Moore Matters: How did you become a Christian?
Tom Habib: I grew up believing that there was a God, but it wasn’t until a friend of mine invited me to the local Youth Group that I started to read the Bible for myself and discover who Jesus is. Several moments in my teenage years led me to trust Jesus. I remember reading through Isaiah 53 at my first Youth Group camp and being struck by how Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus’s death for my sins. Another time, I was convicted while reading Mark 8:36, ‘What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?’.
I realized that up until then, I had been trying to ‘gain the world’, and from then on, I wanted to live for Jesus.
My first year of Uni was important for me in my growth as a Christian. I had gotten into a great routine of reading my Bible and praying and saw the Spirit working in me to change me. I was strongly convicted of my sin as I read through 1 Peter, particularly God’s call for me to ‘be holy, because I am holy’ (1 Pet 1:16). At the same time, I gained wonderful assurance in my salvation by reading through the book of Galatians and found a deep joy in knowing that I was a son of God (Gal 3:26).
MM: What’s one of the best things about being a Christian?
TH: That God’s mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22-23). There is always a tension as a Christian between the life you want to live and the life you are living now. J.I. Packer often wrote that growing as a Christian means growing downwards, as we grow in humility and repentance. The wonderful thing about being a Christian is that the more we become aware of our sinfulness, the more we become aware of God’s incredible grace to us in Christ.
MM: What’s one of the struggles you find in being a Christian?
TH: Knowing the joy of communion with God, it is always hard when your heart wanders from him, and you feel distant or cold. This can be a challenge for those in ministry or theological education. Charles Spurgeon encouraged students to whisper to their inmost soul, ‘What a dreadful thing it will be for me if I should be ignorant of the power of the truth which I am preparing to proclaim.’ Each day, I struggle to be rich toward God and find deep communion with him in his Word. Those days when I feel cold and distant toward God are the hardest, but I am constantly reminded to put my hope in my Saviour and my God, for I will yet praise him (Psalm 42:5).
MM: What are you looking forward to here at Moore?
TH: My family and I are looking forward to getting alongside students and sharing our lives with them. We love that we learn in community at Moore and are keen to get to know everyone and grow together in our love for God. I also look forward to opening God’s word with students this year and learning together. In the first semester, I will be teaching John’s Gospel, my favourite (if you can have a favourite) book of the Bible. I’ve also heard amazing things about the food at Moore College, so I am definitely looking forward to lunch every day.
MM: How has your background shaped you as a person? How has it impacted your faith?
TH: With a last name like Habib, people have often wondered about my family background. My mother is Australian, and my father is Egyptian, immigrating to Australia when he was a teenager. Though growing up in a very Aussie, western home, my background has helped me in my ministry to connect better and engage with people from different cultures. It has helped me understand the importance of family, time, and food in many cultures and has occasionally opened doors for speaking about Jesus.
MM: What have been some of the challenges you’ve seen in ministry?
TH: I spent a large part of my ministry in the South- West of Sydney, which came with its particular challenges. We were under-resourced and reaching out to a community that was culturally very different to many people in our church. One of the challenges we faced was remaining patient and faithful in teaching the word while seeing little growth. When you leave college, you have so many hopes for how God might use you, and it can be discouraging when you don’t see immediate fruit from your labours. It can be difficult not to tie your identity to how your church is going and to simply remain faithful to preaching the word and relying on God in prayer.
Another challenge we faced was finding ways to reach out and engage with people from other cultures. We found that certain cultures had formed very tight-knit communities that were largely closed to others. This was even more difficult when their religious background made them suspicious of Christians.
MM: What is one of the most powerful Christian relationships you have had, and why?
TH: Probably one of the most important Christian relationships I have had is with my minister from my home church, who was also my MTS trainer. ‘Powerful’ is not really the word that comes to mind because it is a fairly ordinary/normal relationship. Still, one of the things he taught me was to see the extraordinary in the ordinary—to see God powerfully at work in the mundane, day-to-day elements of my ministry and Christian walk. He helped me to grow as a Christian, and his calm, faithful, godly example has always been a model for me in my ministry.