God is about His work of Restoration

Many years ago, while I was still the pastor of a local church on the Gold Coast, I bought a cheap little car, an early model Morris Mini. It had sat neglected for years in an old man’s garage, and smelled distinctly of mould, with overtones of stale petrol and aged vinyl. It was also painted a particularly unflattering shade of brown.

But for two hundred bucks? Hey, what did it matter?! It was a bargain! I needed a cheap car, and it seemed to run well (sort of). People laughed at me, of course, and the locals on the Northern end of the Gold Coast came up with all manner of names for the old brown mini. But I didn’t mind. It had personality. And it was mine.

Unfortunately, when we left Queensland and moved to Melbourne, things didn’t go so well for it. Although we kept it, and had thoughts on occasion to someday perhaps even restore it, I never really drove it again. It sat for a while in our carport, then out in the street. Eventually, it was just in the way. So I borrowed a trailer, towed it over to my parents place, and pushed it under a tree in the corner of their property, out of sight. And there, for the next seven years it sat, slowly deteriorating. It looked very sad indeed.

I must admit I felt guilty about it. Every time we visited my folks place, my two boys would plead with me to get the old thing going again. “Dad, you can’t just let it rot there!” they’d say. But I just never found the time.

Then, a few years ago, I happened to tell a friend of mine about the old Mini. Turned out he was a car enthusiast, who knew a great deal about Morris Minis. It also turned out that it happened to be a fairly rare model, one of only a few hundred built and, potentially, quite valuable. At which point, I decided I’d better pull it out from under the tree, pluck the mushrooms and mould out of the floors and seats, and maybe do something about it.

So began a two year labor of love.

Mind you, had I known what I was about to tackle, I suspect I might have had second thoughts. But ignorance was on my side, and so I began. Turned out it was one of the most difficult, time consuming, laborious, tormenting, infuriating things I have ever done. It was also one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable projects of my life.

Step by step, through the summer, into the winter, and on for the next few years, I worked away, mostly at night, while the kids were tucked up in bed. In time, I had removed, pulled apart and dissembled the entire car. Every single piece. I sandblasted away every last fleck of poo brown paint, and soon was left with a really ugly steel shell, covered by patches of old filler and hidden repair jobs. And a garage full of thousands of bits and pieces. Carefully marked and sorted out. Mostly.

Then began the work of restoration. Anything that was repairable, I repaired. Anything that was too far gone, broken or worn out, I replaced. I traded bits and pieces on ebay to source more original parts, and worked through every thing to make sure it was like new – every nut and bolt, all the electrical wiring, every hydraulic line, every instrument, the entire interior, the suspension, the engine…. everything! Eventually I cut away all the rust, fixed up all the little dents, and with the help of a friend, had it all repainted. Definitely not brown. Red, of course.

It had taken inestimable hours, and many, many late nights, fiddling around, figuring out, and finding where. But day by day, piece by tiny, frustrating little piece, step by step, with goodness knows how many shaved knuckles and bruises and bumps, it all came together.

Finally, one glorious Saturday morning, I was able to drive it out of the garage, up the drive, and into the street! Rebuilt, fully restored, inside and out.

Why share that story. Here’s why.

While undertaking that project, I became aware, in a fresh, very personal and profound way, that my project was in some ways a metaphor of one of the most compelling, and profound spiritual principles we find in Scripture: that God is about His work of Restoration.

Common to both Eastern College, and MST, is a deep conviction that Christian higher education, at its very core, is about training, equipping and empowering men and women to not only lay hold of the incredible truth of God’s transforming power, but to recognize this is a work that we, in turn, have the privilege of sharing. God’s work of renewal and restoration is not only in us, but through us.

Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Philippians:

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus! (Philippians 1:6).

Similarly, he wrote to the Ephesian church:

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10)

Both MST, and Eastern College, exist to equip, shape, inspire, and educate men and women with an understanding of how God’s message of restoration and renewal can impact their entire lives; their relationships, their professional vocation and workplace, their homes, their neighborhood, their environment … their world.

And unlike my little Mini, which one day, in spite of all my efforts, will nevertheless rust away, the renewing, transforming work of God is one which will never cease, until we are fully complete. It’s a message worth knowing, and a world-view worth sharing and how, in turn, they are called to be truth of God. In our ministry, not only are we all the focus of that same, sanctifying work of the Spirit of God, we also have the privilege of participating in it. Paul’s words remind us that we can have unwavering confidence in what we are doing; proclaiming and teaching the Scriptures, because the work of the Gospel is the work of Christ; it is not our work. The power of the Gospel is the power of Christ, not our power. And the promises of the Gospel are sure because God has determined that He will carry them on to full and total completion.



