2018 marks a significant milestone for our college. Whilst remembering Tabor College Victoria’s humble beginnings with only 6 students, this year we proudly celebrate 30 years of developing thousands of quality graduates, equipped to do good works.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works”. Ephesians 2:10
After two years of hard work, and many prayers, we are delighted to announce the commencement of two new courses! Our Master of Teaching (Primary) and Master of Teaching (Secondary) programs will equip graduates with non-education degrees to move into the teaching field in Australia and overseas.
Recently, I was asked an important question from a hardworking Education student completing one of our core Christian Foundation subjects,
“…how does this subject about the Bible actually help me as a future school teacher?”
For all our graduates, this is critical in a time when many foundations in our Western society are being challenged by extremist ideologies, sometimes based on pseudo science. Seeking to live out the Gospel’s principles and precepts in reliance on the Holy Spirit’s power provides a good foundation for graduate teachers to positively influence the children under their sacred trust. It will equip them with the ability to guide and answer their pupils’ more difficult questions about the purpose of life, the values they live by, and where can they find spiritual and moral guidance.
Completing a core group of Christian Foundation subjects (along with other specialist units) will help a future school teacher, pastor, counsellor, community development worker, or youth worker, to live out their spiritual values in their vocation, to positively influence their clients, their pupils and the communities that they are a part of.
People are often unaware that many of our society’s positive values and institutions stem from a Judeo-Christian ethos, which is reflected in, and derived from, the Scriptures. Knowing the Bible well and understanding how to correctly interpret it helps us avoid past mistakes and misapplication of sacred texts. Further, personally adopting the bible’s positive ethos of compassion will help graduates to show care for all people regardless of race, gender or background and it inspires us to extend justice for all.
Faith in action can change our world into a better place. Faith that reflects the heavenly vision of God’s love and justice influencing all spheres of society and culture.
While it is gratifying that over 80% of our Education graduates have found employment in Christian, independent or government schools, in Australia or internationally, what is more satisfying is that both graduates and employers hold in high regard the College’s particular focus on education from a Christian perspective in a supportive academic community.
As we celebrate our rich heritage as a College we thank God that through the many changes that have occurred across the past 30 years we remain focused on developing graduates from a diverse range of professions, denominations and perspectives who have deeper faith, sharper minds, richer community engagement and courageous creativity needed to change our world.
Thank you for being a part of this journey, and I hope that you enjoy reading more about the great works that some of our graduates are involved in – in this Be Change newsletter.
If you haven’t been to our new campus we’d love to catch up over a coffee and give you a tour or see you at our Alumni Brunch this October!
Christine Gobius – National Director at Interserve
A kind and gentle soul, Christine is easy to talk to, and a pleasure to spend time with. Christine reflects quietly before choosing her words and imparts a depth of wisdom that God has given her through her studies, life journey, ministry and many experiences.
Christine’s love for the outdoors led to her veterinarian career and completing a PhD in patterns of cattle and human health. Whilst studying at Brisbane School of Theology, she was introduced to Interserve. Prior to her current role, Christine balanced professional roles in public health administration research and voluntary roles in Interserve, where she now serves as National Director. We have been blessed to have her complete a Master of Arts in Vocational Practice (Aid and Development) with us at Eastern.
Interserve is missional community dedicated to serving amongst the peoples of Asia and the Arab World. As followers of Jesus, they reach out to the most marginalised – physically, economically and spiritually – and commit to serving alongside them with His love.
What does your role entail?
Interserve exists for the glory of God, so a big part of my role is providing spiritual leadership for the organisation, which I believe is most important. Our vision is to see the transformation of individual lives and communities through an encounter with Jesus. My role changes very much day to day, but I have a responsibility to ensure that the organisation keeps focused on that vision and in doing that is functional, legal, compliant and financially healthy. I also help to bring the international vision of Interserve into our Australian office whilst bringing our Australian understanding and learning into our international sphere. But at the end of the day an organisation is only as healthy as its people are.
I read somewhere that CEO stands for the ‘Chief Encouragement Officer’ and that’s something I try to keep in mind each day.
What are some things that you love about your job?
The name ‘Interserve’ reflects our truly international fellowship and our value of serving people. In this role I get to work and spend time with some incredible people, cross-cultural workers who are innovative, faithful, adventurous whilst also being reflective practitioners. I get to see God at work in ways that expand my understanding of Him and His word. Spending time with people from different countries helps me get a more complete picture of what God is saying as I experience the word through the eyes of people who sometimes come from cultures more closely aligned the culture the Word was written to.
