Sister Stories - Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sister Stories

This podcast encourages us to reflect on how the Lord has grown and moulded us into becoming more like Christ.

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S2 - 10. Ruli

In this episode, I am interviewing Ruli, who works in the City and is originally from South Africa. She is married to Hank and they have a son, Jamie. Listen in to hear about how God intervened in her life to bring her to him, and on her experience of living with cancer.

Transcript (Auto-generated)

Welcome everyone to the sister stories podcast.

This podcast's aim is to marvel adopt sovereignty over each our lives as women and to encourage 1 another by sharing our stories.

My name is Sophie, and today I'm joined by Rulie.

Hi, Sophie.

Hi, really.

First of all, can you tell us about who you are? Yeah.

So my name is Rudy Foljon, I am originally from South Africa.

I've been living in the UK since 1996, Although I still sound very South African.

That's fine.

I, I grew up in a small town in South Africa called Nazna.

It's on the garden route.

My mother and father had a, small supermarket that was open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

I am the eldest of 4 children, although in, later years, my father remarried, and so I have a I have a half sister as well.

So they're 5 of us and Yeah.

And, I married to Hank and Hank and I have a son, Jamie, who is 23 going on 24.

Oh, great.

So, we're going to be talking about, your journey to faith in the lord Jesus, and and all of that and your story, really.

But could you start by telling us a little bit about, your childhood and your family backgrounds? So as I mentioned, my parents had a supermarket, which was open every day of the year.

And so from a really early age, I started going to Sunday school, because my I guess for my mother, it was childcare to have us, attending Sunday school every Sunday morning.

And so in that sense, I would say, I've had an awareness and an understanding of god for most of my life, if not all of my life.

And in fact, my father was Greek.

So I also grew up as a, I guess, in inverted commas as a Greek orthodox, although in the town we lived in, there wasn't a Greek church, so we never attended the Greek church.

And I remember chatting to my dad once about, the concept of, Christianity and faith and he's he's sort of looked at me in a perplexed way and said, but, of course, you're a Christian.

You're a you were you were christened in the Greek church, and so So my whole life, I had this tussle between knowing that I believed in god, but not necessarily considering myself to be a Christian and not really understanding what it meant to be a Christian, but I would say, Yes.

I knew of I've I've known about god all my life, and I certainly never doubted that he existed, but I wasn't confident that I would call myself a Christian and didn't necessarily understand what that meant.

So what did I have to do in order to be able to call myself a Christian.


So obviously, that has changed over time.

I'm just going to let you explain to us how that has happened.

So I'll let you talk for a little bit.

That's fine.



So as I say, I I came to the UK in, 96 and, Jamie was born I think about 7 years after we arrived in the UK.

And, and let's say So I said that I mentioned that as a child, I went to church regularly.

I also went, in my senior years at school, I went to boarding school, and, we used to be allowed to go home every Sunday, but before we went home, we had to go to church.

So I continued to go to church in my teenage years, at university.

I had a I actually had a friend who was Catholic and like the Greek Orthodox, it's very rules based and it was quite interesting because as a Catholic, they felt they had to go to church every Sunday irrespective of what happened between Monday Saturday, and the church she went to happened to be quite fun and vibey.

They did a lot of, worshiping and it was full of students.

So I actually went along with her quite often to her Sunday services.

And then and then I guess as I moved out of that period of formal education and moved into sort of more adult life.

I stopped going to church and, there was a point after I'd come to the UK where my brother had, attended an alpha course in South Africa, and he had become a Christian, and he was encouraging me, to go back to church.

And at the time, there were a lot of things going on in my life that I felt, no, I'm not good enough to go to church.

God won't want me in this state.

I need to sort myself out first And my brother was saying to me, no, but if you go to church, then you may find that god will help you sort out your problems.

And I thought, I don't know, that's that that can't be right.

I need to sort them out first.

And then roll forward to 2013 when I was diagnosed with cancer, and I suddenly realized, okay.

I definitely can't sort out my problems.

I need god to help me sort out my problems.

And I remember the day after I was diagnosed, I, 1 of the first people that I that I felt I needed and wanted to speak to was Catherine Cooper, who I had met many years previously when our sons play tennis together, And so although we weren't close friends, I knew that she attended church.

I had actually attended, the the previous iteration of Cornerstone a few years earlier, mainly because I wanted my son to get into a church school, and I knew that if I went to church, that would move me up the list.

So it wasn't a very, that obviously didn't that worked in terms of Jamie's schooling, but it didn't work in terms of my faith because I it felt like a chore rather than something that I was that I wanted to do.

But anyway, so I knew Katharine went to church.

I knew she was a strong Christian, and so she was the first person that I thought to contact and, to speak to.

