Tell us a little about you...
I'm a local Sydney girl, finishing my English Lit degree and living in the Inner West. I love art and literature and Taylor Swift (who counts as both). Outside of uni, I spend time with running a small charity which I'm not very good at, spending time with my fam, writing and making things, and doing stuff for my church. I can rap every line on Kanye's College Dropout. My favourite place is the flower markets at Flemington, that one stall right up the back with all the Aussie farmers and their protea. How great. This was definitely the hardest question to answer out of them all.
What's your favourite bible passage & why?
I treasure John 4, where Jesus chats to the woman at the well. I don't know why, but it always moves me. To see Jesus break through all those strict Jewish cultural rules to engage with a woman who strikes me as so deeply lonely. She is isolated from her community, she is searching for happiness in love and relationships, and she can't find it. She asks for a drink, and doesn't realise who she is talking to. Jesus looks her in the eye, tells her he knows all her mistakes and bad choices, and he offers her a hope that lasts, a full, true healing to all her loneliness. That victorious line in verse 26 when he tells her, this lowly woman, that he is the Messiah... she must have been so excited! I love it.
How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
It isn't easy, I struggle. It's got to be time with God, doesn't it? Like any relationship, if you don't spend any time together, you can't be very connected. I think it's time with God before anything else, before checking my phone or having my breakfast. Before laying my needs and requests on him, or going through my mental to-do list. Just to read from the bible and just listen to him.
What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know?
There is so much to be said. Young Christian women get told a lot about what we should and shouldn't be, what we are permitted to do and not do. It's so confusing. And I think somehow we've turned that word 'permitted' into a picture of a God who might, sometimes, maybe permit women to help here or there when it comes to ministry, but who never really pursues us to take part in His plans. That the bible is mainly a book about men and for men. But when I read the bible, I see these courageous women like Miriam and Esther who took great risks for God, and through whom God brought about some of Israel's greatest victories. I would love to see young women know their value and usefulness to God's mighty plans. I would love to see a generation of women who know who they are, who understand their God-given dignity and strength, and use their many skills and talents to love other people. Our ministry doesn't start when we marry and have children, and it doesn't end there either, so let's stop hanging everything on that lesser love story. My advice to other women (and to myself!) is let's be in the word, listen to our Father's voice, and take more risks!
What's one thing that you love about your local church?
Stop! That's too hard, there are so many things. I'll give you three. I love that City Light is all about people coming to have a real relationship with the living God. That's the heart of City Light every single week. We have a rep for being a 'cool' inner city church, but it couldn't be further from the truth. Every week, my church is about ordinary people knowing God more, tracing his character, keeping hold of his promises, and letting that spill out into every aspect of our lives. City Light is not a place for good, happy, attractive people. It's a place where a perfect God engages with and delights in healing messy lives. I also love how much people love being there. Sunday isn't a chore, it's always a day full of joy. We love each other and celebrate each other. And I love the heart my pastors have, Jez and Gav. They are two of the most truly humble people I've ever met, willing to be vulnerable, and they always have time to walk alongside each of us.
What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?
Last year was a hard year! God really pushed me, which I am (now) thankful for. It was a season where God brought many people into my life who had been through trauma, pain and abuse and called me to do life with them. Part of that was that spending time at Villawood Detention Centre. I learned there that I was really weak, but I can truly do all things through him! I often felt like I wasn't sure what I was doing there or if I was making it worse. I often felt guilty leaving and going back to my nice house. I was afraid and unprepared to deal with hearing stories of torture and persecution from people who had lived through it. But I learned that God is trustworthy and will provide you with all you need. If you do something uncomfortable out of faithfulness to him, he's not going to leave you in the lurch. He'll go there with you. And he did, every time. It showed me that no place is fully dark. Even in Villawood, God was already in there, working in people's lives, without me. It's easy to be defeated by all of the suffering in a place like that, but I was reminded that love does win in the end. I'm so looking forward to that day!
What are you passionate about?
I am so passionate about God. I love him, and I love the story he has written for us. I am written into his tapestry of love, adoption, forgiveness, justice and joy. I want to share this with the people around me. (Also Taylor Swift!! What a lady! Yes?!?)
What do you enjoy doing when you rest?
To me rest is being out of the city, away from my phone and laptop, and in the sunshine. Life in Sydney can quickly become a constant treadmill of pressures and needs. I find I am overly critical, too self-involved and slow to be thankful for each new day. I need to make regular time to get away from that stuff and realise Sydney isn't the whole world! God is doing amazing things all around me and there is so much to thank him for.
[Coco's work for Asylum Seekers via an initiative called Simple Love was featured in the SMH. Read the article here]