Meeting Serena Wallace

Hi, my name is Serena Wallace. Im 43 years old and I live in the beautiful town of Robertson in the Southern Highlands. I share my life with my husband Rod and 4 children (11, 9 and 7 yo twins).


Up until the beginning of this year I’ve been a stay at home mum but I’ve recently started working 1 day a week as a School Gymnastics Coach.


My family and I meet with our church family every Sunday morning at our local church, Robertson Anglican. We love our little church. It’s the only one that actually meets in Robertson so it has a challenging but exciting and significant role in the town. I am involved with the children’s ministry there and I also help lead a women’s Bible Study. I also teach K-2 scripture at our local school. Our kids love going to church. They love going the kids program and then hanging out with their friends over morning tea. Our eldest is looking forward to going the youth group and evening youth service next year when she’s in high school.


I’m really excited about being involved with T2Women this year. To be honest I was a bit surprised and unsure at first when my minister suggested it to me, but now that it’s all started I’m really looking forward to seeing what God has planned. It’s been so lovely just meeting up with some lovely women and opening the Bible with them.


I’m thankful for T2Women giving me an incentive to be more intentional about this, but also more intentional and purposeful in my relationships with other women both at church and in our community. I’m looking forward to learning, growing, sharing, encouraging, and praying with my lovely ladies throughout the year. I’m also looking forward to learning and sharing with Michelle and the other T2Women as we go on this women’s ministry training journey together.


Praying for you all.
In Christ’s service,
Serena Wallace

Meeting Lauren Cox

Hello,
My name is Lauren Cox & I live in the south west of Sydney. My family & I attend NewLife Anglican Church in Oran Park, a five year old church plant , where we have been blessed to see our congregation grow in number & maturity over the past few years.
My husband & I have been blessed with 4 wild young men ( 11,9,7,6) who definitely keep us busy! They all love “doing life” with our church family and they are always excited about serving with us on a Sunday & throughout the week.

I spend my time throughout the week caring for my family, running a community playgroup, attending Bible study & working part time as a register nurse.

I am very much looking forward to being apart of T2women this year and excited about doing something new in meeting up with people one on one with the Bible open. It is my prayer that I will purposefully be devoting time to the women God has placed in my life, wether it be from my church family or the community, to see myself and others grow in relationship with God.

Meeting Helen Hill

It’s time to start meeting the T2Women for 2017! First up is Helen Hill from Albury Bible Church.

Alison

Me: Alison, first of all tell us about you: how you became a Christian and how has becoming a Christian impacted your life?

I grew up in the 1960’s, Mum & Dad had a sincere but private faith & I went to Sunday School from the age of 3. By the time I was 13, the church was shrinking and, although I knew God & Jesus were important, I didn’t have a clue why. I couldn’t even work out the difference between Christmas & Easter! (A reminder that a churched kid may not be a saved kid – ask them what they make of Jesus!). I knew enough to know I needed to sort things out, so I returned to the Christian group at school, where I met a couple of older girls who clearly loved their church & seemed to understand things about Jesus. So I took myself off to their church & looking back I can see God was graciously guiding me towards salvation. Within a short time, through Youth Group Bible teaching & Sunday sermons, God made it clear that to me that I wasn’t a Christian. I needed to become one & I started praying that he’d help me make sense of what Jesus had done for me. On the outside, I’m sure I looked Christian – the reliable, obedient, keen, high achieving teenager. But inside I was so aware that I didn’t know Jesus as my Lord & Saviour – & that mattered! In year 10, at an ISCF camp, my small group leader (a Yr 12 girl who spent most of the weekend in conflict with the other leaders!) explained the gospel & it all made sense – Jesus, God’s Son, died on the cross, in my place, paying the penalty for my sin, so I can be forgiven. I immediately (but very quietly – I am an introvert after all!) confessed my sin, thanked Jesus for his death, asked for forgiveness & accepted Jesus as my Lord & Saviour. The Bible shaped ministry of that church was formative in establishing me as a Christian over the next 6 years.

