Refugee Centre Volunteer

West Asia, Other, 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years, Consultant / Job ID: 1374

The international church in our city operates a community centre for the many thousands of people living here as refugees. By using a trauma-informed approach which focuses on welcome and life-giving relationships we seek to be an expression of love and care for those who are here seeking safety.

Our community centre is an inclusive space and we have volunteers from a wide range of ages and nationalities. There are currently opportunities to assist with programs and activities including language clubs (spoken English and the local language) a therapeutic art club for women (especially with child care) administrative duties and hospitality for our friends who are refugees. Positive relationships are the cornerstone of our work being friendly and open to appropriate cross-cultural friendship is vital. While not strictly necessary spoken Arabic or Persian (Dari/Farsi) would be extremely helpful. Note that in order to maintain an environment of predictability short-term volunteers must be prepared to serve for a minimum of six months (preferably twelve months).

Volunteers at the community centre will be eager to reflect the character of Christ as they interact with people from often-conservative cultural and religious backgrounds. The needs and lives of these people can be unpredictable so personal flexibility and a willingness to help out in whatever capacity that is needed is essential. Some understanding of the psychological and emotional issues that forced displacement and trauma can produce will be very helpful as are strong self-care skills. All volunteers should be prepared to work within a multi-ethnic team.

Supporting the Country Team

West Asia, Other, 1-11 months, 12-23 months / Job ID: 1642

The team working in this country is growing and now includes several families with young children young couples and also singles working in a variety of fields across three major cities.

We place a high value on ensuring each person on our team is well cared for and supported. We are seeking a loving team grandma or grandpa who would be willing to come and provide support and care to the individuals and families serving in this country. This would be a perfect fit for an individual who is of retirement age as being a retiree in this country is a socially acceptable position and would enable this individual to have a positive social identity here.

This person would have gifts in hospitality and good communication skills. They would need to be comfortable with travelling around the country between the three major cities to meet with team members.

Illustrator

West Asia, Other, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1503

A Christian publishing house and ministry for children produces books magazines Sunday School lessons and camp lesson booklets for children runs camps and teacher training programs and has a long-term vision for developing the church by reaching and discipling the next generation in this Muslim country.

This involves developing illustrations for children in books magazines Sunday School materials and camp lesson booklets that can help build the childs knowledge of Jesus encourage them in their faith and build community with children in other parts of the country.

Applicants must have reasonable drawing skills for illustrations plus the creative skill to make them appealing for children. Experience in developing illustrations for children is important. A 1-year minimum commitment is required longer is preferred. Willingness to learn some local language is required.

Archaeologist

Central Asia, Other, 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1510

An archaeological research organisation

The job involves working in local archaeological projects.

The applicant should have relevant experience and qualifications.

ESL Club Facilitator

West Asia, Other, 1-11 months / Job ID: 1643

The international church is a typical city congregation of expats but with Korean Farsi and Turkish congregations in addition to the English one. Elder-led the church is broad evangelical and community oriented. It has existed for nearly 30 years. An English conversation club is being held at the church for locals interested in developing their English conversation skills. This church is located in a suburb where locals are accepting of the presence of foreigners and many are interested in learning English.

The English Conversation clubs are a new outreach of the church and provide a natural way for social encounters shared experience telling ones story and building friendships with locals. This short-term position is for a native English speaker interested in participating and encouraging discussion at an English conversation club or supporting individuals to learn English. This individual may have completed a TEFL course but this is not essential. The club is held two nights a week and aims to create meaningful activities to encourage conversation amongst the participants and native English speakers. They would not be planning the club activities but acting as a native English speaking table host.

We are looking for a native speaker with a good grasp of the English language who can develop creative and engaging activities to encourage conversation. An ability to work cross-culturally with other expats and with local citizens creativity passion and flexibility are all good characteristics.

ESL Conversation group leader

West Asia, Other, 1-11 months / Job ID: 1602

The international church is a typical capital-city congregation of expats but with Korean Farsi and Turkish congregations in addition to the English one. Elder-led the church is broad evangelical and community oriented. It has existed for nearly 30 years with a strong focus on refugee work strengthening the national churches and cooperation and unity among Christians.

