What’s it like to study at Sydney Missionary Bible College?

A few weeks ago, the promo team at Sydney Missionary Bible College (where I’m currently studying) interviewed several students about our college experience. If you’re interested, here’s my interview (I’ve included a written version of it after the break below). Better yet, I’d encourage you to hear from several college friends:

  • Kim Patterson – “I’m hoping to go into full-time ministry in Ireland, and I wanted to be further equipped and trained to do that well.”
  • Matt Sharpe – “If you asked me five years ago if you’d be at Bible College, I would have said: ‘No way!'”
  • Emma Bott – “Being able to read the Bible in its original languages has been a joyous experience…”
  • Alex Prentice – “I’m really enjoying Greek… which I probably shouldn’t say too loudly!”
  • Dave Bott – “In a way I didn’t want to come to Bible College, because it meant leaving friends and family behind, and that was scary!”
  • Dorothea Amann – “I thought Bible College is for someone who’s really certain to be a pastor or missionary… so probably not for me!”
  • James Peters – “I had put God into a pretty tight neat little box that I thought I could understand and control, and coming to college has helped me to understand how very little I know about our great God.”
  • Joel Abraham – “One of the best things is learning alongside so many different people from different church backgrounds and cultures.”
  • Julian Baalbergen – “I love how it’s not about the numbers or scores on your essays and exams, but it’s about how your heart is being developed and changed to be more Christlike…”

Praise God for raising up all these labourers for the Harvest!

Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you ended up at SMBC.

My name is William, and I’m here at SMBC with my wife Cheryl and our three children. We moved here last year to study at SMBC. Previously I was a medical writer, and also helping out as an intern at my church back home in Auckland, New Zealand. Through that process, and being able to do ministry alongside my pastor, watching him preach and teach and visit people, I had a growing conviction that I’d love to be better at applying, teaching and sharing the Word with others in a local church setting. He encouraged us to consider SMBC. We also knew a couple of graduates whose love for Jesus and knowledge of the Word seemed really compelling for us. I remember observing one of them and thinking, “I want to be more like that person.” That’s a big part of why we decided to come to SMBC.

How have you found life at college?

We moved here last year (January 2017), and it was a bit of a culture shock – lots of people with Australian accents! The scariest thing is when you start picking up some of their little tweaks (e.g. shortening words and phrases). That’s been a bit of a challenge, but we’ve also gained some great friendships as well. This really is an international community we’ve come into. We’ve loved meeting students and their families from places like Pakistan, Austria, Indonesia (Ireland, Ecuador, Germany, Tanzania, Singapore, Malaysia, Vanuatu) – whereever in the world! It’s great being reminded that God’s workers are being sent all around the world with His glorious gospel.

What’s it like to undertake theological studies at SMBC?

It’s a great environment to study in. Things I’ve really enjoyed include:

  • Time together – in the Word, starting and ending the week with chapels, Principals Hour in the middle of the week, and during morning tea and lunch to talk about what we’ve been learning in class
  • A focus on preaching – I love how everyone who studies full-time learns how to preach, to understand God’s Word to us and apply it for a world who needs it
  • Being stretched with theology – we just spent three hours thinking about the role of the Holy Spirit, and I don’t know if I’ve ever had to work my brain so hard!
  • Lecturers as role models – they model not just head knowledge but also apply it to their hearts. For example, I loved how Dave this morning invited us into his devotional life as he taught us about the Holy Spirit. All the lecturers here don’t want to just tell you things, but they also want to get into your lives. They share the gospel, but their lives also (1 Thess 2:8).
  • A focus on global missions – every week during lecturers, we’re challenged by missionaries from all over the world, who give us a global picture of what God’s doing in the world, and how we can be a part of it. When you’re from the ends of the earth (NZ), you don’t tend to think about much more than the ends of the earth. So it’s been refreshing and challenging to have our eyes opened to what God’s doing – and to be challenged by my lack of passion and zeal for global missions as well. This means that, after college, whatever I do needs to have global missions in mind, and a global view of what God’s doing.

What are your plans after college?

Our national anthem ends with the line: “God defend New Zealand”. I feel like that’s part of our call – we’d like to go back and help to defend it with the gospel. New Zealand is a more liberal and secular country than we’ve expected, and is changing quickly – even during the time we’ve been away. We’ve seen changes in society that reveal a lack of the gospel, and a need for people to find their true satisfaction and life in Jesus. We don’t know what that looks like yet, but we’d love to be part of the many men and women who want to give their lives to defending the gospel in New Zealand.


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