Where are they now? - Ian Miller
In 2016, Ian was at university when he decided that he really didn’t like the course he was studying but he didn’t quite know what to do about it. Through his involvement in youth ministry at Christchurch St Ives he got to know someone doing the Youthworks College-MTS (Ministry Training Strategy) pathway. “It sounded attractive, something I could do. And my minister said to me, ’That sounds like a good idea for you, for where you are at’.”
Ian grew up in a church family and was one of those kids who put up his hand for the altar call every time. Although he knew it was all true, as a teenager the gospel wasn’t making a big difference in his life. “But the Spirit was convicting me, and God was chipping away at my stony heart. I thought, ‘I can’t keep being two different people’. So, I decided to commit my life to Christ.”
As Ian finished his study at Youthworks College in 2018 he set his heart on finding a youth ministry position. An unexpected opportunity arose through a close friend living in Hong Kong and working for St Andrew’s Kowloon. “I asked him how [ministry] was different in Hong Kong”. The next day, the Senior Minister rang Ian because their youth minister was leaving, and they were looking for somebody to fill the vacancy.
So, how is youth ministry different in Hong Kong? Ian says, “Youth in Hong Kong are much busier. They go to tutoring, learn a musical instrument, play sport. They are always studying. Their lifestyle is crazy--really crazy—and it’s a bit sad to be honest.” This means that some will come with Christian parents to church on Sunday morning, but not many will come on Friday night. In the morning there are 60-100 youth compared to 6-14 at youth group on a Friday night. As a result, Ian has had to rethink how to do ministry in this context.
Ian says that in Hong Kong the youth are more apathetic. “Eastern culture is so spiritual, so it’s easy for them to believe that there was a divine man who lived on earth and did these things. But it is easy to be a nominal Christian and not let that truth transform your life.”
Although Hong Kong is vastly different from Ian’s upbringing on Sydney’s North Shore, family connections are helping Hong Kong to feel at home. But “it is busy and chaotic, people everywhere all the time. Even at 10pm, there will be 30 restaurants within a 100-metre radius that are open, and it’s cheaper to eat out than cook at home.”
For Ian, the major adjustment of moving overseas has been the relational cost, being far from family and friends back in Sydney. But overall, the process of settling into ministry overseas was not as hard as Ian thought, and he is keen to challenge others to think about children’s and youth ministry overseas. “You can just do it. It might be easier than you think.”
Pray for Ian
Pray that he would develop deep relationships with the leaders as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Pray that Ian will rely on God and spend time in prayer. At Christchurch St Ives there was a large youth leadership team, now Ian is on his own and it’s tempting to think that it’s all up to him.