Open Letter to a Pentecostal Pastor

There is no impartial education. Education is either for suppression or freedom’. As an educator, I teach for freedom from all who would oppress people. 

In particular, I encourage women to reach their full potential in Christ’. Patricia Erlandsen. 

Who's My Pastor

A public letter was written by me in reply to the question….

“We need to know which church you are currently attending and also need a reference from your pastor”.

“Who is my pastor?”

Dear L,

I am sending out my reply as a public letter to your question.  I will not identify you or the Pastor or the church you work in.  I do so publicly to show as an example of the oppression and the small-mindedness encountered in the Pentecostal church here in Australia. Not everyone I send it to will necessarily agree with my doing so. Nevertheless, I must do what I must do.  Sometimes ‘to remain silent is treason’ (Mandela).

Furthermore, there is too much at stake to remain a member of and reinforce the ‘culture of silence’ (Paulo Freire: ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’,) that exists in the Pentecostal church in Australia. Your pastor’s question, “we need to know which church you are currently attending and also need a reference from your pastor”.

In my experience, this question matches the protocol of most Pentecostal churches. As you no doubt will recall, I wanted to advertise my Christian courses in your paper  (see below). You passed on to me the question: “we need to know which church you are currently attending and also need a reference from your pastor”.

I presume ‘we’ does not mean you, L.  However, I will address you in the body of my letter, but to clarify the question asked, my main inquiries are directed to your Pastor and presumably, the ‘oversight’ of the 500 odd churches you proclaim to represent in Australia. My answer to the question is as follows:

The question asked when I submitted to you two advertisements for your Christian publicly published paper was: “we need to know which church you are currently attending and also need a reference from your pastor”. Ah yes, I forgot for a moment, the control factor of the believer’s faith –  how foolish of me.  I have been away from it all for so long, my head buried in a Book.

Still, thirty years as a believer – having preached, taught and conducted training programs and initiating a magazine that at last count had published and posted 50,000 round the world to an untouched people group who had never heard the gospel, and itinerating in the eastern states of Australia and South Australia in one of the mainstream Pentecostal churches; you would have thought I’d remember the mindsets.

Having completed that part of my journey, I went into all the world, wherever I believed the Spirit of God was leading me.  Sometimes hungry, with no sure dwelling place; many times in a strange country and no money to get out, the churches too poor not to mention war-torn to send me on my way.  Dependent upon the Lord to provide for me in a miraculous way, I remember one time giving all my money to a family with no food one hour before my plane departed.  God provided in another way for me!

Another time I travelled for two nights through Mexico without either food to eat, money for the public toilets, toothpaste, or other personal needs that only a woman could possibly know about – ah yes, then there was the time I was in Fiji.  I had preached and was travelling to another island, I had no money to get there, but the Spirit had bid me to go.  I worked there for a week and received little.

On the tarmac, as I was waiting for my flight, with no money to buy my ticket to get out, my fare arrived literally, out-of-the-blue. A Pastor, the ‘head’ at the time of the AOG in Fiji, spotted me getting off the light aircraft I intended to board (had I had the money) and he strode up to me and said, ‘Sister Pat the church took up an offering” and gave me enough to do so.

You know, I’m sure that Pastor will give me a reference gladly if I ask him! He told me after my preaching for a week in his church a team of youth was so inspired by the Lord they decided to take a gap year and went preaching the Gospel throughout the islands. What can I say? And that’s not the half of it.

When I returned to Australia, I was appalled by the number of steadfast believers out of the church, and I knew, in my heart, for all the same reasons, I was one of them. They, like myself, no longer feel they have a place in the organised church. Many of them are like yourself. Women, who like me, a long time ago, attended faithfully and gave of all that we had.

Then there is the head of the AOG in Australia. He sent a letter out around 1983 to all the churches in SA and asked they welcome me. I was training churches in the street and personal evangelism at the time using material I had written for that purpose.

