Interview - Dr, Gary Forbes

Interview: Dr. Gary Forbes, Editor, Last Days Worldwatch:
September 2003

In keeping with Media Man Australia's tradition of tackling any subject, we explore the world of a religion and world events that effect us all.

After considerable research, we secured this fascinating interview with Dr. Gary Forbes.

What's your background?

I was born in Newcastle, NSW and have lived there my entire life. My father was a wharf-labourer and died of tuberculosis at age 42. I was just 11 at the time. My mother, 88 is still living in a Newcastle suburb.

I married Joy in 1966, built a house at Cardiff in Newcastle, where we still live today. We have three married children - Chris, 35 (& Mathew); Mark, 34 (& Anita) and Scott, 28 (& Lisa). My two sons are married to two sisters!

Chris & Mathew have given us three grand-children, Emma 8, Breanna 5, and Chloe 2. Mark & Anita have a son, Dominic (0).

I spent 23 years with the Hunter Water Corporation in Newcastle, the latter part of which I worked directly for the executive engineering staff. In 1986, I accepted an appointment as Asia-South Pacific Director for the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association. Over the ensuing 6 years, I flew in and out of Australia every 6 weeks directing and overseeing major evangelistic campaigns in major cities in Asia, the Pacific & Africa.

In 1990, I was appointed as Pastor of my local church, Adamstown Community Church, where our family had been attending for more than 20 years. This role involved unprecedented exposure in the community in terms of counselling, media work and growth of the church.

Early in 1999, I "retired" as Pastor and undertook management consultancy work from home.

How did you get your break in media?

In May, 2000 I accepted an appointment at Newcastle's Christian community radio station, Rhema FM 99.7 as Station Manager. For several years prior to this, I had been involved with Rhema FM's Board of Directors and also did regular on-air announcing; fulfilling a long life dream of one day being a "radio announcer".

In addition, a spot programme called "Tips for Life" was featured for 4 years on Newcastle's leading commercial radio station KO-FM 102.9.

What motivates you?

This has varied during various stages of my life, but overall I am vitally concerned with people - understanding them; contributing to their welfare and well-being. Living one day at a time is exciting and rewarding, providing you continue to look outside of yourself and beyond normal boundaries.

What are your aims and objectives?

My aims and objectives have always been to contribute something worthwhile and lasting to our community and to the world in general. It goes without saying that a major part of my life includes my wife, married children and grandchildren. Coupled with all that is an intense faith in and commitment in God.

What is the purpose of your website?

The Last Days WorldWatch website was developed four years ago for two reasons: firstly, because of my passionate interest in the Jewish people - their past history, present-day situation and future prospects - and in the Middle East situation in general. Secondly, I discovered that many people around the globe, both religious and non-religious have a similar interest. This is borne out by the number of hits on the website, currently in excess of 280,000.

How do you make a positive difference in people's lives?

Primarily by empathising with people who come into my life and by calling on my many years of experience in counseling, traveling and community work to help, encourage and "lift the spirits" of those people.

Describe a typical day for you?

Radio broadcasting is demanding and as Station Manager, I am on call 24/7. A typical weekday starts at 7am with a short telephone conversation with my Brekky Show announcer. I arrive at the office around 8.30am and take 15 minutes to give a quick check of equipment and operations.

From 9am thru 10.30am a parade of staff and personnel come through my office seeking clarification, instructions and general approval for on-going production work. During that time, telephone calls keep coming and the influx of overnight emails hits my laptop.

Before and after lunch, there will be some pre-recorded interviews, a check of on-air operations several times, more telephone calls, planning and development for expansion, financing and production of programmes.

Signing cheques and authorising expenditure and salaries take a short time of each day. Reviewing current financial balances and income takes a regular priority.

Come 5pm, most of the staff start to disappear, but closedown procedures and re-checking operations continues by a few staff members reporting directly to me. By 5.30pm, leaving the on-air announcer in control, I leave for home.

Between 6pm to 7pm, my wife and I will have dinner before I take some time to update the Last Days WorldWatch website, answer numerous emails and then relax around 8.30pm.

