- Please be praying for our planning and preparation to do MTS together in 2023. In particular, we wish to be patient, gentle, and joyful in our fundraising and transition into next year.
- Please pray that God would grow our skill in having pastoral conversations with others as a couple; that we would be slow to speak, quick to listen, and work well as a team in directing conversation to glorify Christ.
- Please pray for our Music Ministry and Growth Group teams that things would be handed over well by Nathan.
- Please give thanks to God for 4 years of marriage to Helen! Please ask God for many more joyful years to come.
The story: MTS Recruit
Well here’s the story of how our plans for 2023 unfolded.
Heading into the conference, I was praying hard for God to raise gospel workers for the harvest – particularly to do MTS at St John’s for 2023. Now naturally I was thinking of the young men I was discipling and reading the bible with. But little did I know, God would answer my prayers with other people in mind…
Meanwhile, Helen came to MTS recruit simply to accompany me and encourage the other delegates from St John’s. But over the course of the weekend, she had plenty of opportunities to reflect on her past ministry experiences, glean the wisdom of others, and think about what the next step of serving Jesus with her whole life looked like. She realised that she wanted to grow deeper in God’s Word and sharpen her ministry skills – although what she had in mind was Bible College for next year.
But what surprised Helen was when Carmen tapped her on the shoulder to consider MTS for 2023, and particularly to train together with myself. While this was quite a shock at first, the more they talked, the more it made sense. MTS would mean the opportunity to do ministry at a full-time capacity together. Moreover – she would have Carmen as her trainer; someone she greatly respected to help her reflect and grow in the areas of character, conviction, and competency. While it was sounding like a better and better idea, there were still so many unanswered questions. We had things all organised for 2023. What about College? What about moving churches? What about Nathan?
Helen broke the news to me later that night – and it certainly was a shock to me as well. We agreed to sleep on it, and discuss it further the next day.
I got up early the next morning to spend some time seeking God’s wisdom, and thinking it through. Like Helen, the the more I thought and prayed about it, the more it made sense. It was a great opportunity for Helen to be trained as a gospel worker in her own right. This was a rare window to serve together full time; physically going through the rhythms of ministry together as a family. Furthermore, we had come out of a difficult pastoral situation through the past couple of months – which had left Helen wanting to be better equipped to tackle future situations with greater wisdom. The conviction and circumstances lined up. To me, it became a no-brainer. I am fully supportive of Helen doing MTS.
So what would that look like for us in 2023? That part we’re still working out, but we are excited for whatever next year will bring. There is certainly a grief and sadness in having to delay college – the greatest of which is not being in the same cohort as fellow MTSer Victor. Yet I am content and joyfully submissive to God’s plans for us. If God should allow it, this ‘delay’ of a year, would prove its value in the next 10, 20, 30 or more years of ministry ahead of us. We will look to share more about this at our annual partner update in December.
We would love your precious prayers as we commit these 2023 plans to our loving and generous God.
As were were originally wrapping things up for the end of the year, Helen and I decided to make it a priority to spend more relational time with members of our church. We have found this to be a delightful ministry; serving together in conversation and prayer over good food and good company.
There have been some helpful learnings for us through this as well. Helen and I are both big talkers, and so we clash at times over ideas, or where we want to take the conversation. These dinners have challenged us to think through how to support each other’s conversations. We’re learning the wisdom of listening and deferring to each other – for the sake of loving and encouraging our friends over dinner.
Please pray that we can grow in these things more and more.
Music Ministry – Training
Another delight encountered towards the end of the second year of MTS is seeing things come full circle. From training leaders, it has been such an encouragement to see others trained to train leaders.
Nick Morley – one of the music ministry band leaders (with whom I meet with regularly) ran music training for our team on how to pick songs for a Sunday. He laid out the biblical principles well, taught us a method for uncovering the ‘big idea’ of a bible passage, and even gave us the exercise of picking the songs for term 4!
Our music ministry team found it very helpful, as it encouraged them to grow in reading God’s word, and to see how important the ministry of the Word in Song is.
In the lead up to this training, Nick and I met over a number of weeks, where I showing him my preparation process, and walked alongside him as he prepped his training material. It was a great opportunity for him to be stretched in a number of areas as well – to think about what is involved in organising training, how to speak in front of a group of people, and how to lead other leaders. It was an interesting realisation that ultimately the person who got the most out of the training was probably Nick himself!
My reflections on this training is that it has taught me to be patient in training others. Even though I have had the privilege of doing MTS for two years, it’s easy to expect others to know everything that I know! It’s been a challenge to discern what wisdom to share, and what important principles to pass on.
Please pray for Nick, that he would continue to use his gifts in training and developing our music ministry team.
Growth groups have continued to be a joy as we see how God grows his disciples in Word, Prayer, Fellowship, and Service. I’ve been particularly encouraged at how well the newer members of our group have been welcomed.
Another point of thanksgiving is how my associate leader – Thomas has grown. While Thomas has led studies for a number of years, He has been very receptive to feedback, and we have seen him grow in responsibility and quality of leadership.
I got to run one final growth group training session for our growth group leaders – on prayer. This training became a culmination of all the things I had learned about running training over the past two years. It was very helpful to look back and reflect on my past training sessions – and apply the feedback I’ve received from my trainer David. This time around, I incorporated a lot more peer-to-peer learning, and a variety of activities to supplement the teaching up the front. One new thing we did was that we interviewed three different growth groups, and had them share about how they did prayer time in their growth groups.
Another great encouragement has been seeing our student minister Josh Donohoo step into the growth group coach role for 11am. It’s been a joy to see our growth group leaders better cared for as we develop a leadership pipeline within our growth group structure. In fact, I have been greatly ministered to by Josh as he has checked in with me about my growth group. Once again it has reminded me that I myself can’t do everything – and the whole body is needed to build Jesus’ church.
Preaching in Chinese
Another highlight over these past 3 months has been preaching in our Chinese congregations. I preached in English (unfortunately my Cantonese and Mandarin are not up to scratch), on the means of grace – Fellowship.
Preaching with a translator more than doubles the time it would normally take. Not only this, but I’ve had to think about how I structure my sentences to allow for inevitable pauses, and how to use that to my advantage.
I found this a very helpful exercise in growing my preaching, because it forced me to slow down and be very deliberate with my words. It was also great to think about how to preach cross-culturally. I had to think carefully about the way I explained things, and which analogies to use.
I had grown up with my parents attending the Chinese congregations. It was good to see what an encouragement this was for all my ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ who have seen me grow up both physically and spiritually at St John’s.
If you’re interested in checking out the talk, you can find it here:
4-Year Anniversary Getaway
Well done if you’ve read this far! To reward you, here are some photos of our time on the Gold Coast, where we gave thanks to God for four years of marriage.