A great online opportunity to check out The Bridge gap year program from wherever you are!
A great opportunity to check out SMBC in person
An inspiring time of celebration
A great online opportunity to check out SMBC from wherever you are!
College Mission Teams
All full-time students at SMBC become part of an annual College mission team, lead by a member of faculty. Mission teams travel to different parts of Australia as well as overseas.
Missions within Australia are usually for one week, while overseas missions are usually three weeks in duration. College mission is an important element of training; providing opportunities to put classroom learning into practice, to work within a team environment, and to develop spiritual gifts and abilities (see Graduate Attributes). After mission, the teams continue to meet fortnightly during the year as College fellowship groups.
College Mission 2023
In 2023 we're excited to be taking College Mission Teams to: Evans Head Presbyterian Church, Gungahlin Anglican Church, Lake Cathie Salt Church, Narwee Baptist Church, West Sydney Chinese Christian Church, Tuggeranong Presbyterian Church, Western Sydney Outreach, as well as South Asia and West Asia locations.
See reports and prayer points from our 2023 College Mission teams below:
WEST ASIA TEAM – 11 APRIL
Team Leaders – Ed and Kathy
This week has been full of fun activities with the university group - bowling, English conversation club, exploring the city and even an 'Australia night'! In just a few days we’ve really noticed the relational payoff of lots of time spent with these students. Many of them are now open to having deeper, spiritual conversations. There is a sense of hopelessness about the future amongst young people in this country. The political and economic situation is increasingly dire, and teenagers and young adults are pessimistic about their future. Please pray for the Spirit’s guidance as we share Bible stories and personal testimonies of hope and peace in Jesus.
We’ve also spent time with the local church here, at the service last Sunday, as well as special services to commemorate the Last Supper and Good Friday. Despite the language barrier it has been a tremendous joy to worship with our sisters and brothers here. Over the last couple of months our team have practised singing the Lord’s Prayer in the local language, and we were thrilled to finally sing it in a church service!
We’ve also shared a few meals with two local pastors, R and M. They’ve been so generous with their time and patiently answered our countless questions about ministry here. Please join us in praying for them, that the joy of the Lord would be their strength, and that they would remain steadfast under the unique pressures of ministry here. Pray also for the Easter Sunday service - the church has hired a large venue in anticipation of many non-believers coming along. Most of these newcomers will have never heard the gospel explained before. Pray for their salvation!
WEST ASIA TEAM – 4 APRIL
Team Leaders – Ed and Kathy
Hello from West Asia! After a little over 30 hours of travel we have arrived, settled into our new surroundings, and launched into ministry activities.
We spent our first night at the local church with the young adults group, praying and singing together, sharing testimonies and stories of what it is like to follow Jesus in our respective countries, and teaching some classic Australian youth group games to our new friends. We also brought along some Australian snacks - fairy bread was much more readily accepted than Vegemite sandwiches and we shared a lot of laughs over the faces people made while trying the latter!
It was lovely to put names and faces to people we have been praying for for several months now.
The next morning we met with A, an SMBC graduate. He shared about his work here, and how he often finds himself being the first believer that a local person has ever met. It was a wonderful time of mutual encouragement as A patiently answered our many questions about life on the field. We also spent time praying for A and his family, as they’re in a challenging season of ministry at the moment.
In the afternoon we took a trip to some ancient ruins with a university group. Many of them came along hoping to practise their English, and weren’t believers. Our team loved exploring the ruins while chatting and getting to know the university students, who we’ll be spending more time with in the following week.
Many times over these first few days, our team have found ourselves echoing the words of Matthew 9:35-38. The harvest in this country is indeed plentiful - while the nation has been slow as a whole to respond to the gospel, there is great spiritual hunger and curiosity. But the workers are so few, and many seekers are not able to meet someone who will tell them about Jesus. Please pray with us that in our short time here we might strengthen and encourage workers as well as the local church, help with tilling the soil, and grow to have the heart of God for the lost more and more.
The final days of Tuggeranong mission were amazing. There was a chance for some of our team to make pastoral visits with those who struggle to access church. This included Sami, an Austrian student, meeting with Herta (who is 100), reading her the Bible in German and praying in her heart language.
