I'm a Wellingtonian, having grown up in the nearby suburb of Tawa. When I left school, I started working in the computer industry and at 19 moved to Adelaide, South Australia, to work in a start-up company that was designing computer chips.
My motivation for moving to Australia was threefold: a romantic interest (came to nothing), the prospect of not having to pay massive amounts of rent for a good house (friends were paying the same amount to live in crowded student accommodation in Newtown that I ended up paying for a terrific town house in Adelaide that I didn't need to share with anyone), and the prospect of a better-paying job (short-term onlyâ€"I then moved into low-paying Christian ministry).
I was raised in The Salvation Army but once living in South Australia attended a Baptist church for a while. It was a great fellowship, but having spent my life in a church where women were very much equal leaders, I found it frustrating that this particular church had a very male-centric culture. I think God was using this dissatisfaction to set me on a path that eventually saw me return to The Salvation Army.
I started going to a Salvation Army church again and it was there I met my husband Keith, who was running its children's programmes while working night shifts as a fitter in a local textile factory. I loved the fact that Keith had a genuine care and compassion for all sorts of people. Our first date was colouring in flannel graph for an after-school kids' club that he was running for local unchurched kids.
We were married about one year after that first date. Keith had been 'called' into Salvation Army officer (pastoral) ministry when he was younger. I didn't feel some 'Damascus Road' sense of calling, but I did have an awareness that full-time ministry was something I could do and probably enjoy.
In our denomination a lot of people talk about being 'called' to ministry. But, for me, God has shaped me as someone sees a need and then wants to make a difference by getting involved. It isn't any more complicated than that.
Over ten years, Keith and I pastored three churches: two in Western Australia and one in New Zealand. During that time we had three children. Our eldest daughter is now 22 and has just finished a degree in creative writing. Our son is 20 and after working for a couple of years is starting a degree in health science this year. Our youngest daughter is 14 and in her first year at high school.
After my brother was one of six people killed by a mentally-ill gunman at Raurimu in New Zealand's North Island in 1997, our family moved to New Zealand so I could be closer to family. Through John's untimely death I learn a lot about my expectations of God and faith, of the value of forgiveness, and also of the needs of those whose family members are the victims of homicide. God redeems all things and permits not even the hardest experiences and seasons of life to be wasted.
In 2000, I decided to pursue the opportunity to serve in a specialised area of vocation: journalism and publishing. I started a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications with Monash University in Melbourne, graduating in March 2007. Since 2002, I've been working for The Salvation Army's head office in a number of writing roles.
I'm currently editor of its fortnightly magazine 'War Cry', and the Army's Communications Secretary. This means I get to work with some great writers and designers, along with the staff who manage our website and social media platforms.
I'd encourage more young people to consider journalism and communication as exceptionally fulfilling careersâ€"and areas where Christian values of compassion, creativity and high ethical standards have so much to offer.
For those able to work their way into writing features and opinion pieces, there is the chance to develop a prophetic voice and shine a light on God's heart for people.
And for those who don't want to go in these professional directions, there's simply the opportunity to learn and practice the 'science' of good communication married with the 'art' of God-inspired creativity. Which is where the fun of this wonderful craft called 'writing' is found.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html