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Apichart Branjerdporn

1968-1970 / NZBTI Diploma (Henderson Campus)

I came to NZBTI in 1968 from Bangkok, Thailand. This was my first time away from home. I came from a very humid and hot country to a very cold and freezing country. When I arrived the first night, I was picked up from the airport by one of the students - thank you.

I am very grateful for the scholarship that I received from NZBTI, especially for Mr Rushbrook for his generosity in finding a scholarship for me. Praise God for that opportunity which allowed me to begin God's ministry.

I spent the first night sleeping on top of my bed, not realising that I had to get under the blankets to keep warm. Bangkok was always so hot we didn’t need blankets. The next day I was asked to see Mr Rushbrook. I explained that in Thailand we don't make the bed, we just have a bottom sheet, so I thought that I could not mess the bed up. As a result, Mr Rushbrook gave me an electric blanket to make sure that I was warm for the rest of the stay.

Student life was so nurturing in my journey with my Lord, because of the care and love that my fellow students extended to me. They invited me to their homes, particularly during Christmas time to celebrate with their families.

I am so thankful that as a result a number of fellow students came to Thailand as missionaries; Graham Seed, Bob Joyce, David Ricker, Ben Kong, and others.

This time helped me to discipline myself to study God's word in a meaningful way, as well as teaching me to dig deep into Greek and Hebrew scriptures in God's word. Thank you to all my fellow students for your friendship, devotion, and for showing me what Christian fellowship is, no matter what position we come from. We all helped each other in our duty rosters. If there is anyone to mention for his example it's Dr John Roke. Thank you, John, for your devotion and your humility.

In 1970 I went to Brisbane, Australia with a scholarship for Kenmore Christian College. I met my wife Gwenda who was preparing to go as a missionary with OMF to Thailand. God called us to marry. We went to Thailand as missionaries with Far East Broadcasting Company in 1973. I was seconded to help teach and be the Registrar at the Bangkok Bible College with Dr Henry Briedenthal. I also became a Minister with Church of Christ in Thailand, a community Christian church.

I received a scholarship to attend Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, Portland Oregon, USA, and then on to Dallas Theological Seminary, Texas, USA, to complete my Master of Theology.

We returned to Australia at the end of 1978 where I was appointed a Minister with the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA), Queensland Synod. I retired in 2011, after serving for 25 years. I was a Minister of four congregations and a Chaplain of Brisbane Boys’ College.

I have been retired 10 years now. I have done Supply as a Minister for many Uniting churches. I took my long service leave for three months, being invited to lecture in Bangkok Theological College (training ministers for Church of Christ in Thailand). I am a member of the Synod Counselling Committee, (Qld Synod, UCA) supporting ministers in compliance and complaints.

We have three grandchildren which we look after now and then. We have taken holidays, trips and cruises all over the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to study at many places which has shaped me and allowed me to learn so much so that I can help others to become ministers and active members of our Churches. Through the Uniting Church I was able to assist at least 70 laypersons (CALD, culturally and linguistically diverse) to become Lay Preachers. These lay pastors are taking an active role in many churches, preaching faithfully, and living lives pleasing to God. I also had the opportunity to study in universities here in Australia, with postgraduate studies in education, social work, counselling, and mental health to empower me to assist the wider community.

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