Dr John Symons

Director French Training

Axx Bible College logo

AXX BIble College

Learn about: Axx Bible College

See more: Axx Bible College workers

+61 498 618 769

Worker Summary

Developing Christian Leaders Persecuted Christians Poor


Education & Training, Theological Education

Long Term

Dr John Symons

Key Points

  • Director French Training

Worker Details

Dr John Symons

Dr John moved to South Australia from Victoria at the end of 2014 to facilitate his marriage in April 2015. For most of the period between early 1998 and the end of 2012 he was living overseas, primarily in Africa working as a missionary firstly with Wycliffe Bible Translators and later with ACC International. His time in East Africa was curtailed in the lead up to his wife’s death in mid-2013. After that, for about five years he was primarily teaching at various Bible colleges in Victoria and South Australia. In recent years Dr John has been primarily involved in the development of online learning material with ACC International and Axx Global. His recent work at ACC International has included the development of an online based course to train prospective missionaries, while at Axx Global he is Director of French training.

Dr John is aged 58 and the father of five children aged between 33 and 19, and five grandchildren aged between 6 and 0. Dr John was widowed in June 2013, having been married for nearly 26 years. In April 2015, Dr John married Joy Wildman who has seven children of her own aged between 31 and 16. 

Dr John’s mother tongue is English and also speaks French fluently with extensive experience teaching and preaching in French, and has extensively used the French language for work over many years, both written & spoken. 

He also speaks and understands a little Kiswahili and Chadian Arabic.

Throughout Dr John’s ministry over the last forty years, there has been a strong emphasis on inter-denominational ministry. As a teenager, he began his ministry as part of a Scripture Union mission team and later went on to lead several Scripture Union missions. Dr John’s cross-cultural ministry began as a member of Wycliffe Bible translators and SIL, working alongside and for members of various churches and denominations who shared the goal of developing written Scriptures in local languages.

As an ACCI missionary, Dr John initially worked with and under a bishop of the Word of Faith movement in East Africa to facilitate the local vision of a missionary training college. This variety of denominational influences has allowed him to work effectively as a minister in God’s kingdom in whatever context he found himself. Even though Dr John holds ACC minister’s credentials and holds to the statement of belief of the ACC, he is delighted to further the work of God’s kingdom in the world in whatever form he finds it.

This history and experience has greatly facilitated his work as Director of French Training for Axx as Dr John works with pastors and other Christian leaders from a wide variety of denominational backgrounds across all the continents of the world to train them and to facilitate their effectiveness in ministry in their context and their churches.

Over many years of cross-cultural ministry Dr John’s attitudes to certain styles of ministry have developed. During Dr John’s time working with SIL and Wycliffe Bible Translators he worked within a fairly traditional missions approach where expatriates taught, led, and ran missions programs designed to achieve the goals of mission in that environment. During these years Dr John concluded that a better approach would be to come to a cross-cultural environment more as a facilitator and consultant than as a ministry leader and director. Dr John eventually came to the position that the best form of cross-cultural ministry in an environment where a viable Christian church already existed was to work specifically to enhance the abilities of that church to reach its own community and beyond, rather than setting up parallel ministries.

As a result, when Dr John moved to Kenya to develop a missionary training college, he first found a local church leader – in this case, a bishop overseeing a number of churches throughout western Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania – who had the same vision for the development of a missionary training college that Dr John had and worked directly to facilitate the development of his vision in that place. During his time in western Kenya, Dr John worked deliberately to facilitate the local vision and to make his own presence largely superfluous. As it happened, Dr John was required to leave that place earlier than expected due to his wife’s ill health, but as a result of his ministry methods in that place, the college flourished and developed further after Dr John left. He believed the main reasons for this were the fact that the college was also a local vision, not just a missionary’s vision, and the fact that training local leadership had been a priority from the beginning.

In many ways, Dr John’s work at Axx is a culmination of experiences and attitudes he has developed over a quarter of a century of cross-cultural ministry. The focus of Axx is to develop local church leadership and his work as Director of French Training is based heavily on his work experience in francophone Africa as well as his experience in the development of a local missionary training program in East Africa.

Ministry Experience

  • Team member of several Scripture Union Family Missions in SA and NT, 1982-1992
  • Team leader of several Scripture Union Family Missions at Wallaroo, SA, 1985-1988
  • Leader of Youth Ministry Casuarina UC 1991-92
  • Missionary in Chad, Central Africa 2000 – 2005 training local Bible translators (working with SIL)
  • Missionary in Kenya, East Africa 2008 – 2012, teaching and writing curriculum for a missionary training
    college and running and developing the college along with the development of similar colleges in
    Rwanda and South Sudan, as well as training college leadership (Working with ACC International)
  • Member of the East Africa School of Mission board 2008 – 2012
  • Elder, Praise Centre Mbale Kenya 2009 – 2012, included regular preaching
  • Urban Life Group leader Planetshakers, Northeast Campus 2013-2014
  • Occasional preaching and other ongoing voluntary service at Infuse Church Mt. Barker, SA 2015-2020
  • Occasional preaching at various other churches in South Australia since 2015 as invited
  • 2014: Planetshakers College, Casual Lecturer, Cross Cultural Ministry and Old Testament Survey
  • 2013 – 2017: Harvest Bible College, Casual lecturer and online facilitator for Anthropology, Missions and Biblical/exegesis subjects, Lecturer in recorded French subjects (OT, NT, Theology, Hermeneutics) for mobile pastor training project, DR Congo
  • 2014 – 2017: Eastern College Australia (Formerly Tabor Victoria) Visiting academic, online tutor in Anthropology and Missions subjects
  • 2015 – 2017: Influencers College South Australia, Casual Lecturer, World Religions and Cults
  • 2017: Member of teaching team for post grad discipleship intensive, Tabor Adelaide
  • 2018-2019: Principal supervisor for one MMin student at Tabor Adelaide
  • 2018-2021: Teaching assistant/Tutor at Tabor Adelaide in the subject “Christianity & Culture”

Institutional Recognition

  • Member Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL 1996-2012
  • Associate of ACC International 2002-2012
  • ACCI Field worker since 2012
  • Holder of ACC pastors credentials since 2002 (Ordained Minister’s Certificate since 2012)

Encourage a friend to support Dr John Symons.

Discover ways to support Developing Christian Leaders.