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Alice Achan ‘A Voice for Girls in Conflict’ page 12
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12 COVER STORY: A Voice For Girls In Conflict Philippa Tyndale shares the remarkable story of the life of Alice Achan...
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The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. Proverbs 20:5
lmost two months ago I had the privilege of sitting with and chatting to an incredible woman. She was softly spoken but her words were loud and clear. It was like meeting a kindred spirit and if I could have kidnapped her and taken her home I would have. Philippa Tyndale is an incredibly talented lady. Her and her husband Andrew have their own amazing testimony, but hearing her speak on micro-finance and her new book on our cover girl, Alice Achan, I was immediately captivated. She is in the process of finalising the biography on Alice’s life, and wow, what a life! Alice is a hero to hundreds of
Ugandan women now educated because of her plight. Pregnant, marginalised but now, full of hope, because of her fight to educate women. I know you will enjoy reading just a portion about this inspirational woman on page 12. Mark Twain was correct when he said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” I’m sure Alice is fulfilling the call of God on her life, but what about you? Are you feeling like God is knocking on the door of your heart? Calling you to come closer? Asking you to trust Him and perhaps do more? Maybe it’s time for
you take some time to seek His face and find out. In this issue we have a special insert on finding a Bible College. Maybe it is your time to find your ‘why’... Stay in Him always. Editor
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Important Lesson Your Children
Need to Learn WITH BERNI DYMET
t’s funny how the way we think; the things that we think are important. They change over time. If you got a 15 year old down with a 45 year old and a 60 year old and a 90 year old and got them together and asked them what things are really important, my hunch is we’d get quite different responses from each of them. The values of my parents generation, people who’ve been through World War 2 and their parents who’d been through the Great Depression would differ greatly. Well those generation’s values are quite different to those of my own, the baby boomers, for whom the term the ‘me’ generation was invented. I mean my grandfather on my father’s side (who’s now long gone) he was born in the 1800’s and he lived in a house in Romania (a place where it gets bitterly cold in winter) with animal skins instead of glass for windows. And there’s one core value though. One that we don’t hear people talk much about anymore, that’s so important when it comes to building a godly family. That value is honour. It’s something that today’s generations don’t talk too much about. Oh we know that we want other people to honour us. But honour, as it turns out, is a two way street and without it we simply can’t have a godly family. And in fact, God thinks it’s so important that in the Ten Commandments, the first four are about God and us and the very next one, the fifth Commandment is about honour in the family. It’s pretty amazing that whole Ten Commandments thing when you think about it. Let’s have a quick look. The first commandment, Exodus chapter 20, verse 2: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other Gods before me.” That’s the first Commandment. Put God first. The second Commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an idol whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above or that’s in the earth beneath or that’s in the water or under the earth. You will not bow down to them or worship
8 Christian Woman Spring 2015
A different perspective.
them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God punishing children for the inequity of their parents to the third and fourth generation of those who reject Me but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.” So there it is, the second one. The first one was honour God. The second one is you don’t get to worship anything other than God. The third Commandment: “You will not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God. For the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses His name.” So, it’s again about honouring God and the fourth Commandment, Exodus chapter 20, verse 8: “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work but on the seventh day is a Sabbath day to the Lord your God, you will not do any work.” So again it’s about our relationship with God and setting time aside for Him, to rest in Him. There are the first four Commandments. What are they all about in a nutshell, the executive summary? Well Jesus summarised it pretty well when some young lawyer asked Him, ‘What’s the greatest Commandment of all?’ Remember what He said. Luke chapter 10, verse 27. He answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and the greatest Commandment.” You see, this whole ‘first four Commandments’ thing is about honouring God, first and foremost, above all other things. That’s the executive summary, nothing more important than that. Now, I’m wondering if you or I were God, what would we have
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I know young adult children in their 20’s who LIVE WITH THEIR PARENTS AND DON’T PAY BOARD, who drain on parents finances in their old age. Who leave a mess behind and they cause pain.
