So, you are going about your everyday business, cleaning your house, visiting the gym, or cycling to work. Then suddenly you have an epiphany that God is calling you! Do you: 1) run away screaming and catch a flight to the ends of the earth? 2) Hide in the bottom of a whale wondering if God can see you? 3) Look back so you can turn into a pillar of salt! or 4) Put your hands up, repent, call your parents, and tell them what is next occurring on the agenda! Well, it is not option two as you would have the NSPCA knocking at your door. Option three is far too saline and as for option one, the treadmill was never my forte! Obviously, option four was the correct choice. However, it has been an incredible journey full of highs and lows, hopes and fears and a sojourn to the Caribbean Sea and disembarking to the Strand.
I have always been overzealous in my capacity to love and serve others following in the footsteps of my Lord Jesus Christ. I have spent my entire career within health and healthcare provision notably Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, demonstrating this same love through choices, continuity, and care. These incredible roles offered an insight into the human experience, their challenges, trials, and tests but equally their innate ability to overcome adversity with the love of God. During this period of serving throughout my secular roles it dawned on me that I deserved a rest. On the contrary, when God calls, you either say ‘Here I am’ or decide that climbing the nearest tree may impact positively on your current weight training techniques!
Reflecting on this season of Lay Ministry, I am mindful of my current journey and training. I am presently in the second year of a three-year course as a lay Evangelist-in-Training with the Church Army. The Church Army, as established in1882 by a Scottish curate namely Wilson Carlile, believed in placing ‘faith into action’, ‘social engagement’ and using lay individuals giftings, talents, hobbies, and purpose to spread the good news of the Kingdom. But how did I get here? Those of you who know me, will realise by now that nothing is straight forward pertaining to myself and the Holy Spirit which, is up front and centre. The Caribbean trip which I spoke of earlier, led me to my missional experience in St Vincent and the Grenadines, specifically in prison ministry and care home provision at the Thompson nursing home. Regarding the former, led to a Christian collaboration with prisoners, albeit ‘praise and worship’ sessions which was a humbling experience. I will draw your attention to a prisoner serving time for murder known as ‘Chocolate’ who was the best ‘tin-pan alley’ drummer on the inside! As for the latter, this was a humbling encounter, assisting the older and weakened person focusing on their reality of life, death and learning from their life experiences. And establishing an ‘outdoor hairdressing parlour’ was amazing! Simply put, it excited me to support and connect with vulnerable people on their journey of life and highlighting faith with action does work.
Returning to my training, I am constantly reminded that Church Army perpetuates a ‘can do’ approach, a ‘faith in action’ ideology towards evangelism via their D.A.R.E vision: Doing-bringing people to a living faith, Advocating-encouraging the wider church to participate in evangelism, Resourcing-to train and offer trainees the right tools to evangelise lastly, Enabling-evangelising within our own context and seizing the day! In my context, God keeps calling, the doors keep opening and I continue to affirm the call with a glad heart and support from my tutors and the whole Church Army community. This has affirmed my voluntary experiences on the Robes project with the vulnerable homeless through housing them within my local church. I gained a fantastic opportunity to support and empower them with hope, love, listening to their life stories and sign posting to local health and social providers. During winter 2021-22, I volunteered within a winter night shelter, a follow on from the Robes project and I was hooked! I was grateful for the opportunity to meet different individuals who allowed me to serve them and assist where the Holy Spirit led. Presently, my pied du resistance is street evangelism in central London. I am thoroughly honoured to meet and listen to the plethora of stories which underpin homelessness within today’s society, what contribution I can make as a Christian and how my reserve has been strengthened through this opportunity to participate in the daily lives of London’s homeless.
So, as I commence the last year of my training, I await more calls from God regarding who to serve, where, when and for how long. I am aware seasons change but also reminded to prepare for those seasonal changes just as the ants stock up their wares in readiness. I am also pleased for this recent focus on Lay Ministry and the opportunity to highlight the Church Army, their vision, and opportunities for those who feel called to evangelise. Lastly, let us all reflect on a time when God called us to ministry, the joy that it brought and that He is still calling us to fulfill our purpose for His glory and the Kingdom.
To discover more about Church Army or their Discovery Days then please log onto the link www.churcharmy.org/discover or contact the Church Army Community team on 0300 123 2113