These are the stories of people who are part of our church family. Some of them are very new followers of Jesus and some have followed him for many years...
21.02.2021 Roger's story
Turning my head I gazed admiringly at the girl as she strolled past. Her impish smile, long dark flowing hair and trim figure made her perfect in my eyes. She was my Mona Lisa and I longed to be her de Vinci. I recognised her as the daughter of a Christian youth leader who lived nearby. Devising a plan to see her again I recalled that our local theatre was staging an exciting production in the not too distant future. Fortunately I was able to purchase two tickets with which to entice her. In the meantime I needed to win her affection. I decided to call upon her with a box of chocolates. Approaching the door I plucked up the courage to knock. Imagine my dismay when her father answered,
"Hello, how can I help you? "
Being too shy to admit that I was calling on his daughter I thought quickly.
"My life feels so empty. I think I need God?"
"Come indoors and we can talk about it."
Leading me into a sitting room with dark mahogany furniture that seemed better suited to the Victorian era he invited me to a monthly gathering of young people. Termed a 'squash' due to the large number that congregated it was held at a house in a nearby town.
"You will meet other young people. We have visiting speakers who tell of their faith."
I remember little of the 'squash' other than the speaker remarking how a spider wove a delicate web in order to draw in its victim. He then spoke of how God in His love, often used people and circumstances in order to draw others to Himself. He went on to ask if anyone felt God was drawing anyone to Him. I wondered if that was happening to me but there were more pressing concerns. I needed to find an appreciative recipient for my spare theatre ticket.
Not having the courage to ask a girl, I chose Martin, a lad of a similar age to myself with whom I felt a close affinity. Telling him of my dilemma he offered to accompany me on one condition.
"I will come to the theatre with you providing you agree to come with me to a film show."
I thought that was a pretty good deal. Not only would I have company at the theatre but I would also get to watch a film. Martin neglected to inform me however, that rather than being shown in one of Southend's many plush cinemas the film show was taking place in a church hall. Upon entering I was aghast at the number of people with arms raised, exclaiming such peculiarities as 'Hallelujah ' and 'Praise the Lord'.
'These weirdos have really lost the plot, they're at least twopence short of the full shilling', I thought to myself.
Still a promise is a promise, so I took my seat beside Martin. The film itself showed an evangelistic crusade rally. The evangelist T.L. Osborne was speaking about the love and healing power of Christ. As he spoke an inner voice kept echoing in my head, 'This is what you need. Accept God's love, joy and peace.'
Having grown up with emotional and behavioural difficulties I felt starved of any of these emotions. At school I had been taught to view myself as useless. This was a lesson I had learnt well. At the end of the film an associate evangelist called upon members of the audience to raise their hands if they wished to encounter Christ. I sat firmly upon mine for after all I realised, if I raised my hand Martin would think that I had lost my marbles like the rest of the weirdos. Unknown to me Martin was frantically praying that I would do just that.
It was as if an unknown force took hold of my hand and it shot up in the air. Martin opened his eyes after praying, to find my hand raised. Upon invitation I went forward and was led in the prayer,
'Father, I know I have messed up my life. I thank you that Jesus died in order to restore me to God. Please forgive me for all my wrongdoing and take charge of my life so I may live for you. Amen.'
As I prayed it felt as though a powerful waterfall was rushing through my body cleansing me and making me whole. That was the start of a lifelong journey. I had accepted the love, joy and peace of Christ, I had not however been taught about the cost of commitment. That is another story. Kind Regards.
Roger M Daniel
14.02.2021 From a couple
I was brought up in a very loving home. My parents were ‘nominal’ Christians and sent my sister, Moira, and I to Sunday School from a young age. At the age of 7, I joined Crusaders, which was part of my life well into my late teens. I started attending the SU group at school when I moved to Secondary School. The witness of my Crusader leaders and the young people at SU (it was a student led group) had a huge effect on me. I could see that they had something I didn’t have and, at the age of 14, I gave my life to Jesus, recognising that I needed his forgiveness and asking him to be my Lord and Saviour. At that time, Moira and I started attending Bearsden Baptist Church, and I was baptised later that year. My Mum, who had gone forward at a Billy Graham crusade in the 50s, came along to church with us, and recommitted her life to Jesus at that time too.
Bearsden Baptist Church had a very active Youth Fellowship so Moira and I became part of that. SU, Crusaders and YF gave us such a wonderful support network of young Christians and we had so much fun and fellowship in those years, helping me to grow as a young Christian, alongside the teaching I received at church. I greatly appreciate the blessing of having so many Christian friends and influences in those years.
