Jonathan Lopez, Spotswood, Part Two

“Even as young as 13, it didn’t sit well with me to treat people differently. That’s that Aussie culture influencing me, but also the same threads of respect and hospitality, and they were pretty much engraved in me wherever I went in the world, whether it was the Philippines or other places, that general sense of welcome and being polite to everyone.”

An audio snippet from this interview with Jonathan:

So when we last spoke I began by asking you about a typical day. Then you spoke about your experiences in London and coming here to Spotswood. And in the process, you talked about a number of the things that might be different in your life from what people might expect: the priest being the boxer, someone of Filipino heritage not being Catholic but being Anglican, and you also hinted at how your faith might be different from the stereotype that some people might have of a Christian. And today, we’re coming back to talk a little bit about your experience of your family’s migration history. You told me that your parents came from the Philippines. Is that right?

Yes, that’s right. They met in a place about half an hour – or as you might know in the Philippines, depending on traffic, an hour and a half or two hours – west of Manila, and there you’ll find a place called Malabon. It’s a town, a municipality, that covers a whole bunch of different areas, and the particular area of Malabon they came from was called Tañong. And Tañong is famous for two things which Filipinos know. They’re famous for fish sauce, which in Tagalog it’s called patis, and the other one being Pancit Malabon, which is like a seafood noodle.

So, my parents met there in their early twenties. When my father married my mum, they were expecting a child already, which was obviously, as us Aussies call it, the shotgun wedding type of thing. But when I do ask my sister about their relationship – she obviously knew them for a longer time than I did; she’s six years older than me, she got to see them at their early stages of migrating here to Australia … But what I can tell from the photos, it was a civil wedding, and soon after they had the birth of my sister, my only sister, and then my father was considering where life would be, and he certainly saw the struggles around that time, of the early ‘70s, with the Philippines and unrest.

So what sorts of things were concerning him?

The political unrest, particularly around Ferdinand Marcos at that time. This was that transition of power, from what Marcos had been seen as: this leader that brought economic power to the Philippines, selling off certain properties to nuclear companies, etc, and drawing the famous Thrilla in Manila fight, in boxing, to Manila. My father could see that he had reigned for a bit too long, and that the inevitable would be that Marcos would try to grasp for greater control, and inevitably there would be martial law in the Philippines, political uprising, and People Power, which was started by the Aquino family, Cory Aquino being the succeeding, and first, female president of the Philippines. My father saw this instability around that time, and he thought, I need to look elsewhere for a life for my family.

So he considered two places. He considered Canada, and he considered Australia. It would’ve been cool to live in Canada, to being trilingual in some way – French, and then English, and Tagalog – but he chose Australia. He started the process around 1973, and then eventually we would be here with the complete family in 1975. So, early days they were at the hostel over at Maribyrnong, which is now being redeveloped as student accommodation, just near Highpoint.

Was this a government hostel?

Yes. So, the government around that time, Australia, was very welcoming to migrants, to fill – as my good English high school teacher would say – to fill the blue-collar jobs that the white people didn’t want. That’s how he would say it was, and a good Labour person he was, he would say stuff like that, and it made sense, thinking about the migrant families I’ve known in the western suburbs. Yes, they settled there early, and there was a whole bunch of other Filipinos that actually settled there too. So initially their first contact with living arrangements was there. It was actually called The Hostel. I don’t know the exact intersecting roads, but if you look up Victoria University student accommodation around Maribyrnong, you’ll see it there. That was always a hostel as far as they knew, and the families were from all different parts of the Philippines, and they got to really know each other. That became their own little sense of community, and Filipinos – they had common tongue – really supported one another, working in different parts of labour. My father’s first work was in a timber yard in Sunshine, and then he would eventually move over to General Motors as a machinist and then an aviation company just near here under the Westgate bridge. He spent a lot of his working life there, and my mother would work in Kensington, at the Australian Wool Testing Authority – I’m not sure if it’s there anymore but a lot of Filipinos would end up in very similar factory work, and were grateful for it, because they were getting paid a considerably larger amount of money than they would in the Philippines, and obviously the Australian dollar was quite strong, as opposed to the peso in the Philippines. Early on, when they moved out of the hostel eventually, they moved into a local flat in Maribyrnong, just off Rosamond Road, if I can recall, and then from there my father wanted suburban life, to live in a community in the suburbs, and he decided, and Mum decided, to settle in Deer Park. That’s where life really began, around that time when I was born in 1980 and I remember having this suburban lifestyle of the ‘80s, being on your BMX bike, hanging round with your friends in the street, going down creek areas and hanging out. There were no video games at that time.

