Mildred was very much under the impression that she was a Christian. She and her husband even went to church occasionally. In November 1985, her married daughter urged them to go to a ‘Down to Earth’ mission. Mildred states:
“For an Anglican, it was a real culture shock. I hated it but when the speaker said the prayer of commitment I found myself joining in. When finished, a feeling of great warmth and peace filled me. I didn’t ‘go up to the front’ but life – and I – changed a good deal after that. My husband also came to Jesus some weeks later and we pray and work together now.”
In her own words, Elsie gives the following testimony:
“I have not had a good life, having been an alcoholic for years and living a completely immoral life. For a while I became a Mormon in my search for God. Then I came to this residential home and found that Christians visited, telling of Jesus and his love and compassion. I really wanted to know more. I seriously asked God to tell me which was right, Mormonism or the God of the Christians. Two days later there was a carol service at the home and the lady was speaking about the real meaning of joy, when suddenly the Lord Jesus came to me and filled me with incredible joy. The Lord came to me, filled me with joy and forgave my sin. Jesus really is the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Jim, with no religious background, had married a Christian girl after the war. They ‘rubbed along’ (his words), with different views for many years, “during which I was introduced to grace at meals and my wife going to church.”
When he was about 60, his wife broke her ankle and couldn’t manage the steps at church. Jim explained: “I wasn’t going to let anyone else carry her up the steps so I started going with her.”
He listened to a few sermons and began to think about Jesus and his life. So, when he was invited by the minister to attend a ‘seekers’ class with three other unbelievers, “who like me loved to argue about every little detail of the Christian message,” he agreed. Gradually he heard and accepted the message of Jesus and was baptised within a year. He says: “Since accepting him as my Saviour I have experienced a peace that was unknown before.”
In her 70s, Ethel walked into a church office to ask if she could join the ‘Keep Fit group’. She then expanded her involvement and learned to play badminton. Ethel then began to come to church and was given Steve Chalke’s tape. She stated there were a few things on the tape that she did not understand, so a church member took time and listened with Ethel. With the fresh understanding this brought, Ethel committed her life to the Lord, attended and Alpha course and was baptised.
Freda was almost 96 when she died, suddenly and unexpectedly. With a quick and enquiring mind, having loved the Silver Service – a half hour service with old and familiar hymns and prayers – Freda joined the Silver Seekers group (an Alpha style enquirers course). At the last group, when the prayer of commitment was read out with the mention that there would be an opportunity at the end, to read this prayer and sign the card, Freda called out in the middle of the session: “Where is the pen? I want to sign it now!”.
That is how Freda came to find friendship and fellowship with other people and the Lord Jesus.
“I went to Sunday School when I was a child and kept going fairly regularly to church although I often thought, ‘why do I come here?’ However, most of my friends were there so I kept going. Then my children began to leave home and I began to feel rather empty inside. Harold and I seemed to be going different ways and I started taking prescribed Valium.
Then I was washing up after Sunday lunch one afternoon and my younger son who had come home from college came into the kitchen and said, ‘Can I help you, Mum?’
Well, my children didn’t do things like that! I’d got fed up asking. I thought ‘That’s funny. There’s something different about you.’
Well, he kept piling Christian books on me, book after book and I read them all. One had a commitment prayer in it and I prayed that prayer alone in the living room and didn’t think much more about it. Then about three weeks later I felt the Lord’s presence very strongly in a way I had never felt before. I think that’s where it all started.”
“About two years after my father’s death my mother decided to come and stay for the weekend as it was my son’s birthday. I had a meeting to attend and it was difficult to postpone it, so I left Mum for an hour on her own. When I got back she was in tears. I was full of apology thinking it was because she had been left on her own, but it turned out she had read some gospel tracts I had in the lounge and wanted to give her life to the Lord. We spent a wonderful time and I led her into a prayer of commitment. Sadly, she is no longer with us, but the last few years of her life were the happiest.”
Mr B was a professional man, living in northwest India. Although he was a Hindu he had married an English lady and went to church in India with her and the children. When he retired they came to England, where his wife became ill. On his wife’s request, home communion was brought from the church, and Mr B always stayed in the room for the short service. When his wife died he asked to be baptised and confirmed, showing signs of a real faith.
Charles was invited to a monthly church meeting by a friend. Although he did not live near the church, dressed smartly in a navy pinstripe suit, he travelled by bus, every month, for two years, listening but never responding to anything on a spiritual level. Sadly he had a serious stroke and a group member visited him in hospital and prayed with him. Charles was then transferred to a nursing home and through the ministry of a visitor he received the Lord into his life and spent his days praying for the other residents of the nursing home, writing (albeit wobbly) letters praising God for his goodness and asking for prayer for the needy around him.
Dora had been attending Winchester Baptist Church building for specific events when the church introduced a Mission to Seniors. Having attended Silver Service – a half hour service with old and familiar hymns and prayers – Dora accepted an invitation to a Marilyn Baker concert. She was very frail and breathless but when Marilyn sang “I’m held in the hollow of His hand, that’s where I am, I’m held in the centre of His love, for evermore, for eternity” Dora sang along with her. As one of the original members of the Silver Service her faith was simple and childlike but she had had the opportunity to know that God loved her. Dora died shortly afterwards.
“... there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents...”
* All identities have been changed to protect confidentiality.