This is my testimony, my life story about disobedience and rebellion against God which got me involved in drink, drugs, violence, serious crime, prison and the death of my beautiful partner and resulting in me being on the verge of suicide. Then God showed me his amazing love for me. He showed me that whatever terrible things I had done in my life, that by sending his precious Son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for my sins and the sins of the world on the cross of Calvary, that my old life was gone, he had given me a new life, healed heart, mind, body and soul, a new life of joy and happiness, and now serving him for his glory.
I was a very shy and quiet child at school and had a good family even though my father died when I was 13. My mother did the best she could, I went to church, because mother was a Christian, till I was 15 but I didn't believe in God. I left school and started hanging around the streets in a gang, getting into trouble, although I was still quiet and shy but had terrible anger and hate for the world inside me. At 17 I started drinking, it was like an evil spirit that came out of me and my face physically changed to an angry one, and this anger would eventually come out of me. I started fighting every night, it didn't matter who they were. Whatever reputation they had I would just want to hurt people with fists, knives, axes or whatever I could use. I was barred from most pubs and was sent to a borstal for attacking 8 policemen with a knife. It was a dark violent place but I loved it there I felt right at home, but instead of being a place of punishment it made me more aggressive and violent. I came out and continued where I left off, back into pubs and clubs and onto the streets looking to harm anyone who was unlucky enough to meet me. It was not long before I was involved in all sorts of crime, burglary and fraud, and then went on to being a street robber. With armed robberies and financing drug dealing I was out of control and in and out of prison, but not caring about anything or anyone. I was getting more twisted, more violent, more evil; I stabbed my cousin and robbed a drug dealer who then hung himself over what happened. I just moved onward into the dark violent path I was on. I had all the wealth, cars, motorbikes, sold jewellery, but I never felt happy and I hated myself for the things I was doing to people. I had no friends because anyone that got close to me I beat up. Then one day I met a beautiful girl called Angie, she was like no one I had met before, happy, funny with the most gorgeous smile; I was instantly in love and she moved in with me that same day. I was up in court for 12 charges of violence, fraud and robbery etc, but as Angie was pregnant I didn't want leave her alone while I went to prison again so I went on the run for 2 years with her and my new born child Craig. I was one step ahead of the police, living in bushes and abandoned houses and having to go out robbing just to survive, but after 2 years I was caught.
After spending time on remand, not getting into trouble anymore, I was drinking a lot more and now started taking amphetamine as well. I missed the crime, I missed hurting people, and the drink and drugs replaced that buzz I got from violence. Angie then got pregnant once more and gave birth to my daughter Claire. I had a perfect loving partner and 2 great kids but I still wasn't happy with this hate and anger just eating away me inside and every so often it would explode in violence. I spent 18years with Angie but then at Christmas time 2007 my life changed forever. By this time I was drinking two bottles off vodka a day and had now been drinking for 27years was also spending £50 a day on speed, which I had been on for nearly 10years. My mind had completely gone I was hearing voices telling me to kill people. I was planning to murder my family, calmly planning it inside me, with a monster inside me bursting me to get out. I had passed my name on to be a contract killer because I had no thought for my human life, hated everyone except my Angie who was beyond that hate; I loved her to death. On 18th December I talked her into taking speed; I promised that she would be okay, but she collapsed on the cold kitchen floor, awake but unable to move. I was that high on drink and drugs that I left her there for 3days, just stepping over her to get more beer. My son pleaded with me to help her but I said we should just leave her. Finally, 3days later I came down off the drugs and realised what I had done. She was rushed to hospital, her kidneys had packed in and she was in intensive care on a life support. Then the doctors told me that she would die by Sunday night. I sat there at her bed holding her hand for 3days not sleeping or eating, just praying to a God that I did believe in to help Angie. I was broken, this so called hard man crying like a baby and shaking. On Tuesday night after fighting and showing more courage in those 3days than I had shown in my life, she died in my arms, aged 38. I'd lost a stone in weight and I just wanted to die; my only reason for living had died and I told my mum and my kids that I was going to take an overdose. My son and I slept on my 80 year old mother's floor, I was just waiting for the moment to kill myself, but my mum kept going on about God and Jesus dying for my sins and saying that if I asked God to forgive me he would answer my prayers. I'd never believed in God, I thought I was invincible, so I just laughed at her and asked her to just leave me alone to die. I was addicted to drink and drugs, had so much hate in me and now had the death and guilt of Angie on me after my mum going on about Jesus and also wanting me to meet a man called Aram Kay. I finally gave in and said that I would visit the church just to shut her up. That day I turned up at St Peters in Rock Ferry unshaven and a mess and a broken man inside and then I went inside and saw this amazing man stood before me. He was a church evangelist, Aram Kay, and his face was glowing, he had so much joy, love, peace and happiness just gleaming out of his face so that I couldn't take my eyes of him. He came up to me and I just broke down in floods of tears asking him why he looked like that. He said he was a guilty sinner like I am now but that the God who created the heavens and the earth wanted a relationship with me, but because God is holy he cannot look upon sin. He said that everyone in this world is a sinner so through God's great mercy he sent his Son Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice who went to the cross of Calvary to die for the sins of the world. But, he said, God raised him from the dead to be Lord over all things and that if I asked God for forgiveness, say sorry and believe that Jesus died for me and that I want him as my God, he will forgive me, give a new life and a place in heaven for eternity to serve him. I rushed home to my mum's, got on my knees and prayed, "Lord God, I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and to take the punishment for every wrong thing I've ever done in my life. Please forgive me, please put your loving arms around me and make me your own forever. Even though I've messed up everything, please help me to live for you because I give my life to you, I now belong to you."
The next day I woke up, and praise be to God, what a feeling I had, I was healed, heart mind, body and soul. My evil violent heart had been replaced by God's love for me, all that violence and anger was gone. My mind, which had been completely twisted, was healed; I just saw love and what Jesus had done for me, dying for a monster like me. I boast in Christ when I say this, but my 27year addiction to drink and my 10year addiction to drugs had gone overnight. No more medications, no withdrawals, from that moment on I was completely healed. My sister, who is a psychiatric nurse in Clatterbridge, said that it was, by medical standards a miracle, but nothing is impossible for God, who healed me. My sin, my evil, my rebellion towards God was taking me to hell, a place of pain, darkness and suffering, but by my repentance and faith in Christ, I have a place in heaven for eternity. When my physical body dies my eternal soul will go to heaven to be along side my Lord and Saviour Jesus, where it says he will give me a new body that cannot die, cannot age, with no pain, no death, just joy and happiness as you serve him for eternity.
My life is now amazing, I feel like I've been in darkness all my life but now have been brought into his amazing light. This happened 2years ago and I now work as a volunteer 5days a week at the Charles Thompson Mission, a church but also a daily drop in centre for drug addicts, alcoholics and the homeless. I've got so much joy and happiness and a love to serve Jesus each day. Everything I do now is by the strength of his Holy Spirit, who lives in me, and I do it for his glory. It's great to be able to sit down next to people and to be able to tell them that time is running out and that Jesus is coming again to judge the world, a day when everyone will stand before his judgement seat. I pray that the Lord will use this story to encourage whoever reads this, and that, like me, you can be truly happy with Jesus in your life no matter what you have done in the past, drink, drugs, prison it doesn't matter. Jesus loves you, just come before him, say your are sorry, believe he died for you and ask him into your life to change you. You will know the true meaning of living, like I have found in this life and for eternity. AMEN
I went to hear Gina Larrisey give her testimony at St Andrews Church in Bebington on 20th February 2011 where she was interviewed by Roger Carswell who was the visiting speaker that weekend. Gina has an outstanding testimony and has recently published a book on her life story entitled "From Care to Somewhere."* At the end of the meeting after purchasing her book I asked her if she would be prepared to give me a condensed version of her testimony for my booklet, which she kindly agreed to and is given as follows:
"I became a Christian when I was eleven at my local church as I had wanted forgiveness and for my life to get better back then. I wanted to be a good girl but I felt like I was bad. There are people in far worse situations than I ever was. I wasn’t beaten or raped or anything like that. I didn’t have the worst childhood either, although it was bad enough to have an effect on me. It was more the mental and emotional rather than physical that screwed my head up. I had been continually blamed for everything whilst growing up and so I was full of anger and frustration. Being a Christian did not immediately make my life a bed of roses but it has definitely brought me through every situation I have been in and has eventually led me to where I am today, with a lovely husband, a nice home, four beautiful children and a gorgeous granddaughter.
I first went into foster care at four months old and I was in and out of the care system including assessment centres and hostels up until I was eighteen. For many years I was affected by my childhood and my Mother’s overt rejection of me. Her illness, bi polar disorder meant that she was unable to cope with normal everyday situations and as a result I was made a scapegoat and unfortunately I felt constant pressure to behave perfectly. I believed it was all my fault that my Mum took overdoses and I was often told I had made her ill or was making her ill. I grew up thinking the world hated me so I hated everybody back.
The earliest I remember going in to care was at four years old when Mum and Dad divorced. This was a traumatic time for Mum and so my sister and I were placed in care for our own safety and parental rights were resumed. I didn’t see my Dad again until I was fourteen and that was only a handful of times before he moved from where he was living. At the time I didn’t know it but I wouldn’t see him again for another twenty-two years. I was angry and frustrated and thought everything was my fault. Mum and my relationship remained strained. She even took my sister on holiday at one point and left me with my foster parents.
