Andrew Powell, MTS Apprentice 2018-19
WPC, Bull Creek, WA
Trainer: Craig Newill
Have you always been a Christian?
I have been a Christian for roughly 4 years. I gave my life to Jesus around September 2015. I had been trying to fix my life from the recklessness of my twenties and was, by the world’s standards, living the Aussie dream. I had a good paying career, an incredible fiance, good friends, gave to charity, looked after my family, enjoyed holidays and savings. I was a “good” guy. But the more I tried to be good, tried to have everything in order and keep my relationships running perfect, the more I noticed the biggest problem in my life was me. I was a hypocrite. I would judge those around me knowing full well I was just as bad but better at covering it up or acting like I didn’t have a problem with it (pornography and alcohol for example). I had a crisis of moral value. Who defines what is right and wrong. My grandfather had been the biggest influence in my life and although I hadn’t listened to him back then, he loved and shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with me every chance he got. Fast forward to 2015, and this fond memory lead me to start reading the Bible, going to church and listening to Christian podcasts. It brought me to the point of knowing that it is God the Creator who defines right and wrong, and I was living in total rebellion of it. Discovering the amazing grace of Jesus Christ through His life, death and resurrection, I repented of my sin and put my faith in Jesus, my Lord and Saviour. What a privilege to know God’s love and mercy through His Son! “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
I was a Prison Officer since 2010. It’s funny, when I became a Christian I thought I would stay working in prisons for the next 40 years. It is such a hostile and gospel poor place. In 2017, I went on a short term mission trip to Myanmar. It was an incredible experience and changed my thinking about how I can serve the Lord. Following the mission, circumstances and opportunities to share and grow in my faith in Christ exploded. The biggest moment of these was helping to look after my dad when he was dying of brain cancer. He had rejected God after his diagnosis and it has been heartbreaking to see him suffer without Christ. We loved him, cared for him, evangelised and prayed constantly for the Lord to change his heart. Praise God for His mercy as we saw my dad put his life in the loving hands of Jesus two weeks before he died. It was a privilege and joy to give my dad’s testimony as a part of his eulogy. All these moments and a wonderful fellowship with my pastor mate Matt (who was encouraging and supporting me since I became a Christian) lead to my wife and I discussing and praying about options in Christian ministry. This lead to us accepting the invitation to do the MTS apprenticeship.
What has been the biggest shock or surprise you’ve learned about ministry?
The biggest shock/surprise (there were quite a few!) was how God would use me. I have only ever worked with adults, first in security then in prisons. My son was 4 months old when I started the apprenticeship. I didn’t even have my Working With Children’s Check until my first month of my apprenticeship. Two of my ministries were with kids. I started running a creche class during our Sunday services and became a chaplain for our Boys Brigade company giving devotions to 5-11 year olds. Wow! It was amazing. With incredible support and guidance (and by the grace of God) both ministries flourished. I have also never taken to cooking apart from the odd barbecue and nachos. After some loving and patient instruction, I became the unofficial kitchen coordinator for cooking the women’s breakfasts. The fellowship is wonderful and my wife is very happy to have me helping cook at home!
What have your learnt from Craig (trainer)?
Craig taught me what it means to be a mature follower of Jesus Christ. I thank God for Craig. He has far exceeded any idea of what I thought a trainer would be. He has shown me how to read and understand God’s Word, how to pray, how to love and shepherd a congregation, how to be a husband and father, how to prepare and write a sermon/talk, how to be patient with a loud, passionate, wild apprentice… And always, ALWAYS, pointing to Christ. We have laughed, cried, prayed, rejoiced and talked for hours over the two years. I have learnt so much as an apprentice but even more as a brother in Christ. Craig’s honesty and openness to everything we worked on was truly precious.
Craig also taught me how to be really distracting by beaming and smiling at me the WHOLE time when I preached my first sermon in our morning service. It was frustratingly encouraging!
Can you give us a story from a day on the job?
A family I met and helped last year when they moved to Perth from overseas are a wonderful encouragement. They had just started attending the church and our kids were both in creche. The father and I developed a strong friendship which continues to grow in Christ. I thank God to see them flourishing not only in life but also in their faith. My friend’s mother died in her home country and he was obligated to hold a cultural memorial service. During the planning he made it clear that he wanted our church to take part and it was a privilege to preach the gospel of Christ in his home to his cultural community. The next time we met, he expressed joy and thankfulness as those who had attended approached him asking where he went to church and talking about the message of salvation and grace they heard.