Who are we likely to expect at Trinity Grace Church? Well we have brought together some friendly faces and in this section of the website, there are going to be testimonies and accounts of how the Lord God who created this Earth and everything in it, showed them the error of their ways and through Jesus, they were able to repent and turn to Him.
Every account is different, indeed our Church membership is full of people from all different walks of life.
May God bless you as you read their story.
When I was a small boy I would pray every night for my sins to be forgiven, but I did not really mean it. Because of this, I doubted if I was a true Christian. But then you might ask, “why did you pray on your own when no one else could hear or see you?” and my answer to this would be, “I was deceiving myself”. I would do a lot to please my mum and dad, but they were not the only people I was deceiving: I was deceiving myself! I would try and say to myself that I was a Christian, but I knew I wasn’t. I would do lots of the things that were easy for me to do (the outward things), but when it came to the hard things (the inward things), I would fail. That is why I was constantly sent up to my dad to be set right again, but it never took a permanent effect on me. I used to get very angry and frustrated not only at my brothers but also at my Dad, without any good reason.
After listening to thousands of sermons and messages, one night I thought about what would happen to me when I was going to die. I often used to have bad thoughts about hell and if I was going there, and this night I had the same thought, and also worried about other family members. I thought about all the sins I had committed and I also felt very guilty. It was a feeling that I did not like, and I hoped that it would just go away. Then for the first time, I really wanted to stop sinning and I got down on my knees and prayed for forgiveness. I knew this was true repentance. It was April 21st 2008 and I was 9 years old.
After that I felt happier and set free, and it seemed like I had just destroyed all the sins I had ever committed before. It was the first time I had any intention of trying not to sin again, and although I knew this would be impossible, it is what I really wanted.
However, I do not get the credit for any of this, because it is all due to God’s work inside me. The only reason I am standing here today giving my testimony is because the Lord God sent his Son to die on a cross for me to wash all my sins away. I thank him with all my heart. It is truly amazing grace.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who could save me because he is the only perfect man. No one else could have taken my sins away. It fills me with joy to think that, although he had lived in heaven in perfect harmony with His Father and the Holy Spirit for all eternity, He came down to earth to be insulted and rejected by the ones He came to save. Then He was beaten and spat on and crucified when He had done no wrong. And He did it all with a good spirit. Then He was buried and rose again on the third day.
These things will be signified in my baptism: when I go under the water it signifies death and burial, then when I come out I am a new person, cleaned by Jesus’ blood.
By the power of the Holy Spirit I now want to live the rest of my life serving Jesus my Saviour. Being baptised tonight and becoming a member of this church in Ramsbottom will open doors for me to serve him. When I am older I would like to be a deacon of this church and if God gives me the gifts I would also like to preach His word. But I can always serve Him and I will try to do this for the rest of my life.
Please pray for God to give me strength to do this.
In writing my testimony I realise that I am confirming what others have said; I am following in the steps of people like the apostles Paul and Peter whose testimonies we have in Acts. Here is mine.
As I cast my mind back over the years, the first time I came across the Gospel was down in Summerseat when I remember I went to Sunday school and learned the basic truths of the Gospel. I was fourteen then, but it was when I was actually experiencing life that I saw that things were not how they should be. Nobody was preaching at me, but nevertheless I came to see between the years 14 and 17 that I was a sinner, a miserable sinner, so much so that I wanted to take my life. Yet I turned my back on church life, and I actually mocked the Gospel.
There was a time when Billy Graham was on the television being interviewed and he was asked, “How do you become a Christian?” He replied “You have got to see that you are a sinner, repent of your sin, and just believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and let him into your life.” On hearing this I can remember turning to members of my family and saying, “Yes, I believe that!” A few months later my former Pastor stopped his car in Summerseat and asked me if I wanted to hear Billy Graham at Earls Court in London. I replied, “Yes”. I remember it was a nice day out in London, but it was mainly the evening that I remember: an evening that changed my life forever.
We went up to Earls Court, and the arena was massive. The first thing that struck me was the music of the choir. On taking our seats, what we saw was breath-taking: in the main body there were seats on the ground floor, and on three sides there were seats rising up in steps. We were on the left hand side, and as we looked down we could see the pulpit in front of us; just behind this was where the guest speakers were seated and above them was the choir.
When the service started I can honestly say that I do not remember much of what happened, but I do remember when Mr Graham said: “This might be the last opportunity you get to believe!” My heart was beating so fast and I knew what I had to do.
I went forward and I was led into the counselling room at the back where an old gentleman sat me down and told me that I had to repent of my sin and accept the Lord Jesus Christ into my heart. In those moments that is what I did, and when I came out of the meeting, my heart felt like a burden had been lifted – I felt clean.
I am now writing this testimony 47 years on, and I can faithfully confirm that the Lord Jesus Christ has been my Saviour and Lord from that time on until now and I would not have it any other way. My life has changed completely and I thank God for it – he has kept me all the way.
I started work at 15 years of age as an apprentice TV Engineer in Rochdale. At the age of 21 I went into the Army to do National Service for two years. On coming out of the Army in 1963 I found that my job had been filled and so I looked in the Rochdale Observer to see what was going. A TV Engineers post in Bury was being advertised at a firm called Radio Rentals which I applied for and got.
One day my firm sent me to install a radio for Mrs.Russ in Summerseat village. Radio sets in those days were big and bulky and used valves. Before leaving the house Mrs. Russ asked me to check the set on the short wave and being curious to know why, I asked her what she listened to on that little used wave band? She told me that both she and her husband tuned in on a Sunday morning to hear Billy Graham speaking on the ‘Hour of Decision’ gospel programme.
I said to her “You don’t come across many religious people these days” to which she replied “Well, it all depends on what you mean by religious” and went on to explain that all people are sinners and if they die in that state they will face the judgement of God and be lost forever. I said that I wasn’t such a bad person and wouldn’t do anyone harm. Mrs Russ then showed me from the Bible that:
“There is no difference for ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
What we need is someone to take our place and bear the punishment for our sins, One who himself was perfect and sinless – she took me to the Bible again:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)
Yes, Christ, God’s Son, is the only way of salvation:
“There is no other name under heaven given amongst men whereby we must be saved”(Acts 4:12)
As she read to me from the scriptures it was as though God was speaking directly to me and I realised my need of Christ. Mrs. Russ finished by asking me if I believed, to which I replied, “Yes”. She invited me to speak to the Pastor and we made an arrangement to meet together at the home of Mrs. Russ where Pastor Gregory reiterated much of what Mrs. Russ had said. He then said “If you believe and put your trust in Christ for your salvation you will have eternal life. God has promised it”.
That day I knelt down in Mrs. Russ’s house, asked Christ into my heart and became a son of God.
My parents were both Methodist, but they were not members of any church in their later years.
My first real contact with the Christian faith was through a work colleague who was a leader at the Queen Street Mission in Bolton.
In 1961, this work colleague, organised a coach party to attend the Billy Graham crusade at Maine Road in Manchester, this was the home of Manchester City Football Club. I was invited and heard Billy Graham on one of the evenings.
Although, looking back now, I can see that the preaching of Billy Graham must have had some effect on me, yet at the time I took no steps to make myself right with God. From that time I have always believed Christianity to be true, even though I did not know or understand much about it.
Since that time I have often thought about attending a church over the years, but I never found one that I could be happy with.
I am a single man and much of my time was taken up with caring for my mother who died in 2001. Up to 7 years ago I was a heavy smoker, and after having a health scare I stopped smoking. In the last three years I have suffered from tinnitus which affects the hearing, this has let me to start becoming a recluse, and at one time I even considered committing suicide.
Over the last couple of years I have got to know Les who moved into our neighbourhood about 6 years ago. In May —- Les who attended Trinity Grace Church invited me to the meeting being held at the church at the War Weekend and though I was worried about the affects it would have on my tinnitus I enjoyed the meeting and felt quite at home.
Since that weekend, I have had many conversations with Les about Christ and his Christian Faith and over the months I have started to understand more and more about the true meaning of Christianity.
Les introduced me to Oliver, the Pastor of Trinity Grace Church, and he also helped me further with one to one Christian instruction. I have also attended the weekly meetings and this has developed my understanding further.
Understanding Christianity is one thing, but being a Christian is a personal commitment to Christ, and I can now say with confidence that I believe Jesus died for me and that my sins are all now forgiven. I commit myself to the Lord, trusting that through His grace He will help me to grow as a Christian and fulfil my role as a member of this fellowship, this church.
When I became a Christian I understood that two things had to happen in my life: first I had to repent of all my sins and trust in the Lord Jesus and secondly I had to be baptised. In the scripture we read in the bible the following:
“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10 v.9)
“Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptised?’ Then Phillip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptised him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Phillip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” (Acts 8 v. 36 – 39)
Recently I was able to confess this truth in the Lord and I like the eunuch was baptised. At that time I willingly confessed publically: that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died for my sins, that he is my Saviour, and now I give him my life.
Hello, my name is Gary Hilton and I would like to share my testimony with you… to tell you how Jesus came into my life and changed me, making me into a new person in Christ.
At 18 months old I was adopted and had a happy childhood. As a child, my greatest hope and ambition was to become a professional footballer. This is what I lived for, and what I wanted more than anything else in the world.
When I was about eleven I made friends with someone who was going to point me to the Cross. At this time my friend was not a Christian but his parents were, and it was through my contact with them that the turning point came in my life. I could see that his parents were different to anyone I’d met before. They had something that was real in their lives; they were honest, truthful and willing to help anyone.
I started to go to Sunday school and there I learned more about the cross, and what it meant to be a Christian. In the meantime my friends’ parents moved to Anglesey, and it was whilst I was visiting them on holiday that I attended a gospel mission. I realised that I was a sinner before a holy and just God, and that God was speaking to me. He was pointing me to the cross and there and then I gave my life to Christ and asked Jesus to come into my life and be my saviour.
Since that time, instead of my main goal being football, it is now serving the Lord Jesus and telling other people about the way of salvation. Things do not automatically become easy when you are a Christian. I was convicted that Sunday football was wrong, but I found it difficult to give it up. Then I saw the film “Chariots of Fire”, a true story about Eric Liddell, a man who had trained for four years to run in one race in the Olympic Games. When he discovered that the race was to be held on a Sunday, he withdrew, but was given another opportunity to run in the 400 metres on a different day. As he was at starting blocks, a note was past to him quoting the scripture ‘He who honours me I will honour’. Eric Liddell went on to win the Gold medal. I came out of the theatre crying, knowing about how I had let God down. After that I never played another Sunday game again. Whatever you have to give up for God, he will reward you a hundredfold, for God is no man’s debtor.