And she came around and we prayed, and, and that that immediately gave me a feeling of peace and an an an an a knowledge that this was the right this was the right path to be taking.

And it was in during that time that I would say I, I prayed to god and ask Jesus to come into my life.

And it's from that point that I would call myself a Christian, but, from, I would say, from that point onwards, there were still many moments when I struggled with the the notion, but also, started to gain from the time that I started attending Cornerstone started to gain an understanding of what the difference was between believing in god and calling yourself a Christian and understanding that it was it had absolutely nothing to do with me, and I didn't need to do anything.

I didn't need to be perfect.

In fact, none of us are perfect, and it's through god's help that we start to change.

And It's quite interesting how sometimes we hear someone telling us that.

So your brother was trying to tell you that but god lets us fall in a sense and lets us experiences experiences for ourselves.

In the way that brings us to him much more personally.

So I see it as I'm, as a teacher when you explain something to children, very abstractly.

They don't get it.


But then when they make the mistake Mhmm.

Then they get it because they've come to experience what it's like.

And I feel like god has let you experience these things on your own.

That's right.

Even even if your brother had probably gone through.


It'd be similar things, actually.



It's, I mean, it's, it's it's in it's it's quite incredible.

And, and I guess that's that's in part the difference between, the the knowledge of god and the living of god.

And I remember, 1 of the sermons, in my early days after I had joined Cornerstone.

Phil Cooper was doing a a sermon on the concept of justification and sanctification.

And, he was, explaining that we are, you know, we are justified through grace and there's nothing that we need to do in order to be saved, but if there is no evidence of sanctification in our lives, can we be certain that we have actually been justified? And so it's that living and experiencing and changing that starts to bring you closer and and gives you that awareness of of what it truly is to be a Christian.

And I remember 1 of the first things that I did with Catherine was we used to meet on a regular basis, and we we work through the Roman series that, Peter and Woodcock have developed.

And I remember 1 of the first questions in the booklet was, is there a difference between religion and Christianity? And I thought No, it's the same thing.

That was my first mistake.



There is a massive difference.

And it's interesting in in the world how people interchange those 2 concepts and don't see any difference between being religious and being a Christian.

And and they will often say to you, to me, oh, you're you're religious now, and I'm like, no, I'm not religious.

I'm a Christian.


I feel like it's 1 of these terms that gets redefined and understood properly once you are in the community year of Christians, but whenever you try to explain it to someone else, they don't understand because they haven't it's a very experiential thing.



Which is really interesting.

I think it would be good for us to go back a little bit on the couple of things you've mentioned.

First of all, I'm curious to hear about your parents' reaction to your brother's conversion and yours because coming from an orthodox background, especially your dad's, or even your mom not really valuing church as church, How did they react to your brother's face and and to yours, really? Well, that that was actually quite amazing because through my brother's faith, my mother started attending church regularly, and she was probably a like me, she'd been brought up in a home where she knew about god, but didn't necessarily actually wouldn't call herself a Christian, but she started going to church regularly and and I would say my I would now say my mother is a Christian.

Unfortunately, as she's gotten older, she's also got dementia.

And so that's been tough, but she's she she's definitely her faith and her and her belief and her trust in god is is clear to see, which is just wonderful.

Price a lot.


The the trickier 1 was my dad because as I said, he in in his sort of makeup was the was the belief that he is a Christian because he's a Greek orthodox and the 2 kind of go hand in hand and and sadly, in December 2020, we lost my dad to COVID.

And 1 of the sort of most burning questions and and fears that I had was that he hadn't transitioned from this, so formal view of knowing about a god, but not actually trusting in god.

And I had a conversation with my brother who said to to said to me that He, over the years, had had many conversations with my dad about the difference between knowing god and trusting god and that they had actually, at some point, a few years ago, had a moment where they had prayed and my dad had acknowledged it, and so I it it really gave me a strong sense of peace that my dad too could be called a Christian and hadn't just gone from someone who believed in god to actually someone who knew god.

So, yeah.

Oh, that's great.

And, yeah, again, praise god that he somehow used your brother and I as as models Yes.

For your parents Yes.

And following in their in their steps, really.

That's great, really.

And so we've talked a lot about how you became a Christian and that, that story I wonder how, more recently, the lord has been working in your life, and especially in the last few years with COVID and and obviously losing your dad as well.

What what things you have learned in that time, really? Yeah.

So I think, because, so as I mentioned, I was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, but, because my diagnosis came quite late, I've had I I would the term that they use to define my situation is living with cancer.

So in the in the years since 2013, I have had multiple, treatments and I have checkups every 3 months.

And so it's a constant almost fear and issue that I that I have to confront.

