So what led me to become a Christian?
Let's be honest most people my age don't randomly wake up on a Sunday morning and decide to go to church. I didn't go because I was just interested, I didn't go because this was my latest phase. This was years in the making. So I guess this all began in 2015, this was the year when I first started to notice my struggles with mental health. I was in year eleven at the time and I wasn't happy with where I was going in life.
I started to question myself and what type of person I was, I started to dislike the person I was and soon enough this turned into resentment. While I was polite, on the inside I was empty, I had trouble with emotions and feelings. I just couldn't feel right.
Before I knew it my life became one massive nightmare, while I laughed and joked on the outside on the inside I wasn't laughing or joking. I was a very sad person. I felt guilt because I knew other people had it worse, I'd seen people who had been bullied for years, they'd seen so many traumatic events unfold and that led them to depression.
Who was I to have depression? I lived a life where I had 2 great parents and a family who I love, I went to school which is actually a privilege a lot of people don't get. I knew I would not go
hungry and I had never seen any really trauma. None of this matters when you find yourself hating the very person you are and slowly but surely starting to hate your life.
My GCSEs came along and I did okay, I could have done so much better if I put the effort in, it's fair to say these mental problems killed my motivation. After my exams I had decided policing was the route for me, finally something to aim for. This didn't help, it was an academic goal, a career I wanted to pursue. This isn't what life is about, I understand this now but then I didn't.
As sixth form started my mental state got worse, I started to question what the point of anything was, why am I here is what I used to say. I don't want to worry anyone by saying I was suicidal because I wasn't but there were definitely days when I questioned what the world would be like without me, how everything would be affected.
In December 2016 I snapped, I had a bit of a mental breakdown in front of my older brother Jack. I started crying about the money that my Great-grandfather left me but that was just a way to
finally talk about what was truly wrong. Once I started speaking though I started to doubt myself, once again asking 'who am I to be depressed?'. So I decided to blame it all on 6th form and that's
how it was treated. It's just 6th form, once I leave that place I will be fine. It wasn't true though. Things got worse and worse and I didn't speak about my mental health again for the next 3
Finally I couldn't take it anymore in 2018 and I was searching for something but I was unsure what, I tried politics for a bit but that didn't really help. I would find myself sneaking into the bathroom at night just so I could cry in peace.
I couldn't find a job and that made me feel worthless, a strain on society and even worse a burden to my family. I managed to hide this all pretty well. As my second year of college was about to start I was thinking to myself 'I can't take this much longer'.
September came and I was trying to figure out how I was gonna get through another academic year. Then one day I was passing time on YouTube when a video had been put at the top of my recommended list. It was a video of an Evangelist who was preaching the gospel, I had never watched any videos to do with religion before so this confused me.
For some reason I couldn't stop myself from clicking on it. He went through the good person test, and even though I hated the person I was I always thought of myself as a relatively good person morally. How many lies have I told in my whole life?
Countless. Someone who tells lies is a liar. Have I ever stolen something? Yep, that makes me a thief. Ever used the Lord's name in vain? Blasphemy. Ever been angry and lashed out at Someone? Murder in my heart. Ever looked with lust? Adultery in my heart. This made me a lying, thiefing, blasphemous, murdering adulterer at heart.
Does this sound like a good person to you? Absolutely not. If God is to judge me by the ten commandments I'm guilty, I'm going to hell. As soon as I heard this I knew it to be true, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit (I didn't even know what the holy spirit was at this point).
So I'm sat there thinking Lord what have I done? Surely I've done more good than bad, surely you can see that and forgive me? Would that be just? Imagine a murderer standing in court and the jury finds him guilty and his response to the judge is, I've done more good than bad.
The judge is going to say; "you're here to answer for your crimes, not what you've done that's good." It wouldn't be just for a judge to let a law breaker go because they're normally a nice person. But what were to happen if someone came in and paid the criminals fine or served their sentence? Justice would have been served and the criminal could be let go.
Well this preacher informed me that God is too loving to watch me perish but too just to let my crimes go unpunished. So God himself came down to earth in the form of a man (Jesus Christ); and died an awful death where he was flogged and then crucified to take the punishment that I deserve.
Is that not the definition of love? I couldn't believe it, I prayed to God(which I'd never done before, at least not out of free will). I begged Jesus to come into my life and to forgive me of my sins. Well guess what? He did. The very next day I could feel the spirit. I no longer wanted to do the things I had once done(though I still fell victim to sin sometimes and I still do).
