Melanie’s Story

I first started experimenting with drugs and alcohol when I was 15 years old – drinking vodka with my friends and smoking cannabis: this was pretty normal every weekend. Although my parents had brought me up not to behave in such a way I was completely rebellious. My parents separated when I was 15 but this is not why I drank or took drugs. I liked the effect and loved going out with my friends. I lived with my dad when they separated and he worked hard. This meant he couldn’t really keep an eye on me 24 hours a day and, although my big sister took over my mum’s role in the house, she was also unable to stop me from being so rebellious.

On the night of my 16th birthday party I got very drunk. Many people brought alcohol and there were soon at least 60 people at my house. I had liked this guy for some time and he knew I liked him. He was drinking gin and must have been about 25 years old. We all left the house and went to someone else’s. I was so drunk I could hardly keep my eyes open and I remember being in a room with the bed against the door. That night I lost my virginity. Even this did not deter me from getting drunk.

I then met someone and lived with him, on and off, for nearly four years. It became abusive and it ended when I had enough and got extremely drunk at a wedding and kissed another man. I continued getting drunk and taking all kinds of drugs: ecstasy, acid, mushrooms, amphetamines and other uppers. I tried to get my life together when I was 19 years old and went to the doctor for help. I had a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) and would have regular sessions talking about my problems. They also prescribed me anti-depressants and sleeping tablets. I went college to do an Access course as I wanted to become a nurse. I passed the course, but that’s as far as I went. Throughout this time I was searching for an answer and often thought to myself that there was more to life than taking drugs and drinking. I read lots of inspirational self-help books and tried many alternative new-age religions – a bit from everything.

Drifting along I started really to try and make a change. I worked for a year but really struggled to keep it together. Eventually I had to give the job up as I had been admitted to a psychiatric ward several times. Each time in hospital I wanted to get better and hated the person I’d become and the things I had done. I remember one time I was in a psychiatric ward and my mum was on the phone begging me not to keep doing drugs. I know I meant it in my heart when I said to her that I wouldn’t do it again but, the very next day when I was released, I went to a party and got trashed. So I ended up in the same place again. I missed out on so much with my family and my friends and became a lone wolf.

The last time I went into hospital a place came up for me in a rehabilitation centre. Although I still wasn’t convinced that I had a problem I went as a last resort. I was there for three months and then moved on to secondary treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. I stayed clean for four years but was still really unhappy and full of fear. I would wake up and think to myself, “If this is life clean and sober I don’t want it.” I knew that a drink would lead to another drink and then more drug abuse so I took lots of painkillers and ended up in hospital. How very dark it is before the dawn! The day I got out I was resigned to the fact that I might always be mentally ill and need medication or help in some way. But – God had a plan for me and I met three girls who were clean and sober and attending 12-Step meetings and church. Life got so much better as a result of being around these people and they told me that God could do for me what I couldn’t do for myself and that He was the answer. But I was still preoccupied with my ex-boyfriend. I thought I could help him get clean. One day I went to see him and was full of anger and resentment that he could not stop for me – so I relapsed. I drank some whisky and that lead to nine more months of turmoil. The physical craving was beyond my mental control; I could not stop, even if I wanted to, because the craving for drugs was so strong. Eventually my boyfriend went into rehab and I decided to try and give up again. I went back to those girls I’d met before and carried on doing support groups. I was prescribed Codeine Phosphate for the pain of withdrawal by a doctor and got hooked onto them – and so did my boyfriend. It took a year for us to separate and get clean again but this time I knew that I needed something more so I cried out to God, “help me please.”

I was in Cardigan, walking down to the supermarket one day, and just felt as though someone was prompting me to go into New Life Church, so I went over and soon found myself inside being prayed for. Thus my journey with God really began. Little did I know that my boyfriend, who had left that same week, was going through detox ‘raw’ with prayer and he also rang me up in the same week to say, “I love Jesus.” I was shocked and excited because I knew then that God really did have a plan. A year later we were married.

God has given me a new heart and definitely has plans for me and my husband. Since being married we have had people detoxing in our home. It is so amazing to see people light up and look healthy and full of life again. I never forget that these people are God’s children and think, “What would Jesus do?” I have a vision for a place where people can come straight from the street to detox. There are so many people we come across every day that want to stop what they are doing and be well, but we have waiting lists and all sorts of hoops to jump through sometimes that make it too late. I’ve lost many friends to addiction. God’s love and power flows in our home and, through us, many have come to know Jesus and love Him too.