Often calls will come from Security or station announcing staff if a problem or situation develops and again, time is spent sorting out some problems. Occasionally, it may be necessary for me to return to the station in an emergency.

What is the answer to world peace?

History has fairly well proven that mankind is unable to bring about lasting world peace. As one war ends, another is starting somewhere in the world. The Holocaust of World War II brought cries of "never let this happen again" - yet it has, over and over again!

Because of my own personal faith, I sincerely believe that true world peace will never happen until Jesus Christ, known in the Bible as the Prince of Peace, returns to this earth as He promised and takes control.

Meantime, world leaders will continue to do their best in bringing about lasting peace, but it will evade them as always.

Are we in the end days?

It's true that people have been saying for generations and in fact, many centuries now that "these are the last days" and the "end of the world is coming".

However, as a Christian, I believe that since the crucifixion of Jesus Christ 20 centuries ago, a time-line was marked as being the beginning of the "last days". Prophecies continue to be fulfilled giving clear indication to that hypothesis.

One of the primary indicators, are the events occurring in the Middle East and hence my web site. Bible prophecy says that in the "end times" of the "last days", key factors would be seen to occur. Such as Israel being recognised by the United Nations in 1948 as a country/state in its own right; the return of Jews from all over the world to their homeland; plans ready to rebuild the Jewish temple so sacrifices can be recommenced; the threat of the Palestinians and Arabs wanting to eliminate the Jewish nation and take Jerusalem and Israel and making a Palestinian state for themselves.

Why has God permitted so many religions?

Interestingly, God's original intention was for mankind to worship, love and serve Him freely. Religion has been developed and promulgated by the human race and now generally represents an enormous departure from the Creator's original intention.

Wide variances in practices, traditions, doctrines and interpretations have, over the centuries, led to the breaking away of groups by the thousands and the establishment of new "religions"and groups, etc.

I think the general rule is this: If you remove or replace the Bible as the basis for right living, morality and principles for life, you always find a breakdown in society, community and eventually nations. The fall of the Roman Empire is well documented under 5 major headings, which include the breakdown of the family and immorality.

Australia's Uniting Church recently made a brave decision to permit gay persons to be ordained as priests in their congregations - a decision which has caused an expected major split in that denomination. The decision is seen by many as one that has been made without due regard to what the Bible has to say on the matter.

So, when human decisions replace Divine principles, you're going to end up with many "religions' and diverse thoughts.

What is the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter?

The strange thing is that many terrorists probably think in all conscience that they're freedom fighters. However, that is not true in the purest sense.

I think a terrorist is a fanatical activist, driven by an over-powering sense of zeal and fixation on accomplishing a feat, task or deed, no matter what it takes, who is killed or hurt - even if it means dying for the cause. My observations today are that particularly in the Middle East, there is such a fanaticism that appears to have been instilled into the minds and hearts of the Palestinian people right from early childhood. There is no shortage of young men and women who are prepared to die for the cause. Even more frightening is the fact that they are told and believe that they are performing these actions for and with the approval of 'Allah, their god.

On the other hand, a freedom fighter is someone who passionately believes in a good and proper cause of freeing their country and their people from a tyrannous dictator; from oppression; from selective and wholesale slaughter, and so on. They are rarely acting solely in the name of "God", and generally their intention is to secure release and freedom for their people at minimum cost in human life.

Somewhere, these definitions have become blurred in the Middle East and we see a group of people determined to simply wipe out a peace-loving nation and rid the earth of them for all time. Their fanatical leaders fill their minds with thoughts of suicide and promises of "going straight to heaven where 72 vestal virgins await their pleasure; and the promise that in due course their family will follow them".

Do you think that George Bush is acting in God's will or his own?

US President George W. Bush is undoubtedly one of the most powerful men in the world - if not THE most powerful. He has tremendous power, might and force at his disposal. He has shown in the past two years that the United States is not a force to be reckoned with or intimidated.

The events of September 11 have propelled this super-power into a world police action that has left a trail through America, Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations.

