Changed lives are the evidence of God at work among us.
Have a look at the following stories and be encouraged at what God is doing.
Each Christmas we give gifts of toys and food and other Christmassy things to members of our community who might otherwise go without. We hope to help in a little way make Christmas a very special time for everyone.
*It was magical to see our children open their presents on Christmas Day..the hamper also came in handy for filling our cupboard with goodies for Christmas."
“Thank you for my lovely earring and necklace set I’m not sure what I’d do without the people at St Andrew’s.”
“Thank you ever so much for the present I opened on Christmas Day. Without it, I wouldn’t have had anything to open on the day.”
I’m Tessa, I’m married to my wonderful husband Paul and I have two gorgeous children, Lewis and Amelia. I first started going to church when I was still in my Mum’s tummy. I am the youngest of four and we were at our church, the Salvation Army every Sunday. As a child I remember going with my Mum when she used to preach at lots of different ladies meetings at different churches, and I enjoyed going to Sunday School.
I had a strong faith as a child, never questioning God’s love for me, but when I was 17 I stopped bothering to go. At school I had a big group of friends who I saw socially and none of them were Christians. Sunday became just another day of the week. And it carried on like that for at least the next ten years. I lived a life that didn’t feature God in it and I did lots of things I knew were wrong.
Through it all I still believed in God and felt that one day I would have a relationship with Him again. In 2004 my Granny died and I felt that I should start going to Church again with my Mum. Also I knew we wanted to start having children and I wanted them to be brought up knowing about Jesus.
Even though I attended church it was just a Sunday morning thing, something I forgot about during the rest of the week. In 2010, Louise, a mum from Lewis’s school invited me to St. Andrews. I came in August and enjoyed it – and so did the children, so I came back in September. It was the start of the Just 10 series, where there was a talk every Sunday based on one of each of the ten commandments.
From then on I didn’t miss a week – I found the talks relevant, easy to understand and they offered practical advice.
After a few weeks and months I was sitting in Church one Sunday wondering “Why am I here?…Is this actually doing anything for me?…Is this where I’m supposed to be?”….
Then after the talk Simon asked if anyone wanted to come forward for prayer, and during the song my legs took me straight up there before my mind had a chance to protest! Simon took a moment and when he finally spoke it was words from God – saying “Tessa, I love you, I’m so glad you are here, you are right where I want you to be and it hasn’t gone unnoticed – I have plans for you.”
Since then with encouragement from friends and family I have grown in my faith and I was recently baptised to wash all the bad stuff away.
There is a Phil Wickham song based on the prodigal son which sums things up for me. Part of it says:
When I saw you I was ashamed
You were pure and I was stained
But you ran to me and you called my name
There were tears of joy upon your face
I’m back where I belong
Paul was baptised at St Andrew’s in July 2011 and shared his story with us:
I was brought up with Christian values but never considered the need to attend church other than for christenings, weddings and funerals! I began going to church in my late twenties but not on a regular basis due to work commitments. Being part of a church and having a total commitment to Jesus didn’t appeal to me at the time.
That all changed years later when I went through a difficult period in my life which included the break up of my marriage and the family life I had.The urge to believe in Jesus began. I felt the need to regulary attend the church I was going to,getting involved with various events held there but I felt that there was still something missing in my life, a connection with Jesus.
I met Sally, a Christian friend and we had many chats about her faith and the Alpha course was mentioned. Months went by but when the chance came to do the Alpha course, St Andrews church was the nearest place. I attended a few Sunday services at the church before Alpha started. ,I loved it, with great music and friendly people.The Alpha course gave me a great zest for more knowledge of Jesus,about having a relationship with him and the bible.
Since doing Alpha, I now go to St Andrew’s to worship. I attend a weekly disciple group called Zeta and I helped out with The Noise community action day amongst other things. Giving something back to the community was something I would never of considered before.
With the belief in Jesus and the strength it gives me through tough times,my life is slowly turning around.
‘I found such a great welcome at St Andrew’s’
Phil came to a Christmas Day lunch in 2009 for those who would otherwise be on their own. His mother had just died and he was living in a hostel and life had hit a real low point. He loved the warm welcome and started coming to the services. He has really enjoyed helping to make a difference in the community with the Noise Day in June. Later in 2010 after doing an Alpha course he decided he wanted to be baptised and is looking to put God first in his life. 4 others were baptised with Phil on Sunday 21st November with a packed church cheering loudly as they made this public step of faith.
Listen to her story below. In the audio clip it also includes Nelia Roberts, baptised with her on 28th March.
“I decided to leave home with my baby and had only a few bin bags and moved in to a b’n’b.”
Read or hear Jenny’s story.
Jenny is in the front centre of her small group and then with her Nan who has prayed for her since she was a baby.
Jenny writes “Christianity has always been there in the background but I guess if I was truly honest with myself, I wouldn’t have classed myself as a Christian. Before I became a Christian I found my life a struggle. I kept making mistakes, met people who were no good to be around and easily influenced by them. I hurt my family most of all. When my son was born in 2006 I felt a change happen in me and I couldn’t identify what it was. I decided to leave home with my baby and had only a few bin bags and moved in to a b’n’b. It wasn’t very nice at all, full of people who took drugs and people who truly had issues. Still this feeling inside me felt like it was slowly growing. I kept thinking of ways 2 plug this feeling up- maybe if I do this or I do that, that maybe it’ll go away. But I made more mistakes and bad decisions. Finally I moved into my flat down the road.
One day my brother, Matt, asked if I would like to go with him to church, I wasn’t so sure about it as I had tried going to church before- attended a few times and never went back because I couldn’t sing along to a dreary organ and the words the vicar/priest were saying just went straight over my head like a dull hum. Anyway I decided yeah why not? I’ll give it another chance. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived. I was welcomed so lovingly, I sat down and heard the band playing. It sent goose bumps all over and though I’d never heard these hymns before I found I was singing along. Simon talked along with a few others and felt like they were talking to me, it all seemed so relevant. I could listen with ease. My brother then asked if I’d like to sign up and go to the alpha group so I said yes and really enjoyed learning the foundations and about what Christianity is all about. Another big part I loved about Alpha was I met such a great group of people. Together the group decided we’d go on to do beta together which I’m currently attending and am now learning how to apply Christianity to everyday life which I need. And helps to apply your faith to certain situations, we have such a laugh. Not only that but with the people that I’ve met, I don’t feel alone on my journey we’re all in it together. I’m now a Christian and as a Christian I feel a lot different, I feel happier and don’t worry half as much as I used to. As for the feeling I felt in side? I realized it was an empty hole and the more I learn about god and trust in him, the more that hole is being filled. I have my own place full of my own belongings. I look at others now and see that when they hurt I feel hurt and I notice areas of their lives as they talk where they could do with having gods touch, before I’d have been blind. I have to thank my family especially my Nan and brother as they sparked the flint and it just needed my breath 2 turn that spark in to the warm fire of god’s spirit burn within me.”