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.