put down as the next commandment? Well, if it were me, I think ‘don’t murder’ would be number 5. I mean what can be more important than that. Don’t steal. Don’t commit adultery. Mmm, I think those should have come next but number 5 probably ‘don’t murder’. So, what does God choose as Commandment number 5? Here it is: “Honour your father and your mother so that your days maybe long in the land of the Lord your God is giving to you.” See, this ‘honour your father and mother’ comes ahead of murder, ahead of adultery, ahead of stealing, lying and jealousy. Honour your mum and your dad. I don’t think I would have even had that one in the top 10 – maybe in the top 20 but probably not in the top 10. Yet where does God put it? Number 5, the very next Commandment after He’s given four commandments about us honouring Him first and foremost. Not only that, it’s the very first commandment to which there is a blessing attached. You honour your father and mother, and here’s the blessing, so that you may live a long time in the land that God has given you. You know what that’s about? Israel was, one day, going to go and possess the Promised Land. They were going to have to take it by force and all the nations they took it off would try and get it back. And all the other nations around them would try to defeat them. But the blessing attached to honouring your father and mother is this – that there would be peace. Ain’t there a message in that for a few families? I mean, how many families are a mess because the children have never been taught to honour their parents? I know young adult children in their 20’s who live with their parents who don’t pay board, who drain on parents finances in their old age. Who leave a mess behind
10 Christian Woman Spring 2015
and they cause pain. Why? Because these children needed to be taught to honour their father and their mother. That’s why. Have a listen to how the psalmist puts it. Psalm 37 beginning at verse 25. He says: “I have been young and now I’m old. Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are ever giving liberally and lending and their children become a blessing.” Do you see the link between what happens to children when we are righteous? They become a blessing. Now, let me warn you here. Teaching our children to honour their parents is plain hard work. It’s ongoing. It’s incessant. Why? Because we’re all born to sin, all of us. Think about it. What’s the first or the second word that each young child learns to say? ‘No’. We are all naturally rebellious. And that’s why God calls us, first and foremost, to honour Him, and secondly, for us to honour our parents. Honour, respect, revere, listen to, obey, speak well of – that’s what honour means. Parents, listen to me. In this day of consumerism we’ve been conned into thinking that unless we pander to our children’s every whim and desire and race here to do this for them and make their lunches and clean up after them, unless we do that we’re not being good parents. We rationalise it. We think we’re so busy at work, ‘I need to do things for them in other ways’. Listen, the very worst thing that we can do to our children is to fail to teach them to honour their mother and father. The very worst thing, because if we fail in that, we fail to give them one of the most important elements of maturity that they will need in their adult life: the ability not to be first’; the ability to be subject to authority; the ability to serve
others, to put others before themselves. Do you get it? In our home there are some bottom lines. I mean our kids are basically grown up now but there were some basic rules. You do not go out unless your bedroom is tidy. No exceptions. You speak with respect to your mother. No, she is not your personal slave. You say thank you when your mother or your father play taxi driver for you and pick you up on Friday night late at night. You say thank you directly, straight away as you’re getting out of the car and loud enough for us to hear. See, this isn’t about ego. It’s not about being mean. It’s about one simple thing. The best thing I can do is to teach my boys to honour their mother because if they don’t learn to honour her, they will never honour a wife. And the same is true of my daughter with a husband. Unless children are taught to honour their father and their mother, there will be no godliness in the household. There will be no peace. There can’t be. And the time to start is here and now. CW
Berni Dymet is the CEO of the global media ministry Christianityworks. Each week his radio and television broadcasts are heard by millions of people in 160 countries around the world. To obtain your FREE copy of his latest booklet, visit christianityworks.com.
Pastor, Author and Mum of three boys, KIRRILY LOWE beautifully describes this essential wardrobe item...
What I’ve learned about the GARMENT OF STRENGTH
have worn this garment many times. I have learnt that it is an essential wardrobe item. I have learnt there are days, many days, where we will shiver in the elements without the garment of strength. I have spoken of the beauty of this garment. Custom made for women of all shapes and sizes, all personalities and ages. I have taught women how to wear it, how to choose to put it on when every bone is weary from the journey and the juggle of life with love and little ones. I have taught how to perform the great exchange, our weakness for His strength, day after day after day. Today, I grabbed for my garment of strength, and in the fragility of my own heart, in a season unchartered, I found myself wandering if it was still there, could I still put it on. You see, I don’t want the cold, hardened garment of strength. I don’t want the one that shuts us off from the world
and blocks off all the beauty and all the pain. I want the heavenly one, the beautiful one, the one full of grace and courage. The transparent one. The tender one. That’s when I felt His hand. He is weaving this garment upon me as I walk. Woven through the fabric of my heart each day as I get up, look up, and keep walking. I remember His words whispered to my soul, spoken by a friend & then again straight from His word. “I will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties, yes I will help you…” Isaiah 41:10 This is what our God does. He doesn’t always remove the difficulties, he strengthens us and hardens us to them as we walk through them. He tenderly and passionately sews the stunning garment of strength on us as we walk. One step, one stitch as strength is shaped upon me.
I am reminded of a quote from my holiday reading – words from Oprah Winfrey: “I know for sure: Your journey begins with a choice to get up, step out, and live fully.” My choice; get up, step out, live fully. The Lord’s unshakeable commitment:• To greet us in our getting up. • To clothe us in our stepping out. • To take us by the hand and lead us bravely and boldly into the gift of every new day. Yes, she is clothed. She is clothed with strength and dignity as she walks with her creator. CW
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ALICE ACHAN, advocate for girlsâ€™ education in northern Uganda, learned much through her own experiences as a young girl growing up in a conflict. She now leads a movement for the empowerment of young girls coming through the trauma of conflict and marginalisation through poverty. For most girls, the healing starts with forgiveness.
