Hello some of you may know me from my local plumbing business, my name is Graham Francis.
For fifty five years I had no real interest in God he may or may not have existed I didn’t really care. I was tolerant of other people’s views ‘each to his own’ some people are into politics and others into religion, ‘whatever is your fancy’.
I suppose I have always believed in a God of some sort who could be called upon when times are desperate, like most people do. There were occasions in my life when I really needed help, quite a few in fact, but the ultimate was when we lost our wonderful son Julian aged 28. We were blessed with three wonderful children, Jason, Julian and Elizabeth. On Monday 13th September 1999 Julian, our middle child took his own life! Life has never been the same for my wife Annette and me we didn’t have one child to spare… We just went through the motions of everyday life.
There was a course called Christianity Explored running in Ron, my Brother-in-law’s house and my wife Ron’s sister nagged me to go just to make up the numbers, “funny how God works”. I wasn’t interested, how could God help me? We had lost our wonderful son and we could not have him back. I decided nevertheless to give it a go, I went for two weeks under duress and it was O.K. in fact I found it quite interesting it was something to do and it wasn’t too heavy. After three weeks I thought if someone believes with this much passion there must be something in it. I was standing on the back door having a cigarette as I used to, I gave it up ten years ago when I became a Christian, I looked up at the moon and I realised that “I want this God in my life too”! So I simply said” Jesus come in to my life…and I meant it. And he did! because now my thoughts are filled with God. It may sound crazy but there is a God, there is a Heaven and there is a Hell too! he died to forgive me and to save me from it.
I never thought I would wake up most mornings and think of God but to my surprise I do. We are bringing up Julian’s son who is such a blessing to us. God has helped us all the way and we thank him daily.
I have retired now from my plumbing business and my son Jason has followed in my footsteps and taken the business over but while I was working I found I couldn’t wait to talk to my customers about God and my son would cringe “here he goes again” but I loved it.
If you sure not a Christian or you are not sure I recommend that you join Ann & Ron in the ‘Christianity Explored’ course and find out more. You will never be the same person again.
Hi, my name is Jayne Harden I am a Physiotherapist and a mother of three fabulous children. In May 1996 I began taking Ashleigh, my eldest daughter to Bethel Sunday School and the first couple of times I dropped her off and picked her up later. During the following weeks I decided to stay and sat in on a bible study led by Clive Jones a former school Headmaster. They were discussing a chapter form the bible, it was I recall Matthew chapter 5 verses 13 to 15 about Salt and Light. I listened and it bothered me but I fought against it for the following few weeks. It eventually became clear to me that this is what it was all about…….God’s Son, Jesus, had died for me (instead of me) so that on the final day of judgement my sin would be covered by his precious blood shed on the cross at Calvary.
Jesus had done that for me! I prayed and asked God for forgiveness and asked him if his Son would become my Saviour. A sinner saved by God’s grace. I had been given a chance to ‘start again’, to turn my life around and have a foundation I never had before.
The next few weeks of my life were ‘mind blowing’ Life took on a totally new perspective it was as if the lights had all been turned on. I had been watching life played on a dark stage with no program and sound. Now somebody had given me a full colour brochure, turned on the stage lights and stage microphones. This is something that hit me as it had other people before me that’s why my favourite hymn is “Loved with everlasting love, led by God that love to know”
Every day became important, not just Friday and the weekend!
The following years were hard and I made many mistakes, very public very stupid mistakes! But guess what, God did not give up on me and I hung on in there. I drifted around various churches but one day in about 2000 I met Jeff Williams who asked me to come and check out Bethel again. I did and I have been there ever since.
Life obviously has some major hurdles to overcome however I now have an anchor to hold on to, my faith in Jesus Christ and his love for me.
This past year has brought me through life saving major surgery. Without my faith I don’t know where the strength for each day would have come from. I know my life will see many more challenges but I am assured that I will not face them alone.
