Stories of Faith Archive

Be encouraged!

Stories of Faith Archive Accordion

Several years ago I turned my garage into a large bedroom with a comfortable sitting room and en-suite bathroom. I hoped that it would be a lovely place for my elderly father who was not well. Sadly he never came to live in it. I had no idea that a couple of years later it would be such a significant place for me. I was born in India and grew up there with my brothers and sisters. Mum and Dad did their best and it was a good childhood, but I didn’t feel deeply loved. During my teenage years we came to England. I grew up in a Sikh family, so we believed that there is a God and we wanted to please God. We observed many of the rituals and special occasions In some ways I achieved a lot of things, but my soul felt empty and there was lots of hurt. I didn’t keep God in my thoughts and I didn’t know what God is really like. As a Sikh I didn’t know about God’s promises. My marriage didn’t work out and I felt let down. I felt that I had no value. I became bitter and couldn’t trust anyone. This was not how I had imagined my life. I was trying to find approval, but could not find real love. Early in 2020 I had had enough. I felt so broken. No matter what I did I could not find peace or happiness. When Covid-19 started I thought I had it and I was scared. My anxiety levels soared and I had panic attacks. It was at that time I isolated myself in my garage ‘bedsit’. There was a television in it and one afternoon I turned it on and flicked through a few channels listening to bits here and there. I heard some people talking about God. I listened. I found it soothing. I started to pray. The first Bible verse I remember was Jesus saying, ‘Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest’. For the next few weeks I watched TBN all the time. I asked God to take away my fear. As I listened I heard them talking about a salvation prayer, which I prayed and asked Jesus into my life. I began to learn that the Bible says we are sinners and in order to have forgiveness we need to repent. I broke down and repented and confessed my sins to God. I started to read the Bible, especially the Psalms - I cried lots and lots … as I read and cried, somehow I began to feel a deep inner peace and healing. I began to feel free. There in my converted garage the Lord forgave me and began to heal me deep within. Through TBN I signed up for an alpha course and learned much more about Jesus and what he has done for us, and what it means to trust him. As I read more of the Bible I realised how much God helps me and how much he was helping me even when I did not know it. I have only started this new journey of faith with the Lord Jesus Christ, and there is much for me to learn. But this new life started as God began to heal me in my garage.
I come from a Hindu background, and during my childhood lived with my family in Hong Kong and Okinawa (Japan), due to my father’s business.  My father was not strictly religious but was more open-minded; it was my mother who was more devotional in her Hindu beliefs. In Okinawa my father sent me and my siblings to a local school which was an English-speaking school.  Dad did not know it at the time but it was a Christian missionary school.  It was here that I first became exposed to Christianity.  From the age of seven to sixteen I was in that school. I generally believed in God, being aware there was Someone Greater, looking after me. I then came to UK as a young adult. Although I had a belief in God, I never really prayed or worshipped regularly. God was someone far away, that I would go to only in times of trouble. I knew there was God, but did not really know Him. Sometime during my time in UK, I went through a personal crisis. During that time, I was introduced to a fellow Sindhi who was a Christian and lived in the UK, and they were a big support to me. This man and his wife were kind to me, and helped me during my difficult time. He took me to church and talked about his life since coming to Christ. I was not looking for God or a new belief, but I was curious to know more about the Christian faith. Even though I had attended a Christian school, somehow, I had missed the message. But now, the time was right, and because of my grief and my curiosity, I started thinking about who God was. This led me to explore more, and the more I explored the more God brought me nearer to Himself. There came a time that I received the Holy Spirit and my life turned around 180 degrees. I remember thinking about myself as a ‘good man’ but over time I came to a realisation that this was not the case. The Holy Spirit in me revealed the darkness and a radical change of heart came about. Overnight I started to see everyone in a new light, as the hidden prejudices that I had within me began to surface before me and then melted away. I remember that day well, as I began to bless everyone that I passed on the street. God has sent different people at different times to support and encourage me in my journey with Christ; to help me along the way and to answer the questions that I had. Now … I not only know that there is a God, Someone Greater who is looking after me, but I know Him personally.
