By Stephen Cauchi
9 February 2022
Despite the challenges of working in a Japanese church, Brad Jackson returned to Australia focused on parish ministry as his next step.
On Saturday 5 February, the now Reverend Jackson was ordained a deacon in the Anglican Church with 16 others.
With his wife Michelle and three children, Mr Jackson spent 12 years working in Japan with the Church Missionary Society. Since their return to Australia in 2020, Mr Jackson has worked at Glen Waverley Anglican Church.
While still in Japan, he entered the year of discernment to determine whether God was calling him to ordination.
Read more: Strength and peace for 17 new deacons
“I was very much focused on working in a parish because I felt within myself that God had prepared me for this next step,” he said.
“I decided to enter the year of discernment before I came back to Australia. That’s the route I wanted to take – I felt in myself that now would be a good time to consider ordination.”
This came despite the challenges of serving in Japan, which Mr Jackson said last year was “incredibly difficult”.
The Jacksons and their children moved to Japan in 2008 and stayed there until 2020. They were based at Kobe, near Osaka, at Higashinada Baptist church.
“We definitely felt that we were often working beyond our ability or outside our strengths or beyond our language, ability and training. It was an incredibly steep learning curve,” Mr Jackson said.
“People are really disinterested in Jesus or Christianity. It’s foreign, it’s irrelevant. Japanese are Shinto and Buddhist and so why do they need Jesus.”
But with the challenges, came encouragements. Regularly in the Jacksons’ church, four or five people might be baptised each year.
Returning to Australia, Mr Jackson joined GWAC as senior associate minister. His discernment process took place under the oversight of mentors, including GWAC vicar Phil Meulman, and CMS Victoria state director Wei-Han Kuan.
Mr Jackson said submitting himself to the process of being examined was vital.
“Discernment isn’t something that we should do alone, it should be done with others involved confirming that sense of call,” he said.
“I love to connect with Jesus, I love connecting people with Jesus, I love to care for God’s people – that has always driven me.
“But whether you should do that as an ordained person, or whether you should do that as a missionary, needs to be discerned with other people along the way.”
Read more: New deacons ordained | In pictures
Mr Jackson plans to go on to be priested in November. Having studied in the early 2000s, he was only required to complete some top up subjects in 2021.
He is also studying clinical pastoral education, which is hospital ministry for people who are experiencing long-term significant or terminal illness.
Mr Jackson said he was glad to be ordained later in life, partly because he became Christian only as a student. He said his involvement in that ministry wasn’t enough experience to go on to become a priest.
Working with Higashinada Baptist Church in Japan gave him parish experience he needed.
“I needed to grow up and go through different stages of life too – marriage, young kids, older kids – it helps me, I think, to relate to a wider variety of people,” he said.
“At that time in my life I was more comfortable working outside the church. I didn’t really have ministry experience or the maturity and life experience to be to be able to work across a wider demographic.
“I was working in a parish context. I think that really formed me. It gave me the opportunity to make this next step that I’m taking.”