We visited many small groups over the week, including Jasmine, Grace, and JuHee leading a brilliant Friday morning ladies bible study. Friday night saw the combined gifts of the team run the TPC youth ministry, bringing games, a talk, and Bible studies to teenagers. It all finished with a great final Sunday service, with our band playing so well, Grace praying, Tom leading, Loata giving the children's talk, and Ben preaching.
For your prayers:
- Deep thankfulness for a great week of partnership with Tuggeranong Presbyterian. Their generosity was exceptional.
- For the evangelistic seeds which were sown in the lives of people in Tuggeranong and Queanbeyan. May the grow even at this Easter time!
- For the continued encouragement of the people at TPC - that they would continue to centre their lives on Christ, to proclaim him faithfully, and to continue in their generous hospitality and welcome.
Give thanks for:
- The opportunity to minister to over 300 children at Heritage Christian School.
- Time with Dave and his wife, where they shared about the unique work God has been doing through the FIEC (Fellowship of Independent Evangelical churches) and his journey battling cancer.
- Emily and the incredible kid’s ministry she has established at SALT Christian Community. She gave insight into the challenges and joys of balancing part time ministry with church and additional part time work elsewhere: “I’ve learned to no longer count hours, but to just love God and love people.” She also shared about how the geographical nature of Bonny Hills fosters community, and the exciting growth the church is experiencing: “We are barely keeping up, we are playing catch up.”
- As the community continues to mourn over the passing of Ness, the message of hope has continued to echo throughout the week. Martin preached at the Sunday Service, with his wife Julie accompanying him with dramatised Bible readings.
- The team who practiced all week a skit about Detective Joe Nightlight and his quest to figure out the mysteries of Jesus’ death. Kids loved it.
Please pray for:
- SALT Christian Community’s growth and their work in raising up much-needed leaders and gospel workers.
- Marty (Ness’ husband) and everyone impacted in this difficult time as they come together and process these past two weeks.
- Safe travels as the team says goodbye to their billets and make their way back home.
- The deepening of relationships, strengthening of the church and the spreading of the good news of Jesus throughout Bonny Hills, Lake Cathie and Port Macquarie particularly over the Easter season.
Praise God for a wonderful and stretching week learning about ministry in this part of Sydney. We’ve been reflecting as a team on how God has challenged and grown us all and we thank you for your prayers!
This morning we spent at Auburn Presbyterian Church and Ira shared the message from Luke 7 about our need for forgiveness. Praise God for what God is doing through this small but faithful church community in the midst of a challenging and very diverse suburb.
Over the weekend we spent some time doing doorknocking and more street evangelism with them. Please pray for those we encountered that they may come to know the hope and truth that can only be found in Jesus.
Tonight we finish our mission with our final night as part of an outreach ministry. Please pray that people will come (despite the rain) and have encounters with Jesus from Scripture and that their eyes may be opened to his truth.
We’ve had a great week at Evans Head and were wonderfully embraced and encouraged by the community at Evans Head Presbyterian Church.
The team were involved in Sunday services, kid’s church, SRE assemblies at Woodburn and Evans River Public Schools, a Presbytery retreat, youth group, and a community breakfast.
Please pray for the community who are still impacted by the floods from last year, for the continuing work of SRE, and for the Evans Head congregation as they continue to encourage their neighbours to seek Jesus.
Friday was a wonderful ‘mystery ministry tour’ with Red (Senior Minister) and all of us on the school bus to Duntroon Royal Military College where we met with Army Chaplain Phil Riley and also the Bishop for all Anglican Defence Chaplains across the nation (both attend Gungahlin Anglican). We met at the Mt Pleasant Lookout and they shared with us about many aspects of Defence Force Chaplaincy. We also visited the Duntroon Chapel. Next stop was Mt Ainslie for an overview of the whole city and its ministry aspects, then a boutique chocolate cafe in the countryside! The afternoon meeting was a valuable opportunity to ask Red and Tim many questions we had about ministry.