I was born in Liverpool to parents who had a nominal Christianity (they believed in God in a general sense, went to church from time to time and would identify as being ’Christian’ but did not practice).  Although they took me to be baptised as a baby in the local Church of England, during my younger childhood years since then my sister and I were not taken to church. Our lives were certainly not lived according to Christian beliefs.  We had quite a turbulent home life – with times of relative calm.  My parents had some marital issues, and my Mum was quite vulnerable emotionally, so she sought comfort in alcohol to some degree.  When I was four or five years old, I remember seeing her have a ‘nervous breakdown’.  My Dad was a jolly but short-tempered man, so there were some stressful times at home. At some point in my childhood as I grew, our family became church-goers again, but we would not have called ourselves ‘born-again’ Christians. My sister and I were taken to a very traditional Anglican church. I was not taught that I needed my own relationship with Christ, it was just a form of godliness that was missing God’s power. Yet I had a very definite awareness that God existed. At the age of 17 I moved to London in order to find a job.  I had a limited social life, not many friends, and most of the time felt lonely. At some point I met a Christian lady on a bus who invited me to their house meetings.  These helped to fill a void in my life in some way, but I didn’t continue with the group. There was something missing - it seemed to me that the leader was a bit distant, or cold.  But, God was drawing me to Himself.  I got a Bible through the group, and felt comfort when I read from it one night alone. I left the group after going to a few meetings, as I was tempted away elsewhere. Several years later I met another lady who invited me to join her at her church activities.  This time I was quite affected by the meetings, which were quite different to the previous church group, and I felt that I needed more than just an awareness that God existed. I eventually went to church on my own, through a Christian lady I had previously been renting a room from, who told me about her church.  In one of those services the opportunity was given for people to come to the front of the church if they wanted to receive salvation. I went forward.  I felt overwhelmed by God and remember crying.  God also gave me a new Christian friend in my workplace who encouraged me a lot. My interests changed from nightclubs to prayer and Bible studies! I began to experience the Holy Spirit at times when I would pray.  I began serving in my new church home, and God led me into sharing my faith and several mission trips overseas.  I began to learn about the spiritual battle we face as Christ’s followers, and have had some challenging experiences which God has used to strengthen me in Him. Today, I am a thankful person, who knows the reality of Christ to transform lives.
I was born by Christian parents but I was not brought up by them.  I did not come to know my biological mother until I reached the age of 10.  I was brought up by my paternal aunt who was a Muslim, but, because my mother was a Christian, she never took me to the mosque.  She allowed me to attend a church with her husband, which I did for a short time.  Some years later I started attending church again when I was living with my brother, before I got married.  I went with him to church and I started to get involved in the children’s work and the youth church, but, at this stage, I did not have the personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. I was an angry child - the anger usually arose like a strong man from inside of me.  When this used to happen, a very strange strength would come over me.  As a teenage girl, I could beat up a grown man; I could lift up the man and throw him down to the ground.  So, whenever someone was doing something wrong in the house, they would always look around to see if I was there.  They knew that If I was there, I could get very angry and trouble would start.  A strong spirit of anger dominated my life. One Easter period I was sent to a youth camp, and it was on the Easter Sunday morning that I met the risen Lord Jesus Christ.  I invited Jesus into my life, I experienced a great peace.  During prayers, I could feel that something big got out of my heart.  I was delivered from a spirit of anger and I was filled with joy.  I was singing and dancing and praising the Lord with all my heart.  When I returned home after the camping period my family couldn’t believe the joy that now filled my heart and how my life had changed.  I was no more that angry teenage girl - the change surprised everyone who knew me. My life started to have meaning.  My Christian involvements in church became meaningful and I was filled with the Holy Spirit.  That is why the Easter celebrations every year are very important to me as I always remember the transformation that I experienced as a teenager, when I first met the risen Lord. That was over 45 years ago and today I am still rejoicing in His deliverance and that he has adopted me into God’s family.
