Leaving Sydney made me realise just how privileged we are!

by EU Graduates Fund

When you grow up in Sydney and attend a church in Sydney it is very easy for you to make the
connection with the state of churches in Sydney and think that the rest of the world is like this as well.

In a sad but very common story, it took me until I was 20 to fully grasp just how fortunate we are to be in Sydney and go to churches in Sydney. I suspect that a lot of us hear stories of churches which aren’t as well equipped or resourced as what we’re used to. We hear stories from missionaries about the state of life overseas or in different countries and think of how the global church needs to send more full-time workers there. Even as an “involved” Christian at my church and university Christian group, I still didn’t grasp just how great this need truly is until I actually left Sydney.

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As part of my honours year I had the privilege to work in Narrabri in North-West New South Wales for a few months and work on the cotton fields. While there I attended one of the local churches. It blew my mind. The pastoral staff working there were (and still are) phenomenal, but the thing that surprised me most was not how it needed more full-time pastors (although it did), but how it needed more trained Christians in the congregation as lay people.
Fast forward a few years and I’m living in rural Peru where there is no Bible-believing church, and I’m again struck by how blessed we are in Sydney.

I had never done any formal ministry training. I haven’t been to Bible college. I can’t read any Greek or Hebrew, nor argue the finer details of how we’re renewed in Christ. And yet, from my travels I realised that I’m still more equipped to be a lay minister and Gospel worker than many people in rural Australia let alone the world!
How can someone from Sydney, with no formal training, be more equipped and ready to serve Christ with their whole life than someone with the same life experiences from a different part of the world?

It blew my mind.

As someone who has spent time living outside of Sydney, and in all likelihood will again, why wouldn’t I get some training so that I can live for Christ either in Sydney or elsewhere? It just makes sense!

We have such rich access to resources and knowledge, and we often don’t even realise it or make the most of it.

So I decided to do something about it. I started as a Howard Guinness Project Trainee with the EU.

What a difference it has already made to my faith and competency as a Christian leader in only 6 months!
While many aspects of the ministry itself have looked different as a result of transitioning online
with Covid-19, many aspects of the training have remained the same, and I feel so blessed because
of it.

We recently had the opportunity to attend an AFES conference with all the apprentices across the country. It was a huge blessing, and so encouraging, to see everyone else online, and share stories about how God is moving in their cities and universities all around Australia. Like many of us, there was a feeling of loss at not being able to meet people in person for much of this semester – the impact it has had on my ministry (particularly with 1st years) has been saddening. However I have been encouraged – because there are many stories about people who have continued to maintain contact and continued to investigate faith. These stories make me realise that this semester has gone better then we could have expected, and makes me hopeful for how next semester will go!

God continues to move even when we think the circumstances are too challenging or unusual. God still finds a way and
will continue to do so as we continue to navigate the way that ministry looks in this brave new


Chris Tompkins

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