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.
Eastern College Australia