Being born into a one parent family in the 1960s was unusual but wasn’t too bad.  It was when my mother remarried that things took a turn for the worse and I quickly grew to resent the new man in our close family unit. Dislike grew to resentment, which grew to hatred.  I stopped talking to my stepfather even though we lived in the same house!  Although we didn’t actually fight, I remember planning to lace his tea with rat poison – mercifully, I didn’t. As an art student I was a typical angry teenager who wanted to flee home as soon as possible, until my best friend at college became a Christian and changed overnight.  He stopped doing drugs, took off his dark glasses and told me to read the Bible. As I read the story of Jesus, the man from Galilee fascinated me and I grew an affection and admiration for someone who could die on a cross and still say, ‘Father, forgive them.’ One night at the age of 18 I fell on my knees (it seemed the right thing) and prayed: ‘God, if you’re out there…’   At the moment I spoke those words I felt a supernatural presence around me, so close.   ‘I’ve failed you and screwed up,’ I said.  This was personal, it didn’t matter that others had done it too; I had offended God and I didn’t want to face hell.  I prayed, ‘Take control of my life and give me your Holy Spirit’.  At that very millisecond I knew as sure as I could ever be that I had eternal life.  I belonged to Jesus and I was safe.  If I walked out that room and got run over by a bus, it didn’t matter because Jesus held me tight and would never let me go. From that moment I had a new purpose in life - to please Jesus in everything.  I started reading the Bible, I prayed, I worshipped, and I had a respect for the awesome power of my saviour God, a real Father to me.  No longer did I see God as someone waiting to punish me with a stick (at that time, a bamboo pole was used by my stepfather to deal out punishment). But I still didn’t talk to my stepfather - I ignored him and didn’t talk to him; an arrangement that suited me perfectly as I enjoyed fantasising how I might hurt him.  That summer I went on holiday and near the end went looking for gifts to take home to my family.  As usual, I tried to find the most pathetic, cheap and nasty gift for my stepfather so I could emphasise the point he was an unwelcome stranger to me, but as I stood in front of a shop window, a voice spoke inside my head, cutting through all the bitterness and anger, ‘Simon, I have forgiven your sins - so much. Now, you must forgive your stepfather as I have forgiven you’. This was a huge battle for me: I had spent years savouring my rage and hatred so I had become addicted to it. The minutes ticked by and then I surrendered to that still small voice and brought my stepfather his favourite gift box of sweets.  When I arrived home, I walked up to him and said, ‘Here you are -I hope you enjoy them’.  Everybody was stunned - and for the first time in years we spoke to each other.  On that day I learned that obedience to my heavenly Father was non-negotiable and I brought a smile to God’s face.  He is my true father.
My brilliant Mum, a single-parent, had always taken us to church.  When I was about 10 my brother and I were not enjoying it anymore and we asked to stop going.  I know now how tough this was on my Mum. Aged 16, I did a three-week Outward Bound course in the Lake District.  Here I met a lovely guy called Gary, who introduced himself as a Christian.  This made me question: ‘wasn’t I a Christian, too?’ I believed in God; I was a nice person; I had never done anything wrong (so I thought!). Afterwards we stayed in touch, and he encouraged me to read the Bible.  I started reading Genesis.  To be honest, it just seemed like a story, and at that point I really didn’t understand what any of it had to do with me. When I was 18 I left home to work at Butlin’s in Skegness (as a chalet maid!)  After a series of bad experiences, I returned home early.  The following day was a Sunday, and as my Mum was out for the day, I took this opportunity to go along to church on my own, to investigate Christianity a bit!  I remember nothing from the sermon, but the people were really friendly, and welcoming.  That same evening I attended a Bible study.  As we read ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ together, I could see what great sense Jesus’ teaching made. Less than 2 weeks later I went away on a church youth weekend.  Here I learned for the first time how close God is to us.  I had always imagined God to be miles away from us, looking down on us from heaven.  Now I realised that I could talk to Him like my closest friend. This immediately changed my prayer life, and in my next prayer I asked God to show me what it meant to be a Christian. The Sunday evening meeting began with two women giving their testimonies about how they had become Christians.  One of them, Karen, explained how God had shown her what a horrible person she was.  