Welcome, it’s great to have you with us. I’m Ruth, and today my guest is Jade. Jade and I first met, I’m pretty sure unless we’ve met in Christian circles somewhere, we first met at a dance class where I was way older than anyone else in the class, but they accepted me with open arms which was very nice.
We’re all young at heart.
Jade has since finished high school, done some training with Youth With A Mission or YWAM (if you listen to my podcast regularly YWAM tends to crop up quite a bit). And she’s now at theological college and she also works at Officeworks.
So you’re very welcome Jade.
So would you like to start by telling us how you became a Christian?
Well my Mum was always a Christian, it was kind of always something in our house, that God was there, he was real, he loved us. He was always a really big father figure because that’s how my Mum had met him, she was a single mum and she was into some pretty bad stuff and she met him and through that I kind of always knew he was there.
It got really hard at one point when I was maybe 12, the end of primary school, I decided I didn’t think God actually existed because all this bad stuff was happening. Which is I think the sad story for a lot of people. I got into about year 7, Mum started going to a new church, even though stuff was still pretty yucky, but some girls there invited me to a camp and I actually encountered him.
It was mainly, ‘I love you. I’m the best parent you could ever be.’ My parents felt like they’d kind of failed at being parents. And he was all those things for me. And ever since then I haven’t ever really questioned it.
Was it in a worship session?
Yeah it was worship and then it turned into a lot of praying and the people up the front encouraged us, ‘This relationship with God is yours, it needs to be yours. If you want to be prayed for come up the front.’
I was like, ‘I might as well, I’ve got nothing to lose. And everyone else is doing stuff anyway, I don’t have anything else to occupy me.’
So I went up the front. One of these ladies that I’d met and then met later at the church my Mum went to (Tassie’s a small place), she prayed for me, she actually sang this beautiful song that God had given her to sing. And I just cried. And I didn’t understand why I was crying. But I just felt this really warm big hug, wrapping around me. And felt God was saying, ‘I’m everything you’ll ever need. I want you to trust the other people around you to a certain degree but they’re only human, and I’m not like that.’
So that must have changed things for you in high school? Did you find that you had some kick back against you in high school?
I think so yeah, it was not even necessarily kick back, I went to a Christian high school up until about half way through year 8 and then we moved to a public school that was closer and a bit more accessible. And a lot of the girls didn’t quite understand because I didn’t behave the way that they did.
I think even before that I wanted to be a bit more grown up than I really was. I’m the total opposite now, I’m quite content to be where I am at the moment. But I just wasn’t interested in all the stuff they wanted to do like, ‘Oh you just say all the swear words in one go.’ It’s not that interesting. Or I don’t really want to be mean to those people just for spite. I wanted to do the complete opposite of that.
So it’s a bit of a distance I think that you can’t quite bridge if they don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. For a while there it was hard with the change in schools but after that I was content to be me and it was worth it. I think it was all worth it. No matter how different we were.
Did you have a group around you that felt the same way?
I had a couple of girls. I didn’t meet them until year 9, so a year later. There was a girl that I actually had met in primary school (because again Tassie’s a pretty small place) so we all lived in the same suburbs. And we’d gone to the same primary school for a while and both ended up at the same high school. She was I think one of the reasons why I was inspired to live out my faith at school. Not just hide it and brush off why I wasn’t doing the things that they were doing. I still look up to her a great deal – she had such discipline and so many questions.
And I was like, ‘I have all these questions too, this is so great, we can talk about it.’
And then it was really cool in year 10 we ended up in this science class where there were five of us that all knew each other and we all knew we were Christians. We’d talk and talk and talk and talk and talk. And it was so much fun because everyone would hear us because it was a small classroom and no one really cared because we all had our own conversations. I think they liked hearing our stories about why we believed what we believed and that was a really cool thing.
I think we changed some perspectives of Christianity along the way which was really good. For the better.
Yeah, yeah, good.
So have you always wanted to go into full-time Christian ministry? Do you want to go into full-time ministry?
I’ve always wanted to help people. I don’t think I ever thought about it being in the sphere of Christian ministry until the last couple of years when I started thinking about doing a Discipleship Training School – that six month period with YWAM.
And all it came from was someone asking me if I’d ever thought about doing it. Doing that missionary stuff for that six months. And it made me realise that I didn’t just have to be a teacher or a social worker, or the secular society’s jobs where you get to help people. It started out as a teacher, then it was a social worker, and then I realised I wanted a more hands-on approach after I did the YWAM missionary school. And now that’s where I’m at.
