Martin and Juliet have been with us The Point since 2005. Here they tell us how God has been speaking to them recently and calling them on a new journey to Jordan……
Can you tell us a bit about your backgrounds and when/how you realised that God knew and loved you?
Juliet: Well we grew up in quite different families! I was a Timbrel playing Salvation Army girl for my childhood, so always had spiritual input from birth. I was dedicated in the Salvation Army and grew up doing junior choir and Sunday school and gave my life to Jesus as a young child. My faith became more significant as a young adult when I became involved in a fast-growing church in South East London that was dynamic and full of good teaching and the Holy Spirit’s presence. This is where Martin and I met over the back of a pew!
Martin: My family were nominal churchgoers, but my own faith was born in a school Christian holiday camp and nurtured in a local Anglican church and then also at University in the Christian Union. At university I read a book called ‘Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger’ by Ronald Sider and was challenged by the call of God in the Bible to Christians to act for justice for poor people. This led me to volunteer in Kenya and then Fiji with Tearfund and VSO; I had fantastic opportunities to share the gospel with a drama group performing across the islands. I returned to the UK and worked for Christian Aid in London, which was where I met a beautiful nurse called Juliet.
We’d love to hear about some of the other countries you have lived in? When and why did you return to the UK?
As a family we moved around the world a bit with Martin’s job in international development, from before Miriam was born when we lived in Ethiopia, to three different countries, Malawi, Kenya and Bangladesh as we added three more children. Bangladesh, like Jordan where we are heading, is a Muslim society, and Juliet and the girls had to dress more conservatively; we went to church on Friday at the same time as the mosques because the weekend is Friday and Saturday.
We came back to the UK so that the children could do their exam years here, and we really felt challenged that we wanted our children to be in a dynamic and positive Christian environment for young people. We joined The Point the week we returned to the UK in 2005 and have been around since then as a part of the amazing Point family. We are incredibly grateful to God for several brilliant youth pastors and the worship team who have really influenced and challenged our four children and helped them to follow Jesus. Now they are grown up we can start our travels again.
Could you tell us more about your recent journey that has led Martin to be called to another job? How did that come about and how did God confirm that this was his will for you both?
Martin had felt for a while that he wanted to move on from DFID (UK Department for International Development) and to stop commuting! We then felt God say quite clearly that he needed, like Peter to have faith and get out of the boat. Peter had some wobbles about it and at times felt he was sinking but he was obedient and walked to Jesus on the water. Like Peter at times the process of leaving DFID and applying for a job with Tearfund has felt a bit wobbly, but we have been sure that if we wanted to walk on water, we had to get out of the boat. So, with no job ‘in the bag’ Martin left DFID and had a nice career break, painting the house and doing the garden.
A little time later and now we are expecting to go to Amman in Jordan with Tearfund, where Martin has taken up the role of Head of Eurasia and North Africa operations.
At times Juliet was not sure that she wanted to leave our home here and the family, but as we prayed God reassured us that he would not let us sink…. God then spoke very clearly to Juliet through scripture at a retreat she was on giving reassurance that we were following the right path; the leader of the retreat felt prompted to give a very specific verse from Mark 1 v 9 where Jesus left his family (in Nazareth) and went down to the Jordan!
Martin has started his new job now and we will be moving to Jordan when post-covid life resumes; we are just continuing to trust and wait on God’s timing. Juliet is not sure yet what God has got in store for her in Amman but we are trusting God as he has told us to go……
Martin, could you tell us more about your new role and about Tearfund please?
I was going through some old letters of my parents a few weeks ago and came across a letter I had written to my grandmother when I was 20. I wrote to her that I had just read ‘Rich Christians’ and felt that I might want to work overseas perhaps with an agency like Tearfund. So that has now come to pass, 40 years later. Being Head of Eurasia and North Africa operations will see me covering the Middle East, West Asia, and North Africa. Tearfund’s inspiring motto is ‘Following Jesus where the need is greatest’, and the needs in some of ‘my’ countries like Yemen, Syria, and Iraq are intense after years of conflict and strife. Tearfund does valuable work through Christian partners supporting refugees and displaced people, helping traumatised people recover, and leading intercommunity peacebuilding efforts. The aim is always about transforming people’s lives to live in the fullness that God intended.
Is there a particular Bible verse that is speaking to you in this season?
Juliet: Psalm 74 v 11 has been intriguing me: it says ‘why God do you hold back your hand in the folds of your garment’
Sometimes it does feel like God has had his hands in his pockets and we are impatient for him to act! However, I have realized that waiting on God is a skill I need to understand and acquire more. When we do this he blesses us and teaches us in exciting new ways, more about himself and ourselves and how to be confident in his perfect plan. He is not slow to show his mercy and love, but he is slow to condemn and his ways are always much better than ours if we can be patient for his purposes then he works them for our good.
Martin: Micah 6:8 has always been important to me, and this Father’s Day our children reflected on it again for me for our future: ‘What does the Lord require of you? But to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.’ I need to depend on the Lord to be a humble leader of my Tearfund team.
Let’s be praying for Martin and Juliet as they move into this next season:
For the practicalities to fall into place – like housing and the right church family to be a part of, for something for Juliet to be involved in that is a part of God’s plan for their time in Amman.
For safety in travel with the on-going issues with Covid-19 as Martin will have to travel in the region.
For Martin to lead the team with godly wisdom and that he can move the work forward for Tearfund in really positive ways.
For the rest of the family who will remain in the UK.