Me: When and where did you start doing one to one ministry? What lead you to doing one to one ministry there? How did it go?

Only in the last 10 years – but I wish I’d started earlier! Michael (my husband) had been the minister at Narellan Anglican Church since 1994. The church was small & struggling but keen to be “re-potted” to reach out to the hundreds of people moving into the new housing estates. So much of my ministry revolved around small groups (Play Group, women’s daytime Bible Study), hospitality, just keeping up with new women at church, plus mothering my own school age children.

As time went on I tried to encourage our more mature Christian women to simply encourage other women, one to one; to be regular at church & join Bible Study groups. We started running a couple of events each year – usually a whole church “teaching event” & a couple of “telling” (or evangelistic) events. On the whole these were successful – unsaved women were prayed for & invited, some came along, the gospel was explained clearly & engagingly and women had the opportunity to find out more about Jesus. But sadly, for all sorts of reasons, very few of our Christian women felt able to read the Bible one to one, or lead an unbeliever through a course like “Simply Christianity”. They were also were reluctant to be trained. So I just taught myself to use Simply Christianity as best I could. I tried to improve as I went along & kept inviting any women in our church who I thought may not be Christian to join me.

Along the way, women like Isobel Lin & Di Warren were promoting the joys & value of one to one Bible reading with women. So, I asked Isobel to come out to train our women. That seminar really motivated & up-skilled me, but didn’t seem to result in much change in the church culture.

Around 2010, I decided that a women’s ministry shaped by “events” wasn’t helping our women in the task of making & growing disciples for Jesus Christ, so I suggested we scrap them & instead focus on encouraging women to be committed to church & small group Bible Studies, where we’d pray for our unsaved friends & family, and focus on inviting them to church & “whole church” outreach events. And I focused on inviting women to meet with me one to one – strugglers, women already investing in the church’s ministry, women connected to us through our children’s ministries.

I’ve found David Helm’s “One to One Bible Reading” & Sophie de Witt’s “One to One”, plus Jean Williams articles on Titus 2 ministry in The Briefing very practical & encouraging in persevering with this ministry among women.

I’ve tried to prioritise inviting women who are unsaved but interested or uncertain about their salvation to read the Bible with me, and also any Christian women who I think might be able to eventually do one to one Bible reading with others, but I’ve rarely been able to successfully pass on the baton.

 

Me: Tell us a bit about the ministry you are doing now:

Michael has just commenced studying for an MA at Moore College so he’s no longer leading a local church and, for the first time in 28 years, we’re not in formal, paid, local church leadership. We’re also now empty-nesters. This really changes how I go about ministry & I’m still working out what it looks like in this season of life!

I’m settling in to being a committed member of our new church & getting to know God’s people there. I’m still involved in primary school SRE locally, attending a daytime women’s Bible Study & I play in a local tennis competition. I’m working one day a week as a women’s chaplain at Moore Theological College & I’m part of the leadership team for the Ministry Training & Development program for wives of recently graduated ministers in the Sydney Anglican Diocese.

Me: What opportunities do you get for one to one Bible reading?

That’s still a work in progress! I’ve had some great conversations with women at church & I can see there are women who might benefit from meeting for one to one Bible reading to help them strengthen their faith. There’s other women who are investing lots of time & energy into serving their families, church & the community & I’d love to meet one to one to read the Bible with them as an encouragement to both of us to persevere in living for Jesus.

I mustn’t have a “lone ranger” mentality about one to one Bible reading ministry – it needs to occur in partnership with the wider ministry of the church, so I plan to talk with our minister about the possibilities for next year.

Me: What are some of the challenges you find in one to one ministry?

