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John Lew

INTERNATIONAL PASTOR

您好! I am an ABC (Australian Born Chinese) from Sydney. My parents came here from China and Hong Kong (so I know some basic Cantonese and Toishanese).

As I grew up, I had two reasons not to become a Christian: (1) believing in this ‘Western religion’ would betray my ancestors who gave up so much to come to this foreign country; and (2) I believed that science, particularly evolution, disproved God. I truly believed there is no God; going to church would therefore be inconsistent with my belief, even though I envied my friends who were part of a church community.

One day, after an evening lecture at uni, I came across a church group that met in a lecture theatre. They had free food, so I went back the next week, and the next, eventually getting to make some new friends. One was a Japanese man doing a PhD in electrical engineering, who was a Christian. Since I was an electrical engineer myself, I could not understand how this intelligent Asian man could be a believer in God. Later, he invited me to dinner. I was horrified, as I knew that I would be trapped in his home facing a religious talk after dinner. I thought hard about how to decline the offer without being rude. I decided that, since he wanted to talk about the Bible with me, I would read it myself and (confidently) prove it wrong to him. So I started reading the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts… all in a few days. You know what? Instead of reading a whole series of God-rules (which I thought the Bible would contain), I met Jesus. I was convinced by him… and I liked him! I believed in him.

Later, the pastor of that church taught me some basics of Christian belief. One lesson was on this verse in the Bible: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). He explained that when Jesus died for all my sins, I am forgiven not because of any good thing I do to earn it, but it is by his ‘grace’ – a free undeserved gift. Nothing I do will get me to heaven. Jesus did it for me when he died; I just need to believe and trust in him. I never imagined God could be so good!

That church was a church for international students. I had not met international students before, but over the next 2 years they became my best friends! At that church I learnt a lot about sharing Jesus with people from overseas. When I married Grace (also from that church) we went to live in her original country – Taiwan – for a year, where I taught English to children, and we helped out at a local church (teaching English and Bible in partnership with an American missionary). I also attended Mandarin classes.

It was in Taiwan that Irene was born. But then SARS hit the country, and we came back to Australia and stayed with my in-laws in Gold Coast. I eventually found an IT job in Brisbane, so we moved up to Indooroopilly and joined unichurch (before it became St Lucia Bible Church). We had 7 years of growth and stability: same home, same job, same church, same school (for Irene). But throughout that time I was challenged and encouraged to consider full-time ministry, to move from secular work to dedicated gospel work. It took years to decide, but eventually I made up my mind when I realised that during my working week, my mind was continually on church and Bible study matters.

Grace and I decided that I would get trained in Sydney, at Moore Theological College. At the time of our move, Grace was pregnant; Renee was born a few weeks after we moved into Sydney. In our first two years I was trained at a Chinese student church (‘FOCUS’) at the University of NSW (where I first became a Christian 10 years prior!), and in the next two years I was trained at the Anglican Cathedral (St Andrew’s). We enjoyed and learnt much from those two experiences. And now we’re back! I look forward to meeting with people here, particularly internationals. Given my experiences described above, I want everyone to know: (1) Jesus is for all nations, and (2) evolution is a separate thing from believing in Jesus.

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