Youth Worker

West Asia / Theology / Church / 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 560

The churches in the major cities in this land need help with developing youth ministry. Reaching the youth and discipling them is a big need.

A significant focus for the churches in this country is providing ministry and support for teens. There is very little being done and it’s a significant need. Those with skill and focus on this age-group can work even while they are learning language.

Applicants should have experience in youth work, be initiators and self-starters, have the desire and calling to work with youth and teens, and have the ability to work with others, under the authority of a pastor or other leader.

Theology Lecturer

Pakistan / Theology / Church / 2+ years / Job ID: 189

St. Thomas Theological College has an opening for faculty of theology and missions.

Bible School Faculty

Pakistan / Theology / Church / 2+ years / Job ID: 240

Faculty are needed at the undergraduate level (B.Th.) for a bible school. The qualified candidate would have a M.Div.

Seminary Faculty

South Asia / Theology / Church / 2+ years / Job ID: 235

An evangelical seminary trains students for ministry.

Faculty are needed at the graduate level (MDiv) for the following areas: Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, Church History, Christian Ed, Counseling, Greek, and Hebrew. The qualified candidate will have a ThM or PhD/ThD.

The Bible changes the church

Imagine a national church that began just over 20 years ago after years of domination by a regime that forbade any form of religious belief and practice. Now many people have welcomed the good news that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead. Their lives have been
changed, and the church has grown.

Can you imagine what this church is like? Enthusiastic new believers share their faith, while still coming to grips with what it means to follow Jesus. Leaders with little or no biblical and theological training often find it difficult to recognise false teaching. There are few useful books to help leaders or people understand the Bible, and no models of preaching from a Bible passage to help people grow as Christians.

A major need is for the church to grow in depth. Local leaders are working with Interserve Partners to help raise the standard of biblical
teaching and preaching. They aim to equip believers with God’s word to
Jesus and to fulfil God’s mission in the world.

A Bible college, operating with government approval, exists from month to month with enough to pay a small allowance to the five local staff. Many foreign teachers were involved at the beginning, but the need now is to equip local teachers by providing opportunities for study and teaching. After working together with a Partner teaching a subject, the local teacher then teaches independently. When Valentina* taught an extension class recently, students were amazed at how much they learned from her through studying the book of Ezekiel and how much they enjoyed her interesting teaching method.

Because of the threat of extremism in this part of the world, the government requires all religious leaders to have some qualification. Consequently, many church leaders from all over the country are now coming to evening or extension classes. They say, “I’ve learned so much here!” … “I’m already teaching what I’ve learned here this week!” … “I never appreciated how good and loving God’s law is” … “I have
a completely different understanding of the Old Testament now” … “When is the next session?”

Providing good literature is also a key to growth in maturity. We have been upgrading the library with suitable books and computer software,
which has streamlined the librarian’s work. Tom Wright’s 13 New Testament for Everyone books are also in the process of translation
and publication in the majority language. One enthusiastic reader
others saying, “This is an historical moment! The first Bible commentaries in our language!” A small team of people who have seen the value in preaching clearly, faithfully and relevantly from a Bible text is encouraging and resourcing small preaching clubs where people learn and practise together. Now others are asking for this training. One participant remarked that all you have to do is study the text carefully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and present its teaching in a clear,
relevant and interesting way. She encouraged her pastor husband to attend a preaching club too. Another pastor who used to agonise over
what the Lord wanted her to say has now been liberated by realising that God actually speaks through His word when it is faithfully preached.

These are some of the ways local leaders are working with Interserve Partners in a very young national church. It is slow, patient work, with few immediately evident results, but we know that faithful and effective teaching and preaching of God’s word equips His people for mission. The Bible changes the church, and God uses the church to transform the world, in His time and for His glory.

Gwen* is a Partner who has been working alongside the church in Central Asia for the past 12 years.

*Names have been changed.

Four denominations, one church

I have been privileged to serve the national church in the Middle East and to see God at work. Under the local leadership of the Anglican, Methodist, Orthodox and Presbyterian churches, I helped pastors and directors of church-run non-government organisations (NGOs), in
particular through administration for community development projects.

I enjoyed working with these denominations and hold them in high regard. Serving God is considered a real honour and privilege and they do it with zeal.

Little Akram was brought to the Anglican-supported deaf school at nine years of age. He had absolutely no idea how to communicate. When his parents left him at the city boarding school in less than a week, instead of gradually settling him in, Akram was beside himself. He felt abandoned, left with strangers who were making funny signs he could not understand. He expressed his bewilderment through sobs and tantrums that lasted for hours. He was so desperate, they even had to lock the front door to stop him dashing outside onto the busy street.