One to one Bible reading has become part of the teaching & training culture of our university Christian ministries but that doesn’t seem to have flowed over to our churches. It’s simple but not easy & seems to be an unknown & scary animal for many women. It can sound too intense, too simple & inefficient. In reality it’s all about allowing the Scriptures to do a deep work of God, in a few people, at a time. Sadly, in women’s ministry we can be tempted to buy the lie that women need friendship more than they need the Word of God, so we’re keener to run events than to equip our women to confidently sit down with another woman, to feed on God’s Word together.

Me: What are some of the highlights for you of one to one ministry?

Simply helping women to see the truth & goodness of God’s Word, and see it’s relevance for their lives. I love the way one to one Bible reading enables women to see that they can understand the rich truths of God’s Word & that his Word speaks straight into their lives, needs & longings. Minds are renewed & lives transformed for eternity & God’s glory, when the Scriptures are opened up.

I love the way one to one Bible ministry complements the preaching & small group Bible teaching ministries of our churches. There are always Christians in our churches who’d benefit from the “made to measure” nature of one to one ministry. Many of our women may never have the opportunity or ability to teach the Bible “up front” but, with support & training, they are well able to contribute to the building up of God’s church through one to one Bible reading.

One to One Bible reading is such a flexible ministry for women in all different seasons of life. You just commit to as many partnerships as you can manage given your other responsibilities & your capacity. And it’s all about letting God’s Word speak – taking the initiative to build a spiritual relationship with another woman where we help each other to receive Christ & keep walking in him by reading the Bible together, & we leave the results to God.

And I’m also thinking that gospeling through one to one evangelism (at least in the initial stages) might be far more effective than large group events.

Thanks so much for sharing with us Alison!

Liz

Liz is a woman who works a four-day week so she can meet with other women to read the Bible one-to-one every Friday. In this interview she tells us how giving up a day of paid work each week has been valuable to her Christian life.

If you’re in a position to dedicate a day per week to discipleship in your church and being trained for this through T2Women, drop me a line or give me a call to discuss. Likewise if you are a minister who would like to see women in your being equipped and enabled to be disciple-making disciples of Jesus.

Me: Liz, first of all tell us about you and your Christian background.

I grew up in a small family with my mum and brother.  My mum was a Christian so she took us along to church and Sunday school and we grew up learning about God’s love for us. God also provided an anonymous donor to cover the school fees for my brother and I to attend the local Christian school. It was great growing up in this Christian school and church and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know about God.
Having said that there have been some turning points where the penny has dropped or I came to a new understanding of things. One instance was when I was about 14 and I realised how big God is, that we truly do face God after we die and will have to give an account of our lives and how we’ve treated him. Another was in my first year of Uni and the Christian student group on campus and my new church taught us about Gods grace That God had in his love taken the initiative to enter our world in his Son to show us what he is like, to show what his kingdom is like and ultimately to take the punishment that my behaviour towards God deserved, blew me away. What a relief. God doesn’t treat me based on how good I can be and he doesn’t hold my sins against me….instead, through faith in his son, he sees me as forgiven, washed clean, and has adopted me as his child. Knowing God is the best thing in life and as a favourite verses puts it….”he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

Me: You did a ministry apprenticeship. What did you learn through that?

 I’d been in the workforce for a couple of years before that, but ministry was a whole new world. It was great getting together with the staff and being trained in different ministry topics and my trainer (the women’s pastor at the time) spent time with me reading the Bible and praying and talking about lots of different topics around life and ministry. She was so enthusiastic in her love for God and her love for people and in her desire to see people know the God she had come to love….and she was a great model of faith and love and service. Throughout the traineeship I also discovered this new thing called “one to one” as my trainer and I spent time in the word together, reading, chewing over it and applying it and praying for its fruit in our lives. She encouraged me to invite others to join me in “one to one” so that’s what I did (very hesitantly) and from then on Its been great catching up with other women to share life, and open God’s word together to be strengthened and shaped by it.

Me: When you finished your apprenticeship you decided not to go into full-time ministry. Can you tell us a bit about that decision?

