Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Richard Keith. I’m 52 years old, married with three adult children and I’ve been the minister at Corowa Presbyterian Church since March, 2018. I’m a keen cricket player, and I have a bad habit of using the word “fantastic” for no good reason.
Did you grow up in the country or in the city?
I grew up in Sydney, in the north-western suburb of Carlingford. We lived in a three bedroom fibro house. Dad was a maintenance fitter for Hoover, and mum was a school teacher. Growing up in the suburbs in the 70s, you could walk to school on your own and play in the park unsupervised. A lot like a country town. It was a more innocent time in the big city.
Did you have a conversion experience or did you grow in a faith that’s always been part of your life?
I grew up in a Christian home and church-going was an important part of it. My earliest memories are praying before bedtime with mum. She always remembered to thank God for the day, even when it had poured with rain and I hadn’t been able to go out and play. I’ve never forgotten that lesson, that there’s always something to be thankful for.
So I’ve always believed in God and loved Jesus. I started reading the Bible when I was 8 years old, but got stuck somewhere in Chronicles.
I do, however, remember a day when I was 12 years old. I was walking to school and the thought suddenly occured to me that everything my parents and Sunday school teachers had told me could be a lie. I was overcome with a sense of despair, like life had no meaning or hope. I decided that day to follow Jesus, not because anyone told me to, but because I thought it was true. I have spent the rest of my life testing, but never regretting, that decision.
What led you to ministry?
During my teenage years I struggled with assurance. I believed in God, but did I believe enough? I was a good person, at least outwardly, but was I good enough for God to accept me? In my last year of high school I did some Bible study that showed me that God loved me before I ever loved him. That’s Romans 5:8: while I was a sinner, Christ died for me. No good I could do could make him love me more. No sin I committed could make him love me less.
So what led me to ministry was, firstly, the desire to share that message of love from God in Christ with others. And secondly, it was the challenge to take up my cross and follow Jesus. I became a candidate for the church at the age of 18 and here I am 34 years later.
What does it mean to you to be a minister?
Minister is just a fancy word for servant, and the first thing to remember is that we are all servants, called to serve God and to love our neighbour. Every follower of Jesus is a minister with a ministry. The Minister might have a title and a name on the church sign, but I’m not paid to do all the work. I’m called to be a preacher of the Word, an encourager to the saints, an evangelist to the lost, and a facilitator of other people’s ministries.
What is special about you that makes you a minister?
Nothing. Seriously, nothing. Every good result or consequence of any thing I do or say is God’s work by his Spirit.
To answer the question you probably mean, but don’t say, I see myself as a story teller. Stories have power. Stories draw us in and make us see things in a different way. Our life’s story makes sense of our experience and we draw inspiration from the stories we believe and tell ourselves.
It’s no coincidence that the Bible is a story. I don’t mean made up, I mean a narrative, a consecutive account that makes sense of the world. At the heart of the Bible is another story, the gospel that is good news, and at the heart of the gospel is a story teller, Jesus of Nazareth. The gospel tells us that in Jesus’ birth, life, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return, we find forgiveness, the power to put our past behind us, eternal life, the hope that love triumphs over hate and life over death, and fellowship with God, the destiny for which he created us.
So I’m a story teller. I have been called to tell and to live the story of Jesus in order to draw others to him and to the life he promises.
What is the gospel in 140 characters or less?
Jesus Christ is Lord. In that good news we not only find God but we find our true selves.
If you have an enquiry, you may contact Richard by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org