Welcome everybody, I’m Ruth from ruthamos.com.au and this is Josh, and it’s very great to have you with us today Josh.
Thanks Ruth, it’s good to be here.
So Josh is a first-year engineering student, yes? I am right?
That’s correct yeah.
I did send that to him beforehand to check but then suddenly I had this thing this afternoon, is he studying science? No, no I’m sure it’s engineering.
Nah it’s your son that’s studying science.
No he’s doing engineering.
Isn’t he doing a double?
Oh yeah, sorry, science and engineering. There we go. Now I’m worried I don’t even know what my own son is doing, let alone you.
Anyway, and Josh is also an intern at our church, which is a new thing, this is the first year, so we’re pretty excited about it. You’re the guinea pig.
I am the guinea pig. I’m also the gopher, I get to fetch all the coffees.
Yeah that’s my official capacity, I think it’s actually on the contract.
Well, you need to put these things on the contract. And last year Josh went to India for a couple of weeks and so I’d like to hear about that too. So it’s good to have you with us.
But we’re going to start with, how did you become a Christian?
Yes, it’s a good place to start. Slowly, I think is the word I would choose. I was very normal I think church family-wise. I had committed Christian parents. I grew up always going to church, surrounded by Christian friends and family. I kind of went through a couple of different phases as I think is pretty normal for most people to go through.
It was an interesting experience, at about 11 or 12 years of age, I started moving away from Christianity a lot. As you do, you tend to experiment, I think, around that age. You tend to go, ‘oh well that’s just my parents’ belief and not mine.’ And that’s certainly what I did.
I got into an addiction with pornography which lasted me for about four and a half years. And which I’m actually – don’t think me a terrible person – but I’m actually really grateful for, because it is what brought me back to Christ. And it is only by Christ’s intervention that I got out of that addiction.
And that was I think a big turning point for me.
So I wondered if you were going to talk about this. Was that due to the presence of the internet in your house?
I just know a lot of parents worry about their kids and what to do about this.
That’s a fair call. Look yeah, it definitely had an impact on it. If I hadn’t had internet access I’m sure I would have found another way to get to it, once I was in it. But having the internet access there meant I could just walk into it.
And then at some point with that you realised, I don’t like who I am now? Like everybody hits rock bottom at the addiction stage?
That tends to be how it happens yeah. So I ended up getting to a point where I stood back and took stock and I was like, I’m not very proud of who I am at the moment. So I tried for months to kill it myself and get rid of it.
And how old were you then?
15 I think. Because I got baptised the year that I kicked the addiction, and I think that was 16.
So I tried so hard and could never make it out. And eventually what ended up happening was, Dad found my internet history. Which I had deleted. Which was frustrating.
I definitely had deleted it. No, there was no record. And yet there it was on the computer. It was the Holy Spirit. If nothing else, that was pretty cool.
Well that in itself, it’s good to know. I think sometimes maybe we pretend that computers are beyond the power of God to deal with but this is evidence that it’s not. Right, so your dad found your internet history …
Yeah which was so good. I didn’t think that at the time, but that was the big moment when everything changed.
And he was amazing. He did not condemn me or have a go at me or get angry. He was very patient and very compassionate and essentially talked me through it and got me to talk to Peter Adlem.
Who is the pastor of our church.
That’s correct, yes.
And he ended up pointing me towards a really great resource, called Setting Captives Free. Which is an online program which deals with purity and addiction.
OK we will put that in the show notes.
So that helped you to kick the addiction, and at that point you also decided, well I guess you can’t kick it without help from God?
Yeah, I had to majorly revamp how I approached my faith, I think. And that was the biggest thing that changed was that I went from being a consumer of Christianity, to someone who was now actively participating in it, if only to get out of this thing that I was in.
Wow. I am absolutely certain that your story is going to help many people as you go through life. Have you found that you’ve already, in your youth group times or talking with other kids about it, that it’s come up so far?
Yeah absolutely. It’s been something that I’ve found especially with boys. This is obviously one of those things where I have a story which is really helpful for some people. I can’t use this to deal with girls’ situations for obvious reasons. Because that gets into a whole lot of different issues. But especially with boys that I’ve come into contact with, and young men who’ve been struggling with this, including some of my friends as well. It’s been invaluable for coaching them through it and being able to empathise with the struggle.
Thank you for sharing, that’s awesome.
That was the biggest point, I think, and then of course it’s just been a continual process of growth since then, which has sometimes been fun and sometimes been painful. But that’s the joys of being … it is the journey.
So Josh got baptised, cause I was there, down at Kingston Beach and it was cold. It was the middle of winter.
I was a very brave Christian. You have to be brave to get baptised in winter here.
In Tasmanian sea water, yeah.
So how does this internship work at church? What’s the deal there? What do you do?
