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Presenters at the Jesus Week    7-13 Oct 2012

Graham and Teena Paul

Graham: I grew up in Christchurch and in Baptist and Pentecostal churches, and made a commitment to Jesus when I was 12 and got baptised at 16;  but to tell the truth, these didn’t make much difference in me, and it still felt like God lived on another planet.  It wasn’t until I was 30 (in 1993) that the Holy Spirit began to draw my attention to a number of areas of my life where I needed to put Jesus’ teachings into practice—mostly giving up sins.  I took his teachings literally, at face value, and applied them as the Holy Spirit gave me specifics;  sometimes in quite unusual ways.  After several months of doing this, I had a remarkable baptism in the Holy Spirit;  this convinced me that there really is a supernatural realm of God out there, and made it much easier to hear the Holy Spirit.  This did make a big difference in my life, dramatically and permanently.

The Holy Spirit led me and Teena to get married in 1998, and we have both walked a very interesting and exciting (though not always comfortable) path  together doing whatever the Holy Spirit leads us into.  In 2006 God led us into the house church movement, and we have enjoyed that and grown through being more active, more interactive, and more involved with others through that.  Since 2006 we have spent our time in Australia, Africa, Israel, UK and NZ, and God has taught us an enormous amount in the process.  In 2008 God led me to take 18 months out to study Jesus’ teachings full-time;  this gave me a far greater understanding of them, including learning a number of major concepts I had never even suspected before!  I was so stunned by some of these that for weeks I had trouble sleeping.   We have begun applying these things in our lives since then—sometimes successfully, sometimes with difficulty, but always learning and growing in the process.

We try to understand Jesus’ teachings from every possible angle, but mostly by spending lots of time studying them, by listening to the Holy Spirit, and by giving them a go in our own lives!  Learning Greek (which is what the gospels were originally written in), and spending 6 weeks in Israel studying the history and culture, have also helped immensely.  If traditional Christian views don’t make sense, we will study and seek a good answer from God instead.  God is intelligent and makes sense.  Through all of this, God has given us a deep interest in Jesus’ teachings;  his teachings and the Holy Spirit are the two pillars our faith stands upon. 

We live in Christchurch nowadays and I work as a doctor in Emergency Medicine in Australia (doing locums).

 

Teena:  A friend described marrying her husband like taking a running jump onto a passing speeding train, and I can identify with that as I've joined Graham through many faith adventures.  I didn’t have the privilege of a functional loving family, and struggled through the years with many fears, insecurities and wrong mindsets, reinforced by sexual abuse and wrong decisions I continued to make.  I was 16 when I encountered Christ, but I found that the words of local church experts and counsellors with their quick-fix verses just didn’t work for me. Outwardly I looked successful, but inwardly my life felt like a small boat adrift in a big ocean.

Two years after I qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in Australia, I moved to Canada to complete a 6 month Discipleship Training Course (DTS) with Youth With a Mission (YWAM), before moving to UK to live and work there.  As I approached 30 I was desperate to be married and have some direction in life.  I was thrilled when God gave me a promise that he would answer my prayers.  A few months later I met Graham—a divine appointment which is a great story in itself!—and we married shortly afterwards.

That’s when my high-speed train ride started.  I moved back to NZ to marry Graham, and God began to answer my prayers in ways I never expected.  Through being in a loving stable marriage, God brought a measure of healing in my life I hadn’t thought possible.  God began to teach me new ways of relating and dealing with life problems, through applying the principles in Jesus’ teachings and especially the aspect of forgiveness.  I am a slow learner, and I often need to see what things look like and have an idea of each step in the process before I have the strength and courage to initiate change.  This has meant that we have had to review and simplify and work out how to apply Jesus’ teachings again and again.  

I would describe myself previously as a lover of routines and stability, with a strong desire to remain in control.  Over the past 14 years I have had to get free of these preferences until I’m in a place now where I enjoy our lifestyle (95% of the time!), which has sometimes involved moving almost monthly, often to different cultures and countries, while not always being sure of our plans more than a few weeks in advance.  

Last year was especially challenging as I was diagnosed with profound hypothyroidism, which had probably developed over 10-20 years and affected many aspects of bodily and mental and emotional function.  Coming to terms with this, and adjusting to the medication, has stretched us both.  The best aspect of it has been that the treatment has opened new doors to emotional well-being, improved memory and being able to process information better.  I’m excited about the changes that are occurring and the opportunities I have now to take a more active role in our marriage, hear more clearly from the Holy Spirit and apply Jesus’ teachings more fully and effectively.  

I also home educate Joshua.