I want to come back to those childhood memories in a moment. Just going back a little bit, what did your parents say about life in the Philippines? So, obviously your father was concerned about the unrest. What else have they shared with you about life in the Philippines?

Oh, that where they lived at that time was still very much a slum-type of area. But when we say slum, it’s quite funny, because my father would always reference the fact that, sure, it looks like a slum, but it’s got the highest concentration of banks in any municipality in the Philippines. Some people were hiding their wealth, he would allude to, in these banks, and looked poor, but not really. There was a big fish market there. Malabon market is quite famous amongst Filipinos, knowing that that’s where they would grab their fish, and be producing the fish sauce, and other things.

So it was very much undeveloped. The property that they inherited was from his father. He was a war veteran of the Japanese war. This whole block was given to his father, and then eventually when he passed away, my grandma would be the one that would have to manage the property, and inevitably distribute the property between the brothers. It would develop later. I came to the Philippines when I was about seven years old, and if I recall the pictures, there wasn’t much infrastructure. Their homes were nestled in skintas, which is literally like an alleyway with an open canal running through it, and pretty much every block would have that. I can’t recall, but I’ve seen the photos of what it was like there. It was a hard life for people, and my mum’s one of seven kids, whereas my dad’s only one of four. We’ve been pretty much influenced by my father’s side, having a smaller family. So, it was always tough for them to be able to find work, because they could see that… yes, just scarcity of work, and wanting a better life for your family, and they needed to find it elsewhere, and they found obviously what was present in their own home was not what they wanted or desired.

You’ve already described some of how their life changed when they came here – when they actually talked about this, and when your dad talks about this now, what do they say about how life is different here from what it was in the Philppines?

They often would always talk about the superiority of everything in Australia, from healthcare, to the tax system, to pay. Economically you’re better off in a lot of ways, and the government would always help. My father would jokingly say – I’m not sure he was joking about it, he might be half-serious about this – he said, oh, you’ve always got to vote for Labour, because they’re the ones that brought us to this country. And he was very grateful to the Labour Party, particularly obviously the backdrop of that being offered them, and the whole government, and was always grateful, because around that time they really took care of the migrant workers, and their lives have just been better off ever since. And yes, the government, there was the healthcare available always, and the support networks, financially, to get started in life, and Dad would always often compare it to the Philippines: “We don’t have this; in the Philippines you don’t have healthcare, you’ve got to have a lot of money to be able to; you’ve always got to take care of yourself and be healthy.”

So yes, they would always reference what it’s like in the Philippines; so much that I often think that sometimes Filipinos desire the things of old from back home, nostalgic type of thoughts in a way – the food, this and that – but they don’t want the hardship of the life; they want the good things, but not the hardship. So they’d build their own community, in a sense, with other Filipinos, and have community outings and events, and celebrate very traditional Filipino things together – like Christmas, and the Filipino Association of Deer Park would get together and there’d be about 20 or 30 families get together, have a big dinner for Christmas, have Santa come in and give away gifts, and it was good for the kids. And things like a Boxing Day barbecue in Brimbank Park, and everyone would be invited, to just bring your own food, and share your food with everybody else. They really tried to hold onto those cultural links, for many different reasons – I’m grateful for it, knowing a different culture other than Australian, but also linguistically, to being able to communicate in a different language is one of the gifts too, I felt.

Were you bilingual right from the start?

From the start, they would always speak Tagalog around me, and I can’t recall how well I was able to communicate back verbally. One of the gifts that came from language was that one of my grandfather’s brothers was upset with me that I never spoke back in Tagalog when I was spoken to in Tagalog, and he sternly told me, “You have to actually speak back, particularly for your grandma”. My grandma’s like my second mum. Basically she raised me after my mum passed away when I was ten.

Are these your mother’s parents?

My grandma here, and the one that raised a big portion of my life, is my dad’s mum.

The grandfather’s brother who gave you the stern talking to, was he…?

