Meet an MTS Apprentice – Sam Wallace
What brought you to the decision to start an MTS Apprenticeship?
Through two years I spent studying at a Bible school (New Tribes Bible Institute) in the US, God grew a passion in me for reaching the lost around the world with the gospel through planting churches in new areas and giving people a translation of the Bible in their own language. Upon returning to Australia I lived in Wollongong and attended Salt Church. I regularly met with one of the pastors who fed into my life as we looked at God’s Word together.
As a church we were getting behind Josh and Sarah Allen as they prepared to plant a new church in Footscray in 2016. My wife and I decided to leave Wollongong to be a part of this church plant and for me to do MTS there. We knew we would be giving up a lot and taking on many challenges, but as we prayed about it we came to see it as an amazing opportunity for growth and training for our future: hopefully planting a church in an unreached people group.
What has been the biggest lesson you have picked up from your trainer so far?
Josh is a great trainer with such awe for God’s Word, who relates to people with humility and compassion. I have felt in safe hands as he disciples me and shows me how to be a servant of the church. He’s taught me practical things, like using a diary to stay organised, but a big lesson I’ve learnt is something he hasn’t said to me so much as shown me. I’ve learnt that you can’t just be relayer of truth like some sort of robot who presents cold facts from the Bible. God’s Word doesn’t just address the intellect, it grips the heart. So the way we convey that and try to make truth come to bear on peoples’ lives, is through warm, genuine relationship.
Tell us a story from a day on the job.
Soon after moving and beginning my apprenticeship, I went down to the centre of Footscray to explore the area and see who I could meet and talk to about Jesus. Footscray is very multicultural, so as I explore the different markets I feel like I’ve entered another country. Cold-contact evangelism can make me pretty nervous, so while scoping out people to talk to, I am really just psyching myself up to do it. Eventually I get up the nerve to approach an Asian man sitting down. “Hi there, how’s it going?” The man looks up at me but doesn’t reply. Oh no, my worst fears becoming reality! He doesn’t want me talking to him! What am I doing? I’ll try again. “How are you doing today?” Now his eyes start shifting and he looks uncomfortable. “Do you speak English?” He shakes his head and says no in a heavy accent.
As it turned out, no one I approached that day spoke English. What a challenge to evangelism! Not only must I overcome my fears and the other person’s indifference, but to even have a conversation with someone without a common language – how do you do that?
How have you been most stretched by the setting of your training being such a recently planted church?
Not only am I going through a time of huge transitions and new beginnings – being newly married, moving to a new place, starting a new job – but so is my church. I don’t really know what I’m doing, I’m not set up, I don’t have much experience, but neither does my church! It is a unique and exciting experience because of the openness of all the ministry possibilities. But we’re not alone in the deep end – I have my trainer and resources to guide me and my church has support from other churches and organisations, like FIEC and Geneva Push. What is most stretching in this context is the level of creativity and proactivity required to do my role well. I am someone who has no trouble following orders for what to do and how/when to do it. But in this role I need to create opportunities to meet people, I need to think up strategies for how our church runs (like; Should we run a church membership course? How should it be run? When? Who will run it? …). I’m not just taking control of a well-oiled machine and making sure it keeps moving forward, I’m a part of designing the machine and trying to get it off the ground.
Do you have an idea of what you might do post-apprenticeship?
In the long term, my wife and I hope to be part of church planting to an unreached people group. Before that point, we need more training. Further theological study is on the cards for us both, along with missionary training. When and where that happens is up in the air, so we’re praying God will show us the way over the next 2-3 years in Footscray.