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Meeting the Family – John Clayton

This week we're staying south of the river and interviewing John Clayton - one of the apprentices at Dundonald and quite possibly the most relaxed apprentice I've ever met.

So John most of the students won't have met you so tell us a little about yourself...

I'm John Clayton, 24, Australian, working as a ministry apprentice at Dundonald Church, London.

Nice and to the point! Can you tell us a little about how you became a Christian...

Whilst I had a nominal Roman Catholic upbringing, I had no genuine engagement with the Biblical God of Christianity. It was when a family member died that saw the frail and transient nature of life and started 'big picture' questions about origin, purpose, ethics and destiny. Quite specifically, I was wanting to know what the truth about life and death. During my first year of university I started navigating my way through different philosophies, religions and ideas. Thankfully God sent people into my life who shared with me the grace of the gospel of Christ Jesus, but of course I was stubborn and wanted to suppress what I knew to be true in my heart. But after going along to a church in Perth, Australia, I bought a bible and starting reading Jesus' claims and promises for myself. It was at this point I knew I was rebellious towards God in my heart and sinful in the way I lived my life, and therefore I was in desperate need for Jesus to rescue me from my sins. It was then I became a Christian, half way during 2006.

It's always great hearing how different people became Christians! But not everyone who becomes a Christian ends up working for a Church. Can you tell us a little about that journey?
I think once I became a Christian, I pretty quickly realised the need to help people have the same kind of 'journey' I had - that is to come to engage with the biblical Jesus. It seems that by leading various bible studies and desiring to engage with different people (especially students) that I came to realise 'working for a church' would provide the most opportune window for helping people to understand Jesus for themselves. I worked for a church in the northern suburbs of Perth, Australia, and then 8 months of working as a Secondary English teacher in London, I decided to do some more training with Dundonald Church, SW London.
As we've already from the last two interviews the jobs of an Apprentice can vary massively. What do you spend your time doing?
I serve and train in different kinds of ministry. My main focus in serving is Pathfinders (11-14 year olds), which means I spend much of my time preparing for talks, meeting up with some of the boys, as well as planning different activities and events. I'm involved in the 7pm congregation in various ways and preach monthly at a homeless ministry titled Victoria mission. I spend other time training with other apprentices, which includes group discussion, studies in systematic theology and preaching training. This is mainly on Wednesdays.
A lot of varied ministries - What has God been teaching you through all this?
I think God has been encouraging me to just simply realise that the growth of the gospel amongst people is His mission entirely; He doesn't need us to further the name of Jesus, but is happy to work through us, and what an incredible thing that is!
Amen Brother! What do you get up to when you're not working? Are there any favourite pastimes of the Australian in London?
Hanging out with friends, (try to) explore different places in London, reading (bible and ideally, classic fiction texts), traveling, all kinds of sports, beating Tom Heasman in table tennis

I'm sure Tom will appreciate that being made public! Although most of our Students will have heard of Dundonald they probably know very little about it. Can you give us a quick description of what it is like?

Church is made up of 4 congregations including mainly British, South African and Korean folk (not to mention a few Australians). There are probably about 80-150 people per congregation - i.e. for 10am, 150 and beyond, for 4pm about 90 or so. We are located In Raynes Park, near Wimbledon, where the urban and suburban 'kiss'. Our church is made up of a mixture, in ages and nationality. I'd suspect most of our people are fairly well educated and are often working fairly central in London.

'Where the urban and the suburban kiss!' If all else fails you could go into property advertising! What has been happening at Dundonald that we ca be thanking God for?

God has been raising up leaders to teach the bible through various ministries, and for some to plant churches. I'm really thankful for the vision of Dundonald insofar as thinking beyond ourselves into areas where Christ has yet to be proclaimed.

That sounds great - Thank God. But there are probably some challenges too. What is hard about working in Dundonald?

One of the challenges is to facilitate cross-cultural fellowship amongst English, South African and Korean folk. Currently, it is a remarkable display of God's wisdom in uniting people under the gospel, but I think there is still room to grow with this for us. This is a challenge for me as one of the token Australians to commit myself to getting to know people who pronounce things funnily, like saying  "yarr" instead of "yeah" (or for me "yere"), not to mention unusual ambiguous greetings like "howzit?"

Sounds like quite a quite a challenge - I'm sure there must be an English - Australian Dictionary somewhere! Can you tell the students a few things we can be praying for you over the next couple of months?

Pray for our leadership team as we seek to be mobile for the gospel's sake, particularly in light of a stronger missional focus leading up to Easter. Pray that engaging people with the message of Jesus will happen both in and outside of main meetings, and that it would facilitate community. i.e. sporting clubs, pubs, cafes, parks - hanging out together and welcoming anyone along to get a glimpse of the extraordinary God who rescues ordinary people.
Thanks for your time John. We'll be praying for you.