In her work as a speech pathologist, Kitty Chan knew she was helping people with their kids’ communication skills; but as she had discovered back in her student days, what people really need is to meet Jesus – so she went ‘back to uni’, this time as a ministry apprentice, to help others grow in their faith.
The growth she had experienced as a student in the AFES group at the Cumberland Campus of the University of Sydney was a significant factor in Kitty’s decision. She was already a Christian when she started uni, but AFES helped her to grow in her understanding of what God was doing in the world through uniting all things under Jesus. She says:
He calls us to participate in Jesus’ mission. And so I left uni being really excited about what does it look like to serve Jesus first, and how do I do that in my workplace and at church? But the more I worked in the community, the more I realised, “Oh, wow, these people really need to hear about Jesus”, because it’s only the Gospel that can give them life.
So when her staffworker suggested that she come back to Cumberland and do a ministry apprenticeship with her, Kitty had a lot to think about.
Full time ministry was not what I expected, but the more I thought about it, the more I was convicted that if I could spend more of my time meeting people and sharing Jesus with them there, that would be super worthwhile and worth giving up my job for.
And, having been discipled by a woman while she was a student, Kitty says it was almost a ‘no-brainer’ that she would do something similar as an apprentice – that she would “go back on campus and get to serve women”.
Seeing God’s Word change people
Kitty says her two-year apprenticeship was a time of great excitement as she had the privilege of seeing how God’s word touched people’s lives:
A lot of things stood out to me, but one particular thing was seeing how as I met up with girls to read the Bible, God changed them. God brought people into his kingdom, God matured people, and it was just amazing, such a privilege to be a part of what God was doing in people’s lives.
With her apprenticeship completed, Kitty continued to immerse herself in God’s word as she studied at Moore Theological College. But while her own apprenticeship may have come to an end, her involvement with the ministry apprenticeship model was by no means over. It was time to use her skills, knowledge and love for God – and her background and experience as an apprentice – to help raise up other women for ministry.
Back to uni – again!
After her theological studies, Kitty headed back to Cumberland – again – and joined the AFES staff team. There, over a period of six years, she trained about ten women undertaking ministry apprenticeships. As she nurtured these women and watched them grow, there was much to celebrate:
I loved how they loved the students and met up with them to read the Bible. I loved how they did lots of things better than I did, whether in the way they reached out to the campus, or in the way that they were creative in teaching the Bible … I loved seeing how they grew in godliness themselves and gained confidence in serving Jesus including giving evangelistic talks on campus … it’s been really exciting watching them just have a go and just thrive and see God work in them.
The time spent training these apprentices has borne fruit in all sorts of ways as they have gone on to share the love of Jesus with others in their lives.
One of them is a kids’ minister. Another become a mum recently and gets the privilege of teaching her child about Jesus. Some are studying at College, and some have gone back to their secular work and serving their churches and seeking to share the Gospel in their workplaces.
Kitty has some interesting insights about obstacles that sometimes need to be overcome as women make the decision to become ministry apprentices.
Some worry about what their families will think, especially if it’s a very different path from the one their families may have expected them to take. For some, giving up the career they have studied and worked towards is daunting, especially if they are also thinking about marriage and children.
Some women, she says, ask questions like “What will I do in the future? Are women actually employed in ministry? What’s the point of the training if I can’t get a job?”
And then there are the questions about whether they are suitable, and the self-doubt: “Why me? Why should I be thinking about full-time ministry? I’m not the right person.”
It’s a big decision with a lot of questions. So … why do it?
The harvest is plentiful
Kitty believes it’s essential to raise up “both men and women in full-time ministry, working and serving alongside each other, ministering to men and women”. She says:
We need people. The harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few. And both men and women need to hear the Gospel. But not only that – I think it’s important as we think about our churches and ministry groups that there are men and women leading those teams together with their different gifts and perspectives, their strengths, [so] they actually complement one another for the good of the body.
She’s seen first-hand how working together can “sharpen each other”, and how women in ministry can understand and convey the challenges that women experience, and help work out how best to teach the Bible to both men and women. This also helps the men know how to teach and serve women.
Any place where you’re grappling with [questions like] “What does the Bible teach us?” and “What does the Bible say about how to live Godly lives?”, you’re wanting women to be understanding what the Bible says and how to apply it in their own lives … and so then that’s why you do want to be raising up women to teach and lead, so that you can learn from each other.
So what would Kitty say to a woman considering getting involved in this ‘harvest work’ as a ministry apprentice?
I would say it’s really worthwhile, taking the two years to see how God uses you and where, and as you learn about your strengths and weaknesses, and where it is that you will serve God and his Kingdom … sometimes it’s easy to want to know what the future holds and to have all the plans in place, but trust God with where He might take you, and serve Him with the opportunities that He gives you.
Kitty has trusted God to take her where he wanted her to go; and she has been able to rejoice in raising up many more women as harvest workers in God’s great mission field.
Kitty is on the committee for MTS Recruit – our local+global+online recruiting conference – helping the worldwide movement raise up harvest workers. Click here to find out more about MTS Recruit.