12 Christian Woman Spring 2015
This page: Alice addressing a class
lice Achan was twelve years old when she first learned the meaning of fear, of the heart-racing, hide-orbe-killed type. This was the time, in 1986, when her village in the north of Uganda was raided by a neighouring tribe who came to steal her family’s 500 head of cattle, which was their source of wealth and livelihood. She fled into the bush near the village, not knowing whether her family members would survive the brutal attack that day. They did, but her once cohesive and peaceful clan life was ripped apart. For the next six years Alice lived in the midst of an escalating conflict between Ugandan government forces and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a vicious rebel group that would go on to abduct, maim and sexually assault young girls, often making them fight and kill. An estimated 20,000 northern Ugandan boys and girls were abducted and co-opted into the fighting over the twenty-year conflict. In her teen years, Alice spent up to three weeks at a time sleeping under bushes, scavenging for berries and wild fruits, drinking fetid water and on the run from rebels hunting young girls to abduct and place into sexual slavery to rebel leaders. In the chaos of the war, Alice dropped out of school three times and did not finish high school until she was 23 years old. Alice’s own struggle to stay in high school, and then having to overcome financial hurdles to study counselling at university, became a driving force for her future work. She escaped the conflict in northern Uganda and finished her schooling in peace, but chose in 2002 to move back into the conflict zone at its most dangerous, and to use her newly acquired counselling skills to help girls in the vast Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. Here, hundreds of thousands of Acholi people lived in huts an arm’s length apart, with little food for families, and no medical care or education. An estimated 1.5 million lived in camps at the height of the conflict. Alice arrived back when communities were worn down from almost two decades of war. “Spiritually, the community was broken down. People were desperate to start new lives,” Alice says. The girls she met had no outlet for the trauma they experienced in captivity, some wanting to rid themselves of the babies conceived by rebel fathers. Many were rejected by their families on their return from the war for their unwilling association with the LRA. Alice soon discovered that forgiveness was a key to helping the girls move on. “In my work with girls who have been sexually assaulted, tortured and who have experienced captivity by Kony rebels, I have learnt the power of forgiveness. In the lives of these girls, many have been set free, healed, and come into restored relationship with God,” according to Alice. It was a struggle she shared with them, from her own childhood. “As a consequence of its wartime experiences, the community in which we lived became engraved with bitterness, hatred, pain and I had a lot of unanswered questions in my heart,” says Alice. “Salvation comes to our lives through confession and forgiveness. We have to forgive in order to receive blessing, peace, joy, healing and salvation in our lives.” Alice’s campaign since 2002 has been to make a way for Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 13
young women – and some girls still in their mid teens – to come in from the margins of the community. She started with a small group under a tree in the IDP camp, reading from the one Bible they shared. Alice read from Jeremiah 29:11, words she knew would help re-establish hope in their lives. “’For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Over the months, she started to see a change in the girl mothers, as God slowly brought them back to life. Soon after she started this ministry, physical help arrived in the form of tents, food and clothing as outsiders heard of the extent of the humanitarian tragedy in the north of Uganda. She started her training with a few donated sewing machines and extended the activities into hospitality training, where the girls learned catering skills, cooking, and how to bake bread. Alice saw that many of the girls were bright, and if given the chance, capable of doing well academically. She conceived the idea of a special school, a “school of restoration”, that would help them heal emotionally, stay in school and go on to find employment. Her idea soon attracted interest and funding from the US, UK, Australia and Canada, as well as support through local NGOs. University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Centre, MacArthur Foundation and the Uganda Fund all took an interest in Alice’s work, helping with a grant to build the school she dreamed of running. By 2008, Alice was able to open the Pader Girls Secondary School with 46 girls, all of whom had babies or were pregnant, or came from communities where they were vulnerable to This page clockwise from top left: A message to the world; Alice at the CCF Pader Guesthouse; Alice at work; Introducing the iPad; Opposite page clockwise from top left: Pader Girls soccer team; Exam time at Pader Girls; Inset: Nervous debaters - ‘Education is Better Than Marriage’. 14 Christian Woman Spring 2015
Only education will break the cycle of poverty and violence these girls have been exposed to, and only education will create a future for the unwanted babies of LRA rebels.
abduction or sexual assault. The numbers have now blossomed to hundreds, and the babies and toddlers have purpose-built childcare facilities where the mothers can visit and feed them between classes. Now, the Pader Girls is setting the pace for education in the north of Uganda, with science labs, a library, a computer lab. The girls in the academic stream study mathematics, English, the sciences, history, religion, education, and health science. A number of the girls from the school have moved on to further studies, with the largest group studying teaching and nursing. Right beside the school is the CCF Pader Guesthouse, where students can gain real-life experience in hotel management and catering. Support for the guesthouse came through the women of C3 Church, who had been moved by Alice’s story at an Everywoman conference in Sydney. As well as a training centre
for students, the facility operates as a conference venue and accommodation for passing visitors, providing a valuable income stream for the school. Alice is passionately devoted to promoting education for girls in northern Uganda because she believes that “only education will break the cycle of poverty and violence these girls have been exposed to, and only education will create a future for the unwanted babies of LRA rebels.” Pader Girls boasts some outstanding success stories. Five of the earliest students now study at university in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Among them is Polline Akello, a young woman who escaped the Kony rebel camp in the Congo after almost dying during childbirth. Polline became the head girl within a month of arriving at the school, and she has gone on to be a strong advocate for the right to education for young girls. She has travelled to the UK to petition the House
of Lords to focus on the plight of young women post conflict and shared a podium with William Hague and Angelina Jolie at a conference on women in conflict. Alice is just as proud of the girls who make a success of the simple life in the village - those who can move beyond their experiences in captivity to care for their own children. In 2015, CCF Pader, the not-forprofit Alice founded in 2002, continues to improve the quality of the education at Pader Girls and to explore ways of improving the girls’ prospects for employment and entrepreneurial activity. CCF Pader, supported by C3, has established a program to provide scholarships for young women to study nursing and midwifery at colleges in northern Uganda. The first graduates are now returning to their communities to provide much-needed medical support in areas such as immunisation, the detection
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Breaking the cycle of poverty
“CCF Pader, supported by C3, has established a program to provide scholarships for young women to study nursing and midwifery at colleges in northern Uganda. The first graduates are now returning to their communities to provide much-needed medical support in areas such as immunisation, the detection of common diseases, HIV/ AIDs treatment and maternal health.”