I fell pregnant at fifteen after jumping into a relationship with the first boy that showed me any affection. I was desperate to be loved. I was pressured in to not keeping the child and was deeply affected by the decision I made.
Everyone in care was affected somehow and we all did what we had to do to survive. We never really spoke to each other about why we were in care. We all had different circumstances and different reasons for being in there. Some children were in short term care, some long term care. We just got on with it. I was lucky enough to be allocated a key worker in one of the homes, Margie Brannigan. Still my lovely friend today. She was at least someone who made a difference to me when I felt I had no one. She was like a Mum to me. Many of us have left the care system and tried to make decent lives for ourselves. Some of us didn’t make it and I do know of people that have taken their own lives as they have found their past to unbearable to cope with.
I left care at eighteen and I’ve made many more wrong choices and a lot of mistakes on my journey to find the love I felt I had missed out on. I ended up married at nineteen years of age and having three children one after the other and pursuing divorce at twenty-two. Something I didn’t believe in and didn’t really want to do.
I have also been through some devastating circumstances including, my second child having a serious injury, two marriage break ups and I have lived with anti social behaviour, which had a serious affect on my life at the time and eventually came to a dramatic conclusion. We suffered at the hands of an unruly family who made our life hell. They smashed our windows, threw bricks at our car and property. Threats were made and we lived in fear for our safety. Eventually the anti social behaviour team were called in and cameras were set up to record events. After eighteen months the family were evicted but I was scarred emotionally once again. This triggered off a thyroid condition that I now have for life. This was covered by the local newspaper.
We can choose to let our past beat us and blame it for everything that goes wrong in our lives. That would be easy. At the end of the day we make our own decisions and choose the path we walk in life. It is up to us to make the right decisions and not to let our past destroy our future. It is up to us to break the chain and not let our past repeat itself. I know that despite all the wrong choices and messes I did make, that God has forgiven me. My slate has been washed clean. There is no doubt in my mind that God has been with me in every trial and situation. There is no other way I could have got through what I have been through. He has been my strength. I have struggled for years and fought against my Christian beliefs but eventually God has won out. In June last year I had a light bulb moment and decided I was going back to Life Church in Bebington. From that moment on I have continued to grow with God and was baptised last November.
It’s been a long process from writing to publishing my story. It’s been a kind of therapy. I really hope that writing about my experiences will help someone else and then everything I have gone through will be worth while. I believe in turning your negatives into a positive and doing something good with your past."
* "From Care to Somewhere" is available for purchase at Authorhouse's website i.e. < www.authorhouse.co.uk.
Christopher Power is somebody that I have known for a number of years and we worshipped at the same church for some time. Chris has an outstanding testimony and has written a book on his life entitled "Breaking Free From The Street To The Stage" (details give at the end). He has also just finished filming for Sky TV's 'The Mystery Files''. Chris as an actor has appeared a number of soaps including Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Brookside and has also 'trodden the boards' in various Shakespeare plays. Many years ago, however, his life was far from the glamorous world the theatres and movie cameras. In the following testimony it describes how his life was at one time a complete mess and heading for disaster but following an encounter with an old school friend, his life changed dramatically:
Christopher grew up in Birkenhead and in his teenage years found himself entangled in teenage groups and crime resulting in prison sentences. Christopher's schooldays were "not as exciting as I expected." He says he would go out of his way to pick fights with teachers or "anyone in a uniform." And he says that from as early as eight years old, was sexually abused by both men and women even to the point of being taken into a garage lock up and molested.
"When I was a baby, there was a time when the entire family slept in the same bedroom above a taxi place in a two bedroom flat (apartment). We did not have a bath and running to the toilet at night was not fun as the toilet was in the yard." It was at this very place that Christopher recalls a tragedy that still haunts his father. "My dad had got involved in a fight and his friend was stabbed to death during it," he recalled. "My father had spent about 18 years in and out of Borstal (a youth prison) and later in adult prisons."
"I started stealing at the age of five and by the time I reached 11, I had become involved in gangs." Christopher recalled that Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night was always a big occasion for him. "On that night, we would build barricades and throw bricks and bottles at other rival gangs," he continued, saying that by now his life had started taking an unfortunate turn for the worse. "Walking the streets and looking for others to fight with became a frequent occurrence," he said. As his young life continued in a downward spiral, he said that that 'solvents' became part of his life. "At around the age of twelve, glue sniffing was something I did for some time along with inhaling laughing gas," he went on to say.
It was not until the age of 18 that Christopher finally told his mum about being sexually abused. "I could have even been killed if I had ran away. I had such a deep hatred towards anyone in authority such as the police. They had arrested my dad for sticking a plastic shotgun through the letter box when I was eight, resulting in him being taken away." At school Christopher's simmering hatred was so intense that he says he would also "lash out" at his teachers. So by the age of 18, and by now incarcerated in an adult prison, Christopher life was a mess. The drugs had taken their toll; he was deeply scarred emotionally because of the abuse and had found himself locked up this time for stealing a cash box.
As the years went on, Christopher says that he found himself "in and out of Juvenile courts." He said, "I remember my dad coming to bale me out on many occasions. I was given community service, probation, attendance centre fines and then detention centre." Christopher recalls the moment that he was sent to Foston Hall, a Young Offenders Institution, located in the village of Foston in Derbyshire, England. It was also know as the "Short Sharp Shock," he said. Christopher went on to say, "I remember being sentenced and my heart sank as I was taken by a police officer who held tightly onto to my arm and told me not to 'run away.' He went on to say, "There was a Gideon Bible in the dormitory and I use to mark it with a piece of lead I had stolen from a pencil." "So here I was, locked up and I was lying on the bunk bed in the cell and I then cried out." But then came the turnaround in his life that was to change everything. By now he was back on the streets again.
"An old school friend called Jean Pierre approached me and asked if he could have a chat with me," he recalled. "We both went to a nearby churchyard, and he started talking about Christianity." From that moment on, many things started to change for Christopher.
As the months went by, he says he was slowly weaned off drugs, drinking, smoking and gambling.
Christopher went on to train at Richmond Drama School, then Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and finally at the Actors Studio UK - Drama Theory, based on the methods of Lee Strasberg. In 1997, through his determination, he gained an Oxford Diploma in acting.
"The very people that I had hated came into my path and I found myself befriending the police and teachers. Opportunities arose and I became a voice for young people talking at times to local councillors."
He concluded by saying, "I have been acting professionally for some time as well as writing a book and teaching young people how to act. I want to be a voice for those who have been sexually abused or involved in the lifestyle I was involved in. Christopher's full story can be read in his new autobiography called "Breaking Free From The Street To The Stage" published by O Books at £7.99 (ISBN: 978-1-84694-171-9) and also available from many good book shops in the UK.
It can be ordered also at:
Christopher can be contacted at email@example.com
Jeminy & Sajini Mathew
The following testimony came as a result of an interview that I gave this couple on 15th February 2011 in their home in Upton, Wirral, and I have to say that this is one of the most remarkable testimonies that I have ever heard. During the interview that I gave them Jeminy was very keen to identify every experience that they had with scripture so I have made reference to the scriptures that he referred to in brackets. Their testimony has now been reproduced in a booklet form and if anybody would like a copy this is available at no cost.
Their former life
Jeminy and Sajini were born into the Malayalam speaking area of Kerala, South India; Jeminy from a Roman Catholic family and Sajini from a Jacobite Syrian Christian Church family (this church being part of the Syriac Orthodox Church). They came to England in 2001within a month of each other and worked as nurses in the same hospital. Hospitals at that time were widely recruiting staff from abroad, mostly from the Philippines and India. They didn't realise it at the time but they can now see that it was all part of God's plan for their lives. Two years later they went back to India to get married, so as to be with their family members and be married in a traditionally Roman Catholic way. When they came back to England they found a house in Upton, Wirral, where they still live today, and started their family life. With their joint income as qualified nurses they were able to furnish their house, buy a car, and enjoy a standard of living well in excess of that to which they had hitherto been accustomed in India. However, after a few months of enjoying their new lifestyle they became aware of one thing that was very much missing in their life and that was 'peace'. They had lost what peace they had and they started arguing over a number of issues in their life, mainly to do with money issues. With all this extra money coming into their household it began to take control of their life and they became less and less inclined to part with any of it and to give to others. Neither of their families back home were wealthy, in fact both their families had suffered financial hardships during their lives. Sajini's father had been out of work for a long time and she had a brother and elder sister at home, who also were not in work. Although Jeminy was well aware of the financial hardship of Sajini's family he imposed a strict limit on the amount that they would send to her family. He argued that his family was also not wealthy, with his father now being retired. He therefore felt that it was not right to send her family a disproportionate amount of their income, and also felt that they should be saving money for themselves. He argued that he was working hard for what he earned and didn't want to be giving so much money to her family. All this, consequently, caused a lot of friction in their life and with it a complete absence of peace.
Over time the arguments between Jeminy and Sajini increased with Jeminy accusing Sajini of loving her family more than she loved him and that she only wanted to give to them. He therefore began to find fault with everything she wanted to do for her family. As he thinks back now to those days he realises that 'love' as mentioned in scripture, covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8) and that it was 'love' that was lacking in their lives at that time.