On my father’s side, yes. And so, my grandma basically had to raise me from ten years old, but one of the difficulties in migrating here in her late sixties was that she’s probably one of the rare cases – a Filipino who can’t speak English. The Philippines is known to be able to speak English well. 98% of the population know it. She was brought up in a country area called Bicol, which is where the famous, perfectly symmetrical volcano is there; it’s still active. She grew up there, and was never educated, and all she knew was Tagalog, or the provincial tongue, the dialect of Bicolano. So, it forced me to learn and to dialogue with my grandma in Tagalog – even to this day. She’s 94, and I’ll talk to her that way, and it’s important that I do that, because it keeps me going linguistically, when I’ll need it again at some point.

So, aside from language, what other effects has your family’s migration history had on you? And how did your parents’ migration history affect how they raised you?

So, Filipinos generally would raise their kids to have a profound respect for elders; if they were older than you, you would always address them as someone older. Even if they weren’t your blood relative – also in a migrant community – you would have to refer to them as uncle and aunty, and even your older siblings, you would have to title them, older brother, older sister. I was a bit naughty, and I didn’t refer to my older sister as kuya, which is older brother, or ate, being older sister. I never called my older sister ate; I always just called her Cecile, or Cile for short. It’s a way of showing respect for elders, and I take that into pretty much everyday life, in a church setting and respecting older people in the church, and having a desire to get to know and honour them in a lot of ways, and listen to them carefully. That’s a big cultural thing that they’ve always taught.

They were always wanting us to get married with another Filipino – unfortunately, both me and my sister got married inter-racially, both to Aussies. There were a lot of elements of Filipino culture that they were trying to impress upon us, particularly in being around other community Filipinos, and being a community, and understanding what it meant to be a Filipino, but we would translate that in understanding how we identify as Australian Filipinos. Culturally, the majority of our time would be in contact with Australian culture, and the Filipino culture was the ethnic root of where we came from. We were always trying to understand those differences.

What effect did your family’s migration history have on your relationship with your parents?

We were always grateful for what we had, and that they would always provide for our needs, not extravagantly, but the basic needs of food, housing, and the occasional luxury gift, a holiday that they would be able to do, and that was always nice to receive. I grew up in the western suburbs, the local catholic church we attended was mostly European and Asian but had a great sense of community. Whereas here in Spotswood it is mostly Anglo-saxon. Just down the freeway where I went to high school in Braybrook, the minority were white people, and it was mostly Asian and European, and then the flow of Africans coming in. It was interesting how some of our culture – Filipino culture – is very similar to the Maltese culture, or the Italian culture. There was always this joke that we’d say: we go to Robert’s house, he’s Italian, his mum’s trying to stuff pasta down our throats, and you go to a Maltese one, and Mark, his parents are always trying to shove pastizzi down our throats. Then we go to call on Nathan’s house, who’s Aussie, and there’s no food. So, there were very similar characteristics that other cultures, other than Aussie, had.

Can you put some more words around that? So, obviously food is one word you can put around that, the focus on food. Are there other sorts of parallels among different migration waves?

Yes, generally there’s always respect for elders in the other cultures that we saw in our Filipino background and in our other multi-ethnic friends. In food and hospitality, and when you come into someone’s home you’re very much welcomed, you’re not like a disturbance – “What are you doing here?” – instead it’s like, oh yes, you live down the road. So, my sister’s best friend – who owns the pastry shop just down the road here – her mum, they come from a Greek background, had this cookie jar up on a shelf. Every time I would be there she would always pull something out as a treat, and there was always this sort of ‘I want to go to their house they’ve got the cookie jar.!’ So, there was always that receptiveness to welcome people in your home, and it was okay; it wasn’t an inconvenience. There were differences about sleepovers. Most migrant families wanted to keep their kids home, and take care of them. They can play all they want (during the day time), but when they come home, they have to come home. Yes, I just think that in general they’re the three things – respect, and hospitality, and food.

I guess the multi-ethnic make up of our community contributed to my parents desiring for me and my sister to also be proud of our Filipino heritage.  Our parents would always remind us that they came from a not so privileged part of the world and that we should be grateful and help our relatives back in the Philippines when we can. So we were encouraged to have a mixed cultural and socioeconomic understanding.

So going back to where you left us, which was this suburban growing-up, BMX bikes, and on – reflecting now, what effect did your family’s migration history have on you, and has it had on you, forming who you are?