In 1985, I qualified as a Dietitian but couldn’t get a job in Glasgow. I went to Keighley in West Yorkshire for an interview and was offered the job. I remember feeling strong confirmation in my heart that God wanted me to take the job, despite the terror I felt about the prospect. Within the space of a week, I had moved down to Yorkshire. This was a massive and life-changing wrench for me as I was the home-bird of all home-birds! Living so far from my Mum, Dad and sister was incredibly difficult, but God was with me every step of the way and truly was my rock through it all. I got involved in the local church and was incredibly grateful to many lovely Christians who took me under their wing and helped me through those desperately homesick times.
My second job took me to Northallerton, where I met Paul. He wasn’t a Christian so I agonised in prayer when he asked me out and, although it went against what I had been taught as a young Christian, I felt a very strong sense that God wanted me to say yes. I knew on our very first date that he would be the man I married! Within a few weeks of us getting together, Paul had given his life to the Lord – what an answer to prayer! Paul is, and always will be, my soulmate.
We have been very blessed with two wonderful children – Ross and Lisa - who now have very special partners – Leandra and Calvin. As their Mum, I have seen God’s hand throughout both Ross and Lisa’s lives, even though they may not have seen it themselves. He has protected them and led them down the right paths, opening and closing doors at the right times. Ross and Lisa are my pride and joy and very precious gifts from God.
I consider myself incredibly blessed, but have also faced tough times, which God supported me through all the way. Through my teens and twenties, I suffered from an eating disorder that led me to consider suicide on several occasions. God walked with me through those bleak and dark times, and, with the love and support of my fantastic family, enabled me to come out the other end. I prayed for healing throughout those year and, although it took a very long time, God did heal and restore me in his perfect time.
Having Jesus in my life is the greatest thing in the world. He is my constant companion and I talk to him throughout the day about anything and everything. I cannot imagine not having him by my side and don’t know how people who don’t know him cope with all that life throws at them. He is my rock, my ever-present help in trouble, my Saviour, and so much more.
One of my heart’s desires is to become more like Jesus; to reflect him in the way I live my life and to shine like a light for him. I fail on both counts every single day, but he forgives me and patiently supports me as I try again, despite my failures. The other great desire of my heart is that my loved ones who are not Christians will come to know the amazing joy of having Jesus in their lives.
My early years were spent in a little village in North Yorkshire where I was looked after by my Mum and later by my Mum & Step Father. It was a strange upbringing to a degree; at one stage there were 7-8 people living under the same roof, Grandad, Uncles and Aunts, no one had moved out of the family home even though all were adults. It was hard to have friends around and sleep overs were impossible due to the house dynamics.
My Mum had a small church connection, supporting various rota’s, making sandwiches in the village hall for church fete’s, flower rota in the Parish Church etc, so I attended church with her occasionally and got confirmed at the age of eleven.
I made my way through school, pretty much making my own decisions as I went along. My family didn’t see education maybe as importantly as they could have in those formative years, so it was hard and, being so young, I made some wrong decisions in terms of the subjects I decided to study.
Upon leaving school I was still at home, my life was pretty much split between work and sport, clocking up thousands of miles following my football team around the country and attending all home games. At that stage of my life I had no real ambition, I had no one to share things with, I was definitely ‘plodding’ along; not unhappy but not challenged or content either.
Then suddenly my life came to ‘life’ when Linda walked into it. We worked together in the NHS. Every day I would see this happy smiling young girl walking across in front of my office window; there was something ‘different’ about her, a spark I’d not experienced previously. I plucked up the courage to ask her out. Unbeknown to me at the time, I didn’t realise what an agonising decision that was for Linda because I wasn’t a committed Christian. We eventually got together and, following our first date, instantly knew we would be together always.
Linda talked to me about her faith, we went to church together; a URC church with a really good group of people the same age as us. As experienced before, these people had a glow, a spark and were so kind and welcoming; it felt really good to be part of it. Within a matter of a few weeks I’d let Jesus into my life.
I have been truly blessed since that day; my life was transformed. With Linda’s support, and additional family support, I embarked on trying to improve my career opportunities and, after five hard years of study, ended up with a Chartered qualification, which opened up a whole new career path for me.
I’ve been blessed with a good but demanding job. It’s very tough at times in the corporate business world, but it’s allowed me to see various parts of the world and provide well for my family; that helps compensate for the long hours and stresses of the various roles I’ve had.
Our son and daughter, Ross and Lisa, are very special to us. They aren’t Christians yet but we pray the seeds have been sown and will be harvested someday, hopefully sooner rather than later.