As I listened, it was as if God was playing a movie reel in my head of scenes from my life, showing me so many things that I, too, had done wrong.  I couldn’t believe it!  I had thought I was perfect!  As I realised all the things I had done wrong, I began to cry.  I was gutted.  I had to leave the meeting.  I went to the Ladies, where I wept and wept.  Suddenly I realised that this was why Jesus had died: to pay the price for all these things I had done wrong: my ‘sins’. I had always believed myself to be perfect.  If I had done anything wrong, it had always been somebody else’s fault.  But now God had shown me this was not the case.  I had sinned plenty!  And now I realised that Jesus hadn’t just died for other people.  He had died for me!  I was devastated.  What could I do? All at once I found that although I was still weeping, this time, I was weeping with joy. I experienced the most amazing presence of God, right there with me.  For the first time I understood that Jesus dying on the cross was not the end of the story!  Jesus had risen again to give me a new life with God.  Right then and there I was beginning to experience the joy of this new life. This was the beginning of my new life in a relationship with Jesus.
I have always loved music.  From the age of 6, when I was given the choice of learning to play the violin and recorder, I knew that the violin was my instrument and, even though I was still very young, I was determined to be a concert violinist. I practised hard and learned quickly.  I excelled at the violin in school and I got through to the local borough's music school at the age of 15 and went straight into the first violins (second violins was more usual) in their higher orchestra. Over time I played at the Royal Albert Hall and I began to really feel that I was on my way to becoming the concert violinist that I dreamed about. Then I met Jo.  She was my desk partner, she was 10 and had finished grade 8; I was now 16 and was on grade 6.  I suddenly realised in that moment that the career i wanted to forge wasn't for me. So what has all of this to do with being a Christian and knowing God you might ask? Well, my walk with Christianity has shown me that life doesn't always follow the plans you want.  We face disappointments and frustrations, but always God has better things coming along. I was brought up in a Christian home, but to be honest the faith thing didn't really resonate with me until I was in my late 20s to 30s. I decided to go back to Christ when there was the breakdown of a relationship and I realised this wasn't the path for me.  I remember clearly God telling me that everything would be alright in the end - just trust Him and follow his  word. I have had a varied Christian life, but during the tough times, and during the times of doubt, the words of a poem have helped me. The poem is called Footprints in the Sand.  It uses the picture of footprints across a beach to describe trusting God and walking with God through life.  As the person walks with God they leave two sets of footprints in the sand.  At some points, the two trails become just one, and the person recognises that this happens at their lowest and most hopeless moments.  They ask God about this, thinking perhaps that the Lord must have abandoned them during those times.  The Lord then explains: ‘During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you’. As I look back on my life there have always been 'one set of footprints in the sand' that have carried me through.  As I look back I can see and realise that God has always got me covered and will always look out for me.  God will do the same for you if you will trust him. There is a Bible verse that gives me a lot of comfort and hope.  Philippians 4:13 says, 'I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength'. Sample Description
All of us hope that 2022 will be better than last year – with fewer restrictions and less chance of ending up in hospital with Covid-19.  Probably most of us have other hopes: to pass exams; gain promotion at work; travel again; get married; start a family.  Our Queen has a royal family wedding to look forward to after her distant cousin, Lady Tatiana Mountbatten, announced her engagement. Our hopes are not always going to come to pass so what can we know for certain? Here is something that God wants you to know, whatever else does or does not work out for you this year, this is certain.  It is also the most amazing privilege.  It transforms everything. God wants you to know that you can know him. At the end of a match a few fans around courtside may have the opportunity to take a quick selfie if one of the tennis players stops to sign their programme or tennis ball.  They go away happy.  