Tim Meyers
Executive Principal
Eastern College Australia

Ideas Have Legs

I have to confess, I am a Star Trek Fan.
Take the part where Jean Luc Picard speaks to 21 century humans who have been awaken after 300 years in cryogenic state and calmly explains we have nor need of material ambitions, money, wars or aggressive competition. We put that part of our human history well truly behind us. Now we focus on cooperating and discovery of the universe. The future is so much better than the past.

This is such a powerful idea.  Today, people are aghast and angry that perhaps the next generation (or even in the next 5 years) we may be more poor or be worse off;  for surely our destiny is onwards and upwards. But where did this idea begin?

In the ancient world the idea of progress was unheard of.  The ‘future’ was much the same as the present (or in the Hindu world it was cyclical).  The’ middle’ is often called the dark ages because many thought society had regressed from the Golden age of Ancient Big civilizations, such as the Greek and Roman empires.

Yet through small beginnings this idea was nurtured of progress particularly through commitment to invention, a movement to a better world and life into the future could be achieved.

Francis Bacon judged that, “owing mainly to an undue reverence for the past (as well as to an excessive absorption in cultural vanities and frivolities), the intellectual life of Europe had reached a kind of impasse or standstill”. Yet he believed there was a way beyond this stagnation if persons of learning, armed with new methods and insights, would simply open their eyes and minds to the world around them. This at any rate was the basic argument of his seminal 1605 treatise The Proficience and Advancement of Learning, arguably the first important philosophical work to be published in English.

This idea was scoffed at first. It stood against the wisdom of the day, but it began to grow legs, walk and then run through history –  growing, adapting and changing us to the modern world of today.

As a side track, are ideas ever really completely new? Some may argue Bacon may have been influenced by writing some 1100 years earlier when Augustine put forward a view of History that it is moving forward from its Beginning Creation to the New Jerusalem

But why am I babbling on about ideas?

Part of me some weeks ago felt a little bit trapped thinking about my work over the years of working mainly with Ideas. I was not really getting out there practically helping and serving those in need. Maybe what I’m working on is a waste of time. BUT then I remembered an old friend’s devotion entitled Ideas Have Legs. They run through History shaping our lives.

Being part of a Christian Higher Education, we work with ideas. We read them and analyze them and apply them. We also generate them.

A Fellow traveller, Professor David Smith, noticed because of His Christian worldview that most of the text books teaching foreign languages were framed by the big idea of consumerism. He asked the question, what if we made THE BIG IDEA OF HOSPITALITY the central idea of our foreign language program? What would it look like?

His approach is transforming one.

We need to conceptualize the present practices and ideas behind them in the light of the Gospel, let it show us the distortions and gaps, and then reconceptualise around a kingdom vision/dream… and ask WHAT IF?

This talk was given at an Eastern College Gathering on Wednesday, 16-Aug-2017

By Andrew Schmidt
Bachelor of Education Course Director

Principal Cheryl McCallum Resigns

Sweet Sorrow

“Parting is such sweet sorrow” wrote Shakespeare and he obviously understood some of the conflicting emotions we feel when a season of our life is coming to an end and a parting is taking place from what we hold dear. Tabor/Eastern has been part of my life for so long it is hard for me to comprehend that in a few months I will no longer be part of the learning community that has meant so much to me.

I will miss the students, the staff, the camaraderie, the challenges, the triumphs, the joy, the laughter, the discovery of learning, the classroom and the teaching. I will sorrow to not be there when the new students arrive, to greet the continuing students and to celebrate at graduation with those who have completed their awards. To be honest, the only thing I will not miss is the marking. 😉

As someone who always likes to know what lies ahead and to plan accordingly, I am always disconcerted when God does not act in harmony with my need for control. So, it is unsettling to not know where I will be in 2018 and what I will be doing. I think God delights in always bringing me back to a position of faith and vulnerability to remind me that He is the one who holds my future in His hands.

My prayer will always be for the growth and flourishing of Eastern College. I am satisfied with the contribution I have made to the college and I believe its best years are still to come.
I leave knowing this is the right timing but nonetheless it will be a parting of “sweet sorrow”.

