Author: Claire van Ryn

“I collapsed and died in the hospital ward”

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Here, Noel Towns of Launceston shares a snippet of his story. I put my faith in Christ at the very young age of eight years and have felt His guidance throughout my journey, maintaining regular times of Bible reading and prayer. I have wrestled with the challenges and tensions between my faith and real world experience in both personal and business spheres for my entire life. Over a 40-year real estate career I often experienced my faith values intersecting and informing appropriate ethical behaviour in the work place. Our faith also led my wife ‘Chris’ and I to adopt four Ethiopian siblings to add to our family of five biological children. This has been an exciting and rewarding experience and an ongoing journey. We now have 25 grandchildren and still counting! A major turning point in my life occurred in August 2016 when I was raced to hospital with a septic gallbladder, which needed to be removed. Before that happened though, I collapsed and died in the hospital ward due …

“Indescribable peace” in the midst of cancer battle

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Here, Matt Kuipers of Launceston shares some of his story. Being a Christian, I always thought I was a pretty ‘good’ person, who contributes well to society. As far as I can remember I have always been assured of belonging to God’s family, which gives me comfort and assurance in a life after death. However my faith had never really been significantly challenged. In December 2016 I was diagnosed with rectal cancer at the age of 34. After many scans it became apparent that the cancer had spread to my liver upgrading it to stage four. Through chemoradiation and surgery the cancer was successfully removed from my rectum but the tumours in my liver continued to grow in both size and number. Throughout the whole crazy journey, including diagnosis, never have I questioned my faith. I do not put this down to having a really strong, well-developed faith. In fact, I think the opposite is true. To sit there in total peace while one of your doctors is telling you that …

“I was pregnant with our 3rd child when my husband died”

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Here, Melissa Lubke of Launceston shares a snippet of her story. I was 11 weeks pregnant with our third child when my husband died. I drove to the church barbecue down the road, while Andrew rode his motorbike shortly after. Half an hour passed, mingling with people, and a friend said, “Where’s Andrew?” Then it clicked. Where’s Andrew? What are all those sirens? Andrew used to joke that I jump to conclusions, but this time I was right, honey. I went to see. It was less than a kilometre away and they were turning cars around. I kept going. I just knew. I kept driving closer to the police car and I wound my window down and said, “Is it a motorbike?” And she said yes. I’d seen people come off motorbikes on TV and they were fine. So at that stage I imagined it would mean a lot of bed-ridden rehabilitation. I rang our friends and asked them to pray before following him to hospital in another ambulance. That night, …

Beyond the brink of anorexia and back

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Here, Susan Brown of Launceston shares a snippet of her story. As a teenager, I had a number of supposedly trustworthy men and guys try to seduce me. Fear and shame cast a shadow over my life, warping my view of males and changing the way I saw myself. No longer was I a girl with many valuable qualities. Instead, at least to guys, I was ‘just a body’. Most people didn’t realise what had happened to me. Years passed. I finished school, took a gap year then started uni. All the while a storm brewed silently inside me. When I was 20, my sister suddenly got engaged. She and her fiancée were planning to marry in a few months time and settle an hour away from our home. I felt like I was losing my closest friend. My grief was overwhelming but I stuffed it down, not wanting to dampen my sister’s joy. Seeing her so happy only intensified my longing to be loved – maybe if I had someone …

This is how I’m voting. And Olaf.

What more can be said? That has been my defence for saying precisely nothing about the upcoming postal plebiscite on marriage here in The Great Southland. And then I remembered Olaf. Olaf is the endearing snowman character in the Disney movie, Frozen. I know this because both my children are enchanted by the film and invariably ask me to play various YouTube clips from it daily. Often more than once. And there’s this one tune where Olaf waxes lyrical about his long-held desire to experience Summer. “A drink in my hand My snow up against the burning sand Prob’ly getting gorgeously tanned In summer!” Olaf sings this – the snowman who’s made of ice that melts and all. Seeing that charming, smiling character waltzing to his own demise made me think of Australians who are blindly accepting the yes vote because “love is love”.  No thought to repercussions that other countries are already experiencing. And then there’s the Kristoffs and Annas (you need to watch the clip!) who are withholding their voice, their information, their …

“For 13 years after our girls died, I tried hard to have little to do with God.”

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Say hello to Karen Mace of Launceston. It was a Saturday evening in November. We were expecting people from church over for dinner and I was preparing my dish for the evening. Miriam had already left to babysit for a couple coming to dinner, Ross was at a concert practice, and Sarah said she would bath Ileana. I noticed a sudden, sharp pain in the chest as the thought that Sarah and Ileana were taking too long popped into my head. I walked to the bathroom and noticed the silence, the sense that I was walking in dense fog, the feeling of panic rising up in me. That night my still-uncertain faith was snatched from me and shaken so hard I could no longer recognise it. For 13 years after our girls died I tried hard to have little to do with God. I kept my back to Him and my hands over my ears. Despite this I knew he was there, and I sensed Him intervening in things at times, …

Trusting Jesus with my self-worth is a daily decision

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Say hello to Sarah Haberle of Launceston. My life is a tapestry of God’s love – He has been present throughout every challenge, hardship and joy. I have experienced miracles and bear testimony to the truth that Jesus is alive. My early and late teenage years were up and down times – one minute Jesus was my everything, the next I was enjoying a life spent completely on myself and on whatever I wanted to do. One night, I was out at a pub. It was around 1am and I suddenly felt myself snap into the sober. I looked around the room and realised I hardly knew these ‘friends’ and just as suddenly I knew I was done with a life of emptiness without Jesus. I drove to a friend’s house at 2am and they welcomed me, clothed me and held me as I cried and made the decision to leave that life behind for good and choose Jesus and His love. God is always, always, with me I grew up …

What is #FLAMfaces?

Hello. I just want to let you in on something that’s about to come to fruition in this space in coming weeks. It’s based on this verse: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15. God has been whispering, nudging and hip-and-shouldering me lately towards this project that gives ordinary, everyday people a platform to share about their faith; about their extraordinary God. When I’ve read that verse in the past, I’ve felt somewhat overwhelmed. I’m much better with the written word than the spoken word! But the verse doesn’t specify, does it? It just says, be ready! And anyway, writing helps to cement new thoughts and learnings in the brain, so it comes to mind more readily in conversation. So, I have started asking local folk who live with Jesus as their saviour to do this: to speak  (write!) gently and respectfully about the reason …