The Adventure of the Unknown

Jenny
& David

pictured:Jenny & David

Dave and Jenny Scarlett moved to Brisbane in 2018 from Victoria, when Dave took a secondment role with his employer, Save the Children. A former Chaplain and Youth Pastor, he works with kids who are disengaged at school to help get them back on track. Jenny works in admin at a primary school, a local Playgroup and ‘KindyLinQ’, which helps parents and kids transition to school. Having left their own three grown-up kids back in Victoria to make the move, the last few years have certainly been a surprising adventure as they’ve learnt to trust God and trust each other.

Interview:Aimee Cowan Read:10 Minutes

pictured:Jenny & David

(AC)
How did you both come to know God?
(DS)
I was very fortunate to have grown up in a family that were practicing Christians – my parents and grandparents were part of the local Salvos. To have that introduction to life and what being a Christian means, was really appreciated. Typically, we learnt lots about God and that was really helpful growing up. But for me, what you learn at age five is one thing and what you choose to do at age fifteen is another! So, eventually that decision needs to be more your own depending on what type of family you’ve grown up in. 
(JS)
I started by going to a local church for Sunday school with friends from the time I was in year three and my Dad would drop us off each week. I’m the only one who goes to church in my family, but I’ve continued on with that and my understanding of God and who Jesus is therefore, is very different to theirs. 
(DS)
We both grew up in Victoria and I came to the Salvos church that Jenny was at to be a Youth Pastor. A friend tried to set us up and even though we did our best to stay away from each other initially, God had other plans!
(AC)
The rest is history, as they say! It’s a history that has looked like 28 years of marriage and three grown-up kids, so what motivated you guys to make the move up to Brisbane for this chapter of your lives?
(DS)
I was fortunate to take a secondment to Queensland with the ‘Hands on Learning’ program I was running, looking after schools in Queensland. Our kids were actually happy for us to go and the youngest was 18 at the time, so they were old enough for us to leave. It worked really well for Jenny too as her health wasn’t 100 per cent at the time, and so it was fortunate that she was able to take long service leave and have a chance to recover and do something new and different.
(AC)
What’s kept you in Brisbane?
(JS)
I wasn’t planning on staying as long as we have; I’d said 12 months in my mind was the time I’d go back, but God had other plans.
(DS)
{to Jenny} It’s great that you could tell me this now that you only had a 12-month plan – what a crack up that is!
(JS)
I had it all planned in my head to go back by December! But by August there were new plans.
(DS)
{to Jenny} I’m so glad we confirmed those before we left!
(JS)
{Laughing} I had to have my options open!

I think for me, my health hadn’t been great as I’d undergone treatment for tumours on my pancreas and liver and I needed to recover. Work back home was quite intense, but I didn’t really see that until I’d left there. I’d come back from a visit down south and it took me a while to recover each time. That, combined with the great new job I had here in Brisbane, meant that we decided to stay here instead - more than the 12 months I’d imagined!
(AC)
You’ve been at Riverlife for a few years now and have really jumped into the church community. I know you both serve on Street Teams helping people with yard work, how do you each connect best with God?
(DS)
I think life is supposed to be lived outside, not inside! Anytime I get an opportunity to do something fun, it's outdoors. We like to go for walks, bike rides, and bush walks and it’s really regenerating. I spend a lot of time outside singing and praising God and reminding myself of how wonderful it is to enjoy that.

