When I was a child I had a simple faith. I thought it would be nice to be a vicar when I grew up. It looked like indoor work with no heavy lifting – unlike work on the farm. I was too young to know the weight of responsibility.
As a teenager, I planned to be a scientist. I was also an atheist. God was a hypothesis for which I had no need. At least I realised that the existence of God was a serious consideration. I got an ‘O’ level in Religious Knowledge without learning what Christians really believe. I had a good argument for the non-existence of God. Ah, the arrogance of youth.
At university, I shared accommodation with some members of the Christian Union. I noticed they seemed, in general, happier and more at peace than other students. It troubled me that their religious delusion seemed to be a good thing. I still argued against their beliefs, of course.
One evening I witnessed someone else arguing religion with them. His argument was obviously flawed and weak. More troubling, I realised that one of the weaknesses in his argument could also apply to mine. I decided I needed more information to construct a better argument against the existence of God. I started reading Christian literature, and the Bible, looking for ammunition.
You can guess what happened. The word of God is powerful and I finally got what I had been missing all those years. I accepted Jesus as the Christ, my Lord and saviour. I started attending church services, and praying, and discussing the faith with my friends.
I wish I could say that my life since then has been a wonderful walk with Jesus, steadily growing in faith, but that would not be true. I may have been caught by the fishers of men, but I fought the line quite a bit while God slowly reeled me in.
I am still not the best of Christians. I’ve attended courses and studies and home groups, though I am not a member of one at present. I probably don’t pray or read the Bible often enough. I possibly let family, work and other interests get in the way of church and my walk with Christ. I am trying, and I pray for help with that.
Through all the good times and the bad, I do know that Jesus is mine and I am his. He will not let me go, despite anything. My faith is firm. I hold to our great hope, because it is right. Without it, there is no meaning in this life. With it, there is joy and peace, and the promise of the world to come.
I had a tricky life as my parents had divorced and my father had had a stroke so after my mother left, I had to stay and look after him plus my younger brother. I knew earlier at boarding school that there was a God, but I could not find him and nobody enlightened me! I got confirmed but knew I needed more. Time past and I myself had an acrimonious divorce and after a year being homeless with my son I moved into a flat at Kew. I fought a ten-year divorce, brought my son up and worked.
I grew very weary and after a complete nervous breakdown and rest, I called out to the universe, “There has to be somebody out there who can help me!” That was the 3rd March 1988, my flat was full of light and then Jesus said, “Here I am.” I spent the night talking with him, in the morning he said, “Do you want to follow me?” and of course, I said yes. He told me to clear out various books and artefacts from my flat. It was a cleansing time. I was with the Lord for a fortnight before I spoke to any other Christians. He personally directed me for two weeks which was quite amazing. A great deal happened and then He directed me to Halford House in Richmond and I began my life in the family there. My husband had been anti-Semitic and at Halford under Lance Lambert, I learnt all about the Old Testament, Israel and God’s love for the Jews. A very healing time.
The Lord gave me a lovely Christian husband who unfortunately died 8 years ago. This was also a very healing time in my life.
My life since encountering Jesus has been so incredibly different. I know I am not alone anymore and He has helped me to realise my talents and gifting. I have someone to trust, which I never had before. I am so glad I know the truth and it has set me free from so much questing.
My family thought I had gone nuts, but that did not deter me! Eventually, I went out to Australia one Christmas as my mother was unwell and gave me her tickets. It was not a particularly convenient time for me, but in faith I went. My sister in law was a Christian and longed for my brother to come to the Lord. I said to my brother, “I have a word for you. John 3:16 ‘You have to be born again.’” He went and did an alpha course and is now a church warden in Australia and says Jesus is his best friend. The glory goes to God!
I have just been through a painful three years struggle with not seeing my son and grandson and the Lord gave me Psalm 37 which has been a comfort to me and finally in November 2016, I had an email from my son apologising for his persecution of my faith and his behaviour – this I cannot get over! You have to take God at his Word and trust. Matters are far from resolved but I am waiting for the miracle of reconciliation.
I have recently been reading a Daily Reading called In Time with God and I read this: Up until this point Israel had received redemption from slavery, deliverance from Egypt, healing from Elim and provision of Manna, all purely gifts of God’s grace.
I feel that so mirrors my own journey since knowing Christ and he has slowly put my life together again. The healing has been painful but the learning has been awesome. I am just so grateful for God’s mercy to me to saving me as He did.
