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Am I called?
Stories of why: Exploring the question of call in mission Hope after border crossings: Responding to a refugee crisis Why I support mission Jesus & Muhammad: A new book
ve Lo le M
ig ne ur yo We believe that when the church responds to Jesus’ call to love our neighbours, lives and whole communities can be transformed. We are part of the global church. We are also doctors, teachers, accountants, entrepreneurs, artists, community development workers and more. We serve among the most marginalised people of Asia and the Arab world. This is where 80% of the world’s poorest people live and where mission endeavours receive less than 0.01% of global church income. But there is a local church everywhere we work. Though often small, persecuted, or underresourced, we intentionally partner with them – serving together, training, mentoring and encouraging them. As we walk alongside our brothers and sisters, we are making disciples who love their neighbours, irrespective of race, gender or creed. These local Christians become agents of change in their own communities, often with extraordinary impact.
One global fellowship. One visual identity. Interserve has launched a new visual identity this year. In Australia, we are excited to officially introduce it here. The weave expresses Interserve’s identity and character, including our values of Wholistic mission, Partnership and Community. To find out more visit interserve.org.au/about/logo
Contents 04 Hope after border crossings 06 The unlikely missionary 08 Why not? 10 Called to support 12 Go with God 15 God shaped me for this 18 A heart for the poor 21 Called to connect 23 So, am I called or not? 25 Book reviews 26 Remembering John Reid 28 Community News Credits: Thanks to all who contributed to the making of this issue. Primary sources of news and information: Our own correspondents. Photos: Interserve personnel, except where indicated – thanks to all. Photos do not necessarily relate to articles for sensitivity reasons. Cover image: Walt Manis Editors: Esther Adams, Kaitlyn Gaudion, Yvonne Evans Design: Les Colston, Urban Zeal Go is the magazine published twice a year by Interserve Australia. Interserve material may be freely reproduced with permission from Interserve and acknowledgement to Interserve; permission for use of non-Interserve text and images should be obtained from the original source. Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible quotes in this magazine are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION Copyright 2011 by the New York International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Opinions expressed in Go are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Interserve. ISSN 0256-4726.
Interserve Australia is a member of Australia’s Missions Interlink and the international Micah Network. Interserve is a Child Safe organisation.
We are all familiar with Jesus’ final words to his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20. This is the Great Commission, which has compelled many Christians to ‘go to the nations’. I have been challenged by Vinoth Ramachandrin, a Sri Lankan theologian, who suggests there are three ‘Greats’ in this passage. Firstly, the Great Affirmation: Jesus is Lord. Every sphere of activity comes under his authority. Secondly, the Great Commission: going to the nations, baptising and teaching all that Jesus taught. The heart of this commission is to ‘make disciples’. We cannot make disciples if we are not disciples ourselves: practicing what Jesus taught, growing in our relationship with Him and experiencing His grace in all its fullness. This is the journey we invite others into, yearning that they too will grow as disciples and make disciples of others. Finally, the Great Promise: ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ Throughout scripture, God’s call to service is accompanied by the promise of His presence. Our challenge is that the promise of the presence of the risen Christ is only given to a church that follows Him into the world and bears witness to the Great Affirmation in all areas of life. As I interact with Interserve Partners, On Trackers and CultureConnect team members, I see these three ‘Greats’ manifesting in their lives. This is evident as some of them share their stories of call in the pages that follow. Finally, we must never lose sight of the ultimate goal of our calling – to bring glory to God. Dr Christine Gobius National Director
Hope after border crossings
The world took notice of one lifeless child on the beach, and responded with tears. Yet thousands of refugees continue to make desperate border crossings in hope of something better. The UNHCR estimates 4.8 million Syrian refugees have flooded into neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. This region, known as West Asia, is buckling under one of the gravest humanitarian crises in modern memory. The onward journey is complicated and slow at best. As time stretches on, poverty and ill health become problems, and despair sets in. Many have given up hope. But there is hope. In West Asia, a small local church with a big heart is reaching out to refugees, with amazing impact. They began with blankets, mattresses, baby formula, and gas stoves. The refugees were astounded – no one else treated them like these ‘Bible people’ did. As numbers increased, a refugee centre was opened, and they now provide regular food relief and programs for over 5,500 refugee families. The church knows they are in this for the long haul. They want refugees fleeing violence and strife to find love in Jesus’ name and, by God’s grace, faith in Him. Multicultural Interserve teams have been serving alongside this local church for over twenty years. Two new Australian Interserve families are departing this year to join the refugee work of this church. These families bring skills in trauma recovery, special-needs education, IT and project management, and experience with asylum seekers in Australia. Experience tells us that as Interserve workers apply these skills, we
will see innovative solutions developed. The smartphone-based system for managing food distribution at the refugee centre, for example, was created by an Interserve worker. These two families are committed to long-term service – to making West Asia their home, and being attentive to what God is doing there. We believe that this kind of investment in longterm workers – who themselves are invested in a local body of believers – is the single most effective, sustainable and innovative contribution we can make.