As I write this I can say I am a ‘work in progress’ Those nearest and dearest to me know my ongoing struggles. I am sorry that there have been times when I have let both my family and God down. I have still not got everything together as I would wish nor have I conquered all my demons but with God’s help and the support of my family and church I will. I was recently baptised and I said then “I am not being baptised because I have reached a level of holiness or victory. I am being baptised because I recognise that I am a sinner that God accepts and justifies sinners. I look to my Lord, Church and family to help me in the coming days to live more like Jesus and to share this faith with others.”
No one in life is exempt from problems, don’t I know it but it’s so much harder to face them on your own. I have found this promise in the Bible to be true “I will never leave you or forsake you” Hebrews chapter 13v5
Don’t face life on your own. Why not come as I did and find out more!
My name is Lorraine Tuck and I work as a Library Assistant at Tredegar Library, I’m mid fifties, I love to party, love to dance, I love to laugh and I love God. I’m probably not your stereotypical old chapel lady or churchgoer.
I always went to Sunday school and was taught the Christian message. John 3:16 For God so loved the world…. When I was thirteen I prayed that Jesus would become my saviour. I believed deep down in my heart that he was crucified for my sins or wrong doings. Nothing magical happened, but I knew from that moment my life would never be quite the same. I felt safe – ‘kept’.
At 18 I fell in love. He was an officer and a gentleman in the merchant navy, stunning in his uniform – and he was mine. It was a whirlwind romance and we married when I was 19. Twenty five years later and two fabulous sons – ‘The Princes’ I call them, Rich and Nick, Adrian became a Christian it was 2002.
Straight after we married we travelled abroad with Ade’s job. We went to Japan, Borneo, Singapore, Algeria and Spain. I have been in a jumbo jet with serious engine problems that had to make an emergency landing. I’ve been on a gas tanker in the middle of the South China sea in a typhoon, sailed through a tsunami and I have been in Tokyo in an earthquake.
I have been kept.
I haven’t always kept my eye on the ball and off and on have drifted away from God but God has always kept his eye on me.
About 10 years ago I had a nervous breakdown this was a very dark time. I found being a parent through the teenage years very stressful and difficult I didn’t always get it right. I found it hard to let go and not be in control. My faith was a bit shaky and sometimes when I prayed, I wondered – is God listening.
Life as a Christian is not a bed of roses, it doesn’t mean you’ll never have problems or worries.
But one of Gods promises is ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ so in the darkest of moments I felt kept.
In the summer of 2010, it looked like we had it all ..
My boys were both working, we had a lovely new house, we had now been married 33 years.
I had tests and a scan – I thought it was the menopause. I sat in the doctor’s office and heard those frightening words “you have cancer”. Ovarian, womb and Lynch Syndrome – a form of bowel cancer. This was very serious.
I didn’t want to die.
The words were like knives churning in my tummy, hysterectomy chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.
I had spent time with people I loved with this illness; I helped to nurse my cousin Stella who had terminal Ovarian Cancer, she sadly lost her battle and is now in heaven. Years Later I was privileged to help take care of my very close friend who also developed Ovarian Cancer; she is a brave survivor! This meant I knew exactly what I was going to have to go through and believe me I was very afraid, afraid that I wasn’t brave enough.
The following year was difficult but all my friends, my family and loved ones, Churches and Chapels around the town prayed for me. It was hard, this illness had made me ugly, inside and out, I lost my hair (which I love!).
I lost my glow and the light had gone out of my eyes.
I found I had friends I’d never known. Adrian cared for me everyday like a princess, my Mam and Dad were heart-broken and prayed, my boys prayed, Ade prayed.
I struggled to pray but I trusted in God.
I had to go through the horrible treatment the same as anyone else but all the prayers and the love of God brought me through.
It’s now two years on, I’ve got my lovely blonde hair again and I thank God that I got well.