I also think when you reach out to help someone, God meets you right there and that’s another fantastic way to sense what God is doing and connect with Him. I really love encouraging others, which is what Street Teams is all about - bringing hope and encouragement to those around us. My mum taught me about the power of a smile and my dad taught me how to do lots of practical things; so, combining the two is a perfect way for God to use me to bring hope. The great thing about encouraging others is that we also encourage ourselves in the process and stay connected to God at the same time!
(AC)
As the ups and downs of the last few years have shown, just being a Christian doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be challenges in life. How do you guys stay spiritually healthy to make sure you come through the other side?
(JS)
I think I really came to a revelation of how much God meant to me was when I was sick. I had gone through an operation and chemo and it made me question God as to why it was happening to me. It challenged my faith and made me think about what God wanted to teach me through it and what I could teach others through it. I felt challenged at times not knowing where the journey would take me or how long it would be, and it was really good to stand firm on God and be positive within myself. It wasn’t easy and there were times when I would think I was by myself. But I was able to draw on God and ask Him to walk with me through the challenges. Even now, when there are different circumstances that come up that have nothing to do with my health, I can ask God to help me to respond in the right way.
(DS)
We do have ups and downs and good and bad days. I know that God tells us in His Word everything that we need to help us in our daily lives. Sometimes it’s about praising Him because it puts us in a spiritual or mental space that’s better for tackling some of those difficulties, or other times it’s about treating other people how you would like to be treated. God is interested in the small things about my life and when I remind myself how much He loved me to die for me before I even cared about Him, it completely changes the way I think about my day and the opportunities He’s creating. Sometimes hurdles we come across aren’t because we’ve necessarily done something wrong, but just that’s part of life. Things do happen that are a good reminder of who we are and who He is and what He’s trying to teach us.

When you’re in the middle of something, it’s not always easy to have that perspective on something though, and that’s why it’s good to have people around you to bounce off and support you. It’s nice to be able to look back. That’s where disciplines like prayer, worship or reading God’s Word come in, because often we commit ourselves to those when things are going well, which is what helps us in the tough times.
(AC)
How do you share this hope with others then? What do you say to people when you talk about your faith and belief in Jesus?
(DS)
We live in a society now where people are at all ends of the spectrum – some who have no idea who Jesus is, some who know exactly who He is. Our spirituality is a really important part of who we are, and I don’t think in the western world we do a great job of discussing it well. We all need to choose how we express that and develop it within us. I think it’s important to go to the source who created us, Jesus, and that’s where we get our needs met fully.
(JS)
A lot of people I know have an idea who Jesus is, but when bad things happen, they think He mustn't be real. I try to draw on my own relationship and understanding of Him and what it says in the Bible, but really most of it is just by sharing love.
(DS)
Lots of people are struggling with areas of self-esteem and hope, and when we’re able to regularly reflect on what Jesus has done in our own lives, you can’t help but then want to share about what He’s done for us. There’s a whole world of kids and families out there who don’t know how loved and valuable they are, so I love sharing that with people.
(AC)
Making decisions about which way to go in life can be tough. How does God help you navigate the big stuff in life?
(DS)
It’s not always easy! There are times when you feel like you’re on a roll and things are going well. But there’s no doubt there’s a peace that comes when it’s right. I’m often asking God to make things really clear, to speak up because I’m not always hearing as clearly as I would like to. Sometimes is through other people, sometimes reading the Word.
(JS)
When I got this role I’m working in now, I’d been living up here for seven months. It was time for my long service to finish and we were supposed to be going back to Victoria. We were out having coffee and I saw a tiny ad in the paper for a job just for a short-term role that would tie me over until when I was supposed to be going back. I put my application in and then went back down south for a visit that weekend. When I got there, I actually felt led to resign. I then got called up for an interview when I got back, had the interview and started the following Monday! It all happened quickly but I had a sense of peace throughout the process and knew that I was where God wanted me to be – and I’m still there! The actual stepping out to resign was hard, but I felt relief and a release when I’d done it, so I knew it was the right thing to do.
(DS)
It was an open door, but God has shown that the reason for Jen taking that role was bigger than we first thought because He’s opened so many other doors for her since she’s been there. He knew that right from the start and she’s been able to grow through it.
(AC)
Given you can see how He’s walked you through all you’ve tackled over the past few years, how do you keep walking positively together, no matter what you are facing?
(DS)
There’s a good reminder in the Old Testament when they had crossed the river to take out 12 stones and place them there as a reminder that when they returned, not to forget what they had come through. God expects us to remind ourselves of the good things He’s done, and we need to remind each other of these things, and that they didn’t happen as a fluke! As we’ve stepped out into the paths He’s opened, more and more confirmation has come that it was the right direction to take.
(JS)
Even in the last week, a mum at school has been looking for a Christian playgroup. I was able to tell her about the one at Riverlife, and help her make a connection. It wasn’t a case of me having to blatantly talk about my faith straight up, but God led us to this conversation naturally and opened a door. I texted Dave and said to him that God really does have us in the right spot. We might think that we’re having a tough time, but He’s got us where He wants us - for now anyway.

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