Helping overseas students fulfil their calling to be bringers of the good news for more than 20 years, the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA), in cooperation with the Australian Lutheran College (ALC), have awarded over 100 scholarships in that time. In offering scholarships to overseas students, the LCA are contributing a great gift to extending […]
Helping overseas students fulfil their calling to be bringers of the good news for more than 20 years, the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA), in cooperation with the Australian Lutheran College (ALC), have awarded over 100 scholarships in that time. In offering scholarships to overseas students, the LCA are contributing a great gift to extending God’s kingdom by helping to train ‘workers for the harvest’ through studies at the ALC.
Each year, the ALC hosts 3 to 4 overseas students for varying lengths of time as they study theological courses in Adelaide. Scholarships are offered to pastors and teachers from our overseas partner churches in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Sabah in order to help them build the theological capacity of these churches.
The benefits are manifold: simultaneously developing our relationships with our partner churches, enriching the learning experience for all seminary students with cross-cultural perspectives, and enabling overseas pastors and church workers to teach and share the gospel with the people in their own countries and communities. Recipients go back to their own countries to become significant Christian leaders and teachers among their own people.
There are several ways in which the scholarships are awarded. The LCA works church to church, and therefore the scholarships are organised in conjunction with the leaders of the partner churches from Singapore, Malaysia, Paua New Guinea, Indonesia, Thailand and Sabah. Sometimes there will be direct requests for support of this kind from the bishops of the churches with which the LCA has an ongoing partnership. Some are also awarded to people who lecture at the various seminaries of the partner churches, or to prepare people for these roles in the future. They are supported to achieve further qualifications through the ALC (for example, to get their Masters in Education). The LCA also supports in-country scholarships.
In the case of our partnership with Indonesia, the LCA has a rolling list to support a scholarship recipient from each of the sic Indonesian partner churches for a three-month stay in Adelaide. During this time, the recipient undertakes courses at ALC, may choose to study English courses (offered locally in North Adelaide or at various English language centres in the city), visits and worships with Lutheran congregations, and gains an understanding of ministry in the churches of the LCA.
The current scholarship holder is Rev Timothy Kising from Balob Teachers College in Lae, Papua New Guinea. Pastor Timothy is studying for his Masters. At the beginning of 2010, Rev Maurids Simoamora 0 the General Secretary of the Gereja Kristen Protestant Indonesia Church – was also at the ALC on a three-month study scholarship. Bishop Philip Lok of the Lutheran Church of Malaysia, Singapore, has been offered a distance education scholarship with the ALC and has spent a short time at the ALC to commence this scholarship.
Wye Tyng (Jess) Vun returned home to Sabah, Malaysia in December 2009 after completing her Masters in Christian Education at ALC. The costs for her scholarship were shared together with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bavaria. Jess has been appointed as pastor of the English congregation in Kota Kinabalu and is also a part-time lecturer a Sabah Theologica Seminary.
Before the scholarship holder comes to Australia, they are sent information about their scholarship and how they will be supported while in Australia. When the recipients arrive, they are given a short orientation of the local area as well as being taken to visit the local congreations.
The LCA pays for the majority of the scholarship holder’s costs except for minor incidentals.
Dr Dean Zweck is the current scholarship support contact at ALC, helping the recipients to settle into the academic side of life at the college, and inviting them to various relevant meetings, such as pastors’ conferences. Recipients are also often invited to speak at schools and conferences. One highlight for 2010 was an Asia/Pacific Conference – with Indonesian, Australian Aboriginal and Papua New Guinean representatives counted amongst many.
The LCA also engages others to assist the scholarship holders to settle in socially. For example, to take the recipients sight-seeing, or invite them around for dinner. Mark and Marion Schubert are some such helpers, becoming ‘tourists’ in their own city to give scholarship holders a taste of South Australia.
As you can see the cross-cultural benefit of awarding these scholarships to overseas students is immeasurable. As usual, giving brings its own rewards. We learn so much about their society and churches and gain insights into our own, while further equipping overseas pastors and church workers to teach others in their own countries.
Although our cultural backgrounds are so different, we are constantly surprised by how easily we share and get along with each other. Being in the family of the church, we are all God’s children, sharing similar experiences of the problems of our sinful human natures and broken societies. But we also share grace, the gift of our Father’s love and acceptance through Jesus; and the Spirit, working faith, love and joy in us. We give thanks to God for the past opportunities we have had to join him in his fellowship and in the extension of his kingdom, and ask you to join us in praying for more ‘workers for the harvest’.
If you would like to know more about opportunities to personally support a scholarship recipient in your congregation during their stay in Australia, or ways in which you can financially and prayerfully support LCA International Mission’s scholarship program, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more stories about LCA International Mission scholarships at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/scholarships/