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Put Your Head Down and Labour

By Tami Brown and June Sparks, first published in Compass Winter issue 2022

Theresa Suan has had an incredibly fruitful ministry at Macquarie University ISM. She shared with us recently how it has changed over time, giving us a glimpse into the journey the Lord has taken her on.

There were times when Theresa felt alone, struggling without a helper or staff working alongside her. There were moments she felt hopeless and helpless.

One day, the truth of 2 Kings 6:16-17 hit her heart in a way that changed her perspective.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

She was not alone. God was at work in, through and around her along with his heavenly armies.

Fast forward to the past two years and another verse has come into focus—Ecclesiastes 11:6—as she continues to sow new seeds while following up on former students.

“Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”

“The Macquarie ministry was hard enough pre-covid and then the campus closed,” Theresa tells us. “But now I’ve seen [this ministry] go from Sydney to China, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Indonesia and Melbourne… All of this is God’s doing over the past two years!”

So, the campus closed but God had another way. Theresa continued to follow up the Macquarie students and graduates overseas. The seed had been sown, but it needed more watering. One of them had trouble even finding her Bible before but is now consistently feeding on the Word.

One Chinese student working long hours wanted to study the Bible but only if “at her own pace.” Later when asked again, “Are you ready for me to send a set of the Bible study materials?” her response was a resounding, “Yes…because you didn’t give up on me after all these years!”

“There have been many surprises along the way. One student, who was all over the place while at uni, was one of the toughest people I’ve tried to reach over the years. Then in March this year, she suddenly called me with some Bible questions. Before, she had very little interest in God… To see her now, you wouldn’t believe it! She’s made a one-eighty turn around. She said, ‘Oh, now I can see God as my Father and I believe in the existence of God.’ She has since received Jesus as Saviour and Lord!”

Theresa with one of the many students she disciples at Macquarie uni.

Theresa says, “It is a long journey and I’m happy to walk it with them. I used to think, ‘Nobody knows about Macquarie ISM.’ …But God knew, God saw it. In the face of discouragement, I learned to draw strength from God and to look for the joy He has set before me.”

Theresa’s deep trust in God’s faithfulness in turn has her sowing seeds and keeping her hands doing the work. As she shared these stories of each woman responding to God and His Word, you could see the amazement in her eyes, hear the worship to God in her voice and know that as she shares of hardships, the discouragements that come and says with tears, “so for the joy set before me in the end I know I will see my Lord’s face,” you know this is genuine. “Put your head down and labour” is a lesson learned as she has journeyed with the Lord.

So when Theresa says, “I’ve learned to labour hard with my head down, doing what my hand finds to do…” she means God is faithful. It is His story. He is trustworthy and worthy of the hard work. Because He sees, He knows, and He is with you.

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