Friday night we all participated in running the church's youth group for Year 6– 12 and Reiss gave a moving and very relevant testimony for the youth. Saturday morning all our men attended the men's breakfast and Dave spoke giving his testimony, and all our women attended the women's brunch where Mel gave her testimony.
- Thanks and praise for a wonderful (if exhausting) week of many mission opportunities and experiences and Gospel conversations.
- Praise also for great relationships built among the mission team and for wonderful fellowship between the team and Gungahlin church staff and others.
- Please pray for Kia, Hannah and Reiss who are all preaching today across the three different services and for the rest of the team running the kid's program at Forde.
- Prayer for final wrap up and farewells today and for safe travel back to Sydney.
On Friday the team at WSCCC had the opportunity to pray for Strathfield while letterbox dropping flyers for the church’s Easter services.
Then on Friday night, the Croydon Park English congregation held a women’s supper night with cheese boards, mocktails, lots of chatter, and a live jazz band. Part way through the night Amy spoke about Jesus’ invitation to come to Him and receive His rest.
On Saturday morning the men of Croydon Park held a men’s breakfast. Will spoke about how the Gospel addresses our loneliness.
The team also attempted to hand out hot cross buns and strike up conversations with the public at Strathfield Plaza on Saturday, and had a small number of good interactions with people between the drizzly rain.
- That in His love, God would prompt people who have received Easter service invitations in their mailboxes or in person to come to WSCCC on the Easter weekend to hear the Gospel and be welcomed by God’s people.
- That men and women who attended the breakfast and supper night at Croydon Park in response to an invitation from a friend would keep pondering the message that they heard and talk more with their Christian friends about faith and God.
- For our team members to encourage the saints at Strathfield and Croydon on our final Sunday with them, and for mutually encouraging farewells.
Give thanks for:
- The openness and trust of the schools towards SRE ministries – the majority of children in primary schools up here participate and love it. Over the past few days our team has continued to run puppet presentations in many schools.
- The growing university ministry Port Mac Christian Students (PCS) - one of the only clubs building campus community throughout COVID.
- The inspiration and encouragement our team received, hearing from John and Betty Steele who were missionaries in an unreached tribe in S.E. Asia. Stories of God’s provision, and the radical transformation of a society that once lived in constant fear and violence prior to hearing the gospel.
- Conversations and relationships made while door-knocking.
- “A Taste of SMBC Night” – An opportunity for community members to hear from our team about what community life and theological studies at SMBC is like.
Please pray for:
- The church’s work in developing the relationships made throughout this week’s outreach.
- The continued work of PCS as they navigate the challenges of effectively disciplining the large range of people that come.
- Many more to consider how they can better serve in gospel ministry and the possibility of studying at SMBC.
The highlights from Tuesday and Wednesday were evening events in which several members of the team shared from God’s Word to build up His people. On Tuesday night Alaric and Nikhil shared about ‘Making Decisions for God’ at a combined Bible study night. The men shared from personal experience and provided a framework for making decisions with Jesus at the centre and gave small groups opportunities to talk through possible scenarios. On Wednesday Brandy, Amy C and Ruby shared about having ‘A Heart for the Lost’ at a Bible study for university students at the church. Luke 15 and Psalm 96 provided rich food for thought on how we are to share God’s heart for His salvation going out to all kinds of people. One servant-hearted member of the church made wonderful use of 10 extra pairs of hands when preparing dinner for the university students, enlisting all of us to help prepare bento boxes each containing nine different delicious items!
Praise God for these opportunities for the team to encourage and be encouraged in connection with these regular church ministries.
- That God’s Spirit would continue to convict and instruct His people to make godly decisions and to prioritise mission.
- For team members sharing from the Bible at outreach events: a women’s supper night on Friday and a men’s breakfast on Saturday.
- For prayer walks and walk-up evangelism the team are hoping to engage in on Friday and Saturday.
- For those sharing testimonies and sermons across various services on Sunday – that God would use these to spur on, instruct, and grow His people.
For your prayers:
- Praise God for the teams we've met who are faithfully at work in Western Sydney.