I can’t really put my finger on why I didn’t pursue full time ministry. I had definitely learnt lots and grown and changed as a result of the traineeship but in some ways didn’t feel that I was built for full time ministry. Soon after finishing the traineeship I went back into the workforce but I guess now with a new focus on how I could manage work, life and ministry around God’s priorities.

Me: The decision not to go into full-time ministry didn’t mean you stopped doing ministry all together. How are you involved in one to one ministry now?

Over the years it’s been a joy catching up with others to read the Bible and pray together and no one catch up is the same. I’ve loved catching up with students who aren’t Christians who are interested in finding out who Jesus is, with people who are new Christians and people who have been Christians for a while. This year it’s been encouraging catching up with a friend and reading Matthew together. In the busyness of work and life it’s a precious time to take a breath, and reflect, and reset – to be reminded about who we are in Christ and be reminded about God’s priorities for us and for the world.

Me: How has giving up a day/week of paid work to meet women one to one been worthwhile/challenging?

It’s really easy to get caught up in the busyness (and tiredness) of work, family, travel, hobbies, friends, etc. etc. and time with God and others gets squeezed out. Fridays off work have provided more of an opportunity to pause, spend time with God in his word and in prayer and through reading other books both on my own and with others.
Sometimes it’s hard being a Christian and staying a Christian. There are lots of struggles and busyness and distractions that threaten, often gradually, to draw us into tiredness or worldliness or complacency (to name a few) and to shift our eyes off Jesus, off our need for God and away from our citizenship in heaven. The most encouraging part of “one to ones” is walking the Christian life together – seeing people growing in their love for God and their desire to know Him more, growing in their dependency on him, prioritising him in their lives and their decisions, seeing God’s word change people and seeing people firm in their faith in him, despite whatever circumstances they face.

Me: Things haven’t always been easy for you. What would you like to share with us about your tough times? How has your time in God’s Word help you process that?

I’ve discovered everyone thirsts for things in life – more money, more freedom, more rest, more holidays, to be happy or secure, to be married, to not be married, to have children (to not have children!), to have closer relationships with family and friends, to not be lonely. And often things don’t turn out in life to match our expectations or hopes. A couple of years ago, while I was pretty “thirsty”, I spent some time in John’s gospel and stumbled across this passage with Jesus’ words…”if a person is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). We wish for a whole lot of things in life and often they are good things and good gifts from God and they do bring joy. But what do we do when they don’t happen, we don’t experience them, they don’t turn out as satisfying as we expect or they don’t last. In the face of these sorts of things, I learnt a little more, to depend on Jesus, the only one who can bring lasting joy and satisfaction, the source of true life that will last beyond this life. Life’s struggles, and dissatisfactions will come and go, and we won’t necessarily stop desiring these good things, but knowing God redirects our thirst from what is temporary and fleeting and towards what is certain and permanent. It anchors us and his love for us reminds us that our struggles are temporary, he has won us by the blood of his son, his character and plans are unchanging and we look forward to an eternity with him that can’t perish, be spoiled or fade. Jesus said elsewhere in John’s gospel “he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” This doesn’t mean that he will give us everything we ask for or we’ll always find satisfaction in things in this life, but it lifts our eyes above our circumstances and helps us to find satisfaction for our thirst in him…his love and forgiveness, his justice, and his faithfulness.

Me: Do you have a favourite moment from a one to one to share with us?

It’s always a highlight when people encounter Jesus for the first time. As we were working through “2 ways to live” and particularly Jesus death and resurrection the girl I was reading with was blown away that Jesus would die in her place so that she could be forgiven by God. “Jesus took my place?…. But why did he have to die?…. To save me?…Because of his love? ….Amazing”. …Indeed.

Thanks so much for sharing with us Liz!

Kathryn

One to one Bible reading isn’t just for those in professional ministry or those with spare time on their hands. Let’s meet Kathryn who made a number of life changes so she could meet with other women to read the Bible and then was helped by her Bible reading through some of life’s unplanned changes.  This is yet another woman who has inspired me by her love for the Word, her faithfulness and her godly example.

