Fruitful, not fearful
On the far side of the sea: Trusting God in the unknown
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Hope after border crossings: A refugee comes to stay As for me and my house: When itâ€™s your own family moving overseas On Track Together: A new way to step into mission
Interserve is a global community of ordinary Christians taking action in faith. We live and work among the most marginalised people of Asia and the Arab world. We are involved in bringing tangible love, social change and spiritual transformation to lives and communities. Come, walk with us.
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CultureConnect is helping to bridge the gap between the church and ethnic minorities in Australia. Weâ€™re envisioning and equipping churches to reach out into their own neighbourhoods. Letâ€™s work together.
Contents 04 On the far side of the sea 06 Excerpts of a journey 10 Speak up for us 12 The spirit in the room 14 Hope after border crossings 18 An ongoing creation 20 Fearless, generous hospitality 22 As for me and my house 24 On Track Together 26 Calling all teachers 27 Community News 31 #MeetTheNeed
Fear is normal. Imagine life without fear. You’d walk into oncoming traffic. You’d swim outside the flags. You wouldn’t study for an exam and you’d spend your way to bankruptcy. While “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”, a healthy respect for the things that threaten, harm, or hinder us surely builds on that wisdom.
Thanks to all who contributed to the making of this magazine. Primary sources of news and information: Our own correspondents. Editors: Kaitlyn Gaudion and Yvonne Evans Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Design: Les Colston, Urban Zeal Photos: Stock images or by Interserve personnel, except where indicated – thanks to all. Photos do not necessarily relate to articles for sensitivity reasons. Cover image via IMB Photo Library / imb.org Go is the magazine published twice a year by Interserve Australia. Interserve material may be freely reproduced with permission from Interserve; permission for use of nonInterserve 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. Interserve Australia is not responsible for the content of external websites. Interserve Australia is an ACNC Registered Charity and a member of Australia’s Missions Interlink and the international Micah Network.
Maybe fear is a prerequisite for excellence and achievement as well as a long life! Recently, a friend who was preparing a sermon on fear asked me what I was afraid of. I surprised myself (and him) by saying, “Everything!” I find, for better and for worse, that it is often fear that motivates me: fear of failure, fear of unpreparedness, fear of letting others down, fear that God won’t be there when I need Him. Fear, in moderation, challenges our apathy, tempers our triumphalism and makes us more dependent on God. It can be our unexpected friend. It is arguably the greatest hindrance to cross-cultural service – and understandably so. Fear of moving into an uncertain future, jeopardising our hard-won career, accepting financial uncertainty, leaving support structures behind, risking failure and endangering our very life is natural. Fear can sabotage fruitfulness.
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Yet God works despite our fears and this edition of Go explores the tension between fear and fruitfulness. Fear is real and necessary. Yet fruitfulness is promised and empowered. Interservers explore this apparent dichotomy as ordinary Christians seeking to be faithful to Christ amongst the peoples of Asia and the Arab world. Sometimes fear wins. Sometimes fruit flourishes despite our fear. Sometimes the fruit will only ripen for the next farmer. But God is always at work. Peter Smith Church & Community Engagement Director
On the far side of the sea
God taught me lesson upon lesson about trusting him on that far side of the sea.
As we stopped over in Singapore on our way to live in a land we’d never seen before, I wrote in my journal a verse God had given me: “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you ... Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 2 Chronicles 20:17. Heading to the Middle East with four kids under seven, including a baby on my hip and a toddler at my knee, there was not a lot of fighting I could do. I did, however, need to do a lot of trusting. I remember when our six-month-old baby had a temperature of 39 degrees. We had only been there a few weeks and I had no idea who to call if the Panadol didn’t start working soon. I could barely say ‘hospital’ in Arabic. The next morning he was okay. Three years later, however, when he needed emergency surgery to remove the coin lodged in his oesophagus, he was less than okay (and I wasn’t too crash hot either!). Thankfully, by then
I knew exactly who to call. I had also become quite good at pronouncing ‘hospital’. Another afternoon our children were playing in our friends’ yard when a protest passed the front gate. We ignored the usual shouting and drumming … until the shooting began. I bolted down the stairs roaring at our kids, “GET INSIDE NOW!” They ran inside, probably more frightened of me yelling than any gun. Like any mother, my biggest fears always circle around my children. And I am certainly no spiritual champion when it comes to worrying! But God taught me lesson upon lesson about trusting him on that far side of the sea. When the Arab Spring turned the Middle East upside down, God sent our family through a learning-to-trust-him intensive. Day by day we prayed and waited on Him. During that time of protests, curfews and army tanks, the peace He gave us truly did pass understanding. There was the day a bomb went off in front of the building next door to my children’s school. But God, in his perfect timing, had kept all of our kids far away from that building on a planned pupil-free holiday. This non-coincidence was a clear reminder to me of how very in control God was. There were many more non-coincidences like these. The first time the funding for our ministry drew very close to zero, we were anxious. We relied on donations alone; how would we get thousands of dollars to keep the refugee school going by next week? Then, suddenly, a $10,000 cheque came in. A year later when the bank balance was again near zero, we prayed and received another miracle of even greater proportions. The third time, we prayed in expectant faith. And, like God promised, we saw his deliverance; the funding came in, ensuring hundreds of underprivileged children could still go to school. This did not mean bad things never happened in our six years in the Middle East: there were health problems, accidents, broken nights, our
This non-coincidence was a clear reminder to me of how very in control God was. kids’ grief at every goodbye, and everyday stresses of life in a foreign land. But through each of these we could face the future knowing the Lord was with us, standing in his strength. Fear not and see the deliverance of the Lord? That day in Singapore when God gave me this verse, I didn’t know what to expect. I did not dream of a future with revolutions or bombs or emergency surgery. But looking back over the challenges and the blessings of our time in the Middle East, I know that my Lord has kept his promises in more ways than I could ever imagine. Chelsea served with her family in the Middle East for six years. Names have been changed.
