Introducing those new to our staff team

  • Various Contributors
  • Jan 1, 2017
  • Series: St James Connect Newsletter (Monthly)

Kirsten Kukard

Kirsten Kukard

For those of you who don't know me, I am Mervyn and Alison's elder daughter. It is a great privilege to grow up in a ministry family because I have had God's sacrificial love modelled to me from a young age. I can't remember a time before I knew that Jesus loved me and that I needed to ask Him for forgiveness to have a relationship with Him. I do remember praying a prayer with my mom when I was about seven asking Jesus to be my King, but I think that I would categorise my experience of coming to faith as being a slow process of growth rather than a dramatic conversion. I have always liked Stuart Briscoe's image of a rose blooming as representing those who grew up in the faith. I did have a few moments where I would recommit myself. I went on the Go Franschoek mission in Grade 9 and remember coming home and saying to my parents that I thought I had become a Christian for the first time. They were helpful in explaining to me that there would be moments of growth and clarity which might feel like a conversion, but that my more child-like faith before was still genuine.

am very grateful to my parents for always having prioritized Children's Church and Kids' Club on a Friday. We learnt from a young age that meeting with God's people and being encouraged was not an optional extra for when we felt like it, but rather the key to growing and remaining faithful. I am very grateful to the leaders at St James who modelled Godly behaviour to me while I was growing up. During high school, I had a close group of Christian friends, and we were able to support each other through the ups and downs of teenage-hood. After school, I spent a year at George Whitefield College, which gave me a wonderful foundation in a Christian world view and prepared me well for university. In my studies, I have been faced with a range of ideas that challenged my Christian beliefs, but I have always found that God's Word stands up to scrutiny. My husband, Steven, has also encouraged me to engage carefully with my faith. Over the last four years, I have worked as a high school teacher and have been confronted with the hopelessness that many young people feel without the anchor of a relationship with God. I pray that God will use me to be an encouragement and a challenge

to young people that there is no certainty without Jesus and that the only real purpose in life is to serve Him.

Kirsten will be joining our staff team for one year, to come alongside Jenni in our Children’s ministry, to teach, assist and to do a strategic analysis of our Ministry to Children.

 

Donne’  Daniels

Donne Daniels

I was raised in a Christian home with Christian morals and values. My sister and I were both taught from a young age that to be Christians we had to make Jesus our friend and ask for His forgiveness. As a child I thought Jesus was the big man, living in the clouds who made sure bad things wouldn’t happen to you. This immature view of Jesus was shattered after the loss of my Oupa. I was still quite young but I started doubting Jesus’s power and ability to stop bad things from happening. I remember wondering if Jesus even existed.

I went on my first Crossword Youth Camp when I was 13, where I heard that we were all sinners and doomed for failure, but that God loved us unconditionally. I remember being hit with an overwhelming weight. God is perfect, but He still wants me. How could I possibly say no to that? - I gave my life to Him right there after the talk.

Being a young Christian in high school was difficult and at one stage I had my priorities all mixed up and was living for all the wrong things in life and putting a lot of my faith in my own ability to do things. I was still attending youth and going on church camps regularly but there was a disconnection between the life God had chosen for me and the life I was choosing to live daily. I lived with constant guilt and emptiness; I was not fulfilling my potential as one of Gods servants. But then when I moved to senior youth, started looking at Gods Word and having deeper discussions around what He says and decided to make a conscious effort to ask God to help me to live for Him daily and not just on a Friday and/or  Sunday. With the help of my youth leaders, Alexa & Jess, the programme run by Scott and Leighton and the Confirmation classes I was attending, I started to see real growth in my Christian life.

My world was rocked again after my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Again I felt angry towards God, but this time I was able to realise that this was His plan and that He was in control. I was filled with confidence in knowing that despite his illness, my Grandpa was with Jesus and still is with Him in Heaven. I watched my Granny during this time, unshaken in her faith. She pulled closer to God and leaned on Him more. She was a great example of how God can provide even during the toughest times and showed me that my attitude towards God should always be one of thankfulness even when I would rather be angry.                                             

My granny always used to sing “Amazing Grace” and would remind me that my Grandfather was in a better place after he passed because “by grace we are led home” and heaven was really home. It is my Gran’s dedication to children’s ministry that has greatly encouraged me to pursue children's work here at St. James. Being a Christian is not always easy, it’s a long and challenging walk, and not something you will always get right. Being a Christian is a daily commitment. You have to decide to work at it every day. What I can say is that no matter how tough it gets, pushing God away won’t improve your situation, it will just leave you to face your problems alone. Growing in your knowledge and understanding of God from a young age is so important because it will help guide you through tough times and it will prepare you for the long walk ahead. The walk to glory with God.

 

Donne’ will be coming on staff as a Children’s Worker Apprentice from mid Feb 2017.