Following God's Leading in our Lives - Testimony

Al Tilsley is the Youth Support Worker - Coordinator and member of the School Leadership Team at Pacific Hope School. A keen family man, musician, traveller, and motorcyclist, Al utilises his life experiences to serve, lead, and support in his role at PHS. Al joined PHS in its inaugural year and has been a part of the growth from five students to now over 60.

Lead by Hope
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

How does God lead our lives? Do we always hear His direction or do we look back and acknowledge His leading after the fact? I believe God uses both of these strategies as He sees fit.

I was born into a loving and God-centred family. My parents, Colin and Cynthia Tilsley were finishing Bible college in Sydney when I was born in January 1961. Soon after, my father founded Gospel Literature Outreach (GLO), a global ministry that saw teams of people branching out into the world to reach souls for Christ. This led to us as a family (including my older sister Carolyn and younger brothers Andrew and Robert) travelling to and living in various countries over many years as the ministry grew. It was an exciting childhood. The challenges of different cultures, schools and friendships were definitive in my character development.

This type of upbringing was not unfamiliar to our family. My father was born and raised in India and was the 5th generation to serve in God's work in that country. My grandparents
(Crawford and Marjorie Tilsley) spent almost 50 years dedicated to God's service in India, with Grandfather Crawford founding numerous hospitals, over 200 schools and as many churches. His model was to found a church in a village, educate locals in Teacher Education, then found the school. It is obvious that this life's work could not have been achieved without God's leading, strength and love. All credit for this work is given to God.

pacific hope school lead by hope

The rewards are in the challenges
What are the rewards if we 'seek first His kingdom and His righteousness'? In this passage in Matthew 6, Jesus had just spoken to us about many things including; caring for the needy, how to pray, fasting, storing up treasures in Heaven and how to maintain mental health ("do not worry"). What rewards are we seeking? Are there any greater rewards than glorifying God through serving Him? The truth is that glorifying God by 'seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness' gives us the very things we need to sustain our lives.

Many aspects of work life are challenging, but each has God-given rewards.

I work in special needs education as the Youth Support Worker Coordinator for Pacific Hope School, Tweed Heads, NSW. Working in this environment, I can all but guarantee that a calm, no fuss, everything to plan type day is not as rewarding as a day that is challenging, a roller­coaster of emotions, and a day where young lives need extra help to climb the mountain in front of them. All of our students at Pacific Hope School have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). What may appear as an everyday problem (or change of routine) to a neurotypical person can be for someone with ASD an insurmountable challenge full of anxiety, stress and fear.

A typical work day with our students may run a gamut of challenges and opportunities including anxiety attacks, depression, self-harm, aggression, unexplained emotions, heightened state of mind, running away ... through to ... prayer, worship, teaching, laughing, mentoring, counselling, encouraging, building up, advising, guiding, helping, and most importantly, leading students to Christ. Are any of these without challenge? No. Many aspects of work life are challenging, but each has God-given rewards. Let's not forget that Jesus never sought these rewards for Himself, rather, He sought them for the glory of the Father and for the blessing and benefit of His people.

God's leading ... when we don't realise it.
My own testimony encompasses aspects of God's leading when I thought I was the one directing my life. Having accepted Jesus as my Saviour at the age of six, I had seasons in my life where I felt I was in control and knew where I was heading. I was wrong, but thankfully, God was and always is right.

We have all seen those dog leashes that extend like a fishing reel. The dog (Rover) is off and running with the leash spinning rapidly off the reel. Just when you think Rover is about to bolt in front of a truck, the owner snaps the lock on the leash and reels Rover back in safe and sound. Rover doesn't even realise the danger he was in and just keeps on sniffing along the path. Sound familiar? As I look back on my life, I see many episodes of 'roving' along, not realising I was on a path that needed God's leading through correction. Thank the Lord that He does 'work for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.' Grace, mercy, salvation .... God's gift to me and you.

This testimony has been excerpted from edition five of Christian Education Matters.