My journey with Jesus has been what some onlookers would call ‘unremarkable’. For this reason, I rarely tell it as the stories of other Christians are so much more exciting and eventful! However, mine is the story that so many others probably share – finding Christ day by day in the actions of others. I have been a part of the Burghfield Common Methodist Church for most of my life, and have witnessed many acts of Christian loyalty, love and kindness.
When I was a small child, an elderly member of the church called Mr. West never ceased to surprise me with his devotion to the little chapel (as he called it) on the Reading Road. He would mow the lawns, plant the garden and be there, come rain or shine, to open the doors (twice on Sunday) and hand out the hymn books. As a young child, I remember his shiny, bald head glinting in the sunlight and his love of Christ seemed to flow from every crease in his cheery smile.
There was another lady called Lily Yearn who always wore a hat to church on Sunday! She sang the hymns with pride and beamed at all the young folk who came to Sunday school and who later attended an evening service and church group for teenagers. She remembered everyone’s news, families and any challenges they might be having. During my first lonely term at Lancaster University at the tender age of eighteen, I remember somebody calling for me down the hall to say I had had a letter. This caused great excitement and when I opened it, it was from dear Lily Yearn – she had words of advice and comfort and of course, news of the village. I shall never forget her kindness.
I felt the same Christian love when, in another low and painful time in my life, I had an understanding phone call from Mary Bushnell. She was so patient, kind and wise and the call came just at the time I needed it. Again, I shall never forget it.
There are many members of the church now, who are a wonderful witness to Christ’s love and compassion. I have known them all my life and they never fail to amaze and support me at every opportunity.
My journey with Christ has, for me, been quite ‘remarkable’. To me, Jesus has been like an true friend, always there, always true, always listening and always strong. In today’s language he could be a friend who I have forgotten to message or remember at certain times; he may have been ‘missed off an invite list’, not ‘cc d on email’ or overlooked on occasion! But for me, he is forgiving and welcomes me back at every opportunity. He bears no grudge, ill feeling or resentment – just offers support, love and friendship.
So it is with gratitude that I remember Church members from the past and appreciate those today. When I was confirmed in 1981 I was given a Bible with a reference to Acts chapter 1 v 8: “You will be my witness for me.” Like Christians before us, we constantly try to be worthy witnesses. We often fail, but I believe God loves us all the same and he loves the fact that we keep on trying!!
I am not naturally a person who likes to be in the limelight, I’d much rather fade into the background, so writing a piece about why I am a Christian and part of the church family at Burghfield Common Methodist Church feels more comfortable.My testimony is a bit like a jigsaw – the straight edges came first probably through attending Sunday school and having a childhood immersed in the Baptist Church where my dad was a deacon and my mum the Sunday school secretary. I learnt the basics and got a rough idea of the picture. I went to Scripture Union Camps, learnt to recite the order of the books in the Old Testament, sang lots of songs and generally had fun.
I wrote a New Year’s resolution once “To follow Jesus Christ” but can’t actually recall doing much about it. I went off to college and got a job that took me around the country and always found a church to go to but I didn’t really know Jesus and although bits of the picture were being filled in, it was by no means complete. I remember praying for a friend back then who was close to death after a hit and run and being so thankful that he survived, recovered (and later married his nurse.) Although pieces were being added I still had many unresolved nagging questions in my mind, like “So what IS the point of life?” “Why ARE we all here?”
I went to a talk entitled Evolution vs Creation and several pieces fell into place as the speaker explained about fossil evidence and God the creator who longs for us to turn to Him. I was then invited to an Alpha course and as each week went by I realised more of the picture was fitting together. Beliefs were confirmed and questions answered which led me to a place where I felt “Yes, that’s it- that makes sense” and so at some stage and I don’t know exactly when, I prayed (alone on my knees in our back room) and committed myself to Jesus. For a long time I dreaded anybody asking me “When did you become a Christian?” because not being able to produce the exact date and time with a dramatic story to boot is embarrassing isn’t it? Then I heard Nicky Gumbel say that it doesn’t matter- it’s a bit like crossing over the border from one country to another on an overnight sleeper- you’re not aware of exactly when you crossed over but you know you are there in the morning. Tremendously reassuring.
When you are doing a jigsaw, sometimes your elbow catches a bit that’s been done and it all falls to pieces. There have been times when I’ve lost the lid with the picture on and struggled to put the pieces back but I’ve always found that God has helped me to put more pieces in than had originally been lost. I’m nowhere near completing the jigsaw, but I thank God that I’m doing it with Him. He has been so gracious and I know that it is His love that drew me to Him and the sacrifice of His Son that made it possible. For this reason I meet with His family at Burghfield Common Methodist Church.
JOHN & MARGARET’S STORY
We both hail from Sunderland and attended the same church though led different paths until we married in 1971. At that time John was a student in a Missionary Training College so I left my job as a teacher in a school for children with special needs and became a student for a year. At that time we felt led to Christian work overseas and the first step was to get experience in church work in the UK for a year so we moved to Reading and after 48 years we are still here!
We often say God has a sense of humour but doesn’t make mistakes and He has been our constant guide and given us many opportunities to
serve Him in this area and has enriched our lives so much. We know we can trust Him with everything past, present and future. Recently we moved to Burghfield Common and cone again find new opportunities, new friends, and a new warm fellowship.