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.

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.

Evangelist

South Asia / Theology / Church / 2+ years / Job ID: 226

This 75-bed hospital serves the tribal people of a remote region. It has good operating rooms, and is supported by laboratory, pharmacy, X-ray and ultrasound facilities and has physiotherapy and mother/child healthcare departments.

The evangelist is to work with the resident pastor, to talk and pray with patients and visitors; to speak to patients and visitors at Daily Devotions and in Outpatients, to lead Bible Studies and prayer groups for staff and interested people, and to work with external organisations.

A theologically trained Christian, who is prepared to commit at least three years to the position, of which twelve to eighteen months would be in language study. Either male or female, but female preferred because the majority of our patients are female.

Theology Lecturer

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

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

Church Volunteer (various)

Arab World / Theology / Church / 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1513

The Church’s vision is to grow, to train people for ministry, to design new programs and activities for youth and children, to increase unity, to be a neighbourhood church that attracts the neighbours to its services, to increase social activities, and to minister to the refugees in the area.

There are many possibilities for this role: the church and neighbourhood have many needs but the need is for human resources. The church would like someone who is able to fulfill one or more of the following roles: Youth work, tutoring (French and English), music (for example to start a choir with the youth), teaching English to refugees, working with the elderly (the church has an old people’s home — nursing experience would be a bonus!), visiting refugees in the neighborhood and co-ordinating relief, writing grant proposals and administration to improve ministry in the neighborhood, medical ministry, beginning a theological/ministry training centre, manual work to maintain the church building.

The ideal person for this role is someone with entrepreneurial characteristics, willing to work independently but with a high degree of judgement and cultural sensitivity. No specific qualifications are required if you are able to carry out one of the listed roles. If candidate has no working Arabic, some Arabic study whilst in country is required.

Imitating God’s kindness

Each week our family has the privilege of supporting Khruu, a local Christian community leader, to reach out to children who live in the city’s largest slum by teaching them who Jesus is and what He has done. This ministry originated out of our own local Thai church. This slum community has numerous social problems ranging from substance abuse to domestic violence and neglect … and is spiritually oppressed. The reality for each child is that these problems are a natural and deep-rooted part of their surroundings. However, in spite of these challenges, God has enabled us to get to know these children well and to witness their growing desire to know Jesus.

Nong is a 10-year-old boy. His father has long since left and his mother is heavily in debt and hounded by debt collectors. He has recently had to flee home with his mother in order to avoid these debt collectors. The Christian community leader Khruu herself lives in the slums and does not have much money. But Khruu sought to imitate God’s abounding grace and kindness to this boy by purchasing a new uniform for him to wear to school. It was the first set of new clothes Nong had ever worn to school. Before this, it had always been fourth or fifth hand-me-downs, worn out and covered in blotches. Nong was so grateful and now walks to school with pride. His grandmother, who also lives in the slums, has encouraged his mother to return to the community on the weekends so Nong can still participate in our Sunday school outreach program and get ready for school for the coming week.

Asking the question “Is mission relevant?” presupposes the answer to a related question, “Whose mission is it?” The question of mission’s relevancy cannot be disassociated from the One whose mission it is.

What seems indisputable from Genesis to Revelation is that our God is the unstoppable God who is bringing about His unstoppable mission. In spite of humanity’s every effort to thwart God’s plans, the creator and redeemer God relentlessly demonstrates His abounding love, righteous justice and profound wisdom to all humanity.

And in the course of God’s salvation history, the death and resurrection of God the Son is the epitome of this divine love, justice and wisdom. By natural consequence, all must respond to His offer of amazing grace. When God’s redeemed seek to imitate the very nature of God himself—his abounding grace and kindness—the world cannot but at least acknowledge that this transformation must come from the divine, particularly when juxtaposed against fallen humanity.

Nong’s circumstances reflect the hope of the salvation we have received, which shapes our lives now in anticipation of that certainty when Jesus will create all things anew. At that time the foolish decisions of others will no longer have a devastating impact on children. All that will remain will be praise and glory to the One who has redeemed us out of our own poverty of sin and who will give us pure and blameless clothes to wear for eternity.

Dan works with the national church to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of children.
Names have been changed.

Still needed and wanted

Imagine a country dominated by communist atheism for 70 years! For people to know God’s love, missionaries were certainly needed after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. One elderly woman told me how, after growing up believing there was no God, it was wonderful to learn that there was a God who loved her. Her life and the lives of many others were transformed in those early days. With the help of the early missionaries to Central Asia, churches were established, local leaders put in place and initiatives begun to reach out to others with the news of God’s love in Jesus.

But more than 20 years later, are mission workers still needed in Central Asia? My local colleagues will answer a resounding “yes!” … if the workers are willing to work in partnership with local believers, supporting and strengthening them as they reach out to others and help people grow in faith and understanding.