Their first child, Daniel, was born in May 2004. Even when she was pregnant with Daniel he couldn't stop his arguments, which were now occurring almost on a daily basis and the situation was getting worse. Jeminy said that they were now aware that each of them were being 'scarred' by all that was going on and as their arguments increased those scars were becoming worse within them and were an escalating problem. Even after Daniel was born they continued as they were, one day would be okay, but the next they would be back to normal. In January 2007 their daughter Keziah was born, but nothing changed and they continued in their argumentative ways, seemingly getting worse every day. By this time they were saying to each other that they didn't want to live with each other anymore and there was an expectation that this was going to lead to a separation. Nobody else knew anything of their marriage difficulties; they kept their problems completely to themselves. Jeminy said that sometimes he would pray asking God why all these things were happening in their lives, as he couldn't see that he had done anything wrong. In his prayers he even asked God why he had given him this person as his wife, when there were so many other girls in the world! Reflecting back on it all now he firmly believes that Sajini was the one whom God had specially chosen for him, but at the time he couldn't see this and he felt that the marriage was doomed to failure. Then in October 2007 something happened that would change their lives forever.
Their marriage on the point of collapse
Three days before the life-changing incident in their lives they had a big argument over a mobile Sim Card. When Jeminy came home from work one day he found a Sim Card package on the table which had arrived in the post that morning. He asked Sajini about the Sim Card but she said that she knew nothing about it, and that it had just come through the post. However, he didn't believe her and suspected her of doing things behind his back. It later turned out that it had been sent for marketing purposes, but he didn't know this at the time and it added further pressure to their already fraught marital difficulties. This resulted in them not speaking with each other for three days. Sajini told Jeminy that she didn't want to live with him anymore and he also said that he wished to live elsewhere. When I asked Jeminy how all this was affecting the children, he said that they were not aware of any difficulties, and thought that they were too young to understand. However they didn't try to protect them from what was happening and argued continually in front of the children. Daniel at this time was 3½ years old and Keziah about 8 months old. Jeminy and Sajini shared with me that they can now see that materialism was the root cause of their problems at the time and that this is also a major problem in many parts of the world today, not least in the church. There is a great need, Jeminy said, to reflect on what Jesus said in Mathew 10:37-39 i.e.
"He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it."
This, he said, is the mark of a true disciple of Jesus. Family life is important, he said, but God must always be first in our life.
During the three days in which they didn't speak in October 2007 Jeminy was working each day in Chester, and on the third day, which was a Saturday, Sajini was at home with the children and Jeminy was at work. Sajini had been praying every day, as both of them had been, about their problems and both of them were very upset at the imminent collapse of their marriage. In the afternoon on Saturday the doorbell rang and Sajini went to see who it was. What happened next was to be a major turning point in their lives.
The special visitors
At the front door were two white people, a man and woman, their ages she thought being around the 60's. The man was wearing a long shirt hanging loose, with a bag at his side and a book in his hand. Although it was October it was not a cold day, in fact it was quite a pleasant day. At first she thought that they were Jehovah Witnesses, who she normally did speak to but would never invite them into the house. Normally the Jehovah Witnesses would give her a leaflet to read, which she would later read in the house, but this couple didn't do so, and just spoke about Jesus. She said that they spoke of a lot of lovely things to her, saying that if she had any problems in her life that it was Him whom she needed to pray to and that as she read the Gospels that He would talk to her. They also said that she needed to understand the Word of God and that He would guide her and help her through it. After about half an hour the man gave her the book which was in his hand for her to read. It was a very old book with faded pages within it, but she didn't actually read it because they had been speaking to her for a long time. She then thought to herself that they had been standing there for such a long time and because they were not young she thought that she should invite them into the house. So she invited them in and asked them if they would like a cup of tea. As they went through the Dining Room towards the Lounge they passed the two children who were playing there and the lady looked at the children and asked Sajini why the children were looking so sad. This really surprised her because they were laughing and smiling as they played and as far as she could see there was no indication of anything wrong with them. They went into the Lounge and continued talking about Jesus and the Word of God. The lady continued to ask her why the children were so upset and what was going on in the house and if they had any problems. (This has made them realise that when you argue in front of the children, although it may not show, it is having an effect upon them). She replied telling them that they didn't have any problems, as she didn't want to share with anybody else what was happening in their marriage, as she was ashamed to admit to anyone that anything was wrong. (Sajini shared with me that they never shared their problems with anyone, whether it was their family, those at the church, the workplace or their neighbours, so she certainly wasn't going to share them with strangers). So she told the visitors that everything was fine and that there were no problems in the house.
During this time the man wasn't saying very much but at one stage she did look at him and she was struck by his eyes. They were blue, very bright and penetrating, so much so that she couldn't continue looking at him (Rev. 1:14). The lady then went on to tell her about Jeminy's family, that his father was still alive in India, and that he had a brother who lived with him and also that he had a sister in the USA who had three children. She then went on to tell her about Sajini's own family in India, how both her father and mother were still alive and that she had a brother and sister. It was evident that she knew all about their family situations. She then went on to speak about what had been going on in their house with all their arguing and fighting for a long time and also what had happened during the previous three days and that this was why they had no peace in their lives and why the children were so sad. She realised that they must have supernatural powers, and she started to tremble and cry over all she had said to her, because she had been bottling all this up within her for some time, telling nobody about it. The lady then said to her that she should not worry because everything was going to go, and that peace would return to her. At this point Sajini asked them again if they would like a cup of tea and they said that they would. The telephone then rang and so she answered it. The call was from Age UK who asked her if she would like to support the work in some way, but she told them that her husband wasn't at home and that she would need to discuss it with him first, so she finished the call. The lady asked here whom the call was from and what they wanted so she told them. She then said to Sajini that what she had said to them was the right answer to give and that it was right to discuss it first with her husband and discuss it together (Genesis 2:24). The lady spoke to her from the Bible and showed her how she needed to live their family life, and also how she needed to submit to her husband (Eph.5: 24, Titus 2: 4,5).
The man at this stage said to Sajini that they had been talking to her a lot from the Bible, God's Word, and that before they left he would like to pray for her. He got up and noticed a Malayalam Bible on the Mantelpiece and started to read from it. She asked him if he knew the Malayalam language and he replied that he knew all the languages in the world. He then spoke in a very clear and pure way in the Malayalam language from Mathew 19:3-6, about how the Pharisees had tried to trap him in his talk over the subject of divorce and of the answer that Jesus gave. He laid stress on verse 6 that what God has joined together, no man should put asunder. He also noticed a number of pictures on the wall, alongside each other, which included one of Jesus, one of Mary and one of the archangel Michael. Pointing to the picture of Jesus, he asked her who that was, and she told him that it was Jesus. He asked her if she had ever seen Jesus, and she replied that she hadn't. He then asked her whom the other two pictures were of and she told him, and he asked her why she was giving the same respect to all of them, and also said to her that it was wrong to worship idols. He said to her that God is love (1 John 4:8), that He dwells within us (1 Cori. 3:16, 1 Cori. 6:19) and that God is Spirit (John 4:24, 2 Cori.3: 17).
Sajini is prayed for
After this the man said to Sajini that he would pray for her, before they went. So he started praying for her in English putting his hand on top of her head. She said that there was a very powerful feeling that went through her body like a cold sharp knife, leaving a numb feeling within her. She can't remember much of what he prayed because of the effect of his hand upon her head, in which she felt almost semi-conscious and in a different world. She does recall, however, that in his prayer he spoke about whoever believes in Jesus will have their sins forgiven because of the power of his name. After he had prayed for her she was left with a feeling of peace and happiness within her. They had been with her for about 45 minutes when they made their way to the front door. When they were passing through the Dining Room the man said to her that she needed to tell her husband about their visit. At no time did they say who they were, what their names were, or where they were from, and curiously it never entered her mind to ask them. (On the question of who the visitors were Jeminy referred to the passage from Exodus 3:13,14 i.e. "if they asked who sent him (Moses) that he should reply 'I am who I am'"). The man then said to her "tomorrow, at the time when we came into your house (3pm) you will know the change that has taken place in your life."
The visitors disappear
As the visitors left her Sajini opened the front door to let them out and was standing within arm's length of them as they were saying goodbye to her, when right in front of her eyes they completely disappeared. She felt really scared and went to the front gate and looked in all directions to try and see them, but she couldn't see anything. She started wondering to herself if she was dreaming and what was happening to her. So she came back in the house and asked Daniel if he had seen the two people in the house. He said that he had done and wanted to know why she was asking him this. She then remembered that she had given them a cup of tea, so she went into the kitchen to see if the cups were still there and was relieved to see that they were still in the sink. It then dawned on her that something really amazing and supernatural had happened to her. The experience of all that had happened had left her feeling very happy with her sorrow and bad feelings completely gone. One of the things that the man had said when they were in the Lounge was that when she was really sad, anxious or upset, that she should go to the Bible and that he would talk to her. That was one of the few things that he said. She then remembered this and went back into the Lounge and opened her Bible and she read the words "Do not be frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you." (Joshua 1:9). She then picked up the phone to call her husband, even though they hadn't spoken for three days and told him everything that had happened. He listened to her even though it was very busy in the hospital, and he also accepted what she said and believed that Jesus had come into their house. Sajini stressed to me that their marriage really was at the point of collapse and that they would have divorced each other. This, she said, would have been especially hard for them because divorce is very much frowned upon amongst their own people in India. They both believe that Jesus had come to them to save them and their marriage. Sajini had to go to work that night as she was working on night duty; so after Jeminy came home they only had one hour in which to talk before she went to work. Before she left Jeminy said to her that they needed to pray together although they didn't really know how to pray, so they just repeated the Lord's prayer and some Catholic prayers. They did also thank God for what he had done for them and for saving them, and by this time all the heaviness in Jeminy's mind had also completely gone. When Sajini returned from work the following morning they went together to the Catholic Church. Jeminy had been active in the church especially in the music ministry as a singer. Usually on Sundays they went to the English Mass at the Roman Catholic Church in Woodchurch or Upton, but once a month they went to the Malayalam Mass which is held in the afternoon at St Joseph's church in Birkenhead.