Mission Travel are supporting this project as part of their “Giving Back” program. You can help out by voting when you book your travel. [missiontravel.com.au]
Adam and Penny* have just departed for West Asia. Joel and Erin* are raising support. If you would like to be a part of their support team, you can give online using the recipient code 2059 or contact us for more information. [interserve.org.au/give]
These families are not superheroes. They are ordinary Christians who are responding to the world’s need and God’s call to serve. On the next few pages, they share their stories. *Names have been changed.
The unlikely missionary For the longest time, I was pretty set on not being a missionary.
Our imaginations were captured by the idea of working alongside local believers, doing whole-of-life discipleship with them in a hard place.
I knew the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19–20 – the deep call to go and make disciples everywhere, which is so basic to our faith. But it was the portability of that call which made me so uncomfortable. It drew a strange divide in my world between places we ‘are’ and places we could ‘go’ and invited me to cross between them in Jesus’ name. I largely knew those places through the television news, and it was not pretty: scud missiles in the Arab Gulf, thick concrete walls dividing Berlin, tanks rolling across Tiananmen Square, and planes crashing through American skyscrapers. These other places were not hospitable, so I resolved fairly early in life that I was going to stay put. It was six months after my wedding that I ventured beyond my border to South Asia for a short-term exposure trip. That was when God did His work. The experience wasn’t always pleasant – beyond the usual linguistic and cultural confusions, we were battered daily by appalling human need.
What was compelling, though, was God’s people. The local church, loving the same Jesus I did, saw those human needs and met them as best they could, in the face of very real dangers, in the name of Jesus. I returned to Australia battered by a sense that my life is genuinely owned by Another, and I should be available to Him without condition. We had no voice-from-the-sky moment about what cross-cultural work would look like for us, but we knew we wanted to do it. Our imaginations were captured by the idea of working alongside local believers, doing wholeof-life discipleship with them in a hard place. We prayed and planned and studied and talked, trying to work out how our personalities and skills could intersect with a church and a city somewhere out there. Things narrowed. A placement in the Middle East began to emerge. So when God put the brakes on and caused us to wait, to say we were frustrated would be an understatement. Months and years had gone into our preparations, only to now drift in the doldrums and wonder why the Sender Himself would blindside us like this. It was a hard lesson in our Father’s logistics. Disappointment and confusion – yes, and anger – are natural reactions when we lose a sense of where God is taking us. Those feelings, however, should never blind us to possibilities He is opening up elsewhere. We changed plans for a time and joined an Interserve CultureConnect team serving ethnic minorities in Australia. We started working among people seeking asylum in Sydney’s northwest – people who live daily with a deeper uncertainty than we may ever know. Drinking tea, celebrating birthdays, laughing and
crying and praying with them, we pondered the courageous faith Jesus commends in the face of anxiety (Matthew 6:25–34). We don’t always know the way, but our Father does, and He is never less powerful or less worthy of our trust because of it. The delay turned out to be temporary. These days, our family is preparing to join the refugeewelcoming church in West Asia. I still glimpse the place we will go to in television-news images – bomb blasts, leaky boats and, above all, masses of people crossing borders, a river which stretches to the horizons of belief. Those pictures are still bewildering to me. They no longer frighten me, though, because they’re part of the same basic script our Father has always given to us: those old imperatives to go and to make disciples, to bind up broken hearts, and to set captives free. Joel* (a social worker) is preparing to serve in West Asia alongside people seeking asylum. *Names have been changed.
Sometimes we concentrate so much on asking, “why us?”, but maybe a different way of thinking is, “why not?” read Adam and Penny’s story
Why not? God had planted a question on our hearts … could we go long term? After a half-hour bus ride past the stinking palm plantations, we walked a couple of kilometres to the local supermarket in the midday sun with the humidity soaring. As we walked around a deep dirty drain, I remember the exact spot where we asked each other, “could we do this long term?” We were serving for four months in Malaysia at a school for people with disabilities as part of our honeymoon. As newlyweds, God planted this seed and over the next four years He gave it life. He did this through his Word, through people He brought into our lives who had served in that part of the world, and through revealing to us the need to go to the unreached. Sometimes we concentrate so much on asking, “why us?”, but maybe a different way of thinking is, “why not?” Why not go and serve alongside those who don’t live in a safe and materially blessed society as we do. We feel that God has given us 30 years of abundant blessings, so why not now use these blessings to bless others. When we returned from serving short term, we were disheartened to hear it would be at least a two-year journey before we could depart to serve long term. However, we now see that this time of preparation is invaluable as He reveals His call and purpose, and will potentially save us from making many cultural blunders! 8
God has led us to West Asia. When we were in Melbourne for Partner orientation, we asked our host where she had served. We were amazed to hear that she had served in the country we were currently considering! We plan to spend the first year language learning and from there use our professional skills to serve refugees and children with disabilities. Even before we arrive in the country we see fruit in the way God is shaping both us and our church family. We are seeing our local church engaged in kingdom work outside of Australia. People are now involved and excited to see the unreached have the opportunity to hear of His love. God has also changed our hearts and is teaching us to put our faith into action as we move out of our home, pack up our belongings and rely on His provision. A wise Partner advised that during the challenging process of support raising, “keep your eyes fixed on West Asia and the support will come”. We have learnt to rest in Him. Adam (IT/project management) and Penny* (special education) have just left Australia to serve the church in West Asia. *Names have been changed.