Some time later I played for Stoke City Football Club, in opposition against England. One of my friends handed me a piece of paper before the game, and on it was written those same words ‘He that honoureth me, I will honour’.
I went on to play for Bury FC for four years, and various other clubs also.
Since the Lord has become the centre of my life He has blessed me in so many ways. I am happily married with two wonderful teenagers, and they too have committed their lives’ to Christ.
The Lord also enabled me to find my biological mother. I had a happy reunion with her and was able to spend important time with her before she died.
In closing I hope and pray you too will find Christ as your own personal Lord and Saviour.
I am one of five children me being the second youngest in the family of four sons and one Daughter I was born 24th April 1981 to Neil and Carole Hutchinson. I am married and was just 15 when me and my wife Lindsey met, it was at school. I have to say she is such a wonderful wife and mother, we got married in 2008 and went on to have our first child Isaac in 2011 and then Ethan 2014, God and my family are everything to me.
2. Growing up
I can’t say that I grew up in a Christian family, and that I was surrounded by Godly people and the church from the very beginning. But I was raised with a knowledge of who Jesus our Lord is, this is because throughout my childhood I was always made aware of the man of Jesus, I would read a book, my Dad had got for me called the book of bible stories which it had in it most of the stories from the bible. I was not that old when my Dad told me about God probably 3 or 4 yrs old, I thank my Mum and dad for all they have done for me throughout my life. I loved it at Easter time in our house watching the films about Jesus. It’s such a shame these days that no one talks about the real meaning of Easter, it’s as though society has turned its back on Christianity! But not all, because people still are being converted to this very day look at Christine and me we are a work in progress with a passion for the living God!!
When I say passion it’s a passion to know about the living God! I was always intrigued as a child to know how Jesus, who seemed just an ordinary man would be able to perform such miracles like turn water into wine, heal lepers, make the blind see, raise the dead back to life and all the other miracles he did and is still doing.
As a child I did not attend church on a regular basis but when I did I would always feel a connection between God and myself I think this is because having read about Moses and the Ten Commandments, Jesus and much of the other scriptures, I knew that God wanted me to understand how just he is and how loving he is, having made us in his image, and that no matter what happens, I should try to obey him. Only being a child it felt like a mountain to climb, so I would always go back to my sinful ways doing all kinds of wrong things. Whilst Growing up family life was not the easiest but you just got on with it, I would see all kinds of things going on in other people’s lives as well as my own having come from a big family I.e people falling out and becoming jealous of each other, people moving away, people emigrating, people dying through old age or illness, and other things etc. At 20 years old I joined the Fireservice and have done 14yrs this coming June, I met Gary about 10years ago but have only got to know him properly these last few years. I remember Gaz asking me if I went to church and I said not really on a regular basis but I do go and him saying that there is no better way to serve and praise God, than with and amongst his people and it is so so true.
3. Finding meaning and purpose to life
As I got older I found that I kept seeing people come into my life and leave my life through death, fallouts, moving away etc. Its only when I had my first child that I thought really deep about purpose and meaning to my existence and this is when God became part of my life!! He as always been part of my life but at this point I was made able to see from being blind. Before I came to accept God into my life I was distant from God whether that was through my friends, relationships or things of no significance, I generally put my whole heart into other things, things other than God, I also became very fixated on myself and what people thought of me. I became very consumed with what people thought of me and was living for the acceptance of the world.
At points in my life I felt that I kept losing and losing which made me feel afraid, at these points God drew me near to Himself. But I was unsure what to do. Deep down I knew that He could save me if I just let Him. When my first child Isaac came into the world because God had aloud him through his creation I then realised that to have creation you need a creator I never really looked at things in such deep and meaningful ways, it was not long after that I confessed to the Lord that I am a sinner and that I was trying to find life in other people, things and myself. I acknowledge everyday that He sent Jesus to die on the cross so that I can be saved from my sin and have eternal life. I am committed to living for God instead of others. This is because if it was not for Gods grand plan then i would not be able to serve others. As Jesus said:- “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13 ESV). Jesus was not just talking about us he was talking about himself and what was to come. How mind blowing and amazing is that!
4. Understanding Prayer and repentance
I now understand about repentance and faith in Christ alone and it was my Dad who taught me to pray we would say the Lord’s Prayer most nights at bed time. But it is only in recent years I really understood prayer and what prayer is about and why we as Christians should part take in it. It is that spiritually intimate relationship between us and God.
Like it says in 2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. And as for you, if you will walk before me as David your father walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to rule Israel.’ (2 Chronicles 7:14-18 ESV)
5. Becoming part of the body of Christ
Since I have become to know Christ, God has shown me that being a “Christian” isn’t about just doing good works. He made it clear that I do not have to earn my salvation or His love (Eph. 2:8-9). He has given me such an amazing feeling of fulfilment and purpose and joy that I just want to glorify him forever. I am not perfect and I still mess up, but God loves me despite my flaws and imperfections, and when the things I was pursuing before continually let me down, God has never once left me. He has shown Himself to me and he convicts me everyday through and in His Word, the Bible. God loved me even at the most vulnerable points of my life and He rescued me from myself and eternal separation from Him. Jesus is everything to me and to glorify him and study his gospel is a major part of my life. Not to long ago before becoming a Christian I used to live for worldly things and achievements and it was not right in Gods eyes, this would be seen as idolatry. What we all have to remember is that you can have all of the awards and medals and things of this earth, but there is only one thing that matters and that is the crown that we will lay at JESUS’s feet.
6. Studying the word of our God
It’s In these last few years I have been studying the bible more deeply and in this last year I have been meeting with you wonderful people here at trinity grace church and it is so good to hear the clear, true and meaningful word of the Lord thy God through our gifted pastors, elders and speakers. Jesus speaks to us through his people and I really feel convicted every time I hear his word. I feel so blessed to be a part of this church and am grateful to our Lord for such a wonderful ministry here in Ramsbottom. Just to finish with what Jesus spoke about himself and him not doing things on his own accord, basically saying it is only by the will of God that he Jesus God in the flesh can do anything, that is just a true reflection of us human beings, as Jesus said “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. (John 5:30-31 ESV)
This life that I have lived and am living is not for me but for the one who created me, it is in a nut shell, because really that’s what it is without Jesus an empty shell worthy of nothing but hell, our lives all in all are about JESUS CHRIST!! Our Lord,our saviour and our friend. AMEN!!!
I was born in Bacup in 1932 and my mother, being a staunch Methodist, taught me to pray from a very early age before getting into bed each evening so as a child I never had any doubts as to the existence of God. She also sent me to Sunday school each week and I really liked it. There was no mention of the importance of having one’s sins forgiven, however, although I learned a lot of Scripture for which I am now very thankful. I did, become, however, very interested in Jesus when I was 7 or 8 years old and at one stage really would have loved to have been with the children in Jerusalem at his triumphal entry there but sadly, none of the teachers were very interested in the wishes of individual children, so although I tried, I didn’t get much encouragement and soon gave up trying,
When I moved up into another class the teacher there began to read to us the life story of Wilfrid Thomasson Grenfell who was a Doctor and keen to get the Christian message to the inhabitants of Labrador, which is the most northerly point of the American continent. He encountered great opposition though from his friends and authorities alike but in spite of this he gave up everything in this country and went. It was like a serial story to me and to this day believe it was through this man’s influence that I kept on going to Church even through the difficult teenage years. The teacher read a chapter each week and I eagerly awaited the next installment. I don’t know what happened to him in the end but I believe there is now a Grenfell Society in Nova Scotia. What he did for me was to keep me going to Church during my formative years and that was to prove crucial in my life.
I was about 12 years old when I first heard about Wilfred Grenfell and about this time I again became very interested in Jesus and His agonizing death at Calvary to save me from the weight of my sin so I finally decided I wanted to be one of His followers and told Him so as best I knew how at that time, and decided to keep on going to Church on Sunday evenings. I had got so used to going each Sunday afternoon that I wanted to be there in the evening also and realize now that it was the Holy Spirit calling.
If my conversion story ended there it would be great but like so many teenagers I made many wrong choices and by the age of 25 had got my life in a terrible mess. However, I had never stopped going to Church on a Sunday evening and one night a relative asked me to go to a Billy Graham rally with her. I went along and was quite moved by what Billy had to say but I didn’t go forward with the many who did. It wasn’t until the following Sunday night when I was in Church (as usual) that the Lord spoke to me in a way in which I could only respond. The Pastor there had also picked a hymn which ended with the words :”Not just a part, or half of my heart, I will give all to Thee”. I realized immediately that I had been giving God one evening a week when I should have been giving Him all of my life. I broke down in tears and from then on started to give Him what I should have been giving Him all along.
My life changed dramatically from that time on and I really believe God remembered the prayer I made at 12 years of age and let me live a life of my own choosing until I came gratefully back to Him. I think Grenfell would have been pleased God used that Sunday night service to bring me back to himself. Although being sovereign He could have used anything.
When I was ten it first struck me how important God is; the penny dropped, and I realized what God really was! Before I thought of him as a great intelligence, a bit like the all-seeing eye in ‘Lord of the Rings’ – not able to see everything at once, but it could be distracted as when Aragorn’s army distracted it away from Frodo and Sam. I realised that God isn’t like that, but is able to see everything at once.
After that, I carried on as before, but really knowing I was sinful and needing a Saviour. I remember finding the services at church boring, and spending the time adding up the hymn numbers, or drawing pictures when I was supposed to be taking notes. At home I was unkind to my brothers: I would shout at them and really hurt them, and not care but just “say sorry” without meaning it.
When my Granny died I realised that I could also die any day, and nothing could stop that. At the funeral service and the Bible Study on bereavement soon afterwards, I was struck by what Dad said about Granny being a sinner, but she was forgiven because she repented of her sins and died in faith. This brought me to face my fear and convicted me of the truth. When I felt true conviction about my sins, I knew I really had to do something about them – I had to put my sins onto Jesus and leave them behind.
I already knew that to become a Christian I had to believe in the virgin birth; that Jesus lived a perfect life; that He really died on the cross; that He rose again on the third day; that He ascended into heaven; and that He is now interceding for us at the right hand side of God. I had known that I should trust in Jesus before, but now I actually did put my faith in Him to take away my sins.
Now I was able to concentrate in the services far better, and could really learn from the Bible being expounded. Over the last year I have had the strength to learn more than in my whole life so far: I can read devotionals without being itchy to finish quickly; I enjoy communion with people at church without having to force myself to talk to them; and I have made friends with older people that I never spoke to before.
The ability to pray from the heart would not be possible without the LORD; before God helped me, I could not concentrate properly while praying – I would fidget, think of other things and be distracted easily. Now I can really concentrate and pray what I feel, while also listening properly to other people’s prayers and being encouraged by them.