I went to Bible College and graduated with Distinction. As a result of reading Gods word every day and spending precious time with Him I don’t have to attend self-help groups etc. any more. It’s all just about JESUS and bringing people into His Kingdom. By the leading of the Holy spirit Spirit I have remained totally clean and sober three years now, no drugs from doctors, no more hospitals.

Today I know a peace like no other and I feel so loved by my Heavenly Father.

Tony (Daichopstix)’s Story

Although I am ethnically Chinese, the first 42 years of my life were typically Welsh. I was christened as an infant and introduced to the Christian religion at the age of five when I was enrolled in the Sunday school of the local parish church. I joined the church choir when I was seven and, apart from a few rebellious teenage years, continued to attend an Anglican church into adulthood in my home town, later when I moved to east Wales in 1970, and in 1982 even further east to Hong Kong.

On the third Sunday of October 1983, I was about to deliver a sermon as the Church Warden of Emmanuel Church, Hong Kong. Although I knew that Jesus had died for the world, I had never realised that Jesus had died for me, Tony Nam, as an individual. In the eight seconds it took me to open my sermon in prayer I had a mega conversation with the Lord Jesus. I said to Him, “Lord, you gave your life for me – now I want to give my life to you. Whatever you want me to do, wherever and whenever you want it done, speak, Lord and I will obey. Get into the driving seat, Lord and take over my life.” I preached, not the sermon I had prepared, but what came from my heart. I do not recall much of what I said, but I do remember concluding with the words, “… for 37 years from the age of five until now I have known about the Lord Jesus Christ. But in the past ten minutes, there has been an 18 inch shift from my head to my heart. Now I can say that I don’t just know about Jesus but I now know Him.”

In July 2008, 25 years on from that wonderful experience, a tumour was found in my bladder. On removal of the tumour, I was informed by the urology registrar that not all the cancer had been removed. It had already infiltrated the muscle and the wall of my bladder. Furthermore, unless I received radical radiotherapy or surgical removal of my bladder within the next month or so the cancer would break out of my bladder and spread throughout my body. On leaving the registrar’s office, in agreement my wife Marian, I resolved that we would not come under the spirit of fear because our trust was in the Lord.

When I chose removal of the bladder I was referred to the top consultant urologist in west Wales and a pre-operation interview was arranged. At this interview the consultant’s opening words were, “Mr Nam, you have an extremely nasty aggressive cancer and your bladder must be removed as soon as possible, together with your prostate and lymph glands.” The pros and cons of a neo-bladder or stoma bag were presented to me so that I could make an informed decision of which procedure should be followed when the operation was carried out. Before this interview was concluded, however, I told the consultant that I needed to say something to him. What I said was: “I am a Christian. I believe, indeed know, that Jesus is alive and heals today. I know that Jesus heals through the medical profession; I have no problem with that, as the Gospel writer Luke was a physician. But Jesus also heals through miracles. I have and will continue to receive a lot of powerful prayers and ministry for the removal of the cancer in my body. What I would hate to happen is for you to remove the bladder, send it to the pathology laboratory for analysis and for the pathologist to say to you, ‘Why have you removed a perfectly healthy bladder?’ So, is there any way you can check me out before you put the knife in?” The consultant agreed that he would examine the bladder internally with a camera and, on opening me up, would further examine the bladder visually and by touch – and, should he conclude that the bladder need not be removed, he would be doing this based on my faith and not his. To which I responded, “That’s cool.” In fact, over the weeks since I’d learnt that there was a cancerous tumour in my body, my primary prayer had been, “Lord, I desire a cancer free body.” I followed this up with a secondary prayer of, “and a miraculous healing would be cool.”

On the evening of Thursday 25th September I was admitted to the hospital. The next morning I was wheeled into the anaesthetic room and the next thing I remember was being in the recovery unit and the registrar saying, “Mr Nam, we have not removed your bladder.” He then said that they could see no sign of cancer in my bladder or in the tissue sample he removed from the site of the tumour. All I could say was “Praise the Lord” and then went back to sleep.

I was discharged early the following Sunday and my wife, Marian, and I decided that we should not immediately go home but first go to our church meeting to give thanks to the Lord for the miraculous healing I had received. When I arrived in the church a microphone was put in my hand and all I could say at first was, “Wow, God is so good.” And I heard our senior pastor say, “It’s not very often we see Tony Nam lost for words.” And then I spoke as The Holy Spirit gave me the words. On this Sunday morning, three days after I had been admitted to the hospital for major surgery, I said: “The lesson God wants to give to the Church through this miraculous healing is: you must be bolder in professing your faith; you must be bolder in professing what you believe – and not in an academic intellectual way, but in an active way, in the market place, in a relevant way. Think about it, guys. If I had not had the audacity – not been so bold as to tell the consultant surgeon what I believed, I would not be here now giving this testimony. Instead I would still be in the intensive care ward, and minus my bladder, prostate and lymph glands.”