How did you experience God’s call to cross-cultural work? Our Interserve Partners and On Trackers share their stories.
Given my personality and the way God had made me, my call to cross-cultural mission was more based on facts and needs. I worked on the premise that, given the incredible need and the scarcity of resources, why wouldn’t I serve crossculturally the majority world that have never heard the good news.
The Lord has always led me through the desires of my heart (I believe He puts them there). My call to serve cross-culturally was no different. The Lord gave me a heart for orphans and children with special needs and a desire to be a vessel of His love for them. Caryn*, special education, East Asia
Lyn, team leader, regional
We were called through seeing a need, feeling a growing desire to fulfil that need, and the prompting and encouragement of family and friends that this was the right way forward. Karen, member care, South East Asia
My interest in cross-cultural service grew from when I was very young, reading biographies and hearing stories in church of cross-cultural workers who had returned to Australia. A series of short-term mission trips confirmed my early interest and gave me a desire to explore more long-term cross-cultural service. Amy*, music therapist, South East Asia
On a short exposure trip to South Asia where I saw with my own eyes God mending broken hearts and giving new life to the lost. The call to that demanding, energising way of being spoke volumes to me about my own faith and how best to use my life in His service. Joel*, social worker, West Asia
From the very first day I understood the gospel, my desire was to tell other people about the wonderful gift of eternal life. Although we wondered which country we would serve in, we never really wrestled with the question “What does God want us to do?” We felt quite sure He had ‘wired’ us to live and serve him crossculturally. Brian*, training, Arab world
*Names have been changed
Called to support Four members of the Coromandel Valley Uniting Church mission support group share why and how they are involved in supporting mission: Claire I found a passion for supporting people in cross-cultural mission after our young family studied with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) and experienced outreach in Asia. We knew God wanted us to return home but were to remain involved at the support end. Both I and the congregation have gained a wider perspective and sense of connection beyond the local scene as a result of our active support of cross-cultural mission. Those who are sent say they feel well-supported, and often join our team when they return.
Carol How can you not become involved in cross-cultural mission when there are many who have yet to hear the Good News? How can you not support people who have uprooted themselves and their families to help others in growing their faith and improving their lives? How can you not become involved in mission when you hear testimonies of men, women and children suffering for their beliefs? How can you not help those who have little when you have been blessed with more? How can you not believe that the God who has answered your personal prayers is the God who will also answer your prayers on behalf of others? And so it is, in answer to these questions, I pray and give to mission.
“How can you not become involved in cross-cultural mission when there are many who have yet to hear the Good News?”
From high on a mountain I gazed out to the whitecapped sea. My attention was drawn to a red car speeding along the coast road winding around the cliffs. To my horror, below me I could see another part of the road blocked by a rock fall. I could do nothing to prevent the tragedy… not in that dream, not that time. But I heard it as God’s urgent call to action: so much could be done to help others avoid life’s tragedies. As adults, my wife and I had supported many overseas workers with finance, prayer and encouragement. Then came that call for us to go. Now returned after seven and a half years, we encourage others in mission with a greater awareness of their need for communication and prayer from their supporters. And we know the joy of multiplication, as they reach out to others in ever-widening ripples.
In my 60s I began supporting a group of women and children in Thailand through our church, later joining a short-term team to visit them. Did God “call” me? There was a mixture of being stirred by the Holy Spirit and a desire to travel and meet the people. Three years later I led a similar team and it was such a joy to see the mothers’ pride in their children’s health and education (some even doing tertiary studies.) They were still vulnerable but all had hope for their futures. Through these short visits I became more informed, more prayerful in supporting those working in other cultures, and encouraged other supporters. Any call to serve the Lord comes from our daily walk with him. We can step forward by faith when he opens a door, trusting that our God “who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
Go with God My initial “call” came in response to human need. I had been a follower of Christ for about four years, with a commitment to sharing the good news, when I attended a missions conference. The speaker told of the desperate need for the gospel among Muslim nations. I felt convicted in my heart that I could and should be part of God’s wider purposes in this matter. I did some short-term trips to check out possibilities overseas (none of which ultimately eventuated!), and then signed up for Bible college. From then a combination of nudges from the Holy Spirit, doors opening providentially, perceiving an alignment of my spiritual gifts and personality with potential roles, and a deep desire to serve God and to invest my life in significant ways 12
led me to cross-cultural service. The advice and encouragement of others was a key part in my journey. It was a very fluid and yet intentional process. We served overseas with Interserve for more than 21 years in four countries. In a couple of them, we were forced to leave by government order, a rather strange form of divine guidance! Looking back, we can see the Lord’s hand in those events, although it was hard to discern at the time. Our ministries were and are based on our professions – teaching for me and medicine for my wife. We are now living in Australia, having returned to help our sons settle into what was for them a foreign land. I teach Islamic studies at the Melbourne School of Theology and am involved in outreach and training with CultureConnect.
