Christine Gobius, National Director of Interserve Australia, has shared her story in the most recent edition of BST Connect from the Brisbane School of Theology. Christine, along with many of our Partners and On Trackers, has appreciated time spent learning and growing at BST in preparation for ministry. Read her story here…
Six years ago I was leading a research team in Military and Veterans’ health at the University of Queensland; a role that exposed me to the personal side of military deployments and the challenges of bridging an academic and military culture. It was a stretching yet rewarding climax to a public health career that spanned 15 years in Government and University. Now I am serving as the National Director of Interserve and it is a privilege to pursue my passion for transformation of people’s lives in this new context.
I grew up in a Christian home, in a remote Aboriginal community. As a teenager I resisted a personal relationship with God partly because I didn’t want to be a missionary and I ‘knew’ that it would be just my luck that I would be called to give up the good life to serve God overseas. However, God’s love and grace was irresistible and by the time I was at university my desire to serve developed, as did a vision for holistic mission. I loved the outdoors and wanted practical skills, so I chose to study vet science.
I gained a lot of experience while working as a rural vet practitioner. But I wanted to be better equipped for cross-cultural mission, so I took a year off in 1990 and studied at BST. At Bible college I was introduced to Interserve, and had an opportunity to go on short-term mission with them to Asia between 1992-93. After that I spent many years investigating a disease that impacts both cattle and human health, and subsequently worked in a research and advisory role for Queensland Health. My plans to live and serve overseas as a missionary didn’t happen.
But I maintained my connection with Interserve and was appointed as a board member in 2006. I had adopted their vision of “lives and communities transformed through encounter with Jesus Christ”. I realised that every part of our lives as Christians – who we are, our actions, deeds, relationships, and our words – bears witness to God.
In my role with Interserve as National Director, my biggest focus is developing ways to work with the church. The church exists in every country we work, even in the most difficult countries where those believers may be operating “underground”.
Our end goal is to do all that we can to enable the local church, though it might have a different format for different places. The kinds of questions we ask ourselves are, “What is God doing in that place?” and “What can we do to be part of what He is doing?” We want to empower the local church. We also want to partner with the local church in Australia and enable them to better equip and support those they send.
My other focus is encouraging the church to grow disciples for holistic mission; recognising that people are social, emotional, physical and spiritual beings. Our Western Christianity is so impacted by a dualism that artificially separates the spiritual and material. But an encounter with Jesus touches on all these aspects of our lives.
If we claim to follow Jesus, then who we are and everything we do is a witness to Him, whether we intend it or not. Holistic mission is taking that witness seriously. It considers questions like: “Is how we are engaging reflecting the Kingdom of God?”, “Do our relationships really reflect the grace, mercy, justice and love of God?”, “Is the Holy Spirit and the power of prayer active in all aspects of our lives?”, “Is it apparent to others?” We will be less effective in proclaiming the gospel if those things are not taken seriously.