Graduate Adventures

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Peung is a single Mum from Thailand raising a ten year old son.  She used to be a strong buddhist, but now  God is everything to her. “I want to share news of my great God with everyone I know.”KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Relle is an Australian who lives and teaches in a Thai boarding school through the week, but stays with Peung each weekend. She regularly asks the Lord for opportunities with her students. “God brings surprising opportunities.”

Peung and Relle have experienced the joy of leading fifteen people to Christ this year, and in February 2008 commenced a house cell Church for these new believers and their friends who are still seeking. They say, “When we follow Christ and share our lives openly with others through building relationships, God uses us to bring others to Him. Our prayer is twofold: first we pray that God will keep us faithful to the tasks He has for us and second, we pray He will continue to work in the lives of those we contact and soften their hearts towards Himself.”

Relle & Peung, Chiang Mai, Thailand

G’day guys, just a few thoughts of mine about the place they call “The Pines.”

brendansmall I’d like to say that an angel of God appeared in a great flash of light telling me to go to the Pines back in 2004, but it was more like I needed some direction and had heard that this might be the place to get it. My wife Melissa and I had been traveling around looking for a new place to call home and do something for God, but it seemed we had to learn a few things first to be of any good use.

This is where the Pines came in. We both came out knowing a whole lot more about God, how He had made us and what He might have us do according to our gifts.

Now I am the Pastor of Glasshouse Community Church, even though the Pines Diploma was the extent of my study portfolio! (God works fast when He wants too!) It’s been a steep learning curve for sure but with the foundation that I received from being part of the Pines’ class, I may not have all the answers to the situations I face in this new role, but I know where to find them. The Pines has also been a great asset for ongoing support for me and my new team.

I’m seeing the hand of God breaking down the barriers of denominations and melissasmall religious legalism more and more lately, and places like the Pines play a great role in advancing the Kingdom in this postmodern society. We need to redefine who we are as a Church and allow the Holy Spirit to show us how to reach our own country for His sake. He is already out there in mission amongst the lost, and He’s waiting for us to join Him.

Gone are the days when we could “ring the bell and they will come”, or “build the building and they’ll fill it”. As Christ came to us, so we must go to them. And we must go with servant hearts as Christ had. We must actually want to be friends with people for friendship evangelism to work. Don’t be scared to join a club and start influencing it from the inside out. There’s no point in starting a new Christian club when it will only attract Christians. Get out there and get busy with Jesus. He’s already there beside people. We just need to help them realize it.

I feel the Pines is a great course for anyone to do, whether they are planning to go into full-time ministry or not. It will help you to become who God planned you to be, wherever and whatever that is. (And you’ll make great friends in the meantime.)

Bless you and go for it! You’ll be challenged but you’ll love it too!

Brendan & Melissa, Glasshouse, Australia

smasmall In 2000 I was working as a wharfie in Brisbane and felt a call from God to be in full-time ministry, I was unsure at that stage of what ministry it might be. I heard about The Pines through a friend and decided to attend there in 2001 as they had a focus not just on head knowledge but also on spiritual growth. It was an amazing and stretching year!

After The Pines I decided to continue training and completed a B.Min through the Baptist college. In 2005 I accepted a call to the Alice Springs Baptist Church as Youth Pastor, a fairly large church of around 400 people. In early 2008 I became the Senior Pastor of the same church, a constantly challenging role due the transient nature of the town and cross-cultural ministry here between white Australians, Indigenous Australians, and Americans. I have also completed half of my MA.Th, and plan to continue studying and, more importantly, learning.

I’ve learned that God advances his kingdom through ordinary people who are committed to Him. As Vance Havner wrote, “The Lord had the strength and I had the weakness, so we teamed up! It was an unbeatable combination.”

I’ve learned not to replace Jesus with cheap promises, people need a Saviour not a carrot dangled in front of them promising success. Jesus did not come to make life a joy ride. Instead we can learn to be content whatever our circumstances as we await and trust in our Saviour.

Sam, Alice Springs, Australia

In 1996, a teacher who also served voluntarily as a youth pastor in an independent Church in the capital city received a vision to plant 100 new Churches among the Burmese people by the year 2020. The teacher was not Burmese himself but a member of a tribal group. Within the next five years, OH (not his real name) had planted two Churches in the Capital (intentionally) and three in his tribal homeland (unintentionally through running a leaders’ course).

OH came to The Pines for training in February 2002. He returned home in June and commenced a school for Church planters in August of the same year.

Over the Easter weekend this year, 36 church planters gathered together. They rejoiced that the movement had so far led more than one thousand people to Christ and discipled them into the Churches. They set apart four more couples to take the Gospel to new areas. And they prayed that the wind of the Holy Spirit would blow across the Churches to empower them to serve the people. The goal is to win another thousand people to Christ in the next year.

Church Planter, Yangon, Myanmar

From high school I felt called to be set apart for service to God.  Although petersmall this sense was strong and I was seeking to be obedient to the call I wasn’t yet sure exactly where and how to channel my energies and there was much wounding in myself to be healed.  Over many years, and no doubt for many more, God has progressively been preparing my character and clarifying the calling that he has for my life – to give my all for revival in the nation of Australia.

Going to the Pines was another important stepping stones through which I received further clarity and focus as to the direction my life is to take.

I have been involved in starting a church at Ormeau which is now doing its first church plant out at Redbank Plains.  Our heart in Redbank is to see a simple, fully incarnated, relationship based, Jesus-centred church planting movement ripple out within the natural networks of the community resulting in a harvest among average unchurched Aussies.  I have been learning that church, as intended by Jesus Christ, was always meant to be a movement – the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God into communities and individual’s lives, spreading to the ends of our suburb and then the earth.  And this movement must be propelled by an encounter with Jesus Christ and the empowering of the Holy Spirit as it was in the book of Acts.  There is nothing else worth living for and this is the only hope for our nation.

Peter, Redbank Plains, Australia

 David is a church leader and pastor in the Solomon Islands. “God is doing something very great in our Association at the moment. I was so amazed at the way God is reviving the church again.

“Last weekend there was another great move of God – people who have never been Christians before were converted.”

More than 400 young people attended the rally and celebrations of what the Lord has done went on for hours and hours in the rain.

“I have never seen any thing like this, even in the revival in the 1970s. Surely conversions are taking place every day. Let’s keep praying, God is doing something very profound.”

David, Malaita, Solomon Islands