It has been exciting to see God actively working in the things He has called us to. We have, by His grace, been able to establish a clear gospel witness to our Muslim neighbours and friends in the different places we have lived. There have been many opportunities to influence individuals, families and communities for His sake. Some people have come to faith, grown in their discipleship and are reaching out to others. It was encouraging to see our Interserve teams grow, with more people being mobilised for mission and more ways of mission being developed. Having returned to Australia, it is heartening that God has opened up unforeseen paths of ministry through teaching, writing and evangelism to local and international Muslims. God never gives up on people if they desire to be used for His kingdom.
I have discovered that there is a dynamic relationship between God and us which is described as ‘co-workers’.
As I considered what advice I would give my younger self starting out on this journey, my initial thought was, “Relax and go with the flow”. However, on reflection, if I had done too much of that, I would probably not have been asked to write this article! So my more considered thoughts would be, “Trust God, step out in faith, be courageous, take the opportunities, don’t die wondering”. Other advice might be: “It doesn’t all depend on you. Jesus said, ‘I will build my church’. Let God be God.” This might seem contradictory, but I have discovered that there is a dynamic relationship between God and us which is described as ‘co-workers’. He takes our contribution seriously without needing to depend on it. Staying connected with God is the best way for that to happen, so that the glory goes to Him.
We have, by His grace, been able to establish a clear gospel witness to our Muslim neighbours and friends in the different places we have lived.
Dr Bernie Power lectures in Islamic Studies at Melbourne School of Theology and serves with CultureConnect. His first book, Understanding Jesus and Muhammad, was just published (see page 25).
How did you come to serve in the country and role where you are now? Our Interserve Partners and On Trackers share their stories.
When we decided it was time to return to Australia, we found it was possible to still be involved in mission leadership from here. Because of timing and gifting, I now have a regional role in Interserve.
I felt strongly called to ministry to children, rather than to a particular country or people group. I initially felt drawn to my current place of service because that’s where I’d had a short-term experience. In the end it stood out as a good fit and I was very happy to return long term.
Lyn, team leader, regional
Caryn*, special education, East Asia
God has led us through many situations over the years, which, in looking back, we can see were preparing us for this.
We held quite negative views about the country that was first suggested as an option. But this was the crazy thing because, as we both prayed and sought counsel from others, God completely changed our attitudes, and we became excited about serving there. We are now helping existing Partners establish a business.
Karen, member care, South East Asia
We had been asked, “Have you considered ministry to Muslims?” We hadn’t! But that question gave us significantly more focus to our general desire to serve God overseas. Then, some years ago, during a journey of exploration to the Middle East, the seed of the idea of being involved in mobilising Arab Christians to reach Arabs was sown. Brian*, training, Arab world
Amy*, music therapist, South East Asia
Having returned to Australia after 21 years’ service in four countries, it is heartening that God has opened up unforeseen paths of ministry through teaching, writing and evangelism to local and international Muslims. God never gives up on people if they desire to be used for His kingdom. Bernie, lecturer, Melbourne
*Names have been changed
God shaped me for this But that’s how God works sometimes – He brings surprises, a turn of events, the intercession of His children, to break our focus on the earthly, refocus on the eternal and point the way to something unknown.