Be fruitful, not fearful: Currently, there are 23 young families serving crossculturally with Interserve. Pray they would fear not and see the deliverance of the Lord through non-coincidences.
Excerpts of a journey Well-meaning family friend “Your parents have sacrificed everything to bring you to Australia and given you every opportunity for peace, freedom and success. Why are you throwing that all away? Don’t you care about what they have done for you? There are people in this country who need help too, including your parents. They’re not getting any younger! God can use your gifts in this country too.”
A country in Central Asia UNICEF data: Only one-third of the population is literate. Less than half of the men can read. Fewer than one in five women can read.
“My passion for education and the desperate need in other parts of the world for change through education compels me to tender my resignation.” International news Armed terrorists broke into an NGO office which also served as the home of an expatriate family. Everyone inside was killed before the building was burnt to the ground.
Security training For the second year in a row, this country in Central Asia was in the top five countries for the highest number of attacks on aid workers …
Excerpt from my letter of resignation Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the many opportunities you have afforded me over the past 7 ½ years that I have worked here. I have loved being a Secondary School Teacher and later a Head of Faculty. There is a sense of camaraderie and community at this school that I will both treasure and miss. My passion for education, however, and a recognition of the desperate need in other parts of the world for change through education compels me to tender my resignation.
Prayer that night “Dear God, is that really the place you are calling me to?”
Morning Scripture reading the next day 2 Timothy 1:6–10 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Diary entry After two years of working and sharing and preparation and raising support, I’m finally on the plane heading to my destination. I’ve said my goodbyes. The plane is quiet. Most people are sleeping. All I can see out of the plane window is darkness.
Class discussion on teaching Emotional Intelligence Teacher 1: But this is not our culture – to talk about emotions. It is our custom to keep these things inside. Why should we teach our children something that is against our custom? Teacher 2: But isn’t that the problem with our society? How many women do you know who have kept all their pain inside and never shared it with anyone or had a chance to relieve themselves of the pain? They are wasting away. This way, we can help them to find some comfort. Teacher 3: Yes, and if we can teach the children how to do this from when they are young, imagine how much better our society will become – if people can express their emotions and themselves in a healthy way rather than resorting to violence. Teacher 4: Yes, there is so much trauma in our country. We need to be able to teach our children and ourselves how to better cope with it.
First day of six-week teacher training course Teacher: I have to admit that I did not want to come on this training during our school holidays. None of the teachers did. But now, we are so excited to come back. Excerpts of a journey continues >
Excerpt from classroom observation report During the six-week teacher training program, the teachers were notably stunned at the prospect that mathematics could be taught in such a way that students understand mathematical concepts and reasoning rather than just learning by rote and repetition. It was encouraging today to see the teachers using coloured sticks, blocks and even kidney beans in their classrooms to help students understand more deeply and to think for themselves. It was encouraging, too, to see the children engaged in the classroom and working co-operatively – another practice that is new in a system that promotes competition above all else.
“Teacher, this is for you. We have all cooked this morning before work and have prepared a lunch for you to thank you for being our teacher.”
“You encouraged me. No one has ever encouraged me before.”
International news: A peaceful demonstration was attacked today. The extremely high number of injuries and deaths overwhelmed the emergency system.
Diary entry It was International Teachers’ Day last week. You’d think that that would have been a clue but I remained oblivious until I walked into the room. The teachers were all sitting around the table which was laden with all kinds of delightful food. They started to clap. I was still a little oblivious … “Teacher, this is for you. We have all cooked this morning before work and have prepared a lunch for you to thank you for being our teacher”.
