A year ago, as a single mother on a low income, I was fearful about the future. Today, with all the trouble in the world, I would probably have been even more so. But in between something happened to change all that. I became a real Christian.
I was born and brought up in the Caribbean island of St Lucia. My first memory of hearing the word of the Lord in my heart was when I was about seven or eight years old and my grandfather came to live with us. We used to sit together most evenings to sing songs of praise and listen to the Bible stories he told.
He died not long after, when I was about nine. For a while we still sang songs in the evening and my brother, who was the eldest, read the stories. But soon there were more exciting things to do with our friends, and these evenings were no more.
Coming to England
I came to England in 1991 to visit my uncle who had left St Lucia before I was born. Spending time with him and his family was a new adventure for me and it was decided that I should stay to further my education.
But education was expensive and I had to get a job. I worked in a night-club but still could not make ends meet. I also became pregnant. Eventually I had to give up my studies.
In spite of everything, God did not give up on me. Although I did not realise it at the time, he was there walking beside me every day, giving me the strength to cope in tough times and keeping me safe. But I prayed only when I wanted something or when I was in difficulties.
Led to a church
After giving birth to my daughter I was seeking cheap accommodation. A friend introduced me to her mother who was letting out rooms in her house. I moved in with this older lady and we became good friends.
There seemed to be no meaning in my life. Nothing was going right and I needed help and inner peace. I tried going to a local Anglican Church.
My landlady had started attending a small Independent Baptist Church and, seeing my unhappiness, encouraged me to go along with her.
I began to attend regularly. I found the preaching comforting and the people very friendly. But I was not a real believer. I was mainly concerned about how my daughter and I would make out financially to the end of the week.
It still seemed to be a necessary part of my life to go out with my friends, clubbing and drinking. Somehow I thought that was the answer, since everyone was doing it and they all seemed happy.
Speaking to me
In the summer of 2000, I was having problems finding a child-minder to look after my young daughter while I was at work. It was proving difficult. So I decided to cut my hours at work so that I could take her to and from school myself.
I found myself a lot more relaxed, both at home and at work. I found myself thinking about spiritual matters as I had never done before. ‘Clubbing and pubbing’ seemed to lose their appeal.
Then, one Sunday morning, listening to the sermon, I felt that there was no one else present and that the preacher was speaking directly to me. In fact, it was the Lord who spoke to me that morning.
It was as if he said: ‘Put this life behind you. There is a new life awaiting you. All you need is faith in Jesus Christ’. The inner peace I was seeking had finally found its way into my heart.
Unusually, there were not a hundred things going through my mind that Sunday morning; just the words of the preacher. The Holy Spirit entered my heart. He made a home there and showed me the right way to live, that is, ‘by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 3:20). I was saved.
I was once like the people in Jesus’ parable of the sower, where the seeds landed among thorns. I often heard the word of the Lord, and it would stay for a while. But temptation always sounded better and the word was choked by the thorns.
But now my heart is like the fertile soil, where the seeds fell and germinated and brought forth fruit. It feels good. I am afraid no longer, for all the fear and uncertainty have gone.
I can say with confidence: ‘Lord, I thank you my life is in your hands. Your will be done, in the name of your Son Jesus Christ’.