Capacity Building Catalyst

Central Asia, Other, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1497

A faith-based NGO working in an insecure environment impacts communities in areas of health economy and social empowerment.

Our organisation is in an exciting transition period of building capacity and releasing greater responsibility into the hands of local staff. The person in this role would be responsible for assessing the needs of our staff and facilitating the planning and provision of the necessary development.

We are looking for someone who is experienced in training with good organisational skills and good people skills a confident person who is a good communicator and a good networker. You should be able to see the big picture and be willing to travel within the country. and to learn the language and culture.

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.

Counsellor or Psychologist

South Asia, Other, 2+ years / Job ID: 210

This organization is a co-operative inter-agency international multi-cultural ministry that provides opportunity for renewal training consultation and direct crisis response for personnel working with the mission and humanitarian aid agencies in the region.

A mental health professional for missionary care and training of locals is urgently needed We seek to appoint a psychologist or counsellor to our staff as soon as possible. S/he will be professionally qualified as a clinical or counselling psychologist or as a counsellor accredited with the professional association in their home country and experienced in working with clients from a variety of cultures.

Ideally this person would have previous experience of overseas work or would have several years of working experience in the home country plus an understanding of cross-cultural life.

Alternative Energy Consultant

South Asia, Other, Consultant / Job ID: 894

With huge energy shortages and rising prices many hospitals throughout the country are struggling to operate properly to provide appropriate care. These hospitals are looking for individuals able to suggest alternative energy and water supplies as well as possibly start up the projects.

Power and water shortages plague most of this country. Many hospitals struggle to provide care with irregular power supply and water shortages. An individual/team with experience in alternative energy sources and/or water purification methods is needed to help these hospitals continue to provide their valuable services to the communities in which they work.

Qualifications would include experience in alternative energy sources and/or water purification methods. A willingness to be flexible and work in tough environments is essential.

Community 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 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.

Serving God without leaving home

A few weeks before my family went to live overseas for the first time, I got a phone call. The caller was an older friend whom I respected.

“Ruth”, she said to me, “I know we talk a lot about Jim’s role. But I wanted to remind you that the reason your family can go overseas is because you are behind him. If he could not rely on you as his wife and mother of his kids, then there would not be the option to go.”

It was the first time I recognised my unique position to be used as a stay-at-home mum overseas. We were heading there with a baby and toddler in tow. Usually the anticipation focussed on my husband's role, whereas mine… not so much. Let's face it, being a stay-at-home mum is not glamorous.

It didn't get any more glamorous overseas. There were still sleepless nights, tantrums and dirty nappies (to be clear: Jim also dealt with all of these – I couldn’t have done it without him!). Besides that, it is tough for kids in a new culture. They needed me close by, especially at first when the street dogs were scary, their tummies were upset and they were still getting used to having their cheeks squeezed by strangers.

But in the Middle East, there is a lot more respect for mothers than I'd experienced in Australia. To locals, I was doing a legitimate role. It was beyond their imagination that I put my children to bed before 11pm at night, or hadn't toilet trained them by 12 months old. But walking the kids to school, shopping at the market and doing my own cooking did make sense to my local friends. And that helped as we built our relationships.

Being a stay-at-home mum also enabled me to use other gifts in flexible ways. Relationship building was part of our ministry within the Interserve team. We loved having visitors and we would often have people over to share meals together because I had the time for hospitality. In the frequently stressful times of a foreign land, this mutual encouragement strengthened and refreshed us all for our ministries elsewhere.

Interserve’s vision is transformed communities. Did I transform anything through my school drop-offs and nappies and pots of spaghetti bolognaise?

Maybe the question is not what did I transform, but what was God doing though me? Like a tapestry that is not yet finished, I can only see scraps of the pattern God was creating. I do know my role contributed to helping us thrive as a family in the country. I had a part in enabling my husband to do the role God had for him. It also allowed me to pour time into building relationships with other cross-cultural workers, to support them in fulfilling their own God-given purposes. It gave me time to see the opportunities, and as the kids got older, to find my niche outside the home too.