The plane took off and, full of nervous energy, trepidation and excitement, I felt like I was flying to Neverland. For the first time in my life I was headed somewhere totally foreign. Four weeks before, I hadn’t even heard of this country, tucked deep in Central Asia. But that’s how God works sometimes – He brings surprises, a turn of events, the intercession of His children, to break our focus on the earthly, refocus on the eternal and point the way to something unknown. When the seatbelt light turned off, it signified a break from the safety of my culture and my lifestyle. An email telling me of an American couple’s prayer for a music therapist to train their orphanage employees had instigated this departure from the norm. What’s a music therapist, you might be thinking. Exactly. Not many people know it’s a real job. The prayer of this couple was so specific that, when I heard of it, my interest was immediately sparked. I’m a music therapist, I thought. I work with kids with disabilities. I can do that. 15
During the next three weeks I participated in Tom and Kara’s everyday life. I encountered many stories of how God was using them to change the orphanage from a place of hopelessness to one of life, with love and mercy penetrating its hard walls. In all they said and did, they beautifully intertwined word and deed as they played their role in God’s great story of salvation. I also met people like Zara*, a local believer who lost her husband in a terrible “hack job” surgical operation. She worked for Tom and Kara and exemplified compassion, gentleness and faith. And while I was able to share some of my knowledge and experience, I’m sure I took away the greater share. But the greater reason for my going was that God had shaped me for this. In Ephesians 2:10 we read: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. It was God who created me and moulded my life to be on such a search – He built in me a deep-seated compassion for those in need, an interest in learning about other cultures, and a desire to use my skills and experience to be a blessing to others and a witness of God’s grace and mercy. I had been inspired and challenged by the stories of many other Christians who had served cross-culturally, and I wanted to see if this could be for me too. On my connecting flight to Central Asia, I knew I was in foreign territory when, as soon as the “fasten seat belts” sign turned off, the duty free vodka started flowing freely. I felt as if I had gate-crashed a family reunion. We landed in freezing conditions and my senses were assaulted – there was nothing familiar to grab on to. Already, my trust in God was rising exponentially; I prayed and prayed! When I finally passed through Immigration and Tom and Kara*, the American couple I had been expecting, were there waiting, I sighed with relief, ready to follow them, to listen and to learn.
So it was that in that country God fanned a spark of interest into a greater desire to explore cross-cultural service. It was those experiences that would influence my future decisions and where I am today, serving God with my husband and young children in South East Asia. Through all this I can see God’s hand, His call to “Follow Me”. Amy* is a music therapist serving in South East Asia. *Names have been changed.
We landed in freezing conditions and my senses were assaulted – there was nothing familiar to grab on to. Already, my trust in God was rising exponentially; I prayed and prayed!
What advice would you give your younger self, starting out on this journey? Our Interserve Partners and On Trackers share their stories.
Gather prayer support early. Learn more about contemplation and resting in God. Lyn, team leader, regional
Listen for God’s voice and trust Him rather than feelings. Karen, member care, South East Asia
My Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself and He cares about every detail of my life. He is totally trustworthy. Caryn*, special education, East Asia
What He requires is that we take steps of obedience, whether we are here in Australia or somewhere else. So, hold your plans and your imagined futures loosely. Joel*, social worker, West Asia
Trust God to achieve His purposes. Amy*, music therapist, South East Asia
Learn to rest in Him. Adam & Penny*, IT/project management & special education, West Asia
Step out in faith, be courageous, take the opportunities, don’t die wondering. Bernie, lecturer, Australia
Don’t worry so much. Grace & Huy, doctor & engineer, Nepal
*Names have been changed
A heart for the poor Our call to cross-cultural mission started before we got married. We both had a heart for working with the poor. God had blessed us abundantly and had called us to be a blessing in return. So it was just a matter of timing â€“ if and when God would call us. It took 15 years but, in that time, God prepared us through a number of shortterm trips, courses and conferences. It was three years ago that God first put Nepal into our heads. Throughout that time, reminders about Nepal kept coming in. It felt like God was speaking through repetition. Two years ago, we took a family trip to Nepal to explore further. As soon as we set foot in Nepal it was 18
clear â€“ we were never coming back! It was such a crazy place. But we still had people to meet and places to visit and, after two weeks, God turned our hearts around. Although Kathmandu was pretty full-on, we really did enjoy being in Pokhara. And so, 15 years and two boys later, we moved our family to Nepal in August last year; we are now working with the poor in Pokhara, fulfilling the plan God had for us so many years ago! Grace (a doctor) and Huy (an engineer) serve in Nepal.
Obedience Some people have asked me.
I paused and I waited.
Dear Sir they will say.
They had a good case.
What fears do you have?
There still is one answer
What scares you today?
So I said it with grace.
When you think about moving.
“Make disciples of nations”
To Nepal of all places.
Is what God commands.
It’s crazy. It’s silly.
Obedience to Him
To move. On what basis?
Is His only demand.
The earth shakes with earthquakes.
And Nepal is a country
There’s landslides on mountainsides.
With needs that are clear
There’s monsoons from early June
And we’re willing to help
And bumpy, treacherous car rides.
In spite of our fear.
You’ll struggle to breathe
So grant us the wisdom
There’s hardly no air
Dear God we do pray.
On top of those mountains
To walk as you tell us
And there’s Yetis. BEWARE!!
Each and every new day.
The food is unsafe. The water’s not clean.
With lotsa trips to the loo If you know what I mean. The government is shaky. There’s political unrest. Public transport is dodgy And their planes aren’t the best. There are power cuts aplenty. Crazy cables all around And hazards are everywhere. In the air and on the ground. So tell me again. Now why would you go? After all I have told you With all you now know?
