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  • Writer's pictureRevShirleyMurphy

My Calling to Ministry

In Michael Ramsey's book The Christian Priest Today there are two things in particular that stood out to me – Ramsey's certainty in the finished work of Christ as the grounds for our confidence in ministry, and his repeated exhortation that we don't just concern ourselves with 'saving souls', but recognise that a call to confess Jesus as Lord is a call to surrender the whole of your life.

One of the most famous stories in the Bible tells of the “call” of the prophet Samuel. The young boy, sleeping in a religious shrine, hears someone calling his name. He assumes that it is the priest, Eli, for whom he works, and he runs to see what the old fellow wants. But it wasn’t Eli. This happens a couple of times until Eli figures it out, and tells the boy to stay still and listen in case the voice calls again, because it is actually God’s voice, not a human one. When we think of God calling to Moses out of a burning bush, or the voice of God telling Noah to build a giant boat, or the angel Gabriel telling Mary that she would become pregnant with Jesus, or the bright light and voice of the risen Jesus calling the apostle Paul into his lifelong mission, we can get the impression that God’s call is generally a pretty dramatic thing.

But it isn’t always dramatic. King David, probably the greatest figure in the Bible after Moses: his call came simply through being picked by a religious leader from among his brothers. And Nehemiah, who began the rebuilding of Jerusalem after it had been destroyed in war, merely made a choice to do this difficult work after being at prayer.

I am convinced that God’s call usually comes like that: subtle, ordinary looking, capable of being taken more than one way. Maybe it’s a “call,” maybe not. Hard to tell. Of course in rare cases it comes more dramatically, like the audible voice that the boy Samuel heard, but most often it is an ambiguous thing that needs to be examined, and thought about, and prayed about. I’m also convinced that God calls absolutely everybody to something. I believe that before we are even born God has a plan and purpose for each one of us, and it is our most important duty in life to find out what that is, and then to become it and to do it. I have been brought up as a Christian right from when I was young. I have been to Sunday school in my childhood days, then to youth when I became a teenager, sang in the choir as part of my upbringing in the Christian faith. My parents were ardent Christians and brought me up in the Christian faith.

In 2000 I had gone to visit the Holy Land with my family. I travelled to every place that Jesus ministered. I enjoyed the tour and came back with good memories. Then in 2003 I went again with my family and at that time there was something different. I was emotionally touched when I walked in the Stations of the Cross. When I reached the station where Jesus fell, it made me very emotional and made me cry. It was as if God was talking to me and guiding me through that spiritual journey making me understand that I should start ministry among his people and make them aware about his true love and his teachings. Thereafter every other place I went to, on that Holy Land tour made me feel very emotional and think about God's ministry, his teachings, the suffering and even the pain he went through for sinners like us. However I put it in the back of my mind and carried on with my life.

In 2005 I came to UK to pursue my higher education in London, but carried on going to church and took active part in all the activities. In 2008 I got married to my husband Julian, a Welsh boy who I met in London. In 2010 we decided to move to Wales and ended up in a small village call Bronwydd just outside Carmarthen. Immediately I started going to St Celynin Church a small village church in Bronwydd and very soon started getting involved more actively in all the activities. I joined the PCC, then became the Vicar's Warden and finally a Worship Leader. In 2013 I was blessed with a baby boy who made me understand my true calling as I felt God's presence strongly all through my labour pains and the final moment when my son finally did arrive after 26 hrs of labour. It was that moment that ushered and strengthened me to come forward and accept that God definitely had a plan for me. So my first call the next day was to my Vicar confirming that I was ready to go forward to becoming a Ordained Minister.

I had been preaching and doing Morning Prayer services and other different services for more than 8 years and I enjoyed every single moment of it as I was happy that I had finally understood what was God's plan for me in life. I finally made the necessary step to understand that I had been called by God to make a difference in people's life through my ministry and that I can do that only by committing myself to him fully by becoming an ordained minister.

When I decided that I want to become an ordained minister, the first thing I did was to discuss it with my husband and parents whose first reaction was it's about time. That's when I realised that the people around me knew that it was the right thing for me way before I realised it. It also made me realise that the song, which was going on in my mind for around a fortnight, was also a way for God telling me what I had to do. The song was "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" The words of the song go like this

I have decided to follow Jesus; I have decided to follow Jesus; I have decided to follow Jesus; No turning back, no turning back.

This hymn is a Christian hymn originating from India.The lyrics are based on the last words of a man in Assam,north-east India, who along with his family was converted into Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of a Welsh missionary.

The book "Being a Priest Today" written by Christopher Cocksworth and Rosalind Brown cover the root, shape and fruit of priestly life and, as the title suggests, launches from the ‘being’ aspects of ministry to explore the ‘doing’ which has helped me to further understand more about my calling and how I can make a difference in bringing people closer to God through my ministry.

Finally for me calling is a process of journeying closer to God and expressing God's unconditional love through my actions and helping people in the society. For me it is very important that my ministry should reach further than the Church and that it should easily reach people who are in need to hear and see the good news.

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