Archive for the ‘Life Story’ Category

Loved even with wounds

by Colin Dexter

As Alpha began, I felt the need to reflect on my life with God. Growing up I had always believed in something, I was so sure about a God existing although I had no idea how to have a relationship with him. I did things that I thought would earn me his love and rewards; very rarely feeling anything. Christian festivals or youth group weekends away turned into opportunities to spot the hot boys. I normally hooked up with a few and then felt guilty about it afterwards.

My whole relationship with God and the Church had been a confusing mess. It all stemmed back to abuse that I faced in church when I was 13 years old. Abuse that left me so broken and scared. I was constantly angry with the Church, angry with God and resenting everyone around me who tried to interfere.

At the time when I was 13, I didn’t realise I was so angry. Instead I wanted to find my own coping mechanisms; to find a way to switch off all those things I was feeling. The hurt, the pain, the dysfunction of everyday life. Rather than talk about it, I found my own way. This magical coping mechanism with new my best friend, Anorexia. She did so much for me, controlling my every move but it didn’t matter because she made me feel amazing. Anorexia was everything I needed to get me through day to day and I loved it. Throughout my illness I carried on going to church but was unable to really engage with anything there. I would use it as a chance to skip meals, and be out more.

It was all going swimmingly, or so I thought. All up until aged 17 and with a failing heart and yellowing skin I was admitted to a mental health hospital. I didn’t get it. Why was everyone trying to take away this one thing in my life that made me feel so good? The one thing that I felt was my solution to everything?

People would visit and pray for me. All the while, I was praying for the pain to just go but felt nothing from God. He never had given me what I needed. It seemed to me that he had watched me fall and crumble. That he had watched me suffer at the hands of an abuser. This so-called God; how could he possibly claim to love everyone? That was where faith had stopped for me.

Facing my brokenness

Eleven years ago I walked out of a church and vowed never to go back. I tried church three times at university but once again felt judged, and like no one understood.

Little did I know that eleven years later I would be stood in the entrance to Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), sweating on a hot summer’s Sunday evening. I looked through the door, debating what to do. Eventually I crept in, hiding in the back row of church so no one would talk to me; so I could keep myself separate.

Then Alpha began. I had no idea what to expect, so my guard was up. I spent the first few weeks resorting back to my old teenage self (that version of me where I so often used to get stuck, trapped in my 13-year-old self that was formed by the abuse).

I knew something was stopping me making a commitment to God but I couldn’t work out what. Perhaps the idea of giving up control? Trust? The guilt I felt? The fact that I couldn’t let go of my past? I felt God had punished me over the summer, and over parts my life because of what had happened to me as a child.

Hope Virgo (extract) “Stand Tall little Girl”

Facing up o Anorexia

KNOWING FOR YOURSELF

by Colin Dexter

Deniz’s (an OM worker in London) own testimony is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in working through even the smallest ministries. “Key to me coming to faith in Jesus were the people around me,” he shares. Brought up in a nominally Muslim family, Deniz was first introduced to Jesus as a child—by a 15-year-old girl leading Bible studies for her peers in her basement. He saw the vibrancy of her faith in Jesus and wanted to know Him for himself. This was the point of no turning back for Deniz.

ALPHA TESTIMONY

by Colin Dexter

DESPAIR TO HOPE

by Colin Dexter

One night, Peter and his friends were looting in the mines for copper when Peter heard the sound of a gun. Bang! While running away from the police, he felt something hit his back and dropped to the ground unconscious. Awakening in the hospital, the first thing the doctor said was: “You will never walk again.” The bullet had travelled along Peter’s spinal cord and exited under his arm, very close to the heart. The doctor didn’t think Peter would live long.

Paralysed and lying on his hospital bed, Peter believed his life was shattered. He wondered how he could carry on his life if he had a disability, especially due to the crimes he had committed. “I was full of regret and sorrow,” Peter recalled of his first few days in the hospital.

An evangelist visited the hospital and shared the love of God with Peter, though it took a while for the message to sink in. “I thought I was too bad to receive God’s love and there was no hope in my life,” said Peter. The evangelist did not give up though and constantly visited, explaining to Peter how people were all influenced by sin and that that was the reason why Jesus had come to earth. “Jesus came to save and seek the lost like me,” Peter explained, sharing how God opened his heart to the reality that Jesus loved him –– even when he was sinful and lost.

