Sunday, February 7 marked the beginning of a new experience for the nine enthusiastic students who enrolled in the Australasian Union Conference Missionary Training Program 2010. This four-month missionary training course was held in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
For the first month, all students and teachers resided at the Elim Heights Youth Camp, located about one hour’s drive from the AUC headquarters. This time was rather intense as the students went through the book “Gospel Workers” by E. G. White, also learnt how to research material and prepare Bible studies. The next three months of classes were at the Union Office at Schofields NSW, so instead of lodging at Elim Heights the students and cooks were placed in the homes of local families.
In Sydney there were a number of activities which took place during the missionary training program where the students were able to attend, help and enjoy; these were:
- Women’s Health Convention – NSW 12-14 February 2010
- Missionary Department Seminar – Schofields NSW – 26-28 February 2010
- Prophecy Seminar (In-house) – Schofields NSW 5-6 March 2010 – For the benefit of Sydney church members regarding importance of the Spirit of Prophecy.
- Stewardship Seminar – Schofields NSW – 9-11 April 2010 – David Zic
- Prophecy Seminar – Public Outreach – Baulkham Hills NSW – 7-16 May 2010.
- Vegetarian Cooking Demonstrations – Beaumont Hills 17-31 May 2010.
- NSW Field Conference and Graduation 11-13 June 2010.
They were also able to largely participate in the Victorian/Tasmanian Field Conference held 2-5 April 2010.
Teachers who took part in the training program were: Brethren P Lausevic, J Ciric, N Tyler, D Zic, N Brittain, A C Sas, J Voncina and Sr S Lausevic.
Apart from the spiritual food received, the students also enjoyed a beautiful lunch each day prepared by Sr Krystle Brown for the duration of the four month program with the exception of a 10-day raw food program taken by Sr Susan Lausevic.
10-Day Raw Food Program
While on their 10-day raw program at Elim Heights, Sr Susan Lausevic and Br Brittain covered many health related topics. The students also had many practical sessions where part of their learning was to prepare raw meals and green smoothies, apply massage, skin care and they were also able to have colonics (bowel cleansing).
The following student interviews give feedback of what each student gathered from this program. This was collected by Br Gerson Robles who was one of the students in the Training Program:
What led you to come to missionary training?
- Shelly Newman: “Well, ultimately it was God. I had made up my mind some time last year, that I wanted to change my life and actually do something for Him, and I didn’t know what so I was praying to Him about it and asking God to open the way and to show me what He wanted me to do. One day when I was at work, I was getting really desperate and I was praying to God and that evening Br. Peter Lausevic rang and asked me if I wanted to come to this college. I had never thought about it before. I never ever dreamed of doing this course and it was something I never wanted to do, so I said no straight away and told him that I was not interested. But then it hit me that this might be the answer because to do something for God you have to have training. I then realised that this was an opening door and that through this, God was answering my prayer. “
- Paulina Ramirez: “I felt kind of weird when people asked me what I believed in and I didn’t know how to answer them. So I thought about it and prayed about it and Peter introduced me to the school, and the next day I purchased my ticket and just asked God to help me through it!”
- Adriana Stefanescu: “So that I could learn how to do missionary work. When I was about 12 years old I decided I wanted to do missionary work and wanted to know how to do it in a more effective way. I was praying about it for a year and then I knew it was God’s will.”
What would you say to others who might or might not be considering coming to a future program?
- Shelly Newman: “That it is a most wonderful experience. I don’t think you could ever go wrong in coming to a course like this.”
- James Yeomans: “Definitely come, doesn’t matter what your experience is, this course will answer questions that you have. I strongly recommend it to strengthen your journey with the Lord. Aside from answering a lot of questions you may have, it pushes you out of your comfort zone, which is not a bad thing! Everyone needs to be pushed out of their comfort zone now and again. It’s just incredible to learn and to meet new friends that will be around for the rest of your life.”
- Nadine Cunningham: “Come and do it! Don’t let anything hold you back. You don’t have to be perfect to come. It’s a good experience.”
- Elisha Zujic: “It’s challenging! But if you really want to do it and you commit yourself to do it you will be surprised at what you can actually accomplish when you set your mind to it. I will never look back at the choice I made to come. I’ve learned so much, and to be able to share it with others and understand it for yourself is just so rewarding – I would never trade it for anything. It may seem like a hard task, but when you do it, it is a real blessing and it really does help you.”
- Gerson Robles: “Seriously consider coming! I hope every young person can attend. You will gain a rich experience and you will find that as you immerse yourself fulltime in God’s work through this training, you will find your place in God’s plan, whether in official capacity or on a voluntary basis in the church. You will find what area to concentrate on in the missionary field. I’ve had a great time!”
Out of everything you’ve learned so far, is there anything that stands out the most?
