Hi, I’m Shaun. I grew up in a normal working class family. I had a really happy childhood. My parents worked a lot so I had a lot of freedom. Life was one big adventure to me. None of my family or relatives had any form of religion, in fact my dad was an atheist.
When I was approaching my teens CCTV cameras were just making an appearance in big towns. I was watching the local news program showing footage of 3 men attacking 1 man, knocking him unconscious and then continuing to use his head as a football. I was deeply disturbed and felt physically sick at seeing this. How could people be like this??? As I got a bit older I realised the world was not a nice place - people fighting and wars etc... I felt like I was not human because I wasn’t like other people. I just wanted love and peace.
Then I got into Punk Rock music with lyrics shouting out just how I felt - anti-war and do not conform to this world. Outside of punk I felt isolated. I needed to drink heavily just to be able to get on with people.
But still, overall, I had a pretty good life in many ways. I got Bell’s Palsy once, and fully recovered in 1 week; the sun always shined when I went on holiday; I had regular work; etc
After a few failed relationships I decided to just enjoy myself by going out to gigs etc. I said to myself, “unless I meet a nice foreign Punk Rock girl, who looks younger than her age and who I can fully trust I would stay single”.
Well! As if by a miracle that girl appeared into my life. I thought there has got to be some invisible force at work here?? It turned out she was a Christian and she invited me to go to her church, The Rock.
Well I had visions of a dark damp place with pews and full of old people. So, it was a shock when I found it to be bright and cheery and a wide range of ages and very vibrant. At the Rock, I heard the Good News of how Jesus died to save me and offered me freedom not only from Punk Rock, alcohol, etc but in exchange offered forgiveness of what I had done wrong, love and life eternal.
Soon after, I decided to give my life to Jesus and I have not looked back. I have even been on mission to Germany, prayed for sick people and have seen them healed. Just brilliant!!
The question for me was, “Why had I been blessed and protected all my life?”
Not only when I was sick, but also, when I was about 7 years old, on holiday in Cornwall. I was paddling in the sea and suddenly, just seemed to pass out. I believe I almost drowned.
The next thing I remember was that I was travelling upwards along a tube towards a very bright light at the end. It was the most amazing feeling of peace and love. I don’t remember what happened in between, but I do remember feeling I don't want to go back, I want to stay here. Then I woke up over some stranger’s shoulder on the beach.
Today, I believe my Lord and Saviour Jesus was there. He was the bright light watching over me all my life. I just didn’t know it.
Despite that experience, I really used to have a fear of death - now I don’t. I know I’m truly blessed and will be with God forever.
I married that Christian girl, and I have found new purpose and freedom. Drink isn’t a problem and I have better relationships with all my family - especially my grown up children whom I love dearly but had become distanced from.
Church was just somewhere I went because my parents did. I enjoyed the youth group each Sunday evening playing silly games, eating food and a listening to a talk I could understand. But overall, church for me was boring. That was until a group of American Christians came and did our school assembly and invited us to a local church. I went, because the boys were cute!
But that service changed me. I thought there had to be more to church than I’d experienced as these people were excited about something. My life started to change as I heard about Jesus being more like a friend.
I loved church, the new youth group and friends I was making, but I didn’t realise some of those friends would also lead me to go in the opposite direction I was heading in.
I started going out clubbing at about 16, with a friend from the youth group. I’d get drunk, make out with guys, smoke and be in a friendship that I found very competitive.
We had amazing times together but as our friendship grew I often felt like second best, the one in her shadow. But I just carried on trying to push the thoughts to the back of my head.
I was still going to church whilst clubbing. I still loved it, I just turned up a little blurry eyed. Then a relationship with a guy got thrown in to the friendship, which was for me unhealthy and left me feeling very rejected and insecure.
Then I started working in a children’s nursery as some of my church friends all left for university. Drinking then became a bigger part of my life, leaving gaps in my evenings and all day hangovers the next day. But again, I still went to church.
Then my best friend moved away and I was gutted despite all the bad feelings I felt from it, I also realised I was now the oldest in the youth group and had two choices: stop going to church and let the clubbing life take over, or become a leader who would be a good role model to those younger than me.
I took the second choice, why? I’m not sure; I always felt there was more to life than spending all my money on going out or feeling guilty for kissing some random guy. I felt I could achieve more than what that lifestyle could offer me, and I never looked back.
I would say this is when I really started to take my faith seriously. As I learned more about who Jesus really is the rejection disappeared as did some of the insecurities and hurt. I had people around me who loved and encouraged me especially my amazing youth leaders.
That’s when things started getting a little crazy in my life. Good crazy though.
I’d always thought about going to Africa and after a church trip to Romania, I did. I went to Mozambique for 6 months with Oasis Trust and had the most amazing time, seeing a different way of life, a culture that has so little yet has so much joy and love. It was hard but through the many good and bad experiences I felt God by my side helping me along.
Then the time came and I was back in Nottingham, I wanted to do more but settled back into a new job, then the email came ‘ever thought about youth work in Texas?’ No! But after much prayer, off I travelled again, joining The Pais Project in Texas, USA for the next 3 years. Those years God changed my heart for a generation of broken, hurting people who didn't have a personal relationship with God. I saw peoples lives changed, I made amazing relationships, and I was blown away by the things I experienced.
