We’ve received an encouraging message from Sandra Joynt, an MTS trainer at Monash University in Victoria. It’s a great example of how trainers and apprentices have risen to the challenges of 2020 – all compelled by the indescribable gospel!
Campus ministry here in Melbourne has looked very different this year. For six months of the year we’ve been in lockdown, and our AFES group at Monash hasn’t been able to meet in person for the entire academic year.
While our methods have had to change, the essence of our ministry remains the same – making and growing disciples of Christ among international students, through God’s word. Thankfully, Word ministry and prayer are relatively transferrable to online formats!
It’s been an opportunity for our three apprentices to develop Zoom ministry skills, as they have organised and trained students in Bible reading triplets, delivered online teaching and met with students online.
Of course, it hasn’t been easy. Apprentices have learned the limits of their own capacity: everything is more tiring, taking more effort to achieve less. Working from home, the boundary lines between work and the rest of life become even more blurry than usual.
Yet, along with the challenges, there have been some surprising opportunities.
In an online world, geography is no longer a barrier. Some students and grads who are stuck in other countries have been able to join in our online gatherings from the other side of the world! This includes some students who are not Christians, but are able to keep investigating Jesus through these online Bible reading triplets.
As a trainer, I could invite another trainer from a different staff team to run an online session with our female apprentices on Motherhood and Ministry – this would not have been possible “in real life”.
As a staff team we looked at parts of the Bible that seemed particularly apt to 2020, such as Lamentations, helping to lift our eyes up from the frustrations of what we can and can’t do, to the God who is sovereign over all, in judgment and mercy.
Jesus is still in control, and God’s work continues through a pandemic, with or without us. The Apostle Paul did a large amount of his ministry remotely, writing under lockdown! And who knows how the world will change and what ministry skills we will need in future. In some parts of the world today, persecuted Christians are effectively in “lockdown” and cannot meet publicly.
Though 2020 has turned out like no one expected, we trust that God is using these experiences to shape our apprentices’ convictions, character and competencies for His good purposes.
In 2021, we don’t know what will come. We don’t know how long COVID will continue to impact our ministry. But as Sandra says, “Jesus is still in control, and God’s work continues through a pandemic.”
The gospel is still indescribably good news – and it’s still vital that we raise up workers who can carry it to the ends of the earth.
Your gift today can help MTS face whatever comes in 2021 with confidence, ready to keep recruiting and training apprentices who can grow into gospel workers equipped for ministry in all circumstances. Give now.