As Christian girls growing up, decision making is at every corner – and it can sometimes be hard to see how faith and ‘normal life’ can fit together, let alone how our faith can be at the centre of all we do. How can we live as Christian girls in all sorts of different contexts? Last week we kicked off Faith Worked Out to try and answer these questions through a series of interviews with women from all paths of life.
Today is our second interview of the series, and we are hearing from Adrienne Ferguson of TreePress. Adrienne is one of those life-giving, encouraging ladies (that you just really want to be like when you grow up)… We are so very excited to share her stories and advice with you all this morning and hope they encourage you to live as girls of God. Read and enjoy!
1. Favourite month
July- Wimbledon, pimms, Breton stripes, stars, camp fires, mangoes.
2. Habit I wish I could stop
Watching Made in Chelsea
3. Song I would sing in a large, echoey stairwell
Anything from Annie- childhood favourite in many stairwells!
4. Ideal dinner party guest
5. Place on Earth most like Heaven
The hammock hanging under the treehouse in my parents garden- oh- with a coffee…
Tell us about you and your journey so far…
My beautiful mama became a Christian a couple of years before I was born and so I have been blessed by being prayed over by warrior Christian women in home groups and bible studies for the past 37 years. Our church life was rich and full of amazing friends and families wherever we lived and there was always space to ask questions and grace to make mistakes.
University was not wild or rebellious season, neither was it enlightened or spiritual- in terms of my faith- it was a very still, motionless time. I was a spectator- but quite content to be sitting in the stands.
Next step was London and my first job as a teacher. City life was busy, fabulous, exciting and bursting with activity. But my faith had turned from apathetic viewing from the sidelines to restlessness and an acute sense of frustration. Despite cramming my life full, I felt completely empty. I saw a new course starting at a church near Oxford Street (where I was shopping!) called Christianity Explained.
Little did I know that this was the pilot programme for what is now Christianity Explored and throughout this time, I heard familiar bible verses and stories as if for the first time,as if they had been written just for me. I understood what Jesus dying on the cross meant for me, Adrienne, and there was a very gradual filling up. No more restlessness, or anxiety, but instead – the crazy peace that transcends all understanding. Amazing!!
Within months I had confirmed any Christian cliches and had packed up my London life and moved to a missionary school in Kenya where I spend 3 years teaching surrounded by incredible Christian people who loved me and guided me in my new faith. For the last 10 years I have been living in Edinburgh, teaching, growing, leading, listening, creating, building and by God’s grace have been used to serve him and serve others through drama, writing and working with kids. And 3 months ago I left teaching, packed up again, and moved to London to start my own business called TreePress…
Whatʼs the story behind TreePress?
Laura and I met 8 years ago when she came to the school I was teaching in as a GAP student from Sydney where she immediately joined me in the drama department to produce and direct school plays. Throughout her time University over the next few years we continued to creatively collaborate and produce plays and events together – dreaming, and hair brain scheming in my parents treehouse . After 10 years of directing school plays I was finding it a real challenge to source scripts and so started to write my my own plays. I then began to talk to publishers and found that they had their own challenges in resourcing the school stage. I could see the problem and Laura – now a management consultant in digital strategy could see the solution. Over the next 2 years we grew TreePress – an online marketplace connecting those who are writing plays to those who need them. And after 8 years – we are sitting next to each other again – and we’re loving it!
What do you love about what you do?
There is nothing more exciting than seeing something that you dreamt about come to life. To see action in your ideas. At it’s very core, theatre is a collaborative experience and we are in a position where we can support playwrights, theatres, teachers, directors and publishers and give them a platform and a community to encourage and build their creativity and allow them to make a living from their craft. And the net result – more performance in schools and the empathy, courage and confidence that it instills in young people. It gives people wings to fly – and we are able to watch everyone soar. What a privilege.
What or who do you have a heart for?
When stepping into a good theatre space, both audience and players are creating an environment where what happens, for the time that it takes, is real. It’s a microscope on life, an accelerated season where we are forced to form an opinion about what is important, and in doing so, we are then forced to form why it is important. Theatre encourages all those engaged in it to question – why? when? what? who? I became a Christian as a 23 year old full of unanswered questions about what life was about – and I love building a business that creates space for people to question what is important and and to explore what makes us human. Drama fosters creativity, empathy, collaboration and courage and with that one can not escape to consider what you believe in.
What led you to use your gifts for God in this way?
Drama, writing and story telling have always been at the heart beat of my life. In a church setting, I am completely hopeless with cooking, rotas and committees and have always been far more comfortable speaking to people and sharing Gods word creatively. And, I have always been encouraged by my church, family, colleagues and friends to do it. Amazing people of God challenging me, pushing me, embracing me and loving me.
How does your faith influence the way you approach day-to-day business?
TreePress is about investing in people whether they are children, writers, teachers, directors or publishers. It is about building structures to love people and giving them the support and strength to succeed so they can take flight. My faith guides how we talk to people and how we value them. It prompts me to always treat every conversation with dignity, respect and integrity. It gives me courage to fight when strength is needed, peace to know when to be still and courage when the fear descends.
What are the biggest things that God has taught you across this past year?
That He is in control. In the last 6 months I have had God’s incredible peace when quitting my job before we knew if we had funding, leave my flat with no-one in place to pay my mortgage, move country with no money to pay rent . At every scary stage, God put exactly the right people in my path to encourage me in every step. It’s been amazing to have felt his protection and direction in such a real way.
What advice would you give to young girls trying to figure out what direction to go in, wanting to serve God but not knowing exactly what that might look like?
Pray. Pray. Pray. Push doors, read, try new things, engage in the world around you, be bold, take risks, speak up, listen, ask questions – be out there living and know that your heavenly father is delighted with you and will not let you down. Go for it!
What encourages you from day-to-day to keep pursuing Jesus in every sphere of your life?
Knowing that I am completely useless without Him. That I am full of sin and brokenness and that my only hope is that by grace, I am loved and can somehow, be used for God’s glory. Nothing makes sense without Jesus – and when I find myself looking inwards God is able to give me a glimpse of the world through his eyes and the strength and courage to step out in his name.