An unusual apprentice passes the baton – John Delezio

John Delezio (centre) with Ben Pfahlert, MTS National Director (L) and Andrew Beddoe, Principal of Vocational Bible College (R) at John’s ordination as a Deacon in the Sydney Anglican diocese earlier this year

John Delezio wasn’t your traditional MTS apprentice.

He started his apprenticeship not in his 20s, as most apprentices do, but at 40, after a long career including 10 years owning a commercial window cleaning business.

While running that business, John worked one day per week teaching SRE in a local primary school. During that time, God began to grow in him a passion for ministry, and so when the opportunity arose for John to begin an MTS apprenticeship, he jumped at the chance.

John’s apprenticeship also looked a little different from the norm – it was a ‘Blue Collar’ apprenticeship which lasted three years rather than two, and involved simultaneous study at Vocational Bible College. He was involved in all the usual sorts of ministry experiences that MTS apprentices get, but additionally, making use of his tradie background and years of experience, John pioneered chaplaincy to local factory workers.

By the end of the three years, John was trained, experienced in a variety of ministries, and ready to launch himself into his new full-time career. He got a position at Church @ the Peak, working four days per week, and added a two-day-per-week SRE position at Georges River College’s Peakhurst Campus to round out his load.

John says that his apprenticeship definitely ‘added value to his later ministry’ and enabled him to be ‘effective straight away in a ministry role’. His firm belief in the value of the time he spent training led John to think that he would like to pass the baton on to another apprentice – someone who could come and work with him teaching SRE at the school.

John began to pray for God to show him someone he could train. “I guess I expected a 22 year old or something,” John recalls. But God had other plans.

One Sunday, a man visited John’s church and they got to chatting. Greg, 50, revealed that he was planning to retire in the next few months and was looking to do ministry in his retirement.

“It was a God thing,” John says. “This guy was visiting once and there were so many other people I could have spoken to that week! And he is just as keen as a 22 year old.”

John suggested Greg come and train with him in the school, and two months later he said yes.

Now Greg is six months into his apprenticeship, and John is already thrilled to see the value of the time he has set aside to train and consider God’s leading. John says at first, Greg was reluctant about the support-raising aspect of an apprenticeship. “But now,” John says excitedly, “he realises that giving won’t just affect his ministry, it will affect the people who are giving as they partner with him in God’s work!”

Greg is also starting to consider different sorts of ministry for after his time with John ends. “It’s opened up his mind,” John says.

John urges others like him and Greg, who are older and considering a career change, not to write off MTS. “So many people get shuffled into a career they don’t really want. So many people have something they think they might have liked to have tried – and for a lot of Christians, that’s ministry. I’ve had multiple conversations about this with other men my age. If that’s you, come and do an apprenticeship!”

Furthermore, pastors and other potential trainers should look beyond university students and people in their 20s when seeking candidates for apprentices.

Friends like you should be encouraged that your support of MTS is enabling all sorts of people to consider full-time ministry – people with unique gifts, experiences and passions that God is using powerfully in his kingdom.