I am no hero of the faith, but I trust God used me as a stay-at-home mum. He placed me there, made me the person I am, and gave me my role for that time.

The rest is His story.

Ruth served with her family in the Middle East for six years.
All names have been changed.

Love at work

As a Christian friend and I chatted about his week at work, he shared that two work friends were doing it tough – one diagnosed with terminal cancer and one with other serious issues. As the conversation continued my friend confided that he was considering leaving his workplace of 30+ years and going into ministry.

My response: “Why not stay at work and go into ministry?”

Most Christians spend a huge part of their waking hours at work. But how do Christians work? We love. Love is a big deal for us. In fact, God says it’s the biggest deal (Mark 12:28-31). It makes all the difference. For almost 40 years, I’ve worked in many jobs, in several different cultures. Here are nine things I’ve learned.

Love intentionally.
If I want to really love my neighbor as myself, I’d best get to know them. No matter how busy my workshop gets, I try to make time to listen to and better understand at least one bloke each day. It usually means asking a question when we are working on something together, and listening.

Love prayerfully.
Consistent, focused, informed prayer. Choose one person at your workplace and start praying for them, every day for a month. As you listen and observe, you can pray in a more informed way. To help me be consistent, I also chose a spot on the drive to work each day to start praying for the blokes at work.

Love sacrificially.
Put yourself out for the good of others. It is often the ‘smaller’ sacrifices that impact our non-Christian friends. One work mate’s adult son had an issue that I could help with, but our work schedules made it hard to meet. I simply went to meet him during a break from his work, on a Saturday. It meant heaps to him that I gave up my free time and travelled to help him.

Love by taking responsibility.
Sometimes we come across as self-righteous when we let people know we follow Jesus. A mate of mine introduced himself to his army unit like this: “You should know that I follow Jesus. That means that you can always expect me to treat you with respect and to tell you the truth. If you think I’m not living up to it, feel free to let me know.” He put himself out there as a Christian, but the responsibility was on him. Often the boys in my workshop apologise to me when they swear. I tell them that they can swear if they like – that’s their decision. I say I follow Jesus, so I should live to a different standard, not those who don’t follow him.

Love with words.
Is it enough to let our actions speak for themselves? If I love God and love my neighbor as myself, then I’ll speak about God’s love as well as living it out. One situation that comes up again and again is Monday morning. “What did you do on the weekend?” Saying “I went to church” goes down like a lead balloon in most cases.

Some responses I’ve used instead: “I heard this great joke and a ripper story.” First I told the joke, then the story: There was this bloke who had two adult sons, and the younger one said to his dad, “Give me my half of the inheritance…” Their responses included things like: “Wow, what a great dad.” There was no need to mention ‘church’ or ‘sermon’. The main thing was to help people look at the father’s character, and then let them know Jesus told the story about God, our Father.

Love in hard times.
Work is not always easy. People see us most clearly when we’re under pressure. When someone has caused a problem, what should we do? Forgiveness is a mark of love. We still need to fix the problem, but we can avoid putting people down when they do something wrong. What about when the problem is of my own making, perhaps even from my own sin? Are we willing to take responsibility, to ask forgiveness, to be humble?

Love together.
The Christian life is not a solo effort. If you work with other Christians, pray together that you’d all honour God in your work, and pray for co-workers. Make sure you don’t use work time to pray, and don’t ‘pray on the street corners’.

Love life.
Work is a big part of how God made us to live, but life is more than work. Don’t forget the rest of life – family, church, neighbours – and don’t forget to rest. How does being a workaholic show love for God and people? Resting is a real form of trusting God.

Love actually!
Run with one of these ideas this week. I pray that you will live your life for Christ, at work and everywhere.

Phil and his family lived and served in Central Asia as Interserve Partners for more than 20 years. He currently works in an Australian manufacturing workshop with a multicultural team and is a CultureConnect team member.
Names have been changed.

How bout them kids

We’d like you to meet Kath, Interserve Australia’s new TCK Advocate. We sat down for a chat to learn about what she’s up to!

