As Christians, we believe that knowing God makes a real difference to our lives. Many of the members of our church have fantastic stories about how God has worked in their lives. Take a look at some of their stories below.
I have lived in Mattishall for over 23 years and am married with three children. I spent the earlier part of my life in Norwich and it was here that I was part of a youth club connected to the Wesleyan Reformed church on Belvoir Street. I loved the club, although initially went there for the social aspect and boys! When I was 14, I decided to make a commitment to Christ. I can remember going home and telling my Mum I had been ‘saved’ to the response of, ‘Oh that’s nice dear!’
When I finally left school at the age of 16, I went to work for an Insurance Company in Norwich starting as a post girl working my way up to a claims handling clerk. It was during these years that I left the guidance of the youth club and went my merry way going to clubs, drinking, and getting hurt. I’m not saying enjoying yourself is wrong but I made some very silly mistakes which affected me later on in life.
At the age of 25 I met my husband and I became pregnant with our first child Rachael. It was at this time an event occurred which was to change my family forever.
On Tuesday 28th February 1989 my dear brother Christopher was killed in a tragic accident at work. He had been crushed by a lorry at a building company in Norwich. My family were devastated, my parents, my brother Matthew and extended family. The grief I felt was that of such loss, anger for him dying and anger towards the young man driving the lorry. At the same time, I felt I had to keep it together for our unborn child.
Rachael was born in the April and was such a joy for us all in amidst the tragic loss of our lovely Chris. Two years later William arrived and when he was 15 months, we decided to have him baptised at Mattishall church. We were asked to participate in a baptism course, which my husband called his Bible bashing hour. A lovely lady named Deborah visited our house for the next few weeks talking about the reasons why we choose to baptise children and we actually looked forward to her visits.
After William was baptised I decided to do the Saints Alive course, the precursor to today’s Alpha Course. It came to the day when I was invited to make a commitment to Christ and ask for the Holy Spirit to come into my life. The events which happened next changed my life. I can only describe it as a heat which started at my feet and travelled up through my body which then covered my whole being and at that moment the pain, the hurt, the anger was physically lifted from my shoulders. Even though I had turned my back on God since becoming a Christian as a teenager, at this moment I realised that God had not turned his back on me.
Since that day I have been a regular member of the All Saints Church and have been part of the worship team for over 18 years. I love the fact that Christ met me all those years ago but even more that I have him as a personal friend today knowing he will always be there. I have had the pleasure in passing this onto my own family too and have seen them grow, making their own decisions and commitment to Christ the living loving Son of God. I still miss my dear brother but it is made that much easier knowing that God is there with me every step of the way.
At the ripe old age of 39, I was happily married with two very young children, working full time with a successful career, a nice house… from the outside everything was rosy. But I was exhausted, physically and emotionally.
My children were at nursery full time, so I felt I had to be ‘super-mum’ when I was with them. Both my
husband and I had been married before, so I felt I had to be ‘super-wife’ and ‘super-stepmum’ to his two lovely daughters, as I was so desperate to make it work. We had very sadly lost my brother to cancer the year before, so as the only remaining ‘child’ I felt I also had to be super-daughter to give my parents all the support and attention I could.
The weight of expectation seemed immense, although on reflection I realise that the expectations were of my own making. I realised I couldn’t do it. I failed on every front, at least in my mind.
After trying to ride it for over a year, the inevitable happened and I crashed. I was on anti-depressants, signed off work, in regular counselling and barely able to function in normal life. The following 12 months was a time of very gradual recovery. I reluctantly took redundancy from my job and consequently felt I had lost my identity; I had lost sight of who I actually was behind all the labels I had given myself.
During this time, I read a lot of self-help books and watched a lot of Oprah Winfrey shows! I was searching for that something; I didn’t know what, but I knew I needed some sort of ‘answer’. I didn’t find it. I didn’t even know what the question was!
If I’d been asked, I would have said I was a Christian. I believed in God but doubted that God knew much about me. After all, there wasn’t much that was special about me.
One half-term holiday, Mattishall church was running a holiday club. One of my daughter’s friends asked her to go along and she really enjoyed it. In fact she said she would like to go to church on Sunday because she had heard there was a Youth Church where they did similar sorts of things.
After much deliberation, I decided to go along to church too. I was a bit surprised to see a band there as my previous experience of church music had all been on an organ. The sermon was really good and it was almost as though it had been written for me! I found the church friendly so I went back the next Sunday.
Some weeks later, I was invited to join an Alpha course. I was reluctant to go because I was concerned that it would take me away from my husband. As the course progressed, the Vicar began talking about getting to know Jesus personally. That scared me, but when the opportunity came for me to ask Jesus to come into my life, I felt I had to go for it. It was a life-changing event for me. Over the following few days, I was changed from the inside out.
It was the start of a journey that has led me, among other things, to being trained as a Lay Minister. Now I preach and lead services – something I would never have thought I would do after my ‘crash’. And my husband? He quickly saw that my faith strengthened our marriage and family life. The blessing to me is that he has now come to faith and Jesus is central in our lives.
Getting to know Jesus is the most significant thing I have done in my life. He was the answer to that unknown question I had been searching for. He was the piece of the jigsaw that was missing. Taking this step doesn’t mean everything in life is suddenly easy. But for me it has meant that, whatever I face, I have someone so strongly in my corner, wanting the very best for me. Getting to know Jesus is the best gift I could possibly have been given and the amazing thing is it is a gift available for absolutely everyone who asks, whoever they are, whatever they’ve done.