Member Spotlight: ‘My Purpose in Life’

AUSTRALIA—Kathleen Violet McMillan was born in the farming region of Kyogle, New South Wales, on Jan. 15, 1942, when the world was at war. Both of her parents had farming backgrounds, and her father provided for his young family by working in the farming industry and doing handyman jobs in the local area. She had one older brother (now deceased) and three younger sisters (one deceased). Tragedy struck early when Kathy’s mother abandoned her family in early 1947, taking the youngest child with her. Kathy’s father, who had grown up during the depression as the eldest of 12 siblings, moved his small family out of Kyogle and took work where he could find it. They first moved to the Casino district and then down and around the beachside community of Byron Bay. Kathy spent her primary school years in small country towns, only finishing one year of high school in Casino at a church school. By the age of fourteen, her formal schooling was complete.

She worked in Lismore, New South Wales, as a ‘live-in’ nanny for a time, then moved to Coolangatta, where she worked as a waitress in a guest house. She attended her first dance night in Lismore on the April 20, 1957, where she met her future husband, Ray Webb. It was her first dating experience, being only fifteen.

She recalled that “Ray said he found himself attracted to my smile.” She and Ray dated for a couple of years and were married on the May 2, 1959, “a beautiful, sunny day.”

Although their first home was in Kingscliff, New South Wales, Ray’s career in the Royal Australian Air Force took them to various locations on Australia’s east coast and around the world to Malaysia, the United States, Mexico and Fiji. Together they had three daughters, all born in Queensland, Australia. After their children moved out of the house, the couple started a financial planning and general insurance business, with Kathy working as Ray’s office assistant and then office manager for 45 years.

She said, “I really enjoyed the work. It was very satisfying.”

After her mother’s abrupt departure, Kathy’s family never knew if they would ever see or hear from her again, but in 1973 her mother contacted the family. They were able to meet up, but Kathy’s mother had a whole new family, including three sons, and wanted nothing more to do with her first family. Kathy’s youngest sister had been adopted out after her mother’s departure, and all trace of her had been lost. Her father had the name of the family who adopted his youngest daughter and gave it to Kathy to help her in her search. Kathy discovered that her sister was living in the United States. The adoptive parents had died by this point, so they searched the funeral registry to pinpoint a tangible connection. Kathy located her sister’s ex-husband, and the sisters were able to reconnect in an emotional phone call in 1989. It was a precious reunion after such a wrenching separation. The sisters continue to be in contact to this day.

Throughout her lifetime, Kathy had been exposed to the religions of Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals and Mormons. This had created more questions in her mind than answers. In 2006, Ray came across a TV program called The Key of David. The program caught Kathy’s attention, answering many of the questions she had. They had been watching a program by another Worldwide Church of God splinter group, supposing the shows were from the same organization. God worked it out to where their first contact was made with the Philadelphia Church of God rather than the other group. In March of 2008, she and her husband were baptised into the Church of God.

Kathy said that she had been experiencing “bouts of depression, confusion and hopelessness” during the latter years of her life, but since her conversion those feelings and emotions had lifted. “My faith, gifted graciously by God, has now given me an understanding of my purpose in life and therefore the joy of being a part of God’s true Church.”

Although she is struggling with long term health issues, she continues to be an active and engaged member in the Brisbane, Australia, congregation. She can most often be found moving about the congregation on the Sabbath in conversation with her spiritual family. She has eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.