But I’m also content to go wherever God sends me. So if it is teaching or social work or counselling (which I also went through thinking about doing) I don’t mind if it’s all of it or none of it. Wherever I’m supposed to go.
There’s many options in that. There’s so much need in that area.
So you’re saying you went to YWAM because somebody just said, ‘Have you thought about it?’
Well, originally I’d gone to a kids camp. I’d gone to one of their Christian camps, really really loved it. It was like my home life but without all the bad stuff. So it fit the way that we had learned about God as kids. It didn’t rub the wrong way. And I think it’s not supposed to as kids, they kind of want to foster those questions and get you to have a relationship with God. Teach you how to talk to him and listen to him.
And I’d gone to a couple of them and I’d helped out at some of the camps because I’d been to so many of them that they knew me a fair bit. And one of the guys that I’d met, he became like an uncle, a part of our family almost. And we were out on a little brunch and he goes, ‘Have you ever actually thought about doing this?’ Because I’d seen so many of the people running these camps were doing these six month trainee learning how to be a Christian, learning how to be a missionary. And I obsessed with that thought for the next week, prayed about it a lot because I didn’t want to just jump on it because it sounded exciting, had a lot of other people pray about it, and chose to do it. It was a really great decision.
I know from my DTS, my six months with YWAM, I think I came home saying, ‘Well, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was really horrible. Everyone should do one.’
Yeah. That’s a good take on it.
It was really challenging. I think one of the most challenging things for me was that you were in such close proximity with the people that you’re in a team with for the whole six months. Or at least the three months when you go on outreach, when you go to another country or go out and do ministry, all the practice side of it. And if there’s someone that rubs you the wrong way …
It’s a problem.
You have to deal with it. You can’t avoid it. And that’s the thing that makes you grow so much as a person. Because you have to deal with it, and you do, and God gives you the strength to do it. And he gives you the solutions, even if it’s ‘sucking it up’ [laughter] which often it is. It’s like, ‘Really, you’re just being silly.’
I think that’s a big thing. I think also being away from family and friends. Learning to trust God with them, and that he’ll take care of every need that they have was a big thing. Because having younger sisters, having a boyfriend, having other sisters and Mum. I’ve always been there, I’d never moved out of home before that. Not like I have just now when I’ve moved out of home. They’ve got used to it slowly where I’m still in the same state. But being all the way over in the Philippines which is where I went, thank goodness for the internet connection, for you it wouldn’t have necessarily been a thing.
Not for me.
That was a blessing in disguise as well. So many things that you’re constantly learning. All condensed into such a small amount of time.
Is there one thing that, you’ve talked already about things that you’ve learned, is there one thing that really stands out to you – this was the big message I was supposed to get in that six months?
I think, I know I’m a bit of a controlling person. And if I see it going a certain way in my head and it seems like it should go that way and it will work, I get frustrated if it doesn’t or if it’s not perfect or I feel like things aren’t going to work out the right way. I get really frustrated or upset and try and fix it. And I got a lot of times where it was like, ‘Jade, it doesn’t matter.’ Or it was a bit embarrassing because I didn’t realise how much I would correct people. Or make things, not politically correct, but make sense and be right and sit a certain way. Or else this will happen, or else this won’t happen. And I really had to have, it was a bit of a cutting off pride, and being OK and trusting that God will use things no matter how they come out. That was a big thing.
Your plan B could be his plan A.
Basically, yeah. And that even something as simple and wrong sounding from someone else’s lips because that’s how it comes out, God will still use it for what he wants to use it for.
Not abandoning doing things a certain way. I think there’s a right way to do things a lot of the time. But it’s not the end of the world and it’s not worth stressing over. God’s much bigger than all of that.
Absolutely. I know one of our YWAM sayings was, ‘Cemented in flexibility.’ You have just got to go with the flow.
So you came back from YWAM and you decided to go to theological college. You’re at Alphacrucis.
Yeah. I left it a month, I gave myself a whole month, because they try to get you to think about what you want to do afterwards, or ask God at least. It’s OK if you don’t get an answer. But I was praying a lot because I wanted to make sure that I had something to do, I think. Or at least I wanted to know. I’m a bit of a sticky beak – I wanted to know.