The Histopathology Report of the biopsy that was taken during the operation stated, “No tumour/transitional cell carcinoma is seen.” and “No dysplasia, residual or recurrent Transitional Cell Carcinoma or any other malignancy is seen.”

In October, for the peace of mind of the medical practitioners who were looking after me, I had a MRI Scan carried out, the report of which concluded that, “If multiple deep biopsies have revealed no tumour then perhaps a follow-up study after a suitable interval (three to four months) might be recommended to assess changes of these appearances having allowed for post operative changes to settle.” Or in other words, as the high-grade, aggressive, invasive cancer that was observed when the tumour was removed can no longer be found, it would be prudent to “kick for touch”, and check it out again.

In May 2009, seven months after the MRI scan and 10 months after the malignant tumour was removed, to satisfy the urologist, I allowed them to examine me once again with an internal camera and take further and more extensive samples from my bladder for a biopsy. The urologist is still perplexed, but announced that there was no sign, visually or on analysis of any tumour or malignancy.

Sarah & Ian’s Story

When we met neither of us were Christians but we were seeking God through various techniques such as meditation and fasting. We went into it quite deeply. This is before we even met, but we both had similar lives – spending concentrated time trying to focus and still our minds and seeking a breakthrough to something beyond ourselves. We would devote ourselves, sometimes for years, to a specific type of meditation or spiritual subject matter. But at the end we were always thinking, “This is not it – we are still looking.”

We have subsequently discovered that we were actually once in the same room together on a ten-day silent Buddhist retreat course before we met. The men weren’t allowed to look at the women so we didn’t recognise one another as future potential marriage material at the time! For both of us it was several years of intense spiritual searching. We were both earnestly seeking something other than what life was showing us. It was quite a drive in us.

Ian

I spent a year in India simply trying to still my mind and find God. Everyone was doing his or her own thing. The retreats were not pleasant. It was physically difficult and painful to sit for eight to nine hours a day cross-legged and in silence. You do have certain spiritual experiences during these retreats I would say. But I have now found that there is a big difference between a spiritual experience and a God experience. Maybe 80 per cent were still seeking. Strictly speaking Buddhists don’t believe in God, but I was following the Buddhist path in a religious way. I was talking to God, asking Him to help me and give me strength. I don’t think many people were doing that.

Sarah

It was the same for me. My first experiences were when I went to New Zealand. I went on a Vipassana meditation course and it sparked a real interest in spiritual things in me. It became my life. I started getting a real hunger to seek spiritually – nothing else around me mattered. I also spent some time with the Hare Krishnas. I returned home and came to a point where, even though my whole life was focussed on this spiritual search, I realised that I wasn’t happy. That’s when I started to look at other things as well. I looked at dousing and medium-ship. I found quite a lot of evil stuff coming in that frightened me. I really started to cry out to God. I was confused and I needed help. My mind was getting really unstable. I had been so deep into so many things I didn’t know what was real any more. So I ran away and met Ian! That was three years ago.

Ian

Both of us were talking to God, but how do you get to know Him? What happened to us is common to what happens to a lot of people. They try one thing and then the next thing and you end up with a whole bookshelf full of different stuff. It leaves you very confused. I guess that the first step for me was coming to west Wales for an interview. I stayed with a friend who was going to a church in Cardigan and went along with him to one of their small group meetings. I enjoyed being with people whatever their faith. That’s how it is from a New Age perspective. You feel that you are kindred spirits and that it is all relating to one god. Christians seemed a bit narrow in saying that Jesus was the only door. I felt that I was more enlightened.

Back in Devon Sarah and I met and Sarah was brave enough to come to Wales and start a life with me. We were both still seeking and there was something about Cardigan that drew us.

