Ruth and I recently spent the week in the northern border city of Carlisle nestled at the foothills of the Scottish highlands. Though it was a little colder up there we had a lovely time and we feel like we have a little more assurance of the future. We visited the OM International Coordinating Team (ICT) office and met some of the team who work there. ICT’s purpose is to come alongside missionaries at all levels and in all countries and provide the support and organisation that they need to do the work God has given them to do. Whilst the roles here feel a little bit corporate, the focus and outworking is in equipping, praying for and ministering to missionaries around the world.
Ruth spent some time with those she will be working with and the person that she will be replacing. She was able to get a good handle on what the job involves and get her hands on some resources that she can get familiar with in the coming months. The team seem very keen to have her working there as soon as we can – which will absolutely be after our wedding and honeymoon in June!
I spent some time with the team who run IT (Information Technology) on Logos Hope. They are putting together a donation system for the ships ministry that I am helping to construct. This is something I’ll be working on in the coming weeks alongside wedding plans and support raising. I also got to visit OMNIvision again and connect with the crew there. I will be based at OMNIvision (which is in a separate studio a few miles from ICT). I got to see the events that are coming up this summer and I’m very excited about the possibilities.
We were delighted to spend time with the Ingham family who let me stay with them for the week and often had Ruth and I around for dinner. It was very encouraging to be welcomed so warmly, especially when we don’t really know anyone in Carlisle. We were able to see a house that we could possibly move into in July, but there are no guarantees. We like the house so we are praying it will work out – if not they will find us another place.
It’s all very daunting moving to the UK, moving away from Ruth’s hometown, getting married and changing jobs – but we keep bringing it back to God and He keeps reassuring us we are doing the right thing. We are continually encouraged by the way that our lives seem to have been building towards this place and time – that God has been working behind the scenes in our lives in the good times and the bad to prepare us for ministry.
Having spent a significant portion of my childhood as an MK (missionary kid) I developed a strong awareness and interest in mission work which stayed with me into adulthood, although I never had any plans or ideas where this would take me. By the age of 5 I’d chosen my career path and this finally came true in 2004 when I qualified as a primary school teacher. These two passions have always been present in my life to varying degrees. Throughout university and my years teaching in the UK I went on several short term mission trips and was involved with the mission team at my church.
In 2008 I finally felt the time to serve longer term in mission was approaching. For me it was an obvious and easy decision to teach MK’s as this combined my own experiences, passion for mission and love of teaching. Eventually I ended up on Logos Hope, as a teacher in the school onboard. Amongst the 400 crew onboard there are usually about 40 children, aged from 0 – 16. The school usually has about 8 teachers who provide an education for these children during their time onboard.
Having taught in the school on Logos Hope for 2 years I returned to the UK in October 2011, again wondering how all my passions and experiences could be combined. Through a series of thoughts and conversations God has led me to take on the role of ‘Family and Educational Support Advisor’ with OM.
Part of this role is to ensure that families and children on the mission field are well cared for, receiving the support and advice that they need to raise their family, make educational choices and deal with the unique challenges they face. This means providing resources, support and advice at all stages of their journey: as the plan and prepare for the mission field, during their time overseas and as they re-enter their home country. Having been an MK myself I can understand some of both the positive and negative impacts that can occur and I hope to be able to help maximise the former and minimise the latter.
Another part of the role is recruiting and supporting teachers, especially for the ship school. Recruitment is something totally new for me but having been a teacher onboard the ship I have some understanding of how to support them effectively. This includes being available to answer questions, providing resources and ensuring they are kept up to date with the curriculum.
Successfully fulfilling this role will require a lot of networking; researching about MKs, attending conferences and liaising with OM offices around the world. One person described the need for someone to be a ‘children’s advocate’ and I guess in many ways that is what I am hoping for – that I will be able to speak up on behalf of the children involved in mission and ensure that their needs are remembered by all involved.
All of this will be a part time role. In many ways stepping out of the classroom and into an office is a daunting prospect but I feel that my experiences all add up to help me face this new challenge. And to make sure I don’t go completely insane through a lack of interaction with children I hope to be able to teach part time. This will have the added benefit of enabling me to keep up with the changes to the curriculum. At the moment I have no idea what this teaching job may actually look like but am trusting that God has something lined up for me and will reveal it at the right time.
Well the day is finally here. Tonight at 6:45pm I’m hopping on a plane that takes me to the other side of the world. I’m heading to the UK where I will first meet up with my fiancee Ruth and stay with friends of hers while I get over jetlag. Then we’re off to Carlisle to connect with the missions organization we feel led to be a part of. We will have lots of meetings and get to see the house where we will live when we get married (I’ll be staying somewhere else for now). Then we are headed back down to Berkhamsted where Ruth is living to help raise awareness and funding there – whilst making wedding plans. Likely we will make more visits up to Carlisle before we marry but plans are just forming now. In June we will get married, honeymoon and return to Australia for a second ceremony before returning to the UK to start with OM officially on July 2nd.
What are we actually doing? If you’re not familiar with our plans to join OMNIvision and OM Education then please read this post about OMNivision: Young family: OMNIvision
Ruth will be volunteering as the educational adviser for OM international including the ship ministry – supporting and resourcing the ship’s school, advising parents entering the mission field and recruiting teachers. She will also probably teach part time in some way to keep up with the education system in the UK.
Over the last week I’ve had lots of good times with friends from all different walks of life and with my family. I’ve had to say goodbye to the people I know and love, but I know it is worthwhile to follow the path that God has set before me and before Ruth also. We are both stepping out in faith that God will provide for our need while we respond to his call. I have had my share of doubts over the last few months regarding finances – but God has never let me down yet! Through a number of recent contributions, I now have nearly 70% of my half of our expenses pledged by generous people, and if Ruth is able to find part time work as she plans (definitely pray for this!) then I have almost exactly half right now. See how God is faithful? Yet He rarely provides it well in advance – He provides it at just the right time. The very good news is that for the short term our organisation will help us to make up any shortfall, but we still need our income to increase. Ruth is just in the beginnings of her support raising and we would appreciate your prayers for us in that.
We are delighted to go into this field of ministry with the prayers and best wishes of so many people who I consider friends or family. Regardless of if you give or if you even share our beliefs, we are glad to share with you what God is doing in us and through us as we follow this path.