When people (occasionally) ask me what St Thomas does by way of social action I say “just follow some of our members this week”. And what I mean by that is that we may not have a soup kitchen open on the street corner but the individual believers take up opportunities to serve in a thousand different ways.
Two of our members are Jonathan and Kath Morris. They wouldn’t consider themselves to be any better than others in the church but they have taken up an opportunity to serve Jesus Christ in a completely different way for six months – a way that is costly but also exciting.
I thought it would be good to ask them some questions to see how God stretches people and also how a “door” has opened up to make a real contribution overseas that we can all be part of….
- Can you tell us what you normally do in Sydney and where you normally live?
We both work at Royal North Hospital, Jonathan as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Kath as a sonographer. We live in Longueville.
- And where are you living for the second half of 2019 and what prompted the move?
Since May we have been in Arusha, Tanzania. The sudden, unexpected death of our son Marcus prompted us to re-evaluate our lives and priorities.
- St Thomas has a link missionary nearby (Joshua Lesinko – working with the Masai people) – have you seen him a few times and are you becoming friends?
We are very thankful for the opportunity to get to know Joshua who we have seen both in his church setting and in our home in Arusha. He is a warm, humble, personable, godly man who we, like so many, are privileged to call a friend.
- Tell us about the hospital where you are serving – and how different is it from a good Sydney hospital?
The hospital, established by Andrew Browning, provides maternity and fistula care for the poorest and most marginalised of women. The difference from Sydney hospitals is that God is not only present but at the very centre of the hospital. We start every morning with devotions at 7.30am and before every operation there is the call “tuombe” – let us pray.
- And your accommodation – what is that like and what are you missing (and not missing)?
The accommodation is clean, comfortable and on site. We have a spare room and have hosted a number of visitors, we miss our boys, our home group, those with whom we fellowship, our friends dropping in – but not the inexorable busyness of life in Sydney. Busy is not a word heard here.
- Have you been able to serve the people using your gifts – and in what ways?
At work in the hospital our professional skills have been appreciated greatly, staff, women and families have been thankful – some who’s lives have been saved. We have joined a local house church and after Jonathan gave the message -he was asked whether he was a pastor “because you know the bible so well”.
- Now something that excites you (and us) is the opportunity to build a school – where would it be built and for whom – and why would it be a help there?
The school will be built outside Engaruka, for the local Maasai children. Many do not go to school and those that do walk up to 6 hours to reach the nearest, often to do only an hours schooling.
- In Sydney terms (very roughly) how much will this venture cost?
The vision is for a primary and secondary school, the estimated total cost to build over the next 5-10 years is $AUD1M.
- Tell us your thoughts on a name for the school and also the name for a chapel in the school?
The school will be named St Thomas’s and the chapel will be named after Marcus.
- What religions predominate in the area? Are people very open to the news of Jesus Christ?
Maasai are pastoralists and believe in a God that gives them their cattle, which are the currency of success and status. The Maasai are very receptive to the gospel – those at Munguishi Bible School in Arusha, where Kay Clark (Michael’s mother) was the Principal 10 years ago, have commented how it is the Maasai who are most thirsty for the good news of Christ. If the chiefs come to Christ, whole villages follow.
- You are collecting supporters for the school – do you hope it will do more than educate young people in basic (secular) lessons?
The school will be a Christian school run under the auspices of the Diocese of Kilimanjaro – children will learn about Jesus and read scripture and each day will begin with devotions . We plan a guesthouse on site which we pray can be a place that teams of youth from St Thomas’s and its associated church plants can visit to assist with building, maintenance and evangelism.
- There is a dinner planned for 21 SEPTEMBER AT ST THOMAS’ in two weeks – how can people join the dinner?
Bookings can be made at https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=539365&
We are grateful for all the support that friends have offered to help organise the evening.
- I understand your dear (soon to be departing) minister will auction some of his (nearly worthless) memorabilia at the dinner – how useful will that be?
What a wonderful gesture, priceless – if it includes the spinning solar system mobile can we bid?.
- What else can you tell us about the hopes you have for this work and the future of your service for Jesus?
Worshipping with the Maasai in Engaruka is like a small glimpse of heaven. We hope that this deepening of the relationship with Engaruka is something that God will bless and the relationship with St Thomas’s will be enduring. We hope to serve Jesus in Africa by helping people understand his message, mission and ministry and we will return to Australia convicted more than ever that is something that all people need to hear.
Today at 10am we will welcome Kath. Please join us for a great night on Sept 21 and a great project for the gospel.
Yours in partnership,