Sarah

Ian said a kind of prayer saying, “We have come to the end of things. Where do we go now?” We went to see Ian’s friend again and he spent the whole evening basically explaining that everything we had spent years learning about was a lie; it wasn’t actually the truth! All the people that we believed in and thought were great people were also deceived. It turned everything on its head. We went home and for a week we hardly spoke to each other. We were both thrown into quite a turmoil as the truth of the gospel of Jesus fought against everything we had previously believed in. I remember getting out all my meditation books to try and hold on to something. But suddenly they were just empty. I thought about everything that Ian’s friend had said. Eventually I came to the Bible and opened it up. The moment I did that Ian walked into the room and said, “So it’s been happening to you as well.” That just broke something. I then said a prayer to Jesus, “If you want to come in, you can.”

We went to a church service two days later – just to find out more really. The pastor invited those who wanted to give their lives to Jesus to go to the front. I really wanted to go up, but I was scared that I might have to talk into the microphone. Then Ian got up and off he went. I thought, “If he’s going I’m going!” That was it. That was us giving our lives to the Lord. It was very quick – we just plunged into it. We felt we had nothing to lose. We weren’t totally convinced but it felt safe. We had probably let other sorts of spirits in before so it wasn’t a totally new thing for us to say, “Spirit of Jesus, come in.” At the same time it was very different. It was a real submission. The last place I’d previously wanted to look was to Jesus. Christianity just didn’t seem exciting. None of my friends believed in Jesus. The pastor said, “You do know what you’ve done don’t you – you’ve just been born again.” I thought, “Oh no – they’ve got me!”

Ian

The change from then to now has been HUGE. It’s been a journey. The next day I felt different. I didn’t feel alone. I felt that Jesus was walking with me. All that energy in deep spiritual searching – God turned that around to Him. The search is over. Our whole life focus is now God, and it feels very good. We’ve thrown all the old stuff out and now we have a completely new life. It felt really good for both of us to say, “Right, now we’re not confused; we’ve just got the book [The Bible] and this very clear way now.” Everything we have been searching for in other places – meditation etc, we’ve found in God and in Christianity. And it’s good, pure and safe – and yet at the same time awesome and powerful because God’s Holy Spirit is in us now. Christianity is really exciting. It’s not at all how it seemed to us before.

Ray’s Story

I gave my life to Jesus as a young boy but instead of going to church and reading the scriptures and finding out more about Jesus and the Holy Spirit I was silly and I played games with God. The Holy Spirit was with me but I knew that I grieved Him because I used to experiment with the ouija board and stuff. For years and years I was very unsettled. I then joined the Mormon Church. I learned a lot about God in the Mormon Church – but they had other teachings that I found out were not true. It is a shame because the people were lovely. I was in the Mormon Church for about 12 years but I could never settle. I then became part of a Pentecostal church, was baptised again by immersion in water for the forgiveness of my sins, and I was filled with the Holy Spirit and started speaking in tongues.

I was living at Newbridge. It was a fantastic time. I remember one day I lost my job, and I lost my car, which I had on finance, all on one day. I had no money and I knew Christmas was coming up. I was at a church meeting and I said to the Lord, “I don’t know what to do. I owe so much money here there and everywhere. I’m going to put this problem into your hands” and I forgot about it and I went home. I went to sign on and I tried to look for other work. I had the best Christmas ever! There was a hamper that suddenly appeared. I don’t know where it came from except that it came from the Lord. We phoned up the company to find out whether they had sent it to us and they said no, it had not come from them. Our neighbours didn’t send it to us either. It was rather comical – but there was enough food in that hamper to keep us going through Christmas. It was fantastic.

My wife was saying to me, “Raymond, we need clothes for the children when they go back to school.” I told her not to worry about it; we would give this problem to the Lord and see what He gives us. A couple of days later there was a knock on the door and it was someone from the church with a large sack. He said that he had been to see his sister and she had given him this bag of clothes. He didn’t want them so he offered them to me. I opened it up and all the children needed for school – trousers, shirts, shoes – everything they needed was in that bag.

I moved back to Cardigan to come and look after my mother who was very ill. Things started going wrong. I started doing things my way again. I was putting myself first and Jesus second.

I was stupid enough to go back to drinking – I used to drink a heck of a lot – and I had an affair. I dropped out of church and did a lot of stupid things. I was very depressed, really down for over a year. I left the wife during this time. We tried to get back together but the past was the past and we had to get on with our lives so, sadly, our marriage came to an end. I went back to church and since then I haven’t failed going to church on Sundays and meetings during the week too. For a long time every meeting I went to I used to cry my eyes out. I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit upon me and I could feel the presence of the Lord and could sense His suffering. Occasionally I saw Him in front of me when I was in church. He was humbling me. He was bringing me to my knees and I repented of all the stuff I had done in the past and He really broke my heart. But now He has renewed my heart. I am a completely different person now.

