Part of NZBMS’s resourcing role is to help Baptist churches and their members find their place in world mission. In this interview with Mels Roberts, she talks of how connecting with MISSION WORLD – one of the four entities making up NZBMS – became part of her mission journey.
Mels Roberts is a primary teacher from Palmerston North Central Baptist Church, and an experienced youth and young adults’ leader. Mels first experienced Cambodia in 2006 on a short-term mission trip. While visiting an international school she contemplated returning to teach. It felt like a nice blend of two things she loved to do: build God’s community and teach. On December 30, 2011 she left for a three-year term in Cambodia with Interserve.
What has been your inspiration or catalyst to bring you to the point of exploring service overseas?
A combination of factors led me to make this decision: A clear answer to prayer in which I asked about pursuing service overseas; the skills I have and the fact that they are so transferable to an overseas context; the awareness in my life that you serve God by simply doing what you do; a rich heritage in listening to the call of God; and my discussions with friends, mentors and the contact I made with MISSION WORLD.
What is your role in Cambodia?
I’m teaching at Hope International School in Phnom Penh. My class is aged 7-8 years.
What do you anticipate as being a challenge for you?
I’m looking forward to combining my teaching and pastoral skills. I’m excited about new experiences and the unknown ways in which God will begin to use me in the Cambodian and Interserve contexts. I’m anticipating that it’ll be a challenge to be away from family, friends and my community. That last one is a bit scary!
What role did your sending church play in your preparation, development and support to go?
The pastors, my life groups and the mission committee at Central Baptist in Palmerston North listened to my dreams and thoughts and helped guide me throughout the process. The pastors encouraged me to pursue the idea and the church mission committee gave me some good questions to ask and, in turn, asked me a few to keep me on track. It was especially fantastic to have one of my pastors come with me to Auckland for my interview with Interserve and to have her support.
How did MISSION WORLD assist in the process of exploring your call and the steps to service for you?
MISSION WORLD were fantastic. When thinking about mission it was MISSION WORLD that I contacted. They answered loads of my initial questions, and gave me a lot to think about in terms of going short term or long term; how to approach my church; what organisations to think about contacting and the different ways I could serve overseas. After that initial contact they introduced me to three different mission organisations. I chatted in-depth with each one and was able to make an informed decision to explore applying with Interserve.
What advice and encouragement would you offer to anyone thinking of short or long term service overseas?
Talk with MISSION WORLD. It’s great to have someone to talk over your questions with and to give an outside perspective when you’re looking at different mission organisations. Having someone who understands the ethos of the different groups and knows what you’re looking for is helpful.
In chatting with many people about mission I’m reminded that the call of God is for every one of us. All of us are called to look at what God is putting on our path and to begin to serve in those areas. So if it’s on your path, pick it up and go with it! Find the support, get people around you who’ll encourage you and see where God takes you.