The Victorian Conference has recently celebrated the ordination of two of our pastors and we praise and thank God for the dedication and passion these pastors and their families have for His work as they love, nurture and guide their churches.
In December last year, Ainsley Wagner was joined by church members, family and friends to share in this important milestone in his career and life.
Ainsley was a train driver and functioned as an employee advocate for a number of years, gaining valuable insight and experience in leadership and negotiation within challenging environments. Sustaining a workplace injury, he believed that God had something else in mind for him, and this was in fact, the first stage of his journey from the transport industry into ministry.
Heavily involved in local church leadership for many years, when his church found itself without a pastor part way through the year, Ainsley received his first taste of ministry. Initially shocked and surprised when the Conference president called him, he accepted the role until the end of the year.
Eventually Pr Brian Lawty was appointed to the church, and, noting Ainsley’s active lay leadership, he recommended his name to the conference, for consideration for a ministry role. Ainsley continued as Senior Elder, and assistant to Pr Lawty, conducting Bible studies and helping people prepare for baptism at Spotswood.
In 2003, he was appointed Church Pastor for Ascot Vale. The church was under the threat of imminent closure, but with the support of conference leadership, Ainsley met the troubles head on, working through a time of severe duress until the church was again able to look to the future. He has been dedicated to running regular outreach programs, building local contacts within the community, detention centre and hospitals, and the church has grown spiritually. Attendance has increased and has necessitated the building of a modern well-equipped hall and amenities, signalling a church with a future.
Ainsley’s mother had long been an inspiration and a silent partner in his preparation for ministry. For many years she prayed he would become a minister, and Ainsley looks forward to one day in the Kingdom of God, telling her that her many prayers were answered.
We wish God’s richest blessings for Ainsley and his wife Doris, as they serve God.
There was celebration again, late January, as Matthew Vrancic was ordained in ministry.
Born into an Adventist home in Bosnia and growing up loving and appreciating Jesus, Matthew developed an enduring image of a caring God, when, at the age of five, God saved him from drowning. During his formative years, with the influence of his family and church he grew to understand his Christian faith and first felt the call to be a pastor.
Looking back, he believes God used his dad to inspire him. When war came to Bosnia, his dad closed his business, bought a truck and became a full time volunteer for ADRA, delivering food and clothes to those in need. He was Matthew’s hero – modelling Christ to him, risking his life to help others. Although he was constantly under pressure from local authorities and the Orthodox priests to stop, many of his non-Adventist friends supported him. Eventually the army police came as he was opening Sabbath and took the truck away.
Through it all, God protected the family, and eventually brought them safely to Australia in 1995. Welcomed into their new church life, Matthew was surrounded by Adventist culture at home and school. He grew significantly in his spiritual life and church involvement.
2007 saw him commending studies at the Theological Seminary in Belgrade, feeding his motivation for mission and desire for ministry. He realised the main purpose of the Church, as expressed in Matthew 28, was mission. He involved himself in literature evangelism, public evangelism and preaching at local churches. During this time he met Sanja and after a long distance relationship of four years, they married.
Matthew then returned to Australia, continuing his studies at Avondale College. He was involved starting on campus small groups and in a church plant in Newcastle, seeing a different way of ‘doing’ church.
After graduation, Matthew returned to Brisbane where his family were settled, then received a call to the Victorian Conference where he has been since. He began by serving at Mildura and Dareton, transferring to Traralgon and Moe last year.
Matthew may you and your family be aware of God’s presence and blessing in your lives as you continue your journey in ministry.