Heather was born and lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her childhood and youth were during the Troubles. In contrast to the turmoil around her, her home was a haven of love. Her parents intentionally nurtured her spiritual growth; creating opportunities for her to grow spiritually and providing evidence of God’s love and acceptance of her. As she shares:
“I had a great childhood in a home full of love. Being one of five siblings we always had a house full of family and friends, I don’t think our house was ever quiet. My parents encouraged us all to grow spiritually and immersed us in God’s love. As young person I loved youth events in the Irish Mission, these helped me to grow in my walk with God. My parents would save money so that they could send us to camps and youth weekends, even when money was not so readily available, for this I will always be thankful. I loved to be involved in many different church activities as a young person and when I was 17 years old I started to attend Special Needs Camp in Aberdaron, Wales, (I continued to attend this camp for many years after) this by far has provided me with some of the best memories and friendships as a young person growing up in the Church.
There are a number of people who have influenced my life, but my parents are the ones who have had the biggest impact on my Christian walk. They shared strong Christian values with us, but most importantly they shared a God of love. I have so many great memories of family worships, Sabbath walks and visiting with elderly church members. Every day I seen my parents read their Bibles and studying God’s word, when trials came in life I watched them place everything into God’s hands. As a teenager on many occasions I would rebel against the values that I had been taught, but I was always met with love from my mum and dad........this made it hard for me to continue to rebel but it more importantly reflected a God who loved me regardless of the choices I made. When my dad was diagnosed with terminal Cancer, this was when I saw my parent’s faith truly impact our family and those close to us, my dad saw this diagnosis as an opportunity to share his faith even more fervently than before, we seen God move in miraculous ways. Now that I am a parent I can see how big of an influence my parents had on my life but more importantly on my decision to follow Christ, this is influence I hope to pass on to my own children. I also would like to add that for any parents reading this my plea would be, show your children a God of love who will always welcome them into His arms, be the Christian example that you will want them to be when they are adults, then they will find a God who is difficult to run away from.”
Growing up in an Adventist home, Heather has always had a Christian faith. Yet, just having the faith of your parent’s doesn’t mean you are a Christian. There needs to be a point where their faith becomes your faith, by a conscious intentional choice. Heather’s parents gave her the space to find her own faith in a supportive, accepting environment. As Heather explains:
I grew up in a Christian family so I have always had a Christian faith. A pivotal moment in my Adventist faith was when I was attending a local Baptist Church with my friend and the youth leader asked me what church I went to, I told him that I was a Seventh-day Adventist. After the service this youth leader asked me did I want a lift home and I said ok, instead of taking me home, he took me to his house to give me a Bible Study on why my church was wrong. After this encounter I decided to find out for myself that what our church taught was Biblical, so I studied the church doctrines on my own to be sure that I was not being influenced by anyone else’s viewpoints. After this experience I knew that I was a Bible believing Christian – a Seventh-day Adventist.
Heather loves her job at the Cuisle Centre. Her desire is that the centre can be a place where people can find God’s love and acceptance. She engages people from all walks of life and listens to their stories. As she gets to know them, she looks for ways to meaningfully share God’s love with them, passing on the legacy of a Christian home to the wider community. She has a special burden for people with mental health problems. She shares, “I also get to spend time with a lot of people who have mental health problems, some who feel God have abandoned them.......because of my own history with Depression and Anxiety I feel that God has given me many opportunities to help those on their own difficult walk by being able to share my experiences but also because I have an understanding of where they are. I believe that in order to bring people to Christ we have to build up relationships with them. I love to find new ways in order to build relationships with those outside the Church and in return show them Christ.
Heather’s other passion is Youth and Children’s ministry. She enjoys the challenge of “finding new ways to always be relatable to them, to understand them and to meet them where they are and not where I want them to be”.
An activity she enjoys to intentionally nurture her spiritual growth is Bible journaling. She recently bought an ‘Inspire’ Bible which has sections for colouring in and noting taking. “I love Bible journaling … as I am very much a visual learner, so I find this helps make my devotions more meaningful especially if my mind is full of distractions.” She also enjoys Elizabeth Talbot’s blog Jesus 101, as well as her books and talks. She had the privilege of meeting Elizabeth 2 years ago.
Here are a few other of Heather’s favourites:
- Bible verse: Psalm 139 is my favourite chapter, it reminds me that I am very much loved by God.
- Bible character: Joseph – he had so many difficulties in life, his brothers betrayal, sold into slavery, thrown into prison but yet his story is one of God’s faithfulness.
- Song: I love music, so it is difficult to pick one song, I presently love ‘Psalm 34 – Taste and See’ sung by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir – an amazing reminder of God’s Goodness towards us.
Heather is married to Pastor Adam and they serve in the Ranelagh Church and Community. They have two beautiful children, Olivia and Jacob. Olivia has just started Secondary School and is enjoying this new experience. Jacob is still in Primary School. Heather is so glad that “every night when we end the day with what we have been thankful for that day he always exclaims ‘School’”, and hopes his love for education will continue for a long time still.