I’m a proud Wellingtonian. When I left school, I started working in the computer industry and at 19 moved to Adelaide, South Australia, to work in a start-up company that was designing computer chips.
My motivation for moving to Australia was threefold: a romantic interest (came to nothing), the prospect of not having to pay massive amounts of rent for a good house (friends were paying the same amount to live in crowded student accommodation in Newtown that I ended up paying for a terrific town house in Adelaide that I didn’t need to share with anyone), and the prospect of a better-paying job (short-term only, then I moved into low-paying Christian ministry).
I was raised in The Salvation Army but while living in South Australia attended a Baptist church for a while. It was a great fellowship, but having spent my life in a church where women were very much equal leaders, I found it frustrating that this particular congregation had a very male-centric culture. I think God was using this dissatisfaction to set me on a path that eventually saw me return to The Salvation Army.
I started going to a Salvation Army church again and it was there I met my husband Keith, who was running its children’s programmes while working night shifts as a fitter in a local textile factory. I loved the fact that Keith had a genuine care and compassion for all sorts of people. Our first date was colouring in flannel graph for an after-school kids’ club that he was running for local unchurched kids.
Marriage and ministry
We were married about one year after that first date. Keith had been ‘called’ into Salvation Army officer (pastoral) ministry when he was younger. I didn’t feel some ‘Damascus Road’ sense of calling, but I did have an awareness that full-time ministry was something I could do and probably enjoy.
In our denomination a lot of people talk about being ‘called’ to ministry. But, for me, God has shaped me as someone sees a need and then wants to make a difference by getting involved. It isn’t any more complicated than that.
Over 10 years, Keith and I pastored three churches: two in Western Australia and one in New Zealand. During that time we had three children, now aged from 19 to 27.
After my brother was one of six people killed by a mentally-ill gunman at Raurimu in New Zealand’s North Island in 1997, our family moved to New Zealand so I could be closer to family. Through John’s untimely death I learn a lot about my expectations of God and faith, of the value of forgiveness, and also of the needs of those whose family members are the victims of homicide. God redeems all things and permits not even the hardest experiences and seasons of life to be wasted.
Journalism and communication
In 2000, I decided to pursue the opportunity to serve in a specialised area of vocation: journalism and publishing. I started a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications with Monash University in Melbourne, graduating in March 2007. From 2002 to 2917, I worked at The Salvation Army’s head office in a number of communications roles, including editing its fortnightly magazine ‘War Cry’.
Since 2018 I’ve been working to support local Salvation Army churches and recruit future leaders.
I’d encourage more young people to consider journalism and communication as exceptionally fulfilling careers and areas where Christian values of compassion and creativity have much to offer.
For those able to work their way into writing features and opinion pieces, there is the chance to develop a prophetic voice and shine a light on God’s heart for people. For me, that’s led to a focus on working for greater understanding and inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people over recent years.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html