Walking with Christ as a woman in ministry with Emily Barcham

For Emily Barcham, doing an MTS apprentice hadn’t ever really crossed her mind. It was while doing marriage prep with her minister Tristan Merkel and his wife Clare, that doing an apprenticeship was ‘pitched’ to her. 

The tap on the shoulder for Emily

Emily shares, “Clare asked me what my plans were for the following year. She pitched her idea that I could do MTS-MTW part-time. As soon as she mentioned it, I was super keen to hear more. My now husband, Ryan, has wanted to go to full-time ministry for many years and the plan was always for him to do MTS, then head to Bible College (where we are now!). But it had never occurred to me that I could also be trained and equipped in ministry skills to support the gospel work Ryan hopes to do. So suddenly having this opportunity right in front of me was really exciting!”

In 2018/2019 Emily did an MTW-MTS apprenticeship at Bathurst Presbyterian Church with Clare as her trainer. 

MTW-MTS is MTS in partnership with a program called Ministry Training for Women, which runs out of Christ College in Sydney. MTW exists because Christ College is committed to training up women to do gospel work. The college started MTW more than 10 years ago with the design that it is specifically for women, from the topics taught, to the time and length of classes. 

Emily wasn’t sure what to expect from her MTS-MTW apprenticeship, but she was somewhat expecting to already be good at it. She shares, “I think I was secretly hoping that it’d be a breeze and I’d already be great at things. It was a big hit to my pride in many (wonderful) ways. I look back on my time doing MTS as a time that God has humbled me, drawn me to himself then grown me through the power of his Spirit.”

Growing as a woman in ministry

Having a wise and generous trainer in Clare was not lost on Emily. She reflects, “I have really valued MTS and having my trainer, Clare, invest her time and wisdom to help me grow. I can’t speak enough about how valuable she has been. I met with her weekly to read the bible, pray, read journal articles or research papers, and plan goals for how to grow me in my character, conviction and gospel competencies. This was such a valuable time for growing me in skills for ministry.”

Outside of ministry, sharing life together was a very impactful experience for Emily. Watching Clare model faith-filled maturity and living with a gospel focus was an informal teaching experience for her. She says, “Sharing life is such a big part of helping each other to grow in our faith. And so having Clare take the time to invest in me was really valuable for growing me in my maturity as a follower of Jesus.”

A key component of Emily’s MTS-MTW apprenticeship was the MTW training at Christ College. The course runs across the two years of the apprenticeship and involves going to college 10 times each year. Although it took Emily 2 ½ hours to get to this training – she says it was well worth it! 

Emily shares, “We met 10 times a year to engage in talks and discussions about Biblical Womanhood and key topics related to women’s ministry – trust me, it was worth the 2 ½ hour commute! This was a time of such rich growth for me as a female follower of Jesus. The talks dug deep into the heart of things surrounding Women’s ministry.” 

Through the lectures, Emily was particularly challenged by how to care for people who are experiencing grief and suffering. She also found great joy in thinking about what it means to be a woman and the unique roles it gives us in sharing Jesus with those around us.

Emily says, “The MTW course also has a really helpful practical component of mentoring and peer support. The mentoring component fit so well into my MTS apprenticeship as I was already meeting regularly with Clare, my trainer, and so in our meeting we included the MTW discussions.”

Lessons for a life of walking with Christ

Being immersed in God’s word each day throughout her apprenticeship made a huge impact on Emily’s life overall. She reflects, “ When I’m in God’s word and wrestling with it, my decisions and priorities are more God-focused (thanks to the Holy Spirit!). But if I’m going through a period where spending regular time in his Word is hard, then the world just creeps into the way I think about things.” 

MTS taught Emily that if she wants to have a godly focus on her life, then it’s paramount for her to invest heavily in her relationship with God. Not simply in the actions of ministry, but deeply from a personal sense. She shares, “My personal bible time is actually key to doing ministry well because I need to have my heart right otherwise, I’m not going to be glorifying God as he deserves.”

Support apprentices like Emily

As part of our annual Harvest Appeal, we’re raising money to help more women like Emily do the MTS-MTW apprenticeship by equipping the MTS team in their work. 

Emily says, “Please don’t underestimate the impact your donation will have. No matter how small it is. I know we say it for lots of things, but every bit counts. The gospel work that is done through MTS creates a ripple effect which flows out into the lives of so many others as the gospel continues to go out.”

Give to the MTS Harvest Appeal.