Following the paths God lays out with Peter and Kat Oxley
Peter and Kat Oxley are current Christ College students, who came to know Christ in different circumstances, but both have experienced his great sovereignty and grace.
Being shaped by the call of the gospel
Long before they knew each other, God was working in the lives of Peter and Kat. For Peter, the faithfulness of his grandparents and parents grew a love of Christ in him. He says of his journey, “For me, my Christian faith has been one of slow consistent growth. It was coming to know more who my saviour is and going from seeing my faith as something my family has, to something I personally believe.”
Although there was no one pinnacle moment of conviction, Peter clearly sees how God shaped him through his formative years, and how he continues to shape him now.
Kat’s experience growing up was quite different. Her family was close and loving. They held pluralism, humanism and feminism as guiding morals. When Kat was in year nine, her mother became sick, something which continues to impact her today. Seeing and experiencing this was a challenge for Kat, she describes it as ‘her life sort of fell apart’. She shares, “I looked for security in all the wrong places. In alcohol, in friends, in defiance and in finding my own security myself. I almost failed school. It was a pretty terrible time. For me and for my family, who had to endure all that I was putting them through on top of caring for my mom.”
Although Kat had gone to a Christian high school, she had always rejected the notion of the Christian God. At that same time, her sister had heard and accepted the gospel. When they were both in University, her sister sought out a church and started to build her faith, then she started praying for Kat and eventually invited Kat to some events.
Kat shares, “She was inviting me along to things, but I kept being drawn to how everyone who was at these things was showing me this inexplicable love. That love was better than the love that any of my friends or family had shown me.”
The community of God’s people brought her back again and again, and eventually, she understood and accepted the gospel. From here God directed her paths and worked his mighty sanctifying work.
The journey to Christ College
Peter went to university to study science, eventually doing his PhD. Kat did an on-campus ministry traineeship where she was encouraged to study part-time, this was her first exposure to Christ College, where she did the Graduate Diploma of Divinity over a few years.
Kat shares, “I was really drawn to Christ College because the lecturers were so approachable, but also so knowledgeable. The class sizes were small enough that you could have real conversations but big enough that there was a diversity of viewpoints and ages and demographics.”
After her traineeship and study, Kat worked for AFES doing campus ministry.
Kat and Peter met and six months later were married. They moved overseas to the USA and lived in New York for 10 years. While there they had kids, Peter worked as a researcher, and Kat worked in women’s ministry in their church in a part-time pastoral position.
She shares, “I was thankful for this opportunity to try church ministry out in a part-time way. And I really loved it. I found that our minister was able to be pastoral both in how he was my boss and in how he was our minister. And I also found that I loved discipleship and ministry in a church context so much more than in the parachurch context that I had been in before.”
During this time Peter was becoming more involved in their church and took on many ministries. He recalls, “After a couple of years I became an elder at the church. I was involved in various councils. Then I was preaching. I was helping with the Sunday school and the youth. And all sorts of different activities that were just part of the life of the church, and loving it.”
As these activities took up more and more of Peter’s time, and he continued to love them and want to do more, it became difficult to do with his full-time job. He says, “In Manhattan, the work-life culture is that 60 hours of work is a very light work schedule. It reached sort of this point where I was not going to be able to long-term have my full-time career in science and be as committed to the church and as involved with the church as I wanted to be. And so I had to sort of choose which one is going to be my predominant investment in time.”
While Peter was grappling with this, Kat was also feeling a limit in her knowledge and ability in her ministry and was considering studying. So in early 2021, they both decided to go to theological college and set about choosing the right one for them. They looked at colleges in America and also in Australia, and ultimately decided to return to Sydney and both attend Christ College.
Peter shares, “One of the things that was important for us was to go to a confessional college, one that has a denominational foundation where everyone knows what they are teaching in line with a particular confession.”
This, as well as all the other benefits Kat had experienced in her Diploma study; like small class sizes, having people coming through from all sorts of different stages of life and being alongside people who weren’t necessarily all going to the same end into full-time ministry, all became reasons to choose Christ College.
Trusting in the path and provision of God
Peter, Kat and their children moved back to Sydney in 2021, and moved into college housing the day the 2021 lockdown was announced. This was a challenge but soon became a real blessing of college community.
Kat shares, “Two days later, our fridge broke and our neighbors, even though we weren’t allowed to talk, and we weren’t allowed to be face to face at that point in time and they had never met us really, and yet a quick message around to them and our neighbors rallied around us and found us a little fridge and helped us. Because we had just moved from an international location, we didn’t have certain things. Our families were outside of the 5km radius. And so the block became our family in this very wonderful way in that season.”
Peter says, “That’s been a fantastic community that we’ve got to enjoy in addition to the Christ College community. Having this chance to live with others who are also training and preparing for ministry in various contexts has been a pretty special aspect that we’ve enjoyed.”
As they continue to study at Christ College, Peter and Kat are open to where God will send them. Peter says, “I would say that the plans that we’re making is just a commitment to full-time ministry, wherever God will put us, in whatever capacity God will put us.”
“It is a privilege to be able to study these things in…