I get coffees and grab stuff from the printer. Seems to be my biggest jobs.
Like any internship?
No. I get to do a whole lot of different things. I’ve had this question so many times and every time I think my answer has been different. Because I don’t actually know what I do, really, when it comes down to it.
First semester was very … it was a lot of study. I did a lot of bible work, I shadowed Mark a little bit with what he was doing.
(He’s our youth pastor)
That’s right, and I’m kind of his subordinate, he’s my supervisor. And so I got to shadow him and follow what he did a little bit but first semester was mainly doing a lot of bible study. Figuring out that kind of stuff. And that was really it actually, that was my first experience of internship.
And once I moved into second semester of this year it changed into much more hands-on planning, organising, lots of dealing with details. So especially with a kids camp that we’ve had at church these last couple of weeks, KAOS, which ran for five days, I was coordinating the day out for that camp. And so dealt with all that.
And how many kids were there? There were like 60 kids?
80 kids! OK
There were a lot of kids. There were a lot of kids.
So I got to deal with where they all went, how they got fed, how we moved them around, all the Child Safe, all the safety stuff around that, and that took up a lot of my time this semester.
Absolutely, because you have, how many hours a week?
So that’s not actually a lot of time, and included in that is youth groups, and you also do a class with the grade 7-8s on a Sunday?
So this is a really cool thing that yeah, they come out after the sermon and you unpack the sermon with them?
That’s right. I just get to chat with them. It’s the most awesome thing. I don’t know if that’s correct grammar, but it’s the coolest thing to be able to do, is to spend the time with these grade 7-8s after the sermon and unpack it with them.
So that is a part of my job that I super enjoy.
Some sermons I think, ‘oh the adults could really do with going out and unpacking this.’ I guess we’re supposed to do that after church.
That’s right. What else is after church for? It’s not socialising, that would be dreadful.
OK so, India. I just want to say upfront Josh can’t talk about the people because we’re putting this out on the internet and Christians in India will be in trouble if … it’s a whole different story for them. But how did that two weeks in India change your life?
Talk about big questions!
Yeah we only do the big questions here.
That’s right. Well why waste time on anything else?
In so many ways. It’s hard, I don’t think I’ll ever nail it down to only one thing. But I’m going to try anyway.
Happy with more than one.
I think one of the biggest takeaways I had was God’s presence. God’s active presence. Being able to pray for something in faith that it will happen and then watch it happen. In a way that we don’t see over here. At all.
Whether that be because we don’t expect that to happen or whether God just works in different ways in western countries, who knows? But it is certainly humbling to watch the simple faith of an Indian pastor who just knows God is God and believes that what he says will happen. And it happens.
That was a very humbling thing to come away with.
I could talk about India for a while. How long do you want?
You can talk about it a bit more. I have a few more questions here.
Alright. Where to start? India was for me an emotional rollercoaster. Something I was not prepared for at all. I think my emotions, let’s jump into some maths, I think my emotions resembled a sinusoidal function. For the majority of the trip. Meaning that they were just peaking and then completely crashing and then peaking and then completely crashing. The whole time. It was constant.
And I noticed that at the end of the day I would write journal entries. And I would be in a really good mood because that’s when the sinusoidal function was reaching the derivative equal to zero right?
I get that.
Yeah that’s when I was reaching the top, when I was reaching the turning point. And I realised about halfway through the trip that my journal entries were not going to reflect my emotional state at all very well.
But I feel like God was breaking down some stuff in me that I had false assumptions about. And so I remember coming off the trip and thinking, ‘I will never do that again. Because that was so hard.’ And now, whatever it is, a year later now, and I would go back in an instant.
Because it is the most encouraging and inspiring thing that I’ve ever done. And God has made me a strong Christian, has increased my faith, he’s upped my appreciation for the power of prayer, and he’s given me an understanding of what faith looks like in action which is something that might be a bit harder to grasp over here.
We just have it so easy.
Yeah, we do have it very easy.
How do you find your faith shows itself at uni?
That’s an awesome question. I find that a lot of the time my faith will manifest itself in how I approach deadlines and exams. So now I have someone to complain to when I get stressed about exams. And that’s God.
But at uni, I think the biggest thing at uni is that I don’t need to succeed. If that makes sense. It’s not a licence to cop out.
But your self-worth isn’t tied up in your exam marks?
Last year it was very much the case. In year twelve my self-worth was very much invested in how I did. And because of that I did really well. Because you know it’s insecurity. But this year God has really shown to me that my self-worth needs to be tied up in him. So now I can approach assignments, exams, courses, a little bit differently. There’s no where near as much anxiety or stress about them because they don’t define who I am in God’s sight.
And it means I’ve had some very interesting conversations with some friends who have noticed and picked up on that. And I’ve been able to lead it back to God and have some pretty cool conversations sometimes.
