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Sue’s Story

I had a really devout Christian grandmother. I think my parents believed in God, but they didn’t go to church. I went to Sunday School, though, and I heard about Jesus there. I was about 4 or 5.

We moved when I was about 7. I started going to an Anglican church, but the services were just a formality. There was no Jesus there. I stopped going to church altogether quite soon.

It wasn’t until years later when I moved to Ferndown that I thought any more about God. Different people in your life draw you in different ways, don’t they? People from the local church used to come around visiting and giving out tracts. Maybe you do that and think you’re not getting anywhere, but it does make a difference! I used to keep those tracts and I listened to what they said. It still took me a long while, but it was a link in my story.

I didn’t go to church at that point, but I used to send my son and daughter. They went to Pinehurst Chapel on the minibus. One Sunday, they invited me to a family service and I had such a warm welcome there. I just felt the love of God there and thought “I’ve got to go again.” I started going regularly but I worked on a Sunday so it was difficult. One Sunday, I can still remember the preacher speaking on the Samaritan woman at the well*. I knew God was talking to me and convicting me of my sin, but instead of asking somebody what I should do, I ran away! I walked out thinking “I shouldn’t be here, I’m not good enough, I’ve got to put my life right.” But I didn’t yet realise that you can’t do that on your own; you need God, don’t you? So, I stopped going to church again. But God didn’t let go of me because a short time later I badly broke my leg! I couldn’t work or rush round as I usually do. At the same time my son used to go to the children’s group and they had given him a Bible. So, there I was, with a plaster cast on, not able to move, with this Bible! I started to pick it up and read it and before long I couldn’t put it down.

Around this time, a lady from the church had booked me on to a trip to go and see a Billy Graham “spin-off” at Southampton. I thought, “I can’t go while I’ve got this plaster cast!” But she persuaded me to go and said “we’ll help you, Sue!” So, I went and I gave my life to the Lord that night. They speakers invited people to give their lives to the Lord and I thought “no, I can’t!” I sat there and I asked my neighbour to come with me. She said “I’m not going down there, Sue!” and so eventually I went on my own. I was the last one to go and I went clunking down the steps with my plaster cast on!

After I became a Christian I was working in a pub and the ridicule could be awful. There were two youngsters there who became Christians at about the same time as me. The other workers used to say “Here come the God-squad” and it was quite hard really. And my family thought I’d flipped! They thought it was just a phase that would fade, but they’re still waiting! Since I gave my life to the Lord, it’s been wonderful really. I’ve had my ups and downs because life is tough sometimes, but I’ve hung on in there for 30+ years. A favourite verse of mine is Psalm 46 verse 10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

I want to encourage everyone because of all those links – people who prayed, those tracts, those knocks on the door and just through life experiences, God called me.

 

Kath’s story

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!

 

*Isaiah 26:3-4.

Going through difficult times?

Casting all your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7.

During the second world war, two sisters were put in the notorious Ravensbruck concentration camp. There names were Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom. They both loved the Lord Jesus. Betsie was to die in the prison, but Corrie was to survive and to go on to become an author and international Christian speaker. The film “The Hiding Place” tells the story of these two sisters. Before she died, Betsie made a very profound statement to Corrie, which still speaks to us today, especially when life causes us to pass through deep trials.

“We must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”
Betsie Ten Boom

In the book of Lamentations in the Bible we read this:

I called on your name, Lord,
    from the depths of the pit.
You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears
    to my cry for relief.”
You came near when I called you,
    and you said, “Do not fear.”
Lamentations 3:55-57 (NIV)

 

Richard Dobson

Excuses, excuses…

The good news of Jesus Christ is a royal invitation sent from the King of Kings to every human being, bad or good, to share His joy in heaven. If they respond, they will have a glorious future of joy, celebration and total absence of sorrow – for ever more.

Incredibly, there is a low take-up on the offer. The Lord Jesus speaks of this with a parable (Luke 14:15-24) where a King is giving a lavish banquet,sends out the invitations, then says “Come, for everything is now ready.” But those invited snub and insult their gracious host with lame excuses for not attending.

Here’s a few 21st Century excuses people give for choosing hell over heaven.

“There is no God!”

Some would rather cheerfully hide behind a Stephen Hawking theory which expects us to believe that everything came from a speck-sized particle. Many  scientists who are not Christians find this too much to swallow. Gerhard Kraus says: “The idea that a speck of matter smaller than a dust particle on my table could have accommodated the condensed mass of the entire universe stretches credibility beyond its limits… the Big Bang theory must be seriously questioned”1

The Bible states unapologetically, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”2

Stephen Hawking says, “In the beginning was a cosmic egg, the size of a speck of dust”3

Why the readiness to accept an unreasonable theory rather than that there is a ‘beautiful Mind’ behind it all? The apostle Paul speaks of those “who suppress the truth by their wickedness,since what may be known about God is plain to them…For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”4

“When you’re dead, you’re dead, there’s no afterlife!”

God has placed within each of us an instinctive desire for justice. We watch the TV news and exclaim, “That’s not right! That’s not fair!” We make judgments using our inbuilt ‘moral monitor’ and are glad when the perpetrators of crimes are brought to justice. All this points to the day of perfect justice set by God – which all of us must face.

The Bible states: “Man is destined to die once, and after that is the judgement”5

“Life is too short, live it for yourself!”

The thinking of today which is preached at us wherever we turn is; “Your happiness is all that matters”. Lose your mind in drink or drugs, leave your spouse and kids, pursue your dream, live recklessly: <insert your own excuse here>! Others may get hurt…but as long as YOU are happy, that’s all that matters.

The Bible tells of a man who, having worn himself out in the selfish pursuit of his own happiness, came to the right conclusion that the purpose of life (and the way to discover TRUE happiness) was to:

‘Fear God and keep his commandments,for this is the duty of all mankind.’6

“I am spiritual, but I’m ‘sitting on the fence’ with the Jesus thing!”

The Bible speaks of only two groups of people – those who have repented of their sin and trusted in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for forgiveness, and those who have not. We are in the kingdom or out, in light or in darkness, born again or not born again, on the road to heaven or on the road to hell. There is no fence.

The Bible states: ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.’7

“Come!”

No more excuses. “Come, everything is now ready’ says Lord Jesus. “Come!” All are invited to share in God’s everlasting joy. Young or old, respectable or vile. Come with all your doubts and all your fears.

Come now, you don’t know if you have tomorrow.

The Bible says:

‘NOW is the time of God’s favour

NOW is the day of salvation’8

Mike Mellor

Listen to Mike’s message on this subject here


References:

1 Gerhard Kraus: Has Hawking Erred?

2 Genesis 1:1

3 Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Time

4 Romans 1: 18-20

5 Hebrews 9:27

6 Ecclesiastes 12:13

7 John 3:36

8 2 Corinthians 6:2