Being shaped by international mission with Shirley Mesquita


Being shaped by international mission with Shirley Mesquita

“But God was talking directly to my heart and showing his presence and his love for me on something that I was praying, and he was telling me, I’m here with you, and I’m helping you to have that contentment and be thankful.”

From Brazil to Australia for ministry

Christ College student Shirley Mesquita moved to Australia from Brazil around a year ago. In Brazil, Shirley had been working as a missionary for Power to Change (called Cru in Brazil) for two years, when she felt the call to minister to international students in cross-cultural ministry. 

Power to Change is a global organisation with the purpose of helping to fulfil the Great Commission in the power of the Holy Spirit by winning people to faith in Jesus Christ, building them in their faith and sending them to win and build others. Cru has ministries all around the world, including many campus ministries. 

Through her work with Power to Change, Shirley moved to Australia to undertake international student ministry at Sydney University. 

Once settled in Sydney, Shirley was keen to undertake some theological study. She shares, “When I was in Brazil, I took some theological classes, but I really wanted to get a formal education in theology because of my job as a missionary, and also to grow in my relationship with God.”

Shirley chose Christ College to do her study because as a Presbyterian in Brazil, she was looking to get an education from a Reformed, Presbyterian College. 

Settling into college and community

When starting college, and even as she meets more people, Shirley feels very included and welcomed. Currently, she is studying one subject with the intention to enrol in the Master of Divinity in the future. Studying part-time hasn’t stopped her from getting involved in the college community though! 

She says, “I really love the structure that Christ College has. It’s people-oriented. We have lunch together on Wednesday, we have chapel time, and we have pastoral care groups. I really love that sense of the professors and everybody caring for the students and they promote that environment where we can get together and encourage each other.”

Overseas again, for a different mission

Each year as part of their study, Christ College students partake in a week-long mission to a different church and context. Shirley was part of a group of eight, who crossed the ocean to do mission in Auckland, New Zealand. 

Shirley says, “We were there for one week to help support two local churches there and also for the team to get trained in ministry skills. We did some activities with women, and also with children or other people, [including] visiting a nursing home.”

During their time there, one of Shirley’s most impactful experiences actually came from time spent as a team. One of her fellow students was set to preach on the last Sunday of the mission, and in between activities in the week preceding, they practised preaching their sermon to the group. 

Shirley shares, “Basically throughout the whole week we were discussing this message, this verse in the Bible that talked about being satisfied in God, and finding contentment and being thankful about everything.”

This idea of being content and thankful in God was something Shirley had personally been praying for a lot through 2023. She reflects, “I was going through a hard time in the weeks before [mission], and then God brought this team to be talking about the same thing throughout the whole week as we were helping a friend. But God was talking directly to my heart and showing his presence and his love for me on something that I was praying, and he was telling me, I’m here with you, and I’m helping you to have that contentment and be thankful.”

In addition to this personal encouragement, Shirley also describes having interesting and sometimes challenging conversations with church leaders in Auckland. As they engaged with these leaders and their contexts, the team experienced a lot of self-reflection to consider ministry practice, and ask themselves; what comes from being too radical or too conservative, and what comes from God’s Word.

The ministry workers they met and the churches they worked with were also a huge encouragement. Shirley shares, “It was very special to be connected to local churches there and see how diverse they are, and how the pastors work. There was one particular pastor called Lenny, and it was very encouraging to me to see how he was so involved with the community and so passionate about his church.” 

Learning and growing from mission

Being alongside her fellow students and the local church workers for a whole week of ministry reminded Shirley of the importance of teaching God’s Word. Seeing the preparation and thoughtfulness that others on the trip put into their Bible teaching, was a helpful reminder for Shirley in her day-to-day ministry as a Power to Change Campus Worker at Sydney Uni. 

The design of the mission trip was also a great benefit to Shirley and helped her in her current ministry and study, and is helping her in the future of her study. She says, “It was very important to be on a team and learn from the perspective of each other. People are in different stages of, degrees and experiences studying. That was very encouraging to me to see the challenges that they have faced and that I might be facing in the future. Also, the fact that we had the professors join the mission trip as well and they spent a lot of time with us just processing things together. It was a lot of learning how to do ministry in that context. We were practising things that we learned at college.”


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