MY PERSONAL TESTIMONY (5)
After being away for two weeks seeking God and counsel from leaders on our return home we were no closer to making a decision regarding our future.
Within 24 hours of being home we received a phone call that totally changed our lives and the direction of our ministry. I was invited to join the teaching faculty of my Alma Mata, this request was going to close the door on over 20 years of Pastoral Ministry and was the next step in God’s purposes regarding our lives and ministry especially in the areas of teaching ministry, Discipleship & Missions. Margaret said to me, she was not surprised she knew I would end up in teaching in a Bible College.
it was with a sad heart but equally with much excitement in our spirits on what would lay ahead we tendered our resignation. We had basically seen the church re-birthed and grown to 400+, so it was like giving up your baby, but we knew without a doubt we were making the right decision.
At our farewell function, one the Elders who was in the church on our arrival, he was from a Brethren Assembly made this comment. When John arrived I had to build a room with many shelves in my mind, and John’s teaching and ministry filled those shelves with things I had never seen or heard before. I can now declare that as I was ready I would take something down from the shelf and revisit it. I can tell you the shelves are now totally empty. What a testimony for which I give glory to God.
We arrived in Katoomba in the Blue mountains of N.S.W. in January 1967. As well as having a full lecture load (around 14 class hours per week) I was appointed the Dean of men and Margaret the Dean of women. I was responsible for the Pastoral care of all the male students. I could continue to develop my understanding of Discipleship & Mentoring.
The biggest challenge was to come to grips with all the developments in the academic world, Course descriptions, Course outcomes, testing procedures, and of course preparing lecture notes for a developing a multiplicity of subjects. It took a while to develop a confidence in the class room.
I also was given responsibility for the College Missions program. I introduced Faith promise giving that saw many thousands of dollars being given for Missions annually. I of course is semester breaks began to take teams of students with me to the mission field. In the late 1980’s for 3 years I did Pastors Conferences in Chiang Mai in North West Thailand. In the first year I was taken for a drive along the Mekong river to the Golden Triangle and then onto a market town called Masai. There was a bridge over the river into Burma, locasl could cross over but foreigners could not cross over, only go half way, there were armed guards either side. I stood in the middle of the bridge and looked into Burma and immediately I experienced a intercessory burden with weeping for Burma. I expected I would go there and minister, I did to Rangoon (Yangon) but once. On my return home as I prayed for Burma I received an awesome burden for the three Indo China nations of Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam. In 1994 as Vietnam was opening to the West economically I went to Saigon for the first time which was the start of 31 illegal visits to teach the Word of God to underground church leaders. (This is a chapter in own right nearly including nearly being arrested twice). On my 32nd visit the church had been recognised by the communist government, I attended the first official Conference of the church.
I have been to Cambodia at least 7 times for ministry. I have never entered Laos, but I heard about a church on the Thai border that assisted Ministry to conduct Seminars for Lao Pastors. The city is next to the Friendship bridge built by the Australian Government that leads to Vientiane. 50 Lao Pastors crossed the river to attend my 3 day seminar, 25 were from the original C.M.A. church that has ministered there for so many years before the communist takeover, plus 25 Charismatic pastors from underground churches. On the last night I prayed for the CMA Pastors and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and all 50 began to dance before the Lord.
As well as being Dean of men, I became the Vice Principal, and then later the Academic Dean holding all these portfolios simultaneously as well as a full lecture load. Life was so busy but so fulfilling and so full of blessing. During this time I also developed a Bachelor of Missiology program.
External full time campuses began to develop in (Perth, Melbourne (2) Darwin & Brisbane. These became my responsibility and I sought to visit them regularly.
The College relocated to Sydney into an excellent campus that had been an Air Force accommodation facility on many acres in Western Sydney.
Well into our 11th year, the uncomfortable stirrings came into heart, telling us to be prepared for a move. Again I couldn’t believe it, I was doing everything I loved and seeing so much good fruit for the Kingdom of God.
We had a visit from our senior missionary in Thailand, I had known him for years, (who was also responsible for Burma and the 3 indo China countries. he put his head into my office and said hi and disappeared. he actually went to Margaret’s office and invited her to be his P.A.!!! Margaret had always been happy to release me to go overseas but had never personally felt a missions call. This invitation put something in Margaret’s heart. The missionary came back to me and offered me a roving brief for all the 5 countries. Wow we couldn’t believe it. We began to pray, and knew it could take up to 18 months to raise support, Margaret learnt she at 57 would have to learn Thai and ride a motor bike. We kept praying. There were some difficulties in the invitation, but it started a seed that was soon to grow.
Remember my world study trip in 1976, I met with the leadership in Singapore of the movement regarding the Missions team trip. The Treasurer at that time had now become the Superintendent, we had only met once in 21 years. He happened to visit the College, and as I walked into the foyer of the Administration block he was there, and said “John what are you doing here ? I said I am the V.P. He immediately said “Will you come to Singapore and become the Principal of our College ? I was basically appointed on the spot. I said I have to go to the Philippines for a Theological Colleges meeting, Margaret and I will come via Singapore and meet the College Board. After prayer I felt I must ask the Board one question “Can I be free to minister across the body of Christ”. They agreed and we accepted their invitation which was a contract call fully funded by the denomination, We were one step closer to serving on the Mission field. Can you see how the Lord has led us so clearly in His time into His purposes.
So after 11 years again with much sadness but also excitement we resigned our role and prepared to move to Singapore.