Text from security advisor We have received credible intelligence that a criminal network is operating in the area. They are seeking to kidnap foreign workers. Foreign nationals are urged to practise extreme caution.
Excerpt from transcript of Comment from student teacher mentoring feedback formsession Me: ItWe hashave beennoticed so wonderful that the to seeteachers your progress overmore thesekind are much past months. At the beginning to us and that we do lots of you didn’t seemactivities, so interested in different including bringing about change, but now group work. you are such an inspirational practitioner of activeparticipatory teaching. What brought about the change?
Interview with School
Teacher: You encouraged me. Principal No-one has ever encouraged I didn’t really believe in this me before. program before but now I see children actually reading. I hadn’t even realised that before they were just repeating what they had learnt by rote but now they are actually learning to read and even the parents have commented to us that they are really happy.
Online parent forum Dear teachers, I wanted to thank you for all your hard work. We can all see how hard you work and how much you care for our children. We have never seen any other school like this. Our children are happy and are learning. We thought we had to leave the country so that we could provide good education for our children. We are so happy that this is in our country.
Matthew 28:20 And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Excerpt from transcript of teacher mentoring session Me: It has been so wonderful to see your progress over these past months. At the beginning you didn’t seem so interested in bringing about change, but now you are such an inspirational practitioner of active-participatory teaching. What brought about the change? Teacher: You encouraged me. No-one has ever encouraged me before.
Jodi is a teacher-trainer. She is serving long-term in Central Asia. Girl in red via IMB Photo Library / imb.org
Speak up for us
“What we really need is someone to speak up for us, to be our advocate.”
Each week I visit refugees who are being detained in the Immigration Detention Centre. Having left their country in fear of their lives, they now live in a country which does not recognise them or give them any legal rights. My fears pale in comparison. When I visit my friends, I must first register my name and passport details. If we make a mistake on the form, don’t have the correct information about the person we are visiting or wear the wrong clothes, we are not allowed inside. People are banned from visiting, or being visited, for often unexplained reasons. It’s the kind of place where the lower your profile, the better. But visitors are able to bring fresh food, toiletries, clothes and books; and having a visitor means you are allowed to leave your overcrowded cell for an hour, talk to someone from the outside, and perhaps even hear news from your family. A visitor can pray for you. It is a reminder that you have not been forgotten. One day, I went to visit my friend’s husband who had been detained for more than a year. I had my passport, correctly completed forms and correct clothes, but I was not allowed to visit. He and some others were in the punishment room where (I later found out) he was shackled and beaten. For over a month my visits were denied. Eventually I saw one of his friends who had also been punished. Both he and my friend were now back in their normal cell but, though he was allowed visitors again, my friend was still on the visiting black list. This continued for a number of months. I had tried, through other avenues, to find out what was going on but the more I learned, the clearer it became that it would be best not to interfere. It sounded like he had been set up, that officials were involved and that interference would only make matters worse. Then one day, while I was visiting someone else, my friend came to the visiting area! Somehow he had been allowed out. Communicating during a visit is very difficult—it’s a shouting match across two fences, trying to be heard above everyone
else’s conversations and pleas for help. But it was very clear that my friend wanted me to ask the chief police commander why he was still on the black list. I like to say my language is good enough to get me into trouble but not good enough to get me out of trouble. I really did not want to make it worse for my friend. Then I remembered the words of another detainee: “Your visits and food are appreciated, but what we really need is someone to speak up for us, to be our advocate”. Isn’t there a Bible verse or two about speaking up for the rights of the weak and vulnerable? (“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” Proverbs 31:8) I prayed for courage, that the commander would listen and understand and be kind. God gave me courage but as I approached the commander, I did not really believe my efforts would succeed. But that day I learnt that God is bigger than my fears and weak language skills, and certainly bigger than my lack of faith. The commander was surprised when he learnt of my friend’s situation. He went straight to the registration desk and removed his name from the black list! I wonder what other, greater things God could do through us if we had the courage to trust in him more. Cat is involved with a number of discipleship and outreach ministries. She’s serving with her family longterm in South East Asia. All names have been changed.
Be fruitful, not fearful: Consider advocating for a group of people whose voices may not be heard – such as refugees or sweatshop workers. Write a letter to your local Member and speak up on their behalf.
The spirit in the room It led to opportunities to share about the One who has power over evil spirits.
