It’s been a long path to ordination for the Rev Sum Chim Ho, whose varied work has included primary school teaching in her native Hong Kong, language learning in Japan, and music therapy training, theological study, university work and parish ministry in Sydney.

“It just so happened that God has opened the door [to ordination] now,” she says. “In 2021 when I finished college, I’d wanted to serve as a chaplain in aged care, but that door hadn’t opened. Yet I could see the door open wide to international student ministry with EUFOCUS [at the University of Sydney], which was something I’d never thought of before. The ministry was so fruitful by God’s grace, so I just stopped considering ordination.” 

While at college, Miss Ho had been a student minister at Sylvania, and stayed on as a part-time pastoral worker after graduation, developing strong connections during COVID. It was her rector here, the Rev Mark Charleston, who raised the idea of ordination again, but she was doubtful. Perhaps she wouldn’t be the kind of assistant minister the parish would want? 

However, she recalls, when Mr Charleston announced her new job to the congregation, “they were all very excited and happy and somebody also came to me with tears! They were so glad that I can stay and have a substantial position at church... my minister and faithful church family members are all very supportive alongside me in this journey.”

Miss Ho grew up in a Christian family in Hong Kong. They went to church every Sunday but, she says, the church was one where members didn’t regularly open the Bible during the week. She put the pieces together in her late teens after she and two other young people were chosen to lead on a summer Bible camp in the US under the guidance of the Rev John Peterson, an American missionary based in Hong Kong.

“We experienced worship, we read God’s word every day and saw how God’s people love one another – you see how committed they are,” she recalls.

“John Peterson was the one who trained me... He was always very encouraging; he helped me to understand more about Christianity and what it looks like for Jesus to be in our day-to-day life.”

After this, Miss Ho spent several years working in Hong Kong as a schoolteacher before going to Japan to learn the language (on top of her existing fluency in Cantonese, English and Mandarin). It was during this period, when she had “more time with Jesus”, that she had a growing conviction of giving the rest of her life to him to use as he saw fit.

But what would that look like? People during her 18 months in Japan had spoken about Bible college and ministry, yet an earlier desire to train in music therapy also returned. So, in 2012 she travelled to Sydney to study music therapy for two years, attending a Chinese service at St John’s, Parramatta, where she ended up working after university.

“I didn’t plan to stay – but now it’s my 12th year!” she says. “It was totally not my plan, but everything makes sense now when we look back.”

Miss Ho now has training in numerous fields, work experience with people of all ages, and a busy and varied ministry of home visits, SRE, student work, music ministry, walk-up evangelism and – soon – easy English classes.

So, it’s not surprising that, in addition to her parents (who flew in from Hong Kong to witness her ordination), Miss Ho had supporters and friends at the Cathedral from Sylvania, Parramatta and EU, among others. 

“It’s not just my ordination; they’re all part of it and we all worked together on this journey – it’s so encouraging,” she says. “I had over 30 people come from Sylvania to support me, and a dozen of them are over 80! And when I went back to church the next day, they had also prepared an ordination cake for me, and because my parents were here as well... they had my parents in the photo to [help] cut the cake. 

“I just want to keep doing God’s good work,” she adds. “Our God is a God to all nations. Because I’m a minister from a different culture I want to encourage people how to be united in Jesus, in God’s word. Regardless [of] what culture you are from, what language you speak, we have to share that love, share that gospel, with other people.”