I know some people say you don’t have to go to church or chapel to be a Christian or to pray. But for me; I need the comfort from the church and the fellowship from the people, and the guidance from the minister,
Even now I don’t always do things right – but I believe that God forgives me and I also believe that he will never leave me nor forsake me.
How does someone from the north-east of England find himself a Pastor of a Baptist church in the town of Tredegar? It all began with a coffin! I started my working life as a joiner in a small family firm. There was an occasion, in those early months, that I accompanied my boss to help him place the body of a deceased man in the coffin my boss had made.
During this fairly unnerving task, for a 15 and half yr old teenager, the lights went out in the room! The house owner apologised and placed more money in the electric meter. Once the task was completed and I was travelling on the bus home one question came to my mind, given that death is inevitable, what happens when I die? This prompted a further question What is the meaning to life? I was heavily committed to a local water polo team and success in that area meant that life was sweet. But death could rob life even of such success at any moment.
Shortly afterwards an old school friend called by my home. I discovered he had become ‘religious’. Nevertheless there was something attractive in his friendship and subsequently I began to attend the local Baptist church. Within the congregation there were a dozen young people my age and I was made welcome
At the end of that time, having listened and questioned the minister I concluded that the Bible was a reliable document. That being so, it followed that its message should be taken seriously. On hindsight I had reached a stage where I was happy to ‘sit on the fence’ enjoying the social and friendship side of church life.
But one Sunday evening I was shaken out of my complacency during a sermon on the words of Jesus ‘there is a broad road that leads to destruction and many are on it and a narrow road that leads to life and few are on it.’ To this was added the statement ‘there is no in-between.’ Had the preacher been told about me? No…. But God knew and spoke directly to my situation. I realised the danger of being on the ‘broad road’ and by contrast the chance of choosing a way of life that led to eternal life. I realised I was unfit to meet God and asked him to forgive me and accept me as His child. I realised that I could do nothing to bring me near to God, but that Jesus Christ, by His death, had put me right with God. Since then I have found my eyes opened to the truth, my life cleansed from all its dirt, my heart filled with God’s love and a future filled with hope.
That future also included meeting a girl from south Wales and after living happily as my wife for 34 years in England I equally and happily returned with her to serve, as best we can, this community in Tredegar.
Hi, my name is Sam Reynolds I’m seventeen years old and I’m studying computers at Ystrad Mynach College, I hope to go on to be a Sound Engineer. I was brought up in a Christian family and taken to church as a baby. My parents taught me about Jesus and I had a couple of Sunday school teachers like Mrs. Watkins, the wife of the former minister of Bethel, and Carl Huchtings they also told me about the God of the bible and that God is still relevant today.
#I learnt that God is always around and that he knew what I was thinking and that God actually thought about me. Throughout the years I learnt that Jesus had to die as punishment for sin, at this point I didn’t realise that this was for my sin. I didn’t think it was for me, I didn’t really understand what my sin was. I went to Deighton Primary School I was a good child but I struggled with my reading and writing. I felt different and stupid. The church made me feel special and taught that we were all loved by God no matter what. Later I went to Tredegar Comprehensive where they found out I was dyslexic and gave me the support and help I needed. They told my parents that someone with my high level of learning difficulty should have had behavioural difficulties. I believed I didn’t because God was watching over me. It was hard sometimes but I knew God was with me as Mrs Watkins had told me years before He was always around.
The church used to run a camp in a place called Quinta. Quinta is a beautiful 50 acre estate, in North West Shropshire, close to the Welsh border. I went along to one of the camps and the first year I went I became a Christian. It was here that I first knew that I needed to know Jesus for myself not through my parents or Sunday School teachers. Pastor Terry Williams from Nelson was talking on the ‘Parable of the sower’. Jesus first told the parable and it is about why some people become Christians and others don’t. It goes like this A farmer casts seed liberally everywhere and it landed in a variety of places, (the seed in the story represents the word of God which is preached to everyone) some of it fell in a variety of places where it died for various reasons but some fell into good fertile soil where it developed into healthy plants. I didn’t want to be the seed that was not on the good soil. At that point I knew I wasn’t the good soil because I was a sinful person. I knew I was stubborn I wanted to go my own way not Gods way.
