I was brought up virtually as an only child. My mother died when I was 3. My brother, who was nine at the time, and I were adopted by a couple in their 40s who had no children of their own. They couldn’t cope with a nine-year-old boy so my brother was sent off to boarding school.
Our father in the meantime had emigrated to Australia, and wasn’t allowed to keep in contact with us. I wasn’t aware at the time but I felt abandoned: all the people I loved I had lost. My adopted mother became disabled and unable to leave the house, so I became very independent… But I was fine.
Growing up I was sent to Sunday school but I don’t remember hearing the gospel. I do remember the boys at the youth club afterwards, though!
My adopted father died when I was 19 and my mother two years later.... But I was fine.
Occasionally I went to church but I still wasn’t aware that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus – I wasn’t aware that He had died for me – in fact I didn’t believe Him to be the Son of God!
Then there was a period of 15 years during which time, I got married and had two beautiful daughters. Things went quite smoothly without God; I was in control of my life, I was fine and I could cope!!
Then for a period of 10 years, year after year things kept going wrong. I was in hospital for 14 weeks, then had an operation on my back, close family members were very ill and needed a lot of support, my husband was made redundant and became very ill (he eventually was able to work again but had to go abroad for three months at a time). I wasn’t fine but I could cope!! Then my marriage broke down I felt totally abandoned and helpless, and all of a sudden... I couldn’t cope.
I went to see the doctor. She suggested I have counselling, but there was an eight week waiting time for the first appointment. The trouble was I needed help straight away!! Whilst I was in the waiting room beforehand, I picked up a leaflet headed ‘Divorced or Separated?’ This was on a Friday.
When I got home I rang the number on the leaflet and a lady told me about the group Oasis, as it was then called, and as it happened there was a new course starting on the next Monday, ‘Would I like to go along?’ I think if had known they were Christians I wouldn’t have gone. But I did and have never regretted it. God provided the help I needed most at a time I needed it the most through those Christians.
After the course I thought I might go to church. So one Sunday I got up to go, but when I looked out of the window it was pouring with rain and as I hadn’t got a car I decided not to go. I got back into bed, but about ten minutes later it was like a big hand pushing me from behind to get out of bed again. I got out of bed and looked out of the window, it had stopped raining and about half an hour later the sun came out. I had no excuse now; I just had to go!
The first week was the beginning of a series asking, ‘Who is Jesus?’ based on John 20 about Thomas, known as doubting Thomas!! The following week the same thing happened. The sermon was entitled, 'What is wrong with the world?’ based on Mark 7. I just had to keep going.
I went to a Discovering Christianity course and learnt more about Jesus. The first week the leader quoted from CS Lewis’s book, ‘Mere Christianity’. Talking about Jesus, CS Lewis says, ‘Either this man, was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse.’ I was so shocked I just wanted to know more!! And so I came to trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and my Saviour.
When I realised that Jesus will never let me down, that He will never leave me and I can take all my troubles and leave them with Him, it was like a great weight being lifted off my shoulders.
Life hasn’t been particularly easy since then. I ended up in hospital again, for 12 weeks this time, and another operation on my back. I was also diagnosed with a cancer of the blood. At one stage we had no home for three months, but Christian friends very kindly allowed us to stay in their homes, some whilst they were away on holiday, others just fitted us in!
I have made many mistakes. I remarried and then eight years later divorced. One nightmare after… BUT NO! As one Christian friend told me, 'We don’t have nightmares, we have challenges. Challenges are much easier to cope with than nightmares!!
All these experiences could have been negative but I’m aware that they have been used to teach me to rely on God, and my relationship with Jesus has grown. So I am learning to thank God for these difficulties, which have drawn me closer to Him.
Without Christ I wouldn’t have been able to cope. I wouldn’t be here now in more ways than one. At times I have been on my knees to Him and He has answered so many of my prayers.
One night I woke up with a severe pain in my chest and I was having difficulty breathing. I’m not afraid of dying because I know I will see my Saviour face to face. But I prayed, ‘Please Lord not yet’. I thought of my two beautiful daughters and that I still had so much to do, and I prayed, ‘Surely, Lord, you can still use me here’. So that’s another reason why I’m able to tell you my story today!!
Psalm 56 verses 3-4 read 'When I am afraid I will trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?’
I praise God for His faithfulness and saving grace – life may hurt desperately, but we can be sure of His eternal rescue.