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Responding to God's Call - Chris and Wendy

Wendy and ChrisWe have belonged to churches from the Salt & Light family for many years - in Lutterworth, Leicestershire before moving to Oxford in 2001, initially to be part of the Salt & Light Bible College. We were part of a church in France for two and a half years before returning to Oxford in 2009.

When Chris retired we sensed that the Lord was calling us to move again. After finding the Buxton Community Church website and talking to a friend who had moved from Oxford to co-lead a church in Derby, we arranged an exploratory visit to BCC.

The weekend we came included the inauguration of The Father’s Living Room (Prayer Room), time spent time in worship with the BCC family on the Sunday morning, as well as first meetings with Ollie and Jo and Mick and Sue.

It felt like a new season for the Church and we were excited at the prospect of being part of that. We moved here in August 2016 and are seeking to make a difference in the lives of our neighbours and the wider community.

We look for the Lord, but it's He who finds us! - Brenda

At the wedding of one of our church members (Katy Gregg) the speaker told the story of the ill woman who pushed though the crowd towards Jesus, saying to herself, “If only I touch his cloak, I will be healed.”  Jesus knew that someone had touched him, so he asked who it was. When the woman owned up, Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.”

The speaker then said, “We search for the Lord, but he finds us.”Brenda

This really struck home to me because I never thought of it that way. Before I became a Christian, I knew something was missing in my life. I searched for this ‘something’ with the Jehovah’s witnesses, the Mormons and for a few years I actually became a Muslim. But nothing stopped the feeling that 'something was missing'.

Then came a very low period in my life and at that time, the Lord found me! He tapped me on the shoulder and kept at me until I read my bible. Not only could I understand it, but the words were actually speaking to me. At that point I gave my heart to the Lord and became a Christian. Since then I’ve never had that feeling of ‘something missing’.

We look for the Lord, but it's He who finds us!

My Story - From Darkness to Light - Nigel

I was born in 1970 and most of my early life was full of darkness. I was in a house fire at the age of five and then I lived in three different care homes because my mum, who had mental health problems, struggled to look after me. I never knew my dad. Even as a child I began to steal money from school and got my first police caution at the age of 13. I didn't get on at school and ended up abusing solvents and alcohol at a young age. I finally ended up in prison at the age of 17. It wasn't much of a childhood.

NigelPrison was a dark place where I was drawn into the drug scene and learned more ways to commit crime. When I was released I went straight back to burglary and theft to get drugs. After 28 days I was back in prison and started self-harming.

There were times I wanted to end my life. On one occasion I smashed the Fish tank in the hospital wing of the prison and used the glass stab myself in the stomach. I was violent and got into a lot of fights and trouble. I spent a lot of time in solitary confinement, either because of the trouble or because of my self-harming. Deep down I had very little self-respect.

Whilst in prison I had two major mental breakdowns and would often hear voices encouraging me to commit acts of violence to myself or others and would suffer at the hands of the guards or other prisoners.

Over 10 years, I've had seven Crown court appearances and was in 18 different prisons, two probation hostels, four bail hostels and two secure units. I even managed to escape from three prisons!

Life was full of darkness and despair!

This is not 'religion' this is real life - please keep reading.

There were always Bibles around in prison. Sometimes I would find a Bible falling open at this verse or the wind from the cell window would blow the pages open to this page:

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

At first I was interested because I wanted to have life after death. Then I actually experienced Jesus in my life. One day, some people offered to pray that a cold I had would go away — and it did! I also felt God's presence with me which filled me with peace, warmth and love.

In some ways I felt more free than the prison guards themselves - as though the prison bars no longer confined me. I no longer felt the desire to escape and, for he first time, felt freedom and peace. I had begun my journey with Jesus.

Jesus had always been there, even though I did not realise it. I still had times of hardship but now I knew Jesus was looking out for me. I was aware of Him and I wanted more! What He was giving me was far better than any drug, sex, money or earthly pleasures!

I started to ask questions of the prison chaplain and other Christians who visited the prison. I also did an Alpha course, created by Nicky Gumbel, in prison. This allowed me to ask questions and learn more about Jesus, His ways and what He wanted for my life - which for me was to simply know His love and that He had always loved me, and always will.

Jesus begins to change my life

I started to recognise Jesus doing things in my life. I gave my life to Him and on that night the voices left - never to return.

His love and wisdom didn't sort me out all at once but gradually He healed me from stealing, alcohol, drugs, smoking, self-harming and even biting my nails (I had been biting my nails for 40 years!) I know that it was Jesus who released me from these, as when I came off them I didn't have any cravings. I was just released and set free. Jesus steadily changed my identity and attitude. Over the years he has placed friends around me who prayed with me. I have no family, but God has given me a new family, where I belong and am being transformed each day.

Jesus has done so much for me, but there is one thing that is more important than everything else. Because Jesus died on the cross for the entire world, and me, I know that I am loved and forgiven. I know that when I die I will be with God and live with Him in His kingdom for ever. This promise is for everyone who believes and this eternal life begins the moment we accept Jesus.

One of the books of the Bible that has really spoken to me is in the book of Luke where it tells the story of Jesus hanging on the cross and one of the criminals crucified with Him began to shout insults at Him:

But the other criminal stopped him. He said, "you should fear God! You are getting the same punishment as He is. We are punished justly; we should die. But this man has done nothing wrong!"then he said to Jesus, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom!” Then Jesus said to him listen! What I say is true: today you will be with me in Paradise! Luke 23:40–43

These criminals were being crucified with Jesus. Jesus can forgive even the worst even the worst criminal! There are plenty of things that still need sorting out for all of us, but Jesus invites you to share His life and join him on the journey He has planned for you. When Jesus was crucified He asked God to forgive those who tortured, humiliated, abandoned, rejected, mocked and finally killed him. I have struggled to forgive those who have harmed me in my life but I notice when I forgive, that lets God in and we open the doorway to healing, wholeness and Heaven’s kingdom.

Jesus cares and loves you

I want you to know that Jesus cares for you! If you were the only person to have ever lived Jesus would still have chosen the cross for you. He freely gives his mercy to you. He loves you more than you can ever know and really wants to make a difference in your life. If you feel ashamed about anything, just know that God forgives you. If there is brokenness and darkness in your life, know that there is a God who can cut through the darkness and bring you into light.

If you want to know Jesus for yourself, He is there with you wherever you are. If you want to experience God's love, mercy and grace in your life, just say this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I am sorry for the things I've done wrong in my life (take a moment to ask forgiveness for anything in particular that is on your conscience). Please forgive me. I now turn from everything that I know is wrong. Thank you that you died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free. Thank you that you offer me forgiveness. Please come into my life to be with me forever. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen.

The next thing to do is to tell someone that you prayed this prayer, either a Christian friend or local church. We often need people to help us in our walk with Jesus (just as I do) so if you want someone to talk to or pray with - or if you have any questions - then contact:
Pastor Ollie Taylor at bcchurchinfo@gmail.com

I pray that you will know Jesus His love and blessings, have a great day