Meet Clare Hankamer

Families’ Worker Toowong Uniting Church
What’s your earliest childhood memory?
The most vivid one is me taking part in a nativity play at my kindergarten.  The curtains were pulled back to reveal me dressed as an angel attacking the angel next to me because our wings had become entangled.  My parents thought it was hilarious.  The nuns, who ran the kindergarten, were horrified and the curtains were quickly drawn while I was disentangled.

What’s the best thing that has happened to you?
I feel spoilt for choice but it has to be (and I do not feel obliged to say this!) when I became a Christian on a foggy night in 1989.  It came as a huge surprise to me but it was the first time that God’s word seemed written just for me, leading me to repentance and to huge joy.

Tell me about someone who has influenced your life.
I think I may cheat and choose two, no, four!  The first are my parents whose love of God and His creation have been foundational to my life.  My Mum loved to pray and loved God dearly.  My Dad was a scientist by heart and taught me to observe and to find wonder and awe in God’s creation.  The last are Stephen and Lucy Tembo, members of our Christian Fellowship at Uni.  Their love of the word of God and their authentic Christian faith and humility enabled me to hear the Gospel.

What might we be surprised to know about you?
I used to work as a Conservation Biologist in the UK on some of the world’s most threatened plant species.

What do you do for fun?
I love hiking, reading and horse riding.

Describe for us your faith journey
I was brought up as a Roman Catholic and had some wonderful experiences of growing in faith through a high school worship group and prayer group, retreats and gatherings of the charismatic movement.  I didn’t really know anyone outside of this sphere.  I joined the Christian Union at Uni and while I was a postgraduate joined the Christian Fellowship at an amazing place: Wye College part of the University of London.  I got involved as the Prayer Secretary and met for Bible study with a group of students from Uganda, Zambia, the Philippines and Indonesia.  It was here that I began to see the centrality of the word of God in Jesus Himself and the Gospel of grace.  I want the reader to understand that there are many Christians in the Catholic Church but I had not understood the Gospel in my time there.

Describe for us your ministry path and the spiritual markers along the way
I was convinced that I would be sent overseas as a missionary when I was studying for my PhD.  However, I soon realised that this had a lot to do with my pride and I needed to get my head down and study!  I started a youth group with a wonderful friend Angela and loved working with young people.  Soon after Ben and I got married, I trained in youth ministry in London.  I have remained involved in youth and children’s work at the churches where I’ve worshipped but have done other paid work at the same time.  We moved to Australia in 2002 and in 2006 I went through a low patch after my Mum died in the UK.  We started attending Toowong Uniting Church in 2011 and when the post for a youth and children’s worker came up, friends urged me to apply.
What has God been teaching you recently?
I spent a year looking at John’s gospel (I’m a slow reader!) with the aid of a Bible Speaks Today commentary and was stunned at the Jesus I saw anew through the pages of the gospel: eternal co-creator, defiantly courageous in the face of absolute antipathy from those he had come to save, absolutely supreme over all things even death and yet announcing the free gift of God’s grace and love daily to the unloved and the proud religious leaders.

What prayers have you seen answered?
I think it is good to remember what we pray for so we don’t forget to expect the answers.  As a wife and mother daily answers for my family.  For our church, God’s continuing call for us to humble ourselves before him and to lean on His grace.

Where have you seen God working in your ministry?
Through the God-given grace in our church and community; through older members mentoring and supporting me in prayer; through the commitment of families to church life so that their children may experience what it is like to live as a community called by Christ and seeing individuals grow in their faith and be sent out to new ministries elsewhere.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
To see our young people grow in their faith to become women and men of God so that whatever storms and trials they may have they can weather these in faith under God’s protection.  I hope for a revival in the church here in Australia

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