Called to Connect No longer is cross-cultural mission exclusively the domain of theologically trained workers with overseas ministry aspirations. It is accessible to ordinary Christians doing everyday life with those around them.
CultureConnect was established by Interserve Australia in 2007 to partner with local churches in mobilising Australian Christians to reach out with love and the good news of Jesus to their neighbours from Asia and the Arab world. No longer is cross-cultural mission exclusively the domain of theologically trained workers with overseas ministry aspirations. It is accessible to ordinary Christians doing everyday life with those around them. As we extend the hand of friendship to these neighbours, our prayer is that they will encounter the Lord Jesus and grow as His disciples. So what does a CultureConnect team member look like? Our paths are many and varied. I began this journey after years of working among migrants in factories in Sydney and seeing how open many of them were to discussing spiritual matters. I was born in Australia. I speak only English. I know nothing of lives endured in countries Iâ€™ve never even visited, and yet God opened my
eyes to how he could use me to share Jesus with these people whom He loves. I joined CultureConnect in 2011 as a self-supported team member and began reaching out to migrants in south-west Sydney through churchbased English as a Second Language (ESL) ministry. Vivien* was born in South East Asia. She came to Australia for education and trained in the health sciences. She first became involved with Interserve as an On Tracker and worked in Nepal for three months. In 2013 she joined CultureConnect and reached out to Hindus in Melbourne. As she still works full-time as physiotherapist, Vivien focuses her involvement on one Indian family that she regularly visits. Evelyn* worked as a school teacher in NSW before first going to East Asia many years ago. A long-term Interserve partner who is fluent in the local language, Evelyn moved back to Australia recently and is studying Tibetan Buddhism. She is involved in training local Christians and making contacts in her home city’s Buddhist community.
The life of faith is a life of living out our calling – the calling to follow Christ. How will I serve Christ? Who is he calling me to serve? These are questions for every believer. “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” Ephesians 4:1 Lisa Bateup is the new CultureConnect Director *Names have been changed.
All of us want to see these neighbours’ lives transformed through an encounter with Jesus Christ.
All of us want to see the local church envisioned and equipped to reach out to our Asian and Arab neighbours. All of us want to see these neighbours’ lives transformed through an encounter with Jesus Christ. How might God use these people as their lives are forever changed by him? My Nepali friends Larry and Simone* and their two children were baptised in Sydney in 2013; the baptismal service was skyped into villages of Nepal. The local church then decided to send a mission team to Nepal. They prayed. They raised money for smokeless stoves. And then they sent Larry and his family back to Nepal where he preached the gospel in his own language, in the villages he and his wife came from. People heard the good news of the Lord Jesus for the very first time, repented and believed. This is global mission and, as followers of our Lord Jesus, this is what we are called to. 21
How have you seen God bear fruit as youâ€™ve been obedient to him? Our Interserve Partners and On Trackers share their stories.
God has been faithful to work through me, despite my weaknesses and limitations. His ways are higher than my ways. Caryn*, special education, East Asia
Through our newsletter communications and private messages, I have recently seen a friend move from no interest in God to talking positively about the church and telling me she tried praying for the first time. Amy*, music therapist, South East Asia
As we are still in pre-departure, the fruit we are currently seeing is in the way God is shaping us and also our church family. Adam & Penny*, IT/project management & special education, West Asia
We have seen God bear fruit as individuals have affirmed that our ministry is helping them. Karen, member care, South East Asia
We have become more open to how He might be at work in ways we might not have imagined. Joel*, social worker, West Asia
We have, by His grace, been able to establish a clear gospel witness to our Muslim neighbours and friends in the different places we have lived. Bernie, lecturer, Melbourne
*Names have been changed
So, am I called or not?
Serving cross-culturally often begins with a call from God into this ministry. Sounds straightforward, right? Well, not really. As you can see from the stories in this edition of Go, people experience “call” in many different ways and some of our established ideas about “call” are often challenged during the journey. Firstly, we often think that call needs to be something that is specific and direct. However, aspects of the call can be just as valid when they are general and indirect. Scripture is full of statements which call us all to sacrificially serve Christ throughout our world. This general call is so powerful that we could argue that no further specific calling is necessary, or that not to serve in this way demands a clear call. Furthermore, our knowledge of the immense needs in a hurting world surely constitute such a compelling indirect call that a direct call from above should hardly be necessary. However, what emerges from these stories is that obedience to explore what the general call to be missional means for us personally often leads to specific and direct aspects of this call on our lives.
Obedience to explore what the general call to be missional means for us personally often leads to specific and direct aspects of this call on our lives.
