“What impressed me about Jesus as I read about him, was that he took people who were completely broken and made them whole again, this was an important thing to learn about Jesus because I knew that I wasn’t living a good life and I knew I desperately needed the type of healing that Jesus was offering”.
John Delezio is a former MTS apprentice, current minister and future church planter, passionate about reaching everyday people* with the saving news of Jesus.
The witness of friends’ faithfulness
John’s family life growing up was wrought with challenges, including mental health struggles and domestic violence. This meant he was left to choose his own path without guidance. John reflects, “Pretty early on, it was like I was given the keys to drive my own life. So from a pretty young age, I just lived how I wanted to live. [This meant] drugs, alcohol, and petty crime was part of just growing up for me.”
This started to change when John met some Christian friends, Steve and David. They got alongside him and shared their faith with him. He says, “They discipled me each Sunday morning, read the Bible together with me and prayed together with me.”
From a very young age, John wondered what his life would’ve been like if he had grown up in a different home and who he would have been. Through reading the bible with Steve and David, he was struck by how Jesus transforms people.
He says, “What impressed me about Jesus as I read about him, was that he took people who were completely broken and made them whole again, this was an important thing to learn about Jesus because I knew that I wasn’t living a good life and I knew I desperately needed the type of healing that Jesus was offering”.
John continued to be discipled by his friends and from this realisation about Jesus came to understand that hell was real. John shares, “I realised with both of those two things put together that Jesus could save me from not only hell, but heal my life. I thought that I wanted to follow him. And so I became a Christian when I was 21. And it’s just been a long road of discipleship ever since.”
The tap on the shoulder for MTS
After becoming a Christian John got involved in the local church and continued to learn more through Christian fellowship and reading God’s Word. Eventually, when attending Park Road Anglican in Carlton, NSW, John got involved in teaching school scripture. He shares, “I was asked by one of my mates at church if we could share a scripture class. And so we shared a class. I then took on my own scripture class and loved teaching little kids about Jesus. I then wanted to know more about the Bible, because I hadn’t been able to as a young boy.”
So John started studying at Vocational Bible College in Sydney, which led to him being tapped on the shoulder to do a blue-collar MTS ministry apprenticeship at Park Road under Ben Pfahlert, with additional training under Andrew Beddoe at Vocational Bible College.
Blue-collar ministry apprenticeships tailor the apprenticeship to the person. This is especially key because apprentices are often a little older than traditional MTS apprentices and therefore bring different skills. For John, he somewhat designed his own apprenticeship alongside his trainers. He recalls, “I kind of organised myself to start ministries that start new ministries. So I started chaplaincy to factory workers in our local area. I also started a chaplaincy to Easter show ride workers as well. So my week was spent on the coal face doing ministry, being trained at college Bible college and also working.”
Slowing down for thoughtful effective ministry
As a practical, organised guy who wanted to ‘get out there and do as much ministry as he could’, John learnt a lot about how to be effective through his apprenticeship.
John says, “Ben had to teach me that I don’t need to do everything all at once. He kind of slowed me down and helped me to timetable ministry so it was effective and so I was not burnt out after the first year.”
His apprenticeship also taught him how to use his God-given gifts and passions. John shares, “God has given me gifts to help me speak to everyday people really easily and to connect with people like that. But he also gave me a passion to want to do that.” With God’s help, John was taught that you can do things that you really love to do in ministry. This has led him to work with underprivileged people in our society, people who churches find really hard to connect with.
Moving into full-time Ministry
John did his apprenticeship over 3 years and was able to do that through supporters funding his work. After finishing his apprenticeship he still had faithful supporters wanting to enable him to continue in ministry, into a more formal assistant ministers role at Church At The Peak in Peakhearst Sydney.
While working at the Church At The Peak, John also got involved in the Reaching Everyday People Workshops that his former teacher and trainer Andrew Beddoe started. John says, “I just wanted to help out. I could see the value of running a workshop to teach people how to reach people that kind of feel like they’re unreachable for a lot of churches.” The workshops have now been running for six years and have increased awareness of the real need for the gospel to go into low socioeconomic areas.
Now John and his family are taking a new step out in faith and planting a church. He shares, “I’ve been at my current church for five years, been trained under Stuart Maze, and he’s done a really great job of helping me to be a bit more proficient with preaching and pastoral care and running a church. And now I’ll be church planting myself in a low socioeconomic area starting in January.”
This church will be planted through Evangelism and New Churches (ENC). The hope of ENC, John and all involved will be to reach the 10,000 souls who live in the area, and share the hope of Jesus with them.
Although it is a challenge and there is a lot they are giving up, John says it is all worth it to see people come to Christ. Going forward in this new church plant, he is reminded of the witness of his friends who helped him come to Christ.
John shares, “I think what was modelled to me at the start of my Christian walk was discipleship. Discipleship meant that two men took time to read the Bible with me on a very regular basis, pray with me and also share their lives with me, they even invited me into their homes to see how a Christian lives and reflects Christ’s love for them.”
*By everyday people we mean those who have gone straight into the workforce from school. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics they make up 70% of Australians aged 15-64. (See https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/products/D422D0160CA82AE8CA25750C00117DD1?OpenDocument)