“I WASN’T brought up a Christian although we discussed deep issues at home, including religion.
I have always read a lot and read CS Lewis’s ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ as a child. They were such good allegories and I used to wish there really was somewhere like Narnia. Through reading them, I began to realize there might be another world, another dimension, apart from the physical world we experience.
My journey into faith really began when mum and dad got divorced. My little secure world changed overnight. I became more aware of the world outside and didn’t feel happy about it. I even thought, “shall I become a Hindu?”
There were Christians in my class at school and there were lots of discussion about faith. To my surprise, I always sided with the Christian viewpoint. One of the Christians, Jane, knew what was happening in my family and prayed for me.
One day one of the girls said, “I talk to God as I walk down the road”. I was amazed. “So, God is alive!” I thought.
Meanwhile, I had watched a film about St Francis called, Brother Sun, Sister Moon. I was struck by the friendship of the brothers and the way they turned to Francis for guidance. As I watched it, I thought, “I wish there were people like that now”. I decided to visit my local church. It was awful. No one said hello. I came home thinking, “Keep it if that is Christianity!”
One of the Christians in my class invited me to one of her church house groups run by the Jesus Fellowship. It was strange – people were talking in tongues – I had never heard this before. What I did notice was that Jesus shined through their eyes. I saw love. I went home and prayed:
“I’d really like to believe in You, God, but I haven’t got faith.” The next day I felt different. I knew God had heard me, I was a Christian and not alone anymore. I struggled with doubt in the months following but ultimately this made me stronger.
After leaving school I went to Leicester University and in the holidays I stayed at a Jesus Fellowship community house in Northamptonshire. We did lots of things together, like fruit picking and in these times, we bonded together. For the first time in my life I really felt part of something. I also felt loved.
Over the years, besides St Francis and his contemporary, St Clare, I have been greatly inspired by Mother Teresa. Once I saw a clip of her, a shrivelled old lady visiting an orphanage in war-torn Beirut. She didn’t speak the children’s language but she communicated so much love with few words. I sobbed when I heard her words, “Love until it hurts,” and, “What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop”.
Nearer home, I have a friend called Hilary. She is such a good example and people love being with her; she is non-judgemental and doesn’t carry her own agenda. She prays a lot and is completely yielded to Jesus.
I have three children of my own. I would say, persevere with training them and pray for them when they are young; it gives them self-discipline later. Don’t give into whims. Don’t be frightened to apologize. There are bound to be arguments and rows in any family. It’s good for them to see the process of reconciliation and not just learn to run away from the problem. Someone once gave me some very good advice: “You’ll never do it all right but do it all with love”. Each child is different – and you have to treat each one differently.