When Julia Creek State School chaplain Angelina was feeling lost and hopeless as a teenager in her native Germany, she met a shepherd – well, a teacher whose surname meant ‘shepherd’.
After her parents’ divorce, Angelina was searching for help to navigate her feelings of confusion and rejection.
“I was searching for a role model; somebody who could be that emotional support.
“I went off the rails and went off Mum’s radar. She was working really hard and providing for our family. I got into the wrong crowd and everything seemed really hopeless.”
Angelina’s high school biology and classroom teacher’s name was Herr Schäfer, “which translates Mr Shepherd”. He pointed Angelina towards Australia and, just shy of her 21st birthday, she packed her bags for the land ‘down under’.
She travelled far and wide with a group of fellow travellers, but it was the small Western Queensland town of Julia Creek where she would ultimately find what she’d been looking for.
“I was still searching for purpose and meaning. Then the leader of our group, Stephen, said he’d become a Christian. We all thought he was drunk. I tried to reason with him and he said, ‘all I know is that Jesus is real and I have peace now.
“On that same day I gave my heart to the Lord and I had peace and hope for the first time.”
When a chaplaincy position at Julia Creek State School came up in 2017, Angelina “really felt this nudge” to apply.
“I was reminded of myself when I was a teenager looking for a person who could be that caring person. I knew I could be that person to them,” she says.
Julia Creek State School principal, Kately Priddle, said Chappy Ange was a joy to have at school.
“Recently we experienced an unprecedented natural disaster with many of our families directly and indirectly impacted. Ange and the [local chaplaincy committee] have provided one day per week where parents don’t need to think about packing a lunch. It has meant so much to parents.
“Ange makes our school a better place every day. Sometimes it is a kind word, a smile, or an act of service. Ange is hard working, dependable, and generous, and most of all, Ange genuinely cares for the children of Julia Creek and has a heart to serve people.”
And what became of Stephen, who brought Angelina to faith? She married him! They have one child, and another on the way.
You can support the work of chaplains like Angelina. Visit suqld.org.au/donate. Alternatively, if you feel the call to chaplaincy visit suqld.org.au/services/training/ to start your chaplaincy training today.