General Secretary of our Baptist Union
I was awoken in the middle of the night and my bedroom was flooded with light. Out of the light I heard God’s call, “Lynn, I have something for you to do for me”. I was 14 years old and I certainly had no idea what this meant. My first thought was, “What can a woman do for God?” The only option I was aware of was to be a nun – which definitely did not seem like an attractive option. Overwhelmed and with no clue what this could mean, I parked this experience and tried to go back to sleep. But I would say in this encounter with the Living God, I undoubtedly became a follower of Jesus. Later, in my Gideon New Testament, I read the call to be baptised, so I rang my local Baptist church and the rest, as they say, is history.
In those early years I continued to carry that sense of call, but neither I nor those around me knew what to do with it. People were loving and supportive, but I just didn’t fit into their existing frameworks of reality. Various suggestions were offered; maybe a calling to be a minister’s wife, maybe a calling to be a theologian, and by the time I was leaving university I had come to the (convenient) conclusion that maybe this was a calling for later in life. I left university, found a job, got married and settled down.
It was attending Spring Harvest in my early 20s that put calling back onto the agenda. For the first time I told my story to someone – an unknown Anglican deaconess – who was the first person to put into words that I might be called to ministry. That significant moment gained momentum through the encouragement of our new minister, Paul Hills, and by the time I was 26 I had taken voluntary redundancy and started training at Regent’s Park College.
At the end of training I was appointed as the part-time associate minister at Wokingham Baptist Church which ended up being a 16-year calling. At Wokingham I was blessed in many ways; supported to take maternity leave twice and to minister in all sorts of patterns as our family grew up. They then had the vision and courage to appoint me as Team Leader for the last 10 years of my ministry there.
The last year or so of local church leadership was spiritually challenging. I felt completely stuck and dead and in a spiritual winter time. I could no longer see any way ahead and even wondered if I had mistaken God’s call. In that winter season I relinquished everything. God’s word to me at that time was to rest, wait and deepen my trust; “at the right time”, he said, “the sap will rise.” And out of that ending, at the right time, did indeed come a new beginning. Firstly, into Regional Ministry and then, after only a few years, I found myself as General Secretary of our Union. One thing I am sure of is that only the Lord could have brought me to this place!
Reflecting back on my journey, I am very grateful to say that it has been characterised by loving support, imaginative thinking outside the box and a willingness to try new things. I hope that I model such creative possibilities and pray too that this will be everyone’s experience right across Baptists Together.