I went to speak to the church pastor and talked to him about what I felt he told me to ask God to forgive me and that he would if I was serious. I prayed with my pastor and asked God to forgive me and thanked Jesus for dying for me. I could never be the good soil on my own but Jesus paid the price for my sin so that God can see me as His Son.
There are times when I want to go my own way but God pulls me back into line. I love being in church. I love the people, the young ones and the oldies like my Nan. I like to work in the church, I like the small kids that meet on a Wednesday they make me laugh and maybe they will remember that God is always there.
We have a ‘puppet group’ which I am a member of. I love going into schools, other churches, shopping centres and weird places the puppet group takes us to tell people about God. I believe that through this I make a stand for my faith in Jesus and hope that others will decide to follow him also.
I believe God was with me through my GCSE Examinations and helped me to succeed as I prayed for help. My family prayed also and so did the church and even though I had problems God helped me through them.
Now that I am in College my college friends know I am a Christian and so far seem to understand.
It could be hard being 17 and a Christian but I am never on my own Jesus; is with me, I also have a Christian family who help me and a church that supports and teaches me.
What If I Don’t Come Through This
My name is Margaret Pascoe, I am a widow and nearly 82 years of age. I have been a member of Bethel Baptist church for over 65 years and throughout those years God has watched over me faithfully in every situation.
I had the advantage of being brought up in a lovely Christian home, and my sister and brother and I were very involved with all the activities that went on in Bethel Baptist Church.
In some respects I had never doubted that Jesus was there for me and cared for me. But I realised that just attending church and listening to what was said did not make me a Christian, just as visiting a play did not make me an actor! I learnt that the New Testament pattern was to ‘believe and be baptised’. I did believe the Bible including the statement that ‘the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.’ But the thought of being baptised and going under water terrified me, (I was 50 before I finally conquered my fears and learnt to swim!). But eventually I realised I really wanted people to know I was a Christian, and by God’s grace overcame my fears. My baptism was a really joyous occasion.
For many years my life continued along a very smooth path. I had a lovely husband and children and was in fairly good health. This was about to change. I discovered a lump in my breast. I had a teenage daughter and a little son, 2 yrs and 10 months old, who was adored by all the family. All I could think was ‘what if I don’t come through this? My children really need me to be there for them.’ Things happened very quickly and 10 days later I was in hospital having had a mastectomy. The surgeon later told me I was in the clear and that was the end of it, I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that God was in that operating theatre with me and was pleased to bring me safely through.
I’ve had other health problems through the years, but my heavenly father has been with me through every step of the way. He brought me through the death of my dear husband and gave me the strength to cope with things with the help of my dear children. My youngest son Jim moved back home so that I would have company over night. Sadly Jim died of a heart attack at the age of 39. It is so difficult to see your child die before you. I cannot imagine how I would have survived without the loving presence of my heavenly father and the loving support and prayers of my dear family and Christian brothers and sisters. I have been able to thank God for the years he gave me with Jim. He brought so much too so many lives.
If you don’t know God as your heavenly father, I can commend him to you with all my heart. He doesn’t promise that our lives will be trouble free, (mankind’s rejection of God means we live in an imperfect world) but he does promise He will never leave us or forsake us. I can testify to this in my life. He has brought me safely through so much, and my future is secure in His hands.’
Hello, my name is Paul Steed, I’m sixty seven years old, married, with a grown up son and beautiful little grandson who fills my days with joy. I started work as a Laboratory Apprentice and eventually became a Technical Engineer in a local firm for many years I also worked for a while as a taxi driver, many of you may remember me from those days. I then took a total change of direction and I am currently employed as a care worker which involves looking after the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, it’s a very demanding but very rewarding job.