I’m seeing a theme. I want some control over my future.
I’d give the control to him I just wanted to know.
And so I asked a lot and he just put it in my heart that I really just wanted to know the Bible. I felt like there was a really big need to understand it the way that he’s put it out there. In the many ways that it can be understood. Like for us personally, for the church, and for the people who don’t know God, all the people surrounding.
And that was a really big thing because I realised I’d ridden on the back of nice Christian songs and hearing stuff from pastors and other people like my Mum or friends. And I just wanted to actually read the Bible and feel confident in what I knew about it. And keep learning it.
So that’s what I do at the moment.
So you’ve completed a year?
Yes. It was a bit mixed up because I started halfway through the year, and because I’m working I was only doing three out of four subjects at a time. Also, I’m not very good at studying so I didn’t pass all of them. It’s a little bit embarrassing but that’s just how it’s gone. And I’m getting better at it, which is good.
It’s all a learning experience.
It is. I think that’s sometimes the biggest thing that God’s taught me in going to theological college. The actual study side of it. Discipline.
I guess it doesn’t stop if you end up in ministry, you’re going to be studying for the rest of your life.
That’s the thing. I know it’s something I have to learn. I can’t just avoid following through and doing it when I need to.
So how does your faith affect your daily life. How does it play out in your life?
I think one of the things that even, it’s so funny, like it’s stuck from YWAM, I’ve learned that it’s OK to have a childlike heart. And I love, because I’m a pretty broody, somber person internally. I’m pretty harsh on myself. So I’m still learning to play that out in everyday life. The childlikeness. Rather than the really harsh, pulling myself down.
So I started doing that physically, practically, I love doing art. Even if it’s not the best art. Just making things pretty sometimes does that. So even if it’s reading a verse, writing it down and making it pretty. Or asking God what this verse looks like and drawing it.
And I know that’s not always theologically correct …
But it’s a way of meditating on scripture.
And it’s a way of keeping it there. And I really enjoy reading the Bible the whole way through at the moment. I’m trying to get through the whole Bible. At the moment that’s a daily thing. In the order that it is in the Bible, at least. I know that’s not the chronological order but how it’s written, at the moment, that’s how I’m reading.
And I think one of the biggest things is I try not to think of people as I see them. I try very, very intentionally to say, ‘OK God, how do you see this person?’ Because it’s never really what it seems like on the surface. And I do think he’s really helped, especially working in retail, where you get really stressed.
So working at OfficeWorks I do that pretty regularly. Even today, I was at work before now, and I was like, ‘God, how do you see this person? Can you change this negative feeling I have towards this person to a positive one?’ Not necessarily positive thinking, but seeing them how God sees them, as his creation. As his masterpiece. Not perfect, but he loves them. And we’re not always very good at loving people straight away.
Especially when they’re stressing us out.
That’s probably the main chunk of it.
What do you hope to do in the future?
I want to help people.
No it hasn’t. I have a lot of dreams, I’d love to help people that have specifically had really broken pasts. I think mainly when they’ve had broken hearts from disappointment or people that have really hurt them intentionally or unintentionally.
When I was younger, it was the young people. As I’ve got older I’ve felt more comfortable with each age group. So I want to help all ages.
Part of me would love to have, I had a vision once, it’s the only one I’ve ever had. But it’s of this ‘heart hospital’ I keep calling it in my head. But it’s like a rehab centre for emotional and heart and mental wellbeing. I’ve met so many people who have been so broken mentally, and spiritually, and emotionally. Where they can’t function as a human being, and I think that’s most people, but to an even worse degree. And that’s the main thing I have in my head at the moment.
And I really love kids so I want to help them to be the best people that they can be. Just to be themselves.
Nothing concrete like a job yet, that hasn’t really come together, but I’m quite content with that.
That’s lovely, that’s really lovely.
So my two questions that I always ask everybody. When do you feel closest to God?
I think when I’m singing. Singing and praying. And sometimes they both happen at once. I think one of my favourite things that I’ve ever learned is that it’s OK in a worship service if you stop singing and start talking to God.
Yeah that’s true.
I love doing that. It’s almost like, not an act of rebellion, but like if God’s talking to you then it’s OK to stop singing and listen.
And sometimes its such a radical idea that you wouldn’t follow the program, but I love doing that. I love sitting and just talking to him. Writing stuff, writing out questions and trying to listen for answers. And I know it’s not always going to be right but I want to learn how to hear him really clearly and you can’t do that without practicing.