I have found the last few months have been especially helpful: my introduction to the “Pilgrim Devotions” has helped me through the bible – it has “easy to follow” explanations that have helped me understand the bible in a new way. I have been strengthened by God plentifully.
I now really enjoy helping with the recordings in the church, and in future I would to do further work in the Church for the glory of God.
To finish I would like to quote from the Bible a verse that is very special to me, it is John 3:16:
“FOR GOD SO LOVED ME THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON SO THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.”
Do you remember your geometry lessons when you first used a drafting compass? You place the spike in the paper and with the pencil drew a perfect circle! So you now have a centre mark and a circumference. If we apply this example to God and ourselves, then God occupies the centre and we are outside the circumference.
In my lifetime of nearly 80 years, many have been the times in many contexts that people have used non-godly means to seek to understand Him. This is not possible as Paul teaches in I Corinthians 2:14:
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Because God is love, the merciful, forgiving, all powerful, all knowing, eternal creator of all things, we have no natural understanding of Him. In fact in Luke 16:26 we read, “There is a great gulf fixed between us and you.” This gulf between God and mankind is due to sin, as Paul explains in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Yet anthropologists down the ages have named our species “HOMO-SAPIENS” – “THE WISE MAN” – “THE KNOWING MAN” – “THE THINKING MAN.”
Do we deserve this name? Where is love? Where is understanding? Where is glory?
Isaiah was right when he said of God “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” (Isaiah 55:8) So, if a great gulf is fixed between God and mankind, and if we are all under sin’s condemnation, falling short of God’s glory, our state is lost!
Yet, we claim that God is merciful and forgiving. How can this be? John 3:16 says
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Again in John 14:6
Jesus said to Thomas “I am the way, the truth and the life: no one comes to the Father except through me.”
Such understanding can only become ours by the personal revelation of God to our hearts by his Holy Spirit.
How did this happen for me?
I attended an Anglican Church School for my primary education from 1939-1945. Two things come to mind from this time:
1. THE WAR
I went to school for 6 years with a gas mask. We were at war with a terrible fascist regime that thought nothing of gassing me, and the whole school! Why should anyone, for any reason, any regime, any “ISM”, require the death of countless children they had never met or known and who posed no threat whatsoever.
I was beginning to understand the human condition…
2. THE NATURE TABLE
At school, do you remember various “monitor” jobs, such as milk monitor, book monitor, and ink monitor? For a while I was the nature table monitor, and it was here that I began to see a CREATOR!
I was intrigued how tadpoles metamorphasosed into frogs. The various colours of plants. How could all these things be – what diversity! I was only 9 years old. The reason for such wonders would have to wait until 1953 – another 13 years off.
When I left primary school for my secondary education, I had some knowledge of mankind and his habitual warfare in history, some thoughts of creation and some religious thoughts. I knew the hymn:
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small;
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all!
I had some Bible knowledge such as the beatitudes from Matthew 5:1-10, and Simeon’s revelation in Luke 2:25-35, “My eyes have seen your salvation.” But as yet I did not yet know this salvation for myself.
ARMY NATIONAL SERVICE
I served 2 years during 1954–1956 in the R.A.M.C. (Royal Army Medical Corps). A friend and colleague of mine was selected for the R.A.O.C. (Royal Army Ordinance Corps) making the weapons of war, at the same time. What a perverse world, that of 2 men trained in the same principles of chemistry, one should be selected to produce bombs (ammunition to maim and kill), and the other to heal and care for terrible war wounds caused by those bombs. Is this not an indictment on mankind?
In 1953 scientists elucidated the structure of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) and later its genetical function; my interests in the Nature Table became clear; this DNA molecule coded the diverse nature of plants and animals.
Compare this with Genesis 1 where we are told that God created all things according to their own kinds, just as the D.N.A genetic code creates according to its own kind.
So, the frogspawn – tadpole – frog is coded genetically for this metamorphosis! Yet even now I was no closer to the centre of God’s circle, that spiritual place of love, grace, and forgiveness.
In 1961, when I was 27 years old, I was invited by a friend and local pastor to attend a gospel crusade at Manchester City’s football ground. I heard the gospel preached by the American Evangelist Billy Graham: he spoke intensely on Christ and Him crucified as a sacrifice for sin. It was personal. It was convicting. I became keenly aware of my own sinfulness and I was ashamed. I heard these precious words: “Come to Christ, He forgives, and receive new and everlasting life”. I accepted and went forward; I received pamphlets on the Scriptures; I was put in contact with a counsellor who visited me at home several times.
Later, I joined the aforementioned pastor’s church, where Christ was preached in sincerity and truth. I later joined in teaching Sunday school and youth work and I am still attending the same church over 50 years later!
You will see from the rest of this web site our preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our various outreaches.
I have considered over the years the various “ISMS” of mankind and find them seriously flawed, because they proceed from thoughts of man and not God.
COMMUNISM – IMPERIALISM – FASCISM – ATHEISM – COLONIALISM – TOTALITARIANISM – MONETARISM
They all fail and bring a wake of exploitation & hurt to fellow humanity.
So I conclude that man is uniquely spiritual, made by God, to worship Him in truth. I conclude that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that He is the Son of God sent to bring about the salvation of mankind. I conclude that no one is able to satisfy a righteous Father by his own works. It is only by the works of a pure, spotless, gracious Lord Jesus testified by the Holy Spirit that will obtain forgiveness and acceptance before God.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
Edwin Hatch (1835-1889) explains beautifully in the words of this hymn:
Breath on me, breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what thou dost love,
And do what thou wouldst do.
This is the essence of the centrality of Christ in all we do.
Hello everyone. Today is a huge day in my life. A day that means so much to me. In just a moment I am going to give you a very quick summary of how I got to this point, and even though it is my own personal story, none of it is really about me. My being Baptised is an act of obedience, and all the glory of my testimony belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice He made for us all.
I have lived a troubled life, and have often been overwhelmed, lost, in its trials and tribulations. I thought for many years that I knew all I needed to know about the cruelty of this world, our place in it, and I was very set in my beliefs that we were alone in this universe, and this was our lot. I could not have been further from the truth.
Around 18 months or so ago I had my second Heart attack. And after my treatment I was offered the chance to see an occupational therapist as part of my Cardiac aftercare. Its main focus being how to cope with my condition, as my symptoms due to my spinal damage are hard to distinguish from Angina, To get me the help I needed at Home, and to learn to relax and reduce my stress levels. For this last task, my therapist taught me mindfulness techniques. And while it was nice every week to sit down and meditate for half an hour, it took many weeks for what she was teaching me to make sense. But over time, I learned how to put my anxieties into perspective in the real world, and learned how to cope with many worries that arise from having a time bomb in your chest. Something else happened too however. I developed a hunger to understand more, to find myself spiritually, internally too I felt some shifts. I became more emotionally sensitive. I began to develop compassion for other living beings. I began to develop empathy. This was overwhelming at times. I could not understand what was happening inside me. I knew it was not a breakdown, I had been through that before, this was something different, and powerful.
I began to study; I read tons of papers on Psychology, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Philosophy. And over a year I had built up an image in my mind of what was going on within me, and how we all fit into this immense Universe. But something was still wrong. My depression grew very dark. Every day I was hurting all those around me that loved me. I was still truly lost and very, very low, and I could still not see how I fit into the bigger picture.
I noticed that things I had previously enjoyed in life, I no longer felt any interest in. Many of my hobbies and interests fell by the wayside, as I felt they were either a burden, or things I should no longer be wasting time with. I turned away from mainstream media; I noticed more and more how things were being controlled in the world politically. It was almost as if someone or something else had come into me and was sorting out the messy garage that was my mind, throwing out the old junk, cleaning the shelves, and making room for something much greater indeed.
The One thing I did not read however was the Bible. I had read some of it in my teens, in a small Christian group. We visited a different church every week, and being a strong minded teen I had developed a very poor impression of the types of people that were Christian, and I wanted to live life and have fun. It was a short lived experience really, and yet I had let those impressions of a few, dictate to me an idea that all Christianity was like that. Oh how wrong I was. My Wife went out and got me a second hand copy of a Good News Bible. Being made for Teens it would be as good as any where to start. I read the Gospel of John, and I was overwhelmed.
In my mind I realised that even if Jesus was just a Man and nothing more, what an amazing man he was. Could it be that I had been so wrong, for so long? I knew I needed to find out more. For the first time in a very long time I prayed. I did not think I would get any answers, even if God was real, I did not think that He would be bothered with the likes of me, after all In my past I had even denied his existence, and I had not been in any way a good boy in my life before this.
“Ok big Guy. If you are God. If this story is real. If this book is really your word, Please show me how it really is, please God, show me where I fit in.” After that prayer something really began to happen. As I read every day, devouring my way through the New Testament, I had more and more questions. “What is faith? How do I get faith when I do not know what it is? What about my doubts, how do I deal with them? The list went on. Before every reading I would pray to God to help me understand what I was reading. And almost every day over the next week or so, my understanding began to grow. I would get answers to my many questions not just from the Bible, but as I was struggling over the Faith Doubt issue, a TV show came on TBN called The Rebels Guide that dealt specifically with the issue. Coincidence? Perhaps… I needed to understand how to forgive others, as I felt that if I could not forgive those who wronged me in the past, how could God forgive me. The next day I saw a Reverend on the TV that talked about his new book that dealt with the issue. Being skint I had a look on the web about him. An hour long discussion by him was waiting on my “recommended for you list” on Youtube. This was getting to be like something off the “Twilight Zone”. I was being given the answers to all my questions. Finally I realised, I needed to make a decision. One that would affect every cell of my being, and every thought I had ever had. I had to admit to myself the result of the overwhelming evidence that lay before me, the things that were happening to me almost daily, and the Word itself. God was real. Furthermore, all those dark times I had been through, when I thought if God was real, then he had forsaken me, I had been wrong. He had been stood right with me all the time, and yet I had chosen not to see him. I had turned my back to Him, my God. I burst into tears and prayed. I looked up the sinner’s prayer and begged for forgiveness. I knew I needed to repent and become a Christian. And I knew I needed help.
I looked online at the Churches in Leigh. I knew I did not want any part in my nearest Church as it was Roman Catholic. I knew St Thomas’s where I had been christened as a Child was now closed down. I looked at the websites of other CE Churches. But something felt wrong. I knew that all that mattered to me was God, Jesus, and the Bible. These were the things I felt I had to focus on. No traditions, no pomp and ceremonies, just the bare basics, the solid truth. I began a search for Independent Churches online and found the federation of evangelical churches. I knew that these had a bad press with events and rallies in the USA, but something felt right about it. I looked for churches in my area and found this One, Bethany Evengelical Church. I looked on the website.