I was born two miles south of the town clock in the village of Troedrhiwgwair and as a 5yr old child I attended the Village school and chapel. Sadly, my time in the village was short lived as in 1951 when I was 6yrs of age; my mother lost her life as the result of a road traffic accident and I was taken by my aunt Frances to live with her family in York Terrace. This was a good Christian home and my chapel life continued at Siloh Baptist in Tredegar. It was while at Siloh at 10yrs of age that I was given a small booklet for good attendance the booklet was of The Gospel of Luke. I remember arriving home that day and writing my name and address inside the front and back covers of the booklet and I put it away somewhere without even reading it. Unbeknown to me it would be 50 yrs before I was to see the booklet again.
After the passing of my aunt Frances and her son Ralph, all items of sentimental value were taken to her daughter’s home in Usk. At the beginning of 2005 I was given some of those items which were of sentimental value to me, and amongst the photographs and children’s novels was the booklet of The Gospel of Luke. I felt drawn to read it and was amazed at it’s content. I knew that Jesus had died on the cross, but I did not realize that he had done so for me personally! So that I could be forgiven of my sins, things I had done wrong in my life. He died so that I could receive eternal life. I realized that I was living in God’s world without any reference to him at all as if he did not exist.
In the weeks that followed and during my employment as a taxi driver I mentioned in conversation to two regular lady passengers that I was thinking of going to Chapel. The one lady said, “Good for you Paul, I’m sure you will enjoy it.” The following week when I picked up the ladies again the one handed me this pamphlet on how to become a Christian, it also contained The Gospel of Mark which I read through on two different occasions over a short period of time. One passage in the pamphlet said “If you are ready, “thoughtfully” to open the door of your life to the Lord Jesus Christ then find a place where you can be quiet and alone, to think of all that he has done for you and ask Him to come into your life”. These thoughts came in and went from my mind. Friday morning the 4th March 2005 I reported for work and the owner of the taxi company said to me.
“After your first drop off, pop the taxi in for a car wash”.
I drove into the car wash, nothing special on my mind except make sure the windows are closed and keep the wheels between the “Tram lines”. Then those inner thoughts within my mind as if one is speaking inwardly to oneself; those silent words, “you are alone Paul, ask the Lord Jesus to come into your life, No one can hear you only Him”.
I clasped my hands together and said aloud: “Dear Lord Jesus, Please come into my life, make me a better person and forgive me of all my sins”. In that moment I breathed out a huge sigh of relief and was engulfed in a wave of emotion and broke into a crescendo of “Thank you God , Thank you God for coming into my life”. I was told sometime later that the huge sigh was the sin leaving my body. I went in to the carwash feeling dirty just like the car and came out the other side feeling clean and forgiven!
On the Sunday evening of that weekend I went to Bethel chapel Georgetown and at the end of the service people came up to me, and talked to me, some I knew, and others I didn’t. One of those whom I did not know was the then Pastor, Chris Bochniak. I told him what had happened to me in the car wash, Pastor Chris said a prayer for me that evening and in obedience to God’s word (the bible) I was baptized in the name of Jesus on July 10th 2005.
Sometimes my Christian walk has been to the top of the mountain so to speak where I have felt closeness to God and I find a solace in Jesus who has lived this life before me and who understands what it is like to be human. But all too soon I return to the valley below and get caught up in the ambiguity of life, having fears and doubts, but I know that if I trust and hope in the Lord Jesus I will not be disappointed. He is with me in this life and I will see Him in Heaven.
I don’t know who will read this story but I do know that Jesus died for you too. Take a good look at this world the beauty and design! There is a designer and he wants to have a relationship with you, to be part of your life. God wants to forgive you too and be with you in life’s difficulties. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why things turn out like they do we fail to see any purpose in it and often want to blame God. The reality is everyone has to go through the ups and downs even Jesus did! “Despised, rejected by men acquainted with grief” The world is like a battlefield of spiritual warfare and we are caught up in it in fact mankind is the cause of most of it and there are many casualties. He has not promised to explain all of the ‘why’ questions but he has promised that if we trust him he will “Never leave us or forsake us” and will ultimately see us through to be with him when we die. That will be Heaven!
