Not having grown up in the church, I had a conversion experience 11 years ago while reading the Gospel of John.
My ministry is a little bit different to some of the other ministries within the Uniting Church as it is charismatic in nature. Uniting Church frameworks have become more open to charismatic renewal, particularly in healing.
My initial interest in charismatic renewal was born out of a demand on my life to pray for those with sickness. This led me to a life of prayer with a particular emphasis on seeking answers towards healing and life in the spirit in general. I found that many people shared in the search for healing and shared fellowship in their suffering, and this only strengthened my resolve to press into the healing power of the Lord Jesus.
The Calvary Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) church at Zillmere hosts prayer and healing nights within an Indigenous context on Wednesday nights at 6.30pm and sometimes there are visiting ministries with a cross-pollination of Indigenous people with an interest in healing.
The church community is quite diverse with Torres Strait Islanders, Pacific Islanders and Anglo-Australians.
Healing ministry is important for our community at Zillmere as people come from all sorts of backgrounds with various needs which can range from physical to emotional healing. The greatest need is to bring the comfort of God to the situation so people can be assured and affirmed in their faith in God.
The outreach ministries offered at the church are food programs for the community and also a boxing program for at-risk youth in cooperation with The Boss Boxing.
I recently formalised my qualifications with a Diploma of Ministry at Trinity College Queensland and am continuing at Adelaide College of Divinity to a Bachelor of Ministry. I have completed the period of discernment training process. I serve on the Board of the Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress at Zillmere as a volunteer in addition to the Wednesday healing meetings.
Rosemary – prison chaplain
When Mum died two years ago, I lost my best friend, my true north. After five years in the United Kingdom I returned home to my Uniting Church congregation. But I was lost, yearning for a purpose. Out of that darkness God led me in to a bright, new world of UnitingCare Prison Ministry and study at Trinity College Queensland. And I thank him every day for the life I now lead.
Prison Ministry has to be the most challenging and fulfilling means of honouring Jesus’ call to his disciples: “When I was in prison you came to me”. I had no idea of what that verse truly held until the steel gates slammed behind me. It is a special privilege to be invited into the lives of strangers (though some of those stories would make your hair curl, others could break your heart!).
There are times of sorrow. Praying through a small window which resembles a cheese grater, with a man whose eyes I cannot see, but I hear the hopelessness in his voice.
There are moments of sheer delight when the word of God breaks through. I shared the Book of Job with one inmate. When I first met him he was consumed with bitter anger. He grumbled: “I tried to do the right thing. Now look at me!” He read Job’s story (not dissimilar to his own) and then he changed. He grew brighter, smiling more, teaching chess to inmates he had previously avoided.
He was soon transferred to another prison but wrote to his mate here: “Ask the chaplain, what do I do with all these donkeys?” (Job 42:12). He had found God’s blessings behind the razor wire, and therein lies the joy of prison ministry.
Inmates, some Christian, most not, ask all sorts of questions. More study, I thought, would help me to guide them. So back to the classroom!
The transformation of Trinity College Queensland is astonishing. Following a total refurbishment, it is now a vibrant centre of excellence with all the help and hi-tech we could wish for.
Staff and students of all ages gather once a week to share in worship and a meal. Lecturers are a constant source of guidance and study options cover a wide range of topics and ability.
Rosemary’s full name and photo have been withheld due to confidentiality requirements. To find out how you can support Prison Ministry in chaplaincy, donations or prayer, please phone State Coordinator Steven Fincham on 07 3867 2550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org