I was blessed to grow up in a family who went to Church every Sunday so I don’t remember a specific point when I became a Christian – I just went along to Sunday School, Campaigners, GB and Holiday Bible Clubs for as long as I can remember.
However, I do remember one specific time when I really felt like God was actually there and was listening to me – I remember praying at the MAD weekend one year and for the first time, experiencing my prayers actually being answered. I don’t remember anything as clear as this happening before so I was so amazed that our God, creator over the whole wide world and the one with power over life and death had actually heard my prayers which seemed so insignificant.
Since then, I’ve continually been encouraged by my family, friends, youth leaders and Sunday School teachers. Lockdowns have also helped me grow spiritually as I have had more time to read my Bible, listen to CU podcasts and learn lots from Bible Instagram pages. Although I really miss getting to see friends at Church and discussing some big Bible questions at Small Groups, being able to watch Church online and have Youth Fellowship zoom calls have helped me to stay strong in my faith even when we can’t be together.
In the middle of everything else in 2020, sickness hit my family and I really believe it was our faith, prayers and trust in God which has helped us persevere. Romans 5:3-4 – “We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
For our family, it’s seemed like one trial after another this past year and for many people who are without God it would have been very easy to give up, let sickness win and question where God is in all of this, but for us our God never failed us or gave up on us. He never stopped moving in all of our lives, and He continues to do incredible things daily. I are so thankful for His never-ending love and mercy. In a year where everyone was so apart, and everything seemed so dark and hopeless, God didn’t social distance from us or forget about us – He united us all together. I think it’s safe to say that God’s not dead, He’s surely alive!
Psalm 18:16 – “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.”
Thank you for your interest in the Moneydig and Second Kilrea climb Donard for United Appeal challenge.
The idea of the challenge is that if you climb a normal set of house stairs 360 times you will have climbed the same height as Slieve Donard. If you are up for the challenge then download the record sheet below. Every time you climb the stairs 10 times get someone to sign off your achievement finish all 360 climbs and you’ll have reached the top.
Getting to the top of Donard is an incredible achievement, but what would be even better is if we could help others while we are doing it. If you are able why not ask some family and close friends to sponsor you while you make your climb. Then when you have finished, and when it is safe to collect the money bring it to church and we will give it to the United Appeal.
Placing faith in Jesus Christ was not as difficult for me, as it is for some others. I was privileged to grow up in a home where church life was considered very important. Through the strong influence of my mother, there was no question about being involved in church, Sunday School, BB and Christian Endeavour. Besides, as the youngest of five sons in a large family, I was always aware that two oldest brothers were studying for the Presbyterian Ministry.
I made a public profession of my faith as a teenager in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, during a mission conducted by Dr. Oswald J. Smith, celebrated minister of the People’s Church, Toronto.
While I could not say I have a favourite text, several verses have proved pivotal at different stages. Paul’s words, ‘You are not your own; you were bought at a price’, ( 1 Corinthians 5;19,20) played a part in my decision to study for the ministry, after completing my law degree at Queen’s University Belfast.
During service as an assistant in Bloomfield, Belfast, 6 years in Templepatrick and 31 years in Coleraine, I have tried to live, however inadequately, by two guiding verses; the word of Jeremiah, ‘Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.’ (Jeremiah 45;5) and the word of John the Baptist, ‘He must become greater, I must become less’ (John 3;30)
I have never been comfortable with those who say, ‘Trust in Jesus and all will be fine’. The Christian life is a perpetual challenge and struggle—a ‘sore fight to the end’—but to my mind, it is the only thing that makes sense of our wonderful but bewildering world.
I grew up in Aghadowey and attended the Presbyterian Church where I went to Sunday School and Girls Auxiliary. On a few occasions I went to Girls Auxiliary camp, where we had the opportunity of meeting missionaries. As a child, I was inspired by their testimonies and how they were living and sharing their faith in many different countries. The GA motto was Philippians Ch 4 v 13 ‘For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength’. I have often thought of that verse when I have been challenged by difficulties through life.