Me: Kathryn, first of all tell us about you and your Christian background.

I had the absolute privilege of growing up in a Christian family. I can not remember a time when I didn’t know that Jesus loved me and had died for me. That unswerving knowledge has always been a wonderful stability in my life. I grew-up immersed in Church-Stuff and Christian ministry – if we hadn’t just come home from a church thing, then we were on our way there, or Mum was preparing something for a Church function while Dad did the cleaning or maintenance at the church property! It was a great demonstration of discipline and dedication and I don’t in anyway want to criticise the excellent example shown me. I grew up in the same vein and became very busy at church and for church.

Me: About 8 years ago now, you came to a new realisation in your Christian faith. What was that and how did that change your relationship with God?

Yeah! I had this realisation that I was so busy at church that I hadn’t actually been in church!!!! So, I looked around for an evening service of another church where I could slip into the back seat and just listen – didn’t have to sort out the photocopier, look after kids, set-up the tea and coffee, vacuum the hall etc, but just sit there anonymously and listen … and the more I just sat there and listened, the more God revealed to me that I was “working” my way to Heaven – somehow I’d missed, forgotten, obliterated, run-over, shut-down and ignored the wonderful gift of God’s grace!

Being saved is this wonderful free gift from a generous loving God, not something I had to earn. It was quite a shock to realise that the work had all been done by Jesus on the Cross and it was offered to me for nothing!!! The joy that followed that revelation was amazing – I don’t think up until that time I had ever realised how much joy my relationship with God could bring.

God is good, loving and kind – not someone I have to appease, impress or gain the favour of. Service flows from that wonderful grace not in order to get it! What a marvelous relief!

Me: When and where did you start doing one to one Bible reading?

I think it was the beginning of 2011. I had heard the virtues of one-to-one Bible reading extolled, but I didn’t really know how to go about asking someone. I didn’t know who to ask, what to say, which part of the Bible to choose or what to talk about. At the Women’s Dinner for Church, some women who had been sharing in one-to-one Bible Reading talked about their experience and at the end of the evening we were invited to indicate if we were interested in participating. We were then “matched” with another interested woman and given some suggestions for going about it. It was a little bit awkward at first, but became a great time of learning and sharing. We started reading Colossians using the COMA (Context, Observation, Meaning, Application) method. This first experience showed me how natural it could be. Two Christian women of a similar age and situation yet with a lot of differences too, sitting reading and discussing the Bible together. It was a familiar passage, yet there was just so much more that God could reveal to us both.

Me: A few years ago you qualified for long service leave from your public service job. Tell us how you used your leave. 

I decided to invest in a year at Bible College. BEST thing I could have done!! I just loved it. It was a quite a undertaking for me – to move from my own comfortable “place and space” to living a college environment – sharing every meal with others, joining the queue for the washing machine, remembering to take all I needed from my room to the showers!!!! … and writing essays again … it was a long time since my undergraduate degree!!! But to be immersed in God’s Word everyday … for my job to be to read, think and discuss the Bible was SUCH a privilege. I’m glad I didn’t try to study part-time, because then, for me, it would have been another thing I had to do in addition to my employment responsibilities and the other requirements of my “usual” life … this way, study was a total break from my “normal” life … and such a blessing.

Me: Do you think going to Bible College was necessary in order to read the Bible one to one?

Absolutely not! Reading the Bible can be an academic exercise, but the great thing about God’s Word is that it is for everyone. That was one of the things that really struck me while studying at college – the accessibility of God’s Word. The other blessing was seeing the cohesiveness of God’s Word … and hence the confidence I can have in this wonderful gift of the Bible.

Me: What opportunities have you had for one to one Bible reading since you finished college?

