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.
Me: Fairlie, first of all tell us about you: how you became a Christian and how being a Christian has shaped your life?
I grew up in a Christian home and my dad was a very godly man who clearly taught the Scriptures. When I was about 14 years old I realised I’d never be happy in life if I turned my back on Jesus Christ, so I basically yielded to Christ because I wanted to be happy!!
I always felt shy, a third culture kid, and as if I had no particular talents like other people seemed to have. Trusting Christ gave me a foundation for life that gave me meaning, and showed me that the answer to shyness was to obey Jesus’ command to love other people and reach out to them as he did. As a young adult I struggled with obeying Jesus instead of following my selfish preferences.
Me: When and where did you start doing one to one ministry?
I’ve always preferred one-to-one or small group ministry. In the 1980s I started linking mature Christian women with others, to use the same daily Bible reading notes and meet once a week to share their progress. I the 1990s I taught ‘Christianity Explained’, sometimes one-to-one with women who were too shy to come to a small group.
Me: I know that you had been meeting up with two women from your church who have each died in the past few months. First, tell us how you came to be meeting with them and what you did in those meetings?
‘A’ had a slight stroke, and soon after said to me that she had noticed some people in their home group had a walk with Christ that she lacked – could I help her to find that? We met almost every week for about 18 months, during which time she read the Bible through 1 ½ times and asked scores of questions, as well as using Bible reading devotional notes. She grew to a deeper relationship with Christ and her prayer life was transformed. Unfortunately her health deteriorated steadily in spite of receiving all the medical help available, and she became very discouraged and took her own life.
‘E’ was in a nursing home with severe dementia. ‘A’ and I used to visit her weekly and share a Bible reading, prayer and hymn music, from a book of devotions for people with dementia published by Scripture Union. She rarely spoke but always had a serene look on her face when we left. One of the staff commented to me, “E always enjoys your visits.” She recently went to be with Christ.
Me: How did your one to ones with them help you as you grieved their deaths?
Because we are saved by God’s grace through faith, I rejoice that they are both with the Lord who met them deeply through his word and prayer. They were both very responsive to God’s word.
Me: What are some of the highlights for you of one to one ministry?
Teaching Christianity Explained to individuals who were too embarrassed to go to a group was very rewarding.
A close friendship grew between me and a Sudanese Catholic lady I met with for about 3 years – it took that long to read Mark’s gospel, learning English on the way!
Helping women to meet with another was an encouragement to both.
Me: What are some of the challenges?
God works at a different pace in individuals and our job is to be patient and faithful.
Sometimes I wondered how valuable it was with the lady with dementia, but the words and music clearly entered deeply into her spirit.
Me: Any other tips?
It’s always useful to have a plan. eg. there are books to help people read one-on-one, or read through a gospel or Genesis, or share questions from daily readings. Occasionally I may choose a reading that I think meets a need for a person, but basically I think it’s best to follow some plan.
With a mum who has an unbelieving husband and rarely gets to church, I usually share the reading and points from the week’s sermon.
As in all Christian work, we don’t always see fruit – our job is to be faithful.
T2Women: equipping and enabling women to be disciple-making disciples of Jesus.