Supporting the education of girls is acknowledged as a key to breaking inter-generational poverty. To support the girls of Pader Girls, go to www.educategirlspader.com A gift of $200 will provide vocational training for one year. A gift of $380 will support a student in Pader Girls’ academic stream for one year. A gift of $5000 ($2500 per annum) will allow a Pader Girls graduate to complete two years’ training in nursing or midwifery.
of common diseases, HIV/AIDs treatment and maternal health. What lies ahead? CCF Pader is moving forward with its three-year plan to provide maternal health care to adolescent and other vulnerable pregnant women, who suffer isolation and social stigma and are at higher risk of mother or child mortality. The group plans to build a mother and baby friendly hospital close to the school in Pader District, equipped with modern equipment and facilities, including emergency obstetric care, antenatal and neonatal care, and staffed with qualified, skilled doctors and nurses. 16 Christian Woman Spring 2015
And the best part of this plan, apart from the obvious benefit to a vulnerable section of the community: the hospital will employ the Pader Girls graduates who’ve come through the nursing scholarship program. Alice’s dreams don’t end there. In 2013, she set out to replicate aspects of her Pader programs in Nwoya, a struggling community not far from the Murchison Falls National Park between the Ugandan capital, Kampala, and Gulu in northern Uganda. Though not as impacted directly by the LRA conflict, Alice encountered a similar lack of opportunity for employment, widespread poverty and vulnerability among the girls. She also found a farming community finding livelihood increasingly difficult due to the encroachment of elephants from the game park nearby. In 2015, CCF runs a brand new hospitality training facility that will provide trained staff to the growing regional tourism industry and operates a café on the main north-south highway as
a social enterprise. Alice is now working with local farmers to establish the coffeegrowing industry in Nwoya, as the soil is ideal for coffee plants and it seems that elephants don’t like or trample coffee plants. CW
Philippa Tyndale is a writer and philanthropist who started her career in financial journalism. For the past twenty years she has been engaged in humanitarian work, focusing on poverty alleviation, genderbased violence, anti-human trafficking and education. Philippa is the author of Don’t Look Back - The David Bussau Story, which tracks David’s life from an orphanage in New Zealand to co-founder of global microfinance organisation, Opportunity International. She is currently writing the life story of CCF Pader founder, Alice Achan. Philippa lives in Sydney with her husband Andrew, a social financier, and has three adult children.
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Why Bible College?
s you consider the variety of college choices available to you, your responses to the questions posed in this article will shape one of the most important decisions of your life. When it comes to considering whether to study at a Christian college or secular university or college, the most important question to answer first is, why do I want to study in the first place? Leonardo Da Vinci was noted for saying, “Study without desire spoils the memory and it retains nothing that it takes in.” He’s right. Never study ‘without desire.’ It’s a waste of your time and energy. If you have a clearer idea of what you want to achieve with your life and where you think you’re headed, it will make it easier to choose the most appropriate college, whether Christian or secular. Both options have their pluses, but there are a number of very good reasons to consider enrolling at a Christian college: To develop a Christian worldview Secular universities and colleges will offer fully accredited degrees and diplomas in a wide variety of disciplines, but what they don’t offer is a way for you to think about your life and your career from a distinctly Christian perspective. If you want your faith to be discussed as part of class subject matter choose a Christian college where you can explore a Christian framework for your
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“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” studies. This is about the development of a distinctly Christian worldview that allows you to examine science, art, business, education, medicine and other related issues through that lens. Only a Christian college can assist you to see course subjects via the lens of your religious beliefs. If you completed your studies with only a set of new skills but with no ability to think ‘Christianly’ about your world it would be a real shame. Find a college that helps you to do both. For the nurturing lifestyle and culture If you are a committed Christian, you might prefer a college that affirms your faith and creates a learning environment that supports your beliefs and lifestyle. Many Christian colleges have chapel services, chaplains, Bible studies and a number of other extra-curricula options to encourage your faith. Also, most secular institutions encourage a wide variety of lifestyle options, which can be a distraction to both your faith and your ability to focus on your studies. Or you might just feel more comfortable in a more conservative environment than is commonly available at many secular universities and colleges. So if you would prefer to attend a college where your faith is a part of the lifestyle and culture of campus life, definitely choose a Christian college. Furthermore, in a Christian college you’ll meet faculty and fellow students who are examples of godly living and academic excellence. It was once said, “To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” In any
decent college you’ll acquire knowledge, but in a Christian college you’ll also get to observe the lives of mature followers of Jesus. To prepare for ministry If you feel that your chosen career is more than just a job and that you’d like to see your future employment as an avenue for ministry then a Christian college will certainly help. Furthermore, if you sense a calling into ordained ministry as a pastor or church leader, you will need to attend a Christian theological or Bible college. A number of these colleges are linked to certain denominations, so you’re best advised to speak to your local church about which college will prepare you best for your chosen denomination. If your calling is to overseas mission, the agency you prefer will be able to recommend colleges for missionary preparation. But remember also, that some theological colleges have links with secular universities that allow you to do double degrees and get the best of both worlds. Here’s a word of warning about studying at a Bible college. Some churches have started their own ‘colleges’ and these are great for preparing people for service in that church, but often the education they offer isn’t well regarded in other churches or denominations. You are better off attaining a degree or diploma that can be transferred across a variety of church contexts. This will keep your options open should you want to minister beyond your church some time in the future. Whatever your motivation, you must make sure that the Christian college you’re exploring is fully accredited and academically respected. Choose diplomas or degrees that can lead into further study, even if you doubt that you’d ever complete more study. If the award you’re gaining ‘articulates’ into further study (that’s the technical term), then the chances are that it’s a well regarded, accredited course. ‘Mickey mouse awards’ don’t lead into anything else. They’re academic deadends and you’re better off avoiding them. Tertiary study is expensive and time consuming, so you don’t want to graduate with a diploma that doesn’t get you into the kind of professional work you want to do. And also be aware that when it does come time to find a job, if your college is known for being ultra conservative, some employers may be a bit squeamish about offering you a job. Remember that study in a Christian college can offer you a variety of things – a religious worldview, lifelong Christian friends, an environment that nurtures your faith – but if it doesn’t open employment or ministry options for you it may not be worth the time and financial expense. Study is not a chore or a form of torture. If approached properly it can be the source of great personal growth and spiritual development. Any award you complete ought to better equip you in the service of God and others. Never lose sight of Albert Einstein’s wisdom about academic study, “Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which you belong.” Mike Frost
20 Christian Woman Spring 2015
Find a Christian College.