The English Conversation clubs are a new outreach of the church and provide a natural way for social encounters shared experience telling ones story and building friendships with locals. Members participate with folks from the community but leaders are needed with confidence in leading groups and experience helping non-English speakers learn and improve. A TEFL certificate is helpful but not required. Currently the program runs 2 evenings per week

This role is for a person with a heart for integrating their skills in teaching English and personal relationships with a calling to spread the Good News. The ideal person for this role will have good personal skills be able to lead groups and be able to understand others (especially the language challenges of non-English speakers) and create a positive atmosphere with good group dynamics and engaging conversation topics. An ability to work cross-culturally with other expats and with local citizens creativity passion and flexibility are all good characteristics. As group leader he/she must plan the activities and be able to respond when help is needed (vocabulary grammar pronunciation etc.).

A legacy of care

I am excited about the topic of Kingdom Gardeners. It goes to the heart of God’s call on my life to participate in his mission. As a young veterinarian I wanted to use my skills and passion for animal health in God’s mission. As I shared my vision, I frequently received the response that “Animals don’t need the gospel, so why would a veterinarian be useful in mission?” While I didn’t have the understanding of wholistic mission that I now have, I had a deep conviction that demonstrating God’s love through care for animals was a legitimate way to bear witness to Jesus. A person who particularly inspired me is one of Interserve’s foremothers.

Rosalie Harvey lived in the city of Nasik, Northern India, for 50 years from the late 1800s. Her legacy included raising 1500 abandoned babies and establishing a community for hundreds of homeless people ostracised because of leprosy. Her other legacy was establishing an animal hospital. Her biographer narrates:

Miss Harvey “took personal charge of the Bhisti (Water Carrying) Bullock Relief Corps. For the three hundred and sixty-five days of the year these animals would know no break from drawing water for the people of Nasik. This Relief Corps of bullocks provided periodic rest for the hard-worked beasts of burden, and one may be sure that Miss Harvey delighted in the task of bringing relief to these patient creatures of God.”*

Rosalie’s advocacy for the wellbeing of hundreds of beasts of burden that kept the city of Nasik functioning resonates clearly with the teaching of Exodus 23:12: “Do your work in six days. But on the seventh day you should rest so that your ox and donkey may rest”.

Speaking of donkeys … Rosalie was also known for her impromptu inspections of the donkey herds moving through the hustle and bustle of the Nasik marketplace. “It is too bad,” she explains, “They make them carry the heavy loads of stones one way and then trot them back to the quarry so that they get no rest either way.” On one occasion, she ordered the packs to be removed from two donkeys—one was lame and the other had nasty saddle sores— sending the donkey boy with his charges to the animal hospital.**

Rosalie discipled many people over her lifetime as they encountered Jesus. Hers was a witness that incorporated care for the marginalised, care for animals and sharing God’s word.

John 3:16 tells us God loves the world—all that He created and proclaimed as good. Rosalie Harvey’s story is just one part of our heritage as an organisation committed to caring for all creation. I am excited about many roles where our workers can address various environmental issues as servants of the gospel. I could tell you about organic farming projects, sustainable coffee production in the rainforest, regeneration of wetlands, eco-tourism and other projects throughout Asia and the Arab world where reconciliation of all creation is an integral part of the transformation of lives and communities that Jesus brings. I count it an enormous privilege to journey with Interserve workers, encouraging them to bring glory to God and demonstrate his love in the ways they interact with all people and all creation.

Dr Christine Gobius is the National Director of Interserve Australia. Her background is in veterinary science and public health.

*Miller, A. Donald. ‘Aayi’: Glimpses of Rosalie Harvey of Nasik and her friends the lepers (The Mission to Lepers, London, date unknown), p19.

