A few months back Compass had its session on ABC Television on ‘Polish Missionaries’ who were serving in remote Papua New Guinea, the closest distant settlement being Madang.
It illustrated what the Polish Missionaries were engaged in – there were three Priests and a number of nursing Nuns. The program demonstrated they were following a long list of international missionaries in this remote area – from Holland, England, Germany - from the post war era.
One of the features of the Polish Missionaries mission policies was to engender and encourage national historic dress in all its colour and fan fare. The people danced and sand, cheered and swayed, it was colourful and quite beautiful from start to finish. The parades started kilometres away from the church building.
A most memorable interview was with one of the Polish Priests showing him at 21 years of age many years previously. He spoke of being called to the Priesthood and Mission Service at 21 years of age. He followed that calling through.
Apart from the obvious hospital and medical service they bring to the community, the schooling. The Christian input he also constructed a massive tower for wifi and communications and there it stood in its magnificence.
One late teenage lass was interviewed, she was obviously doing very well at school and with the help of the Polish Missionaries the family moved out of the village into Madang for further her education.
Ben Campbell the CEO of AE who has columns in Christian Today is engaged in precisely the same things in Africa.
Global InterAction (Baptists), CMS (Church Missionary Society) and likewise the other denominational missionary agencies the very same thing around the world. Nome of this is new. Many will recall William Carey who bought the Gospel to India. There are so many familiar names, such as Hudson Taylor and China.
The process is as a follows - people with a vision from the Lord and then find the mechanisms through study, graduation, ministry acceptance, then to missionary service.
This applies equally to home mission service as it does to overseas service. It applies equally to parish – church ministry as it does to chaplaincy to hospitals, emergency services, police, schools, universities, sport, community, youth ….
Each of these mission people have their own story. This is our story. From a child I somehow knew I would serve the Lord in such a fashion but I always wanted to be a locomotive driver (train driver) which I did for 10 years while as a university student in history.
At 26, just married, I was accepted into the Morling College Ordination Program in Sydney and sought direction to community ministry outside the cloisters of the local church. I gained First Class Honours and a Masters and applied to the InterChurch Trade and Industry Mission (ITIM) for industrial commerce chaplaincy. Meantime I was the student Minister at Croydon park Baptist while completing my studies 1979-80.
This led me to the Shell Australia industrial chaplaincy in Sydney serving for 12 years for 2 days a week, while ministering at Warragamba Baptist Church. In 1982 I was invited to Hong Kong to an international conference on sports chaplaincy and sports ministry. I did well in hockey and track & field, and was writing ‘hockey. For the Australian newspaper. Subsequently I wrote 5 books on hockey.
ITIM endorsed my Hong Kong conference sojourn as did the Baptists. Upon my return a report was submitted and in the following 18 months ITIM senior personnel and I visited Heads of Churches for their endorsement of a national Sports Chaplaincy ministry under ITIM - faith finance funded.
In 1984 I was appointed the Australian cricket team chaplain and then visited other professional sports placing local clergy as chaplains in the various top sports – Cricket, AFL, NRL, NBL, Tennis, Golf, The AIS, the Olympics, Rodeo, Soccer and the like.
This was faith finance funded by Delma’s and my network – ITIM found that professional sports at that time was transitioning from amateur to professional where there was no money available. In 1987 the sports ministry became its own entity with ITIM’s the late Rev Roger Reid as the inaugural ‘entity’ chairman – the Sports and Leisure Ministry late under incorporation Specialised Life-Orientated Ministries Inc. and many years later after I had moved on, Sports Chaplaincy Australia.
After 18 years I was exhausted – Heads of Churches released us to a fresh ministry “Well-Being Australia” with a mandate not to build another empire - but with as many volunteers as one liked. That led to an art ministry, the AIS respite ministry in SE Qld continued from Moruya, and eventually to the young writers with Christian Today. All on faith finance.
Mr Basil Sellers AM has been a great supporter in my cricket ministry - then Basil Sellers House (AIS athlete respite in Moruya), Basil Sellers Art Centre in Moruya with a $10,000 art prize. Then to an art studio in Tweed Heads and the Basil Sellers Laguna Quays Respite for missionaries and chaplains on the Whitsundays. Now four such respite facilities.
Yes, people from all walks of life and from around the world have believed the Bible and called of the Lord as missionaries of one kind or another. This is a wonderful story.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. The above photo is the upper part from this portrait.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html