Page One “We are a Bible-based, Christ-centered, welcoming church in Leigh, Greater Manchester. Thanks for dropping by. Please read on and you will find out more about us.” Looked good so far.
Now the ‘what we believe’ page “We are here because we believe God’s Son, Jesus Christ, has a claim on our lives and can completely transform them. “ Perfect. Just what I had been looking for and exactly what was happening to me. I left John a message and he got back to me the next day. We had a long chat and a nice long meeting, and now I am here.
And since I came here I have learned, that for the past year and a half, the Holy Spirit has been working both in me, and around me, to bring me back to our God the Father. I know that thanks to the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, The perfect Lamb, the Son of Man, and the Son of God, I have repented and have been forgiven. I know that by Gods grace I am here, and in Christ my old self has died, and I am born anew.
I have been told, but I was not aware of it myself at the time, that when I was one month old I was taken on a Whit walk with my Mother. At this time my Mother was a member of the Primitive Methodists.
Growing up as a youngster I was, with help from my mother, always aware of God and the Christian faith. I attended Sunday school, first within the Primitive Methodist Church at Summerseat near Bury, and then I went to St. Wilfred’s Church of England Sunday school, simply because all my friends did.
When I was 11 I stopped going to church: no big fall out, just sort of stopped going. This would have continued I guess forever, except when I was 16 I read a wayside pulpit, which said:
“A Sabbath well spent, is a week of content”
This saying found an agreement in my heart, and so I started going back to church with my Mum, we both went to the Primitive Methodist. Very soon after starting to attend I was asked to teach in the Sunday school, which I did willingly.
At this time I was not a Christian, I had not committed my heart to the Lord, but then two events happened in my life that changed this:
First, when I was 18 or a little before, a visiting preacher came to preach at our church, I knew him, he was a friend. To tell the truth, I cannot remember much of what he said, but in his preaching he kept saying: “You must be born again” and often he repeated this refrain: “You must be born again”. At the end of the service he announced the final hymn something like this: “Please turn to our final hymn for this service which is: ‘Lord Jesus, I love Thee, I know thou art mine!’ and dear friend if you do not love Him, then do not sing.”
I was disturbed by what he said; I thought to myself: ‘me not to sing, I am not taking notice of that, of course I am going to sing,’ and so we started to sing:
Lord Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine!
For Thee all the pleasures of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour art Thou!
If ever I Loved Thee, Lord Jesus, ‘tis now!
I was starting to feel uncomfortable now: did I love Jesus? Had I resigned all the pleasures of sin? I was now beginning to wonder! I still wanted to sing; I still was sure that I had every right to sing, and so I continued:
I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s Tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, Lord Jesus, ‘tis now!
By this time my mind was in turmoil: did I really know these things? Jesus first loved me? Jesus pardoned my sins on Calvary’s Tree? Jesus wore a crown of thorns for me? Did I love him now? I was still saying to myself, “it is okay; it is alright; just carry on singing.”
I will love thee in life; I will love Thee in death
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, Lord Jesus, ‘tis now!
By this time, my defences were down, I knew the truth, I could not honestly sing this song and so I did not sing the fourth verse: I did not sing about going to heaven, for now I felt it was speaking of a place I had no right to go. I did not sing then I just cried quietly to myself. I guess if the preacher had made an invitation to come and commit to Jesus there and then I would have, but no such invitation was made.
Over the coming weeks and months I continued to pray to God seeking His face, seeking His forgiveness, and I know He answered my pray. Not just because I prayed but because I prayed with faith, and it was not my faith but faith given to me by God.
The prayer was answered, but I was shy and the confirmation of my answered prayer was the second important time in my life. When I was 18 the Bury Gospel Team came to our church and during the mission week an invitation was made: “If anyone wants to follow Jesus, commit their life to him, then come forward”
That day, I came forward, and from that day to this, God has kept me, and I never ever wanted to go back into the world.
In 1955 I was worshipping in the Primitive Methodist church in Summerseat, but the church building became unsafe and had to be closed and pulled down.
We continued worshiping in members’ homes, and by doing this we were able to keep a very large children’s work from closing. After this for a few years we were worshipping in a garage; then for another few years in the top of the Liberal club; then we rented the empty Co-op for many years, and finally we came to Ramsbottom. In all this God has kept us. As a church we have had many ups and downs, people joining us, people leaving us: but through it all God has kept us.
We have worshipped in houses, a garage, a Liberal club and a Co-op before we moved to our current premises in Ramsbottom: however, through it all God has been good to us and the word has been preached regularly and faithfully all this time
During all of this we were led by a very able pastor and preacher called Raymond Gregory and in 1966/7 he encouraged me to be baptised: this I did! I cannot remember much about the baptism, being shy I was very frightened at speaking publicly, yet I am glad I did confess publicly the faith which I now had. I with many others from the church were baptised in a church at Kay Street, Rawtenstall.
I have now served the Lord for 57 years and I have had the pleasure of serving in the church for many years as the pianist playing in many of the services. It is a great pleasure and privilege to serve the Lord in this way. One of the privileges that I have is that while the offering is being taken, I choose to play Christian tunes. For quite a while now I have settled on playing two choruses which speak of the wonderful work of the Saviour: many times as I play I am singing those words:
Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony,
Lest I forget Thy love to me,
Lead me to Calvary
Wonderful place called Calvary,
Wonderful place called Calvary;
Love redeeming love, I see,
At the place called Calvary.
Finally, let me tell you this: remember that I told you how I found it very difficult to sing that wonderful hymn: ‘Lord Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine’? Well now I can testify that I can sing this hymn in sincerity and truth. It is true that my love is weak and not strong; it is true that I could love Him more; but do I love Him. Oh yes I do!
Now I can sing this entire hymn, with honesty, even the verse I could not sing before, the one that talked about being with God in heaven. That is true for me now, but if it is not for you, it can be! Just believe, just trust in Jesus. I close reciting this verse:
In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, Lord Jesus, ‘tis now!
A spiritual awakening.
In July 1962 I went on holiday again to Douglas in the Isle of Man. I had just won a lot of money on the roulette wheel in Bolton and because of my change in fortune decided to join some younger lads to this old haunt. On the second day of my holiday I decided to try to follow this winning streak on the roulette wheel in the local casino in Douglas. I lost all the money I had gained in Bolton and spent the rest of the week borrowing off my friends. Later in the week we gathered in a hotel in Douglas for our usual drinking session. As I sat there I began to feel an intense hate for the hotel and all it stood for. The hotel lounge was heaving with people and in a moment of madness picked up pint glass and threw it through one of the hotel windows. The pub began to empty quickly until the manager shouted for all to stay were they where until the police arrived. I did not care and when the police did arrive and question the scores of people in the lounge I still did not care what happened to me. When the police came to our table my four young friends protested their innocence and after about an hour we were allowed to leave. This brief account of my life sums up the kind of aimless life I was leading and the kind of person I had become.
On my return home things continued as before; daily work, the local pub, the local dance hall on a Saturday, Casino on a Sunday, borrowing and paying back and generally squandering all the money I earned. In the meantime in the dye works where I worked I began to hear and notice one of the works mechanics who was going round claiming to have ‘seen the Light.’
On a memorable day some time in 1963 whilst working at the Dye works I left the stenter to go outside for a break and a smoke. The man who had seen the ‘light,’ Ernie Westwell, was halfway up a factory chimney doing some maintenance work. It was a lovely sunny day and in jest I shouted up to Ernie that it was about time ‘He’ sent us some of this sunshine, Ernie was down the ladder in double quick time to share ‘his life transforming experience.’ I cannot remember what he said to me on that day, but this encounter was the first of many over the next two or so years.
Initially Ernie listened to me ranting on about Christians being a load of hypocrites and of my belief in some kind of reincarnation. However, as the months passed by I began to warm to Ernie mainly because of his humour and the fact, for the first time in my life, someone cared about me and my problems. All the preconceived barriers about Ernie and my prejudicial views of Christianity were broken down, such as the ‘holy Joe’ image which had been promoted by many in the factory and I began to learn that Ernie was no hypocrite. Slowly over a period of many months the things Ernie said about the Bible began to make sense. Ernie would often pull out his grease stained New Testament out of his grubby overall pocket and quote the scriptures to me.
I had at that time a kind of split personality. When talking with Ernie I felt different and acted differently. When I was with my macho work colleagues, like the chameleon, I changed colours, especially the colour of my language. I remember on one occasion sitting on a bench in the stenter room next to Arthur. Arthur was a friend of mine who liked to show off his muscles and we often engaged in acts of proving who was the strongest. As we sat together on the bench Ernie approached us, and as Arthur made some derogatory comment under his breath Ernie handed me a book entitled ‘Peace with God.’ It was then that I really did change colour, a bright red! This embarrassing clash of conflicting allegiances became a turning point in my attitude towards Ernie and the Christian faith.
On another occasion we were having problems on the stenter; the cloth had come out of the clips which meant yards and yards were ruined and whilst I was ranting and raving and cursing and swearing at the lady who was supposed to be watching it Ernie’s head appeared round the corner of the stenter, he was smiling which left me grimacing with embarrassment at my treatment of this lady old enough to be my mother. Again my hypocrisy was exposed.
It was events like this which exposed sides of my character which I was blind to. One day Ernie came up to me and told me that a friend of his had seen me staggering up Bolton Street, drunk. At one time, being told about being drunk in the street would not have bothered me, but now I was beginning to be concerned about these double standards.
Another ‘never to be forgotten moment’ in my conversations with Ernie is extremely vivid in my memory. For me personally to try and live the Christian life was a sheer impossibility. To leave my pleasures and live a life of church going and commitment to a few odd folk in and a renovated Co-op building down in Summerseat was not going to happen. However, on this occasion Ernie told me that being a Christian first and foremost was to believe. I remember saying to myself ‘I believe’ and there was such a wonderful surge of joy within me, but at the same time one of fear for I knew then that my sins would have to go, but at that particular moment I was not willing to forsake my sins.
