Mike Gates
God at Work: International Teacher

Meet Mike. He’s married to Hannah and they have two kids, Gideon and Emily. Mike is a biology teacher and he regularly attends our 502 site at Gateway. Here is his experience of God at Work.
Over a number of years God has stirred Hannah and I to use our skills and experience overseas. This is the story of how God led us to accept a teaching role at a high school in Suzhou, China.

As well as my passion to teach and encourage students, God has given both of us a desire to travel, learn other languages and serve him in other cultures.  

Hannah had grown up as a kid to missionaries in Uganda for almost five years, an experience that gave her a hunger to serve God overseas as a family. At University I made several close Chinese friends. I was impressed by their work ethic and I enjoyed exploring our cultural differences and worldviews. Soon after, I met Hannah at Bournemouth International Outreach (July, 2008) where we were serving side by side, sharing the gospel with students from all over the world.  From very early in our relationship we both believed God would use our gifts in various international contexts and this has very much been the case, even recently co-leading Parkstone International Community at Gateway’s 502 site. 

As our passion continued to increase we attended some of the sessions from Commission’s ‘Broadcast’ incentive and the OMF Bridge Asia local prayer meetings in Bournemouth and Poole, where we prayed for various Asian nations. As we prayed for these Asian countries, people groups and communities we began hoping that we might get the opportunity to live for Jesus amongst them.

We both felt compelled to push some doors. We applied for a variety of international jobs from all over the world, but as we did couldn’t shake off the idea that we were supposed to be in China. As we waited we increasingly felt that God would make it very obvious when the right job came up.  That job came up in November last year a few days after an OMF prayer meeting on China. But after a slightly unconvincing 5 a.m. Skype interview, it was over a week later before I heard anything.  Thinking it wasn’t going to be good news, I started to reconsider whether we should remain in Poole, but after a thorough discussion with Hannah we agreed to persevere, and lo and behold, the next day I was offered the job and I felt great peace and excitement at the prospect.  I met and discussed with the various leaders at Gateway and felt supported in the decision, which was very important for us, to know that our home church is rooting for us and supporting us in prayer. 

Since then, we have had a number of affirmations. The headmaster of the neighbouring school where the kids will go was Aaron Lacey’s (one of the leaders at Gateway) primary teacher at Winton Primary in 1989!  Aaron recently and unaware of my situation had connected with him via social media and remembers him as a passionate teacher and committed Christian. He was also the headmaster of a primary school in Boscombe – which was Hannah’s first job in the area!  Another example is the deputy head of my school (who had added me on Facebook) was in York whilst I was at University and it turns one of my close friends from University is a mutual friend and he guided her to faith as part of a Chinese Christian outreach.  More than coincidence!

We are all very excited about the prospect that lies ahead, but also very anxious, and support in prayer would be especially welcome.  Hannah plans mainly to learn mandarin and be available for our two children (who should have school places provided).  There is also a large government approved expat church 30 minutes from school, which will be our place of worship and fellowship when we first arrive.