The director and staff put their Christian faith into action and showed kindness to Akram who slowly began to respond. Although Akram was initially placed in a class with four-year-old children learning sign language from scratch, the teacher soon saw he was very bright. He even started to help his fellow classmates. After extra lessons during the
summer break, he moved into a class with children his own age the following year.

One Methodist pastor ministered in a very poor village of about 1500 inhabitants, where illiteracy was estimated at 75%. He saw the need to hold literacy classes and after-school classes to help the children grasp literacy and numeracy so they would not drop out of school. The NGO also provided poor families with school bags with essential items.

It was a joy to see how the children had grasped reading, writing and arithmetic skills. I was struck by the testimony of one teacher who admitted that initially the students were obnoxious, and after struggling for some time she was ready to quit. She prayed with the pastor about the situation. God responded by first giving her a loving heart for the
children then an amazing turn-around in the children’s attitudes followed.

The NGO supported many village projects and met with Orthodox priests who were working towards bettering the state of their village communities. One successful program provided small loans to villagers for projects that generated income: loans to purchase goats, sheep, sewing machines, or necessary stock for grocery stores, mobile accessory shops, motorcycle repairs and restaurants. The loans transformed the lives of families – widows could make a living using their sewing machines and men could work locally instead of in the cities, thus keeping their families together.

I attended a large Presbyterian church in the capital city. During the upheaval of the Arab Spring, the church found itself a possible easy target as it was situated just behind a now-famous city square. Instead
of closing the church building to the public for protection, the church opened their gates, set up a makeshift hospital and ministered to the wounded. The church also allowed Muslims to use their water so they could perform their ablutions before their prayers, as the nearby mosque was unable to cater to the large numbers. This was a friendly gesture that became a great witness to the people. Many Muslims spoke of the church in a positive way.

Thank you, Interserve, for allowing me to assist Arab Christians in serving their communities and see these people living out their faith
through active service.

Written by an Interserve Partner recently returned from the Arab world.

People of peace

For more than 30 years God has given me a consuming passion for discipling people from a Muslim background. In this process I have
always looked for key people with great spiritual potential. These could be referred to as the good seed in the good soil (Mark 4:20; Luke
8:15) that multiplies up to a hundredfold. A related concept is the “person of peace” (Luke 9:4–5, 10:5–6) who is strategic in the
spread of the gospel to others.

There is an Afghan man I’ve known now for about 11 years, and who I consider to be my best friend. We often meet for prayer and to share the scriptures and have some fun times together. He loves to share his faith but has suffered a lot of rejection from his relatives because of his allegiance to Jesus. He has a real gift for explaining the scriptures and all the believers greatly appreciate him. He is a person of peace.

As I think back over my years in ministry, I can identify three other people who I would call people of peace. Like my Afghan friend, they have a common strength in their faith and are making a wonderful impact among people from their ethnic backgrounds. In reflecting on the
time I shared with these people, I have learned a lot about how to minister more effectively with them.

During the 14 years I ministered in the Philippines I met a Filipino Muslim man who lived about one metre from my front door in a depressed neighbourhood in Manila. Over a period of 18 months he became a follower of Jesus. He was poor but much respected by his family and friends; a generous, unselfish man who had exceptional people skills. Together we shared the word of God with several of the people close to him using chronological Bible studies. I was amazed at the way he shared when he led the studies. His fluency of language and cultural expression of his faith in the scriptures was amazing. In the years to come he suffered for his faith but was mightily used of God. As I look back on that time I’m thankful for our ministry together but realise key mistakes I made. I dominated the biblical sharing and teaching far
too much. I should have focused much more on mentoring and enabling him to reach his own people.

There is another Afghan man I met in early 2003 in Melbourne. He and his family were new believers when they transferred to a location near where I lived. We quickly started reaching out to his friends and relatives with the gospel. Several of them came to faith and were baptised. His gifting was in sharing his faith and he was a natural evangelist. However, since they were all new believers, I felt I needed to take the lead in the ministry.

The third man is an Iranian who came to our country and joined a Bible study I was leading. It quickly became clear that he wanted to be the
pastor and lead the group. He invited a number of Iranians to our study and really helped the group to grow. My fear was that he wasn’t mature enough in the faith to effectively lead the group, and I was also conscious of avoiding any power struggle. And so I held him back instead of more effectively nurturing his leadership skills.

