First we are introduced to Karl Sinclair who is 26 years of age and studying for the Roman Catholic Priesthood in which requires of life of discipline, no sex, no wealth, no hedonistic pleasures and obedience to a Bishop.
Second we meet Kate Lohmann 25, a Morling College student (NSW Baptist – the largest seminary in the nation with well over 700 students). Surprisingly, Baptists, although commonly regarded as being strict, have an amazing amount of personal freedom as they have a theology of soul liberty – conscience, not rules.
Third we meet Paul Avis 27, a student Minister at Trinity Macquarie Church who does not have to take vows of chastity, rather his choices related more to whether he wanted to go down the path of a continuing career with the ABC or whether the Call from the Lord upon his life was of greater influence.
In all three situations, Karl Sinclair the Roman Catholic Priest to be, the young woman Kate Lohmann training for Baptist ministry or Paul Avis learning the role of becoming an Anglican Rector (Vicar), it had little to do with those outward aspects of life as a young person.
Rather for all three, there was an inner conviction from the Lord that nothing could deter, it was to do with a Calling, a voice from the Holy Spirit into the inner sanctums of their hearts and souls that directed them to their current ministry training roles.
A centuries old story
This is the same story that has applied to ministers and missionaries for centuries and its verified from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The story of Elisha in the Old Testament is such a classic example, and that the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.
In the later part of the first century, some sixty years after the resurrection of Jesus, Justin a brilliant academic was walking along a beach pondering the philosophies of the day and someone came and walked beside him and explained the way of the Lord. It changed his life. The call of the Lord enveloped him and was eventually martyred, hence Justin Martyr.
John Wesley became a Church of England minister as a career path holding to the tenants of the Christian beliefs and then he met some Moravian missionaries who conveyed that Christian faith is heart and soul not necessarily mind and intellect and he wrote in his journal that his 'heart was strangely warmed'. It changed his life and become the centre of English Christian evangelism with his preaching and historians verify saved England from a French Revolution.
So today with story after story, life after life, that the Lord touches in a Calling to Christian service. Their stories are heart throbbing, they challenge the very sinews of our being as the Lord challenges out hearts and souls. Sean and Sue Spencer who visit the missionaries who visit the Laguna Quays Respite cottage report how their hearts burned within them as the stories are recounted. So too with us as we hear such.
No easy row to hoe
Christian Ministry is no easy roe to hoe as there are always dramas and troubles when dealing with people and their needs – other's hearts and souls, their shattered dreams, their heartaches, family issues, business failures, financial collapse - all of life's many challenges.
Moreover, like an organisation in which we all live and function, Church politics is no different to the politics of the office, the work place, the sport club, welfare groups, party politics – and leaders have to deal with such issues in the churches and in missions as elsewhere. This is part of the reason why Denominations want to see their theological applicants to have had some work-life experience.
But once with the Call it is very difficult to be uncalled – the inner urge of Christian service is so great and so demanding that almost nothing will deter someone with such a serious Call to be deterred. But there is sickness, ill health, stress, politics that will send some to the wall and the only relief is to get out or take a rest away.
Talk to a hundred ministers and missionaries and you'll get a hundred different responses as to how they dealt with all these hic-ups in Christian ministry.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html