- Tell us a little about yourself
I was born in New Zealand and had a difficult start in life as the second unwanted pregnancy to my young mum. I have always loved humour and found it has been quite an effective way to deal with tragedy until you really have to deal with it!
I never met my father but I had a stepfather for a short time and I refer to my family as having a Triple A rating referring to adultery, addiction and abuse. I often joke that I was trained in rejection, which of course is the perfect training for politics.
I didn’t just have a dysfunctional family but was also born with a dysfunctional bladder hot wired to my strong sense of humour; clearly not a good combination! So having to deal with embarrassment and shame until I had corrective surgery at 18 was par for the course. Sadly, I found comfort in all the wrong places.
As you can imagine, it was a long journey from all that to where I am now and I still marvel at God’s amazing grace. My employer transferred me to Sydney in 1986 and Australia became my Promised Land. I was baptised into faith in 1989 and the journey beyond this has been amazing.
Since then my faith has been integrated into my being in such a way that it has impacted every area of my life whether as wife, mother, sales person, recruiter, author, public speaker or political candidate. Faith literally changes us from the inside out. Despite my rough start in life, my greatest challenge was when my only son Nathan was battling childhood leukaemia. Really, nothing compares. Selah.
- What's your favourite bible passage & why?
Psalm 68: 5 -6
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families …
This is just ‘one’ of my many favourites. I think when you’ve ‘lived a verse’ you are even more deeply impacted by its truth. Our heavenly Father adopts us into a special spiritual family; ie his own. We get the perfect father and elder brother and a whole heap of imperfect brothers and sisters on the same journey we are towards reflecting the perfect image of Christ. This is pretty awesome especially for those who have spent their life living with loneliness without father, mother, brother and sister. It’s the faithfulness of God that always impacts me deeply and how he pursues his beloved to redeem and restore to wholeness both individuals and entire families.
- How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
Hmmm… that’s a lot easier when we live in the constant reality of His Presence. Moses said ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here…what else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?’ (Exodus 33:15-16)
So in more recent years ‘fixing my eyes’ is all about focused awareness; being constantly aware of God’s Presence whether at home, work or just out and about. We are told God’s Presence ‘gives us rest’ (verse 14) so in large part this puts an end to our own searching efforts. We know where God is; ie right there with us! David said, ‘where can I flee from your presence’ (Psalm 139:7) and the NLT translation puts it this way:
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your Presence!
Experiencing this Presence every day in ordinary life is what now gives me hope and certainty. But if his Presence is not real in our own life, then with so many conflicting messages bombarding us every day, I think we can too easily become ‘un-fixed’. So this doesn’t work for those who don’t experience the Presence of God so personally. And I haven’t always had this experience myself.
The Book of Hebrews refers to this verse about fixing our eyes on Jesus in the context of having faith when we aren’t receiving what we hoped for; when we’re being disciplined, punished or persecuted. All very uncomfortable.
In this context I am reminded of walking through the valley of the shadow of death with my only son Nathan who was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was 6 years old. I had to ignore my feelings and trust what I knew to be true; God is good even when circumstances aren’t. While I was numb with emotional pain, I had to choose to put my hope in God’s power to redeem, restore, heal and conquer death. How do you actually do this?
Free will is a powerful gift from God and we can surprise our self when we learn to exercise it by denying our feelings and choosing to believe eternal spiritual truths. God doesn’t ask us to ‘do’ anything but to ‘stand in faith’. Our work is to believe. (John 6:29) I had to believe that God is good when my life was ‘not good’. When its life and death, fixing your eyes on Jesus is the only option. God wants to redeem our whole soul; our mind, will and emotions however we don’t normally submit them all to his eternal truths. I think consciously doing this, even when at odds with our feelings and desires, is an act of ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus’.
- What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know?
To be completely truthful, this is a very difficult question for me. I have a son (no daughters) and tend to personally identify with the ‘sons of God’ concept.
‘Sonship’ in the Biblical sense is about spiritual identity; belonging to the Father, having an inheritance and being on the journey to spiritual maturity. I recall once reading that in Hebrew thought or tradition becoming a ‘son’ is a type of coming of age. Ie when you mature you become a son. The Bible is clear that in Christ we are all ‘sons of God’ and in the same way, in Christ, we are all ‘the bride of Christ’. I believe it benefits both men and women to think in this way.
Without diminishing our individuality and distinctiveness as women, I suppose what I’d recommend is that young Christian women take their focus off their sexuality and put their spiritual identity before their sexual identity. If our primary identity is in Christ, then we are destined to become the woman that God created us to be. Let’s remember that whatever you focus on will be magnified.
God created us in his image; both male and female. Our united calling is to be image bearers of God on the earth and we are uniquely called to reflect the brilliance of that unity in our God ordained natural diversity. In our contemporary world gender and identity wars abound. Yet we as both ‘sons of God’ and ‘the bride of Christ’ should be equipped to counter-culturally model the way to peace. Sacrifice, rather than demanding rights, is key. Easy to say, difficult to model.
- What's one thing that you love about your local church?
In recent years, my local ‘church’ has actually been a political party (see Vickie Janson's website here). As a Christian political party our deeply held values have joined us together as a public voice for faith, family and freedom. We share our life; our deepest thoughts and concerns, our prayer life, private life and public life harnessing and recognising the unique skills of each team member. We are a working group united by faith.
The Greek word used in the New Testament which we translate ‘church’ is ‘ekklesia’ and it describes those people God calls out of darkness. That’s who we are as a group so my first thought about my local church goes to this team of coworkers. What I love about these people is their courage and commitment to be salt and light in the fairly hostile political domain. They are doers of the word attempting to meet people where they’re at using public language.
Having said that I do attend a more regular model of church as well. What I love about that is the unashamed magnification of Christ in corporate worship and seeing the next generation excited about God’s presence and eternal truth.
- What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?
Simple: he is faithful and true.
- What are you passionate about?
Truth and freedom which are intimate bedfellows. If we claim to be followers of the person whose name is ‘The Truth’ then we should be passionate about pursuing truth. I’m passionate to know what it means to worship in ‘Spirit and Truth’ because Christ says this is what characterises true worshippers.
I discovered truth is not a private matter but a very public one because its attached to freedom. Faith is personal but freedom quickly becomes political. When we look around the world we should observe that ‘the free world’ has emerged from a Judeo-Christian heritage. The good book says ‘Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ or freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17) If we remove that influence, will it still be ‘the free world?’ Truth is worth pursuing!
- What do you enjoy doing when you rest?
I enjoy a glass of wine while watching a good murder mystery/detective story.