Lies were evil. Theft was disgusting. Using the name of the God who had died for me as a curse word was awful. Looking at a woman with lustful thoughts was gross, that's another human being another child of God how dare I think those gross things about them. Anger accomplished nothing, and who was I to get mad at other people's sins? Am I also not a sinner?
Forgiveness became pretty simple, I had been forgiven of every wrong I had done and every wrong I will do in the future so I could surely forgive anyone that wronged me.
I soon picked up a bible and started to read, I tried my best to incorporate the teachings into my life and to turn completely from sin(though we all have a sinful nature so this was impossible). I even used to go sit in the flower park in the freezing cold just so I could read the bible without anyone noticing.
I found that while i was doing all this my life started to improve, I no longer hated myself. I felt my mental health start to get better and better. I found purpose in life, purpose I had never had before. I wanted to serve the God that loved me so much that he was crucified.
Time went on but I started to backslide, I wasn't reading the bible as much and I was sinning more. The final straw was at a Premier League darts event in February when I got very very drunk.
I felt the conviction of the holy spirit while I was drunk and I remember sitting thinking 'what am I doing here? This is wrong and I know it' so I walked off to the toilet with my double pint which had cost £12(daylight robbery, I know) and I handed it to the first person I saw and decided that I would no longer get drunk.
I spoke to Tom (a former Methodist priest) at a family gathering and he encouraged me to join a church. I remember thinking no thanks that sounds so boring and the church is filled with hypocrites
so that's the last place I want to be. Then I thought about it, I was a piece of coal that had come rolling out of the fire and had slowly stopped burning, that's why I was sinning more again and not
word of God or praying.
A piece of coal on it's own will not burn but if you put a bunch together that'll keep the fire going. So I needed other Christians in my life and I didn't know any so my two options were Christian singles ready to mingle or church.
Church was definitely the right choice. I woke up early on 3rd March 2019 and decided to walk into a building filled with people I didn't know despite all the negative connotations connected with churches. If that doesn't show the power the Holy spirit had on me then I don't know what will!
I met an African man as soon as I walked in. Instead of asking me who I was or anything like that he shook my hand and said welcome brother, I am Antonio. I sat down in the pews and I won't lie my heart was pounding. The pastor came walking over to me with his wife who is also a pastor. I saw the collar and thought 'aw heck'.
He also shook my hand and introduced himself as Michael and his wife as Lindsey. He asked what church I was from and when I explained I had never been to church in my life and I was the only churchgoer in my family I could tell by his face he couldn't believe it.
Some random 18 year old with no Christian family and no past church experience had woken up on a Sunday morning put on his best suit (his only suit by the way) and walked into a church.
I'm so glad I did, Michael and Lindsey were so kind to me that day and made sure I fit in. After the service I must have been asked if I wanted a coffee a million times by a million different people. Everyone seemed to want to sit with me and talk to me.
I've never felt so welcomed in my whole life, I could have cried. Once I finally left the first thought that came to my mind was that I needed more. I went again on the Tuesday, Lindsey gave me a bible; (my previous one didn't have the old testament) free of charge to help me with my new Christian walk.
I started to go 4 times a week and now I'm up to 5 times a week. I would go 7 times a week but unfortunately it's not open that often.
I was baptised in May by Pastor Michael Hedley, at the service I shared a little bit of my testimony. I was not able to share it in it’s entirety like I am doing now. Just giving a small watered down version was enough to make me cry. My parents did not attend my baptism nor did any members of my family.
As the months went by I started to feel like myself again, like the person I was before the mental health problems. I still suffered with anxiety but it was decreasing. I put that to the test on July 6th 2019. It was the summer praise event and I had been cleaning the church in the morning to prepare for it.
I wasn't really sure what it was and when it was explained to me I wasn't that eager. I was tired because I hadn't slept well the night before and had decided that I wasn't going to go. I was sat at home about half an hour before the event started and just felt like I needed to be there.
So I obeyed God and went. I'm so happy I did. While sat down I heard someone call my name to introduce me to someone. So they shortly introduced me to a young woman of my age. I remember looking at her and thinking to myself 'if I don't talk to this woman then I ought to be ashamed to call myself a man'.
I was still suffering with anxiety so I doubted it was going to happen. So I did the one thing I should have done, I prayed. 'God give me some confidence here please' and he did. Well that and she was easy to talk to, we had a good conversation after the service and decided to Facebook each other (it's the 21st century folks, that's what people do).
Over time I got to know her a lot better, she was not like anyone I had ever known before. Before I knew it I had gotten that comfortable around her and talking to her that I told her about my mental health struggles. Once I had shared my mental health problems, that's when the realisation of just how bad they had been hit me.
