Ringma brings his astute theological mind, big heart for the lost, vast missional experience, and the quest for a sustainable missional spirituality together in this brilliant book. He writes with a hard-earned sense of realism about individual sin and structural evil, balanced passion for evangelism and social transformation, contemplation and action, mysticism and prophesy.”

Ringma has been translated into Chinese, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Japanese, Indonesian and Korean.

Lest the announcement of this honour cast a triumphalist view over Ringma, consider this personal reflection from In the Midst of Much Doing: “My experience has been rather topsy-turvy when it comes to the topics of mission and spirituality. Neither prayer nor service has been a picnic in the park for me, and I certainly had no idea where my initial faith commitment to Christ would eventually lead. I have often felt uncomfortable in the role of a “professional” missionary or pastor, as this seemed to separate me from the very people I was seeking to serve and was often laden with huge expectations, including all sorts of statistics that were meant to prove my “success.”

“Thus, I have found it much easier to take on the informal role of seeking to be a servant of Christ and a witness to his kingdom while working in an ordinary job. You may draw your own conclusions about what this says about me! In any case, both my spiritual journey and my experience of mission have been diverse – amazing, plodding, gut-wrenching, despairing, and hopeful. There have been the glimmers of insight, whispers of heavenly love, blessings of the Spirit, and plenty of darkness and difficulty.

“In the life of faith, we can never really say, ‘I am happy with how I lived it.’ Rather, our movement through the Christian life moves not only from the darkness of sin into the light of Christ, but also from that life-giving light into the darkness of the great mystery of faith.

“Both the mountaintop and the desert are metaphors for the long journey of faith. Throughout my faith journey, I have often reflected on Meister Eckhart’s challenge: ‘When you are in low condition, and feel forsaken, see if you are just as true to him [God] as when your sense of him is most vivid and if you act the same when you think all help and comfort [is] far removed as you do when God seems nearest.'”

He speaks of times when hundreds of young people came to Christ and of planting churches among the urban poor in Manila, but also of the anguish of seeing a troubled person come to Christ only to commit suicide.

“In the life of prayer and contemplation, we experience both light and shadows. In our mission and ministry, we may be blessed to see signs of new life, but we also have to walk the long road where so little seems to happen. Whatever comes into being through the life-giving Spirit may fade so quickly with the passage of time, as if the renewal never took place.

“As Max Weber observes, charisma soon leads to routinization.”


Theologian Graham Joseph Hill was awarded an OAM “for services to theological educarion and to the Baptist Churches of Australia.”


Carolyn Kitto was awarded an OAM “For service to the community through social justice initiatives.” Kitto is national Co-director of Be Slavery Free.