A life changing experience
Sajini went to bed with her daughter Keziah after the morning service. At the same time as the visitors had come the previous day Keziah started to cry, so Jeminy went upstairs to get her. But Sajini also awoke and said that she wasn't going to sleep anymore and that she would bring Keziah down with her, so Jeminy went downstairs. After about 5 minutes Jeminy heard a sound which turned out to be Sajini crying. He saw that Sajini was holding Keziah in one hand and her eyes closed with tears flowing from her eyes. So he took Keziah downstairs this time and Sajini followed and asked him to fetch the Bible, which he did. However when she tried to open the Bible she was unable to do so; it was as if it was stuck with glue. She then found herself speaking and singing in tongues, which lasted for about 5 to 10 minutes and she then just collapsed on the settee. When she awoke she asked Jeminy how she had got there, so he told her everything that had happened. From that day onward all the former problems had gone. They started praying together but their prayers were now a lot different, no longer liturgical, but from the heart, praising Him and thanking God for all he had done, which now just flowed from them effortlessly. They were so amazed at what was happening to them with all their former sadness and anxiety completely gone. They continued praying together every day and then after a few days Sajini started to see visions of angels and also, she believes, of Jesus also, although she couldn't see the angels faces. During the last few days of this experience Jeminy was also baptised in the Holy Spirit and started speaking in tongues. She said that in all this there was no sadness or sorrow and they were really happy. She also said that she was giving prophecies during the 40 day period, and when I asked Sajini what sort of things she had been prophesying about she said that they were concerning things that were going to happen in the future. As they continued in their Christian life they recognised that many of the things that she had been prophesying about were in God's Word. She wrote everything down in her diary and even during her break time at work God would speak to her, so she would write it down and they would read it together at home. Some of the prophesies concerned their personal future together, including a vision of three houses being acquired in India, one for orphans, one for the elderly, and one for a house of prayer, which God showed them that they would be involved in. God also showed them that they needed to share their testimony with other people, so they invited a small gathering from their own community into their house for a prayer meeting and during this time they shared their testimony for the first time.
After all this they started attending an evangelical Malayalam Church which at that time was meeting in Hope Hall in New Ferry. They have been in this fellowship every since and have very much benefited from the teaching from God's Word, but they have also benefited from their own time of prayer and study together at home, when God often speaks to them. They have shared their testimony on a number of occasions amongst the Malayalam community both at home and also in India. It was in June 2008 that a preacher came from India to preach to some of the Malayalam churches and he also came to their house and spoke to them of their need to be baptised. At first they were resistant to this but then God spoke to them from John 13:8 and they then phoned the pastor and agreed to go ahead with this, and they were baptised later in the same month.
Jeminy and Sajini are still going on with God today, praying and reading God's Word together, enjoying their fellowship at their church in which Jeminy is involved in the music ministry and they are very happy in their family life. They are rejoicing in Christ and living in the truths of God's Word and are seeking to know his peace (John 14:27) to walk in His light (1 John 1:7) to produce the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and also to live in the experience of Psalm 139:v23, 24 i.e. "Search me O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thought. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting."
Reflecting on all that has happened to them Jeminy likened their situation to that of Zacchaeus, when Jesus went into his house and said to him "today, salvation has come into this house" and that, he said, is what happened to their house, for which they praise God (Luke 19:9).
Update: Since writing this testimony Jeminy and Sajini have now gone to live in the USA.
Peter Bell's testimony starts when he was 21 years of age, when, following a bad parachute drop, in which he miraculously escaped serious injury, he clearly heard the voice of God speaking to him. It would be another 19 years before he yielded himself to God's call on his life, although His hand was clearly upon him during this period. Peter now leads the worship at a prayer group that Dorothy and I attend in Liverpool.
On 1st July 1972 when I was 21 years of age I lay on my back on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire unable to move my legs and thinking that I was paralysed.
I was a part-time soldier in The Parachute Regiment on an exercise, which included a battalion drop. On leaving the aircraft I collided with another soldier resulting in an entangled 'chute and subsequent heavy landing, which snapped the canvas strap on my steel helmet; such was the impact. At first I felt sever pain and then numbness, and then a quiet peace through which a voice spoke, "I've spared your life, because I've got work for you to do." I knew it was God, without any doubt whatsoever. He was calling me to serve. I've never heard a voice like it before or since. Some men approached. They were new recruits invited to watch the drop and one of them said, "the way you hit the ground, we thought you were dead!" Another one gave me a piece of chocolate which I later brought up on the x-ray table. The Medical Officer arrived to examine me and tied my legs together so as to indicate a suspected broken back. A field ambulance took me to Tidworth Military Hospital where I was found to have abdominal injuries and a bruised spine, but no fractures.
I only spent a week in hospital where my treatment was very hot baths with intensive physiotherapy. I was discharged with a slight limp and told I would not be able to rejoin my unit until I could run. Only six weeks later I was airborne again, a night descent over Otterburn, Northumberland. It was cloudy with no moonlight so the ground was invisible, like jumping into a bottomless pit. On moonlit nights the ground would be visible but the height couldn't be measured. Trees couldn't be distinguished from bushes. We jumped from 1,000 feet at night and 800 feet in the day.
Later that year I was introduced to a young lady who worked as a dental nurse and she was totally in love with Jesus. She talked about nothing else and we dated for a few weeks. However, her Pastor said that she shouldn't have a boyfriend who's not saved and I respected her decision to stop seeing me (2 Cori.6: 14-16). On Christmas Eve I wrecked my car in the Birkenhead Tunnel and escaped with minor injuries, jacket and shirt ripped by flying glass. After all that, it took me 19 years to answer God's calling and I thank Him for His patience (2 Peter 3:9).
I worked in a car factory for 15 years where I was an obnoxious character, and one day I threatened a colleague who, years later, knocked on my front door. He was as surprised to see me, as I was he, because he was looking for someone who lived in my street and had knocked on the wrong door. Glad to see me he asked what I was now doing and I told him that I was a driving instructor. He said that I could teach his children when they're old enough. Immediately, a heavy conviction hit me. Here was a man who'd forgiven the unforgivable. After my atrocious behaviour he was trusting me to teach his children. Forgiveness is a powerful weapon in the fight against evil and my former workmate used it well to cut me down to size. (Proverbs 25: 21,22).
As promised, I taught four of his children. The other two weren't old enough by the time I moved on from driving tuition. These four young people were born again Spirit-filled Christians, and as such were a pleasure to teach. Nothing got the better of them. If they struggled with anything, they persevered until it was conquered. Their manners were impeccable, living for Jesus, a life that is true. One lovely summer's evening one of them wanted to finish the lesson where the Bible teacher lived, which showed commitment to studying the Word. I was so impressed with these young saints, I wanted my children to be like them. Then came another message from God. This time it was inaudible but clear in my mind: "If you want your children to be like them you must follow me so as to be an example. You can't continue to live a sinful life and expect your children to be Christ-like." Message understood; I could delay no longer. The time had come for me to repent and be saved. I was 40 years of age and a new life beckoned. I gave my life to Jesus, lover of the dental nurse's soul, and now mine too! I didn't know He'd always loved me until I began to read the Bible.
Now in 2011 I'm 60 years of age and still marvel at the amazing grace that saved a wretch like John Newton, and of course me! I thank God for everyone who prayed for me over the years and am now in the business of praying for others.
Introduction & his early life
Bob Sergent was a well known and successful motorcycle distributor in the centre of Liverpool who, following a somewhat dramatic conversion in his late 40's became a Christian and committed himself to doing much good in Christian ministry, not only in Merseyside but also around the country and abroad. It was a personal privilege to have met him in the 1960's when I worked at Cunard Steamship Company at the Pier Head when I asked him to come and speak at our Christian Union which had a good sized membership. He asked me if there were any non-Christians present, to which I informed him that there were, so he shared with us his testimony and gave a Gospel message to accompany his testimony. I also used to hear a lot about him from my first pastor Will Burnham who worked for him at the Good Samaritan Trust in Dale Street, Liverpool, a tremendous ministry, which my present pastor Richard Woods (Waterside Church, Everton) was involved in for a while.
His early life
Robert Sergent (Bob) was born in Walton on the Hill on 18th July 1902 to William & Sarah Sergent, his father being a Joiner and Builder. He lived at 16 Carisbrooke Road, Walton, together with his elder brother William and his grandmother on his mother's side. He married at the age of 24 years to Kathleen Dorothy Carmichael (Dolly) and they had two children Ken, born in 1927 and Jean, born in 1931. From a worldly point of view he and his family were very comfortable and seem to have been enjoying all that life had to offer. However, one Sunday afternoon in 1948 his life was to change in a dramatic way such that he would never be the same again. The following is an account of his conversion, written in 1958, with the sub-heading "proves the saving, keeping and mighty power of Christ."