I’ve read the Bible with such a variety of women – a non-Christian skeptic, an inquiring Catholic, someone with mental illness and a younger Christian girl. Sometimes it been organized and orderly, sometimes it has been chaotic and completely unpredictable! Sometimes I’ve offered, sometimes I’ve been asked, sometimes it has been over a long period, other times just a few short weeks. I try to make the most of any opportunity because God’s Word is available, accessible, useful and necessary for everyone.

Me: Things haven’t been easy for you over the last few years. What would you like to share with us about this time? How has your time in God’s Word help you process all that has been happening?

I’ve developed an auto-immune inflammatory disease. Sometimes I’m in so much pain, I can’t get out of bed. I have waves of debilitating fatigue and haven’t been able to do all the normal things I’ve taken for granted. There have been great stretches of time when I haven’t been able to get to church … I’ve spent days in bed, in a darkened room, with either horrid pain or the mental fuzz of medication to alleviate that pain. I’ve had numerous tests and investigations; been prescribed several medications and experienced their side effects. In seeking to work out with my Specialist what caused this illness, he responded: “Well when it comes down to it … it’s just bad luck” … very clinically encouraging (NOT)!!!!!

The objective reality of the truth of God’s Word is what I hold onto. The Bible tells me God in is charge and has a plan for this world. It is a fallen, broken world where sin is rife BUT this life is NOT all that there is … If it is only about what I can see, taste, feel and do … then given my recent limitations it would be pretty disheartening.

I might be disappointed, upset … even angry if I had to face this situation without knowing God is in control. In His Word He shows it is not all about me, nor do I exist in isolation … uncared for by our Lord and Saviour. He is in charge and He knows and He cares and this pain will not last forever. When I can’t read the Bible, I can listen to it being read, I can listen to helpful Hymns and Christian music – much of it Scripture in song! That is a real blessing.

Recently I have been listening to the Psalms being read aloud – no commentary or questions, just God’s Word. The real-ness (if that is a word?) of the Psalmists’ experience and his anguish and joy is so clear … as is the recurring theme … God is my salvation – not God will faciliate/provide/plan/give/bring about my salvation … but God Himself IS my salvation. What a wonderful truth!

Me: What are some of the highlights for you of one to one ministry?

….oh so many!! Reading through one of the Gospels with a non-believer was amazing – she had so many questions about God and Science and Church politics and denominations and Christian attitudes to a whole range of moral issues … and at first I was overwhelmed attempting to answer them … but I suggested we read a biography of Jesus, an eyewitness account. It was wonderful to just let the Bible do the talking – I didn’t have to think of the right words! In reading the Bible together she saw Jesus going about His business and the claims made about Him – both by others and Himself. It was wonderful to see her developing some understanding … away from any claims of an institution or organisation.

Reading with a Christian sister was wonderful … we took time to slow right down to read – really read and digest – verse by verse. Sometimes in Bible Study, the aim is to get the general idea of a passage or locate the specific answer to a question … and neither of those things is wrong, but in reading a well-known passage slowly and carefully in a one-to-one context gave such a wealth of opportunity to savour the words and allow them to impact us.

A personal blessing has been being reminded of the sufficiency of Scripture. Reading with a younger girl who had some interesting thoughts about a particular topic and being unsure how to correct her in a gentle but effective way, we read a relevant passage and I watched her answer her own questions from it. God’s Word in action before my very eyes!!!!!

Me: What are some of the challenges?

Also so many!!!

Reading the passage about Jesus death with a women experiencing mental illness and with a history of physical abuse, was hard – she became extremely upset. I didn’t want to soften the reality of what Jesus went through but at the same time I didn’t want to increase her distress. I just had to trust that God is good and caring and understood her situation better than me.

A problem I continually experience is that I get impatient and want the woman I am reading with to become a Christian immediately!!!! I have to remember it is God’s work, not mine … I just keep praying that God will work through His Spirit in the lives of those I am reading with!