I am the eldest of 3 brought up by Christian parents. Our Church was Baptist and in the late 60s we went to Sunday School on Sunday afternoons at Bromley Baptist. In the 70s we were living in Dorking and my dear Sunday School Superintendent at the Baptist Church asked if we would like to give our hearts to Jesus. On the 5th July 1972, age 9 years, I wrote: ‘I am glad I have made this decision.’ I wanted to be baptised by full immersion but our minister suggested I wait till I was older. On Sunday 1st October 1978, not quite 16, I was baptized. The verse the Minister gave me comes from Philippians 1v 6: ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’.
After leaving school I went to train as a nurse at Barts in London. Six months after qualifying I married. My son George was born in November 1987. My daughter Elizabeth was Born in June 1990. We were living in Dorking and attended a local Anglican Church. On the 7th July 1996 I was enrolled as a Mothers’ Union member. I have always loved Psalm 139 and v 16 states: ‘All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’
Always expecting to return to Nursing when the children started school, God led me to train as a Primary Teacher: I had four years of study ahead and lots of work experience in different schools. We went as a family to Church but we struggled. As a Christian I thought I should be coping and certainly would not admit it to anyone, not even our parents.
Sadly, after qualifying as a Teacher and completing my NQT year, our marriage ended in divorce. I saw a Christian Counsellor for several years and went to Church but knew that God was challenging my lifestyle. Although I was in a plateau I knew Jesus was with me. I came to my senses and said to my dear friends in Homegroup that I was taking off my mask and they would see me warts and all!
I met Andy in 2001 and married him in September 2004. Having been married just 3 weeks I invited him to accompany me on an Alpha Course where he became a Christian. Andy came to my Homegroup and my friends became special to us and supported us prayerfully, especially when we moved to Eastbourne in July 2009.
At the same time my daughter, aged 19, at the end of her first year at Uni, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. When I was told her diagnosis, a month before it was 99% certain, I was angry with God about the timing. I shared with the Church family just before we moved about the 6 months of fortnightly chemo ahead and was given an amazing peace. The medical team were 99% certain that she would be cured and she was completely healed. Thank God!
Living in Eastbourne and having left teaching I thought the way forward was in day care. I had a very unsettled year in a local nursery working part-time. In December 2010 my son rang me, in tears, to tell me that he was due to appear in Guildford Crown Court. He had committed the offence in June and been to the Magistrates Court but had felt too ashamed to tell me. To cut a long story short we said goodbye to him 3 times because his Barrister was convinced he was going to prison for at least 5 years. The Judge showed George mercy and gave him a suspended sentence! Again, Jesus gave me amazing peace and I believe there is a reason that he was spared prison and I hope that Jesus reveals this in my lifetime.
At the beginning of 2011 I was not happy in day care and looked to get back into teaching or Nursing but doors were firmly closed everywhere I tried. At the same time my Dad spent the last month of his life in hospital and passed away on the 6th April. I thank God that I was not in full time employment and could visit him every day. He especially liked me to read the Bible to him from Romans. At his Thanksgiving Service I read from Romans 8 from verse 18 to verse 38.
I was a volunteer at the Eastbourne Family Contact Centre, I thought I would enjoy doing something practical as Mothers’ Union member. I have already mentioned that so many doors were closing. God was preparing me to become the Coordinator – the position became available in September 2011 and this became my main employment.
A passage from Colossians became particularly relevant and helpful and I read it when I give talks about the Contact Centre. Colossians 4 v 2 to 6: What a challenging passage not only in the context of the Contact Centre but in my Christian life too!
I was made to feel welcome at St Mary’s Old Town, Eastbourne and at the AGM in January 2013 became Branch Leader for the new triennium. In January 2014 I was pleased to accompany the Diocesan President (DP), Chris, and other members on a trip to Kenya. This was inspiring and exciting to see how important the members’ faith and families were to them and how passionate they were about being members of Mothers’ Union! It is an experience I will never forget!
At the beginning of 2015 Chris asked me to consider becoming the next DP. In my quiet times I had confirmation that I was being called to take on this huge privilege and challenge and that God would provide all the resources I need to do all he was going to be asking of me. 1 Thessalonians 1 v 24: ‘The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it’. God also confirmed that this call would fit in with Andy’s calling – now we are a double act! God also reminded me to hold on to courage and hope in order to persevere in this new ministry: Hebrews 3 v 14 ‘We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first’.
Last October at our recent Provincial Meeting, Lynne, our WWP said: ‘If you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat!’ This is so true. Faith is about taking risks but hand in hand with our Father. I am so grateful for the prayers and love of my family, Church family and fellow members. 2 Thessalonians 1 v 11.