Do You Care For People?
Pastoral Counselling Skills Course The Pastoral Counselling Institute offers you the opportunity to equip yourself to effectively minister to people in God’s world.
2016 will include Chaplaincy Units – apply now - starts in March Nationally accredited part-time full year course - weekend intensives Basic counselling skills related to spirituality, bible and theology Learn the biblical ‘Story Whispering’ © model of providing care Learn skills to provide a caring link between church and community Find wisdom within the stories you encounter Compile a referral kit and liturgies for specific pastoral situations Designed to meet continuing education requirements
Learn to provide practical visitation in both parish and community settings Call: 02 9683 3664 Email: email@example.com Visit our website: www.pastoralcounselling.org
This course is delivered in Partnership with Wesley Vocational Institute – National Provider number: 90091 RTO legal Entity “Wesley Community Services Limited”
125 Pigdons Road Waurn Ponds Victoria 3216
theological education that is... • Biblically-grounded • theologically robust • Gospel-hearted • spiritually rich • culturally relevant • winsomely engaging
T: +61 (03) 5244 2955 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
www.rtc.edu.au • affiliated with the Australian College of Theology • residential accommodation on campus • FEE-HELP and Austudy available • online learning options
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Funding your College dream... Gavin Martin guides students through the financial maze when making a decision about Christian tertiary education. He encourages students to get out of debt with his strategies and examines the different ways to pay for education...
ollege is a wonderful season in life. It’s an exciting time of knowledge acquisition and personal growth, not to mention the opportunity to interact with interesting people from a range of backgrounds who often end up being life long friends - and potentially even spouses. Oh, the good old days. Increasingly, the ‘good old days’ of college life are turning into the bad old days of poor spending habits, living for the now and debt accumulation that burdens graduates well
Courses in Chaplaincy, Theology and Religion at Murdoch University Murdoch University’s School of Arts offers a suite of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Chaplaincy, Theology and Religion.
Religion (BA) Graduate Certificate in Theology Graduate Diploma in Theology Graduate Diploma in Chaplaincy Master of Divinity
For more information or to apply go to www.murdoch.edu.au/Courses or call 9360 6141
22 Christian Woman Spring 2015
CRICOS Provider Code 00125 J
• • • • •
Each course has a unique pathway designed for those who wish to study the multicultural and multidisciplinary perspective of religion or work as a chaplain, for a church, a school or an agency. There are further postgraduate offerings for professionals already working in ministry who seek a deeper understanding of the Christian tradition.
beyond their college years. My challenge to you is to ‘be weird’. Don’t follow the norm; stay debt free during your college years. Learn money management skills now while you are young and it will change your destiny. For many of us our first major debt is student loans — either in the form of Commonwealth HELP debt or bank loans. The trouble is, the debt accrues without us really thinking about it and then, with the HELP debt in particular, we don’t have to think about repayments until we’re earning about $38,000 and the ATO takes care of them. The fact is, by going down this route students are missing out on significant opportunities to get ahead. Yes, that’s right, get ahead during your college years. This is even more important for those pursuing Christian ministry, as these vocations are not renowned for paying well. If you pay your HECS fees upfront you save a massive 20% of the fee. Now that is worth writing home to mum about. If you have already incurred a HECS or HELP debt you can pay off lump sums of $500 or more and get a 10% discount. So what can be done to avoid debt to fund your tertiary education? There are four major strategies: • Start saving now • Scholarships • Other income sources • Funding options Start saving for college now I don’t know how many young people get part time jobs as soon as they are eligible but with the unemployment rate at the lowest it’s been in years there should be ample opportunity for them to get a job at 14 years and 9 months. That’s what I did. I worked as a check out chap at a local supermarket before I turned 15 years old. It taught me so much about the ‘real’ world and enabled me to buy my first parcel of shares. There are many benefits to having a part time job. I was able to fund a 12 day voyage on the Young Endeavour tall
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sailing ship, spend a year in Sweden as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student and buy the toys that all teenage boys love. Years later, while recruiting university graduates for a global consulting firm, I quickly learned that graduates who worked through college are more attractive to employees. They have learnt responsibility in the work place and can balance work, family, sporting and social activities. A part time job will enable you to achieve these things and help you save for college education. If parents have the ability to fund a child’s college education, I’m all for it on two conditions: as long the parents don’t go into debt, and as long as the young person is taught financial responsibility. Failing to teach financial responsibility by completely supporting children through college may result in character flaws in the child. If a student is entirely supported by parents he is sheltered from the ramifications of his actions and may not care how many subjects he fails,
how many times he changes course or how much money is wasted on extended time at college. Why should he when Mum and Dad are paying? The best place to invest savings set aside for education depends on the time frame. I recommend a high interestpaying, low frills, no fees, at call, internet or phone banking account with a bank or quality financial institution. If you have four to seven years to invest I would invest at least some of the savings into a Listed Investment Company such as Australian Foundation Investment Company, an Exchange Traded Fund or an index fund with international diversification. Scholarships Scholarships are a great way to fund tertiary education. The Commonwealth Learning Scholarships (CLS) programme provides financial support to eligible undergraduates to assist with higher education costs. There are two
scholarships – one for general education costs and one for accommodation costs. The scholarships are administered on behalf of the Australian Government by individual higher education providers. The providers are responsible for conducting their own application and selection procedures in line with Government guidelines. Contact your college to see if you are eligible for a scholarship. There are also a plethora of scholarships provided by various corporations, universities, church groups and foundations. Investigate the opportunities. Sometimes they are not available until the second or third year of the course. Your college student services office is a good place to start. Other income sources Centrelink is a potential source of funds for living expenses during college. Payments including the Youth Allowance (16-24 years olds) and
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Find a Christian Counting the cost College.
