Our Stories

Piers

I was born in 1951, became a Christian at 19 on a bus while travelling abroad, was involved in the Christian Union (OICCU) at Oxford, did research on the ecology of cow pats (yes that’s right) and got involved in the JFC (then called Jesus People or just ‘Bugbrooke’ after the village it started in) in 1974. After a couple of zany but radical years in Oxford as a new disciple I moved to Sheepfold Grange in 1977. It was the first mixed community house opened by the church during the rapid expansion of the community in the Northampton area. I was there for about three years amidst singles, marrieds, single parents and loads of children. Then when the church started outreach to cities in earnest I volunteered to go to Coventry. I landed in the summer of 1980 without much of a clue. I had reluctantly embarked on teaching which went on for 7 years, and then (again reluctantly at first) I went into business in the buying office at Goodness Foods Wholesale, a wholefood wholesale firm run by the church. That lasted 17 years until I was picked to manage the Coventry Jesus Centre which opened on April 30 2002. For more on that, see the website http://www.coventry.jesuscentre.org.uk/.

I had a basic belief in God but hadn’t got a clue who Jesus really was. A Christian student friend rattled my cage by telling me that Jesus is God; it was outside my box. That Spring I was run over by a van while riding my bicycle. It knocked me down and went right over me – I remember it graphically. But I wasn’t illed, only shocked and bruised. A student on the scene told me God had saved my life and I had to agree.

That summer friends took me to hear David Watson and I responded to the gospel – but so far only in my head.

Then I went travelling abroad and reflected on life a lot. I was evangelised, met interesting people, had narrow escapes.. Then a couple of girls told me that Jesus loves me as I waited for a bus. They left but on that bus the penny dropped. Mankind ‘got sin’ (I wrote in my journal) and Jesus died to take away our guilt. I felt a great relief as I saw that he had died for me personally. Everything has looked different ever since.

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Miracles I have experienced

One time my father had eye problems because his tear ducts were blocked. We had this big row about my Christian commitment but I then said ‘Let me pray for your eyes to show I still love you.’ He reluctantly agreed and a few days later he said one eye had recovered at once, the other responded to treatment.

I prayed for a woman’s snapped tendon which made her hand useless. Later that day she found she could use it normally. She is still with us.

Something about tendons? I met an Asian man near Promise one day and invited him round. He came with his wrist bandaged because he had cut a tendon. I prayed for it. He left. The next day or so (I was out) he came and told us that Jesus had come and healed him that night. His doctor couldn’t believe it.

I’ve seen many things as a result of prayer and faith personally – nightmares stopped, legs and other bits healed, hearing improved, headaches stop, gambling stopped, rain stopped, money provided, endless coincidences, people find Jesus, financial problems solved, emotional pain mended, animals healed, my own injuries minimised, time delayed, people rescued, relationships reconciled, demons cast out of people and houses, sleep restored, recovery from illnesses, direction to places, ‘words of knowledge’ of things about people, practical provision from new community houses to food in times of lack, signs in the sky, wisdom for problems, protection in physical attack, angelic intervention in danger on the road or from people, spiritual dreams, people being baptised in (filled with) the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues, laughter and tears in the Spirit, people ‘drunk’ in the Spirit, and so on.

The best miracle is people together in the Spirit of holy love, from all kinds of background, committed fully to Jesus and his kingdom. The other ‘best’ one is seeing a soul come through from darkness to light as they respond to the gospel and then go on and grow in grace. I’ve seen that loads of times.

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CELIBACY

Jesus Fellowship Church recognises and honours the biblical gift of celibacy for those who will receive it.

Here is a taster – extracts from one celibate’s testimony:

‘ …. . . who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’

Jeremiah 30:21

For years, I hated the thought that God would ‘call me’ to be single. I only had one life and I desperately hoped that marriage was on the agenda! I didn’t want to be one of those poor, pitiful and wretched Christians whom God calls to be single ‘for the kingdom’ (whatever that meant!).

One Saturday morning, I was praying and I could really sense God’s love for me. I felt like I would do anything for him. ‘In fact’ I prayed ‘if you want me to stay single, I will’.

This was the first time I had prayed this and meant it. I had prayed it before, but hadn’t really meant it. I believe God heard me and set me on a course towards embracing a life of singleness.

The worship at the meeting was powerful but I knew that I couldn’t sing the words with the same conviction as others.

‘I will worship with all of my heart

I will praise you, give you every part’

‘All of my ambitions, hopes and plans

I surrender these into your hands.’

I knew that I was holding back from surrendering myself to God fully and it felt ‘shallow’ to sing these songs with others who had given themselves to God in a way that I hadn’t.

As I listened to people share their experiences of being celibate, I began to see something that I had not realised before. Celibacy was indeed a gift. It was not just the absence of marriage. It was the addition of a gift. They weren’t just ‘coping’ with being single. They were embracing it as an exciting lifestyle. This was something of a revelation for me and I needed time to chew it over.

