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CMS QNNSW Summer School 2022 Online

Summer School is the culmination of months of planning, days of work, and hours of preparation. Its entire purpose is to bring God’s people together for fellowship, Bible teaching and sharing our collective hearts for cross-cultural mission.

Always knowing that it was a possibility that COVID could thwart our plans, we pressed on and committed Summer School to prayer as preparations began.

When COVID cases started to rise in Queensland at the start of January 2022, CMS QNNSW made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person conference and instead pull together a shortened online version.

Although this wasn’t our Plan A or B, God’s faithfulness was evident at every step. Once again God demonstrated that He can use any means to bring people closer to himself and to challenge and encourage them.

Behind the scenes: setting up filming for Peter Sholl’s (right) interview with Mark Fairhurst (left).

A shared heart for our missionaries

M who serves in the Middle East was preparing to venture up to Queensland from Northern New South Wales when she got the call that Summer School was cancelled.

As a missionary who serves in a secure location, M relies heavily on face-to-face time with her supporters to share her story.

But (with the help of the tech team and some password protected technology) M was able to share her heart for the Middle East, and with it, shone a new light on the people she held dear for all those watching.

Following a series of stories about women she had grown close to in her location, M shared how weakness was, for them, an abhorrent concept. But why?

M went on to explain:

“In an effort to help me and my flat mate navigate the culture, my [local] friend said ‘Never show your weakness because if you do, it might seem like you don’t have enough faith, God will punish you, and others will judge you’. Showing weakness is considered an unfaithful response. Muslims consider that our trials are tests that we have to pass. They are tests from God, and to be considered a believer you have to pass the test.”

In a context that recoils at the idea of weakness M shared how she had wondered how to speak ‘salty’ words (see Colossians 4:6) into these conversations with her friends.

“I have a strange offering in the midst of all this and it’s not a comfortable offering for my friends or me,” she observed.

“When they get to know me, they see a woman who is a picture of weakness. Let’s face it, I don’t begin with high credentials. To start with I’m a single woman from a western country. If I was married and had children, my reputation wouldn’t be quite so dicey.”

“But added to that, they see a follower of Jesus who doesn’t have it all together. They hear that I’m weak, sinful and I weep. That I can’t do life without God’s strength and help!”

M said she believed that Jesus displaying weakness made many in her location uncomfortable. Looking to show Jesus’ strength in his chosen weakness she continued to explain how her weakness points others to Jesus.

“When I express my weakness, I point them to our God who chose weakness to identify with us. The irony is that I come with a message that has weakness at its core, the very thing my friends run from.” .

“Our saviour chose weakness to enter our world as a baby. To have growing pains, acne. He chose weakness to go from village to village, being rejected, scorned and eventually killed. In choosing weakness, Jesus showed strength and honour.”

A change of plans, a new opportunity

Grant Kennedy was one of the 476 people registered to attend Summer School 2022.

Each year his church, Sojourn Bible Church, make Summer School their annual camp. They look forward to the Bible teaching and learning about and being challenged by cross-cultural mission.

Faced with a change of plans, Grant’s church quickly pulled together Sojourn Bible Church Summer School. It consisted of family activities by day and watching Summer School online by night.

Kennedy family: Grant (pictured front) with his wife Amelia and kids, Elijah (1), Hailey (7) and Levi (4). The Kennedy family are long time attendees of Summer School.

“We were really disappointed when Summer School was cancelled, and kids from the church were among some of the most disappointed so our program had fun things to do during the day and we gathered at each other’s homes during the nights to watch the livestream,” he said.

“It’s always a big part of Summer School to have the Bible teaching and mission spots and it was great to have them in this way.”

Wanting to expose the church to as much mission content as possible, Sojourn heard from their resident missionaries at their Sunday morning church service: R from Eurasia and Elle who is going to St Andrew’s Hall for semester one.

Sojourn dinner—from left to right: Esther, Heather, Ben, Elle. Esther and Elle put on a Japanese curry and had a chat about Elle’s plans to be a missionary in Japan before tuning into the CMS Livestream.

One missionary segment in particular had a huge impact on Grant and those in his lounge room.

“A highlight of the program for me was M’s segment about life and ministry in the Middle East. I think everyone in our home had their eyes glued to the screen when she shared.”

“It was really eye opening how you have to guard against vulnerability and how that’s frowned upon, which conflicts so much with western values and even what corporate values talk about in the west.”

Did you miss CMS QNNSW Summer School Online? The Bible talks are available online now.

PRAY

Pray for missionaries who are in cultures that see weakness and vulnerability as something to be ashamed of. Help the people living in those cultures to understand Jesus’ strength in dying on the cross for us and their salvation.