What are some challenges you face in your role?
If you want to avoid problems, don’t get involved with people. People are sinful and broken and we work with communities in some of the most challenging parts of the world. During my time in this role I’ve had to deal with some very confronting situations, in terms of the wellbeing and security of our people, which forces us to depend on God because we aren’t able to control it all.
What is the significance of your logo?
Our logo depicts a weave and the two colours that go in two directions reflect the strands of a diverse group of people, working in a variety of ways, in many places. It demonstrates missions as involving sending and receiving. It’s an open weave because we are part of something bigger. It’s work that other people need to be a part of. It’s open to partnership and reflects the name.
What lead you to studying at Eastern?
Whilst still in Brisbane, my husband and myself were in a season ready for change. I knew that I wanted to work in aid and development and I had a strong calling to the Christian space, so I enrolled for the MAVP program. But in January 2011, on the eve of my first unit of study, there was mass flooding and we had water up to 60cm above the upstairs floor of our house. Recovery from this flood was going to be an intense experience and we lived in five different houses whilst making our house liveable again. The MAVP was going to be my first significant study in the aid and development sector and I knew that it was going to be a tough gig, but I felt God tell me to trust him and he’d get me through. And you wouldn’t believe it. Our first unit of study was climate change, social justice and the environment. It was such a privilege to think through my personal experience and how it fit with my understanding of God and what he’s doing in the world. I ended up writing an essay about a personal theology on flooding and through this study I had the opportunity to reflect very deeply on a relevant topic.
Did your studies help prepare you for what you are doing now?
Definitely! I constantly draw on many things that we covered in our studies because it’s relevant to our work and I frequently lean on the leadership modules that we covered in the course. Just this week, I was speaking to a couple who work in Cambodia at the forefront of developing ways to keep disadvantaged children with families rather than going into children’s homes. This is an issue because the majority of kids in orphanages have parents, and the best place a child should grow up is in a family. Research also shows that the long-term impact of orphanage experiences is detrimental to children’s health. Another complication this couple faced is that over 50% of Australian Christians support orphanages but it’s far harder to get funding to do community development to help families to provide for their own needs. It’s harder to “sell”. However, during my studies at Eastern, I had written a composite narrative as one of my assessments. It involved interviewing people who had worked with vulnerable children and then writing a fictional story based on real elements from real people’s lives. I was able to draw on my study in this area to support our Interserve workers and help them understand that better solutions may exist.
Something unforgettable that I learnt through my studies is the importance of listening and appreciating when others challenge how you understand and see things.
The way we engage with scripture and with prayer, the Holy Spirit and literature really encouraged us to think critically, listen to others, and think about what in our thinking is cultural or truly scriptural. So, it’s really important to keep going back to the Bible rather than relying on personal cultural constructs. Learn to listen and be challenged.
Do you have any advice for people considering missions or aid and development?
I think that the best way to get involved in aid and development is to first recognise that all people are made in God’s image and the only way for people to reach their full potential is through the transformative power of the gospel. We live in a world where people suffer injustice and suffer from lack. We can’t truly claim to love God if we aren’t concerned with the suffering of others and sometimes we must take the time to ask God to give us that heart. Whilst we are called to participate in meeting the great needs that exist, we can also learn and be enriched from the process. There are many needs in our own culture and society and as we engage with other peoples in poverty alleviation or addressing oppression and injustice, we have a lot to learn. It’s a two way street.
So, get involved! God said to Abraham, ‘You will be a blessing to all nations’. That call comes to all of us who are followers of Jesus.
Ask God to grow in you a heart for people different to yourself and share with them the hope of God and His love for them.
So practice listening and getting to know people. If you want to cross those cultural barriers, you need to put yourself out there, get to know others and get to love them so that you can demonstrate God’s love to them.
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
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:
Stay calm. “God is in control – He’s got the whole world in his hands.”
Stay compassionate. Our first priority should be the “well-being of those who are hit first or hit the most.”
Stay hopeful. Evert-Jan reminded us of Martin Luther’s assertion: “If the world ends tomorrow I will still plant an apple seed today.”
Stay visionary. Always remember the Bible’s global vision and God’s promise of a glorious future for the entire creation.
Stay stubborn. “Let’s stick to hope in the midst of pessimism and cynicism.”
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.”
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.
Lecturer in Transformational Development
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.”