So I think singing is my big thing. I really love singing a lot.
I like that idea of practicing hearing God’s voice. I don’t know who said it, but they sort of said if you want to know how to hear God’s voice, listen. And what he says, you act on it. If you get it wrong, he’s big enough to handle that, you can leave that with him. But if you get it right, you’ve heard his voice and acted on what he told you to do.
I guess if you get it wrong, you’re going to figure it out pretty quickly if you act on it as well.
Yes I think so.
And of course we always take everything and line it up with scripture too.
Yes, that’s what I was thinking. If it’s good, if it’s lovely, if it’s loving. There’s a lot of ways to interpret that but when you have an entire Bible worth of information you can narrow it down to what it’s supposed to be like.
You often can figure it out.
We have each other as well. I think God-fearing people that have God inside them (the Holy Spirit) can make a real big difference.
Now see, I’ve got a verse on that too. I’m interviewing you, but anyway. It’s from one of the Timothy’s and it’s ‘remember what you’ve learned and from whom you’ve learned it’ and that really pinged me the other day. It’s not just what you’ve learned but the people that you see living those mature Christian lives, what they tell you is also important to help us grow in our maturity as well.
So I’ll find that one and put it in the show notes.
OK, what’s one thing (we had a little chat about this before the interview) about God or Christianity you wish everyone knew?
I was saying to Ruth that I actually question this a lot especially when I ask God intentionally at work, ‘What do you want these people to hear about you? How do you want them to see you? What should I say to them? What should I show to them?’
Especially being at work with the same people that I’ve really learned to love and care for. They’ve really just got my heart big time. Such amazing people.
And I still haven’t got one clear cut answer. It’s different for each person. One day it might be, ‘I really want you to go say that you really appreciate that they work really hard at work.’ Or it might be, like I had a Mormon man at work, well his parents were, and it was just as I’d started working there, it was a couple of months in. And I actually got to talk to him about what I wanted to do with YWAM. And he’d really been hurt by his parents and the church that they were from because it was so exclusive, and he was essentially excommunicated, and he was almost standoffish when I said that I was a Christian and that I wanted to do missionary work. Because that’s what his parents used to do and try and convert people and all that sort of stuff. He still had such a great respect for his parents who he enjoyed talking about, but the fact that I was able to talk to him about a God that loves, and that that’s the God I serve, that’s what I want to do, I want to be his hands and feet.
And it’s not me at all. I don’t know where to start with loving people. It’s something that has to come from God. He’s put a certain amount of it here [in my heart] but I want to keep asking and getting that answer for each person I meet.
And it seems to me that it’s a good thing to work somewhere like OfficeWorks when you’re doing theological college as well.
Practically it’s close, it’s up the street. But also just like a lot of retail situations, fast food places, for a lot of people it’s a stepping stone to other jobs they want and they know that. It was such a blessing that going into that place they already had a standing foundation that said integrity, we want to give people a really good experience and make connections, personal connections. And value the people. And I didn’t even know that until I went to the interview. I just thought it would be a cool place to work because I didn’t have to use food. I didn’t want to have to clean things, if I could, and I just happened to get that interview. But they came out and said, ‘These are our pillars (of OfficeWorks)’ and I was like, ‘What the heck?’ I was so excited.
And it’s followed out. And it also means that I’m able to, in that environment, really love the people that I’m with. I make a really big effort to keep the attitude and environment really good, as much as I can, just by being an example. Despite anything else that’s happening around me. If it’s team members that aren’t very nice that day or if it’s customers that aren’t very nice that day, one of the two or both at once. That happens quite frequently at back to school time as well.
And it doesn’t come from me either. Sometimes I walk into work and I’m like, ‘God you need to help me because I really want to make a difference and I can’t do it from me. I don’t have anything today. I’d really love it if you stepped into this situation.’ And he does. Every time. I leave and I’m like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe, even though so much bad stuff happened, the environment is still good. I still feel good. Other people feel at ease and at peace.’ And I do a little internal happy dance, like, ‘That’s God!’
That’s awesome. Thank you so much for talking with us. I hope that everyone listening takes that statement away. Take it into wherever you work, that happy dance, that’s God.
He always makes a difference, even when we don’t know it.
Thank you so much.