My name is Luiza Bivalaru and I was born in Romania and came to work in Ebbw Vale as a Social worker, with my husband eight years ago. We have a son aged 4 yrs old. A year ago I received through my letterbox a newspaper from Bethel Baptist church. I read it with great excitement and now it is my privilege to share my own story.
My encounter with God wasn’t a mind-blowing discovery, a heart stopping moment when I thought: ‘I better become a Christian!’ I guess it just grew from what we all miss, need, and search for, that something that makes us complete, designed to only be fulfilled by His love. As an early church leader once wrote, ‘Mankind is restless until it finds its rest in Him.’
God found me as a child and loyally and lovingly walked beside me ever since. I have treated God badly for years choosing my own moments to give Him attention, bargaining my way out of troubles and ignoring Him when it seemed easier to just be like everyone else. Through my stroppy moods and selfish moments God chipped away at who I was, revealing more and more of my human nature, of my inner flaws and faults. He challenged and intrigued me. I recall conversations in my mind “Why do You want me to go to church? I don’t need that. When I’m older I’ll have all the time in the world to become a church-goer.” So arrogant, so childish, so wrong!
I cannot recall the exact moment when I actually understood how much God loves me. I recall it was heartbreaking for a while. The knowledge that He is kind and patient and loving and generous and willing to love me no matter what, ‘This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ (1 John 4:10).
I cannot understand today why I have resisted His love for so long. There is no doubt in my mind that God the Father knows me, has always known me. I have no doubt in my mind His love made me better, freed me from horrendous experiences. It gives me comfort for here and now and hope for tomorrow.
After I became a Christian I expected to receive a special calling, to maybe save the world! It took me a long time to understand that change that God was making in me was to use me better where I was, in my ordinary life, in ordinary circumstances. His grace is the drive that makes me try to be a better mum and wife, to be better at my job and kind with others, to say sorry when all I want to do is to scream, to be true to myself and thankful!
Every day is testing and everyday is hard. There are ups and downs like in everyone’s life. I have days when I fall far from His grace, when the world shows its ugly face and I think “Why all this?” I used to blame God for everything. He had the power to make it all better and He didn’t. I now blame the lack of God in the world on the failure of man to see we were meant for Grace!
I found Bethel Baptist Church, Tredegar in November 2012. Or better to say they have found me. Reading their newspaper made me think “I want to be with these people.” Ordinary people just like me, sharing their wonderful testimonies, so honest, so powerful, so humbling. I wanted to be with such courageous people. I could have cried after my first visit here. I have been to other churches but the welcome here and the kindness was different. This is what Bethel is about: fellowship and love
Hi, my name is Richard Dasent I’m in my mid thirties and I am married to Tracy, we have two wonderful children, Chloe and Sophie and we live on the Cefn Golau estate. I am a Baker Confectioner by trade and I love cooking though I am currently employed in a totally different field as an Estimator for a local steel door company. All of my free time is spent with my family and at the local Bethel Baptist Church where I have many friends.
I was fortunate by the Grace of God to be born into a Christian family, my mother having been a Christian since an early age and my Dad although not a Christian himself was very supportive of both church and church life. As you can imagine I attended Sunday school regularly since before I can remember and grew up hearing the gospel (good news) message. At the age of 11, on Sunday 31st December 1989 I was in Church with my family where a young girl of about 5 years old was reciting a poem about what a Christian was , she explained that a Christian is someone who believes in God, a Christian is someone who loves God, a Christian is someone who prays, a Christian is someone who believes the Bible, and other points along the same lines. That night at bed time I thought about what had been said in church and it really started to play on my mind, so knowing that my mum had been a Christian for a long time and being like most 11 year olds under the belief that Mum could answer anything, I quizzed her. I explained that I believe in God, I love God, I pray, I believe the Bible so does that make me a Christian? And she explained to me that no it didn’t, I had to realise that I had done things wrong, things that had offended God and put a barrier between us and that barrier was called Sin and no matter how much I tried or what I did I could never remove that barrier, but that it was O.K. because when Jesus died on the Cross, just like I had learned about every Easter, he died for me. When he died he took all the punishment I deserved on himself so all I had to do was pray to God and ask his forgiveness, tell him I was sorry for what I had done, ask Jesus into my heart and to turn away from the way I had been living and live for him. That night I asked Jesus into my life as my own personal Lord and Saviour. At the age of 15 I was baptised.