Recently, journalist Mark Colvin died. I, like many thousands of Australians had listened to him on PM for as long as I could remember, but I knew very little about him as a person. In the days following his death I read and listened to the stories told by his fellow ABC reporters and other friends of a man of outstanding intellect with immense breadth and journalistic expertise. But this was not the most prominent way in which he was remembered. Instead, almost every account highlighted Mark’s kindness, generosity, concern and care towards all those he encountered. While they admired his intellect, their lives had been profoundly touched by his acts of kindness and grace and it was this that would be an enduring legacy.
Mark Colvin was not a Christian (that I am aware) but his life challenges our current Christian conceptions of a fruitful/successful life. In examining my own concepts and in my interactions with other Christians I am aware that we have drifted from the biblical basis of assessing our lives. We have imbibed, as can be expected, a large dose of Western cultural thinking where success is equated with visible, tangible, laudable achievements that will result in a happy life.
Grown your church? – tick. Invited to speak at conferences? – tick. Paid your mortgage off? – tick. Raised your social media profile? – tick. Networked nationally and internationally? – tick. Constantly travelling? – tick. Proudly “too busy”? – tick. Available only via your PA? – tick. Written a best-seller telling others how to be like you? – tick. The list is endless.
There is nothing wrong with any of these achievements but, for the Christian, they are ultimately not the hallmarks of a fruitful or successful life. Jesus did not tell Peter that he would be a great apostle but rather that he would die as a witness to the gospel. Jesus did not promise he would reward those who were meeting the cultural criteria of success, rather he exhorted his followers to lead lives of courage, kindness and faithfulness. Jesus did not call all to prominence but he did call all to fruitfulness.
Too often I meet Christian leaders who are exhausted from trying to be seen as successful in the eyes of their Christian peers. They are unhappy, driven, over-busy, worried, disconnected, anxious and unhealthy. At the same time, they are telling others how to live a God-pleasing life, how to keep a work-life balance, how to be counter-cultural witnesses to their neighbours.
I read recently
“Surveys show that most young adults believe that obtaining wealth and fame are keys to a happy life. But a long-running study out of Harvard suggests that one of the most important predictors of whether you age well and live a long and happy life is not the amount of money you amass or notoriety you receive. A much more important barometer of long term health and well-being is the strength of your relationships with family, friends and spouses. “
In 200 years no one will know my name except perhaps a descendant who is an amateur genealogist. No one will know or care if I was a “success” in eyes of my peers. There will be no statues or public holidays dedicated to me. But perhaps, like Mark Colvin, when I die there will be people ready to tell stories of my kindness, courage and faithfulness. It may only be my children and grandchildren telling those stories but that will be the marks of a fruitful life in service to my Jesus.
Eastern College Australia was joined by Dutch Philosopher, Evert-Jan Ouweneel for a Public Lecture on 2 May, 2017.
The world is currently hit by a “perfect storm”, causing anxiety especially in the West — As our world is globalising, more and more threats and risks also have a global nature: hackers and terrorists don’t care about borders, nor does climate change, a pandemic or nuclear disaster. All of these issues can only be tackled through international cooperation.
Yet, at the moment, we see quite the opposite, especially in the West: populist nationalism calling for ‘self-protection’, as if the issues are only national a airs. Coming from a time of unprecedented wealth and security, it is painful for many Westerners to accept that 1) we do not politically or economically control the world anymore, and 2) some risks won’t go away. Time for Western societies to invest in resilience and global citizenship.
EXPLORE 7 PROPHETIC RESPONSES TO WHAT IS HAPPENING
About Evert-jan Ouweneel:
Since 2009 he has served as Senior Advisor Public Engagement on Faith & Development within the fundraising offices of World Vision. His current role is to inform people in secular societies about the need for “faith literacy” (understanding people of other faiths) and the importance of collaborating with religious leaders when building towards a more peaceful and prosperous world. Evert studied Sociology, Psychology and graduated in Philosophy at the Free University in Amsterdam. He has written over 50 articles in Dutch and some English articles on a variety of Christian and secular topics. He is an appreciated speaker in the Netherlands, known for his seminars on major issues like world history, world religions and world trends. He also speaks regularly in churches and Christian organisations and at Christian events.
Many years ago, when Eastern was still Tabor, the college campus was in the rustic surrounds of Ringwood and dinosaurs roamed the earth I had an encounter with a student that would change my spiritual life.
Levi* was a Jewish Rabbi who had experienced a miraculous encounter with Jesus and become a Messianic Jew. Even in a city the size of Melbourne he quickly became a cause célèbre among the Christian community and an object of scrutiny by the Jewish community. He decided he wanted to learn more about this new-found Jesus and enrolled in a Christology class at Tabor. He was an enquiring and thoughtful student.