He has done so many things in my life, more than there is space for here, but I do know this much. He is my Saviour and I love Him from the bottom of my soul. I will love Him for eternity for what He has done. He has saved me from going to hell – I was very close to losing my spiritual life, even my physical life, and He brought me back from the brink of it.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 (NLT)

Joan and Peter’s Story

Joan

Years ago, when the children were small and we didn’t have much money Peter used to smoke quite a lot. I kept nagging him to give up because it was so expensive – and there were also the health reasons. He tried but couldn’t do it. One day I thought, “Right. I’ll get him!” Before he went to work I took the cigarettes out of his pocket and there I was – cooking – cigarette in my mouth, a long ash ready to drop into the pan. Peter said, “Take that out of your mouth. What do you think you are doing?” I wanted to put him off, but it didn’t work. Nothing would deter him.

Peter

I did try to give up smoking. Sometimes I stopped for a few days – even a week once. I was so miserable that Joan bought me some fags in the end! I suppose that I didn’t really want to do it. I was smoking about two ounces of tobacco a week.

One day we were in the church praying with some other people. I felt God say to me, “Find a box.” I wasn’t sure at first but I kept hearing the same thing: “Go and find a box.” I couldn’t find any boxes. The only thing I could find was this washing-up bowl out of the kitchen. I felt God tell me to put it at the foot of the cross. So I did. Then God said, “Put your rubbish in it.” I thought, “What rubbish? – I haven’t got any rubbish.” My tobacco came to mind. I had about half a pouch of it in my pocket so I threw it in the bowl and that was it. From that day on I’ve never even wanted a cigarette. People offered me cigarettes and I wasn’t interested.

Joan

All the years I’d tried. I’d really tried and it didn’t work. This was over ten years ago and he hasn’t had a cigarette since.

Elaine’s Story

I grew up without a dad. He was an Italian man my mum met on holiday in Rimini but she lost contact with him when she was expecting me. She wrote letters to him but received no reply. This was the 1960s when it was quite rare for people to be born outside of marriage so it made me feel embarrassed and inferior. My mum took me to Sunday School a few times – but I didn’t believe in God. By my teens I was an atheist.

I was married to Jeff in 1981, and because the people at the register office were threatening industrial action, we booked a church wedding. I sensed something real in the service – I can’t describe it any better than that. Very soon afterwards I went to art college in Stockport. There were two Christians in my group. I used to eavesdrop on their conversations with each other and with people in the class. They knew God. Their relationship with Him was real. They prayed; they spoke to Him and He spoke to them. God was so real to them that in order to doubt his existence I would have had to call them liars – and they weren’t the kind of people to lie. If I’d had any sense I would have asked them straight away how I could know God too, but I was shy and I didn’t. That was when I suddenly became fascinated, obsessed with God. I started reading the Bible. At the time I didn’t understand most of what I was reading, but it was still wonderful because it was all about Him. I started going to a church – because He was there. He was everywhere I looked. Everyone on the radio and the television seemed to be talking about Him, and whatever it was I wanted to listen. I longed to know Jesus. I’d heard people at church speaking about how they became Christians and most had some dramatic experience, an encounter that seemed to remove all doubt. I was jealous that nothing had happened to me, so I thought. I didn’t recognise that I was right in the middle of it. God was drawing me to Himself like a magnet.

We went to hear the evangelist Billy Graham speak in Liverpool. He spoke from Romans 10:9-13. It was verse 13 that got through to me “…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” – everyone – even me. I didn’t have to wait for an experience. The ball was in my court. He had already done everything I needed. All I had to do was to trust Him and reach out and take it. So I took my opportunity at Anfield football ground in the summer of 1984. I remember having a short inward struggle about how friends and family might react if I became a Christian. But there was no contest. I needed to get right with God and I didn’t really care what other people would think. I went forward onto the pitch when the invitation was given, and there I gave my life to Him, received his forgiveness for previously denying him and acceptance as His child. I discovered that God wanted to be my Father. It was wonderful because I could now feel that He was there, He would help me when I was struggling. I could talk to him about my problems and He would help me. The Lord has been a terrific Father to me over the years.