When I was 19 and working behind a local bar I met a girl, who would later become my wife. When a house became available and I thought why wait until we are married and we moved in together, I also thought I would leave church off for a couple of weeks while we decorated. A couple of weeks turned into 13 years. I had two children both of whom I sent to Sunday school with their Grandmother, and both of them would ask me “why don’t you come this week Dad” but Sunday was my busy day, Sunday was when I had peace and quiet from the kids.
In 2011 both me and my wife found ourselves out of work, my wife was suffering from a serious period of depression my whole world seemed to be falling down. A family friend was visiting and asked if I would go to church with her as she was nervous of strangers so we went to Bethel (the church my mum and children attended) and I know it sounds corny but it was like coming home. I told my wife I am going to start going back to church to which she replied that she didn’t know why I stopped as she never wanted me to. Two years later I realised what happened, I wanted to go my own way and God let me do it! Sadly I was making a mess of things and he again he pulled me back because even though I mess up and do things wrong He still loves me, enough to die for me and He certainly wasn’t going allow me walk
My name is Pat Jones, I’m married to Clive and we are members of Bethel Church. We have two grown up children and one fabulous granddaughter. I was born in Tredegar and have lived here all my life. When I left school I first worked as a dental nurse/receptionist for a few years, then I moved on to work for many years in the surgery at Dunlop Semtex at Brynmawr. The last seventeen years of my working life was as a school clerk at Georgetown Primary school. Clive too was born in Tredegar and has lived most of his life here, apart from his college years at Swansea and a little time teaching in Leicester. He then started teaching at Georgetown Primary school, later as Deputy Head and then 8 years before his retirement in 2002 as Headteacher.
We are both in our sixties now and like most of our peers went to Sunday school, but it was when we were in our teens that we became Christians. Clive was 18, just about to start teacher training college in Swansea when he went to a youth meeting in Blackwood to hear a gospel band. It was there he heard that however good we think we are, we have still sinned and are separated from God. The gap between us and God can only be filled by Jesus, who, although perfect, took our sin and died for us and it is through Him we can find peace and have a relationship with God. Clive realized the truth in what he had heard, and that night asked God to forgive him and come into his life … he became a Christian and started on a journey that will eventually take him to be with God forever.
For me it wasn’t so straight forward, I can’t point to a day or place like Clive, but God worked in my heart over a period of time. I can say there was a period in my life when I never thought about God, He wasn’t important to me. I thought I was pretty good, didn’t murder or steal and certainly didn’t consider myself to be a sinner, but slowly it all changed. I knew deep in my heart I wasn’t right with God. I would ask myself if I died would I go to heaven, I really didn’t know. Then the truth that Jesus died that we might be forgiven and really know God in our lives became real to me – I became a Christian. I now have that assurance that when I die I will be with God for all eternity and I have a daily relationship with the God who saved me.
Clive and I started ‘courting’ in 1971 and we were married in 1973, this April we celebrated our ruby wedding anniversary. Because we are both Christians does that mean that those 40 years been trouble free bliss? – certainly not, there have been heartache, problems and difficulties, but there have also been times of real joy and happiness. We can say that in all our circumstances God has never failed us, He has been with us in times of joy and has led us through the tough times, assuring us that He will never leave us. This is the God who loves us and this is the God we would commend to each one of you.