A heart for sharing the gospel with those in need
Frances and Sander Brouwer are a married couple who both started studying at Christ College this year, 2022. They met in 2015 when they were both doing relief work in South Sudan. Even before they began dating, they shared a desire to equip themselves for life and work as Christians through theological training.
Knowing Christ personally
By the grace of God, and faithful witness of God’s people, there has never been a time in Frances’ life where she hasn’t known God. She says, “it’s through the faithful witness of my parents [as I was] growing up, and seeing them serving as missionaries in a remote part of Papua New Guinea [that I came to know Christ].” Frances’ faith was also shaped by the witness of the church community she was a part of in Papua New Guinea and also in Australia when they returned.
God has also been gracious to Frances through difficulties. . She shares, “In my early twenties I spent a significant period in doubt, and in the years since then God has been so gracious in confirming His goodness and His truth, and convicting me of my sin.”
Like Frances, Sander grew up in a Christian family and recalls always believing God existed. Although he didn’t doubt God’s existence, Sander did walk away from following God in his early adulthood. He says, “I didn’t want to give Him authority in my life…I wanted a taste of what the world had to offer.”
However God wasn’t done with Sander yet, and when he was 28, Sander experienced a turning point. He shares, “Sadly I lost a younger brother to suicide, and in the time around that I really became aware of the presence of God in my life and my need for Him.” Through that experience and more, Sander describes God showing Himself in his life and turning him around. Sander says he learnt, “to have God on the throne of my heart rather than myself.”
Pursuing theological education
Going to Bible college was a decision Frances and Sander made together, quite early on in their relationship. Sander says, “We talked about it as something we were interested in, and when we got married we decided to do Bible college together.”
First they did six months of study in 2018 at Tyndale Theological Seminary in Amsterdam, before returning to Australia and eventually starting at Christ College in 2022.
Their desire to do theological study stemmed from their work in South Sudan, where they both encountered the people’s physical and spiritual needs first-hand. Frances says, “I saw the need for the gospel to transform lives in a holistic way. For example, part of my work involved caring for children who were severely malnourished and unwell.” In this work while sometimes they could save these children, sometimes they couldn’t. In these darkest moments the hope of Jesus was all the more clear and close for Frances.
This need for people to know and trust Jesus was also clear to Sander in his humanitarian work. He says, “I struggled a bit with the paradigm that we worked in, in the humanitarian world, which is basically, ‘the problem is drinking water, or lack of education or lack of health care’, and if we solve that we have solved their problems.”
Having always been drawn to mercy ministries, Sander saw theological education as a way to further equip him to serve God in these places where His Gospel of hope and life was so needed.
Their experience as Christ College students
After moving back to Australia in 2019 and a season of seeking God’s direction for their lives, Frances and Sander were deliberate in choosing what college to attend. Sander says, “We consciously chose a college that was under the authority of the church as we wanted to study with a focus on the church and in a church context.”
Frances says they had a great experience applying and starting at Christ College. She shares, “We had a very positive application process. I found the college to be very supportive.”
So far they have both been enjoying their experience at Christ College. Frances says, “We have really enjoyed the staff at Christ College, their faithfulness and their warmth. The quality of the teaching as well is great. Personally I’m learning a lot through the class that I’m doing. And I also appreciate the intentional way that the college seeks to build community.”
Sander shares, “I’ve really been enjoying the classes. It’s all very well organised and I like that there’s kind of a high energy atmosphere.” The practical nature of the teaching at Christ College has also stood out for him. He says, “There is a bit of application as well. It’s not just looking at the material academically, but also what does it mean for our lives and how do we apply it for instance, to preaching and teaching? So it’s very practical and really with an eye to serving this church and serving the kingdom.”
Looking to the future
With only one term of study down, Frances and Sander are still open to where God will take them. They are both still drawn to working in mercy ministries, and see the need for the Gospel and the local church in South Sudan and other similar places, however know God will use them as He sees fit.
Sander says, “We want to be open to other things that God may be leading us in, and to be active in looking at opportunities and exploring them. It’s both looking back at the experience and the skills that God has given us and looking forward prayerfully to how we can use that.”
To help more students like Frances and Sander study at Christ College, please consider partnering with us financially. By giving to the scholarship fund at Christ College, you help students who would otherwise not have had access to high-level theological education, be trained for mission and ministry around the world.