Recently I had the pleasure of chatting with Playtime Leader extraordinaire Yvette Wynne about life, faith and Playtime.
Ed: Tell me about your family and growing up?
YW: I grew up on a wheat/sheep/cattle farm near the Warrumbungles. I played with my two older brothers; they weren’t really into dolls and girls’ games, so killing frogs, mice and chasing kangaroos on motorbikes became an adequate alternative. I was a bit clumsy which brought me the nickname ‘Frank Spencer’.
The bus ride into Gilgandra school was quite long, winding its way through the properties picking up all the farm kids. Being the country, behaviour was sometimes an issue with one kid pointing a loaded shotgun at us; it was a memorable moment!
Our family attended a conservative church more for duty than devotion. Our parents tried to instil in us good morals; being in a small community, the damage to our reputations was more of an incentive than pleasing God or allowing the Holy Spirit to cleanse us. They now attend Caringbah Baptist Church (CBC) with me.
I read a children’s Bible at night, which I really enjoyed. I remember once having an argument with my six-year-old friend about where God lived. She said he lived in the sky, and I said he lived in your heart; but then as I grew up and became more independent, God didn’t figure too much in any decisions I was making. I tried to read the Bible and pray, without much success.
Ed: And your family now?
YW: I have been happily married for 25 years to Nick, a Christian and emergency room doctor. His philosophy is that he delays death as a doctor, and saves a life when he shares the gospel. We have four children, Emily and Liam at uni, and Aidan and Sophia in high school.
Ed: How did you become a Christian?
YW: I thought that being a wife and mother would fulfil the deep desires of my heart, so after having three children and being pregnant with my fourth, I realised that these longings were not being met.
Common sense told me that this is generally enough for most people, but there must be something else ‘out there’. I attended church but was not a full-on Jesus follower. So when I saw someone excited about God, I had an inkling that this was what was missing in my life.
I prayed to God that I might be excited about Him. He didn’t answer my pray straight away, but within a few months he gave me an idea so totally foreign it had to be from him – to serve him in leading a church playgroup!
It transformed my relationship with God and I was never the same again – God took my lukewarm faith and stoked it into flame!
Ed: What do you see as the most important part of having faith?
YW: Action. If you believe that God is telling you to do something, then jolly well do it! I want my tombstone to read, ‘She died trying’. Ed: What has been the biggest lesson/joy of your walk with Jesus? YW: I love it when he uses me to accomplish his purpose. Sometimes the most mundane situation can turn into the most insane! I was once at a train platform in Tempe and prayed for an opportunity to share. I found myself next to a lady and started talking to her. She was justifiably nervous as I tried to strike up a conversation, and she kept trying to reading the paper, but I felt as though I was being prompted to keep going. I spoke about the weather, gardening and finally where she lived. At this point I was laughing on the inside. I felt like donkey in the movie Shrek.
I discovered that she lived in the same suburb, area and street as me! We had a great conversation afterwards. God knew that we needed to connect, and he went before me preparing the way and gave me the boldness to press through.
Ed: What has been a struggle and what did you learn from it?
YW: There was a time I was on the other end of injustice and felt that I did not have a voice. No one was wanting to hear what went wrong and why. The entire ordeal stole my peace.
When a community doesn’t mentor fairness and justice, peace becomes a rare commodity. There are always two sides to a story and I learnt to hear both sides before making a judgement call. Open dialogue is always the best way to resolve and respond – too much injustice has taken place in the world because a voice was ignored or devalued.
Ed: How did you become involved in Playtime?
YW: For years I had been attending secular playgroup and observing the leaders run it. I used to say, ‘I could never do that!’
But I knew that God had spoken and asked me to start a playgroup for young mothers in the church, so I was going to give it all I had.
My pastor used to call me a steamroller! I was on a mission from God and drove the group with passion. Along with a friend, we would shamelessly ask for money, resources, time, whatever was needed to start a playgroup and buy toys and equipment. We did fundraising drives that raised $3,000 so we could buy an ex-MacDonald’s playground.
It was exciting watching small communities develop with women supporting each other and becoming friends. But that wasn’t enough for me. I was so frustrated that none had come to faith and I vented my frustration to my pastor, who helpfully suggested I pray for an evangelist.
I didn’t really want this answer, but that was all I had. I started praying for an evangelist to come into the playgroup. God didn’t send a female Billy Graham into the group; he grew me up so that I would start talking to people about God. When a lady in from the community told me her heartfelt problem, I said to her, ‘I will pray for you’. There was no push back and it felt good!
It is a fact and a promise that if we set our heart on making disciples, God will be with us.
Because of my background, in keeping up with two competitive older brothers, I started having little competitions with myself by seeing how much I could talk about God and get away with it! As it turned out, more than I thought! Eventually, people didn’t just find a friend at playgroup, they found a Father.
Ed: What do you like about Playtime?
YW: Playtime is awesome because your young Christian families can meet with your local community, and mission comes to you! Christians, young and old, can help build relationships with those families who often find themselves in a vulnerable stage of life. Financial pressures, parenting issues, sleepless nights can overwhelm any person, and we can help not only practically, but with Godly wisdom and prayer support. This is often a time when previous foundations of independence and control are crumbling, and we can be there with the answer – Jesus.
Ed: What would you say to someone who is thinking about getting involved or starting a Playtime in their church but is bit unsure or concerned?
YW: Do it! Give me a ring! I’m ready for a chat, coffee!