Stories

Nicki

When I started coming to St Paul’s over 2.5 years ago, it was after many years of regular church going. But when I say regular, I really mean I would go a few times a year, usually around Christmas and Easter. I had been baptised as a child and attended a Church of England school, but my understanding of Christianity was based on lessons learnt as a young child.

It all started, shortly after I moved to Finchley with my husband and daughter. I then gave birth to my second daughter. I felt that familiar urge to go to church, and based on the recommendation of an acquaintance I decided to try St Paul’s. Feeling a little anxious and out of place I came along, but to my relief I found a warm welcome! I came alone, as I didn’t associate church with young children, but it was suggested I try the family friendly Early Start service. So I brought my 2.5 year old daughter and her little sister, who was a small baby cocooned in a sling. This was the first of many Sunday morning visits that my children now love; they can’t remember a time when they didn’t come!

As time went on and I became a frequent regular worshipper, it became apparent that my understanding of Christianity was actually quite superficial. The solution was the Alpha Course. One evening a week, I and other novices, were introduced to the basic principles of the Christian faith, by people who knew far more than we did. Following a short talk from one of the group leaders, we then had the time and space to discuss and ask questions in a small and informal group setting, something that just can’t be done in a normal church service. By the end of Alpha I finally had a grasp of what it was all about, but as is often the case, the more I knew, the more I understood how little I really knew!

The latest step in my faith journey has been to cement that knowledge and deepen my faith through the very helpful Join Up course. This has been a fantastic, often lively series of meetings with fellow searchers. I have really valued the way that God has made himself known to me through these sessions and it has been great to have made the journey with like-minded people who are at the same stage in their growth as Christians. I now really do feel ready to Join Up!

Regina

"I was brought up in a Christian home with my parents and grandparents being strong believers and actively involved in church.  I always considered myself a Christian since occasionally I attended Church and sometimes I used to pray.  I believed in a God and hoped he'd listen to my prayers and act on them.

After some personal difficulties leading to a relationship breakdown, I found myself relying more on God to see me through everyday.  A friend gave me a book of daily readings to help me understand the Bible better and spend time with God.  This was the turning point for me. The book gave me bits to read everyday until, over a three month period I had read at least 60% of the Bible!  The wonderful thing about all this was that during this time the Bible came so alive to me. Suddenly Jesus was real and my relationship with him grew stronger and stronger.  I got to know far more in those three months than all my other years put together!

I believe this could be seen as a conversion or a spiritual renewal which still sustains me daily.  It’s been ten years now and I'm still in awe of this forgiving and loving God.  I face occasional difficulties, of course, but I can truly say that God is real and true to his promises.

My wish is for everyone to know the truth about God and try to find out who he is for themselves. I know they'd never be the same again. As far as God is concerned, I am still a work in progress but I'm very glad I'm not where I used to be!"

Ruth

“I was born into a Catholic family and attended a Catholic church and school. But it had no meaning for me. But that all changed after the birth of my first child. Giving birth to a little life moved something inside me and prompted me to seek a church connection again, but I had no idea what I was seeking.

Through being part of a wonderful community, supportive Christian friends and attending the church baby and toddler groups, I have found a real love for Jesus that is often difficult for me to express. However, I have seen God with me because, just at the right time, I have been with people who can help me or been on an Alpha course that has strengthened my faith.  My faith journey is still continuing and I wait in excited anticipation to discover the next stage of my relationship with God.

Ruth’s faith journey

Attended St Paul’s after birth of first son

Baby and toddler group, developed friendships with Christians

Aware of relationship with Jesus

Attended ‘Alpha’ course and used ‘You’ve Got the Time’ resource (listening to the New Testament section of the Bible on an MP3 player over 40 days)

What next?

David

I grew up in a Christian family, and went to church each week. Sunday school, midweek clubs, and holiday clubs – all the norm for me. In some ways, I have never known a ‘conversion’ experience, but have always had a simple awareness of God in my life.

This has been such a comfort throughout difficult teenage years, my parents’ divorce, and my time at university. I have no idea how I would have got through some of these tough experiences without being able to rely on God.

The next step on my journey is here at St Paul’s, which is a wonderfully welcoming community. In the short time I have been part of St Paul’s, I have been involved in all kinds of aspects of church life. I enjoy getting to know people of a wide range of ages and different backgrounds that make up the mixed bag that is St Paul’s!

At this stage in my life, I’m still trying to work out what the future holds. But I know that I can trust God to always be involved in whatever decisions I make, which is reassuring and exciting all at the same time.

Derek

I was brought up as a Methodist, but at the age of 12 I was expelled from Sunday School for being disruptive.  I still attended church reasonably frequently and considered myself a Christian.  But, to be honest, I was more interested in football!!

When I went to university, I met a Christian who asked me how I could call myself a Christian if I didn’t have a Bible and never read it.  I was shocked, but I realised he was right. I didn’t really understand what being a Christian meant but I did know that I had a choice to make: I was either in or out. I was not going to sit on the fence any more!  That night I asked Christ to forgive me and accept me as one of his children.  I wasn’t entirely convinced my life would change. But it did, not instantly but gradually, as I read the Bible and got to know Christ better.

Recently I have worked in Indonesia and started a Bible study group for young Indonesian Christians. I have been able to explain to them so much of what I have learned from reading the Bible. It has been a privilege to help them read it for themselves and apply what they learned to how they live their lives.

I’ve just retired, but I am convinced that God still has things for me to do.