- Pray for open doors when engaging with people on the street.
- Pray for our team's ongoing prayerfulness and follow up of people we're meeting.
- Pray that we will reflect God's heart for the people we're meeting in Western Sydney.
- Pray for sermon prep for Sunday.
Tuggeranong team has been great. We've visited many small groups and caught up with all the pastors about their experiences in ministry.
Yesterday the team visited a great new coffee shop, Little Luxton, which Nate Swift has begun as a missional enterprise to build community in the suburb of Gordon.
Then we headed interstate to Queanbeyan to see the work of a 'Home Missionary', the delightful Robert McMullan. He's Northern Irish, loves Jesus, and is seeing real fruit in his small Presbyterian church. The team did some doorknocking in the area sharing about upcoming Easter events. It provoked everything from quick rejection, to long conversations about Jesus and the church.
The big day finished with visits to many different small groups, including a theological discussion group on Zoom. Our team did brilliantly navigating strong opinions about the hard topic of war.
- For energy. The team is getting tired, but managing well.
- That the seeds sown in evangelism and outreach in Tuggeranong and Queanbeyan would bear fruit. The Lord makes disciples grow!
- For our upcoming youth group night on Friday - where the team will be running games, preaching, and leading studies.
- For the final Sunday service, where the team will lead music, pray, read, and preach to both kids and adults.
We have had a busy couple of days with three school chapels including a talk from Thom and a game from Hamish, plus a sausage sizzle meeting senior school kids and outdoor games with middle school kids. Some of us visited the ladies Bible study and some joined in with ‘Eat Pray Hang Out’ lunchtime groups and pastoral visits. Janson's Monday night lecture on Genesis went well. Many testimonies have been shared and connections made.
Each day we have also started with a team meeting and devotion and ended with a team debrief time and there have been many valuable learnings as well as challenges.
- With thanks for the many opportunities we have already had to see and do ministry of various kinds.
- With thanks for relationships being built among the team.
- For team members who are working through things that have happened or surfaced this week and that we will support each other well and continue to lean on the Lord.
- For the three team members still working on their sermons for this Sunday.
- For our participation in growth groups and sharing our testimonies well
- For a good rest on our day off, and for the mystery ministry tour on Friday – that as a team we will learn well and then debrief our week well with the Ministry team.
What's been happening:
- Our team met the congregation on Sunday, attending four services. Team members were involved in the morning children's ministry, giving testimonies at the Mandarin language service, and preaching in the evening. We were thankful to God for the warm welcome we received from the church.
- On Monday, team members assisted with the playgroup ministry, attended a computer group, and helped to pack hot cross buns for an Easter outreach activity. It was a great opportunity for team members to share their testimonies of how God has been working in their lives and leading them to study at college. We also spent the afternoon learning from the pastoral team about the joys and opportunities of ministry in the local region, and praying with them.
- On Tuesday, some of the team visited local SRE ministries, and in the evening went to local train stations to hand out hot cross buns with invitations to the church's Easter services. We finished the evening with another young adults' group, packing more buns for the following day. Team members shared their journeys to knowing Jesus, and their decision to study at college.
For your prayers:
- Give thanks for the faithful believers at Narwee Baptist, who have been serving God for many years. Thanks to God for their commitment to evangelism and discipleship, and for their desire to see the Gospel go out across the world. Thank God for the faithful church members who volunteer their time to serve in many ministries.
- Thank God for the way so many people have been invited to Easter church services. Pray that God will soften hearts and draw people to himself, and that people who were given a hot cross bun at train stations will consider coming to an Easter church service.
- Pray for the team's activities later in the week: for the Women's outreach evening, the after school kids' club and youth events, and for the team members who will be participating and preaching at the Sunday church services.
- Pray that God will continue to bless and grow the members of Narwee Baptist to be more and more like Jesus as they serve him faithfully.
