- Thank God for a well-organised and smoothly-run Plunge conference, well-attended and with lots of helpful elements.
- Praise God for providing workers in his harvest field, and for the encouragement of Rowan and the ministry workers who joined us for dinner on Saturday night.
- Pray for those who attended and for others thinking about vocational ministry, that they might continue to find sustenance in the Bible and in God's care; that they would make wise decisions about how to serve God well; and that God would flood his church with lay and vocational Christian leaders in Sydney, Australia, and beyond.
- Pray for the EU Graduates Fund, that we may find suitable people to join us as staffworkers in 2014.
Over the weekend all of the Howies were away on an EU Graduates Fund conference called Plunge. This conference is held yearly for senior students and for friends and graduates who are seriously considering the option of full-time, paid ministry work in the longer term.
We had around sixty people come, including the majority of the EU staff team. Many were current students, and there were a good number of graduates as well. There were a range of people at different stages in their thinking. Some had not really considered full-time ministry very much in the past, and were concerned whether or not they would be the right sort of person to do it. Some were quite keen to take on a ministry apprenticeship after a few years of work. Some had thought about going to Bible college, or working on the mission field overseas.
Rowan gave three talks from 2 Corinthians, showing that Paul urged the Corinthians not to regard people according to worldly standards, but our "competency" comes from the fact that God has made us all ministers of the new covenant. We were challenged to remember that treasure held in clay jars is a statement about God's power to protect his treasure, that Christ's love for the world grips and compels us, and that any sufferings now are light and momentary compared to the life to come, amongst many other things. I thought the talks were personally helpful in reminding me that my ministry is not based on my skill or qualifications, but that fruit can only come about by God's gracious blessing.
On Saturday night we had a "revolving dinner" with three vocational ministers - a missionary doing student work in Peru, a university staffworker from Melbourne, and a senior minister of a church in the heart of Sydney city. We sat in three groups and had a very nice three-course dinner (all the food over the weekend was very fancy!), rotating after each course to spend time with each minister. They shared with us what ministry was like for them, and gave us opportunities to ask them many questions. It was very encouraging to see the work the Lord was doing through them!
All of the delegates had some time to reflect on where they might head in the future, as well as an "interview" with an EU staffworker to discuss their thoughts and plans regarding vocational ministry. I spoke to one recent graduate and enjoyed the chance to encourage a brother in Christ and to pray with him.
The weekend was well organised and encouraging, and there were many things to be thankful for. At this stage I don't know of anyone who is considering joining us on the staff team next year, so please pray about that!
P.S. If you would like to chat to someone about doing vocational ministry, give me a call! :)
There are a couple of moments each semester when the whole faculty has a chance to spend time together. This semester these moments were at Launch Day (O Week), then the Faculty Days Away (Week 4), then a faculty social event that we did just last week (Week 8). The next time we'll get together as a faculty will probably be at Ancon, the annual conference in late July.
The event last Thursday night was the creatively named "Shakespeare Food Safari", which was a fancy way of saying that we were having dinner at the pub. The Shakespeare Hotel in Surry Hills, however, is no ordinary pub.
A popular and crowded building, we went upstairs where we found narrow hallways, little rooms, and more vintage furniture than you could possibly hope to sit on in a lifetime. We found a room that we could just all squeeze into, with dark blue-green wallpaper patterned with gold, with no room to fit any more bulky chairs around the two large dining tables we had. It was noisy and cosy and quite warm, unless you got a draught of air through the open window! It was a good setting for a social gathering.
Apart from the decor, the other key feature of the Shakespeare Hotel is that it offers twenty different meals all for $12.50 - from burgers to chicken parmigiana to salad to pork ribs. By all accounts, the food was very satisfying!
Having finished dinner, a number of us decided to pay a visit to Gelato Messina, a gelato store famous for its funny-looking ice-cream cakes and for constantly creating new, crazily-named gelato flavours.
It was certainly a popular place, with a sizeable line of people queued up the whole time, waiting for their chance to get their hands on an icy dessert. We got our gelato and ate it in the park while traipsing over the kids play equipment.
The night was a good night of simple bonding over the enjoyment of food and conversations. Praise God for the chance to hang out together. The committee had, however, envisaged that this would be an event to invite friends along to; I'm not sure how many invitations were made, but no friends came along. Pray that students would continue to be inviting their friends to all kinds of events, whether small groups, socials, Ancon, or mission events next semester, and that their friends would come and be welcome in Christian community.