Church Army - Inspire March 08
Church Army evangelist Kathy Green tells Charlene D’Acres of her journey from despair to hope
Kathy Green was brought up on a deprived council estate in south Sheffield and left school with no qualifications. She had little prospect of a life of success and achievement, and God certainly didn’t figure in any of her plans.
Aged just 19, she gave birth to her first child and was determined to make the most of a YTS course in dressmaking leading to a work placement at a local factory. However, it wasn’t long before Kathy’s life was touched by a family tragedy which turned her world upside down.
Kathy’s brother was involved in a fatal accident when he fell from a moving train. Kathy explains: "Before this accident I thought these incidents were just things you hear in the news. They didn't happen to people like me.”
The death of her brother left Kathy numb, angry, scared, confused, but most of all alone. She was unable to speak to her parents who were understandably wrapped up in their own grief, and her fiancé was a soldier away serving a tour of duty in Northern Ireland. She felt isolated and totally alone.
“I don't know really how I coped at that time,” she says. “I know that I began thinking about heaven and if it was a real place or if it was just made up to give us comfort in times of grief.”
Kathy wasn't brought up in Christian household and had no real personal relationship with God. She continues: "I didn't really think about God until the passing of my brother, but questions about his existence were going around my head; if God was real then why did he let this happen? If he was real I hated him for what he had done to my brother."
Battling with her emotions surrounding her brother's death, Kathy was also struggling in a difficult marriage. When she was eight months pregnant with her second child her husband’s violent streak emerged and he attacked her.
Kathy tried to move past this incident as she wanted the marriage to work and was scared to be on her own. "I couldn’t believe that God had done this to me as well. Everything that was wrong with my life was God's fault; he couldn't love me if he treated me like this."
Having divorced and become a single mother of two at only 25, Kathy continued to question God’s existence. She was unaware that soon her life would change again and her questions about God were about to be answered just when she was least expecting it.
One afternoon after dropping off her children at school, Kathy felt strangely compelled to walk into her local church, St Peter's Church in Sheffield. She didn't know why as it was against her usual instincts, but life changed for her on that afternoon when she took her first steps with Christ.
At 33, she reluctantly applied for Church Army and was amazed she was selected. “I only applied to prove to others that this wasn’t right for me, but God clearly had other plans,” she adds.
During her training she met Phil who later became her husband. Two years later her third child was born and her family was complete.
"I never for one minute thought my life would turn out like this. Although I still struggle with confidence issues and past rejections, God has massively changed my life for the better and now I am working to bring others into a direct relationship with him."
Kathy is now licensed as a parish Evangelist with special responsibility to older people in the Manor Parish at St Aidan's, St Swithun's and William Temple Church in Sheffield. She works with between 18 and 26 older people, running a lunch club which brings love and encouragement by showing these senior citizens that they have a special value to God and to their community.
The Manor Parish has a bad reputation for anti-social behaviour, which has its roots in long-term deprivation and unemployment going back over 30 years. There are many older people living in the area; quite a few have lived there all their lives and many of these feel lonely and powerless because of very little income and few facilities they and experience a constant sense of insecurity due to high levels of crime.
Kathy focuses on building up trust and combating loneliness by developing an atmosphere of friendship, fellowship and fun – and with regular services built in, gives a chance for people to draw closer in their relationship with God or even pose challenging questions.
She adds: “God has massively changed my life for the better and has plans for all our lives. He has jobs for us all to do and we all need to realise and embrace that we have potential to serve him, no matter what our age.”
Kathy’s ministry is already having an impact. Some of the regulars have started attending worship, and for those who can’t come to church Kathy goes to them.
Recently, Kathy visited Doreen, an older lady who lives alone and because of a heart condition rarely leaves the house. She’s effectively a prisoner in her own home.
Initially, due to her isolation and previous experience of church, Doreen was not very receptive to Kathy's efforts of introducing her to God. However, through prayer and loving persistence Kathy has seen Doreen's faith grow.
Kathy is clear about God’s direction on her life and how he has transformed her from someone who even questioned his existence to leading her into full-time Christian ministry.
"I will always remember this scripture,” she says. “Jeremiah 29:11 talks about God having plans for each and every one of us. I felt that I was important to God and he was calling me to help others.
“I have come to realise that he is not a God that wants to harm me, but an inspiration and builder up who has great plans and can see in us things we can’t always see for ourselves. He has given me hope and a future that has purpose."
- To support the work of evangelists like Kathy Green, please call Church Army on 020 8309 3519 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out more about Church Army's work here.