Courage is highly esteemed in the Middle East, but underlying that, and rarely talked about, is extreme fear about the spirit world, particularly within folk Islam. Muslims and Christians alike recognise that unseen spiritual forces of the heavenly realms are constantly at work. Every now and then, however, we see the beautiful fruit of new believers who are freed from fear. The staff of our community centre organised an art competition for young people. They did not advertise it widely for fear that some extreme groups, who deem any form of creative expression ‘haram’ (forbidden), would take offence. As a family, we attended the official opening, which was held in an unused part of the community centre. In an impressive outpouring of creativity, 50 young people displayed their artistic flair. It was only when we showed our staff a blurry family photo taken at the exhibition that we learned about ‘Anji’, believed to be the resident evil spirit. One of my employees, Indigo, was
particularly attuned to the ‘unseen’ and very fearful of the spirits she believed followed her every move. This led to a most unusual management/ministry issue that I was not prepared for. Soon almost all our local staff believed there was an evil spirit in that area. Both Indigo and her colleague Harriet claimed to have heard the spirit’s name and seen her face in dreams. Indigo flatly refused to enter the room and when Harriet did she placed her holy book on the table next to her for protection. This fear of Anji became a growing problem but it led to opportunities for us to share openly with staff about the One who has power over evil spirits. At one of our weekly staff lunches, the topic of Anji was discussed for more than an hour. I didn’t want to trivialise the importance of the issue but reminded staff that our centre provided great ‘light’, hope and transformation in people’s lives so it was to be expected that the devil would oppose it. I decided to be bolder and offered to pray with and for any staff members in Jesus’ name in these rooms. This created an awkward conundrum: if they asked for prayer they were publically admitting that Jesus does have power, but not asking left them crippled with fear. It was awkward for me too, considering this battle was out of my comfort zone and experience; however, Ephesians 6:10–12 gave me more than enough guidance:
We see the beautiful fruit of new believers freed from fear. us to pray. We still long for them to know the power of Jesus and to experience freedom from fear. We had seen the fruit of faith remove fear in a very tangible way with another new local believer, Ruth. She had been under much pressure from the unseen, so crippled by a fear of jinn (spirits), in fact, that her sister needed to accompany her even to the bathroom. Amazingly, immediately after she trusted Jesus her fear disappeared. Please join us in praying that Ruth will continue to stand firm, and that many others will be freed from their fears and superstitions. Stephen is a long-term Partner working in the Middle East. Names have been changed.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers … against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Sadly, our staff never did ask us to pray to expel the evil spirits. Many did, however, recognise the power of our own prayers. Harriet became increasingly open and committed to read the Bible alongside her holy book every day. She would often come to us with concerns and ask 13
Hope after border crossings
They’re making this city in West Asia their home. Their neighbours are refugees and locals, and they’re serving with a small local church with a big heart. They’re in it for the long haul. Two years ago we introduced Adam and Penny, and Joel and Erin (Check out Go: Am I called?). They’re two couples with young families, starting out in a city with over 60,000 refugees, and they’ve just spent two years learning the local language. These couples are now able to talk with their neighbours, interact with their kids’ schools and invest in the refugee centre’s food and clothing distribution. Joel coordinates his church’s refugee program, and he and Adam have started an English conversation club. Erin runs an art therapy group specifically for refugee women, operating only in Arabic and the local tongue. These new roles would not have been possible without first dedicating time to learning the local language and discerning God’s leading among the many needs. We believe 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’s Giving Back program voted to support longterm work among refugees by contributing to Adam, Penny, Joel and Erin’s language-learning costs (missiontravel.com.au). Long-term Interserve Partners commence their time overseas with up to two years of full-time language learning. Learn more about language learning and read more stories of hope at interserve.org.au/hope
Hearing from Adam, Penny, Joel & Erin: Now that you’ve finished full-time language learning, what are you involved in? “We’re serving refugees through a centre run by a group of churches. From there, around 5,000 individuals are given regular assistance with basic food and material goods (blankets, clothing, etc.). “These refugees are primarily Iraqi and Syrian, and often come from large families. Their situations are complex and danger prevents them from returning to the home countries from which they fled. They find themselves waiting years or potentially decades for resettlement in a third country through the UNHCR. They are generally not permitted to work legally but many support themselves through taking menial jobs. “The refugee centre has so far primarily focused on meeting food security needs. We have been able to work alongside local Christians to distribute between 250 and 350 boxes of food to refugees each week.” By the end of their formal language learning, Joel had taken on coordination of his church’s refugee ministry. This presently involves being part of the refugee centre steering committee.
Do refugees have needs other than practical needs? “Yes. There is a growing need to move beyond material needs and to support refugees in more focused ways. This includes building community as they settle in West Asia for years to come. Two specific ways we have started doing this is through facilitating small groups for building relationships and establishing rapport with refugees: English conversation club and an art therapy group.” Hope after border crossings continues >
> Hope after border crossings from page 15
“What followed changed my life … I had a vivid vision of Jesus carrying the cross.”
