Update from Stephen hooper

It’s been four months since our farewell and I’m thankful for the opportunity to provide an update on the ministries I am involved in at both Long Bay Gaol and the Vocational Bible College.

I continually stand in awe at how fruitful and exciting gaol chaplaincy is. People see starkly their own brokenness, and have lots of time to consider the forgiveness and hope offered in the Gospel. Jesus’ call “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28) is overwhelmingly powerful for those God calls to himself.

I have also been lecturing within the Vocational Bible College, a Christian training organization for “everyday” people. Those who have not gone to university currently make up 74% of people aged 16 – 65. VBC is a registered training organization, training at Certificate IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma levels. We train people who wish to:

  1. Continue in the workforce full time, and be equipped to serve better in their local church,
  2. Continue in the workforce part time, and serve in roles such as: 1 day a week voluntary chaplain to factory workers, or 2 days a week as a paid evangelist in their church, etc.
  3. Leave the workforce, and work in full time Christian ministry.

Anglican churches usually have a university trained ministry staff, and not surprisingly, our congregations reflect that statistical bias as well. Everyday people can feel out of place. By enabling everyday people to serve in more “up front” ways, we are in a much better place to bring the Gospel to all people. I’m so excited about this ministry. It has the potential, under God, to bring about a real and positive change in our churches.

Please pray for me, that I might love the men I speak with in the gaol. Pray also for my work with students at VBC, that I will teach and train them well, and write up new material well and efficiently.

On a personal note, Jacky and I have started attending St Mark’s South Hurstville. It’s a smaller church but it’s reaching out to the local community and there are new people there most weeks. It’s an exciting ministry for us to be part of.

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