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My Journey to here

Written by

Joanna Pettersen

About author

Joanna is a volunteer on our Pastoral Care Team and loves serving in the House of Lord

My Journey to Here

Joanna Pettersen

I have had many dreams in my lifetime but for a long period of time, many of them seemed like they were not moving forward as I had imagined they would.

I have always loved being in church. My neighbours used to take my sisters and I to Sunday School as a child, and from the moment I invited Jesus into my heart at age nine, I have been in church every Sunday. I’m sure I must have missed a day now and then, but there has always been a weekly pull to be in The House of God. I loved being where He and His people were.

After graduating from university, I was enjoying working as a language teacher and had been dating Bruce for 2 and a half years. We had just started pre-engagement counselling when we were involved in a serious car accident – Bruce was ok, but I was left with a significant brain injury. After 18 months of rehabilitation, I recovered enough for us to get married and we had two beautiful children who I stayed home to look after, as best as I could.

I loved the church we were attending at that stage of life. We had wonderful pastors, teaching, and events, the culture was great, and I was so optimistic that some dreams in my heart would start to be realised. I had great hopes for my family… and for my healing!

However, in late 2018 the church and all the dreams I had wrapped in it came to a sudden end. None of the things I had been hoping and believing for had happened. This devastated me, and to make things worse, there were a series of misunderstandings with people I loved, trusted, and respected, (and who was desperate to receive approval from) … and I was left feeling completely broken. After being so strong for so long, my mental health spiralled down, but I kept most of this inside as I didn’t want my kids to see my suffering.

However the church then joined with Activate - and since then, God has slowly, slowly, slowly brought inner healing and restoration. The most significant breakthrough from this incredible season was being completely set free from rejection (Sozo ministry is amazing!)

In 2021, Pastor Sheridyn was preaching about the Five-Fold Ministries described in Ephesians Four. I felt an excitement in my soul, but I also felt it was too presumptuous for me to think that perhaps I could also be part of evangelism, teaching, prophecy, apostleship or pastoral care. Then he said something that totally captured my attention… “You’ll know if you’re called to this, if you really love church”. Immediately an excitement grabbed my heart… That’s me!!! I went up for prayer afterwards and went home feeling so excited, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

The next day we were all glued to our TVs wondering what the Prime Minister would decide about the new community Covid case that had emerged in Auckland. There was no gentle lead up this time - we were injected back into our bubbles at midnight. When I heard her words, I burst into tears. I felt the rug being pulled from under my feet - no more church for the foreseeable future.

While we went in and out of lockdowns for months, Activate was inviting people to consider internships. The first time I saw it I felt a small tug but didn’t think much of it. But as we went on, every time I saw them promoted I felt more excited and began to wonder if this might possibly be something God had in store for me. It seemed crazy. My confidence for all things ministry was very low, I had been at home with my kids for 18 years, I was 50 years old… and I had some limitations in my body!

Still in lockdown, I decided to join the Zoom meeting about the internships but didn’t turn my camera on and left early. I was so freaked out... Pastor Jems kindly followed me up afterwards and I hesitantly told her what I’d been sensing. She was sooo encouraging and helpful, and she said I should apply! (I have her to thank for what I’m doing now. Bless you Pastor Jems!)

Now a couple of years later: I have completed the academic requisites and practical hours to hold a Certificate in Christian Ministry. I loved the internship and even though it was hard work and super-challenging it was still an honour and a privilege to do. Now I also have the honour and privilege serving in one of those Five Fold Ministries, working for Activate on the Pastoral Care team as a part-time volunteer.

God is so good. He has started to fulfil some dreams I have had in my heart for a long time and also some new ones. God is so crazy good! I cannot believe He picked me!!!! And He picked you too! If your dreams seem like they’re taking forever or that you’re going in the opposite direction from them, be encouraged! If they are His dreams, they will come to pass at the right time!

The battle to stay believing was hard and looooong. It seemed for an extensive period like most other people were making great strides towards their dreams while I felt like I was going the other way.

But oh my goodness…I can’t believe where I am now and what He has done!! Words fail me, He is indescribably good!!!

Keep hoping, keep thanking and praising and worshipping, keep turning up, keep begging God to keep your heart sweet and keep plugged into His word and prayer! He is so faithful and He will do it!!!

Much love and many blessings!!

Jo xx

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