It meant going into the local street in your city or town, wherever the lost, homeless, and restless youth hangout, the druggies and prostitutes, you know the kind I’m sure, the kind that the church would look down their noses at. I don’t recall he asked me if I was a member of a church, but I don’t doubt he would give me a referral as he did back then to all those pastors.

Indeed, your pastor’s question says it all!  Who indeed is my pastor?  Like others, where could I and others like myself, both women and many men also, although I find they are not so quick to express it because they can find some solace in being the ‘head’ of their wives, find a home that would allow us to exercise our God-given gifts to their fullest measure?

My study materials, which I hope, if I pass the test put to me, to advertise in your church’s paper, address this same issue.  Some things never change, particularly control, domination, and the oppression of the disenfranchised.

I recall another, whom I do my best to imitate, was interrogated in much the same fashion some 2000 years ago. His reply was, “We ought to obey God rather than man [sic].  Which church do I attend?  None.  Who is my pastor?  More to the point, at 61 years of age and thirty-one years a believer, who am I pastoring?

I will tell you – anyone and everyone I meet along life’s highway.  Single people, married people, divorced and broken people, alienated people, children when an opportunity arises, teenagers, (how I love em, the rebellious especially), the depressed and the alternate lifestyle people, the dying and the unemployed.  O, yes, none of them attend church either, but they do have a pastor who cares, prays for them, and follows them up, encouraging them to keep on keeping on!

Overall, like me, we have the Great Shepherd of the sheep and he is leading us on.  Then there are those who I stay in touch with worldwide in service for the Lord who I have had the amazing privilege (me!), of influencing in some tiny way in God’s grand scheme.  I am glad to serve the Lord in this way although I can tell you I went thru a near-death experience to get where I am today.  It is a costly business when the Lord owns everything – a very risky, insecure business.

The time that I used to spend in meetings, I now spend studying to understand the Word and my faith in a way that will influence more people. I write rather than seek a platform for public preaching.  I intend to utilise fully the power of the pen and the freedom the web offers for that purpose.  It is surely a new day.  What a day we live in to influence people for the Lord.  Happily, other than the world wide web, I teach in groups of ones and twos.  Whosoever will.  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

I hope you opt to do my course L.  Privacy guaranteed!  I am happy to work with people anonymously if you so choose because I understand the fear generated from thinking different from one’s oppressors – those in the church who either covertly or otherwise usurp the place of Christ in the believer’s life.  I have been there.  Is it possible, L, that God has called you to be other than a pastor’s secretary? Tell me, do you also harbour revolutionary thoughts in your own heart?

That is what my course is all about, revolutionary thoughts and ideas of freedom so that one can serve the Lord wholeheartedly where one is called to do so and however one sees fit. Not everyone can be a secretary, I know, and the job does carry with it some prestige.

By the way, I must ask you, L, – how is your pay rate in comparison to the men you work with and for there in the church? But my advice to you is to continue to seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things that your innermost heart desires, such as, say, preaching the gospel fearlessly, or in some other way only you and the Lord know about, shall be added unto you.

Oh, how I remember how I longed to preach back then when no one cared about what I wanted, only what I could give to make them look better.  I wanted to teach the Word of God. It was burning in me as it still does today.  I gave up waiting for some man to ask me if I’d like to go into all the world and preach – I bought a ticket and went!  I pray that you too hear and obey the sweet voice of the Spirit in your innermost being calling you on to fulfill your destiny.

Thank you for passing on to me that interesting and thought-provoking question, “we need to know which church you are currently attending and also need a reference from your pastor”. Nevertheless, before I answer your pastor’s question, kindly ask how many references he needs and from how many pastors?  Any particular denomination?  I can’t think of any I haven’t preached in so that should be relatively easy.

Do they need to be only pastors, or can they be other men, say, doctors, lawyers, or other leading lights in the community? Are these comparable? And at which stage of the social strata and spiritual hierarchy does my accountability cease? What about my husband.  No, he is dead so that is a problem.  I have a son, and yes, he was born in wedlock by 3 months.  Could your pastor advise me?

