Our response to COVID-19

To those who give, help and pray:

We hope and pray this finds you and your family safe and well in this time of uncertainty. The spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world and the responses of international governments has rapidly changed our global context.

Thank you so much for your care for Interserve workers. In the midst of this global crisis, we give thanks that all of them are presently safe and well. Individual situations will be changing, and we are working with people on a case-by-case basis according to their needs. 

These are the ways Interserve is responding to the current situation.

Interserve Australia’s overall position

Interserve’s international leadership has encouraged everyone in the Fellowship to view the outbreak of COVID–19 soberly, in the context of God’s unshakeable sovereignty and of our calling. We seek to uphold our shared values, especially those of Community, Partnership and Dependence on God, and to build one another up as we seek the Lord’s will together.

One Partner shared: “As a family we are challenging each other to not see problems but opportunities to grow in trust and shine light in and through this current crisis. We pray that this might also be your experience in the coming months of uncertainty ahead.” 

Interserve Australia is providing our workers with the member care, logistical support and financial resources they need as we face this global health crisis together.

Please join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus above the stormy waves of current events. 

Australian workers based overseas 

Interserve does not have a blanket repatriation policy. Some Interserve workers are returning to Australia and most are making an informed decision to stay. These decisions are made by each individual and family in consultation with their team leadership and medical advisors. We will support people in the decision they make, according to their needs. If you support a worker or family you will likely hear from them directly about their situation.

Workers returning to Australia will need to observe a compulsory 14–day quarantine.

Interserve Australia is ready to respond with emergency funds to cover evacuation, accommodation and travel in situations where it is required.

Interserve has International, National and local Medical Advisors who work together with global medical risk management agencies to provide advice and make decisions about our response to COVID-19. The situation is rapidly changing, and we can assure you that we will respond to each situation decisively as it arises. 

Our International Medical Advisor has provided all Interserve workers with advice and mitigation information since the virus emerged. In the countries where we serve, Team Leadership have made risk assessments according to local situations and are keeping workers informed. 

Financial support 

Interserve will continue to support all our workers throughout this crisis, including during times when their normal ministries are disrupted. This is part of our commitment to them, and it ensures that they are able to recommence their ministries when the opportunity returns. 

Donations towards our emergency funds are gratefully received. These funds are used to cover shortfalls and expenses for all Interserve workers according to need.

For our supporters who give financially, we acknowledge that this crisis may impact your ability to give. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you need to make changes. 

Interserve Australia office 

Interserve offices are currently closed to the general public. Should you need to get in touch, please ring us at 1800 067 100 or email us at info@interserve.org.au.

Interserve staff are working from home. Our ability to provide member care to workers and assistance to supporters is continuing undisrupted. 

The Interserve Australia staff meet online for prayer each day. We are praying for our workers and for the people among whom they serve. Please be assured that you and all of our supporter community in Australia are also in our prayers. 

Events 

All Interserve-run events in Australia are postponed or cancelled for the foreseeable future. We look forward to when we can be together in person again. Until then we continue in prayer for the people of Asia and the Arab world on a daily basis. If you would like to join us in this, we’ll be sharing frequent news and prayer points on Facebook and Instagram.

Prayer Groups are run by local prayer group leaders, who will decide on a case-by-case basis whether they will continue to meet. 

The long-term view 

Interserve workers serve among some of the world’s most marginalised people. Compelled by God’s enduring love, we see this as a long-term commitment. Interserve has been ministering for over 168 years, and by the grace of God, we will continue to serve after COVID-19 has passed.

This may be an uncertain time, but we serve an unshakeable God. It is on Him that we depend, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Thank you for your continued support for Interserve workers as we participate in God’s mission together. 

 

Christine Gobius
National Director 

Thank you for shining brightly

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 ESV

We’re thankful for your support! Last Christmas, we asked the Australian church to help send and support more Christian workers. We shared about the difference made by Interserve workers as they quietly shine God’s light where it is needed most:

  • Jodi, through training women teachers who can bring education and dignity to girls in Central Asian villages.
  • Greg and Marian, through building up local health services, listening with compassion, and providing care to children with disabilities.
  • Jessica, training new pastors to lead the church in South Asia.