To end with, the Prayer of Francis Drake: Lord God, when you call your servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same, until it be thoroughly finished, which yields the true glory; through Him who, for the finishing of your work, laid down His life for us, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.
I was brought up in a Christian environment by loving Christian parents and attended church regularly until aged around 14. Made commitment to Christ when I was 12 at Eric Hutchings meeting but didn’t really follow through. By my late teens I was moving further away from my faith as I began to focus on my career. I got married when I was 20 and we have two children, Paul and Jane, and now 5 grandchildren (all girls).
From my early 20’s I began to focus on my career with a sugar trading co. and this became ever more important to me. I worked my way up the tree from junior rep to become MD in 1989 and was by now completely consumed with my business career. My marriage failed in the early 90’s and I came to live in Eastbourne in 1998. My work was the reason for everything I did, why I got up in the morning. I deluded myself into thinking I was doing it all for my family but really I was doing it for me. I enjoyed the lifestyle it offered with plenty of international travel, status, power, financial success and all the trappings of what the world view of success looked like. The values that I had been taught as a child became severely blunted and compromised, and there were few obstacles that I would let get in my way of success.
Despite the financial rewards that I had achieved I knew there was something missing in my life that no amount of worldly wealth could satisfy. Everything I did revolved around business including my circle of friends. It was even through a friendship that had grown between me and a customer that led to me finding Jesus! It shows how God uses all situations to bring us to our senses!
I developed a friendship with a sweet manufacturer in Crediton named Frank and he started asking me down to stay with him and his wife for weekends. They are Christians and I did this for about 20 years (originally in pursuit of more business of course!). One Sunday I attended the church where they go when on holiday at their flat in Instow, North Devon. A lady called Paula gave a talk to the Sunday school children during the service (like our all age spot at AS) and when I heard what she was saying I became completely overcome with guilt and remorse.
She talked about the importance of having our priorities right and how our lives should be built on firm foundations. She demonstrated this with two glass boxes filled with sand, small stones and rocks. In the first box she put sand on the bottom, small stones next, and then the rocks but couldn’t fit them all in and everything was loose and spinning around. Then she filled the second box with the same materials but first she placed the rocks on the bottom and then the small stones in between and then the sand to bind it all together. I sat there visibly shaking as I listened to a voice inside me saying this is how your life is David – the first box – completely out of order and set on a course of self-destruction. This was the Adam box that I was following. Then I heard this voice telling me that Jesus wanted to put things right and give me a new life where things would be restored to the right order. All my past transgressions would be wiped out if I would choose to follow the Jesus box.
Still I couldn’t bring myself to do it that morning as I considered what I would have to give up! All through the rest of that day I could find no peace and as I went for a bike ride with Frank later on we had some very profound conversations. My father had recently passed away. I was the next generation in line now in my family and approaching 60 and was wondering what is it all about? Why am I here and where am I going? The usual big questions about life that at some point we all ask ourselves.
Later that night I went out for dinner with Frank and Jane but the conversation always came back to the same thing. What was I going to do about Jesus? I knew I had to make a decision either for Jesus or against. When we got back to the flat Frank asked if he could pray with me and then I prayed and asked God, with much sorrow, to forgive my sinful life and give me that new start.
For me, this was that light bulb moment when everything became clear and a terrible weight lifted from my shoulders. With much going on in my mind I came back to Eastbourne knowing I had had an encounter with Jesus that would change my life forever. I thank God for Frank and Jane who had been praying for me every day for 20years! Mostly though, I thank Jesus!
At 4 years old I started at my C of E primary school and remember learning the Lord’s Prayer during our assembly’s every day. As I moved on to the junior school we continued our daily assemblies, but also attended St Mary’s church every Friday morning. It was a beautiful old church and I have fond memories of my visits there. These years made an impact on me towards my faith in Jesus.
My parents believed in God but never went to church, so I never attended church unless it was with school or a friend, which I frequently did on Sunday mornings. After moving to secondary school and moving away from my friends, prayers and church attendance just seemed to stop. It was although I was just too busy with school life, studying etc. Life changed, my lifestyle got in the way, and I suppose my faith just became dormant within me. I married young and had 4 children, who are all grown up now. This was a busy time in my life, tainted with sad times.
My mum died in 1978, when I was 21, her death led me on towards an occupation in Healthcare, which then lead on to a 33-year career in the Operating theatre; making nearly 39 years in healthcare before retiring. During these years, I worked in Egypt, Malta and also to New Zealand, where in 2002 I lived for 2 years.
