Lisa Newnham, Gunnedah Anglican Church

LISA NEWNHAM, MTS Apprentice, Gunnedah Anglican Church 2018-19

Lisa, what led you to do an MTS apprenticeship?

I grew up in the country and after studying to be a Speech Pathologist, planned to live in rural areas and serve the local church. However, someone encouraged me to consider MTS, and as I began to speak about it with others, many of them encouraged me as well. I decided to go to MTS Mission Minded conference to help with my decision making. There I was challenged by the importance of the gospel and it’s eternal significance, and that my current situation meant I had the opportunity to do it . After further prayer and conversations the opportunity came up for me to do MTS at Gunnedah Anglican with Scott and Jo Dunlop.

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

There have been so many valuable things but the most valuable would be the vital place of prayer in ministry. From the start Scott encouraged prayer as part of my work. It is a reminder that in ministry we are not doing it alone, God who is the one able to change hearts. As I pray it is a reminder of the one I am serving, that I have an audience of one – God, and need to seek to serve and please him alone. Prayer helps me keep a right perspective as I am reminded of my limitations, but I have a powerful God who is in control of all things.

Can you give us a story from a day on the job?

Thursday afternoons I do scripture at one of the local public schools and then later have ‘Khaos’, our weekly kids club. It has been so encouraging to see the kids learn from God’s word in both these places. At kids club one term we went through the colour gospel outline. It was amazing to see non-christian kids clearly hearing and learning the gospel each week as well as equipping Christian kids to share the gospel with their family and friends. At the end of that term two kids from a non-Christian family said they wanted to follow Jesus and have kept coming along and learning more and more about Jesus and following him. We are praying and inviting their family to come to church.

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

Growing up, working and then doing MTS in the country has grown my heart for the country and desire to serve God long-term in rural areas. Next year I am planning to partner with a church part-time and work part-time as a Speech Pathologist, to keep my hours up for registration as an avenue to be able to stay in rural areas. I am not sure what this will look like yet, but trusting that God has a good plan and seeking to be faithful. I am still considering going to Bible college in a couple of years time to be better equipped to serve Jesus and his church.

SCOTT DUNLOP, MTS Trainer, Gunnedah Anglican Church – Lisa’s trainer

What challenges, if any, do you have in recruiting and training future leaders in rural NSW?

Regional, rural churches are faced with a  ‘Youth drain’ that happens in most country areas, where young people will leave high school, then the community and church, to go to University, or for employment in the cities. Therefore Youth Ministry is missionary work that benefits churches in other places not often your own church, which is okay – we are all part of one Kingdom with different roles to play. Therefore there can be a shortage of young adults in a regional, rural church to do MTS, and so recruiting and training future leaders in rural areas tends to be when opportunity arises as opposed to a steady stream.

Our recent severe drought has been tough, with varying seasonal conditions affecting employment and finances in rural communities, and that has a flow on effect into the church, making budgeting and regular income streams a challenge at times.

In what areas have you seen Lisa grow during the last 2 years?

Before Jesus returned to heaven He assured his disciples that they wouldn’t be continuing His ministry alone, He would be with them (Acts 1:6-8). Therefore whatever God calls us to do He always equips us for.  So it’s been very encouraging seeing Lisa serving and growing but also seeing God strengthen and equip Her. MTS pushes you out of your comfort zone and causes you to step out in faith, however doing that puts you in a good place for God to be at work, shaping and developing you as a gospel worker. Lisa has grown in her conviction of the importance of God’s Word, to hold to it and faithfully proclaim it knowing that it is His power to transform lives. Through Lisa’s faithful teaching of God’s Word in SRE a number of kid’s have been impacted for Jesus and taken next steps in their relationship with him. So under Lisa’s leadership our weekly kids club has grown, particularly with non church kids.

Lisa has grown in her ability to gather a team and lead them serving Jesus, and has done this consistently in the Youth and childrens’ ministries she has been involved in. It has also been encouraging seeing her heart for Jesus grow and her desire for others to be faithfully following Jesus themselves.

What’s the difference between an apprentice and a staff worker?

The emphasis on training is the big thing. Helping equip someone to be more effective for Jesus in the future – by sharing your life and ministry with them in order to help them grow in Character Conviction and Competency. Training and discipling others is a very strategic thing to be doing to grow God’s Kingdom.

What are some things you do with your apprentice each week and was there anyone else involved in Lisa’s ministry training?

Each week we meet for Staff prayer meeting, as well as our ministry planning meeting, and after that we meet for 1-2 hours MTS Training time.One week might be with my wife, Jo, for 1-to-1 bible reading and to discuss issues related to Character, and the next week with myself to discuss Competency and Conviction issues. We also have Lisa to dinner at our place once a month for a games night hanging together and unfortunately Lisa seems to win more games than we do! Lisa will also be on our Diocesan team going to Ugandan with Jo and I to run the NEXT GEN Conference in January which is great ministry experience and training opportunity.

What impact has Lisa’s apprenticeship had on your church?

Lisa came to our church in order to do MTS here and despite not coming from Gunnedah it has gone extremely well and she has had a very fruitful two year ministry. Lisa has quickly settled in and become loved in the church family across all age groups and will be missed when she leaves. She has helped the church grow up and out in Christ though her faithful witness for Jesus. Our church has grown in young adults her age over her time and she has been a great example to them. The number of kids from school SRE from non church backgrounds attending our weekly kids club has been significant under Lisa’s ministry.