Although I was brought up in a moral and industrious family, my parents had abandoned any close adherence to the Christian upbringing they had received. As the eldest daughter of nine siblings, I had learned from an early age to put others first and had always had a strong sense of commitment to family.
After the war, I married Geoff, whom I had first met when I worked as a telegraphist at the Head Post Office in Birmingham. I knew that he was a practising Anglican and I admired his values, but I did not fully understand or share his beliefs. In fact, my brothers and sisters were sceptical about the Christian faith and some of their scepticism had undoubtedly rubbed off on me.
In 1966, we moved from the North of England to South Wales. The years went by and I continued to be busy with our two children as well as becoming involved in community life, which included taking up the position of secretary to the local girl guides. I also cared for my father-in-law, who lived in our family home. When the children were teenagers, he had a severe stroke and it became a great challenge to look after him, despite the support I received from Geoff. For the first time in my life, I felt crushed by my circumstances and realised that I had exhausted my own resources.
During that period, an invitation came that would change my life forever. The Bible class which my daughter enjoyed so much held a special evening for mothers in the leader’s home. In that meeting, the speaker, Mary, shared the amazing news of Jesus bearing all our burdens. Mary was serving as a missionary at the time in Afghanistan with the Bible Society. It was not long before I began to attend church each week with my daughter’s Bible class leader. I was stunned by the joyful singing and could not understand how the pastor knew so much about me. He seemed to be speaking directly to me, as if he had a personal file on my life!
After reading Basic Christianity by Rev. John Stott, a book which I later gave to my son, I finally understood that I could not win my way to Heaven by hard work or duty. Forgiveness of sins is a free gift that I gladly received and the love of God filled my heart and transformed my life.
I was very keen to increase my knowledge and understanding of the Bible so I joined a local Bible study group at the church I attended. The members welcomed me warmly and immediately made me feel as if I belonged. I would recommend that all new believers attach themselves to a group of like-minded Christian friends in this way as it is essential to identify with God’s people.
My baptism was a powerful experience for me. I had always been very nervous about speaking in public. However, when the time came for me to give my testimony, the Lord gave me the words and I was aware of his presence in an exceptional way. Over the coming years, I had the joy of seeing the rest of my immediate family come to faith. I had a strong desire to reach out to others, even though I was not a natural extrovert. God provided the perfect opportunity for me when I became involved in Bible study by correspondence with schoolgirls.
I remember on one occasion I was cycling through the peaceful seaside town of Penarth thinking about the nature of God. Suddenly, I experienced an overwhelming sense of God’s personal love for me. It struck me with unexpected clarity that God is love. Love is the very essence of his being. As the apostle John writes:
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).
In November 2020, I celebrated a hundred years of the Lord’s faithfulness to me. I can hardly believe I have reached such a milestone as I don’t feel any sense of aging in my spirit, even if my body is weaker than before. I am very thankful for the way in which the Lord has guided and protected me over the years. Thankfulness is so important, especially as we advance in years, and I have learnt to turn my anxieties into prayers with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6-7).
My confidence in God’s Word and my assurance of a future in Heaven have grown as I have spent more time studying and memorising Scripture. Although my eyesight is not good enough for me to read any longer, either my son or daughter still read the Bible and pray with me each day, which is vital to me. The Lord knows our specific situation and will always provide for our needs. How encouraging it is to know that God is love, that he cares for us so deeply as individuals, and that his love is everlasting!