This in an account of Bob's conversion written by him in 1958:
"Always being very desirous to help my fellow man I had for twenty years done voluntary work for the Liverpool Personal Service Society, which included such things as installing wireless sets for invalids and disabled, endeavouring to obtain work for the unemployed, trying to settle family and matrimonial disputes! I felt, too, that this would, undoubtedly, secure me a seat in heaven, and so, neglecting the Bible, the Church, the Lord's Day, and the Lord himself, yet I, nevertheless, derived a certain amount of satisfaction from these good works.
Although enjoying to the full all that this life could offer, yet, deep down inside me was a something that I could not always analyse to myself. What more in life could I desire? I had a good wife, two lovely children, and a home with every modern comfort: super cars and a prosperous business; but yet, there was that something.
February 1st 1948, which was a Sunday, found me doing my personal work in the morning, and arriving home at one o'clock for lunch. I asked my wife if she would like to go into the country or to some worldly amusements such as Blackpool or Southport for the rest of the day, but she did not wish to, and no one else having any desire to do so, I was left to do as I liked. My like was to clean my car, always doing this myself, not allowing any of my employees to touch my car, I found Sunday a good day. As I worked I had a strange experience, for an inner voice kept saying to me; "you want to go to church, Bob." How ridiculous I thought it all, for I never went inside a church, and had only used that building as a convenience for such things as my marriage, and the christening of my son and daughter. My son at this time was twenty-two, and my daughter seventeen. But the voice persisted, "you want to go to church, Bob, you want to go to church, Bob." I tried to crush the thought, but for two hours I heard these same words.
My wife, at half-past four, happened to come out to feed the hens (having decided to keep some fowl on account of the war difficulty), and I called her, "can I have my tea early, Dolly?" "Why" she asked, "are you going to the Stadium?" (That was my usual place each Sunday when we were not in the country or at the seaside). "No," I answered. "Well, why do you want your tea earlier?" And being very loath to say - I said, "I have a feeling that I would like to go to church." And immediately she said, "to go to church! Why, what have you been doing wrong!! Will six do?" "Yes" I replied. To my amazement tea was ready dead on six, and at ten past I was out in my car ready for church. At this time, we were living in Dudlow Drive, Mossley Hill.
Having no idea to what church I was going, I looked at many on the way, and in all, I passed within the very close vicinity of seventy of them. Having arrived at Princes Gate, I said to myself, "you will have to make up your mind Bob for it is half-past six." Remembering that there was a Liverpool "Echo" in the car I looked up the religious notices, and I was struck by the advertisement which said "Special meeting at the Salem Tabernacle, Belvedere Road; Evangelist Tom Wilson". "Yes, I will go there" I said to myself. Not knowing this road very well, I drove along slowly, and seeing three boys, I stopped and asked them where this Tabernacle was, but I pronounced it wrongly, saying it as if it had double ‘ll’ in the middle, Sallem Tabernacle. The boys directed me to a church on the left of the road, and I found it was a Church of England. Getting back into the car, I said to myself, "you’ve had it Bob!" and I decided to make my way home. As I turned round, and moved up the road, those three boys ran after the car shouting "we’ve found it, sir; we’ve found it, sir". "Found what?" I asked. "The Salem Tabernacle, Sir". They showed me the Hall set back from the road. After giving the boys that which they hoped for, (having been a lad myself and wishing the same thing), walking up to the door, I stopped and looked at my watch, and found it was a quarter-to-seven; the congregation were singing, so I hurried in and sat down on the back seat. Bowing my head, this seeming the correct thing to do, but saying nothing, I then sat up to be presented with a hymn book from the lady next to me, and told the hymn. I stood to my feet like the rest of the congregation, but not knowing the hymn, I just looked about me, expecting to find a congregation of Jewish brethren. The name of the hall had given me this misleading idea, but I looked in vain. The service proceeded, and I had not the slightest interest in anything that went on, and sat criticising everything severely; the hard seats; the people and the whole performance.
The evangelist rose to speak, and I looked at him very critically, and sneered inwardly at his remarks of his wayward childhood, and feeling that I could give them far more exciting stories of my own life. But somehow, something was happening deep down inside me, and this bravado was an effort to smother that deep inner working that I did not understand, or realise. The Holy Spirit was doing His work. We came to the end of the sermon and Mr Tom Wilson said, "is there anyone here who would like to give their heart to the Lord this evening, raise your hand?" and mine, yes mine, went up like a shot. Not half way, but right up, and the tears flowed down my face. I did not know if anyone else had raised their hand, but I had raised mine. The miracle had happened. There is a Scripture that says, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth, so is everyone that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8) and so it happened with me, how, I do not know, but, I was "born again". Of course, then, I understood nothing of what had happened like I do now; the new birth, or to be born again, was like a foreign language to me, but God had met me, and He saw the heart’s desire; for it is the attitude of the heart, not the raising of the hand that brings about this miracle. I was very surprised to find that there were two men in the congregation that knew me. "So glad you have done what you have done tonight Bob", they said. "You do not know me, but I have often been in your shop, and have bought one of your motor cycles", he remarked. Then the evangelist and the resident minister came up to me, saying how glad they were and asking for my name. I was vainly trying to get out, for I longed to be away. Finally getting outside, I was in my car making for home. Now what was I to say to them at home! I must make up some story, but what? I could not tell them what had happened. What would they think of me? What would they say? And so I went on, and still I got nearer to my home. On arrival, I found the wireless on and everyone at home, as usual. Turning the wireless on higher to give the idea that I was interested, but I did not listen, and thought why they had not yet asked me what had happened whilst I was out – where did I go, etc., etc. In due course, supper was ready, and we all sat down. I waited for the questions, "How did you get on? How did you like it?" But no such questions came, and supper ended, we prepared for bed. Strangely, and yet, why strangely I longed to pray as I entered my bedroom. I had never prayed in my married life – excepting when on hospital operating tables where I had been eight times! But this night I desired with a great desire to really pray. And how could I with my wife there? It had not entered my mind that there were other places in the house in which I could pray, it must be by the bedside, somehow. Owing to my wife’s rheumatism we had twin beds, and knowing that she always turned to the window when in bed, I waited impatiently for this to happen, and then I knelt down quietly and said "Thank you, Lord, for what you have done for me tonight." And then I slipped into bed, pulling the clothes right over my face, I again wept like a little child.
The next morning I awoke realising that something wonderful had happened the previous evening, but still fearing to say anything about it to my family. We got through breakfast, and I went off to the office. How was I to meet everybody? But I did, and those who worked for me recognised that there was a change in me; I knew nothing of their talk till months later.
For five years, four of us, a Solicitor, a Solicitor’s clerk and a Bridge engineer had had lunch together, and during that meal we had told smutty stories and questionable jokes, and I had wondered how I should meet them this day. The Lord knowing all my fears and difficulties had proceeded me, and when I arrived at the café where we always met, to my amazement no one was there, I usually being a little after the others. Waiting for a little while I decided to have my lunch, and when it was completed still no one had put in an appearance!!! How wonderfully God had undertaken, for I knew too well the usual course of conversation. From that day to this we have never lunched together, but we have often met in the street, and have spoken to one another. This was very surprising to me, but the Hand of the Lord was in it all.
Sad to say, two of those men have been divorced from their wives, God indeed knows best, and knowing that I was but a babe in Christ, He cared and protected me.
As the following Sunday approached I longed to go again to the Salem Tabernacle, but how was I to do this without telling my wife? After some thought, I came to the decision that I would start my personal service work an hour earlier, that is, at ten o’clock instead of at eleven, and then I could slip into the Tabernacle. At ten to the hour I was sitting in church, a very different man from the previous Sunday. After the service I arrived home just about one as usual, and so no questions were asked, and this went on for the next twelve months! This was not the right thing to do, and I know now that it is by far the best to make a stand right away, but there was that ridiculous fear that kept me back. Yet, I longed and prayed that my wife might come to know this wonderful Saviour too, and that we might kneel together in prayer, and share this great joy of knowing that all our sins were under the Blood, cleansed for ever. "The Blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin", and I know the power of that cleansing Fountain in a real way, and wanted all my loved ones to know it too.
Eighteen months after my conversion Martie Walsh arrived from America. Now this man had been wonderfully saved by the Lord Jesus Christ, and what a deliverance he had had! He was a Liverpool Roman Catholic Man, and had spent a life of sin. Sin which is recognised as such by his fellow man, such as, imprisonment for stealing, drunkenness, and so on. He had gone to America and had carried on the same life, and had got himself into the prisons out there; but one night he found his way into a small mission something after the same kind as the Salem Tabernacle where I had found the Lord, and there he gave his heart and life to God. The miracle happened, and today he is working among the down-and-outs in Philadelphia. He is superintendent of John 5: 24 Gospel Rescue Homes in this city where approximately two hundred down-and-outs gather every night and are fed with the material food, and then receive spiritual nourishment. Fifteen thousand souls had come to know the Lord through this great work, and he is a man just in the right place having once been as they are, he now can speak with assurance that Jesus is, indeed, the Mighty Saviour, able to save the down-and-outs as well as the up-and-outs!
