From Hobart to Sydney: A Family’s Journey to Christ College


From Hobart to Sydney: A Family’s Journey to Christ College

Why would a man, his wife and their four young kids squeeze their lives into a van and a few suitcases, then move from Hobart to Sydney? To study at Christ College, of course.

For Shaun Doyle, it’s been a long time coming.

Shaun became a Christian at the age of 16. One of his school friends invited him to a youth group, where he gave his life to Christ. From that point on he became invested in his local church.

After finishing his undergraduate degree, Shaun’s plan was to head straight into full-time ministry. He hoped to undertake an MTS Apprenticeship, followed by theological training. Then he took a different path.

“I got to the end of my degree and felt like I wasn’t ready for ministry,” Shaun explains. “I thought I needed some more life experience—a little bit more growing up.”

So Shaun went back to uni to train as a high school teacher.

A few years later, while teaching at a Christian school, Shaun still felt dissatisfied. He wanted to do more when it came to discipling the kids.

“That was always a bit of a frustration for me, and I still felt that call towards ministry,” he says.

Shaun still didn’t feel it was the right time, though. He and his wife, Isabel, had three young children under the age of five years old—and then three became four.

“I kept having discussions with my pastor. I wanted to know how I could become a candidate and how I could get to Bible College,” Shaun shares. “The main thing he kept saying to me was, ‘I need to see that you can preach. Not just a one-off, I need to see that you can back it up and preach a series. You need to know what that’s like before you commit to this.’”

Shaun wanted to do this, but there was no way it could happen. He was working full-time with four young children.

“Eventually I got to the point where I said, ‘Look, nothing’s going to change if I stay in this job. I need to make a change.’ So I applied for a year of leave without pay.”

During that year, Shaun worked part-time as a relief teacher. He spent the rest of his time working for the church on a voluntary basis.

“God really blessed us through that time,” Shaun shares. “I was able to preach a series of sermons and by God’s grace it went well. I loved the work getting into that deep study and application of the Bible. Being able to communicate God’s own word to people was exhilarating!”

Shaun felt confirmation that this was the right path for him. During the course of the year, the Presbytery of Derwent accepted him as a candidate.

“That was very important to me, because I wanted their affirmation, so that I wasn’t just doing this off my own back,” Shaun says. “I didn’t want to go as a lone ranger, but someone who the church also was saying, ‘Yes, we believe you’re gifted for this and you’re doing the right thing.’”

When it came to choosing a Bible College, Shaun says he was drawn to the philosophy of Christ College: ‘Christ for all of life.’

“I love that, because I want to be someone that helps Christians find their way to do what Christ is calling us to do,” Shaun says, “to get on with making disciples in whatever way they can—in whatever sphere of life they’re in.”

A few weeks ago Shaun and his eldest son left Hobart via the Spirit of Tasmania. His wife and three younger children flew up a few days later.

“We just took what we could fit in our Kia Carnival and our luggage,” Shaun says.

It’s still very early days, but Shaun is loving it so far. The family is settling into an apartment on campus in Burwood. Shaun is already grateful for the college community.

“We’ve had an instant community here at the college,” he says. “It’s been lovely. The kids have already been to a birthday party!”

Shaun will tell you that Bible College is demanding but amazing in equal measure.

“There’s a lot of reading to do, there’s a lot of vocab to learn, but it’s all exciting stuff. Actually, it’s mind-blowing. Like being a kid in a candy store.”

Shaun and Isabel are looking forward to seeing God will use them in the years to come.

“We’ll wait and see where the needs are. See what opportunities God brings across our path. Four years is a long time at Bible College!”


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