A key characteristic of people of peace is their deep value of personal relationships. Personally praying and sharing God’s word with them
is vital. My key mistake was controlling the Bible teaching and sharing when I should have stepped back and taken a mentoring role. By
God’s grace and with the help of others who share this ministry, I continue to learn and grow! I hope these insights may be valuable for others engaged in outreach to our beloved Muslim people.

Robert* is a CultureConnect Team Member who is helping churches in Melbourne to reach out cross-culturally.

*Names have been changed.

The best place to be

Working alongside with the national church is not to ‘show and tell’ what it means to follow Jesus, but to learn, discern and participate in what God has already been doing amongst the local people. It is not just to say, “Here I am, use me,” but to say, “Thank you God, for using these people to teach me about humility, trust and perseverance; thank you for giving me the privilege to witness the mission movement amongst them in a time such as this.”

Ministering from the prosperous coast to the devastated earthquake region, from the cold mountains to the arid desert, from the rural villages to the urban apartments, I’ve had many unforgettable experiences in Asia. Here is a glimpse:

Can you imagine being woken up by the orchestral sounds of birds, indigenous music and singing, and fervent prayers at 5am every morning? I lay on a hard wooden bed in a simple hut in rural Asia and was deeply touched by the presence of God in this special setting. I knew that this was where God had placed me. This is close to heaven. I forgot about the high temperature, bites of fleas and mosquitoes, regular power failure, lack of water and the unbearably filthy toilet. All I knew was that I was deeply touched and spiritually enriched. The indigenous songs, sung right from their hearts without any instruments, echoed again and again in my ears.

In the eyes of the world, they are lowly, uneducated and poor. Yet, they
and servants of the Most High who demonstrate an amazing godly lifestyle. There is a deep sense of spiritual connection between us. My heart joins with God’s and there is an overflowing love for this simple, humble and thirsty people.

Their purity, boldness and sacrifice for the sake of the gospel exemplify what is described in Acts 4:13: “they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Some of them have served the Lord for over thirty years, starting to preach with only one chapter of the Bible at hand (which was shared by the entire church back then). They travelled and preached the gospel by foot or bicycle throughout the years until revival came to the region. They fed the beggars, healed the blind, and drove out demons in Jesus’ name.

My colleagues and I came to provide intensive training. Who are we to serve these treasured people? Yet, they called us ‘teachers’, they served us with the best of their food and they saved the best place for us to stay and use. They even took our clothes to wash so that we could focus on teaching. They kept saying, “Teacher, thank you for your hard work, we feel so unworthy … yet God loves us so much and sent you.”

The beauty of the picture is that God dwells and manifests himself when we are humble to each other and serve together. It is humility and love
in action that conquers the enemy and changes our world. I am honoured to witness what God is doing here in Asia. When we are in the place where God puts us, it is the best place to be.

Jewel* provides pastors and leaders training in Asia.

*Names have been changed.

Why faith and action?

Without faith, it is impossible to please the Lord (Hebrews 11:6). It is tempting to quote this verse alone. But the passage it comes from lists what the great characters of the Bible did with their faith. Faith and action weren’t just passing acquaintances, but their lifelong companions.

Faith compels action
Central to the Christian message is a personal belief in the claims of Jesus Christ. ButChristianity’s individualised faith also hides a trap within – it can disconnect us from the actions that should demonstrate it. Comforted by our own salvation, satisfied by token expressions of faith, and blessed by our relative wealth, putting our faith into action can be ignored or at least minimised. But every aspect of the gospel actually screams: Live it! Act on it! The Apostle Paul’s motivation is that Christ’s love compels him to no longer to live for himself but for Him who died for us all (2 Cor 5:14-15). The motivation is not a belligerent Biblical command but a heartfelt compulsion to share God’s love with the world. Our faith in the transforming power of the gospel compels us beyond belief into action.

Faith perfects action
Anyone can love and serve the needs of others. It’s part of what it means to be human. What makes the difference for us is our faith. Not only does our faith provide the motivation for action, it also informs and perfects how we do it. As Christians, we represent Christ in our service for others. Jesus is the one we look to, as Saviour and as exemplar. His life gives us a template for action, specifying our goals and testing our
motives. Running around trying to prove our faith to God or others only leads to frustration or failure. Instead, we measure our actions against the tenets and experience of our faith as exemplified by the life of Jesus.

Action inspires faith
Seeing God at work in our often inadequate attempts to serve is a great inspiration to our faith. Stepping out in faith, however tentatively, unleashes the opportunity of seeing God at work. Faith is no more than a theory in our lives before we do anything with it. Real faith puts us at risk. Real action is the only way to develop our faith.

