The legacy of a trainer – Pete Sorrenson

Pete Sorrenson (centre) with his 2020 apprentices.

Pete Sorrenson, AFES Campus Director at Deakin University, has been involved with MTS for two decades. After studying at Wollongong University, he was approached and ‘tapped on the shoulder’ by then-Campus Director Richard Chin.

“My vague memory is him simply calling me to maximise my life for Jesus’ sake. Gently, kindly, wonderfully. And then that led into an apprenticeship as part of the preparation and doing of that,” Pete remembers.

Since then, Pete and Richard have had a long and close relationship, for which Pete is extremely thankful.

Training under Richard

While Pete was an apprentice, Richard was an intentional and supportive trainer. Pete recalls, “Lots of my training was done by doing, and then by reflecting with Richard on the doing. The ministry itself involved leading small groups, evangelism, one-to-one discipling, some public meetings to enjoy responsibilities in – and more. Richard and I would meet each week to reflect on these and I’d bring him my questions.”

Pete was struck by a number of Richard’s qualities. “Richard’s confidence in God’s word and that the word would do the work was a real highlight for me. We just spent loads of time in the Bible and prayer and reflection. I loved Richard’s commitment to godliness, both his own and in others as he called them to serve and wanted to see that grow in them.”

Following his two-year apprenticeship, Pete was invited to stay on for a third year to help the team at Wollongong transition, because Richard had been appointed the new National Director of AFES.

Then Pete spent four years in theological study at Moore College, and decided to come back to AFES, though in Melbourne, at the Deakin University campus. He’s now been there for 12 years.

Richard’s legacy

Now a trainer himself, Pete knows that Richard continues to impact him. “I’m positive that I imitate lots of what I learnt from Richard. I do distinctly remember in the early years on campus, just getting stuck into prayer and proclamation and training and all that sort of stuff, [and then] pausing to wonder why I do things the way I do. I realised that actually much of what I did, or was at least trying to do, was in imitation of what I’d learned as an apprentice. Things were coming at you so fast in the ministry it was almost reflexive. And I realised actually all those reflexes had been learned as an apprentice. So I’m sure I copy lots and lots and lots of things.”

The firm foundation of training through God’s word and prayer has been particularly significant to Pete this year as Deakin has been impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown in Victoria, and the training of apprentices has had to adapt. Despite the changes, Pete believes, “Lots about the apprentice training has been great. What’s been great about it is they couldn’t just do what the last person did. Sometimes it’s easy just to put your wheel in the rut and start pedalling, but those ruts were all gone. So we really had to go back to first principles, which has been brilliant for training. The principles of prayer and proclamation, partnership with the students – what does that now look like in such a different environment?”

Pete’s legacy

Having been so influenced by Richard, his own trainer, Pete now hopes to leave a similar legacy to his trainees. “I would hope that my apprentices could be thankful for me for what I am thankful for from Richard. I really do hope that they, at the end of their apprenticeship, have a confidence in God’s word, a commitment to godliness, a zeal for evangelism, dependence to God on prayer. Basically I would love if 17 years later they could thank God for what he did in them and for them in the same way that am thankful for my training under Richard. Passing the baton in those areas would be great.”

We thank God for Richard Chin, Pete Sorrenson and the many other faithful people passing the baton of training on from generation to generation.