A refugee comes to stay What would you do if your dad put a gun to your head and said, “If you don’t want to follow the faith of our family, I will kill you”? This is the story of a homeless 23-year-old Iraqi refugee who came to stay with us one night. He had been sleeping on a bench at the local bus station for the past two weeks, but that night he came home with us so that, for at least for one night, he could have a home-cooked meal, a shower and a warm bed. Now he wants to help others by serving at the refugee centre where we volunteer. This is his amazing story of encountering Jesus ...
“I first started seeking God by attending a local school in Iraq. However, I was turned off by the violence that was promoted, so I returned home dejected and eventually decided to become an atheist. Then, I became aware of a Christian in my city who encouraged me to honestly pray, ‘God, if you are real, then show me’. “What followed changed my life … I had a vivid vision of Jesus carrying the cross. In such pain He was struggling, and I ran over to help Him. But He wouldn’t let me carry His cross. He just smiled at me with an unforgettable smile which I can still see today and said, ‘I’m carrying this for you’. “A little later, I was hanging out with my friends who were talking about horrible things when someone leaned into my right ear and said, ‘Your name is now John and you need to leave these people’. I turned around but no-one was there. I knew at that time God had spoken to me and I needed to turn away from my sin and the bad influences in my life. But I knew this wouldn’t be an easy road, as my dad leads a pretty ‘dark’ group. So when my dad found out about my new faith, he pulled out his gun from his pocket and held it to my head.” John did the only thing he could think of to save his life. He bought a plane ticket and fled from his family. He went from being part of a wealthy family to being homeless and jobless in a city of five million people, with no support. Although we could not provide John with everything he needed, we could encourage and pray with him.
Be fruitful, not fearful: You can support work among refugees by giving a gift of Tangible Love. Give the gifts of Hope after border crossings or IT support, or contribute to the What I need for winter project. Visit our gift catalogue at tangiblelove.org.au
Adam works in IT and Penny is a teacher. They have two children. Names have been changed.
> Experiencing hope after border crossings through art therapy. Read how Nour found love without strings at interserve.org.au/hope
An ongoing creation One of the best things about living in a tropical climate is its fruit.
As we grow in our own personal fruitfulness, others will be nourished by our good fruits.
When visiting a local school recently, I heard the thud of a mango falling from a tree. Within seconds, a stampede of students came racing around the corner, intent on being first to collect this treasure. Whether it’s watching children joyfully hunt out mangoes, tasting strange new, odd-looking (and often odd-smelling) local fruit, or gazing longingly at the outrageously priced, imported berries in the supermarket, I am sure that God must have had such fun creating fruits. It’s no wonder, then, that the word ‘fruit’ in the Bible stirs up images of sweet, wonderful things being produced. I yearn for a fruitful life, where I know my purpose and can see God working through me in tangible ways. The problem is that my life doesn’t exactly look like that at the moment. Right now I don’t ‘do’ very much at all.
I departed Australia nearly a year ago, leaving behind all the ministries and friendships that one might see as ‘fruitful’. Now, while I learn how to live in a different country and culture and to speak a different language, I am not involved in formal ministry. It has been very difficult for me to have everything that gives my life productivity disappear.
In the same way, we are first and foremost God’s artwork. God is the artist and gardener who is designing, pruning, shaping and nourishing us to be filled with variety, beauty and fruitfulness. And we should be encouraged knowing that, as we grow in our own personal fruitfulness, others will enjoy and be nourished by our good fruits.
Have you experienced something like this too? Maybe you felt God guiding you into something new, but still have no idea what that is. Maybe you feel unfulfilled or disappointed. Where is our fruitfulness when our productivity is low, or even nonexistent? The common response is that fruitfulness comes in seasons. This is very true, but perhaps there is another way of looking at it.
As this new understanding of fruitfulness seeps into my being, my fear at not knowing what it is I am doing here starts to fade. It’s scary to think you are a dead tree. But I am not a dead tree! I am God’s Tree of 40 Fruit—his art project.
As I pored over theological commentaries to explore what biblical authors said about fruit, one thing in particular stood out. Rather than productivity, it was about personal spiritual development—fruitfulness as the development of the kind of person God is designing me to be. Ministry will then flow out of that. I love images and metaphors. When I stumbled across a story about a tree that produces 40 different kinds of fruit, this overachieving tree made me feel even more disheartened. As I read more, though, the tree became a wonderful metaphor for what God was trying to show me. Sam Van Aken, who grafts these trees, knows a lot about fruit trees but his career is actually in art. These trees are fruitful in the literal sense of the word. But they are really artworks, Van Aken’s ongoing creation.