I'm still hesitant to say I suffered with depression because I have known people who have suffered from depression and I would never think to compare my experience with theirs.
So, I'm no longer sure about joining the police. It still interests me and I know I could do it but I don't think it's what God wants me to do. The way I feel in church is incomparable with the way I feel anywhere else. It's where I'm meant to be. So I'm going to do a course on theology. I want to become a pastor or if that's not where God wants me then I would still like to study His word and build my relationship with Him.
Jesus saved me in more ways than one. I'm forever grateful and I will always serve him. I know people will likely have questions and objections and that's okay because I know where I am in Christ. I have experienced things in my life that can only be put down to God. I can never deny my testimony.
Truth be told, I know I went through those trials for a reason. God used them to humble me, I have absolutely no loyalties with the world because it's the world that messed me up and it's God that
put me together again. I'm still not perfect, I still sin, the puzzle is still being put together. But my heart has changed, I see no virtue in sin. If I'm sinning call me out on it. I'm still not
where I want to be, but I'm better than where I was yesterday
My chains are gone I've been set free My God, my Saviour has ransomed me And like a flood His mercy reigns Unending love, amazing grace
The Word of Life Church are open for all our services again including Sunday Services following the removal of all restritctions. We still do have hand sanitisers in place and mask wearing is optional.
Our coffee mornings have re-opened and our monthly Diner, is open to everyone.
Prayer Meetings are now fully re-opened in the Church but Bible Studies will continue on Zoom until September where we will decide upon which will be the right forum, it could possible be a mixture of Zoom and in church attendance for the Bible Study.
We look forward to seeing everyone again after this tremendously difficult past 18 months. We pray that you will be blessed as you join us in Church or on Facebook live as we will continue with our live stream broadcasts.
God bless. Pastors Michael and Lindsey Hedley
Following our successful bid to gain funding for a post-Covid journey to recovery programme, we are pleased to announce that all of the programmes that we originally intended to deliver are now being delivered in Church. We had to do sone of the courses on Zoom and facebook during the lockdown and while they have been successful, we are so pleased that we can now offer these programmes in person and in Church. The funding from Allchurches Trust means we can deliver English as an Additional Language courses free of charge, healthy living courses combining exercise, healthy eating, and help with debt management, as well as basic computer literacy aimed at people who have been isolated due to having no access to technology to help them stay in touch with others.
This comes on top of the funding sucessfully gained from All churches Trust, for the development of our upper rooms in the church to create a prayer room, better storage facilities and an arts and crafts room that CRE8 are using. This has involved putting in a new staircase to allow better and easier access, a partition wall in the storage room, as well as painting and decorating the area. This has been hampered somewhat in the development by the Pandemic, but is now complete and is ready to to be used.
Praise God for all that He is doing.
It was our very great privilege to attend the launch of Toks (Olaronke Ashiru Gbadebo's) book "Don't Take the Poison", on Saturday 19th September.
We are promoting her book on our website to support her in this work and so the following is a description of the book and there are two links for you to purchase it, through Amazon and Google.
*Don't Take that Poison* is a call for anyone who desires to live a life that pleases God, and who is committed to enjoying the abundant life available in Christ.
The book looks deeply into the issue of offences and how it impacts our lives and our ability to be fruitful.
It provides deep insights into the purpose of relationships and different ways offences can wreak havoc.
You will get answers to questions like:
a) What causes offences:
b) The signs of an offended heart:
c) Effects of harbouring offences:
d) The path of victory
It provides compelling answers to deep heart issues especially those that have been wounded through lifes circumstances and are struggling to let go of the wounds incurred.
The book will help to escape the poison offences brings into our lives.
Our Mission House next door to the Church is available for bookings to stay for 1 to 30 nights. The house is used as a Christian retreat, and we can offer a wide range of support programmes during your stay with us.
From Bible Teaching - various topics - to Worship Leading prayer and a range of other activities.
We are based on the wonderful panoramic Northumberland coastline which is literally 5 minutes drive away, but also have access to the beautiful Northumbrian Countryside and Cheviot hills which are only 30 minutes drive.
Pleas see our Mission House Christian Retreat Section on this website, or visit our Mission House Retreat page on facebook.
Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever
This is not just breaking news, it is the news from yesterday, today and tomorrow and guess what? It is forever. Hallelujah!!!!!
Contact us at:
Word of Life Church
Wesleyan Reform Union
North Seaton Road, Ashington Northumberland NE63 0AG
Or use our online contact form.