From vastly different backgrounds, Joel and Mink were headed on a collision course that came to a head at SPBC. Since meeting and marrying during their time as students, they have since lived in both Thailand and Australia, and continue to pursue adventure in their passion for God’s work.
Joel and Mink Gough’s second-to-last move was from Australia’s capital city of Canberra, to Moree, an outback town notorious for its high crime rates and poverty.
Life there was challenging in every sense, but meaningful and worthwhile; a description that fits so many of the couple’s experiences.
“There was so much brokenness everywhere in this place where God called us. But when the Master calls, what can a disciple do but follow?” says Mink.
The young pair met when they were both students at SPBC, a time Joel describes as two of the most incredible years of his life.
“I was able to grow so much both in my understanding of God, and in my personal life,” says Joel.
“It challenged me with a deeper understanding of the scriptures and God’s mission: for people to hear the gospel and to be saved. So I feel compelled even more strongly to follow that mission.”
Their studies spring-boarded them into a life of service, where their faith has flourished.
For two years, they served the church in Canberra, Australia, in various roles – from paid work with evangelism and youth, to voluntary teaching, preaching and ministry leadership.
Before that, they spent six months in Mink’s home country Thailand, a time which provided unique opportunities.
“The highlight for me was when I was asked to teach at a two-day youth event in a tribal village near Chiang Mai. I taught four lessons to the youth, and one sermon to everyone, including the village chief,” says Joel.
While in Canberra, Joel pursued his passion of working with people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
Knowing from first-hand family experience the heartache that comes from such addictions, Joel used his own tough upbringing to reflect hope back into broken lives.
“I saw God working in my life through that. There are people who are really ashamed of their past life, and are seeking higher meaning. While I couldn’t preach [at rehab centres], everyone there knew who I was as a Christian and it was not uncommon for people to ask me about Him.”
Mink meanwhile used her non-English speaking background for charity, developing English curricula to help immigrants to Australia. She also took her love of food to the hospitality industry, where she built links with the local community.
“Then God started us on the next journey, to a place where we were able to exercise our spiritual gifts in different ways,” says Mink.
“Our work in Moree was alongside other Christians, whose goal is to make Christ known in their community through social support work and sharing of the Gospel.
“We ran pick-up and drop-off services for local children to come to church, hosted community meals, delivered free fruit to families in need, worked with people experiencing addiction and disadvantage, and provided care for people with disability.”
Their season in Moree has now drawn to a close, and as they take their next steps into serving church and community in Gosford, NSW – and prepare to welcome their first child into the world – Joel and Mink say their time at SPBC helped deepen their faith, clarify their mission, and strengthen their resolve.
“The opportunities to learn and grow stretched far outside of the classroom as opportunities for ministry presented themselves within Church life, community, and class visits to other cities in New Zealand,” says Joel.
For Mink, it was gaining a new perspective on her own self-worth that made all the difference.
“Regardless of career, marriage, social status, or anything else, it is actually God who sees the value in me and places me exactly where He needs me to be. It is God’s love through the sacrifice of Jesus that says I am worthy.”
“Studying at SPBC came with a cost (I resigned from my job and moved far from home), but the blessings of knowledge, generosity, deeper understanding, intimacy with God and meeting Joel have outweighed all that. Going to SPBC was one of the best decisions in my life.”