This month, Biblical Counselling UK welcomed its newest member of staff. We take a few moments to meet Rachel Maclure and find out how she is going to be spending her time.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you first got involved in biblical counselling.
I came to the UK from Brazil to do a Psychology degree at York University. There, I met Dave and we were married in 2003. While we were living in North London, with two birth children, the Lord called Dave into ministry. It was while he was studying at Oak Hill that our third birth child was born and I learnt about two great charities that were to shape my professional life – Home for Good, and Biblical Counselling UK.
Krish Kandiah, founder of Home for Good, came to speak to Oak Hill students about adoption. He underlined something the Lord had been whispering to me for many years – ‘to take up the cause of the fatherless’ (Isaiah 1:17). At first, we thought that meant we would adopt. But, after a few failed attempts, I found myself ‘taking up the cause’ by working for Home for Good. First as a PA, then as a Project Worker in London.
I first heard about Biblical Counselling UK’s Certificate Course while auditing a Pastoral Care Module at Oak Hill. Back in my student days in the late 90s, being a Christian and studying Psychology had been frowned upon. So I was delighted to see modules that were unapologetically biblical and which engaged rigorously with the field of psychology. At first I was doing the modules just ‘for fun’, but as I became more aware of the deep struggles of foster and adoptive families, I longed to use my knowledge and skills to care for them better.
What’s your new role at BCUK?
I am delighted to be joining the BCUK team in the role of Family Care Researcher. In the next two years, we hope to establish a clearer picture of what support is already on offer for Christian parents of fostered and adopted children. Then we hope to map out a picture of where the gaps in support lie with a view to drawing together some recommendations for how new support could be developed, both from the local church and the wider Christian community.
All children who have experienced Care will have gone through some trauma or loss, many will have suffered neglect or abuse. Parenting always requires a significant amount of faith and trust in the Lord but parenting a child who has had a tricky start in life requires the whole body of Christ to be proactive and faithful in coming alongside these families. There already is some amazing support happening but we would like to make it more widely available.
I would love to hear from any Christian counsellors or therapists with experience of supporting families who foster and adopt. And if you are parenting a care-experienced child, please also get in touch.
What led you to have an interest in this kind of area?
First and foremost it’s God’s calling on the church. ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’ (James 1:27) For many years, I’ve been in churches that take the second half of that verse quite seriously. But, sadly, the first half has been absent.
Secondly, it’s my personal experience. Growing up in Brazil meant that I have always been aware of vulnerable children, and sensitive to their plight. As an adult, I have tried to respond in all the ways the Lord has allowed me to. For one year, we fostered a young man who was seeking asylum in this country. He was an absolute delight to us, but it also made us acutely aware of how little help is available to strengthen families to stay together.
How will you be relaxing when you’re not working on this project?
You will find me walking, cycling, jogging or sitting along the Thames. Dave is now a vicar in West London so my biggest delight is walking to the river and watching it teeming with life. (Mind you, you will never find me IN it – the water is way too cold!)
What can we be praying for you?
Wisdom! James says, ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.’ (1:5). We often hear about ‘Imposter Syndrome’ – that feeling of inadequacy when you first start a job and the prevailing fear that you will soon be ‘found out’. Well, speaking honestly, I feel a little like that – but the Lord has shown me it’s a good place to be as it causes me to depend on Him (and His church) and not my own skills and abilities.
More information about the Family Care Research Project.