So, continue to grow, whether you are sure of your ministries or not. Whether you are in transition, or dormancy, or blossoming, know that you are being nurtured by the greatest gardener and being transformed into a thing of great beauty. Join me in holding onto that. Kylie is learning langugage in South East Asia. She is passionate about using education to empower young people.
Be fruitful, not fearful: Share this article with someone who needs encouragment.
Fearless, generous hospitality
Hope breaks the bonds of fear.
I’m an Anglo Aussie who grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney. Suburban life can appear deceptively safe because we rely on material comforts to keep bad stuff under control. In my early married life with my generous Malaysian husband, I grew in my understanding of God’s faithfulness and I learned not to withhold good to my neighbour (Proverbs 3:28). Fear comes at times of change and challenge.
How fruitful for the kingdom it would be if every home that called Jesus ‘Lord’ could be as fearless and generous in their welcome of the stranger as this family has been to us.
My husband’s medical practice was located in our own home and he was on call all hours, so we were accountable to our community. Crime was sometimes close by and maintaining grace was at times difficult. As we read 2 Corinthians 4, we were convicted that God wanted us to stay in our current home and to live in a way that clearly revealed the death of Jesus in our lives so that his life would be visible through us.
a relaxed time together. Our relationship has become friendship and we genuinely enjoy the warmth and laughter of their home.
One year later my husband died suddenly in his sleep while we were on holiday as a family in Hong Kong. During the early years of widowhood my life was a matter of surviving one day at a time. I often thought that the most fruitful I could be was to live to old age and be like Anna in the temple, praising God.
Lydia is a physiotherapist and a CultureConnect team
I often wonder how fruitful for the kingdom it would be if every home that called Jesus ‘Lord’ could be as fearless and generous in their welcome of the stranger as this family has been to us. member living in Sydney. Names have been changed.
But God has now given me sisters in Christ to walk alongside. Their example reminds me that all that I have belongs to the Lord. God has given me the privilege of giving in ways that have connected my heart to his kingdom and invited me to invest more of myself. One of my new friends wavers between anxiety about the future and striving to live well. She has been drawn to Jesus, however, through her experience of having another Christian friend who acted with integrity and care toward her while she was vulnerable. Hope in the powerful name of Jesus is light in darkness—it breaks the bonds of fear. While walking through Punchbowl in Sydney dropping in flyers for our church’s neighbourhood holiday kids club, we met a Muslim Arabic family having a picnic on their front lawn. They invited us in to spend all afternoon eating and enjoying
Be fruitful, not fearful: Ask God to help you open your hearts, home and lives fearlessly and generously to the stranger.
As for me and my house “Why would you be surprised that your children are willing to serve in hard places?”
The entry to our home displays a wall plaque with Joshua’s statement of commitment: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord”. We adopted this proclamation as our own when we married and became a family, and so dedicated our two daughters to the Lord from the start of their lives. Yet at times I have cried out for sympathy when I came face to face with the implications of living out God’s calling on our lives. “Does that really have to mean separation from all our dear ones?” I asked. But God’s spirit through His word reminded me, “No one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come, eternal life”. Luke 18:29–30
By surrendering our cultural values to Kingdom values we experience a closeness to God in all things ... The request to reflect on the topic “Fear or fruitfulness” came at a time of heightened preChristmas nostalgia. You see we are separated from one daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren who have been serving in Cambodia for 11 years, and our other daughter, son-in-law and grandchild are understandably preoccupied with their pre-departure stage of cross-cultural ministry in South East Asia.
sacrifice. It would be so easy to accept their sympathy and kindly meant advice; however, they may be more like Job’s advisers who introduced fearfulness to his circumstances. Instead, we may recognise in this situation an opportunity to share our experience of God’s goodness and purpose in our lives and so build others’ understanding of what God requires of us.
“Why would you be surprised that your children are willing to serve in hard places?” our friends and family have reminded us. Throughout our 30 years serving in rural pastoral ministry with the Anglican church, we shepherded struggling parishes and communities. We experienced God’s provision, healing and growth whenever we stepped out in faith.
I urge the Interserve community to come alongside those families, especially parents, who are left behind, to lovingly support them and remind them of God’s faithfulness.