Secondly, how the call to cross-cultural service develops is often as much about common sense as about extraordinary events. We already have gifts and abilities that we believe God has called us to thus far. How can we use them in another culture? How can we develop and grow spiritually and professionally as we explore God’s purposes for us? But beyond our common sense we need to remember that God’s call is to be a particular kind of person over and above what job or location he calls us to. This is where we should start to look for His call; the practical will unfold as we remain faithful and obedient. 23
Thirdly, we need to be open to change during the journey. Sometimes, we get the message wrong and God needs to change us. As Bernie found (page 12), “It was a very fluid yet intentional process”. We may be clinging on to false dreams. We can also mistake circumstances or closed doors as direction from God when it may be a test of our resolve or an attack of the evil one. Discerning the differences is not always easy, but God remains faithful and will continue to patiently guide, shepherd and grow us.
Our call will keep developing as God continues His work in us, not just as His servants but as His children.
Finally, our personal call is not just between us and God. We are part of the body of Christ – a community on which there is also a call. Our church, family, friends and, yes, even our mission agency are also collectively called to discern God’s will for the body of Christ in this world. This can be a challenge to Western individuality and independence, but this was firmly part of the early church’s missional strategy and is still a powerful aspect of faith in action among other cultures. Let the Christian community speak into your life. Be prepared to let go, remembering that God’s voice is often heard through His people. We need to be sure of God’s leading as we seek to serve cross-culturally. It’s a big undertaking with a lot at stake. And it will be this call that sustains us when the going gets tough. However, if we are open, our call will keep developing as God continues His work in us, not just as His servants but as His children. Peter Smith is the new Church and Community Engagement Director. He and his wife Prue recently returned from serving in the Middle East.
Changing Lanes: Equipping Christians and churches to cross cultures Authors: Andrew Schachtel, Choon-Hwa Lim & Michael K Wilson
Australia is now home to hundreds of thousands of people from a wide range of minority ethnic backgrounds. Many of them have very little contact with Christians, and minimal understanding of the gospel. There’s a need for Christians to learn new skills and approaches so that they can effectively reach out to ethnic minorities. Changing Lanes is a new book that will help Australian Christians and churches engage in cross-cultural ministry – from those who have not seriously considered reaching out across cultures, to those starting this ministry or seeking to improve their existing one. It examines the biblical motivation for cross-cultural ministry and includes practical information on getting involved, helpful anecdotes and case studies, and questions for reflection and discussion.It’s designed so that any person can pick it up and read it, and is also particularly suitable for smallgroup study over six sessions. Changing Lanes can be ordered from Interserve Australia at interserve.org.au/ learn/resources/books or call 1800 067 100.
Understanding Jesus and Muhammad Author: Bernie Power Publisher: Acorn Press, 2016 ISBN: 9780994254450 eISBN: 9780994254467
In this remarkable book, Dr Bernie Power draws on his extensive experience in engaging with Muslims. This work is accessible to non-specialist readers and equips Christians with both answers to common Muslim objections about Christianity and insights into questions about Muhammad and Islam. He lets the primary texts of both faiths speak for themselves and successfully captures the dramatic differences between the recorded lives of Jesus and Muhammad. This has ramifications for today’s world, with readers better able to understand contrasts between Christians and Muslims in the present day who model their lives on Jesus and Muhammad respectively. Book review by: Professor Peter Riddell, Melbourne School of Theology Available from Acorn Press’s website, Amazon and all major ebook retailers.
His leadership was characterised by calm, astute wisdom and insight.
Photo: Ramon Williams
Remembering John Reid Bishop John Reid passed away on 2 January after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. His legacy of leadership within Bible and Medical Missionary Fellowship (BMMF)/Interserve is not widely known but is very significant. John became the International Chairman of BMMF International in 1986 and continued in that role until 1998, when Rose Dowsett succeeded him. In his first two years as Chairman John helped to steer the Fellowship through the difficult transitions from BMMF to Interserve and from its base in India to Cyprus. John’s interest in cross-cultural mission began in his days in the Melbourne University Christian Union and through his close friendship with Howard Barclay, who left for missionary service in India in 1952. John’s first of several visits to the Barclays was in 1966 when they lived in Amppipal in the remote hills of Nepal. The other strong influence on John was his senior colleague Bishop A Jack Dain who was Executive Chairman of the Lausanne Congress of World Evangelization (LCWE) in the 1970s and concurrently Chairman of BMMF. It was this connection that led to John’s significant roles in the LCWE: from 1981 he took over from John Stott as Chairman of the Theology Working Group and was LCWE Vice-Chairman at the time of the Lausanne II Congress in Manila. Despite John’s heavy responsibilities as Bishop and Chairman of both LCWE and Interserve, his leadership was characterised by calm, astute wisdom and insight, and a remarkable attention to individuals, which flowed from his love for people. This was manifested in two ways: firstly, in prayer – John and Alison used the Interserve Prayer Diary daily – and, secondly, in correspondence – in his first year as Chairman of Interserve John tried to write personally (pre-emails!) to all Partners. His letters were brief and to the point – insightful, challenging and encouraging. John was a mentor to many a “Timothy” in the fellowship.
