A taxi driver with a searching heart

I looked up and down the inner city street, suddenly quiet from the usual rush of traffic. I needed a taxi in a hurry and, in this city of over 60,000 taxi drivers, not one could be found. I began walking quickly to a larger thoroughfare, quietly asking for the provision of a quick, safe ride home. I had classes to teach at my university in a couple of hours. I spied a taxi some distance ahead, stopping to set a passenger down, so I sprinted and got there just in time. Falling into the back seat in relief, I gave hasty directions to the driver.

With my eyes closed, I thought back over the morning’s errand—a kind of ‘mercy mission’ to take some necessities to an elderly patient in hospital. To fit this in before classes began I had decided on the luxury of taking taxis there and back. On the way in, I had shared the gospel with the taxi driver and left him with a little booklet to read. When I first arrived in this city, I had heard about the plight of taxi drivers and their relentless schedules which gave little opportunity to hear the good news. I’d decided then that if I ever paid to take a taxi, I would share the love of God with the driver. But today, I’d already done that, and I was tired and needed to be rested for my classes.

There was a niggling thought in my head, though. What if this driver never hears of Jesus? This taxi had been a timely provision for me. What if God had appointed this driver to hear the good news today, and I didn’t tell him? What is stopping me, really? I kept wrestling with my need for a rest and rationalising my excuses. Finally, I opened my mouth.

The taxi driver was friendly, and listened intently as I shared with him the core of the good news—the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the forgiveness and eternal life he offers. “Have you ever heard this before?” I asked. “No, I haven’t,” he replied. “Well, not completely. The passenger just before you was a Christian too, and she started to tell me but her journey came to an end too quickly. So I didn’t hear it all.”

I was stunned. This day, the Lord had appointed two of His children, in a city of 22 million people, to talk to this taxi driver. And he had prodded me until I’d opened my mouth. The driver continued, “And I want to know where I can find a Bible. I’ve been trying to find one for a while but I have no idea where to look.” I couldn’t believe my ears at hearing this earnest desire. There are a lot of bookshops in my city, but a Bible is hard to find.

His enthusiasm grew as we talked. As we drew up to my high-rise apartment block, I took a risk. “My apartment is up there,” I said, pointing to the second-highest floor. “I have a spare Bible up there, in your language. Would you wait for me to get it for you?” “Really? Yes, of course! I’ll wait here as long as it takes!” he replied. At my apartment I made a beeline for a hidden drawer under the spare bed and drew out the precious book. I added a Jesus DVD, also in his language, to the gift. The driver delightedly accepted the materials I offered with a sincere “thank you” and a promise that he would value and peruse them all.

I never saw him again. I don’t know if I’ll see him in heaven, though I hope I will. But I know that on that day, the love of God compelled me, along with another of his children, to share the grace of the Lord Jesus with one taxi driver who had a searching heart.

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all.” 2 Corinthians 5:14

Julia has lived and worked in Asia for over twenty years.
Names have been changed.

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.

Conversations about food and faith

I remember it clearly. My simple stir-fry had opened up a genuine and open conversation with a stranger about my faith in a God who loves and cares for the amazing world He has created. We spoke for almost an hour. How did that happen?! Well, in one sense, it was simple. My friend had dropped in to visit, he noticed that I was making thoughtful choices about my meal and he asked why.

In another sense, many things had brought about the conversation I had with this man. Long before I was an exchange student living overseas, I was making intentional decisions about the way I interact with the world God has made. These included research into the ethics and environmental impact of the clothes I wore, the sustainability of the produce I ate, and the welfare of the farmers and animals providing food for my table. The choices I made in my normal life in Australia allowed me to keep making those choices in a foreign culture as best I could. I hope that my friends see integrity between my beliefs and how they play out in my daily life. My friend saw those distinctive choices and asked a question about them.

Hayley, an On Tracker in Central Asia, shares a similar experience. “Shop owners like to give you one plastic bag per item. Carrying around my own bag has reduced my plastic accumulation, and I hope as my language develops I can have conversations about why I do this.”

Despite living in very different cultural contexts, Hayley and I have something in common. We’re wrestling with how caring for creation is integral to our faith. As we live that out, we hope for the opportunity to share about the love of God with those who witness our actions. I hope that as Hayley grows in her language skills, she will have similar encouraging opportunities for conversation and friendship.

As Christians we have a unique voice to speak into this space of caring for the environment. We care because God cares.

In a bleak environmental landscape across the world, with ravaging bushfires, devastating drought and species extinction, many feel hopeless. I admit I sometimes do. It is appropriate to cry out, “How long, O Lord?” Over the years God has had to remind me that ‘saving the environment’ is not a burden He expects me to carry. In my personal grief and frustration over the ways we take the environment for granted, I’ve been able to lean on the corporate history of grief and lament we have in the Christian faith. We are equipped to respond to the eco-anxiety and ecological grief* many people experience.

We can also share a clear hope for the future. Callum, a Partner in South East Asia, writes: “Our Father has a plan not just for redemption of individuals, but for all of creation. As we live as his agents in this world, we seek to see His Kingdom come. We are longing for the day when He brings back perfect harmony and balance to our environment. But for now, we have the privilege of being part of His work and bringing glimpses of His Kingdom to the world. I love the fact that our faith gives us eternal perspective.”

It is this hope that has resulted in some of the best conversations I’ve had with others about my faith. What a beautiful, transformative message to get to speak into people’s lives.

Katherine is a Creation Care Advocate for Interserve. She has an Honours degree in Marine Conservation and Resource Sustainability, a Graduate Diploma in Divinity and loves to chat about mission and the environment!

Some names have been changed.

*Vince, Gaia. “How scientists are coping with ‘ecological grief’”. The Guardian, 13 January 2020 (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/12/how-scientists-are-coping-withenvironmental-grief).

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.

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.