Now to the issue of a letter from my pastor. Will any of those pastors I have trained be ok? Perhaps I could approach any of the ones I went to in Australia, who were receiving no assistance from head office and I assisted them and, certainly, there are many others in remote places of the world.

They were the ones who told me about the sad state of affairs of no assistance or interest taken. They told me I was the first to come and encourage, to support them by giving money to them, (one family I worked within the Philippines, during the mid-eighties war in that country, their baby had died for want of milk!).

I know any of them would gladly claim me as a lifetime member of their congregation.  Is that what your pastor is seeking? I know they would welcome the opportunity to rise up and call me blessed.

Ask your pastor if I must reside under a particular roof to be ‘covered’ and how often and for how long a time?  I recall a pastor in Northern Ireland. He was told of me by a group of youth who met me when they attended the Bonkii conference in Birmingham. There, I conducted a workshop on personal evangelism. A thousand a day attended. Great fun! Well, they asked their pastor if I could be invited to preach in their church.

The pastor picked me up on my arrival in Belfast (yes, during the times of the troubles) and he asked me the same question as your pastor. I replied I didn’t have one, but he would do. He was shocked of course but couldn’t turn back. As it happened the church erupted under the anointing that accompanied the preaching of the Word and he seemed to be satisfied after the week of what turned out to be three meetings a day to satisfy the congregation.

Please ask if, as an itinerant minister and only turning up three times in their ‘home church’ in a lifetime, such as Paul did in Ephesus, if that is acceptable?  Must the pastor ‘covering me’ be here in Australia or can they be in Africa, Sweden, England, Norway, the Philippines, Spain, Ireland, Fiji, Mexico?  The list is much longer, but I don’t want to bore you with details of this nature – no! far greater matters are at stake.

However, the answer might lie in giving your pastor’s email address out publicly to all the churches I have preached in and ask all my friends in Australia and overseas to commend me and my work in the Lord.  Those who know my work will tell him there is about a 98% chance of the women who do my course serving the Lord on foreign soil.  Thank you for passing these questions on to him.

Kindest regards L., for you and your heart for Jesus. I too know the price of serving a Pastor. It’s hard work and little money in return, if any, even less recognition. You get the sense that life is passing you by as a woman who loves God.  Once again, I have been there.

In closing, please tell your pastor to feel free to quote me in the following if he so desires:

‘There is no impartial education.  Education is either for suppression or for freedom’. Patricia Erlandsen.

As an educator, I educate for freedom from all those who would oppress people’s and in particular, women’s faith from reaching its full potential in Christ”. Patricia Erlandsen

The adverts I sent to you, the first advert read:

Life coaching by phone or email.

Life coaching assists the client in setting goals, being pro-active, decision making, and allowing the life coach to mentor the client’s progress. Although firmly grounded in Christian principles a Christian life coach understands that the extent to which the coach and client’s beliefs are verbalised rests entirely with the client.  Book a complimentary thirty-minute phone coaching session today.

Contact Patricia:

Email: or 
Phone: 0410 318 388
Privacy guaranteed.

The second advert read:

Life coaching online:

The pedagogical approach to be used as the basis for life coaching in an online environment is to elicit the response of the reader to the material provided.  “Heroic Women of the Old Testament” has been written with this approach in mind.  It facilitates the client to walk with these women in their own times and “see into the very heart of things”, to see what happened through their eyes, rather than 21st-century enculturation.  The client then applies it to their own inner experiences, which in turn acts as the basis for personal response through journaling, thus providing a platform to facilitate life coaching online or by post.

Contact Patricia:

Email: or 
Phone: 0410 318 388
Request a sample. Privacy guaranteed.