It is hard to remember the sequence of events, but I do remember about this time going into the Royal Oak, ordering my pint of ale, sitting down to join my friends. I only had mouthful of that drink before a deep conviction of sin came over me. I felt utterly wretched; I heard the bad language and profanities of the tap room as never before. My friends were asking me if I was not well and for the first time in all my drinking sessions I got up, walked out, and left a full glass of beer. I made my way home and just sat in the armchair for the rest of the evening with an intense feeling of guilt. The following day the feeling of guilt had passed and I was planning for the weekend. It was not long before the feeling of guilt returned. Going into a licensed club somewhere in Bolton the guilt was as acute as ever, probably because the club had once been a chapel. I then embarked on a period of trying to reform myself. I succeeded in stopping smoking with help of a few packets of mint imperials I also began to drink less. Over the course of a few weeks I managed to break off my relationship with the girl I had met at the local dance hall. Breaking off this relationship was not easy. She did not know literally whether I was coming or going. One day I would break it off, the next day I would be on her door step asking to see her again. I explained to her that I was being challenged by the claims of Christ and the Bible, to which she said that we could both start going to church, the problem was that she and her family were Roman Catholics with little concept of what following Christ really meant.
On the Friday of the 14th of October 1964 Ernie once again invited me to the Sunday service in Summerseat, not very enthusiastically I might add as he was slowly giving up hope by now. On the 15th of October I went to the Bolton Casino on Crompton Way and lost what remaining money I had. I was twenty four years old, in full time work with not a penny to my name. On the 16th of October, Sunday afternoon, I sauntered down to the old Co-op building and plucking up courage joined those odd folk that I had for so long struggled to avoid.
A new beginning.
When I joined the congregation in Summerseat on that Sunday afternoon there were no spiritual fireworks or spiritual flashing neon lights. I do not even remember anything of the sermon. After the service I made it clear to the Pastor and others that I was not far from the Kingdom of God, although looking back I realise that my entry into the kingdom was probably on the day I first believed. The Lord Himself, in His grace and mercy, took away the worldly idols that had prevented me from embracing the new life of obedience He was patiently offering in Christ. The work of revealing eternal and spiritual realities had achieved the desired goal. Instances of the work of God in my soul were many and there are experiences which I will never forget. Being told that Christ is going to return in a moment and twinkling of an eye one day had me in great perplexity and fear, fear that I would be left behind. Being told that all the hidden things that I had done in my life would be shouted from the housetops in the day of judgement left me with no place to hide. The gospel from Ernie’s lips came not just in word only, but in power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. Praise His Name!
On the following day, Monday, came the challenge that I was not exactly relishing. However, confessing Christ before my work colleagues was not as bad as I had feared. I told my lady work colleague, the lady previously mentioned in the cursing swearing episode, and from there the whole factory of two to three hundred knew of my conversion within the day. Bessie, by the way, became a Christian a few years later. For me a new life had begun, a life of learning to forsake the idols of this world and live for Christ and see the fulfilment of the perplexing question asked of Jesus by his disciples; “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them,” With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the Lord’s wonderful intervening grace in granting me repentance and faith. Praise His Name!
I grew up in a large family fully committed to attending a Church of England in Little Hulton, where we attended twice each Sunday and also Sunday school in the afternoon. We were all in the church choir.
When I left school I went into nursing and it was there that I met with a Christian nurse who invited me to her church to hear the gospel. I started to attend the church and it was then that I realised that being a Christian was having a personal relationship with Christ, of knowing him as your Lord and Saviour. I came to know Christ as my personal Saviour and Lord. To know the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit as being the ultimate being that deserves all our praise and worship.
Throughout nursing I attended the Nurses Christian Fellowship where I met other Christians and together we sought to witness for Christ.
On becoming a Christian I didn’t feel settled in the Church of England at home, and became involved with a local mission church where I served the Lord for many years. I was once asked why I did not return to my home church where I was brought up. I replied that I did not feel happy reciting words from a book, when I could personally speak to the Lord in Prayer
I cannot say that my life has been easy, with periods of severe depression, but I can honestly say that the Lord has kept me through those experiences and made me stronger for them.
The lord has blessed my life in giving me a husband who is committed to the Lord, and a daughter who is now a Christian and married to a believer whom the Lord graciously saved. Now God has blessed us with a granddaughter whom we dearly love.
A TESTIMONY OF GOD’S GRACE BY LINDA HOUGH
I became a Christian at the age of 29 when God revealed Himself to me in a spiritual way showing me how I stood in His sight.
All my life before becoming a Christian, I had always believed in God, even to the point of fearing Him. I would often think about standing before Him when I died, and it would send shivers down my spine, but I never fully knew why. The problem was that my belief in God the creator, and Jesus His Son who was crucified, and the Holy Spirit had no substance. I had no real knowledge or understanding. My belief was innate within me and I did not understand properly. However, I was always fully aware of His authority over me.
I took going to church very seriously, till I reached my late teens, then I went out into the world, and God became just someone I believed in, not fully understanding why. My life in the world took me down many paths, some good, and some bad. However well my friends thought of me, and however much my family loved me, I never felt totally secure or 100% happy. Sometimes I would pray because even without any knowledge of Him, I just felt I could trust Him, and that nothing was impossible for Him to perform.
Approximately six months before I became a Christian, there was a need in me, which I needed to be fulfilled, but I didn’t know what it was, or where to find it.
I read the Bible from beginning to end. I didn’t understand it, and I became more frustrated as my need grew stronger. One Bible verse I read was Matthew 22:32: “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” This verse had me all confused, because I knew Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were dead. Finally I decided to go to my local parish church, but that didn’t help either. I just felt dead inside.
As I was walking past Ramsbottom Evangelical Church, as it was named at the time, I just knew that is were I needed to go; but seeing lots of young people coming out put me off, due to my lack of confidence and self esteem. The following week a tract came through my letterbox inviting me to go and hear Billy Graham speak in Liverpool, and it was from the Evangelical Church. I said to myself out loud “Yes! Yes!” because I had finally got a connection to my need inside.
To be honest, I can’t remember a word Billy Graham said, I only knew I was getting closer to fulfilling this need I had, even though I still didn’t’t know what it was; I just knew I had to find it.
Coming home on the coach I was invited to the Sunday morning service. Listening to the sermons over the next five weeks was very challenging, and at times confusing, but also very inspiring. The God of all grace revealed to me I was a sinner. I knew I had to do something about it, but I didn’t know what. I was hearing that I had to go to the cross at Calvary, but in my ignorance my thoughts were, “How I am going to be able to go all that way?”
I got up one morning feeling empty, for some reason feeling my time was running out. I said, “God, you’re going to have to tell me what to do,” and He did: in a moment. The foot of the cross was my living room, were I knelt down, and begged God to forgive me a sinner, and I asked Jesus to come into my life. At that time I felt my Lord open His arms to receive me. It was the most wonderful feeling; I truly had been saved.
I now understood the meaning in Matthew 22:32, because I had now been made alive unto God, and it is all because my Lord Jesus Christ was willing to sacrifice His Life on the cross for my sins.
Praise God my Heavenly Father for His grace.
Praise my Lord Jesus Christ for His sacrifice.
Praise the Holy Spirit for opening my heart and ears to the things of God.
I was brought up from the beginning in a Christian Home; our church which we attended each week was the Salvation Army. Our first Salvation Army, corps (cor), was in Swinton and then we went to one in Farnworth. I willingly went to the Salvation Army, and grew up going to Sunday school, then join the young people’s singing group, and later the brass band, and Songsters. I have to admit that I was not a very good singer, nor did I play a brass instrument very well.
For most of this I was contented, and yet, with all this activity in the Salvation Army, I now realise, that the Bible in all its full glory was not presented. True, the Bible was believed on, and even read, yet brass band, songsters seemed to be the emphasis in the life of the Salvation Army.
When I was about 19 I left the Salvation Army I just drifted away, I started at college in Manchester, and in the holiday break became involved in a religious cult, a very silly thing. I was involved in this religious cult only for a year or two and only on the periphery yet, now looking back I regret ever being involved in it.
With the religious cult behind me at the age of 26 I became a progress chaser at a soap manufacturer. Now living at home, enjoying my own company, and for the most of the time happy with life, life was fine, no problems, no ambitions, just ambling along.
Then, something happened to change my life forever, initially it led me to find some friends, but later I was to find the friend of friends, the friend of sinners.
I went into the bathroom as one does from time to time, and noticed a piece of paper on the floor, I do not know how it ended up there, but I took hold of it and read it. I cannot remember the exact words, but it said something like this: “PHAB CLUB ON AT LOCAL SCHOOL ON SUNDAY NIGHT ALL WELCOME”
Phab stands for PHysically Disabled & ABle Bodied, I decided to go to this club, and so on the Sunday Night at the appropriate time I went, this particular club was run by a man named Barry Hancox. Barry had a friendly disposition and willingness to involve me fully from the moment I came into the club; this meant that I settled into going each week, and eventually became the driver of the mini bus, ferrying everyone to the club.
I discovered as I became to know more about Barry that he was from a big family having 3 sisters, and 3 brothers. One of his sisters was called Linda, and Linda was a Christian worshipping at Walkden Evangelical Church and as time went by I was introduced to Linda and eventually Linda invited me to the Church.
I decided to go one Sunday morning and was impressed by the way the preacher spoke, speaking only about what the bible was saying and not about his own opinions.
I remember that he spoke from Genesis 3 and the serpent having his head bruised but only bruising the heel of the seed of the woman. Then from the scriptures the preacher showed that this Seed was the Lord Jesus Christ. I was awe struck by the way he proved this truth by letting scripture prove scripture.
I continued to go each week, and I soon came to know the man who was running the church whose name was Raymond Gregory, at that time he was also running a church in Ramsbottom, later on he also ran a church in Skelmesdale.
Raymond was a Godly man who loved Jesus, loved his word and preached in ways of depth yet with simplicity. I learn a lot in those early months and started to understand the contents of many books in the bible. This learning as never stopped, for there is always something more to discover from God’s word.
At this time my loyalty was divided, I still wanted to be of service to the Phab club but more than this I now wanted to attend church not just on Sunday mornings but also on Sunday Evenings as well. I gave up Phab club and became a regular attender of all the meetings at Walkden Evangelical Church.
Linda was a great help and inspiration at this time, and I remember coming out of my house one day and seeing in my mind’s eye that Christ had died on the Cross for MY sins. It made tears come to my eyes thinking the creator God would do this for me. All I had to do was to accept his sacrifice, say I was sorry for my sins, and live in the knowledge that this work of Christ was a full and complete satisfaction for all my sins.
I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of Heaven and Earth, as my Saviour and Lord. Later Raymond ask me if I would like to be baptised and so one Saturday evening myself, Linda and a group of men from Ramsbottom Church went to a service in a church in Bolton and there publically we were all baptised. A public testament of what had already happened in my life.
In 1981 Linda became my wife, then in 1986 my daughter Amanda Jane was born and now in 2013 I have a Granddaughter Grace Ava.
Looking back over the 33 years, I can testify that God has kept me; sadly I cannot say that I have been as faithful to God as God has been to me. There have been times when I have been scared and lacked trust in God, but I know He will keep me to the end. I am so glad that I have given my life to God, accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.
