Cross Cultural Placements
Each year, during the summer of their second and third year our students go on a cross cultural placement to experience life and ministry somewhere other than where they are based now. Tim and Graham share what they got up to in Romania and Norway.
Tim Houston: Romania
The highlight of my year was spending July in Romania serving with missionary friends—the Brezoiae family—who work with Child Evangelism Fellowship. The work varied and there was never a dull moment. Week one was an English Camp. This was a jam-packed programme from the 8am morning exercises and devotions, to the close of the evening activities 14 hours later (when the leaders finally sat down together for reflection and some craic until the ‘wee hours’)! Each day we taught English lessons with three levels of proficiency, Bible lessons from the Book of Acts, Missionary stories about C. T. Studd and ‘Teen Talks’ that explored issues of sexual ethics, drugs/alcohol, abortion etc. It was fantastic to share the gospel with children who responded with real joy and enthusiasm, clearly appreciating the care they received.
I was delighted to be joined by my wife on week two which was no time for rest but included more English teaching and Bible clubs. This took place in a school in a poor county, made up mostly of Roma children and influenced by a nearby Seventh Day Adventist group. What a tremendous opportunity for the gospel as those children came under the sound of Christ’s teachings from Luke’s Gospel. Being in a school meant the teachers and headteacher were close enough to hear us proclaim the truths of Scripture and were very grateful to have ‘native English speakers’ teaching their children and sharing so much of our time with them.
Our school club was followed by an afternoon 5-Day Club held at the Brezoiae's family home. Dozens of children from the neighbourhood came and stayed for a meal in the delightful 36+ degree heat of the Romanian countryside.
During my final week I had the privilege of preaching in different locations, including in a tiny, abandoned shelter and a church made up of one family. Each worship service was a wonderful experience, demonstrating the limitless power of the word and the beauty of fellowship however small it may be. We visited some of the poorest areas I’ve ever experienced and sought to bring the hope of Christ to young and old alike, struggling in ways difficult for most of us to comprehend. I am so thankful for what was a perspective-shifting month.
Graham Dougan: Norway
Thursday 19th May 2022 arrived all too soon after the last day of term. A team of practical workers from LIFT (Labour in Faith and Trust) set out on a short-term mission trip to ‘Karalaks Camp’ which is a short distance from the Northern Norwegian town of Lakselv (Salmon River). This small town is located within the Arctic Circle, close to the Russian Border. I was privileged to be part of this team and this trip was to provide the cross-cultural element for the Preparation for Ministry Course at the Irish Baptist College.
There is only so much anyone can say about painting and woodwork, the work was physical but rewarding and just what was required after a term of study and essays! I really enjoyed relieving the tension of academic work with manual labour, both within the building and outdoors.
It is, however, the people we met that was the real blessing of this trip. People like Ida Johnston who moved to Norway in the 1980s as a young woman and has devoted her life to the task of bringing the gospel to children and young people in what is a very wealthy country, but a country with very little Christian witness. We also met Sarah Bleakley who has moved to Norway in the last few years and like Ida is fluent in Norwegian and is reaching out to children and young people. They live in a wild and beautiful country, full of lakes and fjords, mountains and birch forests as far as the eye can see, a land where sea eagles fly overhead and reindeer stroll across wilderness and domestic gardens with equal freedom.
Please pray for the Christians in Norway, pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who welcomed us into their church, who asked us to share God’s word with them and with whom we worshipped our Saviour Jesus Christ, our great and eternal hope.