Carols in The City
Thank you for following the star, the sign to Jesus! We hope you really enjoyed Carols in the City 2016 – we loved having you! While you’re here, why not read our collection of real life stories and thoughts. These are all accounts of people like you, like me, who started to notice the signs, hear the small whispers and prompts from somewhere deep within and who began with a few tentative steps towards God. It’s ok to ask Him if He’s real, to have frank conversations about life, the world, hope, suffering, whatever is on you heart. God loves our questions.
“When I was 19, I realised there was something missing from my life. Subconscious attempts to fill the void didn’t seem to work – relationships didn’t fill as much as I’d try; doing well academically didn’t fill it; striving for success, friendships, travel, drink and drugs didn’t fill it. At the time, I wasn’t necessarily aware I was desperately searching to fill the gap but I knew that despite everything I did, there was an empty aftertaste.
On a trip to Australia, I ended up staying with a Christian family and being struck by the joy within them that centred on God. After willingly saying I’d go and see what church was about, something deep was unlocked in me and I found myself sobbing. My heart was touched and I began to see, feel and know there was a God who loved me, who wanted me and who freely gave everything for me. It was that night that I said ‘God have my life.’ I can only describe it as a weighted backpack being lifted from my back or as if suddenly the lights had been switched on in my life. I found freedom and joy in 2003. It is this truth that I always remember when life becomes messy or there are struggles, which are inevitable in all our lives. I am rooted in God. I am loved by God. He desires me and gave everything for me.”
“In 2006, my auntie, who had been diagnosed with a tumour in her bowel was struggling with feeling so unwell. She had lost lots of weight as a result of the illness and had been sick for such a long time that she was even contemplating ending her life. Many people were praying for her and I too desperately wanted to go and pray for her but had no finances to get there. One night I felt God remind me of the story in Luke 7 in the bible of the Centurion solider. In this incredible story of healing, Jesus was not even with the sick man and he was healed because of the faith of the centurion and power of Jesus. I called my auntie the week later to find out how she was doing. She told me that after a pre op scan the doctors were left confused and apologetic as they found no tumour there. This was a mystery they couldn’t explain but I know God can! What a miracle? She became well and now leads a fit and healthy life at the age of 75.”
“There was a time in my life where I seemed to be surrounded by Christians! I could see these people had some indefinable quality that I lacked but I couldn’t fathom what it was. Although, I had been brought up to go to Sunday School and even was confirmed, I still wasn’t really sure that there was a God. One of those Christians suggested that I ask God to prove his existence to me and so I did. Every day for a couple of months, I prayed ‘God if you really exist, prove it to me.’ However, I wasn’t really prepared for what happened next.
I went to a Carol Service at my friend’s church. That night the preacher spoke clearly about his own fear of death before he turned to Christ. All through the talk, I felt as if his eyes were boring into me, especially when he spoke about the fear of death which had also plagued me since I was a child of nine years. I even asked my friend why the preacher was targeting me, of course she said he wasn’t. When he suggested we all bow our heads to pray to receive Jesus, my heart was pumping in my chest. I wasn’t sure I wanted to pray and then it happened. I heard the audible voice of God saying, ‘Hazel, it’s now or never!’ What should I do? I had been praying for God to prove his existence to me and here through a simple preacher, God had spoken directly into my own fear and now He was addressing me by name!
That was exactly 25 years ago and I have been following Jesus ever since. I know that my Redeemer lives!”
“My son Leroy is due major spinal surgery and we were waiting for a date for this to happen. We were initially sent a date for before Christmas, which would mean that Leroy would miss all the build up to Christmas and would probably be too poorly to enjoy any of the festivities. We would also not be able to travel to see family for Christmas, which is very important for the three of us, as well as the wider family. So we asked them to delay surgery until January. In my head and in my prayers I was asking for 9th January. However, when the surgery date arrived it was 23rd January. This would mean that Ri (Leroy’s sister) would have to stay with several different people, which would be extremely unsettling for her. I realised that I would need to phone the secretary to plead for an earlier January date. I had to wait over the weekend until the Tuesday, when Lynn, the secretary, would be back at work. I mentioned to a few people that I was still praying for 9th January. They agreed they would pray with me. On the Tuesday, before I had chance to call the secretary, I noticed another letter from the hospital had arrived that morning. And there was a new date for surgery… yes you guessed it, for 9th January! Praise God for his answer to prayer.”
“When I finished university, I had lots of aspirations for life and what I would do next. I had a vision of what my life would look like and how it would all fit together. Despite this, I couldn’t ignore a niggle at the back of my mind. I felt like God might be speaking to me about giving up my career at a company who had recently employed me, giving up my finances and serving City Church full time for a year for free. I didn’t want to do it so I tried to ignore God. One evening, I was reading in the bible from 2 Timothy and one of the verses struck me ‘Lay down the affairs of this life.’ I had a love affair with the life I wanted to have and it was an affair which took me away from my love and relationship with God. I chose to lay it down and follow what God was calling me to. Four months later I found out the company I had got a job with had gone under and they had laid off all there staff. God knew best hey?! And I haven’t looked back.”