One day he came to see me in my office. After the usual chitchat about family, life and study he got to the point of his visit. He explained that he wanted to understand what “just God” meant. Eager to help, I launched into a lengthy exposition of the just nature of God. I came at it from every possible angle – systematic theology, biblical theology, biblical exegesis of key verses, church history and missional perspectives. Even I was impressed by the breadth of information – no one could fail to be convinced by my presentation of the justice of God.
Sitting back, perhaps feeling ever so slightly smug at my role in educating this man, I waited for Levi to indicate his understanding and deep satisfaction with my discourse. To my shock, he smiled and informed me that I had not understood his question. Exercising some humility, I asked him to tell me exactly what his question was and decided, this time, to listen carefully to what he said.
Levi asked “Cheryl, what do Christians mean when they are praying to God and they use the word just?” Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, I probed for some more information “Give me an example”. “Well” he answered “Everyone always prays ‘Please God, just do this, just do that’”. “And” he continued in a somewhat astonished tone, “they are not little things! They pray for God to just heal cancer or just perform a miracle”. He looked at me earnestly, “Tell, me, what is the meaning of this just? Is it a special Christian word?”
Reassuring Levi that just was not a magical Christian word that guaranteed God’s action, I was able to send him away happy in the knowledge that his prayers were being heard even if he didn’t use “Christianese” to express himself.
But Levi’s ‘outsider’ insight opened my eyes and ears. When I next met with people to pray, I noticed how often prayers began with ‘Dear God, we just ask….’ And soon it seemed like every time someone prayed I heard ‘just’ scattered through the requests to God. And not only requests, we were also ‘just’ thanking him for his blessings.
Before long, I could not use that word in my prayer life – I was continually reminded of the enormity of what I was asking or who I was addressing – and ‘just’ just seemed too banal, diminishing and trite. Levi had done me a great spiritual service in alerting me to the lack of respect and awe that a little word can indicate.
This is not to condemn anyone who habitually uses ‘just’ in their prayers. I think, for almost all it is simply a speech habit and Christian colloquialism and is done without thought. But, thanks to Levi, I am very careful not to use this word. Pedantic, maybe, but it comes from a desire to never be guilty of trivializing what connection with the Almighty Creator means in prayer.
Thanks, Levi, for an innocent question that sparked spiritual change in my life.
*Not his real name.
Dr Cheryl McCallum Principal of Eastern College Australia
In every generation of the church, since the day Jesus first launched it, his followers Have been pressured to conform to the surrounding society’s dominant ways of thinking and living, ways so often utterly contrary to God’s ways.
The power of this dominant culture to impact upon our values, our behaviour, our politics, upon how we see the world, and even upon the way we understand our own faith and interpret our sacred texts, has been likened to the power of gravity.
Paul was clearly keenly aware of the danger of this, and his astounding letter to the small community of Christians embedded in the belly of the Roman Empire included at its heart an urgent challenge: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God remould your minds from within…” (12:2, Phillips translation).
Clearly we all need to be vigilant in this regard. I need to be vigilant! And the MTD provides me with some wonderful assistance in this regard. First, because the small MTD learning community is a global one we expose one another to dramatically different perspectives and different ways of reading and understanding the Scriptures. For example, students who come from strongly communal cultures are less likely to read the Bible through the individualistic lens of your average Western Christian.
Second, the cultural diversity of the MTD community, combined with the importance of ensuring that our studies are contextually relevant, means it is imperative to include non-Western authors in our reading. Inevitably, they open my eyes to dimensions of Biblical teaching, and the application of that teaching, that previously I had only seen dimly or not at all. Let me mention just one such writer: Vinoth Ramachandra. He frequently crops up in our MTD reading. If you would like a wee taste I encourage you to visit his blog site https://vinothramachandra.wordpress.com/about/
I can confidently predict that you will experience a disturbing blend of challenge, inspiration and discomfort!
About Steve Bradbury Steve Bradbury is the Director of the Micah 6:8 Centre and Lecturer in Transformational Development at Eastern College Australia. Find out more about the Masters of Transformational Development
“If you really want to get at the crux of what youth work is really about, you need to understand its liberation framework.
Anti-oppressive practice is a core framework and one of the best authors in this space is the South American Educational theorist Paulo Friere.
His book ‘‘The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” is often at the top of Youth Workers must read lists. If you are genuinely interested in helping young people then you must read this work.”
Aaron Garth MSocial Work, BSocialSc, CertIV Alcohol and Other Drugs Work
Youth Studies Coordinator at Eastern College Australia