Enjoying God, Making Friends & Changing Lives

Jules’s Story

When I was born I only weighed 2lbs because I was three months premature.  In that first three months my mum and dad were not allowed to touch me.  Nobody thought I was going to survive.

I was brought up in Benwell.  Dad was a miner and worked in the pits in Seaton Burn and mum was a receptionist in a doctor’s surgery.  When I was 14 dad bought a big old colliery house in Denton Burn and we moved there.

Mum and dad would both drink and then have big fights.  It was hard growing up under all of that.

A year after we moved it was 1984 and the miner’s strike.  The tension was unbelievable.  Everyone living around us were miners or involved somehow.  We weren’t even allowed to speak to anybody who didn’t join in with the strike.  They were just completely pushed out of the community.

After the strike finished dad retired but soon afterwards he got an infection in his lungs and then found out it was cancer.  I was there when he got the diagnosis.  He said to the doctor “Am I going to die?” and the doctor just looked at him and said “Yes”.  I was so shocked that a doctor would just say it like that.  Three weeks later dad was gone.

I was in my own flat by this stage but after dad died my mum seemed to go downhill with her own health and so I moved back home.  When dad was alive he was always making mum scrimp and save and buy her clothes from the second-hand shop.  But when he died she found out that there was masses of money in the bank!  The last five years of her life she lived in absolute luxury!  I was so glad that she got to do that before she died.

In my twenties I worked for the Co-op as a section head on the Deli counters.  I loved that job!  I had to go and visit all the Co-op stores and help them review stock and sales.  Then in my 30s I started working for Canon Hygiene – doing hygiene collections in a van from organisations around the City Centre.

My life was full of struggles.  I had depression that started in my teenage years.  A few times I took an overdose.  I had diabetes and other health problems that ended up with me having two heart attacks.

By 2016 I felt as though my whole life was falling apart.  As well as all of the health problems I was in a long-term relationship that broke down.  It felt like the last straw.  I had no parents and no brothers and sisters.  Now it felt as though I was losing the closest thing I to family that I had left.  I felt so lost and alone.  I just felt like I really couldn’t cope any more.

About that time my uncle rang me and said “All the extended family are meeting up at the Holiday Inn.  Why don’t you come and see everyone?”  There were going to be cousins there from London, Australia – all over really.

Everyone sat at a big table in the Holiday Inn and I sat down next to my cousin Ros.  When she started to ask me how I was doing I started crying my eyes out.  I just couldn’t keep it all in.  She said “Why don’t you take some time off and come down and stay with us in Surrey for a few days?”

So three weeks later found I myself outside Newcastle City Library at 1.40 in the morning waiting for the mega-bus.

Ros is the only Christian in our family.  Everyone had said to me “Watch out!  She’s one of those Christians!”

But I really liked her and it was lovely to be there.  On the Saturday she said “Will you come to church with me tomorrow morning?”

I’d always believed in God and prayed.  My mam had been a Sunday school teacher and so I’d gone to church as a kid – but I didn’t like churches that were too churchy and serious and so I felt quite nervous about going to church with her.

On the way there she was playing a worship track by Big Daddy Weave.  She turned to me and said “I just know something amazing is going to happen today.  I just know it our kid – I can feel it.”

I was like “Eh?  What are you going on about?”

We were a bit late getting there and they’d already started the worship.  As soon as we walked in I could just feel that God was there and I started to cry.  Tears were rolling down my face.

Seeing the band I was thinking “Is this like a real church?” because they were like a proper band! The pastor brought a load of bags on the stage and talked about how “Everyone’s got baggage”. He could have put my name at the end of every sentence.  The way he spoke was like he was talking about my life.  He just had me down. There was a big cross in the corner that was lit up and he said “If anyone’s got baggage why don’t you just come and stand behind the cross with me?” I was thinking “There is no way I am going down there…!” Then all of sudden (I know this sounds weird) but my legs started walking by themselves and I thought “What the heck am I doing?  What am I doing?!”

I was crying buckets and I could feel a pain in my chest and thought I was going to pass out.

The pastor prayed for me and I prayed with him.

I was sweating and had this pain in my chest – I felt as if God was somehow pulling all the baggage out of me.

I went back to my seat and said to Ros “I don’t know what the heck just happened there! That was amazing!”

We went back to her house and she said “I wonder if there’s a Newfrontiers church in Newcastle.”
She got on her iPad and said “Have you ever heard of a place called ‘City Church’?”

I nearly fell over.  I said “You have got to be kidding me!  I’ve been going into City Church every Wednesday for about 10 years with work!” because every week I would come here and empty the nappy bins. I knew that God was leading me to City Church and that I had to give it a try. The first time I came on a Sunday – Dave Pearson came and welcomed me and said “Have you been here before?” I said “Not to church – No.  But I do know where all your toilets are!”  It was just unbelievable.  You just could not make it up. That first Sunday was in November 2016.  It was baptisms and I came with a friend cos I was too scared to come on my own.Coming here just felt so right.

It’s hard to put it into words.  I felt like I’d come home.

I loved the music and the freedom to do whatever you wanted in the worship.

Now I’m in a City Group and I don’t know what I would do without them.  They’ve become my family. They’ve always got time for you and they just lift your spirits – it’s like the attitude of everyone is “We’re all in this together.” They text me on a Sunday and make sure I’m out of bed.  They take me out for lunch.  I go round for my tea. I can’t describe the love.  Nothing’s too much trouble for everybody.  It amazes me because everyone just goes above and beyond anything that you would expect. The love and the friendship is unbelievable.  When I come to church now I can hardly get in the door because I’m too busy hugging everybody.

I don’t know what I would do without church.  I love hearing other people’s stories.  I love feeling part of something so much bigger.  It’s amazing to feel connected into so much stuff – like what Kate Allen was doing in Bangladesh.

I never thought I would be worthy of the kind of friendship I’ve got through church.   I never thought anyone would bother with me.  But Jesus has shown me that I am worth it.

I’m learning so much about him – like from the Alpha course or my Bible app.  I feel like it’s all starting to go in now.

I still have good days and bad days but I feel so much happier in myself now.  I know that God is there. I’ve got a purpose.  I know that whatever happens today I don’t need to beat myself up because I’m loved and tomorrow will be another day.  I just find it so moving that Jesus gave everything for me so that I can always start again.

Knowing Jesus has totally changed my life.  I honestly don’t think I would still be alive if God hadn’t come and found me.

He got me just at the right moment.  He came and rescued me right at the last minute.