The team have spent time on Sunday and Monday visiting the Croydon Park and Strathfield WSCCC sites and learnt about the organisation and history of this multi-lingual, multi-site, multi-service church. Give thanks for the opportunities for our team members to preach and listen to preaching about Jesus being the Bread of Life who truly satisfies us, eternally. Give thanks also for the generosity of the church in welcoming us warmly, with food and fellowship. It has been wonderful to glimpse the missional focus of WSCCC and learn about their history of sending and supporting missionaries. Praise God for this, and for the encouragement this has been to our team.
Following Tuesday morning, please join us in thanking God for the work He is doing through high school scripture classes and lunch groups in the area Thank him for the opportunity the team had to observe and support passionate and gifted scripture teachers.
- That God would guide our remaining preparation for evening events and church services. Please particularly pray that we would bless the church in helping them to think about making decisions for God, and exercising a heart for the lost.
- For continued fruitful and encouraging fellowship with church members.
- That God would work powerfully through small groups in the church this year.
- For the classes of teenagers who attend scripture in the area – that God would fuel their faith, sustain them through Christian community, and grow them in maturity.
Today we have been checking out the Freedom to Flourish Garden for refugees which is a ministry for immigrants who have recently arrived in Australia and need help to transition into a new country. We have been learning about this ministry, particularly among Afghan people. We are on our way out now to Merrylands to do some prayer walking around the community and also some walk up evangelism.
- For the many refugees and asylum seekers who have come to Australia with great need.
- For the ministries who are seeking to reach them with the love of Christ and the gospel.
- For us now as we go to do walk-up evangelism, that God will lead us to the right people who are ready to hear about Jesus and that it would be a fruitful time of sharing and praying for the needs of the community.
- Praise God for the opportunity we have had to learn about these ministries and consider how we might partner with what God is doing here in Sydney.
Give thanks for:
- Our incredible hosts, their love, generosity and stories.
- Being part of Sunday’s church service as the community grieved and shared beautiful memories of Ness, a founding member of the church who recently passed away.
- The strength and encouragement of Dave and Fiona (Senior Pastors of SALT) as they continue to care for their flock through these difficult times and share their learnings with our team.
- Creative and memorable opportunities for presenting the gospel to children – cooking class and puppet show at local primary school SRE program.
- Helping the local university student ministry program – playing games, sharing testimonies and tag-team preaching on Acts 20.
Please pray for:
- Strength, comfort and compassion for the families and friends impacted, and the leaders of SALT Church.
- Wisdom as our team continues to engage with the community, and opportunities to show care and gospel encouragement.
Praise God for a great start with Sunday services. In the morning an unforgettable Kids Talk from Zara (supported by most of the team performing a Good Samaritan skit). In the afternoon, Sami preached powerfully from Mark 11 about God's passion to remove obstacles to His mission. The Tuggeranong Presbyterian Church (TPC) has welcomed us with dinners, lunches, and breakfasts, and wonderful homes to stay in.
Monday saw us learning about ministry from Dave Brookes, the senior pastor of TPC, sharing all his learned in nearly a decade of ministry in Canberra. Then the afternoon saw us all heading out for some walk-up evangelism - relying on God in prayer, challenging ourselves to reach out in conversation, and seeing people consider Easter (sometimes for the first time).
- For energy for lots of small group visits, and opportunities to share our lives with the folks at TPC.
- For those who were given cards today in walk-up evangelism, that they might experience Christ at upcoming Easter services.
- For our all-in games night on Tuesday, that it would be an encouragement to many at TPC, including those considering theological college.
- For our small-groups night on Wednesday, where we have teams heading to men's groups, a theological discussion group, and some new ventures in Queanbeyan.
We all arrived safely Saturday afternoon and spent the evening with our hosts/billets.
Yesterday we split the team across two morning services at different locations. Team members preached, gave testimonies and helped with kid’s ministry at both services and gave a kids talk at one of them. We all attended the evening service and two different team members preached and gave a testimony. All went well and we had many great conversations with people from church before and after the services.
This morning we met the Head of Ministry and School Principal at Burgmann Anglican School as we will be participating in many of the chapel services etc at the school.
- Praise for wonderful church ministry and connections made yesterday at the 3 Church services.
- Prayer for today's pastoral group visit at the school and parish pastoral visits this afternoon as well as an evening lecture by Janson tonight for church members a taster for studying at college.
