Continuing on from the amazing occurrences I described in my previous four posts documenting my progression from atheism to Christianity, I rushed home and said to Davy “I know what’s wrong with this house! My bible is in the loft. Can you get it down please?”
As I told Davy what had happened I randomly opened the bible and, glancing down to read Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Wow! This totally freaked us out.
Next day Davy had to go to the Builders Merchants and while he was in there I wandered into a Christian Book shop nearby. While I waited for him in the pickup I randomly opened each of the three books I had bought and, believe it or not, the first page I turned to in each book contained this same bible verse. I was just knocked out - but that wasn’t to be the end. As I put the last book down I looked up and there was the same verse on a church notice board nearby. I just flung my arms in the air and said “OK, I get the message”.
Now what? I immediately felt a great peace “which transcends all understanding”. We had a multitude of emotional and financial problems, but suddenly I felt very calm about everything. Where did that come from?
The next day I started fretting about Pentecost, what was it and when did it happen? I asked Bridie. She asked why I wanted to know, but I had no idea. I was totally unprepared for the answer she gave me “Did you know that this Sunday is Pentecost?” I had no idea! This was all too strange. And as an aside, I have just realized that I am writing this the week before Pentecost!
I then found myself wondering where I should go with my newly found faith? I was sure that I needed to go to church but wanted to go somewhere where I could be nurtured and developed. I didn’t want anywhere too stuffy, but neither did I want to end up with what I called “over the top nutters”. I was cautious.
I told Bridie about my bible verse being in the books etc and she recommend that I read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boon. This was the book that had turned her around.
She had also recently bought a book called “Chasing the Dragon” by Jackie Pullinger a young Christian who had gone to Hong Kong to work among drug addicts, helping them come off herion without withdrawals and “coincidentally” Davy had been trying to help a young addict that worked for him. One day Bridie ‘phoned me and said “guess what, Jackie Pullinger is over here and speaking at a local school this evening, shall we go and take John with us?
We discussed our plan with John and he agreed that we should go and see her. After her talk she prayed with him and I told her that I was fascinated by her story. We had a chat and she said that if I wanted I could catch up with her again the following evening at a place called Millmead in Guildford where she was speaking again.
When I rocked up at Millmead I thought “Oh no, a Baptist Church”! I nearly turned around and went home, but was still keen to talk some more with Jackie so I went in. You can tell that I am not at all bigoted or biased! J
Against all my better instincts I did go into the Church and immediately knew that I was in the right place. I later found out that the Church had been developed by a renowned preacher and biblical scholar David Pawson. He had moved on from Millmead the year before, but the legacy that he left behind was just what I needed.
I eventually had full emersion baptism in that Church and in 1983 Davy and I were married there by Justin Dennison, another inspirational preacher who taught me so much.
If you remember my path had taken me from Sunday School, to sitting along in Churches as a child, to reading the Catherine Marshall book that suddenly appeared in my home. It wasn’t until later that I realized perhaps my real conversion had started with the 12th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous. I was, and still am, a member of Al-Anon, a fellowship for families and friends of alcoholics. We follow the same 12th step programme of AA.
The fist 100 members of AA decided to help suffering alcoholics by analysing the steps they had taken to recover and sustain their recovery from alcoholism.
The 12th step is “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps ….” BOOM – it suddenly dawned on me that I had followed these steps to the best of my ability for 16 years and slowly my mind had been opened to the possibility of there being a Higher Power who I eventually came to called God. When the time was right he led me to him. Just as it said on the tin “having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps”
And what happened to John? He did come off of heroin without withdrawals and stayed clean for several months. Unfortunately the lure of the drug pulled him back into addiction again from which he eventually died. It was so tragic because he had a little girl, twin boys and a lovely wife. Unfortunately he didn’t see the need to seek the ongoing help of other recovering addicts through the NA 12 step programme. It’s a hard lesson, but to see others fail can reinforce the need for recovery.
To be continued……..
Oh, and another thing, I would urge you to click on the Jackie Pullinger link to hear her story. She is an absolute nut, but if only I was half the person that she is I would die happy