I enjoy the great privilege of working with teachers in a theological college as we help students to understand the Bible and the Christian faith more deeply, so they can communicate well to others. Our teachers have only been Christians for 20 years or less. Therefore, they value partnership with others from the wider church with broader experience. They appreciate help with such things as understanding material, planning courses, finding helpful books, teaching and preaching.

A foreigner with wider knowledge often knows where to access financial and other resources. We’ve been able to access funds to computerise our library and, thanks to the assistance of a librarian friend from Australia, for our librarian to learn how to use the system. Outside assistance has allowed us to buy more books in the local languages and to translate some helpful commentaries.

When mentioning retirement in a few years’ time, I am met with responses such as “Where did that idea come from?”, “If you are going to leave us, you need to find someone else to come and help us!”, “We want you to work with more teachers to teach more subjects”, “You need to make sure we can do this or that before you leave!”

Of course, I’ve had a lot to learn over the years and I keep learning, not only the language but much more about life and relationships here. I’ve made mistakes and been helped by my local colleagues to understand how to do things better and differently. We have disagreements and patiently work things out together. I’m sometimes told that “We have a different mentality” and I try to see things from a different cultural point of view. And I’m humbled by the love and appreciation I receive.

Other Partners here are greatly valued as they serve alongside local people, showing the love of Jesus in their lives and work. They teach English or Korean or Mandarin, serve with a local team in a shelter for homeless people, do further training for medical personnel, set up businesses and NGOs which employ local workers, serve and support local church leaders, and teach in a school for international children so their parents can serve here. Such people are still needed and wanted, and opportunities abound.

I’ve never heard anyone here say, “We don’t need missionaries!” I have heard people speak negatively about missionaries who want to control, who try to “buy” them, who “just live here” and don’t do much, who “feed their dogs with meat we can’t afford to eat”, who try to impose another culture onto them. They want mission workers who will work with them, under them, alongside them, as they seek to bring the love of God to their own people.

Gwen is a Partner who has been working alongside the church in Central Asia for the past 14 years.
Names have been changed.

The Richter effect

Excited children spill into the dark street. Distracted briefly from the ever-present danger of this illegal celebration, more than 100 people are celebrating the saviour’s birth in this unassuming living room. Jammed together, perspiring, excited, these national friends exude the bonds of community and deeply forged friendships carved from the harshness of life in this province. I am included in their community, the one “family member” with no beautiful colour in my skin.

As always, I struggle to process the disparities: the disproportionate (in terms of effort) encouragement our visits bring to these people; the tumbling piles of expensive clothes and toys left behind by departing expats to be shared among my national friends. I struggle with questions such as, “What giveaway message is here for my friends?” “What legacy has been left by those beautiful expat families who have now gone?” This focus suddenly changes as I look at Adin’s face, an island of pain in the midst of this celebration.

Adin and Diwa represent to me all that is noble and good here. They have lived sacrificially for more than a decade here to help the people of this marginalised and repressed area. But, being nationals from another province, they are considered outsiders, mocked and discriminated against in employment and housing. Richly endowed with skills and caring hearts, Adin and Diwa teach organic gardening skills to their neighbours and friends. Luscious strawberries and healthy vegetables grow in these gardens, enough to help feed their own family as they face the daily challenge of finding enough food. Lately there has even been enough produce to sell a little, marginally easing the acuteness of financial stress that plagues such workers’ lives.

We too have lived in this province—harsh in climate and sanctions but so rich in glorious natural beauty. Memories of laughing faces and wet bodies still linger, reminders of our weekly retreat meetings with other expatriates. What also lingers is the knowledge that few similar intentional events had existed for the national workers. During our time in the province, changes were made to bring this encouragement to nationals in their own language and culture, but something more regular was urgently needed to “strengthen the arm” of these people.

The term “member care” is not new for some of us, but for our national friends it was a foreign concept. Sent out from their home areas, they had existed for so long in isolation without regular care that they didn’t understand when we asked, “What would make you feel encouraged?’” or “What can we do to support you?” So much for ethnographic surveys! What a golden opportunity for us to become a living example of the Father heart of God in caring for them.

Our international team members loved being tasked with initiating regular gatherings for national workers. Monthly gatherings began at beaches or in homes. Families met for socialisation, de-briefing and prayer. Adults met for weekly networking. They had never experienced such encouragement before on a regular basis. Workers travelled from other cities; weekly meetings started in other locations. The model of member care lived out in situ was having the Richter effect, cascading out like the earth tremors we frequently felt.

We now have a vision for a next step. Most expat workers have left the province and that lovely island retreat centre is no longer allowed to host such events. The love of Christ compels us to walk alongside our national friends to see the establishment in another location of a facility for gatherings, for rest and refreshment, for counsel and spiritual direction for the national workers who seek to bring light and hope to marginalised population groups.