Our own lives have been enriched through cross-cultural ministry locally and through visits to teams working in Cambodia and South East Asia. Since retirement from parish ministry we have been freed to offer chaplaincy to Interserve staff, CultureConnect team members and the in-country member care team. It is not that we do these things for reward. The fruit of obedience is far reaching. By surrendering our cultural values to Kingdom values we experience a closeness to God in all things ... we suffer with Him, we care deeply about injustice, his creation, and his people of all backgrounds and cultures. We can overcome fears of this world—about security, education for children, loneliness for us—through prayer and reading God’s word. However, some well-meaning friends and family members question the validity of our work and
Our inclusion as part of the Interserve community in Australia has helped us to more fully understand and support the whole scope of ministries which God’s people are called to, both locally and in Asia and the Middle East. As we experience ordinary people doing extraordinary things we recognise that the power of God overcomes fear and timidity: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 Thus we are equipped with fruitfulness both in our character and service in order to share the best news of all wherever we are planted. Let’s support Partners and their loved ones, and encourage and spur each other on through prayer, communication, financial support, visitation and opportunities for fellowship. Ian and Nancy are parents and grandparents to Interserve families serving overseas. They also serve on our Member Care team looking after Partners and CultureConnect team members.
On Track Together Pursuing service on the margins As Jesus-followers in a globalised world, we know we’re called to love our neighbour and be agents of hope in refugee camps and city slums as well as in the local footy club and the corner cafe. But how do we do this well? Crossing the barriers of language, culture and faith takes thoughtfulness, skill, prayer and practice. Easy to say, hard to do. That’s what On Track Together is all about. In 2019, Interserve Australia is launching On Track Together. It’s a new initiative combining learning, coaching and practical experience in crossing cultures. It’s an opportunity to grow your cross-cultural know-how, to frame it in a biblical context, and to apply your skills to justice issues, both locally and globally. You can make a contribution to long-term work and demonstrate the love of Jesus for the poor and marginalised.
What’s involved? SERVE in personalised mission placements in Australia and overseas. Work with your home church or local organisation in two five-month placements, and serve with an Interserve country team for a year in an overseas placement. LEARN and earn a nationally accredited diploma. Integrate your academic learning with practical missiology. The course is fully online – study from anywhere in Australia. EXPLORE faith and justice issues for those on the margins. Put your theology into practice with people on the move, and walk with the poor. And do all this TOGETHER with other missionminded Jesus-followers and with your own mentor. Join regular Hub gatherings with your cohort and experience one-on-one investment by your experienced missions mentor.
This is how your 22-month commitment breaks down: 1. Getting started 5 months Study & Australia-based placement 2. Getting practice 12 months Overseas placement with Interserve country team 3. Getting reflective 5 months Study, debriefing & reflection.
Is it for you, or someone you know? If you’re seeking direction to serve God with a broader worldview, passionate about being a part of alleviating poverty and injustice, or considering cross-cultural ministry as a calling, we’ve tailored the program for you. We’re looking for women and men who are willing to share their life and skills for the sake of the Gospel.
“Developing cultural intelligence will increase our confidence and calmness to seize the opportunities that God presents for communicating the Gospel, especially when engaging with unfamiliar cultures.” David Turnbull, Senior Lecturer in Intercultural Studies, Tabor
Come and join us! Be part of the first cohort in February 2019. interserve.org.au/together Jane Fairweather email@example.com
Calling all teachers! Teaching in international schools overseas is an incredibly valuable way to contribute to mission – both by supporting children and by allowing their parents to serve for longer.
the next Interserve teacher experience in Nepal in September 2018. We will spend our time between two schools – Kathmandu International Study Centre and Pokhara Study Centre.
Interserve Partners working overseas with their families consider it vitally important that their children receive the best education possible. This will often mean either home schooling or families returning to Australia because there is no other alternative.
We are seeking expressions of interest from teachers who would like to spend time in an international mission school with a view to future service, either in Nepal or elsewhere. Come, walk with us.
Sadly, mission schools around the world struggle to find both short-term and long-term staff. So to support those schools, Interserve will conduct a number of ‘teacher trips’ that will allow teachers to experience first-hand some of these wonderful schools, talk to the staff, interact with the children, ask questions and see what God is saying to them about serving overseas in this vital educational role. Have you ever considered teaching overseas but didn’t know how to start or who to talk to? We would love to have that conversation with you as you explore your next steps. Consider joining 26
Serving in Nepal Join a short-term team visiting international schools that serve mission families. 22 September – 6 October 2018 Cost approximately $2500
Learn more: Richard Jessup firstname.lastname@example.org interserve.org.au/teachers Interserve is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.