- Nadine Cunningham: “How much God is in control of everything and how much we need to exercise faith in Him. Br. John’s class really stood out to me on Church Administration – how we need to be faithful.”
How has this experience helped your spiritual walk with God?
- Nadine Cunningham: “It has made me to understand and confirm the fact that there is nothing we can do without Christ, because He is everything. It has made me stronger in the Lord to persevere through challenges and trials by not looking at myself but by putting my trust in God. It’s amazing because I’ve exercised more faith and perseverance here than I did back home. I don’t know how that worked out! But it’s certainly helped my character.”
- Elisha Zujic: “In a lot of ways; just to mention one though, to actually know how to study the Bible for yourself and understand why we believe the things we do really helps you. It changes your spiritual walk when you understand the reason of things better.”
- Paulina Ramirez: “It’s definitely strengthened it. I never used to really pray much until I found out that prayer is very essential to the soul and it’s to help us get closer to Christ. I’m trying to do my personal devotion everyday whereas before, worship was what I came close to and that was about it.”
- James Yeomans: “It’s been phenomenal! Where can I start? It’s been incredible! I’m eager to get into things now, like I’m eager to get to talk with people; whereas before I wasn’t willing to talk with people. I was only prepared to do leaflet distribution because I wasn’t confident in speaking to anyone. But now I have the confidence that comes through researching the Bible to take someone through a structured study and present the Word of God – and not my own opinion. The biggest thing I learned throughout this training is that to gain more faith, you need to read your Bible.”
- Adriana Stefanescu: “Once you’ve studied the truth for yourself and you know what you believe it really helps you. You actually begin to love the truth then, not like other times when you just read about it or hear others talking about it; rather than experiencing it. But when you study it for yourself and you put hard effort into it then you really love it. It’s also helped me to look at others in a different light and it’s definitely helped my spiritual growth. It’s also helped me to realise things that I hadn’t noticed before. The busy schedules have really helped me to value my personal time with God and although I was aware of this in the past, it has really become a reality to me now. God is more personal to me now.”
- Catherine Robles: “It’s confirmed me in the faith and doctrines that we have been able to study. It’s brought home to mind the fact that Jesus is coming soon and we really need to spread the message that we know because it’s a life and death message. This has helped me in my personal walk because I know that without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I can’t actually spread the message. So it’s really made me vow, basically, to make sure that Jesus is part of my life every minute and hour so I can share what I know.”
What is a normal day like at Missionary School?
- Nadine Cunningham: “It’s an 8 o’clock start so we have to be at class by about 7:45am. Class goes for 5 hours and we have a 2 hour break for lunch, then it’s either visiting or Bible studies and you get home about 10:00pm. Then you’re up at 6:00 the next day!”
Have you had an experience during training that stands out to you?
- James Yeomans: “The biggest experience I’ve seen is when I was at the Victoria Camp, where the Holy Spirit led me to bring a group of people together for a study and from that group of people that attended the study there could be a new group developing in Victoria. It was just amazing to see the Holy Spirit working!”
- Adriana Stefanescu: “How to research the Bible properly and to know how to present topics and to put them in a proper way. But I’ve especially enjoyed learning how to research the Bible. It’s also helped me to mingle with different sorts of people and know how to interact with people from various backgrounds”
A challenge you’ve faced during training?
- Elisha Zujic: “There have been a lot of challenges! There’s been a lot of tests, but after all you find out that when you put yourself to a challenge and you focus you find out that its actually quite doable. It’s been rather good to see that.”
For the Bible research class, how long did it take you to research (on average) the allocated topics?
- Gerson Robles: “On average, about 15 to 20 hours for each subject. We had limited time and we knew that there was more research we could do. But we got enough research done to formulate an outline for a half hour presentation.”
How have you appreciated the thorough method of Bible research?
- Gary Southwell: “Well that’s an eye opener because I always thought that the two or three witnesses is all you need to come to a solid answer and it seemed a waste of time to go into all the in-depth research because time is so short. But I realise now that it is not a waste of time at all to get to the bottom of the subject. You really need to look at all the evidence, and you really need to dig deep. Dig deep before you can reach out. Fully understand the subject, rather than skimming the surface. So this has been an incredible help – to learn how to dig deep. With this method it’s unusual to get less than 20 pages of research for any given topic – but computers these days make it so easy. So once we have a thorough understanding of the subject we can highlight important points that stand out to share with others, but it’s important to have that deep knowledge of the subject.”
All nine students were able to graduate on 12 June 2010. Five of them will also be participating in the evangelist outreach in Geneva during July and August 2010 and one will go to the PNG Evangelical Outreach.
May God bless the students as they disperse to go to various places, may they feel strengthened by the spiritual time they spent at the missionary training program and be able to share the truth more freely with others.