I last saw Katherine when she was a student reading English at King's College. I baptized her with others and can recall her vivid testimony, luminous personality and early intense commitment to mission. She belonged with a group of students to the Cambridge Baptist Student Society - called The Robert Hall Society after a famous former minister of the church. Numbering around 35 they were drawn from many university colleges as well as the teaching hospital.
Why is Katherine an Australian highlight? Because in Perth, 22 years later I met her again. Instantly recognizable and as vivacious as ever, she is now a significant leader for Operation Mobilization in W. Australia, having worked for OM ever since she left Cambridge - mostly based in St. Petersburg, Russia. Now with her husband Lloyd who is also a strategic leader for OM they live in Perth overseeing the sending out of missionaries from Australia. She had just returned from Siberia with 45 stories of Christian converts which she now has to write up for a wider public.
The thrill of meeting her was twofold. To see her and hear about her own story was so encouraging. Her faith is still contagious, and her high octane personality seems undimmed. Much in the passing years can blunt the gospel edge, but not for her and her husband. Yet even more suprising was to learn that all but one of the 35 students who were with her in Cambridge are strong in Christian faith and service too. Indeed, they are supporters of Katherine's mission work, keeping in regular contact via facebook. Nearly all of them are exercising Christian leadership wherever they are. A few I knew about, like Prof. Stephen Holmes of St. Andrew's University who is both Baptist minister and leading theologian. As she rattled off the names they all triggered memories. Wonderfully, they are all active Christians linked today in this extraordinary network. Katherine said that looking back on those days in Cambridge she considered them the determinative influence on her Christian life. What joy to learn about this generation of students!
There is no way that humans can organize a network of commitment like that! How good to be reminded that when God works he gives vision, energy and love to keep enthusiastic young people, still enthusiastic 22 years on. And, we pray, for decades to come!