Helen Harwood interviews Jane Gray, who joined us as a Year two Diploma student last September.
HH: I know you have told me you have a real heart for collaboration, and that working together we are more powerful. Could you tell us how this has worked out in your life of faith so far and what led you to be here at the Pioneer course?
JG: I have done a number of collaborative events, mainly although not exclusively around musical worship. I feel called to work alongside those in my neighbouring parish. They had no one to lead musical worship, so from within our church we provided support and training for a young man who was learning to play guitar. He now leads musical worship with a small team within his church. We work on many outdoor events together; for example at Christmas musicians from several local churches joined forces and held outdoor carol events, essentially just busking for passersby. A great time was had by all. It was really as a result of the call to work collaboratively with my neighbouring parish that I was put in touch with CMS, and the rest is history!
I also know you have run several businesses over the years but never realised that those entrepreneurial skills were relevant to pioneering. You told me “I thought success in business and faith were mutually exclusive.” How did you come to realise that this was not true?
I think there is this perception that to have worldly success is contrary to Christian values. I realise now it isn’t necessarily contrary to those values at all, provided you share the blessings with others, give all the glory to God for those blessings and use them to raise awareness of the kingdom, they are simply another instrument that God can use.
I believe your current business, a coffee shop/restaurant run with your son and daughter, provides you with many opportunities for potential for witness and evangelism from within your own customer base. Can you tell us how this has worked out and where you see God in your business, staff and customer base?
By events which happened in my coffee shop business. A small start was a singalong at Christmas. Then other events, faith based. An increasing presence in the community: being known as ‘that Christian coffee shop’. The opportunity to demonstrate Christian principles in the workplace, resulting in a happy and valued workforce. Even feeding the local Big Issue seller every day, who does his own mission while waiting in the queue for his meal!
You have told me you are working specifically with musicians, and tying in musical worship events. Do you feel there is something especially powerful about music in a mission context?
Yes, absolutely. I always think of it as a key that unlocks the soul. Different keys fit different locks of course, but it seems that music takes us to places that we don’t normally inhabit.
Can I ask you to tell me some of your experiences so far on the Pioneer course? I know you are not yet six months in but I am wondering if there are already any highs, or at least any light bulb moments?
Oh wow, how many do you want? I feel absolutely that at last, I am with people who know what I am talking about. It’s like arriving in safe harbour after toiling in stormy seas for so long. I also feel completely out of my depth at times (in a good way!) – everything I thought I knew I now know that I didn’t, every thought I had has been taken, shaken and given back revitalised. It’s a scary place to be, and yet absolutely faith affirming. It’s without doubt the best decision I ever took, I love it and feel totally confident that I am where God wants me to be. No idea what comes next, but I expect God will let me know at some point?
Please do tell us how we can pray for you.
I am going to BAP (Bishops’ Advisory Panel) shortly, to consider ordination in the Church of England. So if you could pray that God makes it abundantly clear what he has in mind for my future. It would be so good if it were pioneering as a priest, although I am trying to be humble and leave it in God’s hands – not easy for someone used to moving and shaking in a business environment!