Mum never married or had any other children. I used to think often about my Italian family – and how I would love to find out all about them – but it seemed like an impossible dream. Then, the year before my 50th birthday, my mum’s friends told her that they had seen a message for her in the Manchester Evening News. My dad was trying to find her! He was living in Sardinia so, after many phone calls and emails, mum, Jeff and I went out there to meet him. He is a lovely man and it is amazing getting to know him – and all my newly discovered Italian family. My aunties, uncles and cousins had always known that dad had another child ‘out there somewhere’ and were also excited to meet me. It turned out that a jealous admirer had intercepted and destroyed all my mum’s letters to dad and dad’s replies to her – so both thought that the other was no longer interested. The admirer confessed to this just before she died and dad had been searching for mum ever since he discovered this. In the intervening years dad had married and divorced – so I also have a half-sister, half-brother and nieces and nephews too, who, as I write, I am about to fly out to northern Italy to meet for the first time.

You never know what good things God has in store for you!

Jeff’s Story

We were happy, well off financially and had a good marriage. Elaine became a Christian and I had been at the same event. I also went to church and home group with Elaine and to various Christian events. But none of it had any impact on me.

We moved to Cambridgeshire in 1989 and the church there was a very exciting place to be. You could see that the people really looked forward to going to church services. There was a lively worship band that played and we weren’t the youngest people there! We were both really happy and made some good friends very quickly. The people interested me and I somehow connected with them so I started to take a bit more interest in their opinions and in what was being said at church. It seemed odd to me that these really nice people who I admired and enjoyed being friends with also chose to be Christians. I started to think maybe there was something in it if these people were so committed and so convinced by it all. I began to wonder if I could possibly be wrong. I admired their commitment and the time they spent doing things with the church. I could see that this was obviously a high priority for them. I was maybe having these gentle little stirrings.

It was probably about the same time that our ‘adventures’ with the house started to happen. We found ourselves in a bit of a sticky situation because when we moved the local authority that I worked for had a great scheme where you could have a bridging loan so that you could buy a house quickly, take up your job and then you could sell your old house and pay off the loan. Everybody else who had taken part in it had done quite well out of it because it was all subsidised by the council and didn’t cost you anything. However we did it at exactly the wrong time when the market was at its peak and immediately we bought our house the market started to fall. The value of the house we were selling was dropping like a stone but the bridging loan was obviously keeping at the same level.

After six months it became clear that there was a major problem and it wasn’t going to be easily resolved because we could not sell our house back in Cheshire. The worry of that started to hit hard. I was quite anxious about it and tried desperately to work out ways to get out of the problem.

I started to make good friendships with some of the blokes at church. We used to have quite long in-depth conversations about ‘Life, the universe and everything’. They weren’t at all dismissive of my opinions and seemed really interested in what I had to say though, if I could play it back now, I’m sure a lot of what I said then would sound really foolish to me now. They always had reasons why they had opinions and didn’t just follow dogma. They didn’t just follow the party line or anything like that.

I started having little one-to-one meetings with Andrew the minister and Tim, who was on the leadership team. I finished work early on a Friday and either one of them would come and spend an hour with me. When you think about it that was heck of a commitment for them. They were much busier than I yet they were willing to find that time. I could ask any question I liked. They never missed a week and never seemed bored. They never looked at their watch thinking, “I hope this idiot shuts up soon with his stupid ramblings!”

At the same time the problem with the house become a major difficulty. It was becoming more and more obvious that we were going to become bankrupt. By this time the bridging loan had gone on for about 18 months – the council only picking up the tab for the first six months. I was summoned to see the bank manager who strongly suggested that we take out a personal loan for this huge debt. The debt was so big that the interest on it was almost exactly my monthly take home pay. So that was a non-starter. I had been brave enough to discuss it with some people at church, which was a big step for me. I got some good advice and encouragement and people said they were praying about it. At the time I thought, “What the bloomin’ heck good is that!” But we needed all the help we could get.

This thing, the bankruptcy, was coming to a head. The more I struggled with it the worse it got. We got some good advice from The Bankruptcy Association not to enter into any agreements unless they had a time limit. Any agreement needed to have a full and final settlement date. We made offers to pay off an amount that we could afford but the bank kept saying no, that’s no good – if you don’t agree to pay it all back then we’ll proceed to bankruptcy. The idea really scared me. We wouldn’t necessarily be out on the streets but we’d lose our house. It seemed like the end of the world to me. It was making me quite ill worrying about it.

The bank was quite upset that they had lost all this money so they took possession of our old house, which had still not sold. They wrote off the bridging loan but the value of the house was nothing like the value of the bridging loan by this time. There was a shortfall and they said that they were going to repossess our current house to make up the difference by making us bankrupt. The language was getting more and more threatening.