**Ibid, p42–43.

For God so loved the cosmos

“Single use” was the word of the year in 2018, according to Collins Dictionary. In 2019 it was “climate strike”. Clearly the world is more and more anxious that our current lifestyle is leading the planet into crisis, and wants to make fundamental changes. Christians are also speaking up in word and action, from grassroots movements such as Eco Church to Christian voices at global environmental meetings. Are we just following the crowd? Or are there fundamental reasons why Christians should be active in caring for the environment? And, given so many needs in the world and so few workers for the harvest field, should environmental care be part of mission?

Interserve believes that creation care must be included in our response to the gospel, agreeing with the Lausanne Declaration on Creation Care (November 2012). The reasons for this are found throughout scripture. From the beginning, God declares that creation is good (Gen 1) and belongs to him (Ps 24). He sustains and nurtures it (Job 38), delights in it (Ps 104) and promises to take care of it (Gen 9). When he placed humans on earth he commanded them (us) to rule over creation as those who bear his image (Gen 1). And he balanced the command to rule with commands to “serve and to keep” (Gen 2)—the same commands given to priests in the Old Testament temple.

Not many Interserve workers are directly employed in “environmental work”, but those involved in Business as Mission affect the environment through their business, and all of us interact with creation as we eat, breathe, wash, shop and travel. When we do these things with respect for the Creator, conscious of bearing his image, we bear witness to others of the loving God we serve.

The Bible links environmental degradation with sin (Gen 3, Hos 4), but also affirms that God’s redemptive work will restore the creation to fullness and peace. In fact, Jesus’ death and resurrection reconcile not only humans but “all things on earth and in heaven” to God (Col 1). In the biblical picture of shalom we see harmony between God, people and all of creation (Isa 11, Rom 8). If we are to be active participants in God’s story of redemption, we cannot ignore the wide scope of the redemption story.

We also cannot ignore the fact that the people we serve depend on a healthy environment for their survival and wellbeing. This year, while smog in Delhi was closing schools and filling hospital emergency rooms, newspapers reported that more than 1 million Indians die each year from air pollution-related diseases. In
Indonesia the air pollution that affects the health of more than 10 million children comes largely from burning of rainforests and peatlands. Future environmental problems are likely to be far more serious. The glaciers of the Himalayas are a massive water reservoir, feeding rivers that support more than 1.6 billion people (about one in four people on earth). These glaciers are predicted to lose at least a third of their ice mass by 2100 due to climate change. This will mean floods in the short term, then severe water shortages and crop failures in the following decades.

Ultimately, the people Interserve serves cannot flourish unless the environment that supports them also flourishes. This is why the Lausanne Declaration says that, “Love for God, our neighbours and the wider creation, as well as our passion for justice, compel us to urgent and prophetic ecological responsibility”.

Christians are called to care for God’s creation and join God’s work of redeeming all creation as part of our obedience and love of the Creator. The environmental degradation we see across the Interserve world only makes it more urgent that we act.

Richard has loved the natural world since his growing up years in New Zealand. He has worked as a freshwater ecologist for 15 years, and with his wife Liza is currently serving to resource Interserve in the area of creation care. He and his family live in South Asia.

We are Kingdom Gardeners

For 168 years, Interserve’s approach to ministry has been to focus on the whole person. People are at the centre of our work. But people live in a physical, social and spiritual context which shapes their whole approach to life. As people striving to see God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven, we want to be Kingdom Gardeners, nurturing the Kingdom of God in all its glory. We can’t ignore the natural environment where people live—and where we also live—as we love and serve them.

Caring for God’s creation, with its people, has always been part of the story of redemption— both physically (“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” Gen 2:15) and metaphysically (“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field” Matt 13:24). As we go into the world, caring for people requires us to engage with the whole context in which they live. We become able to say, as Paul did to the Thessalonians, that “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Th 2:8). Sharing our lives gives us the opportunity to make known the glory of God in all His handiwork.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Ps 19:1). The knowledge of God is demonstrated to everyone through His creation. But how much of God’s incredible handiwork is obscured by the careless or wilful destruction of nature? And how often is this tied to unjust exploitation of people? For many, experiencing creation in all its intended glory is unattainable. As crosscultural workers, we can be a prophetic voice in a natural and spiritual wilderness, showing God’s intention for His creation and His people. As we demonstrate our love for God by caring for everything He created, we invite people to better understand their Creator and His desire to see all creation restored to its intended glory. “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth” (Ps 57:5).

