This is part of a series of articles by Rachel Winn (member of St Mark’s, Picton), helping us to get to know other Church members.

“I grew up in Earlwood, Sydney and most of my life has been in the Inner West. I came from a family of 3 girls. My father was a POW in Changi during WWII and he was often not well (during my upbringing),  having suffered a lot of ill health as a consequence of being in Singapore, Burma and Japan during the war. He most probably had PTSD but we didn’t know it then – it was just described as having bad nerves. So we had to keep very calm in the house. My mother looked after everything and kept us interested in school and helped us do our homework, insisting we had good grammar! She supported us in all the extra activities that we wanted to do. I was always interested in dance, starting ballet classes at 7 years old. And while I played piano and also picked up cello, the dancing was what continued; I always really loved ballet, tap and jazz. 

My mum was a very keen member of the Presbyterian church, so we went to church every Sunday. That was something I continued doing,  even though my sisters didn’t. I always wanted to learn about God and drifted into Sunday School teaching, which meant I wasn’t able to sit in church because there was only a Sunday morning service. I did want to grow in my faith and the catalyst for me was the 1979 Billy Graham crusade. While there I was thinking, “Well, I don’t need to go forward and make a commitment,” but when Billy said, “If you want to publicly declare your faith, come forward,” I thought, well that’s what I want to do. I publicly declared my faith! Through that the church, my school ISCF and my family found out because they sent all these letters! After this I officially joined church and also went to the local Anglican church’s youth group and a bible study there. My understanding of Christ’s love and sacrifice really grew after that. I’d felt like I was a Christian already and knew a lot about Christian things, but I had so much more to learn!”

How am I going:  “I like to ground myself in God’s Word. One bible verse that really helps me (because I get quite anxious about things) is Proverbs 3 verses 5 & 6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not unto your own understandings . Acknowledge him in all your ways and he will direct your paths.” I frequently return to this:  trusting in God in everything. It’s challenging because you do want to take the reins of your life and lean on your own understanding and your own interpretation of a situation. Sometimes I do forget to acknowledge God, or I might pray about things and forget to thank him, or  just don’t see that he’s actually been there with me. By acknowledging him, trusting in him for everything, and not leaning on my own understanding he has directed my paths. You can look back on your life and see lots of ways that through God’s grace he has directed those he Ioves where he wants them to go. We still go through hard times and struggles, but the bible says that we learn through trials. become stronger and learn to rely on him more. At the moment I have a job that’s in Westmead, so I live in Sydney during the week. I’d really like to have a job that’s closer, so I’m trusting God at the moment that I will find something closer to home. Then I can be in Picton during the week, be more of a part of the church and build up friendships here (in Picton). I’m praying for this, or maybe God will guide me to stay where I am!”

How am I growing: “I listen to sermons in the car, like those by Simon Manchester on 103.2. I go to church weekly and love getting to know the faithful saints down at (St Mark’s) Picton. I am missing being a part of a bible study but I keep in touch with my Christian friends and we pray for each other.  I’m thankfully seeing how God is answering prayers in our lives. I regularly read the bible and am reading through Ephesians at the moment. Sometimes I pick up a Christian book, but I do try to read the bible every day.”

— Gillian Bale, member of 9:30am @ St Mark’s Anglican Church, Picton.