As I have said above, this Martie Walsh came back to Liverpool, and I invited him to my home and church where we received great blessing; one of the greatest being when one Wednesday afternoon, we all being sat at the table for tea, Martie said to my dear wife, "and what is your relationship, Mrs Sergent, with Christ?" All these months I had been praying, and God had been so faithful, working quite unknown to me, continually upon her heart, for she stood to her feet, and I had never seen her weep so much, no, not even at her mother’s funeral. She shook with emotion, and I quickly rose to my feet and put my arm about her tightly to strengthen her. There and then she surrendered her all to God, and my heart knew the wonderful joy of seeing a soul come to Him, and that soul being my nearest and dearest. A little while afterwards I learned that Martie had taken my twenty-four year old daughter, Jean, out to lunch, and during that meal she had accepted the Lord too, but what of Ken, my twenty-eight year old married son! Yes, still outside the Kingdom; so much like his father was and if, Christian friend, when you read this, you will remember Kenneth Sergent in your prayers, I know that God will honour and bless you, praying that he might come to a saving knowledge of the truth, soon, very soon, I pray.
With regards to this matter of prayer; no one had ever had the courage to speak to me in such a direct manner as a friend of mine, a Miss Morris would ask me about my relationship with God, and I would tell her of my twenty years Liverpool Personal Service Society work, but she persisted that it was not through good works, but through the Saving Blood of Jesus Christ that I would get into heaven. I told her that to be a missionary in India was her way of serving the Lord, and that what I did, was my way; she hoped to be in heaven, and I was quite sure she would find me there too, continually she sent me tracts which went immediately into the waste paper basket unread, but although I continually told her she was wasting her time sending them to me, yet she persisted. She prayed for twenty-five years and I want you to take particular notice of this time, not twenty-five months or days, but years that I might come to Christ. So, if there should be a Christian who may be reading this testimony, and you feel at times rather discouraged, take courage again, and keep on praying and believing. Away there in India at her Ramabai Mukti Mission she prayed for me, and the very Sunday as I sat in the Salem Tabernacle she was writing to me saying "I feel there is something happening to you spiritually, and you are very near the Kingdom, Bob". How wonderful that was, and how very true. Prayers so faithfully sent up on behalf of others do not fall on heedless ears, but the interceding Saviour takes it all into account. Daily, in fact hourly now I try to witness for the Master to others that they might share in this all satisfying Salvation. I was satisfied with all that this world offered as far as the natural side, but there was that something which could never be satisfied with material things, but she knew that true satisfaction, so with me, "I drank of that Life-giving stream where my thirst was quenched, and then my soul revived, and now I live in Him." Hallelujah, all glory and praise to God.
A life of service
Following his conversion Bob set about working for his new Master. At his premises in Exchange Street East, the location of the present Moorfields Railway Station, he required all his staff to attend a brief prayer meeting before each day's opening time. He became active in a number of ministries, such as taking part in the Youth for Christ committee, becoming a director of the Liverpool City Mission, and was for a while Deputy Chairman of the Business Men's Association.
Billy Graham Harringay Crusade
In 1954 he took an active part in the Billy Graham Harringay Crusade which was relayed to different parts of Merseyside by radio for a full week and saw much blessing. I personally know of two people who were converted during these relays, one in Liverpool and the other in West Kirby. Bob's involvement was in the relays to the Central Hall and Picton Hall in Liverpool in which he was the Honorary Organiser. The Central Hall was originally booked for the Relay but it was such a success with every seat taken every night that the Picton Hall was also booked to accommodate those wishing to attend. Bob later testified that he had witnessed thousands of people gathered to hear the evangelist during those meetings at the two halls, and that four hundred and twelve people responded to the Gospel appeal. Never, he said, had he had such joy in all his life, and that he longed to make up for the years that he wasted in sin. "I must work" he said, "whilst I can, that I redeem the time for it is later than we think and the return of Jesus is nearer than we realise."
In the Liverpool Echo dated 3rd May 1954 Bob wrote that the Relay had been shown in 10 other places in Merseyside. At the Central Hall, he said, every one of the 2000 seats had been occupied. He said that some people had previously told him that he must be mad to expect to fill the Central Hall, but, he said, the laugh was on the pessimists!
In the same year he had the joy and privilege of being able to go to the Ramabai Mukti Mission in India to see Miss Morris, who had prayed for his salvation for 25 years and see her work in the home for unwanted babies. It was a joy, he said, which he would never forget and he thanked God for the privilege of visiting this devoted servant of Christ. Bob went on to found an orphanage in the country.
Oral Roberts Organisation
Following on from the above Bob subsequently became the Honorary Agent for the Oral Roberts Organisation in the UK and stayed with him on one occasion. His daughter, Jean, also became the UK Representative in Bristol. He travelled around the country showing one of his films "Venture of Faith" and he saw many thousands gathering with hundreds of people receiving Christ into their lives. At one time he was receiving between 50 and 60 letters a day following the showing of the film and testified that three quarters of his day was devoted to this work for the Lord. He also employed a typist to work of these letters from nine in the morning to six at night.. In 1957 he founded a charitable organisation in the name of Bob Sergent (Oral Roberts) Trust to administer this great ministry which was not dissolved until 1993.
Good Samaritan Trust
In 1962 Bob founded and financed the Good Samaritan Trust which occupied a shop in Dale Street opposite the Magistrate Court and this provided a wonderful service for the Lord for many years. As previously mentioned my first pastor Will Burnham worked there for a number of years and I recall him telling a number of testimonies of people who came to Christ through the ministry of the GST including some who were referred to the Trust by the Magistrates Court who were in a state of distress. On one occasion Will Burnham shared with our congregation a testimony of a young man who had come to Christ through the ministry of the Trust and from the circumstances he described I recognised the person who he was describing as somebody I had worked with and knew quite well. Amongst the peoploe who worked there were Howard Carter, a former Superintendent of the Liverpool City Mission and Richard Woods my present pastor from Waterside Church, Everton. The Trust was eventually dissolved in 1993. I was personally saddened by the closure of this great work, particularly as it was opposite the Magistrate Court and I do feel that it left something of a gap in an important spiritual ministry the centre of Liverpool.
Bob and his wife Dolly went to live in West Kirby and he died in 1972, aged 69 years, and was buried at Frankby Cemetery. His wife died five years later in 1977 and was buried with her husband. Both their children Ken and Jean went to live in Bristol and although Ken sadly never came to the Lord, Jean steadfastly went on with the Lord and opened a Christian Guest House there.
Hello my name is Jeannette Griffiths. For people who don’t know me today just want to share with everybody what Jesus has done for me and what he is still continuing to do as I walk with Him.
I was born in Birkenhead the youngest of a family of seven. As I was the youngest I was I was often bullied by the others and so had to learn to defend myself. As I was growing up I was very much in the world. I would get excluded from school. I would do whatever I had to do to get through the day and try to be on top at home. I had a good upbringing, my mum & dad were always there for me and my dinner was always on the table when I got home from school. I always believed in God but we were never forced to go to church. I just carried on with my life and by the time I was a teenager I was very like many teenagers are like today, drinking, going down to the shops, stealing, just because I could. I used to hang around Birkenhead Market, which is where I met John, my husband, who used to go there with his friend. One day John had a lot of money on him and he lent me some, which I needed to buy some drugs. We arranged to meet on the Saturday to go out and pick some magic mushrooms and that was our first date, although we didn’t manage to find any. By this time I had taken all sorts of different types of drugs. We then acquired some heroine from a dealer and spent the day together. From that time our relationship blossomed and we both became addicted to heroine. I then got pregnant and I had my first child Jamie, who is now 28 years of age. John was the money earner so I didn’t have to work and then 11 months later I had my second son Shaun. Unfortunately John was arrested on the Saturday as Shaun was born on the following Monday so I had not only an 11 months old baby and but now Shaun as well. John was given a two year sentence so I had to go out shoplifting and make money any way that I could get it. I didn’t care, I just robbed wherever I could rob. I then got caught and was given probation and drug treatment but nothing worked for me. When John came out of jail I had my third child Neil who is now 19 years of age. On one particular Saturday we just had £10 between us and we needed drugs so we got what we could for £10. Somebody asked us why we didn’t inject it, as it would last longer, thinking he was helping us so that is what we did and of course things started getting worse.
I was getting lower and lower and thinner and thinner. I then got pregnant again with my daughter Tegan, the girl who I had always wanted. When she was born I thought to myself that this would stop us doing what we were doing, but I was so wrong. Soon after having Tegan our house got burnt down so we moved out into a house in Price Street. After that an acquaintance introduced me to crack cocaine, something we knew about but had avoided it, but I took it and liked it and it really blew my head off. John didn’t know that I was taking it at that time, but also at that time John started driving a drug dealer around, who was also into crack cocaine and introduced him to it as well. He started smoking it and we shared it with each other. Things then got a lot worse. When I was on heroin, if I had £10 I would get up in the morning and if I needed bread and milk for the kids I would go to the shops, get the bread and milk for them, and then worry about where the money was going to come for the drugs. But when on the crack cocaine I would roll out of bed and my priority was then to get the drugs first and then do my shoplifting, which then rocketed through the roof. John was also out doing things at night-time and then he got caught and jailed for nine months. My son Shaun, then aged 14 years was caught shoplifting and he also went to jail. Then I was caught and was also sent for the first time to jail leaving Jamie, Neil and two years old Tegan on their own. The morning that I was due in court my only thought was about getting drugs because I thought that I couldn’t go to jail without drugs in me so I went out shoplifting. During that time my sister came to my house to pick up Tegan, as she did, and took her to her house. At that time Tegan had head lice so she put her in the bath and Tegan was petrified and also wasn’t eating so she took her to the doctors. Although I knew all this and it touched my heart and I actually loved my kids, it didn’t really make a difference to me because I was so affected by the drugs. When I came out of jail my eldest lad Jamie sat at the bottom of the stairs and said to me that if I had loved him that I wouldn’t do this, because when I come out of jail I am clean and wouldn’t do what I was doing. I told him that I did love him and loved him with all of my heart, but that I just couldn’t stop doing it. So I carried on as I was and ended up in jail again and the day I got out my first thought was about getting hold of the drugs again.