- Prayer for tomorrow's two school chapel services and for Tom as prepares the message for them, and for visits to a school pastoral group, church ladies Bible study and church evening growth groups.
- Prayer for others who are preparing sermons for this coming Sunday x 3 as well as others preparing for men's and women's event talks x 2 and running youth group Friday and many other things as well.
- For health and energy for our team as well as all the teams that are sharing in Western Sydney for the month.
- For good opportunities to share stories about Jesus with those they meet this Ramadan and that they would encounter Jesus themselves.
- Praise God for a good start to the week with a great reminder of the Father's love after Jon shared from Luke 15 at Auburn Presbyterian yesterday morning.
- Pray for each of the 10 of us to realise and rely on the truth that God is our source of wisdom and protection for every aspect of this trip.
- Pray for diligence in submitting our attitudes and hearts to the Lord constantly, especially since attitudes of discontent and complaining are easily detected by nationals around us.
- Pray for our ongoing preparation to foster healthy and realistic expectations for our mission as the Lord shapes our perspective and teaches us to pray.
- Pray that each team member will be enriched by the culture in many ways and that our experiences 'on the ground' will enlarge our understanding of God, ourselves, and others.
- Pray for our spiritual preparation, for love and unity on the team that shouts the blessing of being united with Christ in the local context.
- Pray that we will navigate the pressures of language challenges, and the continuing impact of the regional earthquake on the people we will interact with, so that our hearts remain at peace and the witness of our love of Jesus, life of faith, prayer, and sincere belief in the Word of God will be a blessing with eternal consequences.
- Give thanks for a diverse team - ethnic/geographic backgrounds, age, ministry experience, abilities etc. Pray for unity of purpose and good friendships.
- For fruitful conversations with locals and church people as we hand out welcome packs in new housing estates.
- For engaging presentations/puppetry/input at SRE, youth group, and Salty Kids kids' club.
- Throughout the week we will be engaging with various groups of people.
– Specific ministries among local people: Peace Tent, Freedom to Flourish (refugee women’s gardening centre), door knocking, book tables, sewing clubs, and food distribution to refugees.
– Specific ministries with Christians: Preaching at two local church services, and learning from the OM MAP team, Sydney refugee team, Pioneer’s Summit team and Disciples at Work.
- Please pray that, as we connect with people, we would have wisdom for what to say, humble listening hearts, and a strong desire to see God glorified.
- Please pray for those we will meet during the week who don’t know Jesus. Pray that they would be prepared by the Spirit to hear the message of peace, that they will have hearts open to the gospel, and eyes to see more clearly the beauty and majesty of Jesus.
- As we connect with other ministries around Sydney, please pray that we would ask wise questions and not only listen to their wisdom and insights, but that it would propel us to action.
- Pray for the students as they prepare for various tasks like preaching, seminars and talks for men’s and women’s events. Ask God that he would give them wisdom and insight and that their ministry would glorify him and build his church.
- Pray that the mission would be a great learning experience for the students. That they would get helpful insights into pastoral ministry.
- Pray for WSCCC that we would be a blessing to them and they to us.
Please pray that God would prepare our hearts for a full week of local church and school ministry, and that he would both use us and shape us in significant ways. Pray for our multiple team members who are preaching over three services; for the preparation and giving of many testimonies and devotional talks; and for the organising and running of the youth group on Friday night, as well as three middle and senior school chapels.
Please pray for:
- Safe travel;
- Opportunities to speak to the local community at various events;
- Opportunities at the local public schools; and
- Conversations with regional leaders about ministry in the Northern Rivers.
Please pray that we would be leading from a place of joy in Jesus as we learn mission together; for those leading our Creative Outreach night (Tuesday); for Youth Group leading on Friday night; for the many Bible Study groups we will be visiting – that we will be a blessing to the members of TPC; for our visit to Covenant Christian School for Q and A; for courage and kindness when we do street evangelism on the Monday; for those preaching (Mark, Sam, Tom, and Ben); for all those leading music and church services; and for Loata and Zara giving children’s talks.