To love God the Father accept his Son as my Saviour and to be indwelt with the Holy Spirit is what life is all about. It is just a delight.
Question: What has alcohol done for me?
Answer: Everything, everything bad.
Question: What has Jesus done for me?
Answer: Everything, everything good.
My story of finding Christ starts at a very low ebb in my life: I was leaving home, that is to say I was leaving my wife Maureen and my two daughters Catherine and Sarah. Why was I leaving home? The true and honest answer is: alcohol. Having worked myself up to a very senior position with a chemical company called BASF I found the pressure too much and started drinking, and in the end the job with BASF became too hard for me and I had to resign.
Life at home with my wife and two daughters became very difficult and although I managed to find a job as a postman, the day-to-day pressures of married life took its toll and I found myself having to leave the family home.
I found a rented home with a man called Jim; later on I discovered that Jim was a Christian. I enjoyed living in this rented home with Jim and a few other lodgers. Then Jim invited me to come with him to the church, but I said “No”. Then Jim asked me again to come to church and again I said “No”. Eventually, for the sake of peace I decided to go with him to church!
I went to church, and then I went again and again, eventually accepting the offer of taking a course called ‘Christianity Explored’ which was designed for those who knew nothing about the Christian Faith, to help them understand something about Christ and Christianity.
By this time, I believed that God existed and Jesus was God and came into this earth as a man. So then I was a Christian? The answer was no, for there was no change in my life. I wanted to become a Christian, I prayed for weeks, I shouted out loud in my prayers, “Lord, I am ready now, save me.” Nothing; no answer from God.
I was still drinking at this time and in 2009/10 I found myself in a secure ward in Fairfield Hospital in Bury. It was in this place that I found Christ, and this is how it came about: I was being visited by the pastor of the local church that me and Jim attended. Oliver came to see me often, and this was just one of those visits. During this visit no flash bang conversion happened: we read the bible together, had a general talk and then Oliver prayed and left me.
Then one of the patients in the bed next to me said: “Hey will you take me for a pint?” Now that is not one of the things you ask an alcoholic, which is what we both were. I answered him in the following way, “I think we have a few problems to overcome before I can do that: first we have to pass the guards (nurses); secondly we have to open the security lock; thirdly we have to walk through the grounds, and fourthly, the biggest problem of all, you cannot get out of bed on your own, because you are physically incapable of moving yourself!” His reply was rude, something about me going away.
This made me think yes, my bed-fellow was physically sick, but I was spiritually sick, I was helpless before God, nothing could I do to save myself, helpless, hopeless and a completely ruined human being. Understanding this about myself, I prayed again but this time my prayer was a sincere cry that I was a helpless, undeserving sinner and I had done wrong against God. I told Him of my problems, confessed my sins and asked for forgiveness.
That day Jesus came into my life, and my whole attitude to life and to God changed; I was a new creature or to be more precise I was a new ‘work in progress’ creature.
But his is not the end! I cannot end this testimony with the words, “and he lived happily ever after.” Sadly, I let Him down often. However, that day in the hospital was the start of a relationship with the Lord where, despite my failings, He has never let me down once.
For a while I continued to live with Jim, who was very supportive and helpful in my spiritual life. Sadly, I lost my job as a postman, and was on benefit for some time, but then while still living with Jim I was able to find a job as a meter reader. This went well, and at one time, I was asked to work over in Liverpool, which I gladly did.
Due to new circumstances in Jim’s life he needed to sell his house, so, at very short notice I had to find another place, and I was able to find something very quickly which was only a mile or two away from the church.
Several things happened, which I now know to have been very foolish. Firstly my job became less enjoyable, I stopped going to church as much and I started going into a pub. I said to myself, “just go in for the one drink”, but the one drink did not last for long, for I was on my own a lot and being in the pub gave me someone to talk to. Just talking does not go down well in a pub, it is talking and drinking and for an alcoholic who is trying to dry out, talking and drinking is not on the menu.
Drink and work does not mix and so I lost my meter reading job and then the lady who looks after the flats for the landlord, spotted that I was struggling to walk up the stairs to my flat, and so she telephoned my eldest daughter who was entered as my next of kin. My ex-wife answered the telephone and agreed to come and see me: when she saw me, she realised that I was at death’s door, and that I needed urgent hospital attention.
She telephoned for an ambulance, and my recovery from alcohol sickness started. For the next 10 months I was treated at various hospitals and a centre: Fairfield Bury, Blackburn Royal, Pendle Cottage hospital and Rakehead Rehab. Centre in Burnley. Now I am in my new home: a flat in Edenfield.
The Church has been very supportive in this time, particularly Rob, Tony, Maurice, Peter and Oliver. Their love and care has been a continued source of blessing for me. I still need everybody’s help big style, but I know they are there for me.
I am not out of the woods yet, many problems caused by alcohol, for instance I am not steady on my feet, my writing hand is weak and lacks full feeling, and I will have to learn to write with my other hand. My mind cannot remember to read like I use to, I have to learn reading again. I have also lost my periphery eyesight.
Abusing your body causes long-term physical disabilities, but I know that God is for me, that Jesus is my Saviour. I am part of the church family, and this church family have not washed their hands of me, despite my inability to kick my bad habit, they have given me a lot of caring love, not just in platitudes, but real active help.
I am a Christian. God is for me and I know that He will always care and support me. There is no magic formula to put right what I did wrong. My body will not be miraculously healed, yet I can go on trusting in God. I can start to live for Him again, and I know that all things will work together for good to them that love God.
So, there you have it, my testimony all up-to-date and with the comment on ‘to be continued’, I have trusted in God, but I need to trust Him more, I need to look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of my faith.
In concluding I would like to quote part of a song that I mentioned at my baptism and was and is a great blessing to me:
Oh To See The Dawn
Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds
For through your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death,
Life is mine to live,
Won through your selfless love.
This, the power of the cross
Son of God: Slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.
From my earliest memories I have always believed in God. My family believed in God and as a little girl, living in Elton Bury, I was sent to Wood Street Methodist Church with my sister Jean. We went on the Whit walks and one year I was maid of honour and carried the Queen’s train.
One vivid experience I had as a youngster thinking about God was when I went to a corner shop in Elton, Bury called Hambeys. I had in my hand a penny with the image of Britannia on, and I remember thinking this is not like God, God is much greater than this.
Then as I became a teenager I stopped going to church, but I never stopped believing. I still believed in God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
In due time I married, and with the hustle and bustle of married life I never did find the time to go to church. Sometimes I would pray, and I sent my children to Sunday school, but for many years I did not go to church.
By this time my family had grown up, and I was living in Ramsbottom. One day my daughter said something that was to change my relationship with God forever:
“Mum, there is a church open by the railway, and I believe they are inviting people to go and hear Billy Graham and I am going to ask to go.”
Linda did ask and went on the coach and on the way was in conversation with a young lady called Louise. When Linda came back she decided to start going to church each week. This Linda did.
This made me think that it was about time that I also started to go to Church. So, in my 60s I started to go to church again. On going to church for the first time, I realised that my knowledge of the Lord was very limited. I continued to go to church regularly and enjoyed learning about God, his character, his ways (laws), and His dear Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
I started reading the bible on my own and praying to God regularly; prayer became for me a deep feeling of knowing that the Lord was listening to me.
Then came the opportunity for me to be baptised and I seized it with both hands. Oh how precious was that time, when I publicly confessed my commitment to the Lord! This was a most wonderful experience for me.
Now, my husband has died and my daughter, who also has kept the faith, is looking me after. I am so blessed that I have such a good daughter to look after me. I thank The Lord for all his goodness to me
I feel blessed that I know the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. Even though I cannot manage to go to Church now, I know that I am part of the local family church, that I am loved, prayed for and helped whenever I need it.
I love reading the bible and like in particular the books of Mark and John in the New Testament. These tell of the Gospel, the good news, that Jesus, God’s eternal Son came down to earth to live amongst men; how He healed many, and told us about His Father and our Father. These books tell us how Jesus suffered and died for our sins.
I love and serve the one true and living God. The Lord Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour, who died for my sins and for all who will believe.
Hello my name is Richard, I would like to share with you how I became a Christian. Below is my Testimony of Gods Love to me through poetry. I trust the words as you read them will bless your heart.
Working away on a bare factory floor
No real friends had I got no future in store
Nobody liked me, I can’t blame them you see
I was selfish and immature, I cared only for me
I could win fights with words, no problem at all
Finding peoples weak point, that was my goal
I got my kicks from all this, why, I haven’t a clue
I think I wanted to be hated between me and you
I would hold my head high when people looked on,
Defiant and cocky, I knew I had won
I didn’t need friends, I was a loner till the end
And to be alone in my life, I was willing to spend
But I swore I would change my outlook on life
As it wasn’t worth all this trouble and strife
But I couldn’t, I was stuck in a rut, and I couldn’t get out
Alone in my world I wondered about life and whats it about
I knew a guy at work, he was a Christian of the deepest intent
He was morally upright and he said what he meant
I’d see him taunted of his conviction on the shop floor
He’d smile and walk courteously out of the door
Unlike me, I would have gone for the kill
I had trouble in keeping my stubborn toungue still
I built up my courage and walked over to him
I didn’t know at the time I was convicted of sin
I asked him this, is life mapped out
And if its so, please tell, whats it all about
He looked at me curiously we hadn’t spoken for ages
“Yes in a way”, he said, “Look at these pages”
The pages belonged to the book of the LORD,
He explained what they meant, and, he meant every word
He showed me Romans 8 verse 28
And I couldn’t get enough, we talked until late,
The next day I walked in, with questions in my mind
What about “Adam and Eve, the Dinosaurs, the fall of mankind”
He answered every question, I never questioned the Book,
I took it as the word of God, and worth a second look
He asked, what was stopping me from being born again,
I hadn’t got a clue, but I couldn’t answer then,
I rummaged round my head, for something to conflict
You worh, get married, grow old and die,,, thats it!
The Bible added a new dimension though, a light I hadn’t seen
I walked through endless pages, places I hadn’t been
He said, “God loves you, and wants you to follow him”
And automatically, life didn’t seem to be quite so dim,
So on that night in 84, I gave my life to God,
I realised where I was before him, I realised where I stood
I was a Sinner to the utmost degree
Thats why Christ had to die on that bloodstained tree
The next day, I told my new Brother at what I had done,
Well pleased He was, then taught what was to come,
Subject to ridicule and the expense of their jeers,
Hold these problems up to Christ, and he will definitely hear.