And I'd say, my faith has been a key part of that in the sense that, I trust in god completely not that he would that not that he will necessarily always ensure that I have an all clear or a successful treatment plan but that whatever the outcome he will be there and that I have hope beyond what might what might come kind of afterwards.

So so so in that sense, my faith has been a tremendous source of support and and along the way, things like my home group have been have been key.

I mean, we have an amazing home group, and Paul Morley, our home group leader is constantly sending us words of encouragement and Bible verses that just often speak to you so loudly and clearly that it's just amazing.

And they're they're incredibly supportive in terms of, encouraging me, not only spiritually, but also just in my day to day life.

I think that because of my experience and because of what I've been through COVID was not that big a deal for me in the sense.

Obviously, I lost my dad, which was incredibly sad, but but coming to terms with the fact that we have this life changing event that is forcing us to completely change the way we think about life and live life I feel I've I had already experienced that.

So so for me, in some ways, COVID, I wouldn't say it was a blessing, but what I the the positives that I took out of COVID was the fact that I got to work from home every day, which I loved because I'm at the point in life where I'm thinking So I really want to be going up to town every day and being able to do what I do from the comfort of my home was really great.

I got to I got to have, you know, everyone always talks about a work life balance while saving 3 hours of days commuting gives you a lot more balance in your life.

And so I guess the only thing that was that was tough about COVID was the fact that you couldn't physically see people, but again, I thought Cornerstone did an amazing job of helping us to stay connected with the challenges and the meetings over Zoom.

And so, yeah, so I'd say the lessons that I learned, I learned them back in 2013, and it was they were just It was just a continued application of of that rather than.

And that's really god's grace, isn't it? That in a sense, he prepared you for could then annoy the rest of that.

Although I, as you say, it's not comparable in a sense.

It's a very different situation, but he uses circumstances in our lives that we've already experienced to teach us and to carry on.

Because COVID was something that affected everybody.

Obviously, in time, we realized that it affected it potentially affected older people much more than it affect potentially affected younger people.

But at the point where we first knew about it, we were faced with that, okay, this is something that's bringing my mortality into focus in a much keener way than anything has before.

And so thinking about that and thinking about Well, where does that leave me and what do I believe and where do I place my trust, I think, was key and was probably, I would hope that for Christians gave them comfort in that they knew where their hope and their faith and their trust was, but still didn't necessarily make the day to day dealing of it any easier.


Of course.

We haven't truly mentioned your husband Hank and and your son Jamie in all of this.

And I wonder how they reacted or or, yeah, how they reacted to your, getting cancer and, yeah, to your situation, really.


So so Jamie Jamie was 15 at the time that I was diagnosed.

And Jamie and I have always been close, but I would say this made us even closer.

And there was a time, because at the same time as me then starting to come to Cornerstone, Jamie actually started attending the, the youth group sessions, what's it? He he started attending rooted because he he was he was friends Matthew.

And then from there, he actually, for a while, started coming to church with me, which I was really excited and pleased about.

Since then, he's he's drifted away and doesn't come to church regularly, but I know that the seed is there.

And I just pray that that god that that god will find a way to call him and that he will, you know, that at some point, he he will return what was very interesting is he was although he wasn't coming to church, he was very, very diligent about making sure I was going to church and attending anything that he thought I should be attending.

So I thought that was quite interesting.

Hank, Henkle is similar to me in the sense that he grew up in a home I'd say he did actually grew up in a Christian home, although they went to, he grew up in an Afrikaans home, and they went to the Dutch reform church in South Africa, which I think is very, very rules based and, you know, you will not do anything on Sundays because Sunday is the day of rest.

And so that probably was more discouraging than it was encouraging.

So, yeah, so I would say Hank like me, it has a all, like like me previously has a knowledge of god, but not necessarily a relationship with god.

I see.


Thank you so much for sharing that.

And I think we're going to finish with this question.

In all that you've experienced in your life, what advice would you give to a younger Christian in based on on your experience, really, and what you've been through? So I would say that through your life, there will be times when you will be tested and you will have doubts.


But don't necessarily take them as evidence that you are not on the right path or that god is not walking with you, but continue to use the resources around you, your church, your home group, your Bible readings, to remind you that god is with you and and to continue to have faith and to place your trust in him.


I think that's really important, isn't it? Especially when, I mean, as you have experience when we get through a difficulty and a really tough situation.

If we're not prepared for that by god, then this is quite this has been more difficult.

And obviously sometimes, like, in your case, he uses that to draw us to him.

That's right.

Then sometimes he uses it further down the line to teach us even more.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Rudy.

It's been a pleasure.

And thank you for listening, everyone.

That's all for today's episode of sister stories.


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