The third time I came out of jail John was at home and we were living in Rodney Street and we were done for disorder, fighting, smashing windows etc., and upsetting everything. I thought at the time that was how life was although I did dream of one day being drug free. There were times when we were drug free for a few weeks or even months but it was always there in the back of our minds and therefore short-lived.
Then one day I heard that Charles Thompson Mission was having a party and were giving free toys so I took Tegan with me. As it was a Sunday it wasn’t a good day for going around the shops so I sat during the service and don’t really remember who was speaking. During the service, however, I started to question why I was doing what I was doing and why my life was as it was and all those types of questions were coming into my mind. So I went home and probably bought some drugs, I can’t remember. The following week I went back again when the speaker was Rob Jeffs and I was really interested in what he was saying. Afterwards I went into a shop and as I was about to rob something I asked myself why I was doing this, it is wrong, and I shouldn’t be doing it, but I still took it. Normally I would then go to the buyer to get money for my drugs, but all the way to the buyer I kept saying in myself that I shouldn’t have done that, but I still went ahead, bought my drugs and carried on as usual. I then went to the Mission again and spoke this time to Bernie Frost and told him what had been happening to me during the week and all the different things that had been coming into my head which I can now see as being conviction of sin. So Bernie said to me that God had spoken to me and touched my life so I went to Rob and he told me that I needed the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour and ask him to forgive me for my sins and come into my life, so I just said to him “Okay then.” So I went home and carried on with what I was doing, but things were getting harder and harder, until one Saturday I gave in and went up into the bedroom to pray. John didn’t know what I was going but in any case we’d had our drugs so were off our heads on drugs, but it didn’t matter, God heard me as I cried out to Him. My prayer was “Lord I’m a sinner please forgive me and come into my life, Amen,” and that was my prayer. At the time I didn’t get any special feelings but the next day when I got up I went out and just knew that something had happened to me and that I was different.
I seemed to be more conscious and aware of what was going on around me. I started to consider other people’s feelings other than my own. However it wasn’t an easy road for me and during the following weeks or even months I seemed at times to be taking two steps forward and about four steps backwards. So I went on gradually but praise God I persisted and I can now say that I am drug free and don’t need anything because of what God had done for me. My journey hasn’t all been hunky dory. It has been blessed but I have been through trials but I believed that I needed to go through them in order to strengthen me. That’s when God is moulding me to be the person that he wants me to be. I find that when I am going through those trials I am living closer to the Lord. When I’m enjoying the mountain top experiences I often don’t pray as much because I’m less dependent on Him. When I’m down in the valley I find myself clinging to the Lord.
When I was on the drugs I didn’t really have any emotions. My sister died when 30 years of age from cancer and my mum at 51 years of age of senile dementia, but I didn’t cry when I lost them. God has so changed both John’s and my lives, although at the time John wasn’t a Christian. This was something that really worried me because I realised that we were living in sin and that in the Bible it says that we shouldn’t marry an unbeliever. Anyway I was encouraged to keep going on with the Lord which I did. Then one day I really felt the Lord say to me that the time was right for us to get married, but I said to the Lord “but he’s not a Christian Lord!” So I went to see Rob Jeffs and had a talk with him. Rob said to me that I should just obey what the Lord is telling me to do. Then Rob Watson came in and said to me that God would be looking down and smiling on me, not frowning on me. So I had this joy in my heart and I couldn’t wait to get home but then remembered that I had thrown him out the day before! So I prayed to the Lord asking him how I was going to do this now. So I just decided to trust Him. John had asked me to marry him lots of times but I had always declined, questioning what was the purpose of having a ring or a piece of paper and said that we were alright as we were and that I didn’t want to get married. So later that day John came to the house and so I said to him that I had something to ask him. When he asked me what it was I said it was nothing and that I’d ask him later and made him wait because I was nervous. But I felt the Lord say to me that I should just ask him which I did. So he replied asking me what was the point of a ring, but he then said that of course he would.
On the wedding day the Lord blessed me so much. I was now in fellowship at The Link with Emmanuel Church and as I was walking down the isle Mike Haynes said that he had an announcement to make, which even Jeannette didn’t know about. He told us all that John, just 20 minutes before the service began had given his life to the Lord, which is what I had wanted. The Lord blessed us so much that day that I felt that I was on a bed of air all day. And he continues to bless us all the time. And now by daughter has started coming to the church. She did occasionally go to the Mission, but she was very shy. We did make this a matter of prayer at our Thursday prayer meeting, and the Lord answered that prayer. I am believing the Lord for household salvation for all my children.
I do believe that if it had not been for the Lord’s intervention in my life I’m sure that I would be dead now because my weight had dropped down to 5 1/2 stone and I was getting double pneumonia. I was so thin that every time I went out everybody was staring at me I stuck out like a sore thumb. People looked down at me, but I am thankful that God didn’t do that because he saved me when I was at my lowest, praise His name.
What I want to say to you is that if you don’t know the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, His free gift of salvation is on offer to you. What he did for me he can do for me. The Lord Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart. It says in God’s Word that he is knocking on the door of your heart and that if you invite Him in he will come in and eat and drink with you. What a promise he has given to us!
I was born in 1972 and grew up in the Lache area of Chester, in a very loving home, with my mum & dad and my younger brother. I had a lovely childhood, I really enjoyed myself, even though I was dyslexic and struggled in school. So although things weren’t always easy for me because of my disability I did love being at home in a loving family. Both my parents are still with us today, for which I do praise God.
I met my husband when I was only 17 years old, although he was in his 30’s. My mum & dad couldn’t really say anything about our age difference because there is 19 years difference between them also. I was working at the time so when I told my employer that I was getting married he told me to go because as far as he was concerned getting married would involve babies and he told me that he would look out for somebody else. Well he was right because I was married in 1991 and in August 1992 I had my first child Lydia, and I’m thrilled to say that she also is now a Christian as she gave her life to the Lord 6 months ago. Well things were going well, my husband was in a job, we were having fun, going out having parties and really enjoying ourselves. My husband Jim had been married previously but sadly his first wife died of a brain tumour and he was left with two children Donna and Ian who were then 12 & 14 years of age. So I took on the responsibility of looking after the two children and although they were 12 & 14 they were still children and still needed guidance. So I did my best to give them the necessary support which wasn’t easy because really I was only a teenager myself. But we were doing okay and it was interesting growing up with teenagers because it gave me a dummy run for when my children also became teenagers. I then had my second child Emily, but after having her, unfortunately there were some complications, which unfortunately weren’t initially picked up. Now I’m not making excuses but a friend of mine offered me cocaine to take the pain away. It certainly did take the pain away all right but it also gave me a really bad addiction. After a while sniffing cocaine was no longer interesting to me and it sadly then progressed to crack cocaine, which became a really very bad habit. It destroyed a lot of things in my life including my marriage. Anybody that knows anything about a drug addiction will know that you will do anything in order to feed your drug habit, nothing else exists in your life, all that matters is getting the money to buy drugs. You are completely trapped and it is Satan’s work, it was absolutely awful. I don’t really want to go into it too much because I don’t think that we should dwell too much on the past but needless to say it was not long before I ended up in prison and had a criminal record. I would plead with anybody who is offered drugs to take, at a party for example, or to take away pain as with myself, not to take them, please don’t go down that road. In my case it landed me up in a real mess, I walked out on my family and for 4 months nobody knew where I was, not even my parents; it was a nightmare. Don’t think that it can’t happen to you because it can happen to anyone. A lot of people look down on those with a drug addiction, and I did myself once, and thought such people were stupid, but it can happen so easily to anybody. Well, looking back I can thank God for having his hand upon my life, because after a while I ended up back again with my family. I then decided to make my way to Birkenhead just with the clothes I had on me; I’m not sure how I got there but God must have had his hand on me. Anyway the place where I stayed was not very nice and a Christian, who didn’t think that I should be there took me in. At the time I was pregnant with my youngest daughter Jayne and I thank God for that man. He later testified that God told him to look after me, which at the time I thought was a bit crazy, thinking to myself how could God tell somebody to do anything. The first thing that he did was to encourage me to make contact with my family, which I went along with because I had no other option, I was stuck, having nowhere else to live. I could have ended up in The Ark in Birkenhead, a place for homeless people but I am thankful that this didn’t happen. After that I had Jayne, and for a while I was on my own with her, and later on my other two daughters came across to stay was that it was not meant to be that we should be apart. I then went along to Charles Thompson Mission, and met some of the staff there and got involved in some of the activities of the Mission, including the children’s meetings. We went there week in and week out, and were really enjoying it, but I wasn’t really understanding the Christian message, at least not at the beginning. I went along because it was a place where I could go and feel comfortable, because I felt loved by certain people who were there. One of those people was a lady called Margaret who played the piano, who I used to talk to after the service and have a cup of tea with her. Anyway she became ill and one day she wasn’t there and her absence was so noticeable because of missing her piano playing. Anyway the superintendent at the time Rob Jeffs asked the people if they could pray for Margaret. I didn’t really understand what he was saying because my understanding at that time was very limited, not understanding a lot of what was being said each week. What did become obvious to me, however, was the effect that the prayers of the people there were having on me. For example I noticed my desire to take drugs like crack cocaine was diminishing. Now in the natural there is no way that can happen because it is such a strong addictive drug, there is no way anyone can do that on their own. Anyway as I said we were asked to pray for Margaret, so I went along to the hospice, where she was, to visit her. What really struck me when I met her was that she was really glowing, and it was clear that she knew where she would be going after she died. What I could see in her was the life of Jesus, and it then because clear to me that I didn’t have what she had and that this was what I needed in my life. After visiting her I went home and prayed the most important prayer in my life. I recognised that I was a sinner, that I couldn’t do anything on my own, that I needed to be right with God and I asked Jesus into my life that evening. Well, as a young Christian I didn’t find those early days at all easy, particularly when trying to read the Bible, due to my being dyslexic, which made things much harder for me. However, God is good, and after a while I did start to understand what I was reading, and although I still got things wrong, I became aware that God was really helping me. My three daughters are all good readers, and they all helped me, especially Jayne who was reading well even when she was four years old, the age when she gave her life to the Lord.