So, later on in life I would eventually go to the Philippines. My dad remarried after my mum passed away, and then I got to see through a different lens, through a teenage lens, what the Philippines was like. I was about 13, if I recall. That was the first time I’d been back since I was seven. A few things had changed, where we’d come from, and there was a bit more infrastructure occurring – there were still the canals, but they’d laid a bit more paving in the streets, and made it look a bit nicer. And I was always worried about, oh, you can’t flush the toilet in this house, hygiene, and everything like that, and I preferred to stay at my step-mum’s house because she was a bit wealthier, and she had a flushing toilet – she had people working for her, they would cook and clean, and all that. She was very well-off. But then I started to see the injustice of labour work. As a young boy, my father would always caution me, and say, don’t get too close with your step-mum’s workers, and I couldn’t understand why he would be saying that. He never gave me a reason for that. I would later find out that it’s actually the fear of being kidnapped and then being ransomed back into the family, which is a common occurrence. It happened on her side of the family, my step-mum’s family, once.

But what I saw was they’re just people, and I don’t treat them any different than anyone that’s wealthy because in Australia we didn’t see class at all. It was interesting to get to know that type of culture. I just found it a bit strange that we’ve come from that origin of which you’re not well-off, and then we come back and there’s this wealth in this side of the family now. Things had changed, and for me it didn’t sit well. Even as young as 13, it didn’t sit well with me to treat people differently. That’s that Aussie culture influencing me, but also the same threads of respect and hospitality, and they were pretty much engraved in me wherever I went in the world, whether it was the Philippines or other places, that general sense of welcome and being polite to everyone.

So generally I was a bit confused about why I now needed to treat people differently. I didn’t agree with this so I still made friends with my step mum’s workers regardless. They fascinated me and I wanted to befriend them. I guess what I am trying to say is that my parents (through their migration), my teacher and my community had already formed me to not have prejudice.

JL Historical image

“This is a photo of me as a 13-year-old in Philippines. Mon (standing up) was my step mum’s driver and the guy hugging me was my step mum’s nephew Ronald. Mon and I got along really well and we’d go off on our little adventures and he is one of those workers I got really close with.”

Are there other things about your family’s migration history that have shaped you as a person? From, teens onwards.

If I recall around my teens – because you discover money, you discover that you’ve got influence or power with money, your Australian dollar’s more over there in the Philippines, and you’re able to buy things – I probably wasn’t properly… that wasn’t properly explained to me, in the sense of how do you control that. And it was just a bit confusing, when I look back at it. It would have been good if my parents actually explained to me: – There’s this big cultural difference, and you need to be aware of that, and how do you just live in that circumstance. Because I felt that, looking back, we were this elitist type of family. We had private cars, and we had a driver, and servants in the house, and I thought that was awesome. But then when I look back at it, I started to think about the ethics behind it, and the morals: like, is this right, doing this? I would later find out that a lot of her staff members are life-long staff members and were treated well. She took care of them well. If they obviously felt they were being unfairly treated, they would have left her; they’d pretty much become part of the family. And I still keep in contact with three or four of these guys and have great memories of adventures with them. Yes, it just made me think about the poor in the world, and how, as Westerners, we’re from a privileged part of the world. This also plays out into my whole resonating with Saint Francis of Assisi, and giving a recent talk about that: how we care for the poor, and that just because we’ve got the power and influence, doesn’t mean that we should always use that power and influence, or money, to get what we want in life. Yes, that’s a later thought-out thing in my twenties, but it really started off with thinking through how some of these people are being treated differently. Further in my twenties, I started to realise that I should be grateful and appreciative of where my family have come from. In fact, when I did go back, I preferred to stay in the slum area with my family, with the no flushing toilet.

How did this transition happen for you?

It definitely has got to do with something about my faith, and being grateful that my parents took me (and my sister) here to Australia, but also that I need to connect with some of that background to have a greater appreciation. That will never leave me. It’s not just this passing thing that I know that my family have come from that. Along with the no flush, you would have showers on the street. That was a new cultural experience for me. Every time I’d want to go there, I’d want to stay in that slum area to gain that appreciation again of where my family had come from. Yes, it’s a cultural experience. It’s fun for me, but as a teenager I didn’t think it was fun; it was awkward. But you start to learn that this is a part of the world that doesn’t have a shower, and you can’t flush the toilet; you’ve got to use a bucket to get that going. It’s an interesting transition. It’s got to do with knowing that God’s blessed me with a life, and not that I made those choices, but I was just given that through my parents’ migrating.

Now, you mentioned your faith, and I’m wondering about how you came to faith? Was it something that you just grew into with your family? How did this come to be in your life?

