We are pleased to welcome our new Hub Engagement Manager Caleigh Kennedy.
My family has been attending St Mark’s for 3 months now, almost as long as we’ve been in England. Many of you know that before answering the call to move to the U.K. from Australia, I worked with the Salvation Army for 10 years with my husband, Graham. We started by initiating a youth ministry in a deprived area, then we were the church leaders of Cafe Salvo in a highly populated multicultural area. The past two years I was the Rural Outreach Chaplain, supposedly working with drought stricken farmers, but ironically did more work with flood relief than drought relief.
I didn’t grow up in the Salvation Army though, I didn’t even grow up in the church. My family were more comfortable in the New Age scene and I grew up watching my mum read tarot cards and our family outings were to New Age festivals and our Sundays were spent at a service for Spiritual Readings. In my 20s I was working in a Wicca Supplies store.
I came to know Jesus in my late 20’s when my new neighbour, Graham invited me over for a meal. It was through this new friendship with my neighbour that I came to hear about the truth of Jesus as my Saviour. Graham told me about how Jesus died so that I could have an abundant life. I was extremely sceptical and I scoffed at many of his words but he patiently persisted and answered any questions I had. The first moment of ‘knowing’ it was the truth was powerful! I knew how much Jesus loved me and how much he paid for my freedom. I was so hungry for more, hungry for more Jesus, more of the Word.
I didn’t feel that I would fit in in a Church though, so for 6 years I studied The Bible alone and I did Bible studies by correspondence. But that all changed when our daughter Jemma was born in 2006.
During labour, an artery ruptured and I lost 4 ½ litres of blood, and I went into cardiac arrest. I was clinically dead for a few minutes. But to me, it felt as though time had stopped. I felt as though I had just stepped into another room and was in the presence of the Lord. I had never experienced such an overwhelming Love. During this time, God told me that He had given me a wonderful gift in my salvation, and I had done nothing with it. I had kept it all to myself.
Major surgery and two blood transfusions later, I woke up in intensive care knowing that I had been given a second chance. I also knew that it didn’t belong to me. It belonged to God. General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army once said, “God shall have all there is of William Booth.” And that is how I know I need to live my life now. God shall have all there is of me.
We felt a call to pack up and move to the U.K., this would mean leaving two of our (adult) children behind in Australia. It was a big step, and we were in two minds of when the timing would be right.
Like Gideon in Judges 6:37, I decided to put out a fleece and asked God for a very specific sign to show us the timing was right, and he answered this year. God also gave us the Scripture Matthew 6:26, we felt he was asking us to trust him to be our only security, so we gave away everything we owned. We arrived in Wigan on May 31st with one suitcase each, and walked into St Mark’s on Pentecost Sunday. I was handed a newsletter with the role of Hub Engagement Manager advertised and I applied. Forty days later I was interviewed and offered the position. I am excited to be a part of such an outward focused church community and all that is to come.