Rachel Miller is a schools worker with the Scripture Union.
Q. Can you tell us something about yourself?
A. I am 22 and I began working for the Scripture Union as the north west E3 schools worker after graduating with a Bachelor of Theology from Queen's University, Belfast in August 2020. I am the eldest of three children and I live with my family in Derry/Londonderry. My parents are Alison and Robert and I have a brother, Peter, and a sister, Laura.
Q. How and when did you come to faith?
A. As the daughter of a Church of Ireland minister, I have grown up surrounded by Christian influences. I knew and understood a relationship with Jesus to be an essential part of who I was and how I lived. But it wasn't until my early teens at Summer Madness, a Christian youth festival, that I grasped God's unconditional love. From then on, how I chose to live was an act of worship, rooted in love, not obligation.
Q. Have you ever had a crisis of faith, or a gnawing doubt about your faith?
A. I've never doubted the existence of God, but there have been times when I have wondered if life without God would be easier. Sometimes "worldliness" can be attractive. However, God's faithfulness and the goodness of His truth has never allowed me to fall away.
Q. Have you ever been angry with God and, if so, why?
A. I feel blessed to have never experienced something which has provoked me to be angry with God. However, this pandemic has definitely caused me to cry "Why?" to God. But isn't it much better to wrestle with God in our struggles than to isolate ourselves from Him? There is intimacy in wrestling - I think that's the beauty of lamenting.
Q. Do you ever get criticised for your faith and are you able to live with that criticism?
A. I've never really been criticised. I think sometimes people write Christians off as being "naive", or "judgmental", and I hate that misunderstanding. Not necessarily because it harms my ego, but because those are not accurate reflections of God and His word.
Q. Are you ever ashamed of your own Church, or denomination?
A. I think it's important to acknowledge the Church's shortcomings and I certainly hold my own frustrations with it. However, I try to remind myself that Christ loves the Church. The Church is God's gift to us, a vessel through which we can fulfil His mission. I know God can work through our imperfect efforts.
Q. Do you believe in a resurrection and, if so, what will it be like?
A. Yes, it's something which fills me with hope. This pandemic has brought to the surface the overwhelming brokenness and injustices of this world, but I am encouraged by the words of Revelation 21:5 that remind us that our all-powerful God of love and justice will make everything new according to His will. I don't know what that will look like, but I trust it will be immeasurably more than we could ever imagine.
Q. Are you afraid to die, or can you look beyond death?
A. My fear of missing out screams "Yes!" I don't want to die before I've experienced and achieved all that I want to achieve. But I know that even my "ideal (earthly) life" could never compare to the perfection of eternal life with God.
Q. Are you afraid of hell?
A. Not for myself, because "I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love... not even the powers of hell." (Romans 8:38, NIV). But I do fear and mourn for those I love who don't know God.
Q. What do you think about people of other denominations and other faiths?
A. Growing up Anglican, studying at a Presbyterian College, going to a joint Methodist and Church of Ireland church and now working for the Scripture Union has led me to conclude that diversity and unity are not mutually exclusive. As long as we all humbly acknowledge the mystery of God and are open to learning from each other, we can continue to spur each other on as we work out our faith in the same God.
Q. Would you be comfortable in stepping out from your own faith and trying to learn something from other people?
A. Yes, it's important to acknowledge that we aren't always going to get it right. However, I will never leave my faith behind - it's central to who I am.
Q. Do you think that the Churches here are fulfilling their mission?
A. I think the majority are striving to. As someone who gets to visit lots of churches and share the vision of schools's ministry, it is encouraging to see how churches are fulfilling their mission in different ways. However, our efforts are imperfect and often we fall short.
Q. Why are so many turning their backs on organised religion?
A. Today's culture promotes self-improvement, self-empowerment and independence, therefore I think many simply don't see the need for organised religion. I also think that the term has been tainted; even as a Christian, the term conjures negative connotations. It feels impersonal, cold and irrelevant - the opposite of the Gospel message, which teaches freedom and radical hospitality.
Q. Has religion helped, or hindered, the people of Northern Ireland?
A. It depends who you speak to. I think it's important to address both the joy and deep pain it has brought people.
Q. What is your favourite film, book and music, and why?
A. It's hard to find a musical genre I don't like; it ranges from Chopin to Stormzy. I am a massive Taylor Swift fan. Some of my favourite books are the ones I studied in school: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby and Jane Eyre. My favorite films are the Mama Mia! movies. It's hard to resist Abba's tunes.
Q. Where do you feel closest to God?
A. By the sea. There's something about the vastness of the ocean that reminds me of my insignificance and yet God's intimate love for me.
Q What inscription would you like on your gravestone, if any?
A I think I'd leave the decision up to my nearest and dearest.
Q. Finally, have you any major regrets?
A. No. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but there's no point being burdened by the past.