Ministering across generations, languages and cultures with apprentice Chris Tou

Christopher Tou is a second-year apprentice at St. Basil’s Anglican Church Artarmon, where he is involved with ministry that is cross-generational and cross-cultural.

Coming to Christ with the help of MTS

Chris was raised going to Sunday School at church and attending a Christian school, but it wasn’t until he studied at the University of New South Wales that he really understood the gospel. 

Chris shares, “[While at university], I came across Campus Bible Study. A friend of mine invited me to one of the camps. And I was able to read the Bible for the first time and understand that I can find the answers that I had in my mind for all these times from the Bible.”

One of his friends at camp was an MTS apprentice, and soon they began reading the Bible together. Chris recalls, “I understood that God has actually saved me from sin and understood how great the salvation is.” 

From engineer to apprentice

After finishing his study at UNSW, Chris worked as a biomedical engineer in and out of hospitals. Throughout his time working, he found satisfaction in helping people but was also struck by what help they really needed. He says, “One thing I found with my career in biomedical engineering is that it’s actually great because you can help people by contributing through the medical industry. But at the same time, when you walk past just people mourning about death or people fearing death you do question – is the medical industry the best solution to get through their fear, or is there anything that we can offer them? And of course, we know that God has defeated death.”

Unfortunately, inside the hospital as an engineer there wasn’t much opportunity for Chris to share this hope with people. He spoke about the gospel where he could, in the hospital and to his colleagues, but started to think about how he could do it all of the time. 

Chris shares, “I spoke to my pastor, who is my trainer now, and he said, “Why don’t you give MTS a try and do it 24/7, rather than just spending your, sort of, free time to speak about the gospel.”  

So in 2022, Chris began his apprenticeship at his church St. Basil’s Anglican Church Artarmon, under Jack Wong. Being in the middle of Artarmon, St. Basil’s has a predominately Chinese culture. Chris says, “There’s a mixed group of first-generation immigrants and sort of second and third generations who have settled in Australia pretty well. And my ministry area is basically sort of across the whole church.”

Throughout his week Chris is involved in kids ministry, youth ministry,  general Sunday congregational services and leading an elderly bible study group.

Across generations and cultures

Leading a bible study group of people very different to himself wasn’t something Chris set out to do when starting his apprenticeship, but has been an unexpected blessing. He shares, “It was a little bit unplanned, and wasn’t my idea to start the group. It was other church members that started it.”

When the group was started, Chris quickly put up his hand to be involved. He says, “I wanted to be a part of it; I wanted to participate and be caring and learn how to care for elders.” 

What started as participation, however, quickly became leadership. Chris recalls, “Somehow, I would say it’s by God’s will, I became the leader to co-lead the group, which is good training for me, although it was quite terrifying at first when I heard. But I guess God really helped me see how the Word is enough.”

In leading the elderly group, Chris is learning to rely more and more on God and his Word for his ministry work. He says, “I see that it’s all God’s word that I need – in order to care for them, in order to teach them, in order to encourage them. And I finally see how Paul actually encourages Timothy to serve the church. It was the same mentality that it’s not actually my work but God using me in presenting his gospel, in speaking his word to the elderly. So I would say that the entire experience is that rather than I’m teaching them as a teacher, I’m there to share life with them.”

Together, even though they come from different life stages and contexts, they are seeking mutual growth as they study the Bible together. This has also shown Chris the great blessing of fellowship, and how it isn’t restricted by age but rather is rooted all in the same Word. 

In the same way, MTS has solidified Chris’ appreciation for God transcending culture and language. 

He says, “My first language isn’t English, I find that serving is hard because Australia is an English-based country. But throughout my experience in MTS, even with working with English congregations and different members, I see that language isn’t a barrier. It’s like during the Pentecostal time when God actually allowed his Word to work through different nations. Don’t shy away from MTS because of your language or your cultural background, but be encouraged by MTS. It is such a great thing that you might be able to bring it to your own culture. Because the gospel is not just for Australia or Sydney.”

God at work in all things

Reflecting on his time as an apprentice, Chris has seen many encouragements and challenges. Through it all, he has been learning that God is at work through all seasons. 

He shares, “I see that God is working. I see that if you pray, if you rely on God, God will ultimately get his purpose done no matter how bad [or good] you think you did.”

Please be praying for Chris as he continues his MTS Apprenticeship, that God would be growing and equipping him for His good purpose.