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Hospitality as Mission: Brisbane, Australia

May 26, 2021

Redlands College

Students at Redlands College in Brisbane, Australia.

Dr. Andrew Johnson Shares His Passion for Living on Mission Daily as a Leader and Educator

For episode eight of Not a Trip, the Missions team interviewed Dr. Andrew Johnson, the Principal of Redlands College (a Christian K-12) in Brisbane, Australia. Dr. Johnson shares his passion for living on mission daily as a leader and educator, the ways in which small moments of hospitality create big openings for relationship, and the community partnership with Lipscomb Missions for over 20 years.

Eleven years ago, Dr. Johnson and his family moved seven hours south from Rockhampton to Brisbane. He quickly formed a deep connection with Redlands College and Holland Park Church of Christ. Dr. Johnson serves as the principal of Redlands but his family’s relationship with the institution does not end there. Danielle, his wife, and Laura, his daughter, both teach at the school. Two of his children have graduated from Redlands and his youngest will soon do the same. 

Redlands College is unique in that it sits in the midst of what Dr. Johnson describes as a “secular nation”, one that was not founded with a religious heritage. Because of this, he shared that the school’s philosophy is simply this: using genuine, deep relationships as a vehicle to invite people to know Christ. Each faculty and staff member of Redlands College, regardless of their role, has a genuine faith and desire to share their love for God with the students they encounter.

Redlands College Students Learning in the Hospitality Classrooms

Redlands College Students Learning in the Hospitality Classrooms

Dr. Johnson explained that only ⅓ of the student body is estimated to have a family that is actively involved in a church body. This dynamic has led to great intentionality from the school’s administration, as they strive to create authentic opportunities for the sharing of the gospel throughout each student’s academic experience. 

When Dr. Johnson stepped into this community, Lipscomb Missions had already been serving with local churches for ten years. The Johnson family soon became an integral part of this partnership and chose to be intimately involved with each team. Because of the consistency of Lipscomb’s trips to Brisbane and the depth of the relationships formed each year, he explained that “our church connection with Lipscomb is a long term relationship.”

The manner in which the Brisbane community has welcomed Lipscomb teams is a beautiful example of the hospitality that Dr. Johnson spoke of often throughout his interview. The school and its resources are purposefully open to the community including a dance studio, commercial cooking classroom, coffee shop, and restaurant.

He spoke about the reasoning for this generosity, sharing, “One thing we regularly talk about as a school community is this concept of a theology of hospitality. If we view our school as community infrastructure and if many members of our school body are drawn here because of our Christian faith but don’t share the same faith in their own lives, what can we be doing as a school to express love and hospitality?”

At Redlands College, they also instill these values of service and hospitality in their students. They recently purchased a property in Vanuatu (a nearby South Pacific Ocean nation) and in 2019, launched a service there for year nine students. As a part of their core education, each year of students in the 9th grade will go to Vanuatu for two weeks to serve a local school and community. Dr. Johnson went with the first group of students in 2019 and found their willingness to engage with the topic of selflessness encouraging, especially considering that many of these fourteen year olds may have had no previous exposure to faith. He reflected, “I got to ask a group of students who spent all day pulling down old sheds, picking up rubbish, and cleaning up a paddock, “Why are we doing this?” We sat around that night and talked about the concept of doing something for someone else when we have nothing to gain from the action.” 

Dr. Johnson’s passion for hospitality, Christian education, and relationships is a testament to the strength of his faith. If you’re interested in this field, you can read his dissertation from his Doctor of Ministry at Lipscomb, titled “Faith Formation in Christian Schools: Effective Practices Which Invite Students on a Journey Into Christlikeness.”

To learn more about Redlands College, Lipscomb’s partnership with this community, and Andrew’s story, listen to episode eight of Not a Trip here, through your favorite streaming platform. You can also check out Redlands College on their website, Instagram, or Facebook

Not a Trip