John had many leadership qualities. He had a tinder-dry wit and could tell the funniest stories with an impassive face; his levity often diffused tense discussions in meetings. He was deeply thoughtful, wise and humble and he had the ‘personal touch’, a quality that is often lacking in more charismatic leaders. John loved the people he led – not in a superficial way, but with genuine interest and prayerful concern. I experienced this myself on several occasions. I will never forget the way John led the concluding communion service at the Interserve Quadrennial Conference in Kathmandu in 1994. He commented on what a remarkably gifted and competent group of people was present representing the wider Interserve fellowship, but then continued on to make the point that we were flawed and frail and in need of God’s grace and sanctification (how true that was). After John retired, he and his wife Alison joined United Mission to Nepal as personnel counselors and they were both instrumental in helping me professionally (Alison) and pastorally (John) to survive two very difficult and challenging years (1994–95) at Gandaki Boarding School. One of John’s letters to me during that time referred to the “tottering fence” imagery in Psalm 62; it has been a consistent source of encouragement over the years when times are tough. John wrote recently to Dr Saphir Atyal, “I often reassure myself when the going gets tough that I do not have anything that a good resurrection will not fix”. John Barclay is a returned Interserve Partner.
John loved the people he led with genuine interest and prayerful concern. 27
Staff News Farewells
After more than 13 years on staff, Neil Amery completed his time with Interserve at the end of March. Over the years Neil has filled the roles of Victoria/Tasmania State Director, Ministry and Mobilization Manager, Personnel Director and Acting National Director. He has been a lively, engaging member of the missionâ€™s community during this time and many remember his pioneering leadership with the Mission Interlinks Short Term Training course and at Interserveâ€™s Great Weekend Away as well as his thoughtful pastoral care to many Partners. Neil is looking forward to work in a new field of outdoor maintenance. We are grateful to God for Neilâ€™s many years of faithful service.
Tamara has been with Interserve for almost ten years, first as an On Tracker then on staff. From her role as the Vic Admin Assistant, to the Tasmanian State Director and more recently in her role as Personnel Coordinator, many have benefited from her caring and thoughtful manner, organisational skills and servant heart. Tamara will be working in aged care.
Many of our readers will have spoken with Natalie in her role as receptionist, and later in Finance, over the past five years. Her organizational and logistical skills came to the fore in organising conferences of many shapes and sizes! She is moving with her husband Kane and son Roxas to be closer to family.
Nate has served at Interserve for almost three years as Communications Designer. He has brought a keen professionalism to several major campaigns and a wide range of essential new materials. Please join us in lifting up Nate and his wife Larissa as they embark on this new season!
Peter Smith has newly started in his role as Church & Community Engagement Director. Peter has been working with Interserve for 18 years in the Middle East and in Australia. He and his wife Prue have worked in project management, media and internet outreach ministry, community development and health. In Australia, Peter has served as National Director. Peterâ€™s leadership is characterised by his thoughtfulness, creativity and passion for mobilising and training people for crosscultural mission.
Lisa Bateup took up the role of CultureConnect Director in April. Based in Sydney, her experience in the multi-ethnic world of manufacturing showed her the desire and openness of people from many countries to discuss spiritual things. Lisa has been a team CultureConnect team member for seven years. In this new role, she will be developing and leading a team of people who are actively involved in local cross-cultural ministry and envisioning, training and resourcing the local church to reach out to our neighbours from Asia and the Arab world.
Richard Jessup has joined Interserve part-time as Donor Relations Coordinator. He and his wife Kerrie have been connected with Interserve for 30 years, including as part of the Queensland State Committee. He has worked as a school chaplain for the last 20 years. Richard and Kerrie have three adult children and seven grandchildren.
Scott & Rachael Litchfield accepted the position of Personnel Director. They served with their family in Pen Asia for many years, including as Country Team Leader in Cambodia. Scott and Rachael are gifted in leadership, strategic thinking, coaching and mentoring. They have set aside 2016 as a sabbatical year and will begin the role part-time in July, increasing to full-time later in the year. They live in Adelaide where their sons, Tennyson and Elliot, are at university.
Jothi Chintaparelli has joined the Finance team one day a week. In her knowledge and experience of particular database software systems, Jothi brings a wealth of skill, care and a servant heart to support the work of Interserve.
Serve Could you go? Urgent needs include: Finance Director in Central Asia Student workers in Pakistan Surgeons in Nepal Physios and Midwives in South East Asia Curriculum developer in Arab world Marketing Manager in Cambodia Teachers everywhere!
Give You can help make all this possible. Our 2016 appeal is on now, and donations are tax deductible. interserve.org.au/give
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Interserve Australia Telephone 03 9729 9611 Freecall 1800 067 100 firstname.lastname@example.org PO Box 231 Bayswater VIC 3153
Interserve Partners and On Trackers share their experiences of God's call to serve cross-culturally.