Altogether, generous givers gave over $50,000!

Your generosity helps us send more workers like Jodi, Greg, Marian and Jessica, to serve in places where there is need. In January, we spent a week welcoming TWELVE new workers at Interserve Orientation. They’re a humble and warm-hearted bunch and they’re preparing to head overseas or continue their local engagement in Australia. Join us in praying for them.

Thank you for your partnership this Christmas, and throughout the year. God gives the light, and he’s shining bright among the people of Asia and the Arab world.

Introducing Interserve Development!

We have a new company within Interserve Australia dedicated to aid and development. It is called ‘Interserve Development Limited’.


Since Interserve started, benevolent work (helping people in need) has been an important part of our ministry. It is a part of our vision and purpose statements:

Lives and communities transformed through encounter with Jesus Christ.

Making Jesus known through wholistic ministry, in partnership with the global church. among the most marginalised people of Asia and the Arab world.

We are currently transitioning to a new legal structure that will allow us to continue the work we’re doing and to administer it more effectively.

Up until now we have been an incorporated association registered in Victoria and our legal name was Interserve Australia Inc. We administered our overseas aid and development work through our Overseas Aid Fund (donations to this fund are tax deductible).

We are now in the process of creating a new structure with two nationally registered companies. The parent company will be known as Interserve Australia Limited, and will oversee all of our work.

The subsidiary company Interserve Development Limited will administer the benevolent part of our work such as overseas development and the benevolent work CultureConnect does in Australia. Interserve Development will have PBI status (Public Benevolent Institution) and will retain the Overseas Aid Fund. All donations to Interserve Development will be tax deductible. Our non-tax-deductible work will operate through Interserve Australia Limited.

These background administrative changes will help Interserve better recruit, prepare, place and support people to serve the peoples of Asia and the Arab world. There are other benefits too. It will allow us to keep some tax concessions that lower our costs and make donations stretch further. It will also make it simpler for us to comply with new regulatory requirements and better manage tax-deductible giving.

From now on you may notice some small changes in our material and in our correspondence to you. We’ll keep you informed of any changes that affect you.

If you have any questions, please contact us at finance@interserve.org.au.

 

 

Image courtesy IMB Photo Library (imb.org).

Introducing Tangible Love

Intangible gifts that make a tangible difference to people who need it most.

We believe that the most important things in life aren’t things. Being treated with dignity. Having support with mental health. Earning a livelihood. Growing up as part of a family.

TangibleLove.org.au is a place where you can buy a gift or contribute to a project so that people in need can achieve those intangible things we all need to flourish.

Each gift in the catalogue supports one or more projects that are working for these outcomes, fuelled by the love of local Christians, Interserve volunteers and generous donors (like you!).

Interserve workers are motivated by God’s love for them and for the whole world. These gifts and projects combine your love with theirs to make a tangible difference for people who need it most.

Check it out! Take a look, explore and let us know what you think. (And maybe it will help with your Christmas shopping!)

We hope you like Tangible Love. And if you do, we hope you’ll help spread the word.

 

 

 

 

 

Tangible Love is an initiative of Interserve Australia. 

And the nominees are…

And the nominees are … Interserve authors!

SparkLit announced the shortlist for the Australian Christian Book of the Year. Congratulations to Dr Bernie Power on Challenging Islamic Traditions: Searching QuestionsAbout the Hadith from a Christian Perspective and to co-authors Andrew Schachtel, Choon-Hwa Lim and Michael K. Wilson on Changing Lanes, Crossing Cultures.

The award recognises and encourages excellence in Australian Christian writing. Entries are judged with an eye to the work’s original nature, literary style, design and contribution made to the Australian situation and market.

These are high calibre books with the potential to change how you look at mission. Recommended reading!