AUSTUDY (25 years and over) have eligibility criteria including an income and asset test. Students can earn up to $6,000 p.a. without it affecting their allowance. There is no reason why you shouldn’t work during term or at least during the long summer break. Awards can be another source of funds for the diligent college student. I managed to receive two prizes at university. One was a book prize that was nice but didn’t help the hip pocket. The other was a cash prize which certainly came in handy. Funding options Commonwealth loans There are three types of loans available to fund your Christian
tertiary education provided by the Commonwealth under the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP): • HECS-HELP is a loan available to eligible Commonwealth supported students to cover all or part of their student contribution amount. • FEE-HELP loan is available to eligible fee-paying students to cover all or part of their tuition fees. Limit is $80,000 or $100,000 depending on the course. • OS-HELP is available to assist eligible undergraduate Commonwealth supported students to undertake some of their course of study overseas. Limit of $5,196 that can be accessed twice over your lifetime.
I would not even consider the FEEHELP or OS-HELP as there is a loan fee of 20% of the amount borrowed. Other options I would avoid are bank loans and credit cards. Work and study part time, seek out a cheaper institution. If you are suffering genuine hardship let it be known in your local church. We supported an international student who experienced financial difficulty six months before completing her degree when funding from her home country ceased after the death of a family member. So go ahead. Be weird, swim against the tide, stay out of debt and reap the rewards. Gavin Martin Financial Planner
Kingsley College Our ministry focuses on equipping lay people and ministerial candidates for Christian ministry in their communities and local church. Kingsley College is the ministry training arm of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia with a student body drawn from many different backgrounds. Through thirteen training centres around Australia we work hard to ‘develop and equip people to shape their world’. Headquarters: 1/21 Lakeside Drive, Broadmeadows VIC 3047 Phone: (03) 9357 3699 Mobile: 0423 127 199 Email: email@example.com Website: www.kingsley.edu.au Mary Andrews College Mary Andrews College equips women to serve Christ through all of life. From a Pastoral Care Course of just 2 units, through to a 12 unit Diploma, there is something for everyone. Address: Level 1 St Andrew’s House, 464-480 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000 Phone: (02) 9284 1470 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.mac.edu.au Tabor College (TAS) Tabor Tasmania is a non-denominational tertiary education provider that is passionate about equipping people to make a difference in the community. Our nationally accredited undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Applied Social Science and Ministry provide students with valuable skills, knowledge and practical field experience in specialisations including Ministry, Counselling and Community Work. Address: 45 Melville St, Hobart TAS 7000 Phone: (03) 6231 5889 Email: email@example.com Website: www.tabor.tas.edu.au Youthworks Training College Youthworks College is the only theological college in Australia to offer specialised training which integrates theological study with the particular cultural and developmental challenges of ministry to children, families and young people. Fulltime, part-time, online and intensive study options are available. Address: 11 Fifth Avenue, Loftus NSW 2232 Phone: 8093 3400 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.youthworkscollege.edu.au 24 Christian Woman Spring 2015
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How to do friendship with men
AS A SINGLE WOMAN, TANIA HARRIS DISCUSSES THE DANGERS AND PERKS OF MALE-FEMALE RELATIONSHIPS...
