Can you tell us what you do? How long have you done it for? How did you get into it? Do you enjoy it? Do you describe it as your job or your career?
I am the Pastor at Rhema Church London which my husband, Pastor Martin Phelps and I started together back on 4th June 1991. We were married in 1986 and both went to the same church, Rhema, in Johannesburg (JHB) and studied at their bible school. This is where we met and married when I was 21 years old.
When we got married, Martin made it clear that he was called to go into the ministry and I felt my calling was to support him in whatever God had for him. Four years later the time came and God sent a word for us to give up what we had and to take that step. We left SA in Jan 1990 for the UK, to begin a life trusting in Him and His plan for us. We evangelised for 18 months and then had a word from God to begin the church in Croydon.
In the beginning it was very hard and we had to make many sacrifices and live completely by faith, but God was always faithful and never let us down, through many trying situations. He kept us strong by always reminding us of our call and when we were tired and weak He carried us to the place we are now, where we have a thriving, wonderful, strong work with the most precious people, and I rejoice every day with thanksgiving and love for Him. I can say my glass is full and my joy complete!
It is neither a job nor career, but Gods divine plan for my life.
What is your own level of education? Do you recommend your experience? What is your view on Education vs. Vocation/Apprenticeships?
I studied and graduated at Rhema Bible school JHB. I am also a qualified Dance Teacher / Choreographer and I studied Finance Law
How do you manage your work/life balance?
When you are in the ministry there is really no separation between the two. Each one revolves around the other. We take good holiday breaks as that is the only time we are truly able to separate the two.
My day has no real routine, we make sure the family and children always come first but the rest is always as God ordains depending on what the ministry needs at the time.
Both Pastor and I always make sure we take time out to keep fit as we need to be strong and healthy in mind and body, to do what God has for us to do.
We also have good friendships and relationships with people who speak into our lives and we can have time out with.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about entering your industry/what you do?
Know that God has truly called you because being in ministry is very hard and being responsible for people's lives is very serious.
Prepare yourself in the Word and prayer and count the COST!
Then stand and having done all to stand, keep standing, never give up!
What are the 3 best / worst aspects of what you do?
- Knowing you are in God’s will.
- The wonderful people that God gives you.
- No day is ever the same as God challenges us all the time with new and exciting works as we continue to grow.
- The patience needed to see the whole vision that God has given us manifest.
- Not always having the comfort of a routine.
- Failing sometimes to get everyone to understand the vision we have, and having to protect our hearts from people hurting or disappointing us and God by walking away from all He has to offer them.
Do you think there are limits on women in the workplace?
There are NO limits on woman in the ministry. 66% of the church congregations world- wide are women and we as a ministry recognise the importance of women in God’s plan.
Throughout the Word, God used women to do great things from Esther to Mary and many more. Women need to stand up and take their place as Satan has tried to stop the giftings that women can bring by telling the churches that women had no place, but praise God things are changing.
In a male/female dominated industry, how do you view your own position and does being a woman impact positively/negatively?
I thank God that Pastor Martin has always recognised how important women are in the ministry. He has always appreciated their commitment to hard work and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit so there have never been any limits for women at Rhema.
Male or female, whoever God calls is what is important, not their gender.
I have however, when travelling, experienced that there are still ministries that feel that women and men are not equal and that women need to submit to men in general. It is then that I remind them that the Word says “Women submit yourselves to your HUSBAND”, which I do, but I stand as an equal with any other man and God has not called me to submit myself to other men, so I am confident in my calling and am bold enough to stand and declare it!
How would you describe your relationships with other women?
I love my fellow sisters, and I see them as sisters, as we are one in The Lord and in Jesus' blood, so we are family. We need to encourage, strengthen and empower other women, not compete with them.
We are different to the world and we need to show them the wonderful way that God has ordained relationships with one another.
When women stand together they are like a pride of female lions, and nothing will shake them, so be careful not to allow division.
I am a very transparent person and I like to spend time with women who are able to be transparent and real, as we all have strengths and weaknesses and we need to be open and connect with one another in an open and honest way.
I find it difficult to get close to someone who competes with me or who is not able to share themselves.
I love women who are close to God, non-judgmental but loving , have good character and integrity and can make me laugh! (And can keep to time, lol!)
Do you have any close female friends?
Yes I do.
What words would you use to describe them?
Funny, kind, intelligent, spiritual, transparent, honest, real, adventurous and generous.
Who has inspired/still inspires you?
(This might sound slushy), but Martin inspires me. His consistency keeps me feeling safe and His strength of relationship with God reveals God's loyalty and love towards me.
My pastor, Pastor Ray MacCauley was my initial inspiration when I became a Christian. His strength and simple faith in God made him a leader I was happy to follow. He also helped me to understand how easy it was to have a personal relationship with God and to come boldly to Him, without fear or condemnation.
There have been many women I have been inspired by, especially Maya Angelou who I have learnt much wisdom from, intelligent women inspire me.
Many other people have inspired me, particularly people who have succeeded through great adversity.
“There is no elevator to success you have to take the stairs” – Zig Ziglar
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard/ favourite inspirational quote/ favourite scripture?
Live in the moment , it is the only time you have, yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is yet to come, but now is where you live.
This is the day that The Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. - Psa 118:24
"Never judge a person from a position of strength."
The joy of The Lord is my strength. - Neh 8:10
Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable…think about such things. - Phil 4:8
“What other people think of me is none of my business”. – Dr Wayne Dyer
"Take care of your body because it is the only place you have to live."
"God will take away to establish."
NEVER BE AFRAID – Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. - Psa 23:4
My mother told me to always respect myself because if I didn't, no one else would. She also said that I was not inferior to anyone and that I had as much value as every other human on this earth as we are all created equal.
What do the next 5 years hold for you?
We look forward to huge growth within the ministry and having a significant effect on the Croydon and London area, spiritually and socially. Making a real impact, so as to help and change people's lives through Christ. I am very excited and inspired by God to see what He has in store for us and the people in the church. I believe that something big is about to happen and He is preparing us all, so "Get in, get out or get run over”!
Personally, I look forward to my children growing more in God and finding His purpose for their lives and I will be there helping them in any way possible, so they can have a successful and joyous life.
For myself, I endeavour every day to wake up with the joy of The Lord and to live every minute to its fullest, making sure that everything I do counts for something. We take each day as it comes and wait. What a wonderful life it is with Him!
What advice would you give your 18yr old self?
I would encourage her that everything is subject to change, she has her whole future ahead of her with exciting prospects. Forget the old and look forward to the new as with God, anything is possible. He is able to make her path straight and all she needs to do is listen to Him for His plan, because He knows the gifts He's placed in her and the purpose that He created her for. He knows what and who is best for her and because He loves her, He will reveal it.
NEVER be afraid of anything! God has made her as bold as Lion.
Never compare herself with anyone else because her gifts are unique and whatever she has to accomplish, no one else can, so stay in her lane and finish the race. God will never let her down and she will always come through any storm. Stand, only death is fatal, and then only life in Him for eternity!
Interview by Nicky Coke