Alison Tinsley interviewed Sue Depledge of the Foundry Church,North Lincolnshire.
What are your thoughts about Christian women being dangerous?
“DANGER Christian woman…. YOU have been warned!” THE fact is we don’t wear a sign that warns anyone initially that we are believers. But it is my firm conviction that we SHOULD be dangerous! Dangerous to those we come in contact with who are not yet Christians, or have never really understood the clear message that we can each have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! This is wonderfully good news and it would be selfish, not to mention a most boring life, if we hid this news from others. It is actually very stimulating to be around people who don’t know Jesus in this way. I find it incredibly challenging to be with these folks, and it stimulates my desire to pray and to be more like Jesus.
The character of a dangerous woman has certain hallmarks I believe, Integrity, Authenticity, and Sincerity. She is also clothed with love, joy, and peace. These qualities radiate from her. I have had the priceless privilege of knowing a few of these ladies.
The first one I ever met was my first Sunday school teacher, she was the grand-daughter of Smith Wigglesworth (a preacher and plumber from Bradford, with an amazing ministry.) She had all the class paying attention as she talked about the healing miracles of this modern day preacher. We always heard bible stories, and then modern miracle stories, these were alive with excitement and incredibly faith -building for a child to listen to… I quickly fell in love with JESUS! This was in Zambia, where she was a missionary, I was six years old.
In what ways am I ‘dangerous’?
My constant prayer is to be made, more dangerous. This I believe is achieved by being filled with the Holy Spirit, who enables us to hear God’s heart beat for those around us. I want to be a threat to the enemy and all his strategies to keep men and women from knowing Jesus, and experiencing release, from darkness, bondage, sin, depression. As an evangelist put it, I want to “plunder hell, in order to populate heaven”.
One example when I was aware of being “dangerous” was when working with a muslim nurse at one of the oil refineries, on an agency assignment. We were on the quieter, late shift which meant I could read my bible between patients visiting the medical centre. This seemed to provoke my nurse colleague into evangelistic mode. We had some fiery debates about the person of Jesus, and Islam generally. Sadly he left after a few evenings, accusing me of being the evangelist!
My work as a Parish Nurse
The Parish Nursing project was started just over a year ago in our locality. We are a growing number of registered nurses, working with the support of a local church or churches in a given area. www.parishnursing.co.uk is a web site with up to date information on the locality of each of these. Now numbering over 80 churches. Some large city centre churches have as many as four nurses, some working one day per week for their community, from their local church. Each is very different,depending on the experience of their nurse, and the needs of their community.
During my first year I found myself in some unexpected places, supporting people who had come to me for assistance such as A/E, job centres, and the police station. A large amount of time is spent listening carefully to people, and acting as “advocate”,or sign-posting to other agencies for help, advice and support.
I also have the very great joy of offering to pray for each person that comes to see me.
A lot of time is spent exploring possibilities to better enable informed choice, hopefully leading to an informed decision.
I think one of the highlights of this first year of the project was the day I heard a lady who had been expressing suicidal thoughts, after several visits to her at home say, “now I know why you pray, and go to church…he does care, and he has answered us, hasn’t he?”
What barriers have I overcome on my Christian journey in sharing my faith, and how have I overcome them?
I think one of the hardest times was as a fourteen year old, adjusting to a new culture, new school, and new country. I felt I had to make it clear to classmates that I was also a Christian but actually felt embarrassed. I had just come to England to live, still had a broad Zimbabwe accent, was not used to school in this country having been in several central African nations as a child. I was nick-named “rebel” because of the rebel regime of Ian Smith, the then prime minister of Zimbabwe, who was frequently on our television. It troubled me greatly when I just did not fit in with the other children, and kept thinking, “what ever will it be like when they realise I am a Christian too!”
Then one day our pastor announced that we were going to have a Saturday, day of prayer and fasting, asking for God’s blessing! I had never fasted before, and decided to give up my lunch in order to pray about this matter. On the Sunday in Church I responded to an appeal after the sermon for those who wanted to see the power of God in their lives. I knelt at the front alter rail and began weeping with repentance, for my reluctance to name Jesus before my school friends, after a few minutes of breaking my heart over this, I was filled with a sense of peace, and knew I had been forgiven. Then a truly amazing sense of joy flooded over me and I began to praise God out loud, still knelt at the rail, this desire to praise suddenly became audible, and then in another language…I was aware that I was praising God, but somehow had run out of English and started to praise God in another language.
When back at school the next day I wandered around the playground at every break praising God again, in English and the other language I had been given. I soon found that I was able to talk very confidently about my faith! I was waiting with excitement at the prospect! The year later inviting my R.E. teacher to come and hear Billy Graham, as he was in London, and our church was running a coach to the venue. We had had very heated debates in R.E. about the “glossolalia ” not happening today!( The theological term for speaking in an unlearned language, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit). We had talked at length after lessons about the work of the Holy Spirit including whether it was possible to know personal forgiveness, have peace with God, and a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. My R.E. teacher committed his life to Christ at the crusade meeting, and it was evident that he had changed to all the pupils studying R.E. for G.C.S.E. the next two years.