When I was five months old, my birth mother died and my father’s sister and her husband, who could not have children, adopted me. My birth father, who had three other children to raise, agreed to the adoption and could still be in regular contact with me as we all lived in the same village. My 13-year-old sister, May, became a mother figure to her younger sister and brother with the support of family and neighbours.
I had always been taken to Sunday School by my adoptive mother, but I didn’t attend church as a child. Nonetheless, I was baptised as a teenager at the age of fourteen. Mr Evans, my Sunday School teacher at Noddfa Welsh Baptist Chapel, in Caerau, Maesteg, often spoke about knowing the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour but it was not until 1955 — when I was eighteen — that the truth became a reality in my own life.
I went on an organised trip to London to hear the American evangelist Billy Graham. A trip to the big city!
Just as I am without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God I come, I come.
In the amazing providence of God, it was at that Billy Graham Crusade and hearing Dr Billy Graham’s direct, powerful preaching at Wembley Football Stadium that I had the opportunity to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour. I will never forget the joy I experienced when I fully realised that Jesus had died for me personally and had dealt with my sin and failures.
I had now been adopted for a second time: ‘In love he predestined us to be his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will’ (Ephesians 1:4-5).
Wounded for me, wounded for me,
There on the Cross, He was wounded for me.
This chorus became very special to me when I first sang it as part of an Inter-Schools Christian Fellowship Camp held in Llanmadoc on the Gower, South Wales.
A God who provided
After leaving Maesteg Grammar School, I worked for two years in the accounts department of the Revlon factory before starting teacher training at Barry Training College. A postcard size photograph of Dr Billy Graham in my room attracted the attention of Enid Thomas (who later became Mrs Brian Higham), and we soon discovered a number of others who were born-again Christians. And so, a branch of a Christian organisation was formed. We spent some very special times together in Bible study and prayer. Friendships forged at that time remain to this day. Norma, one of those dear Christian friends, and I went to the Midlands to teach in the same school — a very special answer to prayer! We also shared the same lodgings with Mrs Blythe and attended Stockingford Methodist Church where we were blessed indeed and well looked after by our dear landlady. Most of the staff at Arley Gun Hill Primary School were Welsh; the head teacher was a Mr Jones, so we felt very much at home in England! After a few years and providentially at the same time Norma and I moved back to Wales to the Rhondda and Llynfi Valley respectively. Norma, another dear Christian friend from college days and I are in regular contact still after all these years, and our friendship remains very special.
A faithful God
We are getting on now — the three of us are in our eighties. God has guided us in different ways, but the words in Proverbs 3:5–6 are true for each of us:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
What a faithful, loving friend he is and will be even to the end and then with him forever! I am reading Derek Prime’s book A Good Old Age and finding it very helpful being reminded of how to live well into my advanced years.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!
Dyma fy stori, dyna fy nghan
Canmol yr Iesu wrth fynd ymlaen!