“I see the Creator’s fingerprints on everything in the parks. I see the intricate fingerprints on the hands of our unique koalas. I see a tiny orchid flower with intricate detailed patterns. I see the ring marks on a cut tree stump. Each one of these plants and animals is unique, and we are each created uniquely. This speaks volumes to me.”
Jodie McGill is a Christian working with NSW Parks and Wildlife Service. I asked her to describe to me some of the connections she sees between her faith and her work. She is someone who sees God’s Word lived out before her in her work, both in Scripture—which she knows well and can apply—but also in the tell-tale signs of the creator all around her in nature.
Following are her responses to my questions.
How does your faith prepare you for your work?
My job comes with elements of risk, such as firefighting, helicopters, law enforcement, handling animals and off-road 4WD-ing. I rely on Jesus’ daily protection. I ask him daily to strengthen me and to help me make the right decisions, which at times, need to be made quickly in the event of an incident.
I love the variety that my job offers, and you never know what tasks may pop up during the day. This continually reminds me to pray and thank Jesus that he is all knowing and has gone before me to prepare the way for me each day. As it says in Deuteronomy 31: 8 and Hebrews 13:5; I know that I am in his care and that he never leaves me.
How is your faith shaped through your work?
It is a great calling and privilege to serve Jesus and the people of NSW to care for creation the way I do in my role as a Park Ranger and Fire Fighter. Working in our National Parks strengthens my faith, and I feel closer to Jesus when I am surrounded by the beauty of creation.
Is it possible to be open about your faith in the workplace?
On my desk I have a framed card of Romans 8:28: “All things work together for good.” and it is a reminder to me that no matter how my day unfolds, no matter the outcome of a project or incident, there is always a lesson to take away. That verse grounds me and brings my thoughts back into perspective. I hope it is also an encouragement to all who walk by my desk and see it.
Most of all, sharing my faith is about how I behave, speak to, and treat others; that is the most powerful witness to anyone I cross paths with. This is what I reflect on each day when I drive home from work: how did I represent Jesus today, what can I do differently or better tomorrow, where do I need to grow, where do I need to show more grace, understanding, patience or love to this person. I am thankful for my commute, as it is my prayer and reflection time.
How does your work stretch your biblical and theological understanding?
In Genesis 2:15 humans were placed in the garden to work it and keep it. I see this as an integral part of my role as a Park Ranger.
During my undergraduate degree, I recall sitting in a Biomaths lecture and thinking to myself that I just wished my classmates were as interested and open to hearing about the one who created it all, the one who designed everything they love and want to protect.
It was then I thought, God is the ultimate ‘Greenie’, as he also wants us to protect creation and manage the land sustainably to provide the needs of everyone on this planet.
You were involved in fighting the terrible fires of 2019–20… how did your faith play a role during that time?
During the black summer fires, on a deployment in Kosciuszko National Park, on multiple occasions, I experienced trees falling down all around me. They were uncertain situations, where fear tried to get a foothold. I knew God was protecting me and my crew.
I continually reminded myself of the account in Daniel 3:16-30 where God was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire: “Their God has sent his angel and saved his servants from the fire.”
I regularly draw parallels in my mind with my firefighting uniform and my spiritual armour. Although I take off my fire uniform at the end of each shift, I never take off my spiritual armour (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Do you feel supported by your Christian community for the work you do? In what ways?
My church family understands the nature of my work; that it requires a lot of weekend shifts, which means I am unable to make it to church services every week. I am grateful for the online recorded services that I can play back and watch later.
Any particular stories when faith–work connection became very real?
When arriving on scene at a first aid incident in the park, I assessed the patient, whose condition was declining. Knowing the paramedics were still a long way off, I knew right then that I needed Jesus to step in and help.
I prayed silently, knowing that my prayers were being heard and that my faith is what activated my requests to God, just like in Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
[Note: The content of this interview is the interviewee’s personal opinion and does not represent the views of NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.]
NEXT TIME: Understanding a biblical theology of work
Kara Martin is an Adjunct Professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and lectures at Mary Andrews College, is author of the Workship books, and Keeping Faith and co-host of the Worship on the Way to Work podcast.