My Personal Testimony: From Showgirl to Christ

As a showgirl, I worked with an Australian dance troupe, the Ken Jeakle Dancers. The show was ‘Hong Kong By Night’. We were on stage twice nightly, at the Kingsland Restaurant and Night Club Miramar Hotel, Kowloon, & Kings Garden Nightclub, Hong Kong.

Sometime in the early 1970s, I briefly met singer/ movie star, Pat Boone at the Kingsland Restaurant. He was one of the biggest recording stars in the US. This happened when he and his entourage came as the star of the show I worked in.  We ‘showies’ were asked to give up our dressing room for him and join the dancers in theirs. This was the usual routine: International stars as guests of the show arrived nightly and weekly to entertain the audience.  We showgirls, dancers, and singers were the supporting act. In meeting Pat Boone I became impressed by his genuine love and kindness.

For example, he stayed long after the final curtain call, shaking hands and chatting with those of the audience that stayed back, wanting to meet him. It was only much later, I found out Boone was a renowned Christian with his wife, Shirley. They hosted a Bible study at their Beverley Hills home for celebrities such as Doris Day, Glenn Ford, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Pricilla Presley. For those who recall, Boone’s last film of note was the Christian movie, ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’ (1970).


When, in the steps of Pat Boone, I agreed to give my life to Jesus, it was on this wise …

That was 1969 to late 1972 when finally I returned home to Brisbane from Hong Kong. By then other messengers and messages divinely inspired, had reached me. Finally, through Boone’s book, ‘A New Song’, I took the plunge. I read his book and decided that if Pat Boone could do it, I could do it. I will share more on this later.

But, first things first …

I heard the Gospel first, around 1947. I was then a five year old. My two sisters and I were placed in the Queen Alexandra Home for Children, Coorparoo, Brisbane. As it happened, it was run by a Christian couple and the gospel was taught to us We had been placed there for a year. Our mother was unwell.

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When we returned home we resumed our school attendance at the Upper Mt Gravatt State School. During these days I also heard the message of the Gospel taught by Mr and Mrs Sammy Beard, a dedicated Christian couple, at a Sunday School program we attended regularly as children. They ran this at Upper Mt Gravatt, Brisbane.

My parents lived out west Queensland around Barcaldine, Longreach, and Winton. Dad worked as road foreman, building the highway that you travel on today that runs between these outback towns of Queensland.

Outback Road : Stock Photo

Our Mum spent her busy days living in a large tent, cooking on an open fire, educating their four school-aged children, as well as looking after a three-year-old toddler, and me, a babe in arms. I honour my parents, particularly my mother, as the outback was tough in those days and she and dad helped to build up that area with many other pioneers to what it is today.

Cooking dinner in camp (Dutch) ovens over hot coals in the red sand of the Australian outback

War broke out and Dad joined the RAAF. He headed for Darwin in 1943. As an A-Grade Mechanic, he worked on American aircraft at the base in Birdum. My brother Bob has written two books “Birdum or Bust’ and ‘Birdum Revisited’ on those and subsequent years about the trucking industry of road trains and the wild days back then. The town of Birdum is situated between Daly Waters and Laremah, off the Stuart highway. Below is the Railway station at Birdum, circa 1940. Military units were also stationed at Birdum:

Birdum NT – Now a ghost town

When Dad joined the RAAF, mum, with their six children travelled by train to join her mother in law in Southport, on the Gold Coast. This was until Dad was finally discharged at the end of the war. They bought a banana farm in the Tweed and then sold up and bought acreage in Broadwater Road, Mt Gravatt.  He worked as the first postman in Mt Gravatt. My sister Joy worked on the telephone exchange there. We would walk a mile there and back to carry her dinner to her early evening. No take-aways then.

Map of Broadwater Rd, Mount Gravatt QLD 4122, Australia

The property my parents purchased on Broadwater Road when sold was later developed into a brick real estate (opp. SDA school). The large property they bought on Logan Rd, opp, Broadwater Rd, Mt Gravatt was finally sold and shops still stand there today. The milk dept is opposite. Dad built the entrances off that property to meet with Rover Street and Tenby Street. We moved further uphill to it at the base of Mount Gravatt.