ome of the best friendships of my life have been with men. I think of Paul who invited me to share his church offices when I first set out to plant my church. We met as students in one of our Masters classes. He was the short geeky one; funny, wellloved and smart. Half a decade older, he was also more skilled in ministry than I, having planted his own church and flexed his pastoral muscles for years. During the week we would discuss theological points in our sermons and on Monday mornings, we would debrief our services over smiley cupcakes from the local bakery. Paul was there to reassure me when the numbers were down and provide advice about the drunk who gate-crashed my service. He was first on my church board and led my commissioning when I left. I think of Aaron, an ex-navy guy, who when he first entered my church was aghast to see a “chick up the front”, but managed to stay on in spite of it. He was the one of the first to get on board with the vision, to offer his home for fellowship and share the preaching roster on Sundays. At Christmas time, he demonstrated his true loyalty when he rocked a Santa suit at our community outreach just because 26 Christian Woman Spring 2015
I asked him. I think of Pete, an integral part of the God Conversations ministry, who sits in his studio every month, diligently recording and mixing my podcasts; who patiently listens to my frustrations and cheers at the testimonies, and who gets as excited as me watching thrillers on the couch at the end of a long week. All of them have been close friends who have stood with me through different times of my life. All of them have been God’s provision for me in the season I was in. All of them have also been married. Over the years I’ve read books and articles with titles like; “Ten Rules for Working with Women.” They’ve included such instructions as: “Never be in a room alone with a woman; always leave the door open in the presence of a female, and don’t ever maintain eye contact with someone who’s not your wife.” In other words, don’t be friends with women. I understand where they’re coming from. The dangers of close male-female friendships are crystal clear. Marriages, families and entire communities have been devastated because people have done the very things those articles warn
against. But at the same time, friendships with the opposite gender have enormous potential to enrich our lives. They provide us with greater perspective and open us up to seeing the world in a different way. They also enable us to know God at a deeper level through relating to the other part of the image he called us to share (Genesis 1:26-28). So how does a Christian woman do friendship with men? The Need for Boundaries What those articles about cross-gendered friendships were trying to emphasize was our need for boundaries. As Townsend and Cloud in their well-known book on the topic describe them, boundaries define who I am in relation to others. They define the roles I play and the responsibilities I have in each of my relationships. We all need healthy boundaries in our lives. Like a child who flourishes within the safety of welldefined parameters, boundaries give us the freedom to thrive. Where those articles get it wrong I believe, is in the nature of those boundaries. The rules they lay down are
All the single ladies. Faith.
primarily external. They are imposed from the ‘outside-in’ and though well-intended, they can be hopelessly ineffective. Ask anyone whose experienced the effects of sexual chemistry. Where lust and longing are involved, external boundaries are about as powerless as a wire fence against a bulldozer. The door to the office may well be ajar, but the boundaries of the heart can still be crossed. There might be a third person in the room, but thoughts may still be wandering to places they shouldn’t go. If we are to have healthy friendships with men, our boundaries must be internalised. That means we need to take responsibility to carefully regulate our hearts – even more than our office doors. Know Your Heart Once when my friend Paul and I were attending a pastors’ retreat, the question came up of whether we should drive there together. The campsite was nearly three hours away and we lived in adjoining neighbourhoods, so it made sense that we travel in the same car. When I asked my mentor for advice, she told me the last three moral failings in our denomination
were male to male. “Just go together,” she said; “You’re fine”. And we were. Paul was a brother to me. He knew it and I knew it. We’d even discussed it at some point. There was no need to enforce external boundaries because the internal ones were already there. There’ve been other relationships though. Those times when the boundaries weren’t quite so clear; where there was a danger that lines could be crossed either from my side or theirs. These were the men I wouldn’t do coffee with, sit in an office for extended periods of time with or drive alone with in a car. May I say, it is never difficult to tell the difference? We know it when it happens. Ever since high school, we’ve learned to recognize when someone’s eyes linger too long or when our hearts beat a little faster than they normally would.
The key is to consider every relationship on its own merit. To ask; where is my heart in this relationship? Are the boundary lines where they should be? It’s up to us to take responsibility for the way we respond to our male friends – to consider what’s going on inside and act in a way that protects both ourselves and others. It’s worth it of course. When we take time to establish our internal boundaries, we can be free to enjoy the blessing of one of the most worthwhile relationships in our lives. Having healthy male friendships is a gift available to us to enjoy. But if we’re not willing to keep our hearts in check, perhaps it would be better not to have any male friends at all. CW
Tania Harris is a pastor, speaker and the founder of God Conversations, a ministry that equips people to recognise God’s voice. With a diverse history as church planter, pastor and Bible College lecturer, Tania’s ministry is known for its all-age appeal, wisdom, and ‘Godstories’. When not ministering, she is most likely to be found kayaking on Sydney Harbour or climbing a really high mountain and skiing down it! Hillsong is her church home in Sydney. For your free ebook, podcasts and resources that will help you recognise the voice of God, visit godconversations.com. Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 27
I like anything that can be prepared in ten minutes. Soup, taco mince, frozen veggies, any dish with pasta. I’VE DONE IT ALL. I LOVE ANYTHING THAT DOESN’T INVOLVE ME STANDING AT THE KITCHEN BENCH FOR HOURS ON END, trying to create that perfect meal.
28 Christian Woman Spring 2015
Instant Meal Mum What does it mean to have ‘patient endurance’? CORALLIE BUCHANAN finds the daily chore of preparing the dinner time meal akin to discovering what this truly means in her own life...
