by Lisa McIntosh

Many people who serve in ministry roles have fascinating stories from their life before this work or volunteering, and uplifting testimonies about their change in vocational course or increasing commitment to God’s mission.

Danielle Robinson, office manager for the LCANZ’s Queensland District, is an example. A large part of her role is providing secretarial support to district committees which, she says ‘is a wonderful way to utilise years of experience on boards and councils of the church’.

In between taking on the role earlier this year and serving across eight years at Grace Redcliffe as an office administrator and chaplain, she had returned as a freelancer to her first career – the beauty and fashion industry. Before her ministry work at Redcliffe, Danielle began modelling in her teens and later operated the state’s top-ranked bridal styling house. Upon her return to the industry in 2018, she found success as a make-up artist, but says she ‘wasn’t feeling the same spark of excitement that I used to’, so she re-enrolled with Australian Lutheran College to continue theological studies and pursued ministry opportunities.

In a congregational setting, Danielle is the worship coordinator for Living Faith Murrumba Downs and serves on the LCANZ’s Council for Local Mission. She says her volunteer and work backgrounds – she also worked for a bank and managed another office before she was married and had children – have all contributed to her current service.

‘I can see my years of experience in governance and business administration leading to serve in this position in the church, but also my compassion and love for God’s children’, she says. ‘God’s ways are so amazing. It’s only now that I can begin to see the exquisite tapestry that God is weaving, and I know that he doesn’t mean for all of that to simply grow me, but to grow those souls he places in our paths.’

Graham Smith also finds joy and blessings in engaging with and sharing Jesus’ love with the people God introduces him to through volunteer service, in his case at St Petri Nuriootpa in South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

A member of SA Police (SAPOL) from 1971 to 2003, Graham had a ‘second career’ with Penfolds winery Nuriootpa from 2004 until 2019. While he and wife Sandy have served their local congregations around SA through a variety of roles over many years, Graham says most of his church volunteering has been since retirement.

‘God uses many people in his mission’, he says. ‘I’m just one of them. And the little things are important to God as well as the big things. And if I can help out a little, I’m hoping God will be happy with that.

‘My time in SAPOL has given me an opportunity to see people in all walks of life, in good times and bad. Perhaps I’m better able to connect with the community because of that. Having been involved with Messy Church, Shed Happens, and Sunday services (at St Petri), it’s satisfying to see the love of Jesus manifesting itself in these events.’

Fellow St Petri member Libby Krahling has had many different careers. Early in her working life, she was with the Federal Attorney-General’s Department in Canberra and then the Department of Defence in Melbourne and Canberra. During that time, she spent a year full-time learning Indonesian.

Now the LCANZ’s Commission on Worship’s administration coordinator, Libby worked as personal assistant to the director of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne and volunteered as an Indonesian interpreter. Later, she worked for Cambridge University Press in science marketing.

During time off from paid work, while she raised two children with husband Phil, Libby became more involved in volunteering for her church and community.

She then was a high school teacher in Kadina SA and the Barossa Valley, before working as assistant parish secretary with St Petri and, in 2019, taking on her role with the Commission on Worship.

‘As a young single person, I would never have imagined that I would work for a church in any capacity’, she says. ‘I’ve learnt that just when I think I have my life all planned, God has a surprise in store for me.

‘I believe that God has placed me in this place at this time for his purposes. Some I can see, others I may never know. I believe that nothing in life is wasted, and this role calls on many of the skills I’ve developed in the past. I hope that I have been able to make a contribution to the kingdom.’

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