Caitlin is a University of Sydney student and has been part of our evening congregation for the last two years. We recently asked her a few questions.
Tell us about how you came to be in Sydney, and where you lived?
I moved to Sydney in 2013 for university from a large regional town in NSW. The last two years of high school were extremely stressful and full of a lot of change. My sister with Down syndrome who had survived leukaemia was diagnosed and treated for Hashimoto’s disease and Schizophrenia over the course of 18 months.
It was coming to terms with the last diagnosis – Schizophrenia – that made me realise that I was passionate about changing parts of the system for mental health treatment. The best course for me was at USYD so, having said I’d never move to Sydney, here I am!
Why did you come to Barneys, and what have you liked about being here?
I had heard of Barneys through older friends who knew people who had called it home during their uni days. I didn’t really know anyone when I moved to Sydney so the process was daunting, but I contacted someone who attended Barneys and they accompanied me to Church for the first time (and many times after!). I had been struggling to find a sense of community in the Churches back at home. I felt like I had never really been welcomed and that really hurt. I knew God was real and I knew he was so powerful, but we weren’t friends. For four years I was just holding on.
The first time I walked in the doors of Barneys, I had never felt so welcomed. So many people smiled at me and welcomed me!
I saw that the more I got involved, the more comfortable I felt. I can honestly say that Barneys is the highlight of my week. The talks are thought-provoking, the music is great and the community atmosphere is awesome. Over the course of the year, I was supported in many ways. It was hard living hours away from my family when they were struggling, but with the help of friends, mentors, Barneys and most importantly God, I felt supported and the guilt started to subside.
How has your relationship with God developed in the last year?
Church is about more than just hearing from God’s word, without the community it can be just a way to practice religion. But God’s love calls us to so much more – following Him is a lifestyle. A few months after first attending Barneys, I made the personal decision to accept the sacrifice and forgiveness that Jesus offers us all. It’s not always easy; our minds will always doubt but nothing in this world gives me more joy than being loved by God and letting that give me the strength to share His love with others.