On Saturday May 13, Oxford-based Australian author, speaker and broadcaster Sheridan Voysey will be in Sydney for Our Daily Bread Ministries’ From Broken Dreams to New Beginnings conference. Together caught up with him to find out about the event, and how God can turn disappointment into something good.
It’s been six years since you left Sydney. How are you enjoying the UK?
Not a month goes by that I don’t miss Sydney dearly, but I can’t complain. Oxford is a beautiful place to live and full of history. John Wesley walked these streets, Tolkien taught down the road, CS Lewis’s home is just around the corner, and Stonehenge is only an hour’s drive away. That’s hard to beat!
For those who don’t know, what was your broken dream?
Our broken dream was not being able to start a family. Merryn and I pursued that dream for ten years—through special diets, healing prayer, numerous rounds of IVF, and a two-year wait on the NSW adoption list. By the end of that ten years Merryn was in a mess and needed a new beginning. Apart from longing to become a mum, her only other dream was to live and work overseas. When she was offered a job at Oxford University, we saw it as God’s way for that secondary dream to become a reality.
But that was a difficult move for you, right?
Having watched Merryn miss out on one dream I couldn’t watch her miss out on another. But I won’t lie—leaving my life and work in Sydney was hard. I was hosting the Open House radio show out of Hope 103.2, which was networked to eight other cities and was itself a decade-long dream come true. And I had to leave it after only five years hosting it. I had good speaking and publishing opportunities too, which dried up for a couple of years once I left.
But God was up to something all along. I ended up writing a book about our experience called Resurrection Year and a whole new season of ministry has opened up that has taken me to countries around the world. It’s all been very surprising.
What kind of ministry?
For much of my public ministry I’ve been a kind of apologist, giving people reasons to believe in God. But for the last few years I’ve been speaking on broken dreams, unanswered prayer, and where God is in all of that. It’s been very vulnerable—and surprisingly fruitful. One woman wrote to me saying, ‘My son has Asburgers and my marriage is in tatters. All my dreams are gone. But I’ve just read Resurrection Year and now I can start again—and start finding God again’. That’s been a typical response. People pull me aside at conferences and share secrets they’ve never told before. Couples come to our home and weep over their own broken dreams. And through it all God seems to help people find healing and hope. It’s all a surprise to Merryn and me.
I was speaking at David Watson’s old church, St Michael le Belfrey, in York last year. A guy came up after the service and said, ‘I don’t normally go to church and I’ve never been to this church before. I was just walking past and something drew me in. Your message on broken dreams was just what I needed to hear, because tonight I was going to take my life. But I won’t now. I’m a child of God!’
Who is this conference for?
It’s for anyone who wants to see how God can redeem a broken dream, whether they’ve experienced one or not. It’s for the girl who longs to be married but is single, the guy whose career dreams haven’t worked out, the friend who has lost a loved one, the couple who’ve been unable to have a child (or a second child, or a third), for family and friends who want to help, and everyone in between. I hope the conference will help us all see that a broken dream doesn’t have to define one’s life, and that while God is sometimes silent, He’s never absent and has a clever way of turning these trials into rich service to others.
What can people expect?
There will be no trite answers to suffering, or seven-step formulas to achieving your dream. People won’t be told to believe more to receive their miracle, or be given Hallmark card slogans about looking on the bright side of their problem. Instead we’ll explore:
- Merryn’s and my story in all its confusing, ludicrous, sometimes hilarious detail
- How God uniquely shaped the Israelites through their wilderness journey, and does so for us
- How to develop inner strength to face difficult seasons, and
- How these disappointments can lead to powerful new beginnings
It will hopefully be a day of inspiration, laughter, maybe a few tears, some new starts, and a few surprises. And thanks to Our Daily Bread Ministries admission to the conference is free, so bring your family and friends.
From Broken Dreams to New Beginnings will be held at Thornleigh Community Baptist Church, 15-17 Duffy Ave, Thornleigh on Saturday May 13. Admission is free but bookings are required: www.ourdailybread.org/newbeginnings