I was brought up in a Christian family. It was such a blessing, although you don’t always realise that at the time. Sometimes you think you’re restricted and can’t do what other people do because your parents make you go to church. I heard the gospel every Sunday night and I gave my heart to the Lord when I was quite young really. I can’t remember a specific day or time. I think when you’re born into a Christian household it can be a gradual process. Certainly not “black to white” like my husband’s conversion!
When I was in my teens and going through a rather rebellious stage I really asked Jesus to help me and come into my life again. I know that He’s always been with me, though it hasn’t always been easy! The Holy Spirit gives you a conscience. As you face things in your life you think “That’s not where Jesus would have me go,” or “That’s not what Jesus would have me do.” I think as a Christian your conscience is activated whereas when you’re not a Christian you don’t have those feelings, you just do what you want to do. You need to be forgiven by God constantly because you keep failing, but you still have a sense of His love and faithfulness.
There are lots of times when God has shown His faithfulness to me! A text that has always helped me is “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.”* I feel that the Lord has been my “Rock Eternal.”
Times when He’s really proved Himself to me over the years? If I hadn’t had God in my life I don’t know where I would have turned. Especially when we had our first daughter, who was born completely paralysed from the waist downwards, which was such a terrible shock. But I felt that the Lord helped me to cope with it. He gave me a peace in my heart that couldn’t have come from anywhere else. Otherwise I would have panicked and wouldn’t have known what to do. The Lord helped me through that.
Another time was particularly when my husband, Alan, was travelling a lot (for those who don’t know, my husband worked with a mission called “Open Doors” which involved him travelling a lot). He was away from home frequently while I was bringing up three young children. They always asked all the awkward questions when he was away! So, there was no way I could say “Ask your Dad!” I really cried to God for wisdom in those times and I believe He gave it to me.
One time, the mission Alan was involved in meant taking Bibles to Eastern Europe in the Cold War days. On one of the trips he was on, I and the three children went with him. We never thought it would happen to us, but we were caught. Alan was taken into prison by the KGB and then they took me for questioning. They took our three children away, which was horrible. But somehow, God gave me that peace inside even though we didn’t know what was happening. I seemed to have a calm that, even to myself, was unexpected. I never would have believed that God would have given me such calm in those circumstances. When they eventually released me and took me back to the place where they had left the children, I put the radio on. The radio played “Rivers of Babylon,” which was a pop song by Bony-M, but to me it was a sign from God that he was with me because those words are from Scripture. I thought: “Here we are, in an East-Bloc country and God’s given me this sign that He’s with me!” It was just amazing. It says, further on in the song: “How can we sing the songs of the Lord, while in a foreign land?” And I thought, “we’re in a foreign land, and although it’s a pop song, it’s a song of the Lord.” So that was a real comfort to me, during a time when I had no idea what was going to happen to us.
A further time was 2009 when I was very ill with an undiagnosed illness. I’d been ill for weeks and finally ended up with septicaemia, peritonitis and a thrombosis on the portal vein! Because they couldn’t diagnose what was the matter with me, Alan eventually called the prayer team from church into the hospital. I was really out of it, but I was conscious that they were there and praying for me. Two days later I had a diagnosis and although in everyone’s eyes I should have died, God brought me through. So I believe He still had a work for me to do – and here I am!