5 minutes with Kelsey ...
Tell us a little about you
I never know what the most important bits are that should be included in a “tell us about yourself” paragraph. I’m American. (I only mention that because that’s usually the first thing people notice when they talk to me!) I met my husband while I was living in Greece working with women in sex trafficking situations. He is Australian, which is how I found myself here, as a minister at a biggish church in Manly in Sydney. I absolutely love what I do, but I’m currently nine months into a year of maternity leave, which is unlike anything I’ve ever done before! I bounce between loving not having to put proper clothing on in the morning if I don’t want to and going mad with lack of routine and structure. But I’m really treasuring this time with our little boy.
What's your favourite bible passage & why?
I guess it depends on which day/season you ask. It wouldn’t be fair to pick one, and I probably can’t put 10. I think my favourite book, if I had to choose, might be Colossians (at least today). I love its focus on the gospel and how it’s a great book to read with new Christians and still so instructional for those who have known Jesus for a long time. One of my favourite passages is chapter 3, verses 12-17. I fall spectacularly short of living as one of “God’s chosen people” so often (so thankfully it’s not up to me to maintain that status), and I feel like I could study and practise these verses for the rest of my life and still be learning every day.
How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
This has certainly changed and morphed over the seasons of life, and in some seasons it’s easy and others more challenging. In recent months I’ve been enjoying doing pre-written Bible studies, digging deeper into specific books of Scripture or particular gospel truths (with a lot of the hard work already done for me!). I can do small or larger chunks depending how much time I have. Coming back to basics in these studies, like the character of God and the foundation of my salvation, never fails to fix my eyes on the God who has saved me.
What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know?
Get the gospel into your bones. By “gospel” I don’t mean going to church, or being kind to others, or Christianity or religion. The gospel is Jesus – the great news that God sent his Son to set us free from sin and death and give us a new life. This is a gift; I don’t have to – I can’t – do anything to earn it (though I may try!). When you “get” the gospel, it affects your whole life; your relationships, your work, your thoughts, your self image. It changes your identity, so that you’re no longer defined by how successful you are as a person, a wife, friend, sister, daughter, mother, employee, student, or whatever you are trying to do or achieve. Your identity is in Christ, loved by Him because of who He is, not because of who you are.
Get the truth of the gospel in you so deep that it actually renews your mind and transforms you. So when you fail, it doesn’t matter because whatever you’re striving at is not your identity. When work, domestic life, or study is hard or boring or unsatisfying, you keep doing it, with joy, because it’s the King you are serving and his name you represent. When you get it, it transforms your relationships, and you genuinely seek the best for your husband or friend (or whoever), because they are a new creation, made in the image of God, and our freedom in Christ allows us to selflessly serve because he selflessly served us. When you get it, you can forgive when you are wronged, because nothing done to us compares to our sin against God that he has forgiven. In the face of rejection, illness or tragedy, your self worth and your hope aren’t affected, because your value and your hope come from your status as a child of God. And when you are struggling with sin and feeling powerless, you can have confidence that you have the power of Jesus who has defeated sin and death to empower you.
This is basic stuff, but it’s powerful stuff, and it is life changing if we truly understand it, believe it, and allow it to transform us! Get it in you, and preach it to yourself every single day, for the rest of your life. And then share it with others.
What's one thing that you love about your local church?
Where we live is such a mix of locals, tourists, expats, and long- and short-term holiday makers; it can make ministry a challenge, but it is a great challenge. I’ve never been part of a church where people walk in all the time because of the location. I’m talking about people who have never heard of Jesus or who follow a different belief system entirely. I’ve been so blessed by the conversations I’ve had just standing in the back of church by the doors on a Sunday. I’m encouraged that God uses our music, our building, our location to bring people inside, and I hope that what they find in there can point even one or two of them to Jesus. This is not to excuse us from going out to them, but we have a unique position to take advantage of, and that is one thing (of many!) that I love about my church.
What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?
I think I learned that everything I could need God has given me in his Word. During a particularly hard time, I remember I had no words of my own to pray, but I didn’t need them; they were there in Scripture for me. God was there, even in my numbness and pain, and his Word and his Spirit expressed all the feels when I couldn’t. Praying the Psalms and other passages of Scripture voiced my deep pain, soothed my wounds, and most importantly praised God when I couldn’t. It took the focus off me and reminded me of God, his greatness, his love, his majesty, and his faithfulness. I learned afresh that no matter our circumstances, all that we need is there in his Word, which he ministers to us by his Spirit and often through his people.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about the gospel! If I’m honest though (and I like to be!), my current life stage sometimes takes over and my “passions” can definitely feel squeezed out and overshadowed by long days and numb brain and nursery rhymes and making food, feeding food, and cleaning up food. So at the moment, while I am still pretty excited about the gospel, I am necessarily also quite passionate about loving on my kid and getting enough sleep to be a kind person. :)
What do you enjoy doing when you rest?
Rest? I remember that. I used to enjoy reading, walking/jogging on the beach and hanging out with my husband. I still hang out with my husband and I still walk, just now it’s with a pram and I do not get the final say of when it’s time to go home.