minister. Oh dear, I thought. My husband, who is not a Christian, took it very well and has been an outstanding support ever since. Every step of the way he has given me confidence and listened to my concerns. He’s even joined me at every single church service since that night. He absolutely believes it is what I’m made for. I struggled a lot with my calling at first as it all seemed so implausible. Eventually I reasoned that if anyone knew what was best for me it was God, and I ought to listen. I’ve made a promise to pursue this path as long as He keeps opening doors for me, which, to my surprise and now delight, He does. I’m now leaving my job in the Army, where I’ve served on a full and part time basis over the last 12 years, to move back home to Darlington. I start a degree in Theology, Ministry and Mission at Cranmer Hall, Durham University this October while I continue the discernment process. My husband is also leaving the Army, so together we will build a new life in the North East and try to work out where this calling will lead. I suppose in the scheme of things it’s still early days. I’m meeting with the Diocesan Director of Ordinands and he will steer me and help develop me as I prepare to go to ‘selection’ (the Bishops’ Advisory Panel). There are now none of the certainties in my life upon which I used to always rely.
I have absolutely no idea what the future will bring, where I’ll live, what I’ll be doing or how. It is no longer in my hands. To say my life has been turned upside down would be quite the understatement! And yet in a strange way I’ve never felt more secure. There’s something wonderfully liberating about giving up your own choices and just following Christ. I don’t feel the same pressure to make the right decisions based on meticulous planning, calculations and pragmatism. I’m just saying “Let’s see what God wants”, and I very well might be a vicar one day. • Rachael Phillips joined the army in 2003 serving as a medic in the Green Howards (now the 4th Bn Yorkshire Regt). At 20 she was commissioned into the Royal Engineers and served on Op Herrick 9 with the Military Stabilisation and Support Group (MSSG). It was on this first tour that she met her future husband, Maj Richard (Dickie) Phillips, then with 2 Princess of Wales Royal Regiment. She has since worked with the Defence Cultural Specialist Unit and in 2011 went to Tajikistan for language and immersion training. She completed her third tour in Afghanistan in 2013. Last October she married Dickie, who is now serving with 3 Royal Anglian in Bury St Edmunds. She says with her husband’s postings in Cyprus and Germany they have spent almost their entire relationship living in different countries but, as they both prepare to leave the army, they are looking forward to moving into their new home in Darlington.
Photos: Above Rachael Phillips in Afghanistan speaking with locals. Above left inset, Padre Robin Richardson leads a service in an ISO, with Rachael pictured among the congregation, bottom right.
A magazine about Christians serving in the UK Armed Forces and their lives of faith.