Emily Barcham, Bathurst Presbyterian Church

MTS Apprentice (2nd Year)
Bathurst Presbyterian Church

What led you to do an MTS apprenticeship?

Deciding to ‘do’ MTS is a bit of a slow process really. About 5 years ago I was convinced that ‘going into ministry’ was the worst possible thing I could do with my life – it’s stressful and draining, not to mention how hard I had heard it was to be married to someone in ministry (if I ever happened to get married).

I went on a mission trip to Gulgong with my Uni group (Bathurst Christian Students). There I was involved in helping out and seeing what a range of different ministries were like. That particular week, Gulgong Presbyterian Church held Women’s Outreach Event. The leader of the mission, Ryan, challenged me give it a real go and push myself. I did. It was exhausting. But I loved it. The next day, the minister at the church, Vaughan, came and talked to our little mission group. One of the things the he chatted to us about was what ‘doing ministry’ in a small country town was like. It sounded hard. But I was intrigued. Maybe even a little excited. Ever so slightly my view of what ministry could and should look like started to change. This was definitely all God. Slowly I started to think about what it might look like if I was involved in some kind of ministry – particularly thinking about how I could be more involved in Women’s Ministry or even is I should be involved.

Fast forward a year or so of mulling this over…

Ryan, and I began dating. But before-hand he said something along the lines of ‘I want to go into full-time ministry, and if you don’t want to, we can’t date’. After the initial shock, I took some time to think about that condition. I prayed lots and asked lots of questions. At one stage I nearly said no. But a while later, I nervously said yes, really having no idea what I might be in for.

About a year later we got engaged. Just before our wedding we were doing Marriage Prep with Tristan and Clare (Tristan is a pastor at BPC and Clare is his wife and my now MTS trainer). On one of the last weeks Clare asked me what was doing next year. She explained to me about the new MTS-MTW apprenticeship and explained what that might look like for me over the next two years. It sounded big and scary, and yet exciting. I was pretty keen to give it a go, not really sure what it would be like. Ryan and I chatted about it and realised that this was a great first step for us to take as we prepared for a life of ministry – whatever that might look like.

Over the last 5 years I can really see how God has been changing my heart and preparing me firstly for MTS, and for a lifetime of ministry – whatever shape that may take.

What has been the biggest shock or surprise that you’ve learned about ministry during your apprenticeship?

I think the biggest shock for me throughout the last two years of MTS has been realising how utterly sinful I am and how dependent on God’s grace I really am. Time and time again over the last two years I’ve been continually convicted of my pride and my need to repent and trust in the sufficiency of Jesus. It shouldn’t have shocked me, but it did.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from Clare?

Clare is a wonderful model of what it looks like to live your whole life for Jesus. Whether its at church, in her home, in our meetings or down the street she is a light for Jesus. She is incredibly humble and patient in her interactions with everyone. I think one of the most valuable things I have learnt from her is seeing what having a life fixed on Jesus could an should look like. She challenges me to live a gospel shaped life in all areas of my life.

Can you give us a story from a day on the job (someone you’ve read the bible with/ministered to that has had an impact)?

One of the biggest challenges and joys over the last two years has been co-leading a Women’s Bible Study Group. Our group is made up of women from all different ages and stages of life. I have sometimes found it tricky trying to lead a group who are much older and wiser than I am and I often have felt out of my depth or simply too young. Midway through last year we had a prayer morning. Within our group, we shared the various joys we were experiencing as followers of Jesus. We also shared ways in which we fall short and the struggles we were facing. Despite our age, or stage of life, nearly every single woman in the group struggled with similar things. There were tears and hugs as we comforted and prayed for one another. At the end of the morning I couldn’t’ help but feel comforted – both by the like-mindedness of these women as we shouldered different but similar struggles and comfort in the arms of our saviour as he heard each one of us and as he continues to care so deeply for each of his children. It was a really encouraging morning.

Now that you’re nearing the end of your apprenticeship, what might be in your future?

Nearing the end of my MTS apprenticeship, we’ve been thinking and praying about what our future in ministry could look like. Next year, I will continue to serve at Bathurst Presbyterian Church where I can, as Ryan and I welcome our baby in early Feb. Our plan, if God is willing, is for Ryan to do MTS in the near future before we head to Bible College. We hope to head out and do full-time ministry at a church in a country town.