Day 19

Interview with Jo and Mark Selwood

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Jo and Mark Selwood are a couple from Harbour who live on a farm on the outskirts of Redruth. A few months ago I volunteered on a fairly regular basis for a couple of months. They’re farm is a pleasant and peaceful place where you can really feel relaxed despite working hard at the same time. It’s odd like that. Anyway, before I waffle anymore, here’s the interview for this week:

Don’t meaning to be rude, but it’s the question I always open with, how old are you?

Jo:

59

Mark:

50, plus 3 days

At what age did you become a Christian?

Jo:

29

Mark:

1st year at university. So I must’ve been 20.

How long have you been an active Christian?

Jo:

As long as that. So, 30 years.

Mark:

Since then, 30 years.

What do you do as a living?

Jo:

We’re smallholders.

Mark:

We’re smallholders on 15 acres of farm land. We run DIY delivery, own our own animal stock, and organising people coming up and working alongside us.

This week, we’re looking at the parable of the two builders. With regards to this parable, who is Jesus addressing?

Jo:

Don’t know, I guess the crowd gathered around him.

Mark:

Jesus’ general followers at the time

What would you say is the main message of this parable?

Jo:

To build wisely. The work you do should be of God, you should be building on God’s word.

Mark:

Basically, it’s Jesus saying: Guys, you may hear me but are you going to carry through?

In what ways can we encourage one another to dig deep foundations?

Jo:

The primary way is to know what the bible says and act on it. We can also ask God for guidance on a daily basis, which takes practice and experience. We can consult with others and if we’re not in a position to encourage others in a particular way, we can signpost them to others who would be in a strong position to help.

Mark:

I used to work for Patel (a Christian Drug Rehabilitation Centre Mark was a part of for 10 years) and they had a focus on encouraging not by words but fruit (Christian lingo for ‘good lifestyle’). When you see fruit in people’s lives, the fruit in my life is encouraged.

If a person has hastily erected their spiritual life and is flooded out, what’s the remedy?

Jo:

It’s always helpful to talk through the situation to help with the solution. Also, find out what the person whose struggling thinks, give them suggestions and ask God for a way out.

Mark:

Go back to basics. We all do that, including me, we get exuberant about something God’s given us and rush ahead. God isn’t so hasty. It’s alright to fail, just get back up and start afresh at a slower pace.

What encouraging and practical ways are there to get alongside those who are struggling, or let others know we’re struggling?

Jo:

You need to tune in to someone who could help and be honest with the fact you’re struggling.

If you’re not struggling, then watch out for the demeanour of others. If they’re different from their usual selves ask if they’re alright, give space for them to talk and, if it’s appropriate, time for a solution. If you don’t have the answers point them towards someone who could.

Mark:

Just give time to each other whether we’re struggling or not. You can’t establish strong friendships without time, something that’s in short supply in our community. My personal current challenge is to give time to others and God.

From living and working on a farm, what practical lessons have you directly experienced about building and/or growing our faith?

Jo:

You might have a grand plan but how it works out is a day to day experience. It’s very easy to make mistakes but not allow it spoil everything else. Every morning, ask God what should be done during the day.

Mark:

A classic lesson was on Wednesday evening, the night before my 50th. There was one sheep scratching like mad. I thought he looked fine but on closer inspection you could see maggots eating away at its flesh. I spent an hour sorting it out. From this, I was challenge with the question: why do I not find it challenging spending that amount of time on a sheep but I do find it challenging spending it with others? I mean, God spends his existence demanking us and that’s the example set to pastors, shepherds and us. God deals with the grubby aspects of our lives, Jesus doesn’t avoid the leper, we should follow suit.

Is having a strong faith an instantaneous thing?

Jo:

I think faith is a gift. For me, it was straight at my conversion. Obviously, I have my ups and downs but that’s more my mood that’s affected by circumstances rather than my faith.

However, it is a constant, daily discipline (Note: Jo said ‘discipline’ with reluctance, as it is a pleasure) to maintain relationship with God. It’s a joy to have a relationship with God, it’s not severe but something I love as I’m constantly aware of his presence as I listen to circumstances during the day.

Mark:

No! Faith is something that grows or exercises into growth. You make mistakes, you learn from them and who God is. For me, hard times help grow and establish my faith.

And, with regards to faith, is having doubt alright?

Jo:

You can’t help doubts coming in. It’s important to address them, though. Why is the doubt there? Try to understand the doubt and seek friends you can talk with about it. No-one’s going to condemn you.

Mark:

Doubting your faith is normal, it’s being realistic. If we don’t realise where we’re getting it wrong how are going to grow in that area?

God’s spent a long time talking about being in his presence whilst working but I often don’t. Sometimes I kick myself as being a weak human being that fails. Most of the time, I’m focussing only on work. And when I do that, I’m not in His presence and am grumbling about work. However, God is faithful and brings reminds that there is something more, deeper and greater, for me.

Working through doubt can change only when given God time and space. It can take days, months, and years for issues you’re working on to be dealt with.

And, finally, what concrete advice would you give to people who are new to Christianity or are seeking?

Jo:

Spend lots of time reading the bible and getting a strong background of who Jesus is. Read both the New and Old Testament with Jesus in mind.

Have fun and fellowship with other Christians. Become involved in a group that’s supportive and getting to know one another. Start a bible study or get into one. And ask lots of questions of Christians you can trust. Become part of a church.

Mark:

Learn how to do everyday life and learn to speak to God at the same time. Spend time with those who pray whilst doing other things.

Thank you Jo and Mark for your time and these answers. It’s been lovely catching up with you both again.

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