Stories of faith in the lives of the CCE family...
Where are you from?
From South Africa, Cape Town, I grew up on an apple farm there.
What family do you have here?
I’m married to Cristie and we have two young girls
What work do you do?
I’m an accountant – working for a New Zealand firm that builds retirement villages
How did you became a Christian?
I mentioned I grew up on an apple farm – a very solid Christian family lived on the farm next to us. I grew up playing sport with their boys. They were a great Christian influence, and provided me the chance to ask questions & learn things that I wasn’t hearing about at home. I didn’t become a Christian quickly! But when I was about 13, after plenty of arguing and questioning, I finally wanted to no longer be on the losing side of the arguments and I became a Christian
Have you noticed any difference in the challenges facing Christians in SA compared to here?
I think it is slightly harder being a Christian in London, as London is more obviously secular. Christianity is a bit more known in SA, – people have more of a background of it. Here in London, you can engage with someone and they have absolutely no concept of what Christianity is about. Also, people’s need in South Africa is so much more obvious; you have people knocking on your door every day with some kind of need, so there are plenty of obvious ways for Christians to serve practically. Whereas here the need is still there, but you maybe need to dig a bit deeper to see how you can get involved/find out what people’s needs are.
How can we best welcome you and other South Africans at church?
That one’s pretty easy! If you’ve got a braai (a BBQ for the uninitiated) to invite us to, doesn’t matter what time of year! I’d say that Christ Church Earlsfield, is particularly good at this, we’ve felt incredibly welcome from the time we walked in, that’s in direct contrast to how may South Africans/other nationalities find moving to London. For instance, – I went to a dinner party held by a South African couple recently , there were about 10 couples there, and I noticed that everyone was speaking in a South African accent. I asked the host why she didn’t invite other friends, – she said they’d been here over 2 years but had no other friends, she said that relationships at work were friendly but all surface-level, they’d never dream of doing stuff together outside of work. My family and I have had the opposite experience! We really feel like we’re able to share our lives with different people from church/different nationalities. Though it must be hard for the Londoners who have these foreigners move in when you know there’s a good chance that in 5/10 years they’ll move again. Don’t underestimate the effect that your welcome for people moving here, newcomers are far from family, and a support base, – welcoming us really is a massive thing, so well done!
And whereabouts are you from originally?
Born at St Georges’ just down the road – then lived lots of different places
How long have you been at Christ Church Earlsfield for?
About 6 years
And how long have you been a Christian for?
I don’t think I’ve known a time when I haven’t known Jesus, but I remember praying a prayer at camp when about 8, grew in understanding as older.
What helped you to know Jesus from such a young age?
My parents always told me about Jesus & I grew up going to church, which I also needed to as my Dad is a vicar! I also went to other Christian children’s groups.
Looking back, what were some of the benefits of growing up in a Christian family?
It was great to be part of a family where it’s normal to know and love Jesus and not feel judged for it. Things like praying every day around the dinner table were a normal part of life that meant I saw God a reality day-to-day. Mum especially was very gentle and servant-hearted and showed me what it look like to put others first
Can you think of any things that were hard about growing up in a Christian family?
It was hard being the daughter of a vicar and feeling an expectation from others as to how I would/should behave. It was sometimes hard not being allowed to do things that my friends would do, eg. Going to Halloween parties eg going to pubs before 18, drinking heavily. But, having said that, I’d made a commitment to follow Jesus, so didn’t want to do those things either
What there anything else that was particularly hard about having a Dad as a vicar?
At home we see each other as we really are, and none of us are perfect, including vicars! This would show itself particularly when I’d had an argument with Dad at home, and then would have to listen to him talking about God in the sermon afterwards. Also, my sister and I were the only ones at my Dad’s church who were our age for a good number of years, so it was hard not having church friends my own age.
What have you learned about being part of a church family through that experience?
It was good having older Christians to look up to and learn from I really appreciated the grownups being willing to spend time with us kids
I also learned to serve from a young age- things like doing tea and coffee when I was 11, and helping with Sunday School.
It’s been great to have been part of churches where people know each other well and the relationships are genuine. Also where people have a real sense of ownership over the church’s ministry, with everyone willing to get involved in their own way.
Thinking about life outside of church now, how does being a Christian affect your work as an Occupational Therapist?
It’s a compassionate work place, so in that sense Christian character doesn’t make me obviously different, but I want to honour God at work, and ways I particularly try are not joining in with office gossip, and not wasting time.
Also, being an Occupational Therapist means I’m used to seeing areas of people’s lives fall apart all the time, which is a good reminder that things we have here don’t last and that people don’t have perfect lives
And generally as a Christian, what are some of the things that God has been teaching you over the past year or so?
I’ve been growing in seeing that circumstances might not be how I would like them to be, but that God’s purpose for me doesn’t change. I’ve also realised that we easily make our lives about ourselves, so it’s good to know that my circumstances aren’t what defines me, but Who I am in Christ and how I can serve Him.