Linby and Papplewick have welcomed a new priest in the shape of South African-born the Revd Trevor Raaff.
He was made Priest in Charge at St Michael’s, Linby with St James’ Papplewick at a service on October 5, when he was licensed by the Bishop of Sherwood, the Rt Revd Tony Porter.
Formerly a curate at St Lawrence’s in the Diocese of Lichfield, he grew up in Cape Town where he met and married his wife, Carol before moving to the UK 17 years ago.
Trevor said: “We settled in Stoke-on-Trent, where we had our two children, Anna and Christopher who are in school years 6 and 7.
“Initially, I worked as an accountant before God opened the door to ordained ministry. Carol is a dietitian and worked for many years in the NHS.”
Trevor’s spiritual journey has not been straight forward and it took him many years to realise his vocation.
He said: “My dad died when I was 14. That gave me a real hatred of suffering.
“I wanted to join the South African police force. My mum was against it.”
As a compromise when he finished school he embarked on a degree in business, specialising in finance, while he also volunteered as a constable in the South African Police. But his contact with the reality of the police force changed his mind.
He said: “I saw some very brutal people who had no care for humanity. I died on the inside. I reached a point where I began to wonder what the point of life was.”
Trevor says he had his first encounter with Jesus while sitting at the back of a church one day.
“It felt as if he sat down beside me, forgave me and gave me a hope for the future. That is where my Christian journey started. “To me church had always been a boring thing. But I found something totally different that I hadn’t expected.”
After working for a clothing manufacturer, he moved to the UK and joined the National Economics Research Associates in London, before securing a job as an accountant for Michelin Tyres in Stoke on Trent.
But in 2006 with the birth of Trevor’s son, God challenged him about his priorities in life: “My love of accountancy began to reduce and the desire to step into ordained ministry began to grow.”
And so Trevor began to explore his vocation in the Church of England. In 2010 Trevor went to Cambridge where he trained at Ridley Hall and in 2012 began to serve his curacy at St Lawrence’s Church, Biddulph, North Staffordshire.
He was ordained as a priest in 2013 and is now sure he has found the work he was intended to do.
“It is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done,” he said. “I get the privilege of working alongside people in the very best, and very worst, of life.”