One of my favorite parts of furlough ministry is answering the questions that friends and family have about the Australian culture and my ministry. Some of these are funny (have you seen a kangaroo?), some uncomfortable (are you dating anybody?), some make me think (how is Australia different from America?), others bring great excitement (what has the Lord done in Melbourne?)
One question seems to be asked more than any of the others; What Has Brought You Back to America?
One part of this answer is the financial need in Melbourne made it necessary for me to return but that’s only half of the story. The other reason is God has called me to do some huge things that make a time of support raising, planning, connection with prayer supporters, and education necessary during furlough.
This calling involves starting three ministries, which will eventually become outreaches of Cornerstone Baptist Church…English as a Second Language, Computer Tutoring, and Homework Help Programs. The Lord allowed me to become actively involved in each of these as a volunteer with the local city council from 2010-2012 but this only meant spending one hour a week with students when there was a desperate spiritual need.
Many of the individuals reached by these ministries (particularly ESL) are immigrants from other Countries who recently came to Melbourne, some fleeing their homeland where war or violence threatened their lives. In most cases this means mental needs (learning new things) must be met along with cultural (adapting to Melbourne), emotional (dealing with the loss of family and friends), spiritual (their need of Christ), and physical (getting tools and education for a job in Melbourne)…this can’t be accomplished in one hour a week.
The Lord has led me to get education and training so upon returning to Melbourne I can start an “apprenticeship teaching ministry.” This will involve meeting with students and teaching them one on one at a local coffee shop or library using a laptop but instead of just covering new information it will include things like relationship development, answering questions about the Aussie culture, discovering their strengths and getting them involved in education programs, preparing them for work, or just finding out how their week has been.Above all other things these sessions will be used to share the Gospel of Christ and invite them to visit Cornerstone Baptist Church.
Of course that’s a lot to do in one hour which is why the apprenticeship ministry will eventually grow into doing things together two or three times a week and using each one as witnessing/teaching opportunities.
There is a huge need for this relational style of teaching that reaches past their mental need and deals with deeper issues, however it will quite expensive creating ministries like this. Please pray the Lord can help me raise the amount of financial support necessary to begin this apprenticeship (leading towards Salvation and Discipleship) form of teaching and I will see many souls saved through it.