Maybe it was the Lord, I don’t know, but it was as if a switch turned and I was able to say I’m not going to struggle any more. Elaine and I had prayed together about it and we’d made our final offer. If the bank accepted it – great. If not there was nothing we could do about it. We’d still love one another and still be together and would cope with whatever came our way. It was a huge relief actually.

The next letter came from the bank and I was sure that they were going to make us bankrupt. We opened the letter up and amazingly it said that they had accepted our offer. We could make payments we could afford over five years and it would be a full and final settlement. Once we had done that it would be over. We could keep our house. It wasn’t quite a miracle – well perhaps it was one of sorts.

In my discussions with Andrew and Tim we talked about God – about how He loved me and how Christ had died for my sins. All I had to do was accept it. It was such an alien thought. I had never thought of God like that before. One Friday, after about 20 meetings, Andrew invited me to pray a prayer of commitment. I was still unsure about a lot of things. I’d listened to stuff about having to exercise a bit of faith and having to take some things on trust. So I said this prayer and nothing much seemed to happen. However over the next few days and weeks it started to dawn on me that I was changing the way I acted and spoke. The way that I thought was changing and I was analysing my opinions – things that I’d always assumed I was right about. I also became more and more aware of all the blessings in my life. It was all very gradual, subtle, gentle – almost imperceptible. But if you looked back in days and weeks there was a lot happening. I was being changed. I was being challenged about some of the things I had done and some things I still did. I was being challenged about honesty and integrity. Until then I’d had my own little morality system. I used to decide what was right and what was wrong. I used to think that it was OK to lie and steal the odd thing from work. Now this was being challenged by Christian standards and it was a whole different ball game. I changed a lot of things that I did and that process is still going on.

My life is a million times better now than it ever was. I don’t worry about dying any more and I don’t envy other people’s careers and possessions. If we have a problem we can pray together about it and leave it for God to resolve. I’m really grateful that we have been given our house back and I am convinced that God guides us. I only wish that I had become a Christian a lot earlier and I’m grateful to Andrew and Tim and all the other people at the church back in Godmanchester. I’m so glad that they were there and were willing to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ for me.

I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
John 10:10 (The Message)

Frank’s Story

My life was at rock bottom. I was in prison and had been ditched by my girlfriend. I could blame no one but myself. I was a long-haired ‘beatnik, into drugs and a so-called ‘free’ lifestyle. I was callous, selfish, rebellious and anti-God. Any way to get money was okay as long as I didn’t have to work for it. In 1966 I started my third prison sentence – this time three years for forgery.

I was half way through my sentence, with nothing to look forward to except another Christmas inside and another year nearer release. Little did I know that my life was about to change completely. One Sunday we were told that a Christian group was coming to show a film of a Billy Graham crusade. I decided to go, despite the fact that anything to do with religion was a no-go area for me. We sang a few Christian songs, after which they showed the film. Billy Graham talked about being forgiven for our sins because of Jesus dying on the cross for us. While I watched I felt strangely stirred up inside. Tears kept coming to my eyes and I couldn’t understand why. Afterwards, back in my cell, this feeling was still with me.

I fell to my knees before God who, up to this point, I hadn’t believed in. I wept before Him as He showed me all my sin, which felt like a great weight on my shoulders. I asked Him to forgive me, and asked Jesus to come into my life as Lord and Saviour. As I did the weight of sin left me and I experienced the greatest peace I had ever known.

Since that day my life with Jesus has been varied. He has made many changes, not the least being that He brought me together with a Christian woman who became my wife. Our children have become Christians too. Life lived for God is an adventure and I’ve found Him to be utterly dependable. God loves us intensely and wants our highest good. Jesus came to free us from the shackles of sin so that we can know and enjoy Him – now and in eternity. I was not looking for God yet He reached down to me. I’m so glad I responded to his love and went from prison to praise.

Eileen’s Story

I am 80 years old and have been a Christian for 54 years. When I was in my late 30s a heart specialist at the local hospital confirmed I had angina and I was put on medication. At the age of 54 I had to retire from my job because of my ill health. A few years later I was in church one Sunday evening and began to feel quite ill. My first thought was to drive home but I was too ill to do that. Then I thought I’d ask someone to take me home. Then I thought of prayer! I decided that I would ask for prayer. The meeting was stopped and I was prayed for. Immediately I felt better and in the morning the pains had completely gone and my heartbeats were regular. I’m still enjoying good health and the doctor has confirmed that I don’t have angina any more.

