Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’
The words of Isaiah 6:8 have particular relevance for Wayne George, lead pastor of St John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bundaberg. The 43-year-old has followed the voice of the Lord from South Africa to New Zealand and on to Australia.
‘By God’s grace, I was born into a loving Christian home’, he said. The second-eldest of four children, Wayne grew up in Cape Town, South Africa.
‘My childhood years saw me experiencing the diabolical system of apartheid. While I merely saw the tail end of this system, I do remember vividly the “whites only” signs on trains, parks, public toilets, etc.
‘I even remember us being chased off a beach as a family because we were people of colour. (I think the policeman who ordered us to leave was just jealous of our awesome tan!)’
Wayne grew up in the church (Assemblies of God/Pentecostal). ‘At a young age in Sunday school, I realised the gospel truth that my salvation was not determined by the faith of my parents but rather through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour’, he said.
‘I soon realised that my lifelong dream of being a doctor, while being a good idea, was not a God idea’, he said. ‘The Father had other, greater, plans for my life. At an Easter convention service in 1994, I found myself on my knees at the altar, responding to God’s call upon my life to enter his ministry. In order to prepare for this calling, surrendering my own medical endeavours, and embarked on a four-year Bachelor of Theology at the Cape Theological Seminary, after which I served as an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God.’
In 2009 he came across an ad for a family and community worker with Mountainside Lutheran Church in Auckland, New Zealand. ‘I felt prompted to apply’, he said. ‘Within a week, a call was extended to me, and so began my journey with the LCA/NZ.’
But God had even more changes in store for the family.
‘While serving as a lay worker in Auckland, I sensed the Holy Spirit’s prompting me to apply to become a Lutheran pastor,’ Pastor Wayne said. ‘I was ordained as a pastor of the LCA in December 2011, and assigned to my first Lutheran parish: Greenock, South Australia.
‘Being a South African in the Barossa Valley came with its set of challenges’, he said. ‘We had to deal with comments from folk who were well-meaning but ill-informed. Comments like: “Why are there different shades of you?”
‘Being sensitised by our upbringing under a racist political system made some of these encounters pretty difficult. However, by God’s grace, we used these occasions as opportunities to help people understand other cultures.’
The family became Australian citizens in September 2015, before the call came in December of that same year to serve in the Bundaberg Lutheran Parish.
‘Ministry is not always a bed of roses – never has been and never will be’, he says. ‘However, knowing that one is making an eternal difference, despite the lack of evidence thereof at times, is what encourages one to keep moving forward.’
You can read the full story on the LCA website.