I asked God for his help and eventually said what he had put on my heart to say:-

‘I choose to be single. I receive the gift of singleness!’

That was it! That was my ‘celibacy vow’! I had walked through a huge doorway, shut the door behind me, locked it and thrown away the key! Phew! In that moment, I felt like I had given God everything!

I have a ‘holy insecurity’ that causes me to feel dissatisfied with this world and more hungry for the things of God. When I became a celibate it was like the bottom brick was taken out of the Jenga tower. All my other hopes, ambitions and plans came crashing down with it. I have put all my eggs in one basket.

Although on a practical level, celibacy means I have more time to pray and greater availability to serve, the main benefit is spiritual. Staying single is a sacrifice and I know that God blesses sacrifice.

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 Stories of spiritual power

Conscious reality

My life was once empty and meaningless and all I lived for was getting stoned. It was compulsive and yet completely miserable and I could not escape. I was pale and very thin. I had no confidence and could barely string two thoughts together. I contemplated ending it but couldn’t. I knew deep down there was an eternity and that there was a God. I was not ready to face either.

Things came to a head in my 21st year and one day I surrendered my life unconditionally to God. I did not want religion I wanted life, real life and in Christ I found life itself. Christ came into my life as a conscious reality and began to change me from the inside out. Within weeks he delivered me completely from drugs and even from smoking with absolutely no withdrawal. It wasn’t coz I’d become some goody two shoes that I gave up bad habits but because I’d been set free and I no longer wanted them. I had Christ and eight years later I know even more of his life (and I have seen others find him and get free too.) And lastly I’m still a work in progress “from the inside out.” (Scott)

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Trust me

When the hospital told me that I had cysts on my ovaries I was worried, I was really worried. The scan showed that they were pretty big and if they burst on their own I’d be in a lot of pain. The surgeon said that he wanted to operate and remove them. I asked some friends in my church to pray for me. They prayed that when it came to the operation the cysts would be gone. I felt something happen when they said, “we command these cysts to be gone in the name of Jesus!” But I could not be sure because obviously I could not see them.

When I was in hospital I spoke to the surgeon just before the operation. I said “Are you sure that they are still there?” I asked if I could have another scan to check, but he just told me not to be silly, of course they are still there! “Trust me I am a surgeon, I know what I am doing!”
However, he was wrong! God had already healed me and the surgeons could find nothing!

Somewhat puzzled one of them asked me afterwards if I had had any pain, because they thought that the cysts must have burst. But it hadn’t! I knew that God had healed me and shown that he knows what he is doing a lot more than the surgeons did! (Fiona)

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In His Hands

Jesus healed my sorrow over the loss of our children. When Jenny and I got married I had a ‘dream’ about watching our children grow up and inputting their lives and teaching them to appreciate the world around them. I wanted to instil values that were worth having – a love for God’s creation and an understanding of all things beautiful. I wanted to share in the children’s development.
But God had other plans. When the children were born they were each dedicated to God. We recognised they were a loan from God. We were simply to love and care for them. God had chosen both of the children for a short life on this earth.

When each of them was 2 years old, first Stephen then Rachel fell ill with a mystery illness and after some months died. We later learned that the mystery illness was genetic disorder that could only be inherited from both of us. If we had married other partners the resulting children would not have been affected.
I count the time we had with both children very precious; we saw God do things with the children, prolonging their time with us.
When they fell ill we renewed their dedication to God. We knew Jesus answered prayers and healed many, but we had put them in his hands.
Jesus chose not to heal them and we had to let them go.
We couldn’t afford to try for another child – the chance that the illness would strike again was too high.
Gone were the dreams of watching the children grow up yes there was emptiness but Jesus filled it. He gave us good friends and a new purpose for our lives.
Our purpose is now to love and care for others of Gods children (mostly grown-up), encouraging them, teaching them to appreciate and enjoy the beauty of all that God has made and to value each other and to give thanks to Jesus and to trust him with their lives even when their dreams and hopes seem to be dashed. (Gordon)

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Knee and Head

Some years ago my knee caused me to fall, I found afterwards it was the start of arthritis. I suffered with a lot of pain for a long time. Then I started to be prayed with by several people in the church at every meeting I attended. After some months my knee felt healed and I was able to do without a walking stick for several years.
Once I had a headache coming on me that would normally have developed into a severe one, my daughter in law prayed for me, and it went away in 15 minuets. (Dilys)

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Hooded Figure

From when I used drugs I used to see a ghost type figure nearly everywhere I went. It was a man dressed in a long black hooded cloak. I’d see him wherever I was. I wondered if I was off my head, or psychologically unsound! Even becoming a Christian didn’t get rid of him. It used to really freak me out, but I kind of accepted it.