Interservers show how God loves the world— His people and His creation—in many different ways. A naturopath works with the local community to develop healthy and sustainable food sources in an arid environment. A family lives with a displaced people group, helping them farm in productive ways that value all life. Another couple runs an eco-tourism business in an area occupied by several oppressed minorities, bringing people together through enjoyment of God’s creation. An engineer’s day job is working towards providing sustainable, alternative energy. After hours, he partners with the local church to meet needs in the refugee community. A researcher is studying the practical and spiritual relationship between animals and humans, working with local people to demonstrate and share God’s love for the world. Kingdom Gardeners plant, water and tend the garden, and God brings the growth. “May the whole earth be filled with His glory” (Ps 72:19).

Peter has worked with Interserve in Australia and the Middle East for over 20 years.

Small beginnings

Nine months ago, we were looking for a house to rent in South East Asia. Our family had just moved here, hoping to be a part of the community as my husband works training teachers. I vividly remember looking out the kitchen window of one house to a big, grassy backyard (so different from others we’d seen with bare concrete). We could imagine our daughters playing there … but who would they play with? A small face peered through the fence and was soon joined by her two older sisters. Thank you, Lord!

At first grappling with the local language was all consuming, but gradually we found ourselves with more time and energy to look for ways to connect with our neighbours. This has been a priority because it’s impossible to train people well without knowing about their lives.

We also wanted to be part of the witness of God’s people here—there are many misunderstandings about what Christians believe and how they live—so that others may have the opportunity to experience peace through Jesus too.

We are learning that sometimes small, seemingly insignificant things can have a big impact … like our two small veggie patches. A friend gave us some old, open seed packets, but would they grow? Yes! From them grew tomatoes, tarragon, capsicums, bok choy, zucchini and spinach. We marvelled with our new neighbours at the variety and beauty of God’s creation.

Everything grew much faster than we expected because of the heat and humidity, and we soon had an overflow to give away. We got to know new and old friends through conversations about the garden. What should we grow next? Local friends had lots of ideas … “Corn would grow well, pumpkins too. Why don’t you pull out the old stalks?” “We wanted to wait to collect the seeds, and to enjoy the birds visiting.” “Will you make more garden plots? Why not the whole backyard?”

We had known one lady for five years but had no idea of her passion for and knowledge of gardening. She discovered the unfamiliar taste of tarragon. Would she like to take some plants? Sadly, she had nowhere to grow them at her house, but she took a big bunch of leaves. We better understood how our lives are different and the same.

Passers-by started sharing ideas about how to use our produce. Our daughter’s friends asked to help water the plants. All the while we wordlessly shared other, more precious things, such as time together—yes, we like being with them and listening to them—and the opportunity to give others a connection with the earth and an experience of God’s abundant creation.

Deeper conversations are still hard for us in our new language, but when friends do tell us about their troubles, have we sensed the same unspoken questions over and over? Does God see them? Will He care for them? Do we know anything about Him worth listening to? It has been precious to experience together the Lord’s care, very present and adding colour to our lives.

Any gardening takes time, even if it’s just two small veggie patches. As we take the time to care for nature—to nurture, to learn new methods, to preserve the ecosystems around us—this is a concrete expression of our faith. We’ve been encouraged by how God can use it to bless others and to demonstrate His abundantly good ways, for His glory.

We take God at His word that He not only cares for people but for all that He has made (Gen 1:31). The wonderful thing we’re learning is that, as we care for God’s creation, so often the people around us are nurtured too … ourselves included. Thank you, Lord.

Felicity is the mother of two small children, living with her family in South East Asia long term.

Names have been changed.