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View from Mt Gravatt lookout

That property we lived on now houses the Hillsong Brisbane Central Campus, off Rover St and Tenby Street, Mt Gravatt.

Growing up in a family of nine children, there was not much room for sentimentalities. Daily life was regimented and simply a matter of getting on with it.

I left home at fifteen and then returned again. I set off again at sixteen when my eldest brother, Bob, offered my mum to take me on in the territory with him. My mother suggested it was time for me to move on and make my way in the world. It comes as a shock today to some to hear this but this was the done thing in our family and not necessarily unusual for that time. I travelled by train alone to Mt Isa via Townsville on the Inlander which was launched in 1953.

I stayed with my brothers, Bob and Doug Foster, who at that time worked for the Australian Blue Metal Co. The crusher was at that time camped at Barrow Creek NT. Finally, Doug originally worked for Noel Buntine. He finally moved on to the cattle industry. Bob managed ABM for many years. When the ABM crushing plant eventually moved on, I got a job at the one hotel of the historically infamous (1874 and 2001) Barrow Creek. Jimmy and Bluey, known as the Harreen Brothers, owned it then.

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They gave me a job as breakfast cook and housemaid. I left there after a time and got a lift on a road train up to Darwin with a mate of my brothers. I landed a job in the Vic Hotel public bar, moved on to public bar work in the Fanny Bay Hotel, later, the Hot and Cold Lounge in the centre of Darwin, at the Buff Club, and finally, the Worker’s Club.

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During this five year stint in Darwin, I met a well-known man-about-town, John Erlandsen (alias the Log). We eventually went on the road with my brother Bob who was then manager of ABM. We lived and moved with the ABM camp for two years. We were married in Tennant Creek and our son, Mark, was born in 1964 in the Tennant Creek hospital.

We arrived back in Darwin in 1965 when I left Darwin and my marriage. My one-year-old son and I travelled via Brisbane to join a friend in Lae New Guinea. There we lived for five years. I got a job with the Australian Govt. as a clerk.

Finally, as an adult, I began to hear the gospel message in various ways. One message that caught my attention was the radical question posed on the cover of Time Magazine, April 8, 1966. I was twenty-four years of age. Time Mag posed the question, IS GOD DEAD? The civil rights movement at that time was just one of many real-world events that made the question seem apt.

Is God DeadCover

Later, in the early seventies, when I was living in Hong Kong other messengers brought the good news to me. Many were believers who shared the message with those they met such as  American soldiers on R& R in Hong Kong from the Vietnam war. The British colony provided essential strategic facilities to the U.S. war effort and ranked among the largest destinations for American servicemen on R&R. Between 1965 and 1970, Hong Kong annually hosted about 200,000 U.S. ground and naval personnel on holiday. Yet another group that had an effect upon me was the Jesus Movement. I read about the message the Jesus people spread: “Smile, God loves you and so do I. ”


This endearing message of the counter culture of that era appealed to me so much, I started to spread the same message to people I encountered, there on the busy streets of Hong Kong. This was before I was ever formally ‘saved’. It was all good fun. But finally, I was literally brought to my knees. There was a fire, wherein, I feared, that without God’s intervention, my then five-year-old son might perish.


More next time …


Hey, you there, observe the wind. She blows wherever she wants to, and you hear her, but you don’t know where she comes from or where she is going next. That’s a simple example from nature to help you to understand how it is for everyone who has been born of Her, the Holy Spirit, whose name is Ruah. She is independent of human intervention. She blows wherever She wants to, and leans upon who she wants to. So are those led by the Spirit … they also are free to come and go to do God’s bidding (Paraphrase RBW.  John 3: 5-8).


The deciding moment that changed my life.

