Our international guests look back

‘Jesus Christ is at the centre of the Lutheran schools in Australia’, these were the thoughts that were echoed over and over again by international guests attending ACLE. ‘The schools are kindness and live in the love of Jesus Christ’ were the opening remarks of Rev Jaminton Sipayung, Executive Secretary of the Gereja Kristen Proestant Simalungan (GKPS) Education Board, and Mr Zitten Purba, principal of the vocational school of the GKPS in Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra, as they reflected on their visit to Australia and ACLE.

Their list of positive comments is inspiring and encouraging. Both Jaminton and Zitten together with Paul Omot (Education secretary) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG), and ELC-PNG high school principals – Rev Tom Sine (Kundiawa) and Gisuwat Siniwin (Bumayong), four educators and board members of the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) Education department and Dr Jonkers Tampubulon, Rector of Nommensen University in North Sumatra, were guests of LEA and the LCE in the days surrounding ACLE.

Each of our guests expressed high praise for the conference as well as for the opportunities they had to meet with principals, teachers and members of the Lutheran Church of Australia during their visit to Australia. They experienced a range of insights into life in Lutheran schools in Australia and life in general in Australia as they visited different parts of the country either prior to or after ACLE.

Two PNG guests visited Immanuel Primary School at Novar Gardens. The partnership of Kundiawa Lutheran High School and Concordia College Adelaide was strengthened as Rev Tom Sine spent two days with the staff and students of Concordia. Similarly, the developing partnership with Tatachilla Lutheran College and Milep Lutheran High school in PNG was strengthened as Colin Minke and the staff of Tatachilla hosted Paul Omot and Tom Sine for a day prior to ACLE. Following ACLE Tom and Gisuwat spent an encouraging weekend with the people of the Portland Lutheran church together with school principal, Les Seiffert, and his staff.

Dr Selamut Marbun, Professor Dr Robert Sibarani, Mrs Elyzabeth Simorangkir and Mr Fredy Sitanjak of the HKBP experienced the extension of this Christian hospitality when they too travelled to Queensland as guests of Meg and Noel Noack after ACLE. Our GKPS guests spent several days in Weribee and surrounds with school Principal Jan Baker – sharing insights and laughter and hospitality.

When the conference had come to an end and many of the participants had gone their separate ways Elyzabeth sat opposite at the breakfast table in our apartment on Saturday morning, clasped my hands and began to pray in Bahasa Indonesian. As she prayed I recognized some names and titles… Adrienne Jericho, Lutheran Education, Lutheran Church, ACLE. Tears streamed down our faces as she prayed with such a grateful heart for the opportunity that she had been given to attend the conference, for all the experiences that she and the people from her church’s education department had been given and for the new ideas, encouragement given and new friendships that were formed over those few days.

Through this wonderful opportunity given by LEA to our overseas partner churches, the seeds of possibility have been planted in people’s imagination for what can be done to grow and improve the Christian education in their schools as they live out their faith in difficult situations. But there’s so much more that comes as a result of these visits…new relationships, new partnerships and the opportunities for our partner church schools to share life and new insights with us – the people in our Lutheran schools and churches in Australia. They have so much to offer us as well.

If your school would like to know more about how they can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission service-learning and ministry partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email erin.kerber@lca.org.au. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/service-learning/

Read more stories about school partnerships and school service-learning at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/schools/