Alice is a long-term Partner, walking alongside national workers in South East Asia.

Names have been changed.

Contextualisation or syncretism?

In the hallowed halls of a Bible College, Janna had diligently prepared for a life of service amongst unreached people groups. Now she remembered wistfully the satisfaction of winning a prize for that essay about ‘contextualisation and syncretism’. It had all seemed so straightforward back then.

‘Contextualisation’ is the way elements of local culture are used to convey truths about God’s kingdom … and it is good. ‘Syncretism’ is the way elements of different religions or worldviews become amalgamated … and it is bad. But where does one draw the line between ‘contextualisation’ and ‘syncretism’?

Janna had put in years of language study, and had built up a business that provided her with a role in the community and a visa. She had shared her life and faith as naturally and clearly as she was able with those around her, but it had been a long, hard slog and acutely discouraging for many years. But times were changing.

Recently, God had showed himself quite clearly to those who had looked for him. Dreams and visions, healings and deliverances, miraculous provision of food and funds—it was incredible. And now two young people, Yeshe and Diki, were ready to publicly declare their faith through baptism.

Janna had prepared them well as they studied what the Bible teaches about baptism. Now all that remained was to work out the practical details: who would conduct the baptism, where would it take place and who would attend.

The young people wanted Janna, as their teacher, to baptise them. But she refused. She didn’t want baptism to be seen as turning to a foreign religion. Should she try to invite a believer from another area? He would speak a different dialect though. What about a big city church leader? But the emerging local church was intended to be indigenous to this people group. So she put that problem aside for the moment. Where would the baptism occur? That would be simpler.

Although it was summer, Yeshe and Diki were adamant that the river would be too cold. After all, the river was fed by glaciers. Briefly, Janna considered ‘dunking them’ in a bath … but there were no baths in this town. As every possibility was rejected, Janna realised that these new believers were terrified of going under water. She put that problem aside for the moment too. Who would the young believers like to invite to their baptism? Surely that would be simpler.

Quickly Yeshe and Diki listed a few of their friends from Bible study. “Good”, Janna replied, “but what about your families?” Janna had stayed with Yeshe’s family twice when they had invited her to celebrate New Year in their winter home up the valley. She had met Diki’s mother when she had come to town for medical appointments. Again, her ‘helpful’ suggestions were met with one block after another. “It was too far. It was summer and the family would be on the plateau with the yak. There was no point waiting until autumn because the family would be getting their winter homes sorted.” There were obviously deeper reasons for their reluctance to invite their families.

Frustrated, Janna decided that it was best to leave the practical issues of their baptism with Yeshe and Diki. She was confident the important points—the theological truths embodied in baptism—were clearly understood. It was their church that was at the brink of being birthed, and they must come up with their own contextualised way of conducting baptisms.

Two weeks later, the young people bounced into Janna’s apartment. They had a plan! Janna grinned. This is what it was all about—local people establishing Christian rites without foreign interference.

She sat down, leaned forward and listened.

First, they explained, they needed a Christian holy man. A pastor from the big city would do, but they worried that he’d insist on baptising them ‘big-city style’. A foreign holy man would be okay too. Best of all would be a holy man from their own people group. However, holy men were all Buddhists in this area. Perhaps Janna could connect them with a holy man. They were willing to travel far from home for the rite. They would actually prefer that because their families would be worried if they heard of them undergoing a non-Buddhist religious rite.

Next, they described how they would like to be baptised. If it was up to them, yak milk would be used for the ‘waters of baptism’, and it would be sprinkled. They had learned, as they researched the matter, that some churches would sprinkle new believers, especially if they were elderly or unwell. Sprinkling would suit them so much better. Yak milk would symbolise nurture and purity. Just as good Buddhists flick their drinks three times before consuming them, thus honouring the powers around them, so they hoped that a Christian holy man would flick yak milk over them three times in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then the holy man would place a blessed white silk scarf around each of their necks and declare them Christians.

The young people beamed. Janna frowned. Distant memories of that prize-winning essay flitted through her mind. The concept of power being contained in certain people and things reflected their Buddhist mindset. Requiring a ‘holy man’ … adapting Buddhist practices of flicking drinks three times … giving blessed scarves. What was contextualisation and what was syncretism?

What should Janna do?

Janna’s story is true, although identifying details have been changed. Many workers have responded to this dilemma in different ways. Some encourage local believers to make the decisions themselves, encouraging them to find locally appropriate ways of expressing their faith. Others insist on what is seen as ‘foreign ways’, leaving no room for syncretism.

The point of this story isn’t to provide the ‘right answer’, but to ask you to pray for great wisdom for cross-cultural workers and new believers as they establish brand new churches in local contexts. What is the ‘right answer’? God alone knows.

The author is a researcher and language learner, serving people of Asia long term.
Names have been changed.

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