About Challenging Islamic Traditions

The Hadith are Islam’s most influential texts after the Qur’an. They outline in detail what the Qur’an often leaves unsaid. The Hadith are a foundation for Islamic law and theology and a key to understanding the worldview of Islam and why many Muslims do the things they do. This book subjects the Hadith to a critical analysis from a biblical perspective. In a scholarly and respectful way, it exposes significant inconsistencies within these ancient documents and highlights potential problems with the Muslim-Christian interface.

Challenging Islamic Traditions can be ordered from William Carey Library.

 

 

 

About Changing Lanes, Crossing Cultures

With over a quarter of Australia’s population coming from approximately 200 different overseas countries, no one could doubt that we’re now a very multi-ethnic country. Several million of these people have made Australia home, but they often have very little contact with Christians, and minimal understanding of the gospel. This book is about helping Christians and churches to understand the WHY, WHAT, HOW and WHEN of vibrant cross-cultural ministries, and to get involved.

Changing Lanes, Crossing Cultures can be ordered from Interserve Australia.

 

The 2017 Australian Christian Book of the Year will be announced during the 2017 SparkLit Awards Night on Thursday evening 17 August at St Alfred’s Anglican Church, Blackburn North in Melbourne. For further information and tickets, visit sparklit.org.

Thank you! | Christmas Appeal 2016

Thank you!

At Christmas, displaced people – not unlike Joseph, Mary and Jesus – continued to grab news headlines as the largest people movement in modern history impacted the world.

And at Christmas, you gave generously in response to their need. Our Christmas Appeal raised over $75,000 to help us get alongside those who need it most. Your support makes it possible for us to seize this unprecedented opportunity to serve displaced people across Asia, the Arab world and Australia.

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35

 

 

 

 

Introducing Lisa Bateup

Interserve Australia is thrilled to welcome Lisa Bateup in a key leadership role, based here in Australia. This new role represent a continuation of Lisa’s long-term involvement in cross-cultural mission.


Lisa Bateup is the new Director of Culture Connect

Lisa Lisa is a graduate of Sydney Missionary and Bible College and is passionate about taking the gospel to people who have not had the opportunity to hear about Jesus. In this role she will be developing a team of people around Australia who are actively involved in local cross-cultural ministry as well as envisioning, training and resourcing the local church to engage more effectively with neighbours from Asia and the Arab world.

Lisa writes:

Australia is changing. By 2025 over 50% of the population in Sydney may not identify with Australia’s British heritage. God is bringing the nations of the world to our shores that they might have the opportunity to hear something Australians often take for granted. Many people arriving in Australia today know almost nothing of the Bible or of the Lord Jesus who died for them. They may never have met a Christian. Whether they are fleeing places of oppression, seeking an education or a life with more opportunities for their children, a new life in Australia often brings with it an openness to experiencing many new things, including learning about the One who came that they might have life in all its fullness (John 10:10)

Bridging cultures has always been part of my life. In 1952, my father, a young man from Kerala in southern India, arrived in Australia, to begin university studies and a new life in a strange country. He made Australia his home, married an Australian woman and raised a family here. I grew up with the challenges of being different to everyone around me.

After studying Engineering, I worked in the multiethnic world of manufacturing and experienced first-hand, the desire of people from many countries to belong here and their openness to discuss spiritual things. I now live with my husband Simon, close to some of the most multiethnic suburbs in Sydney and have invested much of the past 6 years with Culture Connect in taking the gospel to the nations which God has brought to us.

Our goal is to see God’s people in Australia being excited about, equipped for and really embracing the opportunity God has given us in reaching out to our neighbours from Asia and the Arab world, with genuine love and the good news of Jesus.

 


Lisa intends to undertake this role as an Interserve Partner. This means she will be raising up a team of people to support her with prayer, financial giving and encouragement.

If you would like to find out more about supporting Lisa, please contact us.

Remembering John Reid

This week we are thanking God for the life of John Reid.

