I was in hospital suffering from depression. Hearing that I wanted to attend church, a fellow patient invited me to go to hers.
I was not brought up as a Christian, so when I first entered Spring Road Church in Southampton I found it strange that there were no stained glass windows, crosses or statues. Even the minister wore an ordinary suit.
The service was very simple – with hymns, Bible reading, prayer and a sermon. Despite this, I immediately felt a sense of peace and belonging. Mercifully, God kept me attending this church week by week.
At first it was hard to understand the Bible or the sermons. But I was encouraged to pray that God would give me understanding. And, like a jigsaw puzzle, as each piece was fitted in, the picture became clearer.
One day we sang a hymn with the chorus, ‘it is well with my soul’. I couldn’t sing these words – because I knew all was not well between me and God at that time. I realised I was a sinner needing his forgiveness.
One day the final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when a friend spoke to me of Christ dying for her. At last I understood that Christ died on the cross for me also. I felt a terrible sinner but prayed earnestly to God for forgiveness – and came to a real sense of assurance and peace with God. I was baptised as a believer not long after.
O the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross,
And I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
O my soul.
Since then my husband and I have had many trials but, wonderfully, they have brought us closer to God. My favourite Bible verse is, ‘Consider [Jesus] who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls’ (Hebrews 12:3).
This reminds me that my sufferings can never compare to what Jesus went through for me. He has planned out my life in his wisdom and even the hard things are for my spiritual good (Romans 8:28).
Sandi introduced me to the church and at first I only went for her sake. Then someone asked me what I thought a Christian was. I replied, ‘A Christian is a person who is good and does good works’ – meaning someone who felt they were good in their own estimation!
How wrong and self-righteous I was! Only God can make you a Christian. The Bible says, ‘by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God – not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).
A few months later, when my wife was baptised, I became aware that, in reality, I was a lost sinner. I prayed earnestly to God for forgiveness – and I also prayed for understanding. The Lord answered my prayers by gradually showing me that my sins had been forgiven by Jesus Christ when he shed his blood at the cross and rose again from death. How wonderful! How much the Lord must love us.
I cannot say when I was converted, but I know my heart was quietly opened to see and believe. At first I lacked assurance, so I prayed to the Lord and he showed me a very helpful Scripture passage where Jesus says, ‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand’ (John 10:28).
I love him and the word that saved me. Praise the Lord for all he has done for me.