“I love the students… they are so interested, curious, keen on studying and always requesting Bible verses to support any claim. Two hours passes like five minutes. I’ve fallen in love with this work of teaching.”
That’s not a quote from me, although that has been true of a lot of my experience teaching here at Moore (as well as at NETS in Namibia). It is a quote from a WhatsApp message that a gospel partner of Moore College recently sent me. We have gospel partnerships with brothers and sisters both here in Australia and all over the world. Sometimes these include formal arrangements with institutions like theological colleges, or with churches, but always they involve relationships with Christian brothers and sisters that God has drawn us into contact with. Often the partnerships come about as graduates of the College move from place to place, introducing us to an ever-widening circle of fellow-workers. Here are two examples to give you a glimpse of the exciting partnerships we as a College are prayerfully looking to foster.
The Anglican Church of Madagascar
I first met Berthier in Madagascar, where I was travelling with friends from CMS and Anglican Aid as part of Moore College’s commitment to help resource others involved in ministry training, especially in the majority world. Ours is a gospel partnership. Our mutual commitment to seeing the gospel of the Lord Jesus proclaimed faithfully throughout the world is what drew us together and what directs our energies as we work together. It is a partnership built on our unity in the Lord Jesus, nurtured in a context of mutual love and expressed in a variety of shared resources and experiences.
I’m sure you get the sense from the quote that I have shared, that Berthier’s WhatsApp messages, emails and calls are a source of tremendous encouragement and joy. Berthier facilitates and enhances the College’s partnership with the Anglican Church of Madagascar and the Province of the Indian Ocean—often passing news on from our dear friend the Primate, Archbishop James Wong. Over the course of the pandemic, as I have found it easy to become absorbed by my own concerns and inconveniences, their perspective and faithfulness in ministry have inspired and rebuked me.
The College’s partnership involves providing material and support for theological education. PTC material translated into French and Malagasy are made freely available, and we share other ideas and resources to help the Madagascan leaders to develop the best kind of ministry training they can for Madagascans. We work together with friends from CMS and Anglican Aid, who bring different expertise and resources to their own gospel partnerships in Madagascar and elsewhere.
Partnerships also go both ways, and Moore College is deeply enriched by the fellowship we enjoy with gospel partners around the world. As our partners read their Bibles, think deeply and live faithfully following the Lord Jesus in their contexts, they correct, rebuke and encourage us. In a world of seemingly ever shrinking echo-chambers, international gospel partnerships are a profound blessing from God. The same is true of our gospel partnerships closer to home as well.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities
It’s been a joy to be part of the ‘Gospel for Australia’ social media campaign in the last few months, as we have been highlighting the ministries of many of our Australian partners, especially those outside Sydney. Not only do we hope to be faithful partners in training people for ministry all over the country, but those in these ministries now encourage and spur us on. In more ‘normal’ times, we express these partnerships by sending mission teams who serve and learn from the churches and ministries they spend a week with. We have a regular stream of visitors to the College from lots of different ministry contexts who bear witness to the work of God in their part of the harvest field. These partners help to keep our students and faculty up to date with the changing shape of ministry opportunities, demands and practices. In chapel, through the College Prayer Bulletin, and through the supporters’ prayer meetings, we exercise our gospel partnerships as we hold our partners before the throne of grace and entrust them to the Lord’s care.
As well as cherishing the partnerships we already have, Moore College is eager to forge new partnerships and to apply particular care to partnerships we want to grow and develop. This is particularly the case with gospel partners amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We are looking to work with our graduates from Indigenous backgrounds and through partnering with groups like the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship and the Bush Church Aid Society to grow our capacity and effectiveness in equipping indigenous Australians for ministry. Developing pathways for indigenous students is one of the strategic priorities of the College over the next five years. We have ideas and scholarship support, but we have much to learn, and we rely on the help of faithful, wise gospel partners.
Moore College is profoundly blessed to have such a tremendous range of partners who also want to see the gospel of the Lord Jesus faithfully proclaimed throughout Australia and around the world. As good as it has been to stay in touch with our gospel partners electronically over the last few years, I long for the day when we can see one another again, that we might be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith in the Lord Jesus (cf. Rom 1:8-12).