John & Alison Reid

John & Alison Reid. Photo courtesy John Barclay.

John passed away peacefully on Saturday 2 January, after a long illness. He was 87 years old. We remember John’s life with deep gratitude to God, and offer our heartfelt sympathies to Alison and all the family.

John will be remembered fondly as a leader, teacher, mentor and friend, but most of all as a dedicated servant of Christ. With a strong ministry of leadership, he served as Bishop of South Sydney from 1972 – 1993, and as Chair of the International Council of Interserve from 1986 – 1998. After retiring, John and Alison also served for two years with UMN/CMS in Nepal – Alison as a counsellor and John in wide-roving roles encouraging and training church leaders, UMN members and more.

John was a close friend of Howard Barclay, who served with his family as an Interserve Partner in Nepal. Howard’s son John Barclay, also an Interserve Partner, wrote the following in a personal tribute:

John was the Chairman of the Interserve International Council for many years (taking over from Bishop Jack Dain) and we met at various conferences along the way, including at the 1990 UMN Annual Conference when John was the main speaker and Mum and Dad were retiring after 30 years of involvement in Nepal – his contribution to their farewell was memorable and highly significant. I will never forget the way John led the concluding Communion service at the Interserve Quadrennial conference in Kathmandu in 1994 – commenting on what a remarkably gifted and competent group of people were present representing the wider Interserve fellowship (how true that was), and continuing to make the point that at the same time we were flawed and frail and in need of God’s grace and sanctification – how true that was too.

When John and Alison joined UMN as Personnel Counsellors 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.

Other past Interserve Partners and staff members have written:

He took a personal interest in people, which I always found astounding:  his own work as Bishop was so big, his role as International Chair carried heavy responsibility and yet he wrote personal letters, made phone calls and was more than “interested in passing” in Partners and staff.   His wisdom and leadership were of great value to the Australian Council.  While International Chair he always attended National Council Meetings and was available to Fellowship leadership.

I was privileged to get to know John and Alison in a variety of contexts within Interserve.
When our family was living in South Asia, John visited and took a keen interest in the projects in which our team was involved, as well as speaking at our annual conference. In his role as Interserve’s International Council chair, I experienced close-up his skill at managing large meetings, apparently effortlessly dealing with complex issues and negotiating tricky committee procedure. When he and Alison served with UMN in the 90’s, it was always a pleasure to hear his ideas on the way the organisation was running, and Alison and he showed me warm hospitality on a number of occasions in Kathmandu.

Once when I phoned John at their Avoca home in recent years, I asked him if he was still swimming, as he had been a keen swimmer over long distances for much of his adult life, I believe. He told me that he still went down to Avoca beach, but it was not so much swimming as floating around like a teabag! I’ll remember John for many reasons, not least his sense of humour.

A good and godly servant of the Master who has gone to be with his Saviour and Lord.

Further tributes to John have been made by Archbishop Glen Davies and Phillip Jensen, former Dean of Sydney.

John’s funeral will be held at 10.00am on Thursday 14th January 2016 at St Andrew’s Cathedral, George Street Sydney, followed by morning tea. A burial will take place at 2.00pm at St Jude’s Randwick.

Details at The Sydney Morning Herald.

Vivienne Stacey Scholarship

Vivienne Stacey studied English at University College London then spent some years as a teacher before joining Interserve in 1954. When she learned that the United Bible Training Centre (UBTC) in Gujranwala trained Pakistani women for their witness among Muslims, she requested that as her place of ministry. From the very beginning of her mission career she was committed to equipping local people to engage in ministry among Muslims in their own context.

VSS-2
Established to honour this innovative pioneer, the Vivienne Stacey Scholarship is for equipping Christian women scholar-practitioners from Middle East, Africa and Asia to engage with the Muslim world. It follows Vivienne’s heart to see women, including those coming from a Muslim background, trained, equipped and engaged in ministry.