Receiving the love of God into his heart, Peter was overjoyed by the newfound hope and felt an indescribable peace for the first time in his life. His journey with Jesus started right at the hospital as he could not keep his faith to himself and began sharing the good news with other patients.

Three months in the hospital changed Peter from a man in total despair to a champion for God’s love. The doctor admitted Peter’s life was a miracle; though he could only slowly drag his legs, Peter was able to walk. Being released from the hospital was just the start of his new life. Everything had changed!

To see how Peter ended up being involved with OM & even meeting his wife through OM please visit this link for the rest of Peter’s incredible story – https://stories.om.org/story/r66554

Morning Prayer

by Colin Dexter

by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a key leader in the Confessing Church in Germany during the 1930s-40s. He very quickly recognised the evils of the Nazi regime and refused to compromise with its ideology. In April 1943 he was arrested and imprisoned, and he was finally executed in April 1945, weeks before the end of the Second World War. His writings are highly valued and respected, not least the collection of his Letters and Papers from Prison which give a very personal insight into the faith and character of this remarkable man of God. The prayer below was written as part of a collection of ‘Prayers for Fellow-Prisoners’ at Christmas 1943.

O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you;
I cannot do this alone.

In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me.

O heavenly Father,
I praise and thank you
For rest in the night;
I praise and thank you for this new day;
I praise and thank you for all your goodness
and faithfulness throughout my life.

You have granted me many blessings;
Now let me also accept what is hard
from your hand.
You will lay on me no more
than I can bear.
You make all things work together for good
For your children.

Lord Jesus Christ,
You were poor
and in distress, a captive and forsaken as I am.
You know all man’s troubles;
You abide with me
when all men fail me;
You remember and seek me;
It is your will that I should know you
and turn to you.
Lord, I hear your call and follow;
Help me.

O Holy Spirit,
Give me the faith that will protect me
from despair, from passions, and from vice;
Give me such love for God and men
as will blot out all hatred and bitterness;
Give me the hope that will deliver me
from fear and faint-heartedness.

O holy and merciful God,
my Creator and Redeemer,
my Judge and Saviour,
You know me and all that I do.
You hate and punish evil without respect of persons
in this world and the next;
You forgive the sins of those
who sincerely pray for forgiveness;
You love goodness, and reward it on this earth
with a clear conscience,
and, in the world to come,
with a crown of righteousness.

I remember in your presence all my loved ones,
my fellow prisoners, and all who in this house
perform their hard service;
Lord, have mercy.
Restore me to liberty,
and enable me so to live now
that I may answer before you and before men.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.

Amen.

Source: Bethge, E. (eds.) (1953) Dietrich Bonhoeffer Letters and Papers from Prison: An Abridged Edition. London: SCM Press Ltd

TESTIMONY FROM JAPAN

by Colin Dexter

Bible translator murdered

by Colin Dexter

One of the first Bible translators for the Aghem people in Cameroon has been murdered during an attack on his village. He is the second member of the team killed in recent months.

Benjamin Tem was one of the original cohort of trained translation workers on the Aghem Bible translation project. He helped his people to read and discover the life-changing message about Jesus; through his efforts many started studying the Bible in small groups, hearing God speak to them in their own language for the first time.

He died on the night of 20 October, during an attack in the village of Wum.

Wycliffe.org.uk

The Crime of believing Jesus?

by Colin Dexter

“May the persecution and imprisonment that I endure glorify the name of Jesus Christ,” were the words spoken by Roksari Kanbari, an Iranian convert to Christianity, moments before she reported to the authorities to begin a one-year prison sentence on 14 October.

The 61-year-old wife and mother spoke in a short video in which she said she had been arrested by agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence for “the crime of believing in Jesus Christ”.  

Barnabus Fund

My heart was changed

by Colin Dexter

Du was one of China’s millions of migrant workers,leaving his rural town for the city-chasing work and a decent income. But urban life was grim ; Du ended up working in a factory, despondent and lost.

One day he found a pocket sized Bible on a bed in his dormitory. Someone had left it behind. Du picked it up and started to read. “I realised I had been blinded by atheism to see only the physical world and material things ” he said.

My heart was changed and I committed myself to the Lord.

He added ” I may not have great wealth in this life , but I know I have no lack in the one true God.

wordinaction Bible Society winter 2019

Atheist to Christ

by Colin Dexter