I didn’t gain any friends as I had really wanted
I was jeered, laughed at, pushed and taunted,
I had a new “Adversary” to deal with I hadn’t counted on
But the problems I had I held up to Gods Son,
And if I hold fast to the cross and give Jesus my all
I’m less likely to sway and less likely to fall
As a Christian goes, I’ve fallen quite a lot
But what picks me up is the love that I’ve got
I still haven’t many friends, just me and my dog
The friendship, the love of “JESUS CHRIST”, and the whole family of God.
My name is Robert Kiss. I come from Hungary. I am 46years old. I am married to Natalia and we have two sons, Daniel who is 14 years old and Dominic who is 7. My parents live in Budapest.
I have been in the UK now for 15 years, but I still keep my Hungarian accent. As a young man I represented my country in many fencing world championships, Europeans and two Olympic Games in 1992 and 1996 when I came 4th and 5th. I was seven times Hungarian National Champion in foil.
Before I heard the message about Jesus, I was so tense and impatient. I didn’t know where I was heading in my life. I was constantly looking for my place in the future. Sometimes I was confused and depressed, especially when my family members passed away in a very short period.
I come from a different culture and country, and sometimes it is difficult to cope and to understand the challenges, problems and stresses in my life. Believing in Jesus makes everything much easier: He gives me the strength and makes me calm. His confidence is helping me in all kinds of stages. Now I am more relaxed and I’ve a harmony, because I trust in God. Any time I am in trouble I know He can help me and Jesus shows me the right direction.
I have met lots of valuable people through Jesus. Every Sunday I recharge my battery in the church. I am a fencing coach, and any time my pupils are struggling on the fencing piste, I pray to God and most of the time there is a significant change in the results!
My heart fully trusts in Jesus Christ. Without Him I can’t be the same person that I am now. I think I am a better person than I used to be. I don’t know my future but I’m sure Jesus will look after me and protect me if I’m in Him. Reading the Bible and listening to the preaching is always a challenge – even in Hungarian it is very complicated, so the English is extremely hard for me! But every time I finish it I am more relaxed and balanced. I control my life smoothly. I fully trust in Jesus Christ.
In my eyes Jesus Christ is a Saviour. He’s the only hope in the world. He’s completely perfect in His holy body and soul. He’s the Son of God with the same authority and power as God Himself. He came to this world to save us. He sacrificed His life for us. Otherwise we are obviously in the Hell, because we are all sinners. Jesus is a gift from God, and we can only escape God’s punishment if we believe in Jesus Christ totally. He gave us an opportunity to change our life and repent.
In the beginning, we were made perfect and good by God, but we broke God’s law, so we have to face the consequences. We can’t see the future – all we can do is to trust in Jesus Christ and to follow His rules. Without Jesus we are already lost. If God did not care about His creatures, He would not have sent Jesus to save us.
Everybody’s life has good and bad periods (good days and bad days) – I want to be ready for both. As a fencer you need protection in the battlefield, and in my life Jesus if a protector against the Devil. He’s the protection for all my challenges and without Him I would be lost. He gives me strength, integrity and hope in this world.
I want to be part of the church because I like the people in this community. I’m a sinner like everybody else, but I’ve a chance to survive through Jesus the Saviour. That’s why I read the Bible every day because I’d like to understand God’s word better. Every day I try to learn from the Bible and use it to my benefit
Born in 1961, I grew up in a typical family situation and enjoyed many of the things most children got to enjoy at that time; great birthdays, great holidays, and great Christmases. My brother Gary and I had loving parents, but sadly Mum and Dad went through increasing turmoil in their marriage. At first much of it was hidden from us as young boys, but throughout our early teenage years, the hurt and anguish that Mum had been going through became increasingly obvious. Ultimately, their marriage couldn’t survive, and sadly ended in divorce some years later. In those days it was not as acceptable to have parents that had separated, and my brother and I certainly felt the shame of not having a family life like others seemed to have. I can distinctly remember many nights of hearing Mum crying in her pillow, trying not to wake us up. I think it is fair to say, Mum did incredibly well to bring up two boys on her own with little money, in a social climate where to be without her husband was looked down upon. Though Gary and I had acutely felt the insecurity of our broken home life, Mum did everything she could to make sure we wanted for nothing, and had the love of a thousand parents. All this certainly shaped our thinking over the years, and I suppose gave us some understanding of the turmoil, hurt and insecurity of those affected by a broken marriage.
Having left school I started my working life in a local mill called P & S Filtration. I had thought of myself as being ‘one of the lads’, and tried to get on with everybody, and worked my way up the promotion ladder as best I could. My local pub was the ‘Hare and Hounds’ at Holcombe Brook, and I spent many weekends going to the night-clubs in surrounding areas, doing all the things people do in night-clubs. Socially, I suppose I was quite likeable, but I was a bit of a show off at times, and I guess many found this to be irritating. I had a keen interest in photography, which developed more in to videography as video cameras became more accessible.
It was whilst working at the mill I first heard about ‘real’ Christianity. Up until then my understanding of Christianity was very limited and I guess I thought of it as one of the major religions of our world. Not knowing much of any other religion I suppose Christianity was the one I put myself under the umbrella of. Though I was encouraged to go to Sunday school in my childhood, much of my time was spent messing about in the class and trying to be the one who could come up with the most silly answers to any of the questions the Sunday school teachers might ask. I’d certainly never considered myself to be a religious person.
It was one late shift whilst working under a loom, that my work colleague and friend Gary Hilton challenged me with the true message of Christianity for the first time. (Gary was a school friend who had become a Christian some years earlier, and had started work at the mill at the same time as me). Being confronted with the truth about Christianity was an uncomfortable experience at first because I had never been challenged about my personal sin, and the need of a Saviour before. Although I could accept that I was not perfect, to come to terms with my sin being an offence to a Holy God was disconcerting to say the least. That first conversation was rather heated, at least on my part.
I went home that night very unsettled. I had always thought, that despite me having many imperfections, God would look down on me and see that I wasn’t that bad. I used to think to myself, “Surely He can see I wasn’t a murderer or a thief, I wasn’t a rapist and certainly didn’t go out of my way to hurt people. Surely He can see that I tried my best to do right by people, and that I’d done many kind and generous things, and that I would go out of my way to help people.” To now be confronted with the concept that God is Holy, and that my imperfections were an offence to Him, left me very troubled.
Over the next 18 months Gary explained many things about Christianity including the hopelessness of any goodness we as humans could offer to God, and the claims of Jesus Christ to forgive our sin. Inwardly, I found myself secretly agreeing with him. In every conversation with Gary, I was desperately trying to say that God must be able to accept me because He knew that deep down I was a nice decent person. Gradually, I began to understand that if God was holy, and heaven was perfect, then my imperfections were an offence to Him and that they would certainly defile heaven. This was making so much sense to me: God could never allow heaven to become defiled by my sin, otherwise it wouldn’t be heaven. I began to realise that God saw the hate, the lust, the jealousy, the pride in my heart, just as clear as my outward actions. I could see that God couldn’t just wink at my sin and usher me into heaven as if my sin was of no real consequence. If He were to do that, then heaven would be instantly defiled by my ability to lie, my ability to deceive, my hate, my lust, my jealousy and my pride. If I was being totally honest with myself, God could never allow me into heaven like that. But how could I get rid of such a defiled heart?
It wasn’t long before I realised there was nothing I could do to put right the sins in my own heart. There was no way I could outweigh the bad deeds with good ones. I certainly couldn’t prevent these kind of sins coming into my heart again. I did feel the guilt of this, and wondered if it would be possible to ever really get rid of this guilt. I desperately needed a Saviour who could forgive me for ALL my sin.
During my conversations with Gary, he’d told me many times that Jesus died on the cross, so that He could forgive me for my sin, and in so doing, would bring peace between God and me. Not only would He take my sin from me and bear it in His own body, but He would give me His perfect righteousness, making me pure and undefiled before God. In other words, God would look at me through Jesus, and He would see the pure righteousness of His dearly loved Son.
Though I kept this very much to myself, the realisation of this truth was overwhelming, and I knew I had no alternative but to sincerely ask Jesus to forgive me for my sin. Gary had mentioned more than once, that should I ever want to become a real Christian, there was no ‘magic prayer’ or formula of words that would make me one. What I needed to do was to say a prayer that I really meant, because God could see my heart, and knew whether or not I really meant it. This made so much sense to me, though I kept it completely to myself.
As I began to spend more and more social time with Gary and his friend Graham Westwell, I became increasingly aware that I didn’t have the peace and assurance in my life that they had. They were convinced that should anything ever happen to them, they would go to heaven, not because they were good enough, but because they had been forgiven by Jesus.
One Sunday evening, at the age of 18 years, I became so convicted by my sin and the need to be forgiven, I quietly went up stairs to my bedroom and finally asked Jesus to forgive me for all my sin, to come into my life, and make to be one of His children. I thanked Him for what He had suffered on the cross, as I realised He’d done it me, and I wanted now to live in a way that would please Him. After I had said “Amen”, I honestly thought something would happen to me. Maybe some kind of sensation would come over me, or a bright light would fill the room. I even went to the window to see if there might be anything in the sky I could see as a sign that God had accepted me. But there was nothing! Although I was very conscious about the fact that God was listening to me, and knew my heart, I had thought He might have indicated to me some how, that He had forgiven me.
I went to work the next morning, before the noisy weaving looms were switched on at 06:00am. As Gary was halfway down the weaving shed making a cup of tea, I told Graham what I had done the night before. Without saying a word, he stopped reading his paper, looked at me with a furrowed brow and mouth slightly ajar. The look on his face made me think I’d done something terribly wrong. For a few seconds his face never altered as he came to terms with what I’d said. Then suddenly he turned away from me and shouted to Gary “Gaz. Gaz!! Rob’s become a Christian!!!”. I was instantly trying to keep him quiet saying “Woa, shush, shush. Everyone will hear you!” and “I don’t even know if God has forgiven me yet, nothing happened.” Both Gary and Graham assured me that so long as I meant what I said in my prayer, God would have definitely forgiven me. Asking them not to tell the rest of my work mates fell on deaf ears: they were just to excited that I had been SAVED, and it wasn’t long before the whole factory knew that Rob Stredder had become a Christian.
All this came as a massive shock to everybody I knew. My family, my work colleagues, my friends I went to the pubs and night-clubs with, no-one who knew me could believe that I had became a Christian. The strange thing was, there did seem to be an angry reaction from some. My Mum and Dad seemed very angry about it, but I think this was more borne out of a concern, thinking I was involved with some kind of religious sect. My social friends really tried to get me to give up on Christianity immediately, forcibly picking me up in their car and taking me out on the town to try and get me drunk and wash this stupid idea of ‘becoming a Christian’ out of my head. They obviously had no idea of what a wonderful transformation had happened inside my heart. They were bitterly disappointed that my conversion had proven to be the real thing, and not some flash in the pan. In some of the debates I had with them afterwards I could physically see fury in their faces as the hurled insults at me cursing me with their curled lip, shouting things like: “You’ve just jumped on the band-wagon”. “Christianity is nothing but a crutch”. “You’ll be back drinking with us soon, you’ll see!” I can remember calmly replying; “I’ve jumped off the band-wagon, not on it”. The reality was that I had so much more to tell them. The more I tried, the more they stopped their ears, refusing to listen.