A general challenge is making sure you actually read the Bible … sometimes it is easy to let the meeting-up time become a social catch-up or a de-brief about life or a counseling session!!! Now each of those may have a place in the relationship, but discipline is important to actually ensure you read the Bible.

Me: And the big question – why would anyone with a great job give up a day per week of paid employment to read the Bible with other women?

Because God’s Word is so good! It is for everyone! I feel as if I have been given a special gift of joy in knowing Jesus and I want to share that with whomever I can. Paid employment is only for this lifetime, but the truth of God’s Word lasts forever.

Thanks so much for sharing with us Kathryn!

Julie

When I started my first full-time ministry position post college, Julie was one of those older women at the church who immediately gave me that sense of ‘we are sisters-in-Christ and we doing life together’. When I think of what I want to be like ‘when I grow up’, Julie 
encapsulates it! Becoming a Christian later in life has not slowed Julie down in using her gifts and life experiences for God’s glory and his kingdom. Tell me if you know of any other woman who started her missionary ‘career’ in her seventies! Let’s meet Julie:

Rosemary

A few months ago I had the very great privilege of staying with Rosemary Thorburn and her husband Tim in Perth. Rosemary has been meeting with women one to one for a few decades now across a variety of contexts, so I thought I would ask her about it. Here are some of her highlights challenges and tips.

Me: Rosemary, first of all tell us about how you became a Christian?

I grew up in a church-going family and thank God for giving me that background. For confirmation classes, a godly man took us through the articles of faith of the Anglican church and backed it up with a series of Bible verses supporting each one. A couple of weeks ago I had a look at that book – 50 years after we did it. It is brilliant! I think I worked out I wanted to be Christian back then through that.

High school was a lonely place for me as a Christian but God brought me into contact with Christians at Beach mission and then at Uni. They taught me God’s word and the gospel and helped me to take off as a Christian.

Me: When and where did you start doing one to one ministry?

I started meeting one to one with other students at UNSW in the late 70’s. I’m a slow learner – still at it!

Me: You currently work alongside your husband Tim doing one to one ministry at UWA, but you haven’t only done one to one with uni students have you? Can you share some of your other ways of doing one to one in different contexts of life?

We lived in a country town in WA for nearly 4 years. I didn’t like it much. WA country towns aren’t big – ours was 4-500 with 800 people in the wider community the town served. There weren’t many Christians. One Lent we ran a course explaining Christianity and we asked as many people to come as we could. About 8 came. One was a mum who ran the kid’s gym club. After that ended I started meeting with her one to one to continue investigating Christianity and then consolidating her faith. But she was very busy, so we met while she was at work! She looked after a dress shop in our town. We met there, and read and chatted about it. If someone came into the shop (rare in a town so small – especially if you avoided school pick up) we downed tools and looked after them, then picked it up again when they left.

My daughter Sarah attended ballet classes when we were back in Perth. At one stage we moved house but I still took her back to the same school. What can you do for the hour/hour and a half while you wait for your child? Well you can do the shopping if the shops are still open or you can meet someone to read and pray. You just have to find someone who lives nearby or who will meet you there. Over 5 years I usually managed to find someone to make good use of that time.

I remember trying to talk to a group of wives of the students at our local theological college about one to one. I sent them off to have a go there and then. I won a mum who had a very active toddler in tow! We managed to read the passage and talk about it on the move and with the child climbing all over us. It is worth persevering with someone on the bad days as well as the easy days!

Me: Any funny stories for us?

I’m not funny!

When my first child was about 8months old I started doing “Just for Starters” with a new Christian lady at our church who had been converted through a messy marriage break up. We met while Andrew had his sleep time. It took us a whole year to get through the studies. Boy Rosemary, you must have dragged it out! No, but she did teach me how to leave Andrew to put himself off to sleep. One time I insisted on going in to look at him – only to discover he was hanging on to the rail on the outside of the cot!

