What brings a legal worker in Sydney together with a dancer and performer in Melbourne? The gospel of Jesus… and a heart for reaching busy city workers with the gospel.
Grace Huang and Natalie Lim are serving on the staff team at City Bible Forum, where Grace co-trains Natalie as an MTS apprentice alongside Mark Leong. Here they share their stories of God at work in their life and ministry so far.
Grace: Finding belonging in God
Before she met Jesus, Grace was always searching for belonging. She had attended church as a child, but left in high school to focus on academics. Being an Asian kid in a German school left Grace feeling like she didn’t really belong, a feeling which carried into university.
Wondering if she might find friendship with Christians at university, Grace joined a Bible study group with Campus Bible Study UNSW. As she got to know people at CBS, she was struck by the way they lived in line with God’s word:
“There’s this beautiful consistency about the way they loved me and loved one another. I thought, there is something here. And God has given me the greatest sense of belonging that one could ever have.”
Natalie: The stability of knowing Jesus
Growing up in Malaysia but moving regularly to Australia and back, Natalie didn’t grow up with much stability in her life. Her friendships were scattered across the world, and though her family attended church in Malaysia, they stopped going once they made the permanent move to the Gold Coast.
Natalie’s response to the instability was to throw herself into academics and to try and prove her worth through her achievements. She thought her relationship with God needed to be the same.
While pursuing a business and creative industry degree in university, Natalie reconnected with her cousin who had become a Christian after being raised Buddhist. Out of those conversations, Natalie decided to return to church. She learned that she didn’t have to work for God to accept her, because Jesus was the perfect person who paid her debt of sin.
Connecting with City Bible Forum
After applying for a few finance jobs, Natalie decided to audition for a dance degree in Melbourne, a career path she had always been interested in. She was accepted to the degree and studied for a further two years.
Despite having never heard of City Bible Forum, Natalie got connected through a friend at church, Sharon, who was part of the staff team. Sharon had seen Natalie perform dance items at church and referred her to a colleague, Andrew Laird, who oversees the Life@Work ministry of City Bible Forum.
Andrew invited Natalie to perform at the 2020 Life@Work conference, and in early 2021, after discussions with the team, Natalie took on an opportunity to begin serving as an MTS apprentice with City Bible Forum.
From MTS trainee to trainer
God had also been working in Grace’s life, blessing her through the ministry of City Bible Forum.
After completing her degree and starting work in a legal firm, Grace began to wonder: “How do I live for Jesus day by day, and find opportunities to share him in the workplace?” City Bible Forum became a place where Grace could bring these questions and find support from other young workers.
At the end of her first year, Grace was encouraged to consider an apprenticeship with the team. She was grateful to continue working for her company part-time while she did MTS. She shares:
“I absolutely loved it. I really respected and trusted my colleagues and saw how they shared Jesus in the Sydney CBD across different workplaces. MTS training really equipped me, not just to do full-time vocational ministry, but to also reach out to other people who don’t know Jesus yet in whatever context I’d be placed.”
After MTS, Grace went on to continue working part-time at City Bible Forum while studying at Moore Theological College, and eventually left to complete a Bachelor of Theology. With theological training under her belt, Grace returned to City Bible Forum in 2020 to serve full-time with the team.
Natalie is one of the first apprentices Grace has had the privilege of training! She says, “Natalie and I come from very different backgrounds. Legal and dancing, it’s like the complete polar opposite! But the same principles apply as to how we love people and how we reach people for Jesus.”
A different kind of MTS apprenticeship
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Natalie has been delighted to serve with City Bible Forum. With many of her colleagues in Sydney and through multiple lockdowns, Natalie’s training has been conducted almost fully over Zoom.
The training has been thoroughly enjoyable, and a chance for Natalie to freely discuss challenges in workers ministry and receive insight and wisdom from her trainers.
Natalie reflects on her favourite part of serving as an apprentice with City Bible Forum:
“I think what I love most is connecting with people who genuinely want to know how to share Jesus in the workplace. That’s really encouraging for me, and it makes me want to do that in my own workplace as well.”
Supporting those who are working from home
When CBD workers headed home due to COVID-19, City Bible Forum ministry had to be reimagined. Previously, Natalie had been able to run in-person events in Melbourne for HEADSTART, their young worker ministry. But when lockdowns began, Natalie switched to going on walks and reading the Bible over Zoom.
She reflects, “My assumption was to be in the city and to be around people during their lunch times, but that didn’t quite work out. But I think it actually worked out for the better, in a way, because you got to be more personal with people.”
Grace has been encouraged to see God’s sovereign hand in bringing new opportunities for sharing the gospel in Sydney, as well as other cities:
“The pandemic created more work for us because people were now in lockdown. They didn’t have their usual busy activities and had to stop and think about stuff. They were just asking, what’s going on? Is this my life? And that created space and opportunity for us to connect with them and speak into that.”
While the staff at City Bible Forum are slowly trickling back into the office, the team have adopted a hybrid approach of online and in-person events depending on the occasion. Praise God that now there are many more options for reaching people!
Evangelism in action in the dance community
Natalie is still considering her long-term plans after MTS. But she has also had opportunities to build relationships with those in her ballet studio, an environment where it can be difficult to make friends.
Natalie organised a movie night with the women from ballet, and then a cooking night. Through this relationship building, Natalie was able to have an honest conversation with one woman who had been going through a difficult situation in her work. Though the friend eventually moved to America, Natalie was able to speak into her life with the love of Jesus.
Through the ministry of City Bible Forum, Christians like Natalie are being equipped to reach their non-Christian colleagues and bring glory to God at work! Find out more and support this valuable ministry at citybibleforum.org.