As I come to the end of my time at Ridley, I’ve been doing some reflecting on whether, given my time over again, I’d make the same decision and choose Ridley again.
1. Stability of BCSA. The theological and educational standard at BCSA is the same because they both offer ACT courses and are ACT moderated. But when we were choosing Bible colleges, BCSA had no theology lecturer and it looked like there wouldn’t be a regular Old Testament faculty member either. That’s not the case any more. Maybe people only say it to me because my Dad’s the principal but what I’m hearing is that students now rave about BCSA’s theology and there’s a new full-time OT lecturer.
2. Ministry Trajectory. Because we knew we were going overseas, we wanted a dry run at living away from all our networks and contacts. So we deliberately went somewhere where we didn’t know anyone. No other South Australians came with us and we didn’t go to a college that had a strong SA contingent. However, there’s a drawback to that as well. We feel the distance and the disconnection of having been away for 3 years from the supporter base that will send us to Tanzania – even though we’ve worked pretty hard on those relationships.
3. Mid-Size Community. We chose Ridley because it was a bit bigger than BCSA so we thought we would rub shoulders with a bigger group of people. That’s true, but more isn’t necessarily better. Because Melbourne’s bigger, with more money floating around, the opportunities to do traineeships and come to college are more numerous. That doesn’t necessarily indicate higher quality, just greater wealth.
4. Cross-cultural experiences. Melbourne’s more multi-cultural than Adelaide and we’ve been able to be involved in Sudanese and Muslim-background ministries. What we didn’t expect was how great the cultural gap between white Melbournians and Adelaideans is. That’s been frustrating – they’re just not asking the same questions we were! There were a few too many layers of cross-culturalness. Perhaps that prepared us for the loneliness of the mission field but I wonder if we would have got more out of college if we’d stayed in Adelaide and worked with other cultures there.
So, would I make the same decision? Maybe. If I were heading for ministry in Adelaide, definitely not. The benefits just don’t outweigh the costs. You can’t underestimate the value of local training. I’d stay and work on my relationships there.
For O/S ministry, I think I’d probably still go Ridley, mainly just because we needed to prove to ourselves that we could go it alone. But if there were already people I knew at Ridley or I had friends coming as well, that would nullify that reason.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.