Wednesday, 17 August 2016

2016 Joan Stott Bursary

Joan Stott UCAF Bursary was established in 2009 to honour the contribution of Joan Stott a past national president of UCAF and former secretary of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women.

The Bursary is to encourage young people (35 years and younger) undertaking courses equipping them for leadership.

Awardee for 2016, Nathan Barton (Queensland), shares his faith story:

God brought me into a committed Christian family in the small country town of Murgon.  Growing up I was involved in the local Uniting Church going through Sunday School and Youth Group. I also was a member of the Boy’s Brigade (which was supported by the local Baptist church) where I was awarded the Queen’s Badge, (the highest award one can be achieved).

In terms of my faith walk, I gladly received the teaching about Christ I was given and my parents always encouraged me to develop a personal relationship with Jesus through prayer and study. I accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour by way of Confirmation in the Uniting Church.

After graduating year 12, I went to Brisbane to study a Bachelor of Arts (psychology) at the University of Queensland.  While I was there, I was greatly involved in the youth ministry at Aspley Uniting Church.  I helped leading Priority One (a group for kids in Grades 7 and 8) and a number of Holiday camps.  On campus, I became involved with Student Life where I received training in evangelism, discipleship and group leading.

In the middle of my second year of University, I had an encounter with Christ that changed my whole outlook on life.  I had gone home to Murgon for the mid-year break and was sitting in church one evening looking up at the large cross that is suspended over the pulpit.  The Holy Spirit gave me a new realisation of the reality of the crucifixion.  A realisation that every time I sinned, Christ had to suffer more pain on the cross.  Here I was accepting what Jesus had done for me and yet still following my own self-centred path.  Such was the conviction I felt, that I broke down in tears.  From that point on, I endeavoured to make Jesus the centre of my life and to seek His will.

This meant re-evaluating many things including why I was at university.  Through prayer and my quiet times, I sought what God would have me do with my life and felt God calling me to a life of full time ministry but the exact from of such ministry was unclear.  To that end, I began a Period of Discernment with the Uniting Church, which looked at my gifts and abilities and the possibility of being a Minister of the Word within the church.  Also in my final year of University, I was challenged to consider becoming a Student Life missionary.

The conclusion of this searching (although not officially completing my POD) was that I felt God was perhaps calling me to become ordained but not at that time.  However, seeing how He could use me on campus and also how I could grow through the experience, I applied to join Student Life and for the next three and a half years worked at UQ being mightily blessed to see the many ways God was at work in and around me.

At the end of 2006, I finished my time as a missionary with Student Life as I felt God leading me to pursue more directly the “ordained” calling He had placed on my heart.  To that end I began study at the then Bible College of Queensland.  During that time, I had the opportunity to serve as an Associate Pastor with the English-speaking congregation of the Korean Exodus Mission Church in Hong Kong.  My experience there did much to confirm to me my call to ministry and thus when I returned to Australia I completed my POD and was accepted by Moreton Rivers Presbytery as a Candidate for Minister of the Word in 2013 with the aim of completing formation in 2016.