One morning in a meeting, someone brought a word of knowledge, about a black-cloaked spirit. I knew it was referring to what I kept seeing. I got prayed for about it, and I never saw it again.

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6 Month Bug
After having a tummy bug for a few days for some reason (the doctors put it down to a virus) I kept on being sick on a regular basis for about six months. After repeated prayer it just stopped and I haven’t had a bout of sickness since. (Kelly)

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Depression

I used to be hot headed but prayer took all that away, and I live on an even keel now.
I grew up with a negative view of myself and in early adult life I became clinically depressed which has lasted for many years. With prayer, caring friends and medical help I have been able to manage the depressive time. I have known sadness (this is different from depression) and the bereavement of my two children, but I have been very aware of God caring me through this because he wanted to heal me and make me a stronger person through this experience, and I’m still being healed as I give thanks to Jesus for what life has brought and still brings my way. (JV)

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Hands Stronger

I had experienced repetitive strain injury in my hands, leaving them weak and painful for such ordinary things such as lifting a kettle or brushing my hair. In response to an invitation to receive prayer I imagined Jesus greeting me as he came out of the tomb when he rose from the dead. My hands were made significantly stronger and less painful for many years afterwards. (Ann)

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‘M.E.’

After a bad viral flu attack I suffered from post-viral syndrome for six months and I was only able to work for part time for those months. When challenged about whether we believe that God does miracles I realised I was full of unbelief but was also angry against God. I repented (said that I was sorry) for this, had prayer and was able to get up the next morning and work a full day, and continued to work full time from then on. (Ann)

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Addictions

I was an introvert for as long as I can remember. I think it was partly due to my father being overbearing and sometime cruel. I just never seemed to be able to find confidence in which I was, and it seemed to mess up my life in most ways. I dropped out of school early and never seemed to keep jobs for very long. I retreated into drink and drugs at times to escape reality, which seemed to increase my sense of inability to do anything of value; I grew depressed and experienced a breakdown. I also dabbled in occult activities such as ouija boards tarot cards etc in my search for answers, but never quite finding the way, but at my lowest point, I found peace and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus who I now know to be my saviour who loves me enough to have dies for me. Not long after becoming a Christian I found freedom from spirits of fear, and powers of rejection, I am now a confident outgoing person who knows they are of value and loved by God and friends and Jesus’ family the church.
God has healed me of addiction to alcohol and tranquillizers, sleeping tablets and antidepressants, in the power of Jesus he has given me inner healing with his love and forgiveness and the Holy Spirit. He still goes on to deliver me and heal me and now deliver me from addiction to cigarettes.
He is an all powerful and loving and forgiving God thank you Jesus. (Jackie)

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Prayer
I always pray for my friends and those who are not yet come to the Lord despite witnessing because I believe that God answers prayers of the righteous ones and deals not in time but in his.
It is wonderful when my prayers are answered. I also pray for many things pertaining to our world such as obtaining peace where there is war etc. For I believe that God acts on our prayers whether it be about healing, loneliness, reassurance for some people whose faith is diminishing for the Holy Spirit to intervene with that person.
If the prayer is not answered straight away we should trust God to act in his time and wait patiently. That is trusting God in all things.
As there are some Christians who I know here said they have something they are worrying over themselves and this is when our prayers are needed. The saints must always be ready to help the weaker ones in our congregation in every situation.
(Betty)

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Cat’s leg

One day my cat Sox came in home with his paw all limp. we took him to the vets and the vets said they would give Sox two to three weeks to see how his leg goes because it would have to be amputated. So over the next three days as Sox was lying on the bed I was talking to him saying ‘I am praying to Jesus, because you can’t pray’. On the third day I had such a tremendous healing power in my right hand, so I put my hand on Sox’s leg and God worked a miracle. Sox has still got his four legs. As I put my hand on Sox’s leg I told him God has healed his leg. It was time to take Sox back to the vet, but I said to my husband, I am not taking him back to the vets, because God had healed him, but I said he could take him to the vets but he didn’t. Bless you Lord and thank you. (Ann S)

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Run Over
I was on my bike near Oxford and a van lost control on the wet road behind me. It hit my bike and I shouted ‘I’m dead!’ as I was rocketed over the road, the bike went down and I was underneath the van – darkness, crashing, shock, death taking me! But then it was light again and I was on the ground with the bike wrapped round my legs. I got up, expecting to find bones broken, but I was only bruised and shocked. A medical student told me soon after ‘God has saved your life’ and he was right. (Piers)

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Bad Trip
I was on an overnight bus in Texas and I was feeling really ill. It got worse and worse and in desperation I prayed for help. The next thing I knew I had slept for about 3 hours (I found it almost impossible to sleep on those buses) and woke up with the light-headed feeling you get when an illness has passed its peak. I spent the next day or two recovering and I knew God had answered my prayer. I became a Christian (spiritually reborn) about a week later, also on a bus in North Carolina. (Piers)

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