What are TCKs?
TCKs are Third Culture Kids. There’s a first culture: that of their parents and their passport country. And there’s a second culture: that of the place they are living in. But these kids grow up in a third culture, a unique mix of the first two. So they are called Third Culture Kids.

They can thrive in a multicultural and international environment, and connect with people across barriers of religion, language, and age. TCKs acquire all sort of skills, from bartering in the marketplace to catching planes, to speaking other languages. And they see global issues like poverty or human trafficking from a very personal perspective.

What are some of their unique needs?
One of the biggest issues for TCKs is loss and grief. They may say goodbye to someone they care about every six months – sometimes unexpectedly. Some kids become reluctant to make friends, because they’re scared that friend will leave. Kids also grieve their stuff. When they first go over to a country, they might have tons of Lego but they can’t bring it with them. They lose culture too – one of my youth girls said “I don’t understand how girls and boys relate in Australia”. They even have to learn a new language – Australian teenage slang.

What’s involved in being a TCK advocate?
TCKs need to have someone willing to listen to them and to speak for them. My heart is to see that kids are socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy.

Part of my role is to help equip parents and families as they prepare to take their kids overseas. I’ll be helping out with Missions Interlink’s ten-day Transition Training twice a year, specifically to help kids transition to new environments. I’m also working on resources for churches.

Another part of the role is personally supporting kids re-entering Australia. The role is being developed as we speak and will continue to evolve. I can see the way God has prepared me. I’m a trained social worker and youth worker, and growing up some of my best friends were missionary kids. My first job was as a child therapist with kids who had experienced abuse and struggled with mental health issues. More recently, Interserve sent me to a school in Cambodia for two years and through that experience I better understand the world that TCKs live in and the challenges and struggles they face.

What’s it like being a voice for these kids?
Sometimes kids are not able to share what’s on their hearts because they’re afraid of what their parents will think. So I ask, “If you can’t say this to your parents, are you willing for me to say it?” In that way I can be their voice, and help facilitate communication within the family.

Or I might be a voice for them in their church. Church families think TCKs have come back home – but home for them is the place where they’ve grown up. There are heaps of ways people can support TCKs – prayer, practical help, a listening ear. Learn more.

What’s your favourite thing about being a TCK Advocate?
Listening to the stories of our young people. I love to hear their experiences of life in other places. I think listening is one of the most important ways to building a relationship so they feel comfortable to say, “This is how really I feel”.

It’s exciting to see where God’s taking this role. It’s God’s journey and God’s dream. I would always be underprepared if it was my dream. But this is God’s idea.

For such a time as this

I still remember an airport encounter many years ago and the woman’s surprised question: “Do missionaries still exist?” She may actually have been questioning what relevance they have in this day and age, especially if she was linking imperialism and colonialism with missionaries.

Yet we know that the truth of the gospel never dates; it is relevant to every age and society. Our God—the same yesterday, today and tomorrow—is the one who calls his people from every age to the same task (Matthew 28:20). Just as he raised up his people to take the gospel to ‘deepest, darkest Africa’ last century, he is raising up people today who will take the gospel to those who have not yet heard. The context and even the outward tools may have changed, but not much else.

We are products of our times. Missionaries no longer set sail for Africa ready to die there, we go by plane; instead of carrying a coffin, we take our medical insurance; instead of letters, we connect online. They battled disease, we battle visas, bureaucracy and cyber security. Some of their practices were a product of their colonial times. Yet like them, we too trust God to provide, motivated by love so that all might have the opportunity to hear and be saved.

Just as each generation has been equipped for the task God gives, so too I expect that God has equipped Millennials “for such as time as this” (Esther 4:14).

Today, we seek to share the good news in the context of:
• increasing globalisation and migration of people(s)
• accelerating leaps in technology, with more immediate global awareness and contact though media, new levels of cyber possibilities and crime, and ethics not keeping pace with these advances
• growing inclination toward localisation and nationalism, even tribalism
• greater awareness of and willingness to advocate for human rights in all areas of society
• growing unease in society, politically, economically and socially, including threats of terrorism, pandemics and wars
• rapidly changing demographics, with aging, lower fertility rates and challenges to the traditional family unit
• pursuit of happiness through spiritualism and personalisation
• deep desire for authenticity, with integrity in relationships.

