Crossing the ocean to be equipped in ministry with John Young

Originally from New Zealand, John Young and his family moved to Australia to study at Christ College. Before pursuing vocational ministry, John studied and worked as a chemical engineer. 

Having the legacy of his father’s work as a minister before him, John describes the path to ministry as one God kept putting before him. He says, “God just kept bringing it up in my life. It felt like an unanswered question that I hadn’t faced.”

The call to work in ministry 

John enjoyed his work as an engineer and the path of management he was going down in his career, but it felt like something was missing. He was encountering peoples issues in his job, but his role limited how he could impact them. John reflects, “Rather than being able to do anything to help people in those situations I just had to get them back to work. I wanted to do something that was going to be more meaningful.”

John’s church minister, John van Rij from Grace Presbyterian Church in Invercargill, New Zealand, also encouraged him to consider ministry. Although initially he and his wife Stephanie brushed off the idea, over time God continued putting ministry work on their hearts. John shares, “A few years later [John] asked us again, and our thinking had sort of changed. We thought – we’re probably going to do it.” 

Having decided that ministry was their path, John and Stephanie decided to move to Australia to attend Christ College in Burwood. While the move to Sydney from Invercargill was a big one, they were keen to go to a college that would give them quality education, and on others’ recommendations Christ College was the right fit!

From New Zealand to studying at Christ College Australia

John says they knew Christ College would be right for them after talking to college principal Ian Smith, “I liked the vision that they had for training pastors, and how they integrated practice and theory.”

The move from New Zealand to Australia was also made much smoother with the help of Christ College staff. They organised a suitable apartment for John and his family, helped them get their belongings there and provided them opportunities to get connected with people in Sydney right away. John shares, “We were even able to have a barbecue with people the first night that we arrived, we didn’t really know anyone in Sydney at all. So it was nice just having sort of a network right from the start, people of similar ages and stages and stuff.”

During his time studying the college, John has particularly appreciated the smaller class sizes and close community. He reflects, “I have enjoyed getting to know everyone quite quickly and getting a bit more small group time with lecturers and other students is really good.”

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays after class, all the students sit down to enjoy lunch together, a time John says is extremely helpful both for community and for education. He shares, “I really enjoy the time just being able to sit down and talk to people that you hadn’t hadn’t talked to, or people outside of your classes and see what they’re learning in their classes.” Building relationships with those ahead of him in study gives John the opportunity to learn from their knowledge and experience too.

As he continues with his degree, John has started to do Leadership Units with Jonathan Pratt. He says, “They’ve been really good for starting to think about what it might look like to lead in churches.” This is of particular interest to John as he look to the future.

John and his family intend to return to New Zealand after he finishes his study, so he can be a pastor in the Presbyterian Church there. John shares, “Christ College has been really good at supporting us through that process. They’ve been encouraging of us going back to New Zealand and wanting to equip us for that, and wanting to build sort of that partnership with the churches in New Zealand as well.” This mission world focus rather than pressure for their immediate context is also something John loves about Christ College.

For others looking at studying at the college, John recommends it overall. He says, “The faculty are all really quality people, both pastorally and in the fact that they know their stuff and are very well-respected. They’re very humble and willing to talk, think through things and discuss it with you.” He also loves the facilities and studies in the library every day. 

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