Making MTS History – NT’s first apprentice



Philip Rademaker didn’t intend to make history – he just wanted to share the gospel. But it was this passion that led him and his wife, Laura, to move 4,000km from Canberra to become the first MTS apprentice to train in the Northern Territory.

“It’s very easy to see the need up here. It’s an area that gets overlooked sometimes,” Phil says. “People think of doing mission and they think overseas before they think of the Territory.”

“I’d been kind of interested in bible translation a few years ago,” Phil says, explaining some of the reasons for the move. “When the opportunity came up to do MTS in the territory, it was put back on the agenda.”

They initially planned to travel with the McDonald family and another family and plant a church. “That all changed in early December when Dave McDonald was diagnosed with cancer,” Phil explains. “It threw the support network out the window. I went from feeling comfortable and thinking “It won’t be challenging” to feeling “I really have to decide whether this is the right thing to do.”

“In amongst all the upset of Dave being diagnosed with cancer and the shock that was, he was still saying, “You should go,”” Phil says. “It was quite an intense time. Tony Jenna, AFES Staff worker at Charles Darwin University, was still happy with the idea of me coming and joining him and him training me. It put my mind at ease; it seemed like the right thing.”

With many things still unplanned, the Rademaker’s began the eight day journey in January. “Our accommodation was organized as we drove up,” Phil says. “That was another moment of God’s provisions and confirming in our minds it was the right thing to do.”

Once arriving, it didn’t take long to notice the differences. “It’s a very laid back culture,” Phil says of Darwin society. “Although they’re laid back, they’re quite busy and that’s one of the challenges. The students [at Charles Darwin University] seem to work full time jobs and do uni around work. I haven’t had a case in Darwin where someone hasn’t turned up because they’re being lazy, it’s because they’re hard working somewhere else.”

“There are also at least twelve churches of different denominations [represented at the Christian group]. It’s quite diverse,” Phil says. “We were studying baptism and you could feel there was a bit of a disagreement over the doctrine. When it came up I thought, ‘that would have never happened in Canberra’.”

Phil shares an encouraging story from a recent “guys camp” the Christian group ran. “I gave a talk on Luke 14 on the cost of discipleship. It’s a fairly hard passage and I wasn’t sure how it would go. Some of the guys weren’t regular to bible study so it was cool to see how they engaged with this. People were quite open with their struggles, with having different priorities and thinking about the ways in which they might make excuses when it comes to the claim Jesus makes on their lives.”

Please join in praying for Philip and MTS in Northern Territory:

  • Pray that a drop in numbers at CDU Christians over assignment and exam time wouldn’t get in the way of ministry and that Phil would continue to faithfully serve
  • Pray for opportunities for Phil to meet with people regularly
  • Pray for opportunities for Phil to meet non Christians and share the gospel
  • Pray for long term planning, that God would give the Rademaker’s wisdom to work out where to serve and what to do after theological college