PØRTRAITS // Willem

5 min read

Young Software Developer, Willem, chats with us about what it means to him to follow Jesus, to live fearless and how he is a visible portrait of Jesus to his world…

— FAITH —

How long have you been a Christian?

6 years. I made the decision to follow Jesus while I was at a youth camp when I was 14.

Why did you choose Jesus?

I’ve always been interested in science and maths and looking around at the world around me I saw so much evidence of God. The fact that Jesus (God’s Son) would die to bring me into a relationship with Him blew my mind. I used to see God as a distant impersonal being, but once I realised that an all-powerful God wanted to be my personal friend and advocate… it was hard to pass up on an opportunity like that.

Who inspired you to choose Jesus?

My parents and grandparents. They’ve got such real relationships with Him which means a lot to each of them. Hearing stories of how God has worked in their lives inspired me to choose Jesus and constantly inspires me to live for Him.

What has changed since choosing Jesus?

I have a hope and peace that I didn’t have before. This has freed me up to love people better because I’m not worrying about the details of my life as much; I can just pass it onto him and trust that he’s got everything under control. Another side of that coin is that he’s helped me to see the inherent value he places in everyone, making it easier to love them.

Why are you a part of a local church?

I believe God created us to do life together and I find the local church community a great place to do that. We help each other understand God in ways that we don’t see on our own. We hear perspectives that open our world. It’s also space where we work together as a team for the good of the community around us, both outside the church and inside. Jesus said that the church is His body; it takes a body to enact tangible change and I want to be part of the work that Jesus is doing in the world.

— FEAR —

Is fear a liar? Why?

The fear that stops me from being who I know I should be is a liar. Fear keeps you trapped but with Jesus you are free.

What does it look like to live fearless to you?

Trust. Trusting that God wants to identify himself with me. Believing that He would trust me to be part of His story. Knowing that He’s prepared me for the things that He’s got planned. For example, when I moved interstate away from family and friends to start working full-time as a software developer, I was in a place where I had opportunities in multiple directions and I felt at peace about choosing any of them. Trusting Him meant I didn’t have the weight of asking “what if?”; wherever I was, He could use me for his purpose.

Who inspires you to live fearless?

My friends. They constantly remind me that God is bigger than anything we could come up against. They encourage and push me further into discovering more about God and who He is. They take risks for others and live to see God move in the world around them. They don’t have everything figured out but they seek to take Jesus at His word and act on it.

The voice of God and the voice of fear are both very real. What does it look like to you to live by the voice of God?

The fear when it comes often expresses itself as doubt. Learning to doubt my doubts and trust that God’s got everything under control means those fears don’t hold me back as much when God prompts me to do something. They’re still there but God is bigger. I don’t always follow through but when I do I find my faith in him grows. It’s a journey.

How does your faith push you out of your comfort zone?

Opening up and sharing doesn’t come naturally for me so writing this is pushing me. Leading children’s camps pushes me too (just staying functional after 4 nights of 5 hours of sleep). Faith helps me realise that I’m not the centre of the universe. There’s so much about God that I don’t know. As a developer I need to know how a system works so that I can improve it and make it work to solve the problem it’s aiming to solve. With this mindset I naturally love figuring out how systems work. It’s not so easy with God but I love how humbling it is.

How would you encourage others to live fearless?

Believe that God’s bigger than your circumstances and take opportunities to live it practically. I find trust comes from experience so I want to live life with God rather than just know the theory about Him. The small steps you take to add action to your belief give space for Jesus to show you just how much you mean to him. As He shows you more of Himself you naturally begin to trust Him more. It becomes a cycle.

— PURPOSE —

What do you feel like your specific calling is?

Haha! That’s something I’m still figuring out! Right now I spend most of my time building software to help people develop authentic relationships with God and with others. I also love leading camps for children; seeing their joy when they conquer their fears climbing the rock wall or when jumping from the zip line is so rewarding. Being able to share with them the relationship I have with Jesus and watch as they come to a fuller understanding of who He is makes my day.

What role does trusting Jesus play in fulfilling that calling?

A huge one! Especially when leading children. They learn so much and take in everything we do as adults. I’m aware of the example I’m being yet I know I’m going to get it wrong. I have to trust that Jesus will use me to show the kids that it’s alright to not have everything together because that’s His place in their life.

Is ‘living on mission’ an important part of your faith, and why?

Yeah, it is. I want others to experience a similar relationship with Jesus and see him transform their lives too.

How do you daily live on mission?

I lead a small group (connect group/Bible study) and encourage my friends there to seek God and get closer to Him. I believe that as we get closer we desire to see others get closer too. I love inviting people to a _small group _because it’s a place where we really get to know God together.

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