When we married I became a member of Moneydig Presbyterian Church, where our three children were baptised and nurtured in the faith. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with a serious illness that I came to know Jesus as my Saviour. In the weeks before my illness I had been challenged during the Sunday services and realised afterwards that God had been speaking to me and preparing me for what lay ahead. When I went into hospital, many people prayed for us as a family and I experienced a peace, the peace that passes all understanding that only God can give. It was very real to me and I knew that whatever happened God would be with me always.
Having been a member of PW for a long time, my involvement there and in other church activities now has a new and deeper meaning. In later years I served as PW leader and taught in Sunday School.
Looking back on my life I thank God that He spared me to enjoy my family. The arrival of five lovely grandchildren has been a real blessing to us.
During lockdown a constant source of encouragement for me has come from reading Scripture and praying. We have had to deal with many changes in our lives over the last few months but as we look forward to spring, we know God’s faithfulness never changes. Lamentations Ch 3 v 22,23 – ‘The faithful love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness, His mercies begin afresh each morning’.
Looking back, I can’t really remember what it was like not to have faith in Jesus. I grew up in Antrim Methodist Church, attended Bible Class, Youth Fellowship, played my guitar in church and, in fact, my life outside of school centred around the church. It feels as if I’ve always believed and Jesus always had a place in my life. I guess as a child I just believed what I was told in church – my options were heaven and hell; and believing and trusting that Jesus died for me was the route to heaven. As a child no one ever gave me a believable alternative view.
When I was a teenager I went through a rebellious phase when the church and everyone in it made me angry. However, my friends and leaders in the church stood by me and by God’s grace I came out the other side with my faith intact. My minister and his wife, Brian and Margaret Turnbull, were a huge influence on me. They told me about Jesus but also helped me to understand that how I live mattered. They provided opportunities for me to serve in the church at a young age, such as allowing me to help lead Youth Fellowship. They also encouraged me to live out my faith by helping to run youth clubs and telling the kids there about Jesus.
As far back as I can remember I always wanted to do some sort of full-time ministry. I was given my first Bible in Sunday School – a black leather Good News Bible – and I couldn’t wait to show it off to my granny. A couple of significant people in my life suggested that God was going to work through me and that thought never left me. I applied for several ministry positions and wasn’t accepted but those applications, rather than putting me off, led me along the path to apply for ministry within the Presbyterian church.
During my training at Union Theological College my faith matured. I came to a greater understanding of God’s call to me as a Christian. It was amazing to realise that God chose me to be His before the world ever began (Ephesians 1 v 4), I didn’t choose Him. And to realise that it’s only by the gift of God’s grace, the undeserved love that he lavished on me through Jesus death on the cross, that I am saved through faith (Ephesians 2 v 8-9)
I became a Christian in my teens. This was just the first step of a journey with my Lord that I am still on. I am never alone as I have God before, beside and behind me, guiding every step of my life. Prior to this time, I thought I had to continually ask God into my life after doing something wrong, but I realised when reading 1 John 1 v 9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.
Heading off to university I realised, more so for the first time, that I had to stand up for my Christian faith and this was encouraged with the aid of the Christian Union. There my faith grew.
God showed me that I needed to serve Him and others, which I did for many years through the work of the Boys’ Brigade. Little did I think that it would be through this area of serving that God would lead me to meet my wife Judith, who has been a blessing and source of encouragement for many years.
But God can redirect our paths and He opened the door for me to serve Him in Moneydig Presbyterian Church as a member of Committee, then as an elder and He returned me to working with young people once again as a helper in Campaigners. Although I often felt unable, God has equipped me for each task. He has promised in Exodus 4 v 12: “Now go; I will help you to speak and will teach you what to say”. Many times, I have been stretched and felt inadequate, but God has remained faithful and given me strength for every task.
