Meet an Evangelist in Training:

Claire Lingard

Each year more gifted evangelists begin their three-year training journey with Church Army to become Commissioned Evangelists. During this time, they continue to minister and share Jesus in their own contexts. We caught up with Claire Lingard, one of this year’s Evangelists-in-Training, to hear her story of how God led her to start training and doing evangelism in the North Yorkshire town of Middlesbrough.

I was born in Surrey in the South of England, and had no experience of the North, but God brought me to Middlesbrough and has placed it deeply in my heart. God always surprises me with His plans. They are always very different from what I expect, but always so much better! I knew God was calling me into His service and I was exploring which vocation to pursue, but nothing seemed to fit. Then I discovered Church Army and everything started to fall into place. Everything about Church Army fitted with my beliefs and I knew this was where God wanted me to serve Him and His people.

I would not call myself a natural evangelist, but I have had such a wonderful life-changing experience of Jesus and His love through my own time of brokenness when my marriage ended, that I just can’t help but tell people about Him. Since God put me back together better, stronger and wiser, I am so full of love and compassion for everyone. I am compelled to share the Good News and I want to tell everyone they are loved and accepted just as they are. My passion is to spread the love of Jesus. I want everyone to know that Jesus wants a relationship with them and it will be life hanging. I want to encourage everyone to open their hearts and let Jesus fill them with his peace and his joy.
The world loves the outside and isn’t much bothered by the inside, but Jesus loves us from the inside which in turn changes the outside. When we have Jesus on the inside, He shines through on the outside too.

I am currently working in my hairdressing salon which God uses as a place of ministry and it has been such a blessing to me and my clients over the last decade. I am also evangelising in South Bank at the Parish of St John the Evangelist. South Bank is an area with many challenges, but full of wonderful people. There is a lot of outreach that happens already here and I have slotted in with the Mother and Toddler team. I have been developing trust and building relationships by joining in with what is already happening and also writing in the parish magazine. After Christmas I started a Gospel Aerobics group as so many people are keen to start exercising in the New Year! I am also pioneering a fresh expression of Church that will happen once a month to reach the marginalised. This is a big risk for me, as I am usually quite risk
-averse but I am praying and believing that God will send the people He wants there.

When an evangelist completes their training, they become Admitted into the Office of Evangelist. This is a recognised licensed office within the Church of England. They are also Commissioned as Church Army Evangelists. This is an official title which means they are appointed by Church Army to share the love of Jesus with people through both words and actions in the context to which God calls them.

Before Christmas I pioneered a new service to add to our Christmas service list. Blue Christmas, which was aimed specifically at people who find Christmas difficult. We acknowledge their pain and emphasise the Hope they have in Jesus. It was a risk, but I had very good feedback from the people who attended about how moved they had been and how it was what they had needed. I found this gratitude very humbling, and I was reminded that when we listen to God and follow His will, He will work through us. I love learning and there is so much of God’s love displayed in so many different ways in how Church Army has structured the learning community. I feel loved, supported and encouraged and I cannot wait to continue my journey with the other Evangelists-in-Training as we walk together with our Lord, learning and growing.

‘The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ 1 Samuel 16:7