Faith Worked Out: Amy Dixon
We are so excited to share this interview with Amy, who tells us about how we can make a difference by living out our faith to help those in serious need across the world. She also shares her wisdom on keeping God at the centre of daily life, no matter the challenges we might be facing.
Book on my bedside table: Know Your Why by Ken Costa, and an Agatha Christie novel in French.
My coffee order: a caramel latte if I’m being indulgent, or an americano if I’m being well-behaved.
£10 treat: two hours curled up by myself in a coffee shop with my Bible and journal or book.
Song that I listen to on repeat: anything by The Piano Guys – they’re so clever.
Most underrated virtue: the ability to listen well.
Tell us about what you have been doing day-to-day for work, and how you worked out what God put on your heart in relation to helping those in need in our world?
I have been working for a disability-focused international development NGO called CBM UK, which works for and with people with disabilities in the world’s poorest places, getting them into education and employment, improving medical services and working with governments/NGOs to ensure that they are included in mainstream international development work. My role has been within the fundraising team, responsible for inspiring and helping individuals in the UK to make a real and lasting impact by donating, praying and getting involved in events. It involves creating fundraising campaigns, prayer initiatives, newsletters and so on, as well as talking to our wonderful supporters.
My job at CBM UK was a gift from God because, from an earthly perspective, I was totally unqualified for it, yet I was employed by them within a few weeks of moving to Cambridge. I was keen to explore international development because I’ve always been curious about other cultures and - after having spent some time working in the academic and arts industries – I discovered that the cause of the organisation I worked for was a real motivator for me.
It can be a long and slow process working out what God puts on your heart for your work and for me, I think there are many things in this world – often inequalities and injustices – that God has highlighted to me at different points in my life. You can’t solve all the world’s needs through your day-to-day work but you can do what you can at any particular time, and for me in Cambridge that has meant using my energies for people with disabilities living in poverty.
Tell us more about the problem of growing up with disability in developing countries and the impact it has on peoples' lives and future prospects.
People living in poverty with disability are the world’s poorest people because they often have limited opportunities. In many countries around the world people with disabilities aren’t understood because their communities may not know what has caused their conditions or have met anyone like them before, so there can be a lot of stigma, pain and rejection. Equally, education, medical care and employment can be totally out of the question for people with disabilities – particularly if you have to travel hours by foot or need to pay to access these things. In most of the places where CBM UK works there’s no national health service, no optician on every street corner, no system for providing wheel chairs and teachers aren’t trained to adapt to the learning styles of all their pupils. If you are born blind, for example, in a rural village in a poverty-stricken nation you may never leave your hut or village, or you may struggle to keep up at school because you can’t see the board, and you’re less likely to marry or be able to support yourself as an adult. Often, living with a disability in a low income country means falling deeper into poverty and living with a condition that, awfully, could be treated or accommodated if the right medical care, training and equipment was available.
How can girls make a difference in our everyday lives to help those living in serious material need across the world?
There are many ways. A crucial challenge for all of us is making sure that we are aware of the reality of the lives that many people live around the world. When we are aware we can pray, and we can make any changes to our lifestyle that might help – our shopping habits, charity giving, maybe even our career plans. Find out more about whichever injustices or needs are most important to you and then give, volunteer, campaign, Tweet. It all makes a difference to the lives of real people around the world and it can also make a huge impact on our own attitudes and hearts.
What does a typical day look like for you and how do you try to keep God at the centre of day to day life?
I try and get up around 6.30 and go for a run or do something round the house, then I grab a devotional book, my Bible and a coffee and try and have at least 10 minutes with God before I head out to work. The evenings are normally full with church events or seeing friends so I know that if I don’t make the time to focus on God first thing than I probably won’t make that time at all. I find that the more time I can spend praying and listening to God throughout each day the closer I will feel to his guidance and love. Running, cycling and driving are key prayer times for me and I always pray as I walk from my office car park to my desk to make sure that my day at work has been surrendered to God and that I’m starting the day with the right perspective.
When life is busy and challenges come your way, how do you re-focus and find rest with God?
I love getting away from my to-do list and other people and spending time with God in nature, music, running or painting. Anything that keeps me focused but able to pray and listen and find new beautiful reasons to worship Him. I also find it really useful to look back over my past prayer journals and notebooks because they are full of God’s faithfulness and great bible passages that help remind me that no matter how I might be feeling God is constant. I’m also part of a prayer triplet which has been a great way of carving out time each week to re-focus and re-prioritise.
Recently I tried a new way of taking some time to find rest with God and prioritise him. I went away with my husband on a short retreat – not as formal or stuffy as you might think – just a few days away by the sea, without phones or computers, reading, praying, resting and worshiping together. We experienced God’s love and guidance so intimately and I can’t wait to do it again.
How would you encourage girls who are at a bit of a crossroads in their life, or about to face new challenges at school, university or work, and are looking to serve God passionately and whole-heartedly but unsure of the best way to do this?
The first thing I would say is to try and remember that God has created us to be the children He longs for us to be, not just to do. Who we are as people and our relationship with God our so much more important than our earthly achievements, careers and relationships. This has been a big lesson for me over the past few years. But we are also called to do as part of our worship to God, so here are the four main things that I think are really helpful when we find ourselves at a crossroads in life – none of them are rocket science but we often forget them when we’re feeling panicked, pressed and stressed:
- Worship. God is always good, always God, always faithful even if we are totally lost and clueless. Worshiping helps us to get our priorities and perspective back in order.
- Pray. We can make decisions out of our own strength and understanding, but they won’t necessarily be the right ones. We can never pray enough.
- Study the Bible. Look for people who have made decisions, how did they do it? Get to know Jesus better – the decisions we make should hopefully lead us closer to living lives that mirror his.
- Talk to trusted friends, mentors and church leaders about the options you have. God so often speaks through other people and others can help us to think rationally and with a fresh perspective about the situation that we are in. Weigh out what the day-to-day reality of your different options would look like and feel like; talk to people who are doing/living what you are considering; and make sure that you are as well-informed as you can be about the decisions you are making.
It’s hard work making decisions and it can be draining but God leads us each on exciting paths with Him, and it’s an adventure working out where He is calling us to next.