I don’t hide it at all. It’s very fun to be able to say, ‘yeah I’m one of those Christian weirdos you hear about, let’s talk.’
How weird am I?
Exactly. It’s awesome.
OK I had another one about church, that I didn’t put in the right place, but anyway are you finding that work at the church is growing your faith and your understanding of Christian life?
Absolutely. Yeah, majoratively around community. Because before now I’ve never really had a church community. We’ve been church hopping since I was about seven. Which is terrible, actually. But we’ve been here at St Clements for five-ish years now.
Yeah, you’re family now.
That’s right. Exactly and it’s been incredibly awesome to see that family. And understand how that works. We’re not going there just because we like the people, though we do like some of the people. But the church family aspect of it is in a way really humbling, really encouraging, and really inspiring.
And that’s something I’ve only really seen this year, working there. Seeing how people pull together and help each other out and get behind each other for no other reason than they are just family. That’s been really inspiring to see.
And I think you need to stick with a place for a while to come to that point of being family, don’t you? I don’t know.
No I think that’s definitely true for that. It’s easy to take a church as a consumer if you’re just there for two or three years and then you move on before making any serious connections. Definitely what I was used to before we came here.
Now I have to get to know people.
We’re all very strange people.
Oh my gosh that church is weird.
When do you feel closest to God?
Yes, now, full disclosure, you sent me these questions earlier in the week and I had a look at them briefly and this was the one that was a bit of a stand out. I kind of stopped when I read it and I was like, huh.
I think the answer to that question is, when I’m really fully invested in my work at youth. I don’t mean going to youth and being there and doing the things. I mean when I’m able to really connect, really invest, be completely away from self-centred, kind of thing. Be completely other-centred and just pour energy and love into these kids’ lives is when I feel closest to God.
And it’s also really weird because it’s the most exhausting thing I think I do. But it’s also one of the most exciting and fulfilling things that I do. And every time it gets me so ramped up to do it. I think that would be the answer.
It’s such a great answer. I love that.
Well thank you.
Do you feel like having had all this experience, (this is not a question I gave Josh before) –
I’m not ready for it.
All this experience in missions and working at the church and stuff. Do you feel like ‘oh now I’m going to go and work in full-time Christian ministry?’
All of this experience?
I’ve had, I don’t feel like I’ve had a lot of experience. I still feel like I’m new at this. I know a lot of people would say that. But I suppose I’m a relatively old hand as things go. Among people my age.
That’s right that’s the thing.
Full time Christian ministry is not off the table for me. But it’s also something I don’t feel interested in pursuing at the moment. My internship hasn’t turned me off it. If anything it’s made me more interested in it. But I don’t feel that’s the direction that I’m passionate about going. I am super passionate about working at our youth groups. I’m super passionate about working in the KAOS kids’ camp, and treehouse. I love that stuff. But becoming a full time minister for me doesn’t fit with whatever it is gets me fired up about youth group.
And I don’t know why it is but that is how it is.
And a big part of you is interested in the engineering, and obviously the maths, if it comes out in this kind of a conversation.
Ah yes, I do tend to think that way a lot. Unfortunately.
I don’t think there’s anything unfortunate about it.
It’s just like, there’s something simple about maths. It’s so satisfying. But yes, I am interested in how things work. And why things work a lot of the time. And engineering can be a passion too. And I say can because it can also be incredibly boring. But that’s the nature of anything I think.
Yeah, there’s always a boring bit.
Alright, finally, deep breath, what’s one thing about God and Christianity you wish everyone knew?
Wish everyone knew? Are we including … so this is everyone, secular and non? Everything?
Everything. But if you’ve got a message just for Christians, that’s fine.
This is like ‘what would you do to save the world?’ Give the answer.
I wish everyone, including Christians, understood God’s love. Including me, because I don’t and I wish I did. And I think, if everyone understood the depth of that it would completely change everything. Yeah.
It’s a hard concept to unpack though.
Well I think it’s one of the wonderful things about God’s love is that we can keep exploring it for the whole of our lives, probably for the whole of eternity and never reach the end of it.
That is gonna be sick!
I can’t wait, it’s going to be awesome.
There you go, yeah, I hope that’s the answer you’re looking for.
That’s a great answer.
I was thinking OK, gotta be deep, gotta be deep. What am I doing?
No. But that is something I think, Christian and non-Christian alike, I think that’s something we all need to understand.
Is there anything else you’d like to say before we finish?
No, I don’t think so.
Go the cats!
Edit that bit out!
Thank you very very much for this talk Josh.
That’s all good Ruth, it’s been a pleasure. It’s been awesome to come over and chat to you about Christianity and life and stuff like that.
Thanks for having me.