During the years I suffered with angina I was healed of other sicknesses. My left hip caused me a lot of pain. If I had been sitting down in the same position for a while my hip would lock and I would be in agony trying to get up. One Sunday morning in church the visiting preacher asked at the end of the service if anyone needed prayer. I went forward and was healed of my hip problem and also my back.

On another occasion I was healed of stomach pains, which I had suffered for some time. At first it was certain foods that would cause pain but then everything I drank and ate would cause severe pain. On a Sunday evening – it was the last meeting of the Apostolic church convention at Penygroes – the pastors prayed for those who had requested prayer. I was not one of them but when I got home and ate my supper I had no pain. I’ve had no trouble since.

Another healing I experienced was when I fell down my neighbour’s front doorsteps and twisted my left ankle. By the evening my foot and ankle had swollen up and I could not bear to put my foot on the floor. The next day was Christmas Eve and I needed to do some last minute shopping. I prayed to the Lord Jesus in desperation for healing. The next morning I got up and my foot and ankle were back to normal and I had no pain. I put on my high-heeled shoes and went to town and did my shopping.

Alan’s Story

The Lord is a Master Weaver. He is creating a magnificent tapestry of the whole of Creation and we shall be part of it and will stand amazed at the intricacy of His design. He carefully prepares His threads. Some are sombre, some vivid. He uses all colours with their tints and shades and there are occasional flashes of pure silver and gold and even a precious jewel skilfully inserted into the design.

Our lives are the threads. We cannot usually see any of the patterns in the actual weaving but in retrospect we can look back and marvel. This is my story about such a time.

It started with a weaving of sombre aspect. My wife died and shortly afterwards I was diagnosed with Bronchiectasis, an incurable lung disease with distressing symptoms. At this time I felt God telling me to reach out with the love of Jesus to people on the streets of Cardigan. Ruth, our enthusiastic and highly capable church youth leader (a vibrant and colourful shuttle of thread!) had a sister who was a street pastor in Haverfordwest. Ruth saw the potential in this and initiated a meeting of people from local churches to discuss whether there was support for it in Cardigan.

At this point the Lord added more threads to the design. Ceredigion County Council called a meeting because they were concerned about the disturbances being caused by young people going to the nightclubs and bars and getting high on drugs and drink. I went along as a representative from my church. The police also sent representation.

There was a general discussion and then I proposed that we might start Street Pastors. The whole meeting turned to me with delight! Then it became not “if” but “when”!

All the churches involved gave us their full support and we took lots of advice from Street Pastor groups in other areas. One Saturday I went out with the Aberystwyth pastors. As we were walking we saw a man who was obviously either drunk or high. The pastor had walked in front and I was alone; the man moved towards me in a very aggressive manner and his face was horribly distorted. As I stood the Holy Spirit filled me and suddenly I was fearless. I felt about ten feet tall and KNEW that he could not touch me. As he moved nearer he suddenly cringed and I sensed that some evil presence had swiftly withdrawn from him. His face completely relaxed and he came up and spoke in a friendly way.

The committee, having prayed and weighed up all that we had learned decided that as a small market town and not a large urban area, the needs of our town would be best served if we formed an independent group. We would call ourselves the “Bugeiliaid Teifi Pastors!” Volunteers from the other churches joined us, some to go out with us and most importantly, some to come and pray at the base while we were out.

We had vital training provided and we were especially grateful to the police and the St. John’s ambulance. The money came in for uniforms and equipment. The Lord will not forget those who helped us start, and indeed are continuing to support us.

My personal encouragement from the Lord came on our first night out and it was truly wonderful! Those at the base prayed that every pastor would receive the blessing of health and strength to do the work. On my way back to them I was carrying a rucksack and as I felt a movement in my chest I adjusted the straps and forgot it. The next morning when I got up early to do my usual physiotherapy which cleared the mucus from my lungs, I was stunned because my lungs were absolutely clear!! I was healed! This was indeed a miracle!

As the next day was Sunday, Pastor Steve asked me to give our congregation, at Mount Zion Church Cardigan, an account of our first night out. I also told them about my healing and I do not need to describe their response! I have to tell you that the next 24 hours was the worst period of my life while the devil whispered to me that I would look really silly if it turned out not to be true. I had to run to the Lord and grip on to Him with all might and of course He upheld me and brought me through. I can testify to the reality of my healing! What a wonderful and truly amazing Saviour we have!

Teifi Pastors are now well established. Naturally we have ups and downs but we also have a truly faithful God. It is His work and He keeps it going and continues to supply our needs.