Coming forward to 2009, the day before Christmas Eve I had some tests at the hospital following a visit to the opticians and I was told that I had a brain tumour. Well you can imagine the effect that had on all my family, especially on my husband after losing his first wife as well as the children from my husband’s first marriage who hadn’t coped at all well with the death of their mother. I didn’t really want to tell them but I knew that I had to because you can’t keep a thing like that hidden. Well after a while, Ian my stepson was going though turmoil in his own life due to his young child having leukaemia, so the whole family was extremely traumatised by it all. Not only that but as a young Christian I became subject to a lot of verbal abuse as they were questioning where God was in all that was happening. At such times you really do have to draw on God’s strength and his strength alone, and when people do shout at you like that the thing to do is to pray. That is what I always do and ask Him to give me the right words to say. Following on from that I had major brain surgery, a nine-hour operation, and I do praise God for bringing through that horrible operation. I was in Walton Hospital for 11 days afterwards, and whilst I was there a certain pastor came to see me, Mike Haynes from The Link Christian Fellowship in Birkenhead, the place where I am now in fellowship. Now my daughter had dyed my hair red so I did stick out somewhat and that together with a large bandage on my head, I must have looked quite a sight. I tried my best to read the Bible during that time which was difficult for me because I couldn’t see out of my right eye properly and that together with the words jumping around due to my dyslexia, I was really up against the odds. However I was reading from the Acts of the Apostles and especially about Paul and the sort of life that he lived before his conversion, but God had forgiven him for all the horrible things that he had done. This caused me to think about the sort of life that I had been living previously so I was really rejoicing in how much God had forgiven me also. I really didn’t want to be in that hospital but as I was reading about Paul’s life and how God sent him to Macedonia and how he willingly went there in obedience to God’s command, this was a challenge to me. Now in the bed opposite me was a lady by the name of Kathleen, accompanied by her daughter Cath, who had just gone in just for a biopsy. This would normally only take about half and hour in the theatre, and then the person would be discharged and return later for the results. Anyway I went over to her to speak to her, as well as others there, which I wasn’t supposed to do, and shared my testimony with them and prayed with them. Some of them were very frightened being there and they were confused as to why I wasn’t like them, but I told them that it was because people were praying for me and that God was looking after me. Anyway Kathleen was suddenly whisked off so I was pleased about that thinking that she has been sent home. A while later I was in the outpatients as a follow-up to the surgery, with my walking stick, eye patch and bandage on my head, quite a spectacle I must have looked. I was sitting down expecting the usual four or five hour wait, because a lot of people are referred there with things like brain tumours, epilepsy etc. I then noticed sitting there Cath whose mother Kathleen I had spoken to whilst in hospital so I was pleased to see her and thought that Kathleen must have been there to see the specialist, so I asked her how her mother was. Well she said that she had passed away, but then said to me how grateful she was for me speaking to her, sharing the Gospel and praying for her, and for the care that I had shown to her mother. It then became clear to me how important it is to be obedient to the Scriptures, as I had been at that time, and I am pleased to say that I’m still in contact with that lady today.
Sometime later I came into contact with Dave Hutchings, and the Lord placed on both our hearts a concern for people with addictions and needy people and we began to share the Gospel with people on a regular basis and we had a real determination not to give up. After a while we came into contact with Ann Adams from TRAC (Tranmere Residents & Communities) and on Tuesdays they have a meeting at which about 30 people attend, many of them being very lonely people who just want somebody to talk to, or for somebody to listen to them. So it’s not just addicts that we reach out to but also lonely and needy people. It has been a joy to work with Ann, and we have been praying together now for over a year. One of the things that we have been doing is collecting food from places like supermarkets and taking them to needy people. The Ark is one of the places that we have visited and it was there that we came into contact with somebody by the name of Darren who came to church with us one day and has stayed with us ever since. As time has gone on a number of opportunities have opened up to us in which we share the Gospel when we can. We have been really shocked by how many needy people there are in Birkenhead, such as families who have had their benefit stopped because of a change in their circumstances. One lady came up to me in the playground where Jayne goes to school and shared with me that she had been without benefit for 6 weeks and as a result had got into debt, and had no food for the children. So Dave and I went to visit her at her house and took her some food and shared the Gospel with her which left her in tears as she was so overcome by what we had done, and since then we have been finding many other people in similar circumstances. On one occasion we went into Mersey Park School and told them what we did and asked if they could assist us with provisions, for example with some of the food from the harvest thanksgiving. Well we were overwhelmed by the response as it just kept on coming in to us, it was absolutely amazing and a real answer to prayer. As we have kept on praying the provisions keep on coming in and it has given us so many opportunities to minister to people’s needs and also to share the Gospel. The Foodbank charity has been an excellent service but unfortunately it is somewhat restricted in that they only allow three packages per household per year, and for somebody in crisis who has been without benefit for 8 weeks it isn’t really a lot of help. So God has put it on the heart of Dave and I to go out there and help the needy, and believe me they do need help. It really is heartbreaking to see how bad things are in some people’s lives, especially as some of them are ex-soldiers. The need around us is really great, and we try to meet those needs where we can, but the people also need to hear the Gospel, and need Jesus in their lives. We do count it a privilege to be used in this ministry. Since both of us have had addictions in the past, this does enable us to effectively share with people who have addictions by telling them of what God has done in our own lives. What blesses us most of all, however, is belonging to The Link Fellowship because if we do bring somebody along to our family church they will hear the Gospel there. And when they do respond to the Lord they are not just left but are encouraged to go through the church’s Nurture programme. At this time we actually have nine people going through this programme which our pastor Mike Haynes takes. What blesses me about this is that one of them is my daughter Lydia and another is my future son-in-law. We have been thrilled to see so many coming to the Lord in recent months and they in turn are testifying of their new-found faith to their friends, and Mike is sometimes inundated with people contacting him to speak to him, at different times of the day and night. I do feel especially blessed in my fellowship because everybody works so well together and it is a privilege to belong there. Not only that but my neighbours have witnessed what is going on in my life and sometimes knock on my door asking for prayer for all sorts of issues, which is great, particularly when they come back and tell me how God has answered prayer. What has been sad to both Dave and I is that some of the people that we have spoken to have not responded to our invitation to get their lives right with the Lord, or have put it off, and then we have heard later on that they have been found dead as a result of their addictions. It is so important to take heed to the scripture “now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). We do thank God though for those who have responded and to witness the change that is taking place in their lives, sometimes being homeless and then being re-housed and their lives generally being transformed by their new life in Christ.
IN A PRISON OF MY OWN MAKING
JESUS SET ME FREE
It seems such a long time ago now when I look back on the days of wine, women and song. The days I enjoyed so much in the beginning but were to become a nightmare in the end. As I look back now I realise how easy it is for a human being to make choices in this life that can lead them into a life of misery.
I developed early on in my life a liking for nightclubs, in fact it was the primary purpose, it came before anything else. I would go out to pubs and clubs as often as I could afford. For almost 20 years I had this lifestyle. I did begin to think I had a problem with drink but kept telling myself I won’t drink as much tomorrow but when tomorrow came I would do the same thing over again!!
From drinking came a drug dependency also which cost me money, friends, jobs and relationships. I was in trouble with the police, fighting doing things that I would not even think of doing when I was sober. As each year went by I would try to change, struggle to stop drinking, making determined efforts to get my life back on track but I did not know then that my life was out of control. Over the years I had formed a big dependency for drink and drugs.
So here I was, a victim of wrong choice with no way out and I really did try to find a way out.
I met an old friend who had had drink and drug problems, which had nearly killed him. He told me that God had healed him of his addiction and that He would help me if I really wanted help. I did not really believe God existed, I had so many reasons why he did not, but I could not deny that this man standing in front of me was nothing like he used to be. He was so confident, so calm, so at peace that I thought what have I got to lose.
I gave my life to the Lord Jesus and found the way out; I was healed, set free from my addictions.
I was given a new life, a wife and children. I have made one choice that cannot be beaten, the choice to let Jesus guide my life.