I started studying in 1999 for my Degree, following my divorce. In 2006 it was an honour to graduate with a BSc (open) in Science. My graduation ceremony was held in Ely Cathedral. What an honour. As my thirst for knowledge developed I spent many years researching the Earth we live on. Jesus was in the back of my mind but never thought Science could go hand in hand with a true Christian belief.
On meeting Bob in 2008, my life changed. Bob was a Christian and regularly attended the Baptist Church. I really admired his dedication towards his Christian faith. I began to attend church with Bob and started to discover another side of myself. I felt I had awoken something within me. I questioned Bob and friends from the church, for answers. Bob and I went on to marry in 2012 in the Baptist church.
I started to feel a real thirst for spiritual knowledge, so I started to read the bible, and began meaningful prayer. I wanted to know what it was all about. What was it about being a Christian? What did I need to do? So, I made it my mission to find out.
On moving down to Eastbourne, we found our local church, which, was All Saints. I then decided to attend the Alpha course and. through discussion and questioning. I learnt to open my heart and mind to combine my teachings of science with the scriptures of the bible. By attending this course with friendly likeminded Christians I’ve finally discovered the love and understanding towards Jesus to begin my true Christian journey.
I feel really blessed following my recent baptism at All Saints Church and we’re looking forward to our Pilgrimage with the church in November 2018.
I was brought up in a loving, secular family in Plumpton where my parents did attend church, but only at Christmas and Easter. Church was never discussed at home, and nor was God. When I was 16/17, I along with others was sitting in the local rec. when we were approached by, I think, a couple of ladies asking about our beliefs and telling us they were starting a group on a Thursday evening and would we like to come to find out about Jesus. I remember being surprised by their bold approach and I decided to go along – really to see how much disruption and mischief I could cause! My recollection of the evenings is dim but I do remember, clearly, thinking this all made sense and I readily gave my life to Christ. I also remember being filled with just an incredible sense of peace at the time I committed.
Sadly, the group broke up and, like a tree that isn’t watered, my faith dimmed and died. To the point that if anyone had asked whether I was a Christian, I would have had to say ‘no’ as I didn’t know what being one meant. But, even through all that, I knew God had never left me and I seem to remember I did speak to him but not in the form of coherent prayers that I’d recognise now.
Zoom forward to 2004. I was 42. My marriage had broken up four years previously and Sonia and I were planning our wedding. We married in May 2005. It was October (I think) and I had a ‘nudge’ from God – at least, I believe it was that. I really didn’t know. I just remember I got a sense of Him and, in the shower, I found myself saying, ‘Well, if you are there, please show me something so I’ll know!’.
That day, it was a Friday, I was off to the Grand Hotel in Brighton as part of a social event I was attending in my role as a Commercial Relationship Manager in NatWest. I found myself sitting next to a guy I found out was Adrian Alexander and he was a Corporate Finance Partner in an accountancy firm called Mazars. As part of the conversation, I asked him what he did at the weekend. He told me he went to church on a Sunday and I was intrigued and strangely interested. I asked him, and I remember this clearly, “So, if I was to go to church, which one should I choose?” He said, “Go to All Saints’ in Eastbourne, they have a great Youth Worker there, his name’s Mark Ashworth!” I phoned Sonia when I was leaving the hotel, all excited, telling her I’d had an astonishing flash. She said I’d get another one if I wasn’t home in half an hour as we were out that evening as part of our wedding preparations! I decided that, on Sunday, I was going to bowl up at All Saints’ and find out what it was all about.
I walked in, nervous and unsure of myself, and quite soon I was met by Dorothy and Derek Greenwood who’d spotted I was new and took me under their wing. I was introduced to several other people and I remember two of these were Andrew and Janet Down. After the service, I stayed and chatted and went home to tell Sonia all about it. It felt like the place I should be, I was surprised by the warmth of the people and how welcome they made a complete stranger feel.
That set-in motion a chain of events and, after a while, I joined a Home Group led by Chris and Lynn Large. They talked about an Alpha Course and I signed up. Once again, it all made sense. It was at the end of this I re-committed my life to Christ but, unlike the last time, the tree was watered because I stayed within All Saints’ and received the nourishment I needed. Now I understand clearly what being a Christian is all about.