Remembering Betty Barclay Betty Barclay, wife of Howard, went to be with her Saviour on the evening of Friday, 20 October 2017. She died peacefully, after some time of struggle and nine years of high care. Betty married Howard in India in 1953. She was a nurse. Her life was characterised by service – in Australia, India and Nepal, also in Afghanistan and Mongolia where they did short terms in their retirement. Betty was a dedicated mother to John, Ruth, Heather and Margie, mother-in-law, grandmother and great-grandmother. Her love and support for family, and especially her beloved Howard, shone. In 1972 Howard was appointed Director for BMMF (now Interserve) Australia and New Zealand. He was indefatigable and Betty threw herself into ministry alongside him. She took Partners, staff, supporters, friends and neighbours into her heart and was known for her thoughtfulness. She was a remarkable hostess – her table always full and the food supply just seeming to stretch! She was a woman of faith, prayer and thoughtful generosity. Her quiet, wise and strong encouragement of many, younger and more mature, led them to deep commitment and service for Jesus. She was renowned for the kind letters and cards (written in pencil so they could be used again!) that she sent. She and the family were also deeply involved in their home church. Howard and Betty returned to Nepal in 1980 to be counsellors for the United Mission to Nepal team until 1984 when Howard was appointed Executive Dirtheector of UMN,
and again Betty served alongside him with the same depth of commitment. They are remembered with love and appreciation around the world. Betty was a remarkable woman. Only heaven will reveal all she has meant to the Kingdom of God. She was 92 years of age.
Remembering Lyn Royans We acknowledge the life and service of Lyn Royans, who passed away in late 2017 after a battle with cancer. She was a returned Interserve Partner. Daniel Parnell, KISC Director, shares with us. “Lyn worked at Kathmandu International Study Centre from 2002 until 2009. During that time she was a member of the leadership team, helped set up the primary school, oversaw the Library and taught English. Lyn was always full of joy and loved children. She inspired young people to love reading and literature and she gave her all for the work of KISC, working to ensure that missionary children received an excellent education. Additionally, she was a great friend of many of our Nepali staff. She was known as Lyndidi (big sister). She made many Nepali friends during her time living in Nepal. They will miss her greatly.”
Faithful service This year, we give thanks for the long service of several Interservers! Joy has served in East Asia for 20 years; John & Janine have marked 30 years, serving in Nepal, India and Australia; and Marlene marked 30 years in the Interserve Office finance team. Well done good and faithful servants. 29
Thank you! Thank you for your generosity! Over $40,000 was raised through our Christmas Women’s Appeal. Your donations will be used to support ministry engaging with women across Asia and the Arab world.
Events Come and engage with God’s heart for the world at one of these upcoming mission events! Activate 28 April, Blackburn, VIC activateconference.org ReachOut
These roles are the tip of the iceberg. There is a host of specialised needs across Asia and the Arab world. They are also opportunities for ordinary Christians to serve the marginalised, contribute to development and share the love of Jesus. Is God opening a doorway? We’d love to talk and discern with you.
Start the conversation NSW/ACT: email@example.com
8–9 September, Katoomba, NSW
Mission Matters 21–23 September, Mt Tamborine, QLD missionmatters.org.au The Justice Conference 26–27 October, Melbourne, VIC thejusticeconference.com.au
Free call 1800 067 100 Explore more job needs interserve.org.au/serve/exploreopportunities
#MeetTheNeed Church planting / South East Asia Support a new migrant community church plant in a major city.
Business consultant / Central Asia Help give business development training with an organisation offering best practice consulting services for factories, hotels and other businesses.
English training for nurses / Arab world Give English classes focusing on conversation, reading, medical abbreviations and medical spoken vocabulary (but you donâ€™t need to be medically-trained!).
Marketing Manager / South East Asia Help grow sales so that a clothing social enterprise can employ more at-risk young men, helping them get an education and learn life skills.
Social Worker / Central Asia Join the team at a halfway house and serve women coming from prison and other crisis situations.
Teachers / Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan, Central Asia, Middle East Teachers are needed EVERYWHERE! Teach kids of cross-cultural workers or enrich education in local contexts. ALL subjects are needed at ALL levels.
Programmer / West Asia A nation-wide evangelistic network seeks a programmer to help them use the latest web and mobile technology to provide interested people with more information about the gospel.
Internal Medicine and Paediatric doctors / South Asia A rural 150-bed hospital needs staff to help offer clinical services, conduct research and train local staff, all with a view to seek spiritual, physical, social and emotional transformation. Image via IMB Photo Library / imb.org
An initiative of Interserve Australia Intangible gifts that make a tangible difference to people who need it most.
interserve.org.au Interserve Australia Freecall 1800 067 100 firstname.lastname@example.org PO Box 231 Bayswater VIC 3153
InterserveOZ interserve.australia vimeo.com/interserve
Fear is normal. Seek fruitfulness. Sometimes fear wins. Sometimes fruit flourishes despite our fear. Sometimes the fruit will only ripen f...
Published on Apr 16, 2018
Fear is normal. Seek fruitfulness. Sometimes fear wins. Sometimes fruit flourishes despite our fear. Sometimes the fruit will only ripen f...