Soon after her arrival in Pakistan, Vivienne and Esther John became firm friends. Esther was born in a Muslim family but had become a follower of Jesus through seeing the love of Jesus lived out in her Christian school and through the study of scripture. She went to UBTC in 1957 from where she and Vivienne visited homes in the surrounding villages, sharing the story of Jesus. Esther went on to minister in other parts of Pakistan; she was murdered in 1960, becoming the first of many martyrs that Vivienne knew.

Vivienne was a much-loved friend, mentor and example. She worked with the Community Development Team from Multan Christian Women’s hospital, training them in outreach and setting assignments individually tailored to areas where each member of the team needed to grow. Vivienne challenged them to find ways of integrating what they learned into their work. The full impact of her commitment to that little community development team was immeasurable.

Vivienne encouraged many to scholarly practice – in Interserve and other organisations, in local churches in the countries where she worked, and right across the globe. She formed a study group in Pakistan that gave many their first foot into research and writing on significant ministry issues for working among Muslims.

Ida Glasser, now Director of the Centre for Muslim Christian Studies in Oxford, wrote about her experience of Vivienne’s support as she pursued her PhD:

The great thing Vivienne did for me was to take me out for lunch when I was struggling towards my PhD, and then to ask whether money might help. She then (probably through a trust of which she was senior trustee) provided enough to pay Crosslinks for I think half my time for 3 months, so that I could break the back of the writing up. I might never have completed it otherwise. Another time, after a conference in Holland, she treated me to a day in Amsterdam – took me on a canal trip and gave me a good dinner – things I’d never have done for myself, or been able to afford.

The Scholarship does not just provide financial support. It is also committed to providing mentoring, both individually and as part of a learning cohort; to investing in the development of the whole person as they pursue their studies.

The Vivienne Stacey Scholarship Fund was launched during the When Women Speak… colloquium on 25 September 2015. It is actively seeking partnership with academic institutions in Asia and the Middle East, and in the West, as it builds capacity to support these women. Please join us in supporting the fund. You can do this through your local Interserve Office, marking your gift ‘Vivienne Stacey Scholarship’, or by clicking on ‘donate’ at www.whenwomenspeak.net For further information contact admin@whenwomenspeak.net or cathy@whenwomenspeak.net

 

 

Ongoing responses to Nepali earthquakes

Aid and relief responses to the Nepali earthquake disaster are ongoing. Interserve Partner Rowan has been working in aid assistance and delivering relief supplies in Kathmandu and regional areas. He shares with us:

At one place the houses had all been destroyed completely, and a seven-year-old boy had been killed in one of the houses.  People are living under plastic tarpaulins or recovered sheets of corrugated iron roofing and there have been some severe thunderstorms recently.  Many people have not received any help at all.

The second earthquake has really unsettled people, just as things in Kathmandu had returned to some sort of normality.  A lot of people are extremely fearful and earlier I saw one lady in Lamjung faint, and it took over an hour to revive her, after a minor tremor (that occurred almost exactly a week after the original quake).  She had been in Kathmandu during the first earthquake and had had a nasty experience with debris falling around her.

Rowan is serving with Interserve partner organisation INF. INF released a video last week outlining the planned progression from relief work, to rehabilitation, and building disaster resilience in five of the poorest districts.

We continue to ask for your prayers. Give thanks:

  • For the generosity of supporters who are making it possible for INF to commit to commit for the long term to those affected by the earthquakes
  • For the willingness of staff and and volunteers to ‘go the extra mile’ to ensure that those who need help will receive it

Please pray:

  • For protection of our stand and volunteers making often treacherous journeys to distribute aid
  • For wisdom for INF’s leadership to know hoe best to use the available resources
  • For continued good relations between Interserve, INF, partner organisations and government officials
  • For the detailed planning required to develop rehabilitation and resilience work
  • That staff will have the time and space to ‘recharge their batteries’

Thank you for your continued support and prayers. For more information, photos and latest updates, see Nepal Earthquake Response.