Today, Christ is central to all I do. I know why I’m on the Earth. I try to use the abilities He’s given me for His glory and I never make a decision without first asking God’s advice. And, even though I still get lots of things wrong – hey, just ask Sonia! – I know I’m freed from all my sins and past mistakes because of nothing I’ve done but because of everything Jesus did for me! I know God is alongside me every day. That feels so good!!
I was Baptised as a baby. As a young child I went to Sunday School every week. I was confirmed at 11 years old. Then, in my teen age years, I went to Church on Sundays, sometimes morning and evening. I also went to the Church Youth group.
In the early 1950s I attended Billy Graham. I saw many, many people go forward, but not me. I thought that I was a Christian, after all I went to Church on Sunday, took communion, said my prayers.
A few weeks after we were married my husband Peter had to go into hospital for 6 months with suspected TB. Linda, my sister, came to stay with me in our flat in London. We started going to a very good Church in Penge. It was there one evening at a Bible study that we studied Revelation Chapter 21, about the New Jerusalem. The last verse in that chapter says,
“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Riding home on the bus that night I asked Linda, “If this bus crashed tonight and I died where would I go?” (Linda said it was the hardest question she had ever had to answer.) She said, “If you do not know Jesus as your personal Saviour, you will not go to be with Him.” So, I went home that night and asked the Lord to be my Saviour.
Soon after Peter came out of Hospital he too accepted the Lord. Suddenly the Bible came alive to me. I knew the author. I not only asked the Lord to forgive my past, but committed my future to Him as well.
There have been some tough times since then, especially on the Mission field, but the Lord has always been with me. The verse that has always meant a lot to me is Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God Works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Hi my name is Tina and this is briefly my story.
I first really grasped the wonder of God when I was at my C-of-E primary school. I was fascinated by the parables and miracles in the Bible and realised then, that God was the creator of the world and everything in it. I was sure He was going to be with me forever, and I was right.
From then on, I often spoke to him, when I was alone, and didn’t really know that I was praying. As years went by, and although I didn’t go to church, I continued to pray, sometimes regularly, or not so often, but always aware of His presence in my life. There were times when He REALLY helped me, but I will not go into detail, as it was quite often, and this is supposed to be a short resume’!!
About 9 years ago my son and daughter- in-law asked if I could arrange for my second granddaughter to be baptised. Her older sister had been baptised in Kent, but as they were living in Qatar in the Middle East they wanted to come to England on holiday and have it done during that time. I knew that some friends (Betty and Linda) were attending a church in Eastbourne and they said I should ask the vicar (Robert) if he would conduct it, and he kindly agreed.
So I started going to All Saints church every Sunday for a few months before the baptism was arranged. What a revelation!!! I immediately felt at home! Everyone was so kind and welcoming, and every week I learnt more, and realised how amazing it was to pray and praise God in fellowship with other Christians. I took an Alpha Course, which was really enlightening and inspiring, and I have been growing in faith and joy ever since.
I just wish everyone had the peace and fulfilment that comes from knowing and loving Jesus.
We have the security that one day we will be with Him in Heaven, and every day we have Him beside us, guiding, protecting and forgiving us for everything. How wonderful that is! We are indeed so blessed that we belong to Jesus.
I was born and brought up in South Africa: 6 years on a cattle ranch, and then a few years each at Mafeking, Scottburgh, Port Elizabeth and Durban. So I was about 23 when I followed Jane to England to marry her! She was from Liverpool but had been working in hotels in South Africa. Some years later, in 1971, we came to Eastbourne for my teaching job and we have been here ever since.
My parents were fairly regular churchgoers, and I remember that my grandmother was a keen Anglican. My older sister Val used to read the Bible and, being impressed, I wanted one too. At the age of 11 I worked my way through the four gospels – twice! The story of Jesus made a huge impact on me.
Fast forward to age 28. I was an army officer in Eastbourne College’s cadet corps and we went on a 2-week camp to Germany. A career officer called Geoff told me I could have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, by receiving Him into my heart and life. Then I knew that I was a child of God and didn’t have to be good enough, didn’t have to earn my way into God’s favour – which I found impossible anyway. Life has never been the same since. My wife Jane too became a child of God, as did our daughters Heather and Jo.
Now over 40 years later, through the normal ups and downs of life as a husband, father, grandfather and teacher, and also in retirement, I can honestly say that life without Jesus at the helm would be unimaginable for me. Some of the greatest helps in trying to follow Jesus have been my daily quiet time spent with Him, fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ and lively worship among His saintly people in All Saints and Eastbourne. Struggles in trying to be a more effective witness continue, but Jesus has never left me and He promises never to do so. All praise to His name.