I’m not sure if I previously mentioned that my faith background has come from various sources. I was born and raised Catholic till I was about 14, and then one of my friends asked me to come to a born-again church, which from a Catholic Filipino perspective is a cult. I was a bit sceptical of the invite, but because of being polite with people – and that’s part of the upbringing that I received – I just said yes, and I went along. And it was my first day at a church other than Catholic, in which the minister there asked me whether I knew Jesus, to which I responded, “No, not really actually. What do you mean by that?” And we further worked that through, and talked that through, but he gave me a private altar call in explaining the difference between knowing Jesus, and being in a relationship with Jesus. I was like, yes, I’ll have that. And so, again I was just polite in saying yes, yes, I’d like to accept Jesus – but I’m also watching this TV show right now, so I’m going to say yes, because I’m missing out on the show. I wasn’t all that sure about what it meant to ‘accept Jesus’. And then eventually I’d be at that church for 17 years – back and forth, early stages, and then, young adult – taking quite seriously what it meant to be a Christian, and reconciling what those differences are between my Catholicism that was a more nominal faith at that point, Catholic, and then owning my own spiritual journey towards a relationship with Jesus, and practising those spiritual gifts that God intends. It was an interesting time for me – ups and downs – then I would eventually find myself at Bible college, pursuing studies in this area.

About how old were you by the time you were in Bible college, or going to Bible college?

I was late into my twenties, turning 29 to 30; I remember turning 30, my first year at Bible college. One of the impactful moments, being at that Pentecostal church, was when the pastor there was praying and discerning about my calling into ministry, and I’d want to come along to leadership things, just to see, and watch, and then one day, asking, on the way to a pastors’ network thing that he wanted me to come to, what are the steps to being ordained, to becoming a pastor. His wife was in the car at the same time, and responded to that, and said, “Oh actually, we’ve been praying that you would ask that same question, that exact question.” And I said, oh, okay. So, thus began a bit of a journey of discipleship, and more intentional discipleship towards leadership, and leading a youth group and young adults, and mentoring from the pastor himself.

So, I always felt very strongly called to ordained ministry, but at a later stage I would further flesh that out and ask God exactly which church are you calling me to, and I’m open to where you’d like me to go, which led me on a three-month journey of visiting different churches. I thought it was only going to take me a month, but to really know a church you need to go to everything, and really pray and discern, and hear God’s voice in this. And last on my list was the Anglican Church. I didn’t like the music, I didn’t like a whole bunch of other things, but God said I want you to love this church. I said, okay, let’s explore this for a bit and take it serious. Our local church that was in Brimbank, an Anglican church, was the first Anglican church I went to, and I was invited there by a lady by the name of June. She was also attending the same Bible college I was at; she was older, and getting qualifications to be a chaplain. And so, I politely said yes again, and went along to all the things the Brimbank church was doing. People would say, “Oh, we’re not the most welcoming church.” And I said, “Oh, that’s fine.” I mean, I’m not that sensitive to that. I really felt that God was calling me to that church. Maybe one of the attractions was the presence of elderly parishioners – in my previous Pentecostal church there weren’t many.

I was brought to tears when I was talking about this in my interviews for ordination, meeting up with the chaplain, and saying, when I see lifelong commitment of elderly people in this church, following, loving Jesus, and serving Him, all their lives up until they’re 70, 80, and 90’s, that’s what I want for my life. You know, I might see them in different seasons, and physical impairments, and all that type of stuff, but these guys, they show me, a lifelong example of a Christian life enduring the marathon of life.

And there was something about that that tied back to your Filipino culture?

Yes, and that’s the honouring of the heritage of the church. Yes, it was really a profound time because of hearing that from God, and knowing He’s shaping me that way. I can possibly do ministry in all different denominations – I’d eventually be at the Salvation Army for a couple of years, as a youth worker. But I keep praying and discerning, and that’s what I’ve appreciated about the process of the ordination for Anglican churches: that it’s not one taken lightly over just one interview. It’s a process, there’s psychological testing, and everything like that, which I’ve never seen in other denominations – I know there are denominations that do that – and I was genuinely appreciative of the thoughtfulness behind all of it.

Is there anything else that occurs to you that your experience of living overseas, and being overseas as an Australian, or your family’s migration history, have shaped in you?

Yes, generally going back and forth in my twenties to the Philippines, being associated with the Pentecostal Church there – and not just in the Philippines: this mission exposure type of thing that we got to be a part of and go through.