I had left New Guinea after five years working for the Australian Govt., and decided to go on a SE Asian Tour of Manilla, Hong Kong, and Singapore before returning to Australia to get job and settle down as my son was due to start primary school. The day before I was due to leave Lae, I sent my son to Joy, my sister, with an air hostess escort on a flight to Brisbane. He was to stay with her and her family. I visited Manilla and headed for Honkers. I met an Aussie guy by the name of George. We began to frequent the clubs together. One day he said to me he had to go to the airport as friends were arriving from Sydney and did I want to accompany him?

We jumped into a taxi to met up with three people: Joe, a well-known costume designer. from Sydney with his friends, Jackie and Michelle. He was invited to take up residence as a costume designer for the Ken Jeackle Dancers, on the first floor, Miramar Hotel, Kowloon. He was accompanied by two transgender Australian cabaret performers, cast members of the long-running Sydney-based male revue Les Girls, who were coming to join the Le Girls performing in the basement at the same Hotel.

Chungking Mansions is located at 36–44 Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. It has four blocks and thousands of residents.
Joe invited me to apply for a job as a showgirl and that’s how I landed the job. Now, back in those days, almost everyone who was an expat in show biz lived in Chung King Mansions on Kowloon Road. It was a mixture of residential low-cost accommodation and independent shops and other unknown and most likely, although I was unaware at the time, unsavoury activities.
Chung King mansions

Joe and I became firm friends. He suggested I go for an interview with the Manager of the Kingsland Club and Restaurant. It was a huge space with large round tables seating a dozen or more. The international audience would nightly attract 500 or more patrons. Back in those days no photos of the show were allowed and it was the biggest stage show in Hong Kong. Girls from Paris and Lebanon and show girls regularly travelled and worked at the top clubs in those cities during that era.

I signed a contract and started, entering rehearsals to learn the routine. I enjoyed the short hours, the costumes, the social life and the sheer fun of it all. We showgirls were celebrated, of course, and I occasionally accepted an invite to join such international guests to join them for dinner at a top restaurant.

The Peninsula Hong Kong exterior festive decorations
The Peninsula Hong Kong Hotel

After our first show, we’d join our hosts for dinner, then rush to the ferry, do the second show, on Hong Kong Island at the Kings Garden Night club, race to catch the last ferry back to Kowloon side, rejoin our hosts and dance the night away in lavish style:

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Star Ferry Hong Kong

One day, I was walking home from rehearsal with Vicky, one of the showies when fire engines started rushing past us with sirens blasting.

I felt a bolt of fear hit my gut. I told Vicky I was going ahead, that there’s something wrong. I bolted and when I reached the building I lived in, sure enough, it was in lock down. There were firemen everywhere, and inquiry stations set up where one could get updated on the situation. I was as you can imagine in a dreadful panic.

My son Mark was up on the 16th floor. The Mamasan, an older Chinese woman, the owner of the tiny apartment we rented, looked after my son when I was at daytime two-hour rehearsals as well as when I went to work at 9 pm to the 10 pm show at night. Our living quarters was set up with bunk beds, a kitchenette and bathroom.

During that time outside the building, I first ran around asking people “have you seen Mark? I knew them as they also lived in the building ” No. “Have you seen my daughter, wife, son, friend”? “No”. The second hour I simply gave up and stood looking up to the 16th floor where my son was. I had no idea if he was safe, whether he had been abandoned, whether he was getting help to stay safe or to get out. At five years of age, I knew how very vulnerable he was. The desperation I felt is as tangible today as it was then.

By the third hour, I was in tears and praying. I’d stopped asking firemen to take me into the building. As it happens, the building was not on fire but they were searching for the source of smoke that was billowing out of it. It was still in lockdown. No-one was going in or out.

I dropped to my knees and prayed. I cried out to God, hoping God would hear me. I said the only thing I knew to say. “God please save my son. If you will save my son I’ll go to church”

Three hours passed before I was allowed to go into the building. More next time. Thanks for reading…

22/1/2020 Love in Jesus, Patricia