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.