Most Friday mornings I hear a wonderful sound: the Skype ringtone. It announces that Pastor Hans Giegere is calling me for our weekly supervised reading session. From my office in Walla Walla, situated in the rural farming district of the Riverina New South Wales, I hear how Hans is going and we discuss an article […]
Most Friday mornings I hear a wonderful sound: the Skype ringtone. It announces that Pastor Hans Giegere is calling me for our weekly supervised reading session. From my office in Walla Walla, situated in the rural farming district of the Riverina New South Wales, I hear how Hans is going and we discuss an article or book chapter we have read before our call.
Pastor Hans lives 3000 kilometres away in Lae, Papua New Guinea (PNG), where he serves with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG). As well as leading the evangelism department, Hans is studying within the Masters program at Martin Luther Seminary. As part of this course, the program coordinator, Australian Lutheran Mick Hauser has arranged for each student to be paired with a pastor to undertake a supervised reading unit.
The Skype meetings with Hans began after I received an email out of the blue from Mick: ‘We are trying something new for some of our students here and are looking for teachers who are open to using technology to facilitate learning,’ his email read. I was intrigued, and having recently started my own Masters study in the field of missional leadership, I thought I would register my interest.
The Skype meetings with Hans began in Semester 1, 2020. Since then we have met most weeks during school term, even during COVID-19 lockdowns, for 45 minutes to an hour. We agree on a journal article or book chapter to discuss at the following session. Arising from each reading, we share new ideas, things that challenged us, and things we question or disagree with.
An important aspect of this supervised reading unit is helping the student develop academic-level, critical-thinking skills. We have read articles and books on the subjects of biblical and Lutheran theology of mission, missional hermeneutics (reading the Bible with “missional eyes”), and the history of missions.
I laugh each time I think back to Mick’s email asking for a ‘suitably qualified pastor or teacher.’ I’m not sure I’ve been a very good teacher, because I don’t think teachers are supposed to enjoy and learn so much through the process! I would hazard a guess that I have learnt substantially more than Hans during our meetings. Not only do I learn through our readings and discussions, I have learnt about Melanesian culture, I have learnt that God has been at work throughout our checkered human history, in and through and despite us, and I have learnt that God is still at work all over the world today.
Likewise, Pastor Hans recently commented how he, too, has appreciated the mutual learning times. ‘My understanding of mission has broadened,’ he said recently as he reflected on our most recent book chapter. ‘Before, I had a very narrow view of mission, but now I see it differently. It is God’s mission, and he is at work in everything.’
God’s mission is to bring forgiveness and reconciliation to the entire creation through Jesus Christ. While specific for each person, this mission is also universal, touching all things in all creation. As disciples of Christ (a ‘disciple’ is literally a ‘learner’) we are all still learning about the breadth and depth of God’s mission. Hans and I have certainly grown to become learners together in mission.
This story was also published in the August 2021 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to https://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/
Read more stories about volunteering at https://www.lcamission.org.au/category/join-gods-mission/volunteers/