Dr Cheryl McCallum
Principal of Eastern College Australia

Compassionate, Visionary, Hopeful, Joyful

Semester 1 at Eastern saw 57 Master of Transformational Development (MTD) students immersed in studying the implications of climate change for some of the most vulnerable people in the world. It is one thing to be deeply confronted by the disturbing scientific realities of climate change through our reading, but many of Eastern’s MTD students are directly involved with communities already suffering as a result of climate change.

Several of our students live and work in Kenya and Zimbabwe and, as is true in many parts of sub-Sahara Africa, the farmers in their churches have endured months and months of no or little rain. Crops wither in the fields, and with them family incomes also dry up and food security is threatened. The increasing unreliability of rains, one of the symptoms of climate change, is impacting on our MTD students’ communities in Egypt, Pakistan, Nepal, India and Bangladesh.

Imagine the impact of soaring temperatures on the inhabitants of large urban slum communities where our MTD students are working: Delhi, Jakarta, Nairobi, Dhaka, and Lahore. One inevitable consequence of climate change in those communities will be the dramatic increase in outbreaks of the diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, malaria, dengue, and encephalitis.

How do we engage meaningfully with a threat as deeply disturbing as climate change? What does Christian hope look like when confronted by a global ecological crisis that threatens human existence as we know it?

In a public lecture at Eastern on May 2, in which he examined many of the challenges confronting the global community at this time, Evert-Jan Ouweneel, a Dutch philosopher and World Vision senior advisor, offered seven ways to resist the pressure to cave-in to despair and grief, and be energised by hope:

  1. Stay calm. “God is in control – He’s got the whole world in his hands.”
  2. Stay compassionate. Our first priority should be the “well-being of those who are hit first or hit the most.”
  3. Stay hopeful. Evert-Jan reminded us of Martin Luther’s assertion: “If the world ends tomorrow I will still plant an apple seed today.”
  4. Stay visionary. Always remember the Bible’s global vision and God’s promise of a glorious future for the entire creation.
  5. Stay stubborn. “Let’s stick to hope in the midst of pessimism and cynicism.”
  6. Stay human. “In this time of re-tribalism, with people withdrawing into their own bastions of likeminded people, Christians can be the bridge-builders of society.”
  7. Stay joyful. “If we can’t count our blessings as children who say ‘Abba Father’ to God, who can.”

Someone who epitomises what this looks like to me is Sharon Edison. Sharon is in her final semester of MTD studies, and four years ago set up a small development organisation called Sahayak (meaning helper) to respond to the needs of highly vulnerable women and children living in a slum on the southern edge of the sprawling Indian capital Delhi. The challenges confronting this community are huge. Just last Tuesday (July 11) I received a WhatsApp message from Sharon telling me of a cholera outbreak that had taken the life of a 5-year-old girl called Reema, and another four of Sharon’s young charges had been hospitalised. Despite such terrible setbacks Sharon and her team remain determinedly positive and committed to making a sustainable difference. In her July newsletter she writes:

“Creation Care is all about stewardship. It all belongs to God… The first command God gave to man was to take care of the Earth, which includes managing and protecting the environment. We believe that what we can do, we must do! We have been discovering nature’s solution to climate change related health issues for the benefit of our kids at Sahayak. Wherever we found land we planted Aloe Vera and it’s a joy to see Aloe Vera plants that we planted some time back growing. This plant has antiviral and anti-bacterial properties as well as being a healing herb for skin, rich in vitamin A, B, C & E. Aloe Vera is a commercial miracle plant in one of a medicinal group of plants…. Our aim is to sustain this initiative for the benefit of our kids and their families in the community. At present, we are farming about 90 plants since we last counted. We have been approached by neighbours, shopkeepers and gardeners for sale of these plants. We have incorporated Aloe Vera gel in recycled bottles and given to all our kids at the centre to heal their heat boils and bug bites.

We also are planning to add the gel of aloe in fruit juices as it’s good for health. May we find it in our hearts to care for one another and our earthly home and leave it greener and cleaner for our children and their children.”

Compassionate, visionary, hopeful, joyful – all who have studied with Sharon in the MTD know that she is all these things! Please pray for her and her 50+ colleagues in the MTD, that God will sustain them with hope and joy as they walk alongside the poor in their communities, and work with them for a better future.

Steve Bradbury
Lecturer in Transformational Development

Book Review

Excerpt from Dr Jon Newton’s book review for the Spiritus academic journal:

Spirit Freedom and Power: Changes in Pentecostal Spirituality by Dr Angelo Cettolin.

