Equipped for Cross-Cultural Ministry
Rob Falls works at Talua Theological Training Institute in Vanuatu, teaching and discipling the next generation of gospel workers and church leaders for most of the Protestant churches in Vanuatu.
His interest in this ministry came about after attending a short-term mission trip to Vanuatu. Rob was doing a ministry apprenticeship with the University of Sydney Evangelical Union when he got the opportunity to explore cross-cultural ministry and take part in the mission trip.
The choice to study at Christ College
Rob says that during the apprenticeship, he felt God was telling him he needed to work in cross-cultural mission or ministry in a full time capacity.
When Rob and his wife El decided they wanted to pursue ministry further, they began to look at theological colleges that they could study at.
Rob says “We ended up choosing Christ College because of the staff and the faculty at the college. The other reason is we were thinking about cross-cultural missionary work, and at that point at least 75% of the faculty had served as missionaries overseas.”
“Murray Smith was mentoring us and we knew Ian Smith too, and we just knew how pastorally hearted they were. They were the type of guys who we knew and loved and wanted to be like, and we thought if we could come out at the end of college, anything like them, then it would’ve been a really great time at college.”
Rob says that as he was thinking about working in the Presbyterian church, it was important for the college he studied at to be able to support that. Christ College offered subjects that were compatible with ministry in the Presbyterian church.
Subjects and course load
“I studied the Masters of Divinity and Graduate Diploma of Divinity four year program,” says Rob.
The course included studying both the Greek and Hebrew languages, which Rob found really helpful to be able to study the Bible in its original languages. He was also able to study a leadership program, and take on a major project and an integration project to really dig deep into research.
“The key takeaway of the whole program was it helped me to have a very deep and rich understanding of God’s word and the Bible, and a really clear understanding of reformed theology. This is an essential foundation for what I’m doing and teaching over in Vanuatu. But the other key thing is that they had a real emphasis on knowing yourself,” Rob shares.
On Campus life
Rob says that when it came to the course work, the expectation and teaching was far more in depth than anything he had experienced previously at university. Rob enjoyed being able to study face-to-face on campus and build relationships with the faculty and the other students.
“When you finish class, you’re having morning tea and lunch all the while you’re discussing with faculty and staff how the realities and the depths of what we’re studying actually integrates and connects with, on the ground ministry,” Rob says.
There were also subjects available to Rob that were integrated with internships he was undertaking at church. The assessments for the internships were based on what Rob was doing at his church at the time. “I launched a new youth group and that was connected with assessments that I’d done at college and, and mentoring and training that I’d done through college,” he says.
“Everyone knew what ministry I was involved in. Everyone knew what my interests were post-college and so could speak and orient my thinking in preparation for what I was planning to do post-college, because they all knew me and knew me quite well.”
Rob is currently enrolled at Christ College and undertaking a Masters of Theology in research. After finishing this degree Rob, El and their family are returning to continue working in Vanuatu at Talua.
He credits Christ College for equipping him so well in cross-cultural ministry.
“So that really strong emphasis on knowing yourself in Christ has been incredibly foundational and important for the cross-cultural missionary work that we’re doing in Vanuatu. They have a real emphasis on knowing God and his word, having the skills to preach and pastor to anyone from any culture.”
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