Testimonies - stories of God at work in people's lives
The parting words of Jesus to his followers as he went up to heaven were:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28: 19-20)
In other words, "Go and tell everyone all about God and me and what I've done to change their lives forever - and don't forget to tell them I'm still around!"
As sharing the good news about what God has done is our first, and most important, mission as Christians, here are stories from our members of the ways we've personally encountered God, along with some testimonies of key figures who've influenced our worship and understanding of the Christian life:
Memories of a a journey of faith on Hayling Island
How I first met God
At 3 years of age there was just my mum and me. My father left when I was 2 years old. A naughty 3-year-old I was! I climbed the garden gate, walked down the road until I heard music playing. I followed the music and climbed the steps, opened the door, and placed myself on a seat at the back of a large hall. A band was playing and people were singing and clapping their hands. A lady approached me, took my hand, and asked me my name. We went outside where my mum was coming from one direction and my nan from another, both frantic over where I was.
The lady was the young people’s Sergeant Major. She spoke to my mum and asked if I could go to their Sunday school at the Salvation Army. From then on I went twice on Sundays. When I was old enough I became a young soldier and gave my heart to the Lord.
Later, I played a flugalhorn and cornet in the band. I became a member and wore full uniform. They called me "Sister Anna who carried the banner" to and from the open air meetings. I had found a family and a Father!
I believe the Lord had his hand on me at 3 years of age, as not one person in my family was Christian. Mercifully, just three months before my mum died she gave her life to the Lord too.
When God told us it was time to move countries
Freed from addiction
Christy & Nick
A surprise adventure
My husband and I grew up, met, married and settled in Johannesburg, South Africa. One morning, as we were finishing off our usual bible reading and prayer time together, I had a feeling that we should make time to listen to God. As we sat there quietly I got the strangest impression that God had a big adventure in store for us and I said to my husband, "I think you're going to get offered a job in another city today".
He called me up that afternoon: "You'll never believe it, but I've just been offered a job near Cape Town by one of our clients!"
"We'll know it's the Lord if they're prepared to pay for the move," I said.
Sure enough, they were, and so began an adventure that brought many new experiences, friends, and opportunities for growth into our lives.
Soon after moving there, while trying to take in the breathtaking beauty of the sea and the mountains God was sharing with us, I sensed this would not be a "forever" move for us, but was rather part of a bigger journey. Sure enough, 8 years later, we found ourselves thrust into a completely unexpected new adventure that landed us on far more distant shores. But that's another story...
How picking up a bible changed my life
A lifetime with God
I was born, and grew up, in Cape Town, South Africa. I attended Sunday- School as a child and had a desire for the things of God from an early age but only gave my life to the Lord as a teenager at a Christian camp. I can vividly remember kneeling in a forest clearing with a friend and being led by a teacher in praying the sinner’s prayer and asking Jesus to come into my life. Of course I had no idea then of the ways in which the Lord would lead me in the future. After leaving school, I spent a year in the armed forces. At my first place of employment, I met my wonderful wife, Moira. After qualifying as a teacher, we were married. I taught for a number of years before we entered into full time ministry. Over the years of ups and downs, I became very conscious that despite many mistakes made, God continued to be my Shepherd and Guide, leading me in the ways He wanted me to go. Little did I know that would lead to us living on Hayling Island!
Knowing the Lord as my personal Saviour all these years has been an amazing joy and a privilege. He has assured me over and over, that despite the times when I am disobedient to his leading, He will sustain, protect and guide me. He has continued to do so in many amazing ways. Proverbs 3:5&6 has become very special to me:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
He has straightened many paths for me over the years. Like Pilgrim in the book "Pilgrim's Progress", the path is never an easy one, but God has, through his precious Word, helped me to persevere.
Sarah & David
A lifetime with God
David and I don't really have any particular moment to share - no Damascene conversions for us, but rather a lifelong faith lived out in our professional lives and now in our retirement. It was a remark passed this last week by someone that, being retired, for us our lives will be no different during 'lockdown' from normal - but this couldn't be further from the truth. It is in looking back over our almost 50 years of marriage - and for me since early childhood - that we can see how God has guided us throughout in making decisions on our employment, on where to live, in how we raised our children and how we spent our money, and in particular in testing times. I once heard someone say that there is no such thing as retirement in the kingdom of God and we have both taken that to heart: for David in his mentoring of prisoners, his debt advice work, and for both of us in our participation in Open the Book, Hayling Holiday Lunches and Christian Aid on the Island. We have never regarded ourselves as 'elderly' but now we have been put in that group by the government health advisers, and instead of being able to be a Hayling Helper we have to accept help. Maybe this is God's way of making us rest and just 'be' but it does not come easy. We are "James" people - "what good is faith without works" - whilst acknowledging the amazing and undeserved gift from God of our Lord Jesus who is alongside us all in the crisis.