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5 minutes with Graham Joseph Hill

My name is Graham Joseph Hill and I’m the Research Coordinator at Stirling Theological College (University of Divinity) in Melbourne. I’ve planted and pastored churches, and been in theological education for twenty years. I’m also involved in preaching and teaching at my home church, Thornleigh Community Baptist Church, which is a healthy, missional, and Christ-centred church in the northern suburbs of Sydney. I love serving at Stirling College and Thornleigh Community Baptist Church, because my greatest joy is seeing women and men being shaped as disciples and leaders, and seeing them grow more in love with Jesus every day.

My favourite Bible passage is Philippians 3:7–16. I want this to be my passion and heart and prayer—to consider whatever gain I had loss for the sake of Christ and his gospel. I want to be found in him and filled with his righteousness. More than that, I want to know Christ, “the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” I want this to be my prayer, pressing on to take hold of it, straining toward the goal of faith in Jesus Christ.

I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus by taking regular spiritual retreats to St Mary’s Towers in Douglas Park, and by praying daily with Charles Ringma’s devotions (meditations on the writings of Bonhoeffer and various Majority World thinkers). The greatest challenge in my faith journey has been pride and self-reliance. I think I have a natural tendency to rely on whatever gifts and talents I have, and to shy away from dependency on Christ. But when I fall into this habit, things begin to unravel in my personal spiritual life and in my ministry. The Spirit challenges my pride, and invites me to abandon such self-reliance.

I would like the next generation of Christian women and men to know that Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. He calls us to remain in him (and he in us), and bear much fruit. Apart from him, we can do nothing. This means that humility, repentance, and dependence on God's empowering presence reside at the heart of all genuine Christian discipleship and witness and ministry. As Christians, we must be completely aware of our inadequacy and God's sufficiency, and rely on the Spirit who fills us with his immeasurable faith and hope and love.

I would also like the next generation to know that we lose nothing – and gain everything – by honouring and elevating and lifting others up. I’ve given my life to honouring and amplifying the voices and gifts of women, minority groups, and often neglected voices, because we hear the voice of Jesus when we listen and learn from these voices.

One thing that I love about my local church is that it is a loving and welcoming community. I’ve been a part of Thornleigh Community Baptist Church for many years now, and love the way it welcomes people from all ethnicities, backgrounds, and walks of life. My church is a place of true welcome for all people, and I love my church.

What I learned about God at a time in my life I found hard was that he loves me deeply and shows his love to me through friends and community. Throughout my adulthood I’ve struggled with varying degrees of depression. Most of the time, it’s a low-grade depression and easily managed. Sometimes it’s more significant (and has been associated with my struggles with alcohol). This depression comes and goes, but lately it hasn’t been so frequent. But, up until 10 years ago, I would never have told anyone about my struggle with depression. Only my family and doctor knew. I kept it locked up and hidden away, afraid that people might find out. But over the last 10 years I’ve opened up about these struggles, and began the journey toward healing and recovery (from depression and alcohol abuse). I now understand the various sources of depressions and addiction in my life. I know where to go to get help. I’ve built habits into my life to sustain personal wellbeing. And, importantly, I’m not afraid to talk about my experiences and struggles, and feel the love of God and a supportive community.

I am passionate about finding ways to serve Jesus in my local neighbourhood. We’ve lived in our neighbourhood for almost 15 years now, and the friendships we’ve built there will last a lifetime. Our children have grown up there, and local families have welcomed them into their homes and lives as their own. Through countless meals, sleepovers, community fairs, sporting events, school graduations, coffees, conversations, and chance encounters, we’ve grown with our neighbours—laughing, crying, celebrating, and doing life together. We many lifelong friends in the local neighbourhood. These friendships and community with our neighbours help us live out our witness to Jesus, in an earthy, local, tangible way.

I’m also passionate about helping local Christians and churches learn from diverse, multi-ethnic, marginalised, and global voices and trends, so that they experience renewed mission and revitalised churches. My passion is to see Christians listen and learn from often unheard voices from around the world, so that we can enter into a powerful global conversation about the shape of church and mission in the 21st century.

When I rest, I enjoy going to the gym, reading a novel, going to the movies, and a day at the beach. I also love taking my dogs, Eevee and Charlie, to the park.

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