In that year we worked through the yes and no of whether she wanted to get back together with her husband, how could she ever trust him again when he had betrayed her trust and how to build a different relationship. When we did the study on church she talked about the love and acceptance she had found at her Bible study group but also the value she had gained from my challenges to her on the tough area of returning to her marriage. All that happened in amongst those studies on the basics of the Christian life!

I still have that sinking feeling at the beginning of each year or semester when I want to start one to one with someone new. Why would they want to meet with me? Other people seem so much better, more interesting, younger, etc. But I usually end up with too many, too quickly. Then there is no room to squeeze in someone who comes along.

I have had the awesome experience of having to follow meeting one to one with a uni student after my daughter Sarah had met with them. That was daunting and I wondered if I would live up to the standard she’d set. Ridiculous really because it’s my one to one with the girl and Sarah had moved on! Get over it Rosemary!

Me: What are some of the highlights for you of one to one ministry?

Highlights are the privilege of getting to know someone really deeply around God’s word and seeing them grow and change. It’s even better than teaching piano or chemistry– when the penny drops, or change comes, it’s much more meaningful and eternity-lasting! What a privilege to be influential in that change and to see it up close.

The privilege of being the person God uses to read a gospel with someone and see them meet Jesus, grow to love Him and submit to him as their King.

Everyone is unique, though we might have similar issues and questions. This means I am never sure where God might take us and what He will be achieving through us meeting.

Me: What are some of the challenges?

It’s a challenge to keep being on the lookout for people to meet one to one with; finding people to link up with one another to do it and imparting the vision to someone of doing one to one themsleves. So changing the culture in a church or Christian community where it is not the norm is a good challenge to set yourself.

Now I’ve been doing it quite a while and am usually three times the age of a lot of the students (!!!) it is harder to make it mutual. I have to work at getting the younger ones asking me questions and challenging me with how I am going christianly. I need to train them and give them permission to ask me. So, in the last couple of years I have worked at getting some of the students to come each time with a question – anything! – to ask me. Three students in a row asked me: what was my favourite meal, what I thought about homosexuality and how Tim and I as leaders could say we were blameless/above reproach!

I find talking godliness and progress in godliness challenging. I might decide to read a passage like 1 Tim 4:11-16 or Galatians 5:13-26 or talk about relationships with everyone I meet with that week and see what conversations God opens up and where we might help each other to make progress.

It can be distressing when someone moves in an ungodly direction, or away from God, or does something you don’t want them to do. But I don’t want to tell people what to do and I must remember that I am responsible for myself and my actions and can only encourage others and speak plainly to them. They shouldn’t do anything to please me; rather they are responsible for their actions to God. That doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it.

Me: Any other tips?

The value is always two way! – I often think I am more dependent on meeting with women to keep me going than they are on me. Certainly I find my Bible reading goes way down in the uni holidays! And I miss my partners!

Don’t over think or prepare – be natural as much as you can, simple and inquisitive. And it’s crucial to spend a lot of the together time reading God’s word or talking about the ministry you are doing together. God’s word is powerful. The normal diet should be focussed there.

If I’m reading the Bible with someone I don’t prepare. I want to model reading and how to understand the passage as we go, and I often know more than my partner anyway. I might work out some questions for the genre we are working on – I have borrowed Michelle’s idea of business cards with a few basic questions you can ask of any passage on them. That’s been so good.

Don’t answer a question, work out how we can find an answer together.

Pray heaps for each other and your time together.

If Rosemary’s thoughts on one to one in this interview have inspired you and you would like to be trained in one to one ministry, please drop me a line.

bible and coffee

Fairlie

I cannot begin to tell you how much I admire Fairlie and how grateful to God I am for bringing her into my life. We were at church together for the past seven years; when I was between houses she put me up in her spare room and when I started T2Women, she was one of the first women to sign up, despite her many years experience as a missionary kid, a missionary and as a minister’s wife. Her humility and her desire to make Jesus known in every circumstance is an example I could not let go unnoticed.