- Please pray that the team would connect well with each other, the local church and the local community.
SOUTH ASIA TEAM – 20 MARCH
Team Leaders – Jonathan and Barb
Give thanks for:
- A great team consisting of 9 keen students, 2 spouses and Barb and Jonathan, who will all be traveling to South Asia in the middle of the year (25 June to 11 July).
- Brett, who is helping us with our preparations, and Liz, who has found and trained a language teacher for the team.
- The language learning session we had last Friday, and the second session that's coming up soon.
- For our team to be growing in love and unity so that we can live and serve well together, as well as for all other necessary preparation between now and mid-year to be effective.
- To grant wisdom to those on the ground there who will be hosting us, as they plan for our visit, and for Father to be preparing the hearts of all those we will meet.
- To grant favour in the eyes of the authorities there so that our hosts and all their colleagues will receive all necessary approvals to continue serving in that nation.
- To provide a committed group of earnestly praying partners for each of our team members who are willing to work with us this year on their knees for the sake of this unreached nation.
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT COLLEGE MISSION WITH ALAN THOMPSON
How many College Missions have you done and where have you been to on those Missions?
I think I've been on about 14 college missions. They've mostly been to NSW churches outside of Sydney, with an additional couple in Queensland, and Canberra. So far I've only led overseas missions to New Zealand and Tasmania. So, in total I think I've been to Evans Head, Scone, Townsville, Brisbane, Moree, Ballina, Mt Albert (in Auckland NZ), Tenterfield, Canberra (Gungahlin), Lismore (including Nimbin), Hobart, Canberra (Tuggeranong), Howick (in Auckland NZ), and Forster.
What have been some of the highlights of College Mission?
Hmm, so many to mention. Of course, it's always a delight to know that you've been an encouragement to a local church and their minister and staff, and to be a part of what God is doing through them there. Often college mission is with a graduate so as a faculty member it's also extra special to see them in their own ministry context and students enjoy hearing and learning from someone who's gone before them, so to speak.
Getting to know the variety of ways churches seek to build up their congregations and reach out to their wider communities is always fascinating. Many are under-resourced so they're grateful for any help we can bring for a week. Sometimes new programs are begun during the mission week and sometimes contacts that have grown cold are reconnected during the week. Sometimes we just join in with what normally happens in the church's life, and the feedback is often that having a team of keen SMBC students is like a "shot in the arm" for the church and spurs them on. Yet, we are the ones who are encouraged as we see faithful believers serving in whatever way they can. We aim to serve where we can and follow the lead of the local staff/leaders there, but we learn so much from them.
Our day off can also be interesting as you get to see some of the key local landmarks. One year we went to the military base (including the fitness course and firing range) and a Cowboys game in Townsville! But we also got to spend a couple of days on Palm Island (off the coast of Townsville) and had the privilege of seeing how ministry is done among the aboriginal communities there. Getting to know the hosts or family that you're staying with can also be a highlight. An extra special highlight of any college mission week though is also getting to know one another as a team much more than we expected to!
What have been some of the challenges?
Well not every event always goes as well as we'd like it to. Sometimes not as many turn up to something as the minister was hoping (once or twice no one turned up to an event!), and it can be a challenge preparing things for an audience that you don't know. Sometimes the minister has been facing difficulties from the congregation. These can be lessons in learning the regular ups and downs of ministry and lessons in trusting God to be at work and depending on him in prayer.
What sorts of things can we be praying for our hosts, our teams, ourselves and our leaders as we go on College Mission?
Pray that the team would be an encouragement to the pastoral staff or local missionaries and the local believers, and that time spent with billets and getting to know them in their homes would be an encouragement to them. Pray for those who have opportunities to speak in various ways that they'd speak faithfully, clearly, and engagingly and that there would be receptive hearts. Pray for harmony, enthusiasm, joy, patience, and perseverance (and good health) for the team, that they'd work together well. And pray that we'd share wisely in the conversations that come up with both local believers and those that don't know Christ; humbly, gently, and clearly pointing to Christ. Ultimately we pray that God would be glorified in all we do and say.