Having a personal Christian faith, I have no doubt that the President spends considerable time in prayer, seeking guidance from God. Yet, it is common knowledge that while he is President, there are certain pre-determined protocols that he must follow - no matter what. Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon all have their place in this mystery, even though a final decision generally rests with the President himself in key matters.

Interestingly, the Bible says that a special blessing will be given to individuals and nations who show mercy and protection to God's own people, the Jews. Perhaps that alone is one of the reasons that the United States still holds so much power and sway in the Middle East chess-game. They seek to help, protect and care for Israel, while at the same time try to keep the balance. In this regard, at least, George Bush would be aligned with God's will.

Should politics be mixed with religion? eg. "I am doing this in God's name…"

This is a difficult question, insofar as many leaders and nations including the Palestinians for instance have claimed that what they are doing is "in God's name". Yet a level-headed and rational thinking person clearly knows that the random and horrific killing of innocent men, women and children is not something that God would have had in mind or even condone.

I do think, however, that religious/Christian values and principles can have a dramatic and stabilising effect on a community, nation or country. English law found its roots in Old Testament laws and regulations. That same law has generally been extended around the world to western countries.

Politics and the running of a nation can be enhanced by utilising right and good principles and rules of government, however not to the detriment of its people, social welfare and well-being.

The danger today is where the church is trying to make demands on the state or the state is trying to make the church conform to standards which fly in the face of Godly and Biblical principles.

For example, for two centuries, Australia's churches have cried aloud with one voice in declaring that homosexuality is wrong in God's eyes. Notwithstanding that cry, legislation continues to find its way through parliament permitting lower-aged sex between same sex persons, same sex marriages and so on. Now, two centuries later in 2003, it is an arm of the church that is saying homosexuality is OK. The government, politicians and lawmakers are looking on with dismay and probably wondering if the church is truly valid anymore.

Do you care to speculate on a total solution for the conflict in Israel and surrounding nations?

World leaders appear to be unable to solve a problem that has existed for centuries, yet from a Biblical perspective, I am persuaded that only the return of Jesus Christ will bring about a total solution to the Middle East problems. Some may feel that a religious solution is outside the parameters of this problem and that a major human effort will ultimately bring about an answer. But clearly, every human attempt to find an answer has failed. I'm convinced that only a super-human intervention will bring about ultimate peace from the person who is "the Prince of peace".

How does a government find the right balance between freedom of speech and censorship?

Most western countries are extremely liberal when it comes to freedom of speech. And although libel cases are on the increase, it is still true that a person may express their opinion and make reasonable statements without fear from government censure.

However, this doesn't always work, as may be indicated by the current fluster over the gaoling of former Australia's One Nation party leader, Pauline Hansen. Constantly throughout her brief political career, she was almost denied "freedom of speech" because her policies or aspirations stirred up the mainstream parties of Australian politics. Many individuals and parties tried to censor her on many occasions.

Islamic and many third world countries do not enjoy such "freedom of speech" and can be gaoled or even executed for giving an opinion, offering a political comment or speaking out against the country's leadership. In such cases, there is no such thing as "freedom of speech".

Describe freedom of the press in Australia.

The media, in particular the press in Australia, enjoys a high level of freedom when it comes to expressing opinions or extrapolating news reports to the "enth" degree. This reveals itself in the way in which the press constantly broadens and speculates on new items to the point of grandiose hype. Sometimes it's impossible to distinguish between truth and fiction.

What are your favourite websites?

Most of the news sites fall within my "favourite" category, however I enjoy visiting the web sites of radio stations and news reporting such as CNN, yahoo news, etc.

How do you inspire others?

By looking for and encouraging the gifts and abilities in others, rather than focusing on their faults. Maturity and life-experiences has given me the ability to empathise with others and I try to use that to good advantage.

What would you like to be remembered for?

As a husband who gave his best; as a father who loved, adored and was proud of his children; as a grand-father who idolised his grandchildren; and as a person who lived out his life and faith in a way which spoke to others. Perhaps also as a person who enjoyed life and was thankful to have had an influence on the lives of the many thousands of people who came across my pathway.


Editors note: An amazing, insightful interview covering some very "touchy" subjects. Gary in an authority on religious and political matters, and his website is a "must see".


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