Rob French is Morling College’s Senior Student for 2015.
“I doubt my teachers at school would have picked this! I think my marks in ‘Religious Education’ were the worst of all!” Rob muses on the events that have led him up to this point in his life.
He completed his schooling in country New South Wales and moved to Sydney to attend university. Initially he lived at Flo Harris lodge, a ministry of Petersham Baptist Church. “It was at Flo and PBC that I was challenged and matured as a Christian. I see my time there as pivotal to my Christian journey — I started to be more involved in church and ministries.”
After a year of living at Flo, Rob moved to Morling — not because he was studying here, but because his Dad was! Rob’s father, Richard, completed a Master of Divinity and has since commenced a Master of Arts (Theology). While living at Morling, Rob audited a few classes and got a feel for what it is like to study at Bible College. “Through these subjects I was introduced to people and ideas that I had never encountered.”
Rob started to think that perhaps Morling was where he was meant to study. Richard suggested Rob gain some life experience first. “So I worked, travelled and toured in bands before I came to college.” Rob would listen to podcasts as he worked: “It wouldn’t be uncommon for me to listen to at least 6 hours of sermons, interviews and lectures.” Though he may not have appreciated his father’s suggestion at the time, Rob quickly learned that this was sage advice. “I came to a greater love of God’s word and a maturing in my faith. I began to realise that if the gospel was as important as I was being told, and slowly coming to understand, then I wanted to devote my whole life to the service of God and others, being equipped and trained to help others become as excited about the gospel as I was becoming.”
At the beginning of 2012 Rob moved back on campus, this time on his own, and started full-time study in a Master of Divinity. Rob completed this at the end of 2014 and has now commenced his “fourth year” studies toward Baptist accreditation. “It’s daunting and exciting at the same time. I have no idea exactly where I’ll be and exactly what it will look like but I have seen God’s faithfulness in bringing me to college and sustaining me, so I trust that he will do the same when it comes time for me to find a ministry position and serve his church.”
During the time Rob has been studying he has also continued serving at PBC. “I have been a Bible study leader, preached, been involved in music, led kids ministry, given announcements (that have turned into mini-sermons), and cooked some pretty good BBQs!” Rob is extremely grateful for the ways PBC has challenged, encouraged and supported him. And speaking of BBQs, Rob is also adept at frying up some pancakes on a BBQ…
“‘Pancakes’ was the brainchild of Cal Baker and myself in 2012.” Rob, Cal and then a revolving roster of other Morling students and staff, set up a BBQ on the footpath out the front of Morling College on Wednesday nights (because that is student night at the Ranch Hotel). They give away free pancakes to Macquarie University students, and other passers-by, walking up to the Ranch. “We are simply seeking to serve, love and chat with students who come past. We regularly have chats about spirituality and God and recently we saw one guy who we talked to become a Christian.”
Rob counts “Pancakes” as one of the many stand-out experiences from his time at Morling. He was enthusiastic to provide (with tongue firmly in cheek) a few more highlights: “Late night trips to Eastwood for Korean BBQ; developing and implementing the role of the ‘Study Police’ — patrolling the Morling library for sleeping students; finding out by a flurry of texts and Facebook notifications that Andrew Sloane (Senior Lecturer in Old Testament and Christian Thought, and Director of Postgraduate Studies) had used my student ID photo as an example of a Nazarene; and doing some circle-work on the oval in the ute.” That last one may not be true!
Seriously though, Rob has thoroughly enjoyed “campus community, living with people who are heading in a similar direction and knowing that they maybe have some similar fears and challenges, and being able to support and encourage each other”. He relished going to Israel and Jordan on a Morling study tour, he loves lively banter with Morling staff, and he has made lifelong friends. “I have been exposed to new ideas, authors and opportunities. The knowledge of faculty and their ability to convey that knowledge to their students clearly and passionately really comes through.”
“The biggest highlight by far though was finding my beautiful wife here!” Rob says he runs the risk of eschewing all other aspects of this article and just talking about Nicky for the whole interview. “It could easily turn into a small dissertation about her. But the fact that Nicky loves me and said yes to marrying me shows the grace of God in that a bloke whose hair is longer than most women’s and has a beard resembling that of Ned Kelly can still marry the most beautiful woman in the world!”
And as a parting gesture, Rob has decided that his goal, before he finishes his studies at the end of the year, “is to convince at least one member of faculty to get dreadlocks, then my work at Morling is done!”