” Why do I recommend this book? First, because Australia Pentecostalism has its own unique story and flavor rather different to that in North America, Europe or the “Majority World.” This distinctive Australian Pentecostalism is now being exported all over the world so it is wise for interested people to read about it from the viewpoint of an “insider.”

Second, Cettolin’s book draws on credible (international and Australian) sources to discuss the issues of twenty-first century Pentecostalism with a historical and contemporary perspective; this book could serve as a handy introduction to Pentecostalism in general.

And third, this book really talks to the people on the ground in good empirical research. It’s a model of grounded, honest, empirical research in the service of a Pentecostal goal.”

BUY NOW: http://amzn.to/2dOvjLt

Dr Angelo Cettolin is the Dean of Faculty and Senior Lecturer in Ministry at Eastern College Australia.

Student Life: Christopher MacLeod

“I began studying at Eastern out of a desire to freely explore theology, the Bible and all things Christian. This has been fundamental for my spiritual formation, as the college has been an environment that has empowered me to deeply consider and analyse theology, and by doing so, helped me to communicate the God-given passions of my heart to Christians around me.

As an educational facility, Eastern has equipped me to lead, teach and preach to great effect. I have been exposed to a variety of theological perspectives and learnt to respectfully and compassionately co-exist, challenge, and be challenged, by these perspectives.

As a place of spiritual formation, Eastern has fostered a humble culture that is brilliantly reflective. Students are always encouraged to turn their penetrative analysis inward, in order to ensure that rhetoric and action remain unified. The culture at Eastern reminds its students that theological exercise should be, at its core, simply an exercise in loving God.

As I write that previous statement, I remember lecturers who had such an awareness of their intimacy with Christ that even the most boring lecture was made compelling and alive as they couldn’t help but express their love for God with relevance and poignancy to the subject!

In the future, I hope to perpetuate this ethos, by loving Jesus and teaching others to do the same. The academic and spiritual culture at Eastern has enflamed my passion for God, and I hope to someday do the same for future students by becoming a lecturer (among other pursuits) myself!”

Christopher MacLeod has completed undergraduate studies at Eastern in the Bachelor of Theology and is currently studying a Masters in Practical Theology at Eastern College Australia. He is also a church planter in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and a passionate advocate for the oneness and unity of Jesus’ Church.

Discover our School of Theology: http://bit.ly/2980VfG

Art Wouters Farewell

After over a decade teaching in the counselling field at Eastern (and Tabor Vic) our beloved ex-South African colleague Dr Art Wouters has taken on another position in postgraduate counselling at nearby Stirling College. At Eastern we are always pleased to see our faculty move onto the next phase of their development and specialisation. While we are sad to see a colleague move on we are blessed that Art is on the same campus this year and will still be involved in future adjunct teaching from time to time for Eastern. You will know the Dr is in the house when you see his Harley motor bike sitting at front!

Eastern will continue to deliver quality Counselling studies both at undergraduate and now at postgraduate level with our new Masters in Community Counselling directed by Dr Julie Morsillo. We are also currently looking for a replacement lecturer for our undergraduate teaching position.

We thank Art for his significant contribution to developing Eastern’s counselling specialisations and we wish Art well and God’s blessings in his new endeavour. We look forward to hearing about his progress in the future.

Rev Dr Angelo Cettolin
Dean of Faculty and Senior Lecturer in Theology & Ministry

Student Life: Malathy Fuller

“First of all, I have to mention the kind of person I am today compared to 2 years ago, when I landed in Australia. I was apprehensive about how I would be accepted into a society where my looks, culture and general attitude differs massively.

It is with a lot of trepidation that I joined Eastern College, just a couple of months of migrating to Australia from Singapore. The approachable, warm, understanding and helpful lecturers stood up as a role model for my fellow students to replicate the same behavior. It was always an atmosphere of congeniality and intellectualism combined with humour and caring.

Though I come from a different religion, I was educated about Christianity, world views and spirituality without being forced to practice, which was a pleasant and welcoming surprise for me. Studying in Eastern has opened a wide window of knowledge, confidence and a realistic plan about my future.

I am glad and thankful to God for having made me choose Eastern College, amongst the dozen universities that I enquired prior admission. Because, with bigger universities, the individual attention, help and flexibility to students would have been absent.”

Malathy Fuller
Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary)

Discover our School of Education: http://bit.ly/2iNNiWL