Most colleges/seminaries are on ‘mission’ this week. From my limited understanding, mission week is programmed into students’ curriculum as an opportunity to witness the work that God is doing in different churches (a student in a regular M.Div program would have the opportunity to serve on mission with at least 3 churches during the duration of their studies) and to provide a platform for hands-on ministry experience (perhaps in an area less familiar to them) with the guidance of the local church, a designated lecturer, and the support of fellow colleagues.
This year, I’m part of a team that is partnering with the Indonesian Presbyterian Church in Randwick. We’re not (and none of the groups are) doing mission at the church per se. Rather, it’s probably better thought as doing mission with the church in the local area.
College mission consists of a whole bunch of activities, and it depends on the needs and resources of the partnering church. Last year in Japan, we spent the majority of our time learning from new church plants (hearing about their struggles, celebrating their victories, and taking notes on how we can be better church planter and leaders) and the rest of the time helping with the various ministries that they’re engaged in (preaching, local evangelism, seminars, and the like).
This year, our ministries are primarily in the area of walk up evangelism, preaching, youth group, evangelistic event, kids related ministries like Sunday school, and also spending time with their leaders to learn from them.
But you know, as great as all these activities are, my highlight each year is not in the formal ministry opportunities, but in the informal team hangouts.
This is lost a little when it’s a local mission (when you live at home and commute to the partnering church as opposed to living in context), but based on my experience yesterday, I suppose not all is lost when there’s intentionality.
Informal team hangouts provide an opportunity not just to prepare for our materials, but also an opportunity to dig deep into each other’s lives in a way that is usually uncommon at college. It might be because we know we’re effectively stuck with each other for the next 7 days, but there’s something about being stuck together that creates the space for open conversation.
And it is during these times when I start hearing the stories of my colleagues. We talk about how we arrived at seminary and why we’re here. We talk about some of the obstacles that we’ve encountered throughout our journey. We talk about the challenges at home. We talk about our hopes and dreams for the future. And we talk about all that God has done in our lives. We pray together, bless each other, and I always walk away feeling honoured that I get the privilege to serve alongside men and women like these – men and women who are not afraid to admit their insecurities and needs, men and women who know that they are utterly dependent on God for life and ministry, and men and women who are willing to take gospel risks for the kingdom.
In the thick of academic study, opportunities like these are so valuable. It reminds me once again of why I do what I do and shows me that I’m not alone.
Please pray for us this week as we continue in this. Pray also for us as we spend the next few days walking around Kensington with surveys and information regarding the church with hopes of striking up a conversation about the Gospel. Pray for those who will be preaching at the various services this weekend (especially for our team leaders Angus who will be preaching an evangelistic sermon this Saturday), and pray that we will be helpful to IPC and not a hindrance to the great work that they are already doing.