The Australian Church Record interviews Rob and Alice Brown about Moore College
Can you tell us about the state of the church in your home country?
England is a country with a great gospel heritage, and Christianity in the broadest sense has been part of British culture for centuries. However in recent times there has been a fast swing towards uniting the nation around liberal values and church attendance across the country has dramatically declined. This progressive agenda has placed a lot of pressure on churches and, tragically, many are departing from biblical truth. It is fair to say that looking at the big picture it is easy to be discouraged; however, God’s word remains powerful to save and strengthen. As we zoom in on a good number of local ministries there are many encouragements, with faithful churches holding out the Word of Truth, people from many different countries coming to Christ and believers standing firm amidst increased opposition. Please pray that as the cost of following Christ in this country begins to rise, the incomparable worth of knowing Christ Jesus would be seen all the more clearly.
How did you hear about Moore College and what made you decide to come?
We first encountered Moore College through the ministries of various graduates who had come over to the UK. In particular we spent time serving at our church in Durham alongside two PhD students who would both go on to join the faculty at Moore. As they led some of our MTS training we were greatly encouraged by their teaching and their example of godliness. So as we considered long-term ministry, we were convinced of the place of rigorous theological training. We had been considering options all over the world, but Moore stood out as a place where Rob could learn from a faculty whose convictions we shared, at a depth that would challenge and grow our understanding of ourselves, of our God and of His world.
What’s more, we were excited by the breadth of faithful gospel ministries in Sydney. Seeing the same gospel going out in a variety of contexts, through many different people, was a really helpful learning experience, particularly coming from a context where evangelical churches often feel very isolated.
What are some of the challenges in moving so far to study here – was it worth it?
Unsurprisingly, there were a number of logistical challenges in moving a young family across the world! There were also times when we felt acutely the distance from old friends and family; initially we struggled with the heat; and even by our fourth and final year, no-one understood our humour!
Though there were costs, in God’s kindness at no point did we question if it was worth it. We genuinely loved our time in Sydney and as we look back, it is with hearts of overwhelming thankfulness.
What have you learned during your time at Moore?
So much! In many ways I (Rob) think we had too small a view of what College would teach us, hoping to come away with greater biblical knowledge and clarity on some tricky topics. Whilst our time at Moore did see growth in both of these areas, it has been far more valuable than we had realised. For Rob, the big takeaway from Moore College was learning to think theologically – learning how to allow what God has revealed of his character and purposes to shape how we understand everything in his world. Far more valuable than simply learning answers to questions, we feel like we have been given the tools to serve Christ in an ever-changing world. More than anything else, our time at College has humbled us by helping us to see just how much we don’t yet know, and it has also excited us about being lifelong students of God’s word. We have come away from College even more convinced of the value of theological education in ministry training than we were when we started!
One of the blessings of Moore College’s emphasis on community is the opportunity for wives to be involved, even if not formally studying. Alice looks back on our time at College as a real season of learning and growth despite not sitting in a single lecture! This happened formally – through being involved in the Moore Women program which seeks to equip wives for lives of ministry alongside their husbands – and also informally, through chats with others in the College playground and through shared meals. It was a joy to watch a myriad of different Christian families seeking to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. As I (Alice) seek to be a godly wife, mother, and minister’s wife, I thank God for the many wonderful examples that I got to live amongst whilst at College.
How has this impacted your ministry on your return?
It is no exaggeration to say that our time in Sydney has had a huge impact on our ministry back in Durham. Particularly in the student ministry context in which Rob is serving, he recently reflected that almost every week sees him drawing directly on something he learned at College. This has been true in a myriad of different areas – not only in teaching the Bible and answering questions, but also in ministry planning and reflection, pastoral care, decisions about who to partner with in ministry, and leading a staff team, to name but a few. It is fair to say that the impact of our time at Moore has far exceeded what we had hoped or prayed for before we went – we serve a wonderfully generous God.
What would you say to those who might be tempted to take for granted what you have found here?
We are so thankful to God for the opportunity that he gave us to study in Sydney and for every way that he shaped and moulded us through our time there. Moore College’s emphasis on residential training and learning in community; on the faculty making themselves available to help students think things through for themselves; on seeking to integrate all the different theological disciplines to equip students to think theologically for themselves, is simply not the norm in the rest of the world.
Returning to the UK has made us all the more aware of how privileged Sydney is with regard to gospel resources and we pray that in God’s kindness the unique situation that Sydney is in might continue to be a blessing to Australia and to the rest of the world.
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