Yet that is a far cry from having a personal relationship being a friend of that player. Yet this is what God offers you in 2022 – the opportunity, the privilege, the joy of getting to know him personally. In the Bible we see how many women and men enjoyed this relationship: Enoch walked with God; Abraham is called the friend of God; his wife, Sarah, was a woman of faith; Naomi and Ruth helped each to trust in God and know his help in every situation they encountered. Through the prophet Jeremiah God gave a new promise that would be signed sealed and delivered through the perfect sacrifice that Jesus would make for us.  Here it is: ‘This is the covenant I will make … ’ declares the Lord … ‘I will be their God, and they will be my people … ’they will all know me, from the least to the greatest … because I will forgive [them]’ (Jeremiah 31:33-34 – The Bible). Did you notice the words that I put in italics – ‘from the least to the greatest’?  No matter what qualifications you do or do not have; no matter what status in society you have or do not have; no matter what you have done, either of good or bad, you can enjoy this privilege to know God personally. How is that possible?  Because God promises, he ‘will forgive our sins’.  If we confess to God that we have been wrong (e.g. we have lied when God says to be truthful or we have been angry when God says to be patient; we have harboured grudges, when God says to forgive others); then when we confess that we have been wrong and turn to God, God is ready to forgive, to remove everything that comes between us and God, and we can begin to enjoy the privilege of knowing God. You may know the song from the musical The King and I, popularly known as ‘Getting to know you’.  It is sung by Anna, who became teacher to the children of the King of Siam.  Here are some of the words: ‘Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, Getting to hope you like me’.  The song goes on to describe what a difference this makes in her life, ‘Haven’t you noticed?  Suddenly I’m bright and breezy because of all the beautiful and new things I’m learning about you day by day’. Even better is the privilege that you can begin to enjoy this year – to know God personally.  For the next few weeks our ‘Thought for the Week’ will offer stories of people today who belong to the High Road Baptist Church family.  I hope they will inspire you and encourage you to trust God and so to enjoy this privilege that YOU can know God too. To find out more call: 07747745776
I have always loved music.  From the age of 6, when I was given the choice of learning to play the violin and recorder, I knew that the violin was my instrument and, even though I was still very young, I was determined to be a concert violinist. I practised hard and learned quickly.  I excelled at the violin in school and I got through to the local borough's music school at the age of 15 and went straight into the first violins (second violins was more usual) in their higher orchestra. Over time I played at the Royal Albert Hall and I began to really feel that I was on my way to becoming the concert violinist that I dreamed about. Then I met Jo.  She was my desk partner, she was 10 and had finished grade 8; I was now 16 and was on grade 6.  I suddenly realised in that moment that the career i wanted to forge wasn't for me. So what has all of this to do with being a Christian and knowing God you might ask? Well, my walk with Christianity has shown me that life doesn't always follow the plans you want.  We face disappointments and frustrations, but always God has better things coming along. I was brought up in a Christian home, but to be honest the faith thing didn't really resonate with me until I was in my late 20s to 30s. I decided to go back to Christ when there was the breakdown of a relationship and I realised this wasn't the path for me.  I remember clearly God telling me that everything would be alright in the end - just trust Him and follow his  word. I have had a varied Christian life, but during the tough times, and during the times of doubt, the words of a poem have helped me. The poem is called Footprints in the Sand.  It uses the picture of footprints across a beach to describe trusting God and walking with God through life.  As the person walks with God they leave two sets of footprints in the sand.  At some points, the two trails become just one, and the person recognises that this happens at their lowest and most hopeless moments.  They ask God about this, thinking perhaps that the Lord must have abandoned them during those times.  The Lord then explains: ‘During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you’. As I look back on my life there have always been 'one set of footprints in the sand' that have carried me through.  As I look back I can see and realise that God has always got me covered and will always look out for me.  God will do the same for you if you will trust him. There is a Bible verse that gives me a lot of comfort and hope.  Philippians 4:13 says, 'I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength'.
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