am not a great cook. Well, confession…I could be a great cook — if I tried. My mother was an amazing cook, my grandmother was an even more amazing cook. Yet I have failed to live up to the heritage of the amazing cooks in my family. I like anything that can be prepared in ten minutes. Soup, taco mince, frozen veggies, any dish with pasta. I’ve done it all. I love anything that doesn’t involve me standing at the kitchen bench for hours on end, trying to create that perfect meal. I know I might sound like a horrible wife, but the thought of cooking something, anything in fact, makes me groan. I am not a baker, nor a sous chef, I’m not even a kitchen hand. If there is something to be burned, I will inevitably burn it somehow. I don’t know how I manage it, but I even burned pears in the slow cooker last week! I am a terrible cook (at least when it comes to something more involved than pies and veggies). I despise cooking. There, I said it! I admitted to the whole world that the worst part of my day is the time I have to cook dinner. Oh, but I am more than willing to be the recipient of great food. I just don’t enjoy the cooking process. I am an easy dinner mum, and while I hate to admit it, it is ultimately true. I tend to be the same in my personal life. Easily frustrated with myself and others, impatient with my own progress, wanting to just get there already. I want change, and I want it now! I have this uncanny knack for turning a positive into a negative. I constantly compare myself with others, and am always finding myself coming up short of my own standards. I have become my own worst enemy, constantly seeing the worst in myself and then trying to change. But ultimately, I end up disappointing myself, because I want change to happen faster. Just like
my instant dinner, I want my change to be instant too. Romans 8:25 says that if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. The original Greek word is ἀπεκδεχόμεθα (apekdechometha), and it means “patient endurance”. You can endure without patience, but you cannot be patient without endurance. Who knows that you can endure hardships and difficulty while at the same time having a very bad attitude? However, the attitude of patience requires a fair amount of endurance. Sometimes, the breakthrough you are waiting for – be it personal, physical, relational etc – it can be a very long time in coming. The attitude you have during this time is very crucial, as it can often determine the outcome of your situation. Waiting patiently is not something that comes easily to most of us. My husband, however... well, that’s another story. I have never seen anybody as patient as him. To me he seems incredibly slow at the best of times. Sometimes I think he needs an atomic bomb lit underneath him in order to get him motivated. His seemingly obvious lack of motivation and “get-go” is one of the things that I find the most frustrating. Why can he not move quicker? Why can he not answer my questions immediately? Why does it take him so long to get out of bed in the morning? Why why why? I can also be incredibly impatient with my children. I have two beautiful daughters. One is six months old, the other four years old. My four year old loves to talk fairly constantly, and I find myself getting impatient with her constant chatter on a regular basis. If I were to receive one dollar every time that I tell my daughter to be quiet, I would earn a lot of money. Yet when it comes to patience with me
and my lack of change, my husband is very very patient. We have been married almost six years, and in that time he has seen me grow in amazing ways. He has waited for me to be more trusting, to not be so suspicious of his every motive. He has waited for me to learn how to handle my intense emotions. He has watched me learn to communicate in a love language that is not my own. He has seen me go through tremendous amounts of emotional stress in my other relationships. He has walked with me through the grief and depression of the breaking down of relationship between my mother and I. When I lash out at him because I can’t cope with what is going on inside, he still waits. He waits, and waits, and waits. With all of the nasty things I have said to him over the last six years, he has stood strong and refused to leave, ultimately waiting for the day when my healing will be complete. One day, I will be emotionally and physically whole, and he will get to see it happen. Now that is true patience. This is the kind of patience that Paul is speaking of in Romans 8:25. If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. My husband hopes for what he does not yet see: my healing. It is that hope which keeps him from giving up on me when times get tough. My best friend Laura is the same. Both my husband and best friend see when I am struggling, and they don’t give up on me just because I fail to keep my emotions all together. I am not the easiest person to live with. I have experienced many emotionally painful things throughout my childhood, and even during more recent times. As a result, my emotional and spiritual life have taken a rather hard battering, leaving me with what I believe to be clinical depression. So often I see my own emotional state and wonder maybe if life
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There is this little voice in my head that tells me I am unable to receive grace because I don’t deserve it. Having the strength to deny that negative voice in your head takes a lot of courage and persistence. had treated me differently, would I still have these problems? Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that I have them now, and I have to learn how to deal with them. The thing that I am not very good at is being patient with myself. I long to be able to allow myself to receive the grace that is on offer to me. Even though know my husband is incredibly gracious towards me, my God is even more gracious. But I look at myself and the person I have become through my circumstances, and I find it hard to let myself receive grace. There is this little voice in my head that tells me I am unable to receive grace because I don’t deserve it.
Having the strength to deny that negative voice in your head takes a lot of courage and persistence. Having the patient endurance to wait while God changes you little by little takes even more courage. I don’t have it perfected. None of us do. At times it gets very very hard to keep going. But God asks us to keep trying. Why? It is because He knows what the end result will be. Why should I give up now, when my change could be just around the corner? Should I just sit in neutral and wait passively for myself to change, or should I go out there and embrace life with both hands?
My first point of call will be to learn how to have patience with myself, and to not be such a perfectionist. It’s okay to not have it all together, and it’s okay to show others that you are not okay. Secondly, I will try to learn how to allow myself to receive both grace from God, and the grace that is on offer from those around me. Thirdly, I will endeavour to learn to offer this same grace and patience to others in return. What steps are you going to take to bring about lasting change in your life? CW
Full time mother and author, Corallie Buchanan, is a woman who writes from her heart. Corallie enjoys gardening, reading, and spending time with her family. Corallie is also the author of Watch Out! Godly Women on the Loose; a book which won her the award of Young Australian Christian Writer of the Year in 2007. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioural Studies from the University of Queensland, and a Master’s Degree in Divinity from Malyon Baptist Theological College. She lives her with husband and daughter in Brisbane, Australia.
30 Christian Woman Spring 2015
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Published on Oct 12, 2015
Welcome to the latest issue of Christian Woman magazine. This issue we feature Alice Achan; The Most Important Lesson to Teach our Children;...