Saturday night. Drinks and drugs freely passed around. Lil Campbell, then 16, was at a house party in Northampton.
Lil took a walk to get away from the pounding music. Going into a room, she tripped over something on the floor. She looked down and, to her horror, saw her friend slumped there. She had slipped into an unconscious seizure, obviously overdosing.
Lil says “I prayed – that’s all I could do. It was instinct. Immediately my friend started muttering about horrific things that had happened to her. I prayed harder and started to tell her that Jesus loved her. My friend started crying and fell into a healthy sleep.
“I sat back, suddenly completely sober, and thought, ‘God, You are real!’ It was the turning point of my life.”
Lil had Christian parents, who were, in Lil’s words, “rocks” but Lil wanted to find her own way and answers to life. At 16, she confesses, she had two lives: she had friends in church and stayed with them some weekends; she also went out partying, drinking and dabbling in drugs.
The Sunday morning after her friend overdosed, Lil, thoughtful, alone and brushed off, walked to church and, “had a moment with God. I told Him I didn’t know what to do with my life.”
Lil decided she needed to leave town in order to get her head together and was invited by some of her Christian friends to join them in a mission they were running in Belfast. Some of them lived in a Christian community and shared what they earned and owned. While she was among them, Lil says, “I fell in love with the community way of life, and asked myself, ‘What am I doing with my life?'”
On the way home from Belfast, Lil sat on the top of a double-decker bus and prayed.
“Up to that point I hadn’t had much of a relationship with God” she says. “I sensed God wanted me to live in community. I had grown up in a rough area and saw the beauty of sharing. When you share your money and lives, you can be available to help people. I’m a reckless person and, when I got home, I told my family, ‘I’m moving into community this week.'”
Two and a half years ago, Lil moved into a Jesus Fellowship house in Northampton called Koinonia (a New Testament Greek word meaning “sharing together”)
Now 20, Lil is about to spread her wings and move to another community house, Lighthouse, in Liverpool. Last year, she was part of a Jesus Fellowship outreach team in Liverpool and became very aware of the great need there. She sensed God say “I need you to fill the need. Will you?”
I sat back, suddenly completely sober, and thought ‘God, You are real’
“I felt like God said ‘I’ll stay with you, even if you can’t see where you are going’,” adds Lil.
Her decision to leave Koinonia has been a very difficult one as Lil loves sharing her life with the people there. Her comment was: “I wish God’s call was sent in the post with a risk assessment and flow chart to show you where you have to get to. But it’s not like that. Instead, I have to trust.”
Looking towards an exciting – even if a bit scary – future, Lil says “I’ve been forgiven a lot and learned to love. I do not see it as my duty to build up God’s church; it’s my heart – I want to! I’m inspired!”