June marks the halfway point of my first year of internship at South West Chinese Christian Church. As you may have read from previous posts, my experiences have both challenged and stretched me, and has served to confirm my calling to ministry. I am incredibly blessed for the opportunity to serve alongside a team of pastoral and lay leaders, to be equipped in practical ministry, and to journey with people who are in different stages of their spiritual walk.
The past month has been particularly exciting because I had the opportunity to share my internship life with my family. My dad, mum, and little sister arrived on the 5th of June primarily attend my graduation, but also to take a break from the hustle and bustle of lecturing. It has been 2 years since their last visit to Sydney, and from the conversations we’ve had, I believe they really enjoyed their time here. Perhaps one of the things that was most refreshing for me while they were here was the valuable time we had every evening to share and pray as a family. This is a culture that my father fostered in our family since I was very young, and it has been a vital key for my personal spiritual journey and for the growth of our family. At the end of the day, our family would gather to talk about our day, to read passages of scripture together, and to pray for one another. I admit that there were stages in my life where this felt like a burdensome chore, especially during my teenage years when I preferred chatting on MSN-messenger than to go to my parents room to talk. But as I look back at the hours clocked up sitting on my parents’ bed to talk about life, ministry, relationships, and the like, I realised that in addition to God’s grace, one of the key reasons that my relationship with God has steadily grown and the reason I have an intimate relationship with every single one of my family can be traced back to that. The short 30-45 mins we share together is the time my father pastored me, my mum, and subsequent my little sister. There was almost nothing that wasn’t shared among us. Consequently, I was given insight into my parents’ ministry, their struggles, and prayers. Therefore, when they arrived this time round, it was so fantastic being able to walk into their room (by the generosity of my current landlords, who are also church members of the previous church I attended, my family was given a room in the house that I live in) around 10pm to sit and talk. It was an incredible blessing, and I hope that this is something I can carry on with the family that God gives me in the future.
1) University Studies
As anticipated in my previous post, June was a hectic month with several major papers due. I had one Encyclopedia entry and two major essays due within the span of 3 weeks. In addition to that, me and my family took a short holiday to Melbourne, which clashed with the due date for my essays. I really should have planned my schedule a little better, but what ended happening was frantic reading and writing on early mornings because that short period was my most productive and uninterrupted time. Thankfully, I managed to finish all my papers in time, but not without the generous extensions that were given to me by my professors. In case you’re interested, my final papers were titled:
- ‘The Declaration Of The Kingdom Of God: Jesus’ Revolutionary Announcement Of A Present And Future Victory’
- ‘The Resurrection Narratives: Understanding And Reconciling The Varied Resurrection Accounts In The Four Gospels’
One of the highlights of my ministry experience in June was the opportunity to lead our church’s monthly prayer meeting. If you’ve been to prayer meetings, you’ll probably agree that it can either feel a little repetitive or it can really refresh your vision of what God is doing in your church and the world, and renew your personal prayer life. I’m grateful that our pastor strives to help us attain the latter experience every month, and his modelling of good prayer meeting leading has helped me in my preparation process. I titled that month’s prayer meeting as ‘Kingsgrove and Beyond’, and create four separate prayer categories (which can be found here). I believe one of the key ways to understand God’s vision for a local region is firstly to understand and pray for that particular region. Therefore, I spent a bit of time reading some statistics about our area and translating them into prayer points. The preparation process was really beneficial for me, as I had to think about what those numbers meant in the context of ministry and evangelism. I hope you can join me as we continue to pray for our region. On that note, if you’re interested on ways of leading prayer meetings, Kevin DeYoung has written an excellent piece titled ‘How to Lead a Good Prayer Meeting’.
Another highlight of the month was our Community Group’s (CG) weekend getaway. The depth of our CG has really grown over the past 6 months, both in terms of our knowledge of the Bible as we work through the book of Romans and in terms of our relationship with one another. I’ve really enjoyed leading our CG and consistently seeing fruit in people’s lives. However, I think our weekend getaway was really timely because it provided an opportunity for much needed rest among our CG members. The daily fight against stress and anxiety will eventually wear one’s physical, mental, and spiritual state down, thus rest should come in place before anyone reaches that state. Therefore, the primary aim of the getaway was the provide a space for rest and recovery in those three areas: physical, mental, and spiritual. People slept in, played board games, read a book, chatted, cooked together, went bush walking together, and worshipped together. During our Saturday morning worship time, I led a small discussion on the topic of rest, titled ‘Rest as God intended
since the Garden of Eden’, in hopes of helping people gain a biblical perspective of shalom and rest. From what I’ve heard, some of what was shared in the discussion was very timely for certain people’s lives, and a lot of subsequent conversations have resulted from it.
3) Prayer Points and Updates
I will be taking a semester off from my MA studies because the coming semester’s subjects aren’t as beneficial as they could be. Further, given that each subject costs around $3000, I thought it’d be wise to save that for subjects that would be more relevant to my field of study. Please pray that I’ll be able to use my additional day (that would have otherwise been used for ministry) wisely. It is already proven to be beneficial, with Tuesdays being the day where I sit in a meeting with Pastor Pete and Jono to talk about church vision and strategy, and an additional day to meet up with other guys (I’ve taken up an additional two guys to meet up with).
If you’ve been in the RICE world, you’ll know that two exciting things are coming up. First being the annual RICE Evangelistic Rally, and second being RICE’s first short term missions trip. Pastor Pete and I will be leading the team for the short term missions trip. Therefore, the next few months will be a pretty hectic season of team member selection, training, and preparation. Please pray that we can do so faithfully, and that the team that goes along this coming January will be able to bless and be blessed by the locals. Also, if you’re interested in coming along (or hearing more about the trip), shoot me an email. Team registration is open for another few more weeks, and we’d love to hear from you.
Lastly, my internship is made possible through the support of my church and 28 generous individuals. However, I’m still currently short of approximately $400 a month. Could you please consider supporting me financially in addition to your prayers? If so, I’d love to chat with you.
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