More than thirty years have passed and I am more in love with my Saviour than ever. He has brought me though some of the most difficult times of my life, and been a source of real strength through them all. He has promised never to leave me nor forsake me, and He will take me to be with Him in heaven when this life is finally over for me. I have full confidence of this because He has died to make this possible, and I don’t believe He would lie or mislead me on such a crucial matter as eternal life.
‘In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and gave his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. We love because he first loved us.’ (1 John 4 v.9,10,19)
My testimony to God’s grace
God has been active throughout my life even before I was born, but when was 12 years old He revealed Himself to me in a very special way. I had no idea how life-changing a seemingly chance meeting would be. One lunchtime at school I was sitting at a table in the canteen just minding my own business when a group of 5th year lads came and sat with me. I was quite shy and embarrassed and just wanted to get up and leave as quickly as possible. I’d never spoken to any of them before but they were friendly and good fun to be with so I began to sit with them regularly. As time went on we became quite good friends and one week they invited me along to the Chelford House Fellowship run by a christian called Mr. Smith. The day was mostly spent playing various sports, which have never been my favourite activity, but thankfully that didn’t put me off and I continued to go along each week. In the evening we would split up into groups for Bible study, then later Mr Smith would preach a sermon. This was the first time that I’d really been confronted with the message of the Bible. I listened to what was said and began to read the Bible for myself and pray each day. I genuinely enjoyed the meetings and wanted to learn more about God. However looking back I can see that this was just an outward change, I was trying to please God by becoming religious, I hadn’t understood that it was impossible for me to please Him or earn my salvation in any way. I actually remember thinking that I would be okay on the day of judgement because I had started to read and pray. Looking through my old notebook it’s clear that I knew the truth that I was a sinner and need to repent and trust in Christ for forgiveness, but I hadn’t experienced it. It was as if I thought I could parachute into the middle of the Christian life without getting right with God.
I started going to the fellowship in May and soon it was time for the fellowship holidays in the summer. It was there that the Lord opened my eyes to my true condition and showed me my need of Jesus Christ. Throughout the holiday we received clear, systematic teaching from the Bible about the way of salvation. For the first time I began to realise that Christianity was not about me doing things for God, but God saving me through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for me. I realised that I was the enemy of God because of my sin and that I needed to repent, turn away from my sin and trust Jesus Christ. This all came to a head during one of the evening meetings towards the end of the holiday. God really spoke to my heart about my sin and I was gripped by the fact that if I died that night, or Jesus came again, I would be lost in my sins and be punished forever. I could think about nothing else. But God did not leave me in this despair. He pointed me to the wonderful Saviour Jesus Christ who had suffered the punishment for my sin on the cross. That evening I put my trust in Jesus Christ and He saved me. God brought such a wonderful peace to my heart and ever since I’ve had the joy and assurance that I am safe in my Saviour for all eternity.
When I returned home I struggled to find a church to attend but the Lord drew near to me and kept my in my new faith. I was blessed with Christian friends who faithfully wrote to me and encouraged me. The Lord kept me hungry for His word and to grow in knowledge of Him. Several years later while I was staying with friends in Gloucester I realised that I couldn’t go on without regular Christian fellowship and Bible teaching so I began to attend Great Warford Baptist church. This is a wonderful example of God’s sovereign care for me because that same year I became ill with glandular fever and God really used His people there to comfort and strengthen me. My life would have been so much harder without them. The Lord has been with me throughout my illness, teaching me patience and humbling me. I think that one of the most precious things I’ve learnt, and I’m still learning, is that God is most concerned with who I am not what I do. My relationship with Him is dependent entirely upon the finished work of my Saviour. God has each day planned out for me and will give me the grace and strength to do what He wants, not what I want to do.
A couple of years ago Oliver and Alison invited me to come to Ramsbottom and live with them for a year. It was a difficult decision to make to leave behind my family and friends and the fellowship I’d come to love at Great Warford. But I knew that my soul would be richly fed from God’s word and God’s greatest desire is for me to grow in godliness. I knew that I would always regret it if I missed this opportunity, so I made the move. And I have been blessed above anything I ever imagined, built up by the consistent Bible ministry and fellowship here. There is no great mystery to a happy Christian life, it’s each day, each week receiving the food which the Lord provides for our souls and walking in obedience to Him. God has given me a wonderful spiritual home in the fellowship at Ramsbottom.
This is just a little of how the Lord has worked in my life and been so gracious to me. It’s my prayer that the Lord will speak to you and show you the wonderful Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I have been coming to church since I was very small. When I was younger I really enjoyed going to Sunday school. Now that I am older I like to sit in the service, to listen to the preaching and write some notes: these notes help me to remember what I have heard.
I have lots of friends at church and I like to talk to them after the service. It is my pleasure and delight to befriend new people when they come to church; I try to make them feel very welcome. I think this is one of the gifts God has given me.
Jesus is my friend and I pray to him at church and I pray to him when I am on my own. If things are worrying me I pray to Him. When my uncle Martin was very ill I prayed for him. When my cousin Matthew was ill I prayed for Him a lot.
My praying for others has helped me to understand that God is the one I must trust for everything.
Whenever I thought about being baptised I was too nervous to go ahead. Then I went to baptismal classes and became sure that I wanted to be baptised, even though I was still nervous, I was also excited to witness in this way. To be baptised publically is my way of telling everyone that Jesus is my Saviour and He is the one I trust and love.
I did not start attending Church until I was about 8 years old. My mother was a Christian, but my Father was not. I always remember in those early days, walking to Church with my mum and brother, but leaving my dad behind, often working in the garden.
During this time I attended the Boy’s Brigade, Sunday school, and services at Yateley Baptist Church in Hampshire. I enjoyed the activities in the Boy’s Brigade, and learnt much about the stories of the Bible and the gospel in the children’s and youth meetings. As I grew into my teenage years I continued to attend the services and young people’s meetings. I knew that I was a sinner. I knew that Jesus was the only Saviour, but I would not respond to the call for me to repent.
Eventually my dad and brother became Christians, were baptised and became members of the church. I though, continued to resist the gospel. This continued until I was 18 years old.
When I attained that ripe old age, I began to prepare to go to Loughborough University in order to study Economics with Accountancy. In the light of this my youth group leader formally recognised that I was to leave the group, by giving me a book written by John Blanchard, called, “Right with God” on 29th September 1985. Out loud I said, “Thank you”, but inside I said, “I will never read that!”
As the time to leave for university neared, my heart was intent on leaving behind the Christian teaching that I had been given over the previous 10 years. I wanted to live my life without the “shackles” of going to Church, and do what pleased ME. To me, university held a life of freedom to enjoy whatever I wanted.
So with that in mind, the day before leaving for Loughborough, I started to pack my belongings. As I did so, I came across the book, “Right with God”, that I had been given 5 days earlier. For some reason, I opened its pages. I alighted on the words, “This book is written for seekers.” I thought to myself, “Well, that certainly isn’t me!” But somehow I kept reading & reading & reading. All through the afternoon I read, until over 100 pages later I became crushed by the weight of my sin, and was caused to see my need of Jesus as my Saviour. Ever since I had heard of Jesus, I had grown in my knowledge about Him. However, now I trusted Him myself, as my own Saviour.
So I went to university, not to go my own way, but now to follow Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I praise God that He saved me.
My first day at university was highly significant. Having arrived & unpacked I met my next door neighbour in the hall of residence. Immediately he asked if I was going to the disco that night. Just 24 hours earlier I would have said yes, being wholly in line with my plans. Now, though I said that I would not be going. While I was talking to him, another knock sounded on the door. A couple from the Christian union came to invite me to their meetings. Prior to my leaving for university, my mum has given my name to the Christian union, but had informed them I was not a Christian. So as these 2 students invited me, I guess they wondered whether I would come. So in front of my neighbour I gladly said yes, and went to the meeting later in the evening.
At the meeting, we all sat in a circle, and were asked to introduce ourselves, saying who we were, where we came from, what we were studying and how long we had been Christians. Imagine the surprise, when I outlined that I had only become a Christian 24 hours earlier!
Through my first year at University I grew as a Christian in my knowledge of, and service of the LORD. He provided a good Christian friend, who took me to Holywell Free Church in Loughborough, and taught me the fundamental truths of the Bible. I also became involved in the Christian union, eventually leading the Bible study group in my hall of residence.
During my summer holidays, I engaged in Beach mission with some university friends. The 2nd of these was at Westward Ho! In Devon, under the leadership of Dave Harding (now at Milnrow Evangelical Church). One night Dave announced that ALL that lads should preach in the open air for 2 minutes. Panic set in among us, but we all got up, accompanied by our nerves, to preach the gospel. On that night I knew God’s help and enabling, and it was the first step of leading His me to full time ministry.
Having left University I went to work as an accountant. Firstly, for Tektronix in Marlow and then, for Motorola in Basingstoke. During this time I became a deacon at Yateley Baptist Church, but my desire to preach grew and grew. While we were without a pastor I spoke to the elder of the Church about this, and offered myself to preach one Sunday. Bravely he invited this timid 22 year old to preach. I took 1 Timothy 1v15 as my text, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. I was even asked to preach again!
In time the Church called as its pastor, David Potterton, who had just finished his studies at the London Theological Seminary. He took me under his wing, gave me a lot of time, teaching and encouragement, and this led to the Church formally considering whether I should be set aside to be a minister of the gospel. The Church rigorously examined God’s providence in my life, my gifting, my service of the Lord, etc. In due course the Church decided that it was right for me to enter ministry, after having completed a course of training. They then sent me to the London Theological Seminary (LTS), where I took a 2 year course under the tutelage of some godly pastors and lecturers.
Upon leaving LTS I served in the Church in Yateley, while I sought the Lord concerning the future. During this time I became engaged to Maggie, and the Lord led us to our first taste of the North of England. In May 1994, I became the pastor of the small congregation of Ribchester Evangelical Church, through a mutual contact of Peter Brumby. Eventually, Maggie joined me there when we were married in the July.
Up till then & ever since, the Lord has been kind, faithful and forgiving. He has been there through all the ups and downs of the life and ministry that I have encountered, and I know that He will be faithful even to the end.