We have much to learn from Christians in Asia and the Arab world whose faith in action can put their lives in danger. Sharing their journeys of faith stretches ours, giving us the privilege of learning from each other and together walking with Jesus amongst the poor and marginalised.

So, why not?
So what stops us from putting our faith into action? Is it lack of conviction that the gospel is really transformational? Sure, Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on caring for others. Is it fear that our finances or safety will be threatened? Yes, they will be. Does social or family pressure to preserve certainty play a part? Of course. Faith by definition is a belief in the unknown, and that can be scary. Is it a lack of confidence in our abilities? Living and serving in a cross-cultural context is known to challenge our capacity, resilience and skills. So when all of these fears threaten to paralyse my action I look two ways. First, I look at the world; particularly those regions where unspeakable pain and suffering exist not just for a moment but as a way of life with no means
escape. I’ve lived there and am forever changed by these wonderful people. Then I look through the eyes of Jesus and imagine his response to their suffering as His call to me. I need to do something about God so loving the world. Following in the footsteps of Jesus is putting faith into action.

By Peter Smith, Returned Partner, Church & Community Engagement Director

When Women Speak…

Interserve worker Cathy explains why the voices of women are incredibly important in understanding Islam today – and introduces a
brand new forum for discussion.

When Women Speak… is a new network formed to encourage exploration of the place of women’s voices where Christians and Muslims meet. It exists because we believe it is time we heard the voices of Muslim women more clearly.

The network was launched last year with a colloquium in Melbourne, bringing together 28 women scholar practitioners from 16 nations,
including first and second generation followers of Jesus from a Muslim background. Our vision is that women who follow Islam are not veiled from the good news of Jesus Messiah, and that the message is communicated effectively to them.

This network is important because in Muslim culture women have a significant role in preserving and passing on faith to the next generation, yet approaches to mission are often gender-blind. Christian women scholars and practitioners have a unique ability to speak into the gap but they are surprisingly underrepresented in the development of mission strategies and missiologies, in publishing and teaching.

Space for learning
That’s why When Women Speak… network’s activities will include networking, academic and ministry research, publishing, mentoring, training and resource development.

One of these, the ‘Women’s I-view’ course, is presently bringing women practitioners together from Australia and Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Muscat, Egypt and Tunisia. The women, from Interserve and CMS Australia, are exploring topics through readings,
conversations with Muslim friends, and shared learning in a virtual classroom. One of the comments has been, ‘Now I have something
to talk to my friends about apart from babies, clothes and cooking!’

The When Women Speak… blog (whenwomenspeak.net/blog) is a fortnightly posting that explores a woman’s experience of Islam and the implications for the gospel. It provides a space for women to share their
learning, and so help shape the way we engage with our Muslim neighbours.

And the Vivienne Stacey Scholarship was launched as part of the network. Following Vivienne’s vision, the scholarship is committed to
providing resources and mentoring for women from countries where Islam is the major religion so that they can be equipped for ministry among their own people.

Collaboration at the heart
It’s all about collaboration. Collaborative research will explore how women who follow Jesus from Islam form community and are included in the family. Collaborative resource development is bringing together a group of women from Muslim backgrounds to explore discipleship needs and develop those resources. Collaborative training will bring women from different backgrounds together to share learning and make that learning available to the next generation. Mentoring is about investing in women so that women who live under Islam receive the message in ways that communicate the reality of God and his goodness.

When Women Speak… is the generating centre for practical acts of loving our Muslim friends. It will enable us to explore innovation in ministry to women living under Islam. There is vision for a conference that brings together Christian and Muslim women scholars to address issues of violence and women. Another part of the vision is for a major research project that brings Christian and Muslim women together to explore important social values that are shaping their lives.

Creating positive change
Muslim women are calling for change, and they are rewriting the discourse of Islam. Women of the mosque and piety movements within Islam want to live a life of faith, and gather to explore what faith looks like in their everyday lives. At the other end, radical women are calling for a fresh interpretation of the Qur’an that is shaped by the realities of our world. Women activists are pressing for change to address social issues that control and harm women’s lives, and Muslim women academics are addressing areas of challenge in faith, society and politics. Each of these is an opportunity for the gospel to engage with these changing discourses.

When Women Speak… is an innovative response to the opportunities in ministry with Muslim women today. Recognising that God is at work drawing women to himself, it challenges the contextual stereotyping of Muslim communities that says if we reach the men, we will reach the community. It says women are the keepers of tradition and among the greatest innovators in Islam today. It enables women who are passionate with love for their Muslim neighbour to explore ministry in a collaborative network.

Find out more about When Women Speak…, read the blog and discover resources at whenwomenspeak.net