I am thankful for all the ministers who have served in Moneydig during my lifetime, each one having encouraged and challenged me as they have ministered faithfully from God’s word and often offered me practical advice.
God has richly blessed us with four children. Almost all of them are adults now, but it has always been our prayer since they were born that wherever God decides to take them to, that they will faithfully serve Him.
I believe we should follow the command in these verses from 1 Peter 3 v 15 & 16: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
I feel that over the past number of years God has revealed to me that we must be continually intentional in our witness and service to Him. This can be challenging, but we are Christ’s disciples just as much in 2021, as were His 12 friends who walked with Him on this earth.
I am reminded of the commentary by Warren Wiersbe on Isaiah 40 v 29 to 31: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. The greatest heroes of faith are not always those who seem to be soaring; often it is those who are patiently plodding. As we wait on the Lord, He enables us not only to fly higher and run faster, but also to walk longer. Blessed are the plodders, for they eventually arrive at their destination”.
It is my prayer that you join with me on this journey by trusting the Lord Jesus Christ and allow Him and by the work of the Holy Spirit to walk with you, guide and direct your steps until He eventually leads you and me home to be with Him, our heavenly Father.
Growing up I belonged to Aghadowey Presbyterian Church. I learnt about God in the Sunday School and the Girl’s Auxiliary. I also went to another Sunday School in the summertime.
During my teens I attended a mission run by the Faith Mission. I don’t remember what was said at the meeting, but I do know that I agreed with everything that was said by the pilgrims and it was there that I came to faith. I had probably heard it all before in my own church but it all just seemed to mean more that night. My ‘soon to be’ husband Tommy came to faith at the same time.
After marrying Tommy I moved to Moneydig Presbyterian Church. I was a Sunday School teacher and Sunday School Superintendent for 50 years. I didn’t find the responsibility easy because at that young age I felt that I was not good at speaking or organising things.
When Tommy became an elder in the church that involved me too. Every time Tommy went to visit he expected me to go too. I was able to help him talk, especially to the women in the households. As an elder’s wife one church event really stands out. It was the installation of a new minister in Moneydig and as elder’s wife I had to sit on the platform at the front with the other elder’s wives.
My faith has helped me at each stage of my life. God was there for me when I served in Sunday School and as an elder’s wife. He was also there during the difficult times when my parents died, when my sister was killed in a car accident and more recently, when Tommy died.
The Covid 19 pandemic has been hard for everyone. I found being in the house, with no visitors, exceedingly difficult at the beginning of the first lockdown. However, since then I have found ways to cope. I try to go out for a walk every day. Relatives take me to do my shopping once a week which means I get the opportunity to see a few people. I can pick up the telephone and talk to friends at any time. And I look forward to receiving a CD of the online church service every week – I usually keep it to listen to on a Sunday. So, I have grown more content over the course of the last few months. And, of course, God has been with me throughout and will continue to be by my side.
What do you think when someone tells you that they are a Christian? For me, I used to think that they have their lives all sorted and that life itself was perfect, I also thought that I wasn’t ‘good enough’.
God came into my life less than 6 years ago and I can tell you now, my life is far from perfect. I still have the same struggles and concerns, I worry about my family, work isn’t always easy and yes, I am still a sinner.
Now, this is not meant to put anyone off coming to Christ, but more of a reassurance that no-one is perfect. Life didn’t dramatically change and I didn’t become a completely different person overnight. So what did change? My love for God. I have an overwhelming desire for bible study, getting to know God more and more and building on my relationship with Him. How amazing is it to know that through God’s grace and what Jesus did on the cross, my sins, past, present and future have been dealt with?
Being a Christian hasn’t been the easiest of journeys, I have many unanswered questions and have great difficulty taking part in prayer groups but it is a journey that I don’t ever regret taking and it’s one I would choose to travel on again and again.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners