My name is Caroline Chalkley and I am the Single Parent Pastor at New Life Bible Church London and was a single parent myself for many years. I have been running the Single Parent Ministry for 8 years before leaving my work as a special needs teacher assistant.
My desire is that single parents would find their hope in Christ in the season of parenting alone. I have seen my life be transformed from brokenness to wholeness and want to extend that same hope to other single parents so that they can see, in God, that their lives are made for purpose and can have a "fresh start".
My husband and I came to New Life Bible Church 14 years ago. One of the visions of our senior Pastor - Pastor Rick was to support single parents. When I heard this I felt prompted by the Lord to get involved. I was not aware I would be called to lead the ministry I just wanted to be involved and support the single parents. The lord had brought me to wholeness and given me a fresh start which I wanted for other single parents. In a dream before I was asked to take over the Ministry the lord showed me that the couple who were going to take over needed to return to the USA . I woke up and almost Immediately I had a call saying that they could not return. I waited until I got a call from Pastor Rick to confirm this. The lord showed me his vision and heart for those parenting alone based on foundations and principles of the Word of God that made my life prosperous and whole as a single parent even with all the mistakes I made before I knew the Lord. I want to give back the same comfort God has shown me by serving others and letting them know that if they are planted they shall prosper.
Pastor Caroline Chalkley
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
It's lovely that Fresh Start is expanding..
Joining 'Cheer' aka Fresh Start Ministry happened at the right moment in time. This was especially coming from a point of brokenness. My family and I have been blessed beyond measure to the point that I feel I need to give something back. The constant support has been overwhelming and has stretched beyond to my family.
Fresh Start has helped me many times out of sticky situations, financially, emotionally and physically. I believe groups like this are very beneficial to single parents who struggle mentally and it is open to all parents, not just Christians. However, the added bonus is spending time and fellowship with like minded Christians. I personally could not manage alone during those dark periods.
I felt like I was in a good place spiritually and emotionally, however I was worried about becoming stressed and overcome by anxiety. The school summer holidays had only began, like most single parents, I was juggling work, the extra expenses of summer childcare and trying to find time to have fun with my children and actually enjoy being a parent. I lay on my sofa and said something around the lines of “Lord, daddy, I need a break! I’d love to go on a retreat; but I haven’t got anyone to look after Shaun (my 8 year old son)”. Less than a week later, I was on WhatsApp and a picture popped up in one of the groups I’m in, it was a poster adverting a retreat for single parents. I was sooo excited, thank you Jesus, this is exactly what I was looking for. I knew straightaway that I wanted to go, but thoughts entered my mind that it would be too good to be true and all the spaces would have been taken. I was so desperate to attend; I wasted no time in ringing Caroline. I told Caroline that I saw the ad for the retreat and asked if any spaces were left, there was and I booked up straightaway. I had no clear idea who the organisers were, only that it was something to do with Care for the Family. I had no idea where Ashburnham was or how I was going to get there. I also had no Idea of what the teaching was going to be on; all I knew is that I was going; I had something to look forward to.
It was only when I turned up at Ashburnham, that I realised Fresh Start was part of New Life Bible Church, although on the emails Caroline sent me they did have the New Life Bible Church logo (I was probably just so delighted that I didn’t even pay attention). By the time the retreat came around I was emotionally and mentally tired with life. I was definitely losing grip of who I was and, more importantly, of who God says I am. I said to myself “Claudine, I don’t know what you’re here for, but you're going to be open, so you don’t leave without it".
The retreat was amazing, every single talk spoke to me directly. During our times of worship, I was at peace and the Holy Spirit spoke directly to me during these times, reassuring me, comforting me and filling me with His love. The retreat was only a weekend, but it felt like a week. The Holy Spirit showed up and showed off. Jesus didn't waste any time, I felt myself coming back to life again during every session. My son has also been transformed, I’m not allowed to call my son 'little Shaunie' anymore, he has grown. By being around boys of a similar age to him, Shaun feels affirmed as a strong boy/child of God. We have both been renewed and are moving forward with what God has for us.
The fellowship was equally amazing, everyone was extremely welcoming. I started off knowing no-one and left knowing I had a new family at Fresh Start. My son was happy and safe and everyone treated him as though he was their own.
Thank you Fresh Start.
God has used Fresh Start to bless my life. Teaching and supporting me in my development as a daughter of Christ, my true and only identity. Caroline, has tenderly helped me to look to the Father in everything and the presence of God and their obedience to the Father's will is clear for all to see. It has given me hope for a godly abundant life that God has for me right now and not when I get married, or promotion or the external things we look for in life. God has helped with heart healing and the attack on my identity from trauma in childhood years as well as hurts and rejection as an adult. This ministry has helped keep me accountable to the areas and things God is doing in my life. Keeping me connected and supported especially during lockdown whereby we have not gathered as a church since March 2019. God has used Fresh Start as an example of love His which we receive and then give out. I have learnt what love and forgiveness looks like through Fresh Start and the involvement of the entire family which gives me and my son a hope for the future.
Well I can say a lot
In being a member of Fresh Start I would like to give a short testimony on how Me and my family have been blessed by this ministry.
Firstly please understand I came from a background of no discipline at all so my foundations of parenting where very much on the house that was built with sand… and through the continuous love and support along with the biblical teaching from Fresh Start my house now built with stones standing strong, I have been empowered to discipline love and listen to my children as well as forgive and love myself… I now love standing up and saying I’m a parent who parents alone with Jesus..
My confidence in who I am has grown so much over the years and when we gather with other parents I have revived breakthrough especially from rejection and anger which was rooted in fear.. Fresh start helped me see that I am enough for my children and for myself well I have went onto now pass on all of the teachings that I have learnt and applied to my life onto others which is such a joy and as I look back teachings on boundaries, discipline, money management, forgiveness grace I could go on has enriched my household.
I am not the same person I don’t carry the stigma of single parents at all I work manage my household set goals and plans… the vision board has helped me a lot… the love and encouraging word from both Caroline and Clive has been amazing and still they continue to bless me love me and accept me for who I am where I am wow anyone who attends and joins with Fresh Start God bless you just know that your life will never be the same, you know angels walk amongst us well the founders of fresh start are those angels..
I'm an old girl in Fresh Start. I joined quite a few years ago when I was in a dark place in a very abusive marriage, not physically, but psychologically emotionally and sadly to say sexually
I separated from my husband and was introduced to Caroline and her awesome, caring, supportive and compassionate team. Through the ministry and wonderful meetings, I became stronger and identified my worth as a woman and single mother. I will never forget the love shown to me by Fresh Start.