How often did you go back?

In my twenties I went about three or four times. You’d be a month or two months out there, and just looking at how this church did their church planting, and the different ministries that they were doing, whether it be various ministries, or church planting in some remote provincial areas, or even going across to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and how they establish churches there. Yes, just seeing the people there, I would say this particular church always had a monocultural focus to reach out to expat Filipinos. So, if you’ve ever been to Hong Kong on a Sunday, it just looks like the Philippines, because there are many Filipinos out on a Sunday. It’s their only day off. And I often think about and relate that even though it’s their day off, there are Filipinos that are so committed to ministry, that all they’re doing on their day off is ministry, and there’s that window of opportunity for them to worship, whatever their jobs, whether it be domestic work or high-powered executive, and they choose, on a Sunday, to be in church. So, it was interesting to see the heart of the Filipino expat, going out into different parts of the world. One of my lecturers in hospitality would say, anywhere you go in the world, if you go to a hotel or a hospital, you’ll see a Filipino, you’ll see an Irish person, and you’ll see an Indian or a Pakistani person, and they’re all in these different parts of the world. It’s interesting how Filipinos have gone out into different parts of the world. Often people that are attuned to a bit more of the charismatic end of the Filipino Christian faiths recall people prophesying that the Philippines would be a bread basket to the nations, and that they would be sent out in different parts of the world. And it’s true, there’s some truth to that.

Do you experience yourself as part of that?

Yes, not saying a direct line, but from my family. Even though my family weren’t as expressive in their own faith, I certainly have experienced that, and want to live that out – even though I’m a bit of an odd person, as opposed to the other vocations my family members have chosen. Yes, it’s seeing and knowing that God has used Filipinos to do ministry in certain parts of the world, whether that’s in the expat forum, or it’s in non-Filipino congregations. I always bump into Filipinos here and there, and they get thrown off by, oh, you’re a priest, and, oh, you’re an Anglican. Yes, they’re a bit thrown off by that. There are not many Filipino priests that are willing to go out into different ministry settings (ie. a mostly white congregation); at least, in my own experience of friends and family.

Is there anything else that you would like to fill the reader in about before we finish today?

I just think that it’s interesting how you’re given this different makeup of experiences in life. When I think about my church background, I relate that to some of the disciplines that we were taught in the year away that we had in Lambeth in London, and I think how God has actually been working through those life experiences already, to give me a foundation to be able to refine what that discipline might be. So, certainly, for better, for worse, reactiveness was my initial reaction to Catholicism – I’m a big advocate for John 3: 3: you must be born again – and how does that play a part later in life, the Catholic traditions, using the prayer book, that those traditions came back full circle in some way. That traditional church – the Catholic church makes a part of who I am. My Pentecostal experience was one of deep spiritual wakening, in my own sense, knowing God is very much alive and at work, in my life and everywhere else, and I never shy away from that; the way I play out my Christian faith is very much on the charismatic end, and thinking about the spiritual gifts, and what God’s doing through the Holy Spirit. And then thinking about my connection with the Salvation Army, and how I loved my time there, seeing how important that role was, welfare work, and working with those that feel separate from a church – the need of welfare, as the Salvos would say, was the three S’s: Soap, Soup, and Salvation, and that’s always been part of my approach to responding to those that are in need. Yes, I’m grateful for those things. It’s important for people to look back, think about the why in all of this: why have I been formed in such a way. The pastor – really the disciple – in me, would say, “You’ve always got to ask God, “Why” – Why this is all happening – and search for those answers, and take from and draw from those answers, where God has taken you. That’s one of the big things that I’ve found being in Lambeth, that I found myself praying for the Catholic Church. Why would I want to pray for the Catholic Church – because there’s something deep about my roots in that, and I needed to be reconciled with some of the misgivings I felt. But what God opened up in my heart was – look at all the great things He’s showed me through the Catholic Church, and the great ministers in the Catholic Church that have loved and cared for my family, and looking at the Pentecostal Church, and all the things that I receive from that, and the Salvation Army. Yes, all in all, when you come to a point where you look back at all those things, and you ask God why, I believe God gives you answers, at least to give you a piece of the puzzle of how He’s formed you, and who He is forming you to be.

This interview is part of the This Is Us Australia project. If you are interested in taking part, and would like to find out what is involved, please use our Contact page or email us at thisisusaustralia at gmail.com.

Follow the This Is Us Australia project on Facebook or Twitter.