INTRODUCING is a blog series introducing you to some of the members of Redeemer. You will meet some of them through their fact file, their life story, or their faith journey.
I was born into a mixed faith family - my mum is a Catholic and my dad is Jewish. Because of this, my parents decided not to push either of their views on us as children, but instead decided to leave us to make up our own minds when we were older. We (my sisters and I) did however sometimes go to church with my mum, initially mainly at Christmas and Easter, but as I got older I went to church more often, and felt like a good church attender when I’d learnt all the prayers and the creed and other parts of the mass that the congregation would join in with. I went to a church of England primary school, and a Catholic secondary school, which gave me an understanding of God and introduced me to the bible. However, I didn’t really know what it meant to be a Christian, and although I believed in the existence of God, I didn’t really know Him. I knew that I wasn’t a Christian and thought that one day I would like to become a Christian, but must admit that at the time I think I associated becoming a Christian with being baptised. As I’ve already mentioned, I went to a Catholic secondary school, so was surrounded by people who believed in God, and so just saw it as the normal thing. However, towards the end of 6th form I started questioning parts of the Catholic mass – why did we all say things at the same time? Did I really believe what I was saying? Do others really believe it? Do they think about the words as they same them? I decided that I wasn’t sure that I liked being told what to say and when, without knowing if I believed it all. At around the same time, I started dating an atheist, and when I finished 6th form and wasn’t surrounded by people who believed in God, I found that I didn’t really give too much more thought to God.
Just before I set off to university, I started dating James. We’d been dating for a few months, when James sent me an e-mail asking me what I believed about God, as it was something that was important to him. I wasn’t really sure what I believed, but at the time, God wasn’t really important to me. I’d often go and visit James at his university, and if I was there on a Sunday, he would invite me to church with him. After a while, I decided to give it a go. The first time I went, I hated it – it was completely different to what I had been used to, and was twice as long! However, I can’t have been completely put off, as I decided to go back and actually started to enjoy it. I went to church with James whenever I visited at the weekend, and if I was there during the week I would go to small group with him; despite all of this, I knew that I still wasn’t a Christian and didn’t know what to do to become one. When James and I finished university, we moved back to our home town, Bishop’s Stortford. I decided that I would start going to church with James there too. At the end of the preach on one of my first visits in July 2007, the preacher put a prayer on the screen and said if you want to become a Christian then say this prayer asking for forgiveness and acknowledge that Jesus died to take your sins away, and invite Jesus into your heart. I finally understood what being a Christian meant, so I said the prayer in my heart. Not much really changed immediately, apart from I knew that I was a Christian. Since then though, I have grown in my relationship with God, and God regularly speaks to me through pictures and He stirs my heart for things.
One particular thing that God stirred my heart for was church planting. It was at a regional church celebration one year that some people were talking about their church planting experiences. I’d heard similar stories at the same event the previous year and hadn’t thought too much of it, but this time I started to wonder whether church planting was something that James and I could do (we were now married at this point!). I discussed this with James after the event, and we said that it was a possibility at some point – when we moved back from university we never thought that Stortford would be our ‘forever home’. Nothing much happened in terms of us church planting for a few years, it got put on the back burner and almost forgotten about. Then in 2014, James and I attended the Relational Mission leadership conference where again we heard stories about church planting. There was a church planting area at the conference, so James and I decided it would be a good idea to put our names forward to say that we were interested in church planting but we didn’t know where we wanted to go – apart from the fact that I wanted to stay in the UK. At this point, I was 6 months pregnant, so again church planting was put on hold for a bit. However, we did start praying and looking at different church plants that were planned. Almost a year after putting our names forward we met with Maurice Nightingale, who oversees church planting in Relational Mission. He recommended that we add Colchester to our list of possible locations, and suggested that we start pushing a few doors to see what happened. I was quite certain that I didn’t want to go to Colchester, but out of politeness I agreed to check it out; and when Hugh was cc’d into an e-mail that Maurice sent us, I couldn’t really change my mind! We came over to Colchester on a rather wet day in May 2015 to meet with Hugh and Claire. We spent a couple of hours looking round Colchester, and whilst we got on really well with Hugh and Claire, I didn’t really like Colchester, and definitely couldn’t imagine moving here. However, as we explored other locations and met with other people, it became clear that Colchester was the right place for us; so in Sept 2015 we put our house on the market and started preparing to move. The process took a bit longer than expected but we finally moved to join the church plant at the beginning of April 2016 and have enjoyed getting to know the area and the people here. I can now also say that I actually quite like Colchester and am glad to be here!
I thought I would finish off with some ‘interesting’ facts about myself:
- I really like maps, and have a humble collection of 13 OS maps.
- I really like planning holidays and days out, and in fact I possibly enjoy planning and researching more than actually going.
- When I was at university I had a part time job as a rides operator at a theme park.
- I like writing songs (mainly parodies and children’s songs)
- I really like word puzzles and quizzes.