So my life changed forever, and became whole, when I saw Jesus (even though I didn’t know that at the time) shining through and around Linda as she walked across a hospital carpark…
As I approach the next phase of my life, which is pending retirement, I count my rich blessings and pray I’m able to serve God in our Church and local community in the months and years ahead.
31.01.2021 Christian’s Story of how God has Changed his Life.
The lows were very concerning as they escalated from feeling like a failure and having low self-worth, to developing suicidal thoughts. Thankfully I never plotted the act itself but it was a clear sign that although I didn't want to end my life, I couldn't keep living the way things were and needed a fresh start.
That's when I reached out to the pastor at Berwick Baptist Church. I wanted to talk to someone about it from a faith based perspective as I had tried medication, counselling and self-help techniques but with little or no success.
John has been a minister for around 20 years and had worked as a psychiatric nurse prior to that so had a lot of experience working with mental health issues.
He told me there is healing and freedom in Christ, and I felt straight away that this time things were going to be different. I got a real sense of comfort and belief that there was hope, and that things could be turned around.
We began to meet regularly and I also started going to Church. It was encouraging to have fellowship with others and be able to open about my issues, and gradually I began to feel an uplift in mood and brighter outlook on life. A healing process had begun that is still taking place and has become part of my life. I now think and act very differently.
The church has given me a renewed sense of purpose and wellbeing, and I would encourage anyone who is struggling with mental health issues to reach out in that same way.
Looking back it's hard to believe I was ever like that but now my outlook on life has been completely transformed, and my experiences can serve as ammunition to help others who are going through the same struggles.
My belief is that a faith based life is the cornerstone to overcoming our earthly struggles and achieving peace in our hearts and minds, no matter how great our struggle appears to be.
24.01.2021 Mandy's story - My walk with the Lord
I moved up here 2017 depressed anxious and dependent on alcohol, I struggled daily to function, and my life was minimal to the outside world. Suddenly my brother passed away and I had no one, I lived alone with my little dog Trudy. In shock I Googled to find a church and found Berwick Baptist Church, their Minister answered my call, he was not able to get to me immediately so arranged a couple to come to my house and pray with me, which helped me greatly.
I started going occasionally to church but my anxiety and social phobia kept me at a distance, but I freely phoned their minister for inspiration which I received on many occasions as did my family. I am blessed, the Lord has forgiven and helped me more than I realise.
One day on a binge I prayed for the Lord to please help me off the devil's water, I went upstairs to lay down as I felt faint and began to cry as I thought I was going to die. I sobbed as I felt I did not have time to say goodbye to my children, I woke up shortly after I felt well, no anxiety, no shakes, no nothing. I cooked a nice meal and felt normal, that binge had lasted 3 months. You would never have known I had been bingeing I am aware the devil is near, but the Lord is nearer.
17.01.2021 This is a lady who has Suffered Bereavement
I have found things rather difficult since my husband of 60 years was called home in September 2020.
We were regular church attenders until lockdown started and our lives changed, we could no longer go to the weekday services but only Sunday and you had to book a place to conform to social distancing. Sometimes we were unable to decide whether to pre book and not go because he may not have felt very well that day, so life drifted on feeling strange not attending church.
Over the last couple of years, we had met up with John the pastor of your church and even attended a few times what a lovely welcome we received.
After my husband passed, I was sitting at home feeling deeply sorry for myself and it came to me I could get the bus to your church door.
The peace that surrounded me was amazing when sitting in your service, how could I find such beautiful feelings? After a few weeks I spoke to your pastor because I felt I was using your Church as a crutch, but he encouraged me to still come. I do not know what God’s plans are for me and if I may join with you all, until he guides me where he wants me to be.
One of my favourite sayings is, “if I were accused of being a Christian, I would pray I would be found guilty.” F H.
This is a lady who has found Help and Hope
I met people from your church last year and the support that I have received has been amazing. The Wellbeing Art Group gave me something to look forward to, being surrounded by lovely people.
I have recently started to do a bible study called Life, which your church is encouraging people to do, doing it makes me feel at peace with everything. I cannot wait until lockdown is over to be able to sing in church again. I feel so lucky to be part of the church and to realise there are such lovely people out there.
I have had such a struggle fighting for regular access to see my daughter, and to have the support of people from the church when attending court and working through stuff has been amazing.
I think my purpose in life is to keep my faith, I would like to get baptised and to help around the church setting and help anyone, so they do not feel alone. A A.
If you are interested in finding out more about joining our church family on-line, and how that might be of help for you, to journey with us and regularly have prayer support and pastoral care, please contact us via our website or phone our Minister John Hodgkins on 07795908207