5 minutes with Jo
Tell us a little about you
For the past 9 years I’ve been the Senior Minister of C3 Reach Miranda in the southern suburbs of Sydney. This has been my home church for over 25 years. I’m a bi-vocational pastor and have my own business as a freelance voiceover artist which means you’ll often hear me on the other end of the phone when you call some of Australia’s largest companies!
Until two years ago, I was also working as a lawyer for Anti-Slavery Australia in the area of forced marriage awareness and prevention. Earlier, I worked in other legal roles as well as a police officer with the Australian Federal Police and an investigator with ASIC.
I’d describe myself as a perpetual student and have completed a Masters of Human Rights Law & Policy and am only two subjects away from finally finishing a Master of Arts in biblical studies. I keep telling myself this is the last formal course I’m doing but hey, you never say never! I’m deeply interested in further exploring the intersection between human rights and the Gospel.
I’m married to Brennan who’s an amazingly supportive husband. We’ve been together for over 30 years and have two fabulous young-adult children. Brennan recently retired after a 35-year career as a police officer with the AFP. He loves our church and serves on a number of teams, however, I lead the church. In fact, I was the Senior Minister of our church for two years before he became a Christian, so our journey is quite unique!
What’s your favourite Bible passage and why?
Psalms 63:3-5 “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”
As a worship leader, I love this Psalm because we’re created to worship – it’s our heart response to who God is and all that He’s done for us through Jesus. My favourite phrase is “your love is better than life” because it expresses the vastness of God’s love towards us that we can barely comprehend. I’m planning to write a song based on this Psalm very soon!
How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
Being thankful for each day and noticing the intricate details of the love and grace of Jesus woven into the fabric of my life keeps my eyes fixed on Him. When I pay attention to the details – a family meal, a sunset, a kind exchange with a stranger – I see Jesus in all the moments.
I’m easily distracted so I like to go for intentional prayer walks with my worship music on (and my phone on silent!) so that I can tune into His frequency. I also have a favourite chair where I read my Bible with a cup of tea in the morning. I’m loving the Bible In One Year (BIOY) with Nicky Gumbel which includes a fantastic devotional each day and I subscribe to Trash Your Bible which is a great contemporary resource to take a deeper dive into scripture.
While I love gathering as the church in worship and corporate prayer, nothing can replace my one-on-one time in His presence each day. As I invite the Holy Spirit to lead me, I’m able to praise Jesus for who He is, lay all my cares and concerns at the foot of the Cross and then receive His truth, love and hope afresh.
What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know?
That they’ve been created in the beautiful image of the Creator of the heavens and the earth and their identity is found in Jesus rather than in comparison with others or in a social media profile.
That they’re equipped by the Holy Spirit to be ministers of the Gospel wherever they find themselves – in business, the arts, retail, science, university, family, hospitality, law, media, sport or medicine and everywhere in between.
That leadership in any sphere, including church leadership is based on calling and gifting rather than gender, ethnicity or age and that in Christ, all things are possible!
What’s one thing that you love about your local church?
I love that we’re a family who care about each other and walk alongside each other through life’s ups and downs. We encourage one another and speak the hope of Jesus into each other’s worlds.
What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?
I learnt that I can trust Him completely, He understands me completely and that He’s my place of refuge. I was also grappling with how to keep a soft heart in the midst of trials and disappointments. I’d thought that my heart needed to be soft on the inside, with a hard protective outer shell but I was having trouble maintaining this. He showed me a better way in a beautiful picture about His armour as described in Ephesians 6:10-18. It’s a personal set of armour that fits us uniquely and the idea is that we use it to guard our hearts (and minds). This way, it’s the armour that takes the knocks and the blows rather than our heart, which we can keep soft before the Lord and before people. This was an important insight for me about God’s provision and protection and I hope it’s a helpful picture for someone reading this today.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about people having a deep understanding that they’re loved and accepted by God just as they are.
I’m passionate about people discovering and flourishing in their God-given gifts so that they can live purposeful lives that bring glory to God, encouragement to themselves and to others.
What do you enjoy doing when you rest?
I love to travel but even more than that, I love to plan travel! It’s the ultimate expression of enjoying the journey as much as the destination! I also enjoy spending Fridays with my husband which is our day off together as well as reading slightly offbeat fiction.