By Ross McCall in 2016, adapted by Miriam Westfall in 2021
Jesus’ command to “make disciples of all nations” is why Agapé exists as a movement. Diane Cowles, Anna McCall, Kimberley Carribine and Miriam Westfall share a powerful story of discipleship and being deeply immersed in one another’s lives.
In 2005 Diane and her family moved to Newcastle because they felt God calling them to nurture young staff members in our student ministry. Anna was serving with Agapé UK and Kimberley was her key student leader. Kimberley then led the Newcastle ministry, as Diane and Anna did before her. She then discipled Miriam who now leads the same team.
Three words paint their picture of discipleship as spiritual multiplication: sharing, serving, showing.
Diane: The theme of all of this for us is family. Meals together were important from the beginning; we ate together several times every week. We’re going to be together forever in heaven one day so why not start living like that now.
Anna: My husband and I were about to buy our first house shortly after Diane arrived in Newcastle. She asked us to reconsider our choice because of its location. She pictured our team living within walking distance of each other so we could model community in a radical way to students like Kimberley. She was so committed to doing life with us that we gladly found another house nearer by. This is how we learned what it meant to make life choices based on our commitment to Jesus and to each other.
Diane: The thing I always try to be the most intentional about is loving women like Anna and Kimberley, not just teaching or training them.
Kimberley: Diane taught me about creating environments where it’s safe to talk about deeper things. Miriam and I share a common love for baking and dancing, as well as Jesus! This took us beyond the Bible studies and intentional evangelism we did on campus to becoming more involved in one another’s day-to-day lives. By naturally bringing up spiritual topics in conversation with Miriam’s flat mates whilst baking in their kitchen or praying for opportunities to be a light for Jesus on the walk to a dance class, I was able to model things to Miriam in the places and relationships she most wanted to impact in everyday life.
Miriam: I felt so at home in Kimberley’s house that I would make my own cups of tea! Seeing how purposeful Kimberley was about hospitality challenged me to think about how to make my own space.
Diane: I interviewed Anna for her job with Agapé UK and felt immediately that I loved her. I also recognised something of myself when I was a young woman joining Agapé UK, desperate for someone to show me what to do.
Kimberley: When I lost my mum unexpectedly, I had to fly back from serving overseas. Anna met me at the airport. Then she rented a car and drove down to stay with me and my family, who she’d never met, so she could offer me spiritual support.
Anna: Every time we moved house, whether in Newcastle or later in Glasgow, Chip and Diane were there alongside us packing boxes, cleaning or doing whatever needed to be done.
Miriam: Life could get really busy during exam and deadline season. Kimberley would bring home–cooked food onto campus for me and my course mates as we worked long days, in a similar way to how Anna had helped feed her as a student too. It was a great conversation starter!
Diane: I dedicated one day each week to focus entirely on training Anna. The two of us met in the morning to talk and pray. In the afternoon we led a group of women, including Kimberley, who showed a strong commitment to what we were doing. We talked about Jesus to the students on campus, and then over a meal at my house we talked about our relationships with God.
Anna: Diane taught me how to do ministry, but more than that, watching her life with Chip, my husband and I learned about being married, raising children, and living in a way that draws others towards Jesus.
Kimberley: Before university I had no female mentor. When I first got involved with Agapé UK, I would see Anna almost every day of the week. I remember thinking her prayers were always longer than mine, but that taught me I could have a conversation with God about all areas of my life.
Anna: Kimberley was so hungry to learn all the time. I just had to be intentional about giving her the right opportunities. When I met with students, I always tried to involve Kimberley so she saw what I was doing and knew how to begin discipling others. As Diane would say, ‘More is caught than taught”.
Kimberley: Miriam was keen to learn how to better share her faith and put things into practice. I really enjoyed passing on the practical things Anna and Diane had taught me but, like them, I was quick to turn to God in prayer together too. Chatting, I would highlight where I felt weak in an area and emphasise the things I learnt from observing Miriam too. I wanted Miriam to know that making Jesus known was more about trusting in God than having a certain gift set or good ‘tools’ in your belt.
Miriam: I remember seeing how Kimberley talked about Jesus with the same openness and gentleness to everyone she met. Whether in my halls, chatting with new students in the bar, or at her house, she allowed God to help her genuinely love by being honest, present and real in each interaction.
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