They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and that’s certainly the case for Jessie Boston, who worshiped at Wellington’s St John’s in the City Presbyterian Church for over a decade. The 26-year-old currently works for Tearfund in London, an evangelical international aid and development agency that “follows Jesus where the need is greatest”, says Jessie, the daughter of Professor Jonathan Boston (Professor of Public Policy at Victoria University) and Mary Hutchinson, a GP-turned-photographer who spent much of her medical career working with refugee patients.
“My parents chose careers that put others first, both from a theoretical and a practical perspective. Their focus has been on inequality, child poverty and climate change, as well as speaking out for those who don’t have a voice, which has definitely influenced me to do the same.”
While she’s always had a strong streak of social justice/activism, since moving to London two years ago Jessie has been become even more politically active, attending the Women’s March alongside thousands of others after President Trump’s inauguration, protesting outside Downing Street after Trump’s Muslim ban and against a weapons expo in the city last year.
“It’s an amazing feeling being with thousands of other people who feel the same as you, standing up for what you believe in,” she says.
Since living in London, Jessie has also become more focused on climate change and the way in which small, seemingly insignificant, lifestyle changes can make a difference.
“I became vegetarian and am now vegan, and I also make a conscious effort to cut out plastic as much as possible, from bags to packaging. Even making the smallest decision can make a difference.”
Jessie also credits her social activism to attending St John’s in the City from age 11 to 22, where she was involved in a range of church activities, including youth group and Easter camps, as well as attending Presbyterian Church ministry events such as PYM’s Going Further.
In 2013 she travelled to Myanmar where she attended Global Mission’s Going Global. “It was a fantastic experience,” she recalls. “Not only did it teach me about mission work but it also took me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to operate in situations that weren’t familiar to me.”
In fact, Jessie believes that taking responsibility in Presbyterian circles and stepping into leadership roles at a young age stood her in good stead for moving to London on her own.
“It definitely helped me to take a leap into the unknown and to know that everything is going to be okay. Having that Presbyterian Church experience has definitely shaped me into the person I am today.”
Jessie was born in the UK where her father was on sabbatical at Oxford University but grew up in Wellington. She originally considered a career in academia but realised her passions lay in the visual communications field. She completed a Bachelor of Visual Communication Design (Hons) at Massey University in 2015 and headed straight to London.
Jessie landed her current digital producer job at Tearfund not long after arriving, thrilled to have found an organisation that aligns not only with her social conscience but also her Christian values.
“When I arrived for my interview, they asked if they could pray for me, which put me at ease. It also made me realise that these were the kind of people I wanted to work for.”
Jessie now works in Tearfund’s digital team on their website and social media, along with other visual collateral for campaigns as varied as disaster relief and changing policy across the 50 countries the agency operates in.
“I love working for an organisation that has at its core such strong Christian values and whose current slogan is ‘We won’t stop until poverty stops’. This job allows me to use my skills but also help people, serve a purpose and serve God.”
While Jessie currently has no plans to return to New Zealand, she trusts that God will lead her where she is most needed. “I feel open to opportunities and going wherever the need is greatest. I’d encourage other young people to do the same if the opportunity arises for them. Pray about it and God will show you what to do.”