Accepting God’s Grace
Cherine Graham did not grow up in a Christian family. She first heard the Gospel at age 9, attending Girls’ Brigade and Sunday School at Katong Presbyterian Church in Singapore, where she grew up.
After a few years of going along, enjoying hearing about the goodness of God, Cherine noticed that she had begun challenging the lordship of God, resisting what was being taught to her about the Gospel.
Cherine reflects, “By the grace of God, He did not let me go… I had the chance to reflect one evening at a youth church camp and I remember recognising the fight in me. A fight to want to rule my life because of my pride. I remember being filled with shame that I was feeling anger towards God who was wanting to be the rightful ruler of my life. At the same time, the shame was washed over by a feeling of being loved and the realisation that He died for my sins on the cross… That night, I stopped fighting.”
“It was like the hymn, ‘And Can It Be’. My chains fell off. My heart was free. I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”
Growing in Godliness
Cherine received a scholarship to study Speech Pathology at Sydney University and arrived in Sydney in 1997. While studying, she attended Strathfield Presbyterian Church and the Christian group on campus, which led to hearing and learning real, deep, Christ-centred teaching.
In her final year of study she met her husband, Brett. After they married, they moved to Singapore for five years. Cherine shares, “Brett always wanted to be a missionary overseas, and got to do that while we were in Singapore! But I too have always wanted to do cross-cultural ministry, and in moving back to Sydney after those five years, telling people about Jesus in Australia; a country I didn’t grow up in, is a massive learning experience for me of cross-cultural ministry.”
Being a Parent
“Brett and I have four daughters. They are teenagers and young adults now which means I now have more time to do more ministry. When the children were younger, looking after them, running them around and accompanying them which took up a lot of time so I wasn’t as able to volunteer and do outreach work as I am now. But now that I have the time, I am able to think about how I can use that time to serve God more.”
Cherine works two and a half days a week as a Speech Pathologist, and the rest of the week serving in ministry, with her main focus being SRE Teaching.
In 2013 Cherine was asked to teach Year 7 to Year 10 SRE part-time to relieve a teacher who was going on long service leave. “This opportunity gave me an awesome taste of what Scripture teaching was like, as well as teaching that age group of teenagers. I found classroom management quite difficult and so I didn’t think I was ready to pursue further training for Scripture teaching at the time.”
In 2021, there was a need to teach Scripture at the local high school, Mosman High. Cherine reflects, “Being a minister’s wife, I am well-placed to recognise the gaps in ministry, both in the church and community. I didn’t want the students who had opted into SRE to be without a teacher.”
Cherine saw this need and volunteered to fulfil it. After completing her training with the PYNSW SRE self-directed online training, a sit-in for teacher evaluation, completing her Working With Children Check, and the Breaking the Silence training, she was ready to go and teach Year 7 and Year 8.
“The material for Scripture is so well laid out and structured. You don’t go in blind, and because the lesson is planned, I can tailor it to the students the more I get to know them… It is nice understanding a little bit more about the struggles of teenagers and what they think about. I always remind myself that was the age where I became a Christian.”
Cherine reflects on Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, “SRE Teaching is such a good opportunity. It’s not our job to worry about the results of it. God’s command is to go, and so we go! Some sow, some water, but it’s God who makes it grow, so we go!”
What would you say to someone considering teaching SRE?
“We don’t know when the door to public schools will be closed. We need to be faithful and get in there whilst we can.”
“If your life has been totally and radically transformed by the Gospel of Jesus and you’re in a stage of life where you can spare some time to prepare a lesson and teach SRE once a week, an hour a week… Then why not?… We need to ask the question, ‘How can I share what I’ve got?’”