Are Millennials prepared for this?

Millennials have a global mindset and knowledge which gives them confidence for crossing cultural barriers, even where those boundaries are politically complex. Because Millennials are innately in tune with changing technology, they are able to adapt quickly and are adept at using technology to interact with and effect change. Couple this with a desire to make a difference and Millennials are willing to challenge the status quo, asking “why”, thinking outside the box to achieve old purposes in new ways.

Like many generations before them, they have a thirst for significance and purpose. In general, Millennials are interested in host-culture leadership, which will enable sustainable transformation. They desire to see wholistic change and transformation, concerned for social justice as well the spiritual state.

Millennials desire a balanced work/social family/ministry and authenticity, and need to share challenges without judgment. This accountability is also part of what makes them lifelong learners, eager to engage and be part of the team’s decisions.

Coincidentally, many Millennials already share our Interserve values: Dependence on God, Community, Oneness in Christ, Partnership, Integrity, Wholistic ministry and Servanthood. Perhaps God has prepared this generation of wholistic, global technophiles, who are willing to think differently about challenges, for just such a time as this? Aren’t these the kinds of On Trackers and Partners we want to partner with so that the good news of Jesus can keep being shared?

Carolyn has served cross-culturally for more than 25 years. In her current role, she helps short-term workers to serve well.

Names have been changed.

On Track Together

It‘s Tuesday afternoon and I am sitting in the career counselor's office. “Have you had any thoughts about what you’ll do at university?” my teacher asks.

I’m coming up blank. Sure, I’ve got interests. I like helping people, I have a yearning to travel and see new places, I’m saddened by injustice in the world … oh, and I love Jesus. At age 16 that’s what I’ve worked out. But it doesn’t seem like enough to pick subjects for Year 12, let alone choose a university course or a lifetime career.

At age 19, after a gap year overseas, I have no greater clarity despite exploring a number of options including a couple of short-term mission trips.

My story is not uncommon. It happens to many people, usually in their twenties. Finding a life purpose, a focus for our passions, isn’t always straightforward. McCrindle research suggests Australians of my generation, the Millennials, will have 17 employers and five careers in their lifetime.

The Millennials and the younger Gen Z are facing a different world than those who came of age in the twentieth century. Our world is more globally connected but feels more unstable. Our neighbours are more diverse, work and career is less linear, and as Christians our faith is challenged by questions from our secular counterparts.

So how do we engage with Jesus’ call for every generation: to love our neighbours, to make disciples and to be kingdom minded? Our world looks different and yet Jesus’ call remains the same.

Maybe we need to start by letting go of the expectation that a meaningful life will always progress through traditional milestones. Blessings come through a career, marriage and children, but blessings also come through courageously making space for the unknown—the openness to do unlikely things and make seemingly illogical choices as we follow our God who specialises in the unexpected. Are we willing to trust in God’s goodness? Are we willing to walk an unknown path of sacrifice for His Kingdom?

We also need to get better at knowing our neighbour, so we can love them well. More than pulling in their wheelie bin after collection day, can we love from the point of understanding their worldview, their culture, their beliefs? The good news of Jesus answers the heart’s cry of all people, but do we understand it from their perspective? This is no longer a challenge set aside for the expat, the missional-minded worker in a distant land. In our globally connected world we all need intercultural understanding to love like Jesus loves, to share His good news and to disciple those who believe.

And yet, if the mission movements of the twentieth century teach us anything, it’s that we need community. We can’t possibly hope to do these things on our own, nor does God intend us to. Alone we become distracted, pressured by life’s challenges. Alone we become disillusioned or discouraged when our efforts bear no fruit. But together we live out the encouragement from Hebrews 10:23–25. Together we remember that the hope we have in Jesus is sure and his love spurs us on to share His hope with those around us.

Jane Fairweather leads On Track Together, a new initiative helping to equip, envision and engage those in their 20s and 30s in lifelong missional living.

On Track Together
A 22-month missional pathway integrating cross-cultural study and service in Australia and overseas.
www.interserve.org.au/together