Meet Christine Goodger
Overcoming prejudice to enable everyone to feel the love of God is something that Church Army has always done with passion. We stand up for those who may feel powerless, overlooked and undervalued. This means not only providing support to those in need, both physically and spiritually, but also empowering individuals who feel called by God to serve others. Committed to inclusivity, we’ve been training and commissioning male evangelists since 1882 and female evangelists since 1887. We strive to empower people from all backgrounds who are called to a life of evangelism. We support and train them to become recognised lay ministers and to reach those who may otherwise be ignored. Retired Evangelist Christine Goodger is a testament to this. Despite the scarcity of opportunities for people with an ordinary education or for women in ministry in 1961, she knew she was called to evangelism and took a bold step towards fulfilling her calling by joining Church Army.
‘I grew up in a Christian family with my parents and two siblings. My father was my godfather, too, and he was keen to make sure I grew up in the Christian faith. In those days, church worship was slightly different — adults went along to morning prayer while the children went to Sunday school, but I would also visit church with my mother for the Sunday evening service. I had known about Church Army from being a small child because there were two Church Army Sisters who worked in the parish.
In those days, there was very little chance of going to university and there were few opportunities or openings for someone like me with an ordinary educational background, but Church Army was different. Wilson Carlile understood that everyone could serve God and everyone was loved by God. I saw a Church Army advert in Church Illustrated and it just glowed. It really spoke to me and I knew that, when I was old enough, I would apply. I did just that and was accepted in 1961, when I went to Lowestoft to work in what was then known as our Sunset Homes department, which was residential care for older people until the end of life. From there, I worked in hostels and children’s homes and helped people who cared for family members. I was commissioned in 1964, so it will be 60 years this year, which is an exciting milestone for me.
Being a Commissioned Evangelist has brought along challenges and I’ve had to face prejudice. Even today, there are people in the church who don’t think that women should be involved in ministry and there are still some who treat lay ministers as second class. You have to lift yourself above all of that. I often remember words that were spoken to me at my commissioning: “If the Lord has called you, then you will be able.” I hang on to those words.
Through the years of my ministry, I’ve been involved in church planting, bereavement counselling and working with children. I’ve faced redundancies, which have been very painful, but in those times, I’ve really leaned into my faith. I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing people accept Jesus into their lives and seeing them change and flourish and that has been an honour.
Evangelism to me is a lifetime calling, and I don’t think I’ll ever fully retire. I still lead some services and I’m involved with various charities. If you are training in evangelism or feel called, I would encourage you to seek guidance from those who have had years of experience and take on board some of the things you are told and seek help for spiritual direction. But perhaps the most important thing is to not be afraid to speak out when things aren’t going right for you and not to feel that you are letting God down when something goes wrong. It’s a journey of faith, and He will guide you.’