Now back in Nottingham again, and I could never have dreamed the things I have been blessed to be a part of. I don’t know what’s round the corner and that’s okay because God does. He always surprises me and I know I still have an amazing journey ahead that I can’t wait to see.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’, well my city needs love and care and I want to be apart of giving that to people in Nottingham.
When I was about 10 I started dreaming of being in a band. Having seen countless videos where loud guitars blasted out of huge stages to seemingly endless seas of ecstatic fans, this dream promised a freedom and liberation from the world I knew, one that would transcend the view of my bedroom window and set my life apart from the boring normality everyone else was destined for.
You can imagine then after years of pursuing rock stardom, when I was urgently asked to join a band due to support Alice Cooper all around Europe, and would mean leaving the next week…
I thought my dreams were coming true! The tour was amazing, we played like there was no tomorrow, we were filled with so much hope of ‘making it’… but over the next three years, the grim reality of the music industry came crashing down on me and the tensions within the band were making my life incredibly difficult. Once confident and optimistic, now I was hurt and resentful. I felt weak and insecure of my own ability. I was totally lost, without any direction. And what’s more, my source of strength, the hope of my dreams had been completely shattered.
It seems evident to me now how God had been trying to speak to me for a while, however it took meeting a beautiful girl for Him to get my attention.
She knew I needed a church and though miles away, she kept encouraging me. Every excuse I made God swiftly removed, until one day I get my attention. I can’t tell you how I ended up in conversation with her as the whole thing is a blur, though I do know God’s hand was on every step of that night and I’m still adamant the guy I talked to at the bar was an angel! As our relationship began to develop, she started to share more and more about her life and the horrific things she’d been through. The more stories, the more I heard about how God had rescued and protected her, had strengthened and provided for her. It seemed she had far more trust in God than most of us do in our friends and families. I never once questioned the validity of her words and despite being stubborn to her initial offers of prayer, her absolute hope in God was pure nourishment to the broken state of my soul. This said, there still lay a big void between where I was at and God, or any understanding of how God would reach me.
There were so many young people, some I had frequently seen out and about in town. It immediately started to repaint my perception of what a Christian looked like. As did the peace and positive attitude that seemed to fill the place. My previous experiences at church had been few, in the little village I grew up and whilst lovely I’m sure, I can honestly say I don’t remember a word that the Vicar said. This time however it seemed as though God was speaking directly to my heart and calling me to question where I was and what I was doing with my life. Every week I kept going back. It seemed as though God knew exactly who I was and how to touch the depths of my soul. I’d heard people speak about having a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus and though hard to comprehend, as time went on I started to relate to what they were talking about. It seemed like this Jesus really knew me and wanted for me to know Him.int after being told by three different people in two days "You should be going to church mate"! That Sunday I made sure I went to one off the list she had recommended and the whole thing blew my mind.
Things started coming to a head with the band and at the same time God told me something that changed my life. “I made you with a purpose James. I have a plan for your life”, He asked me “Do you trust me?”. I must have spent the whole of the next week praying, wrestling hard with the implications, but in one moment it all fell from my head to my heart and for the first time, I felt peace.
Stepping blindly into 2004, knowing nothing other than… Jesus loves me, He made me for a reason and He has a plan. His instructions were simple… “Follow your heart, keep your eyes on me at all times and don’t worry. I will provide”. The last 6 years have been a crazy adventure, one that has lead me to places I never would have gone and along paths I never would have trod. Even though life has been far from easy, taking that leap of faith is the best thing I ever did.
On January 5th 2008 I woke up in the pitch black knowing instantly that something was very wrong. I turned to my husband Darren and told him my leg felt strange and could he rub it? Ha ha - no, it wasn’t a come on! He immediately sat up to look at me and reached for the phone, I heard him say he needed an ambulance as unbeknown to me, I was slurring my words so much it I was hard to understand. I’d had a stroke.
I was 42, never smoked, hardly drank, normal blood pressure, and normal weight. The ambulance took me to QMC Emergency department where a scan confirmed what everyone could see.
My left side was paralysed and I couldn’t even sit without falling over, they catheterised me and put me on a drip. Eventually everyone had to leave me and I lay in my hospital bed listening to the strange voices and figures walking around the ward, knowing this was very serious but not feeling the slightest bit scared. I knew God was with me.
I was transferred to the specialist stroke ward at Nottingham City where I was surrounded by other people who’d suffered strokes - but they were all elderly. The next morning I could hear someone asking patients if they’d like a cup of tea, ‘’I will please’’ I said, only to find out I wasn’t allowed any food or drink as my swallowing muscles didn’t work either. It was 10 days before I was allowed to drink!
I received much prayer from my church and lots of churches and I know God answered them because within a week I was walking again and able to lift my arm - although it was a dead weight and pretty useless. At around day 10 the consultant came to see me and checked me over, he shook my hand and told me he thought I’d eventually make a full recovery, I smiled and nodded because I KNEW I would. I had lots of physiotherapy exercises to do and was allowed to go home 12 days after my stroke. But now the hard work would start. My husband had to return to work and Mum moved in for a while as I still couldn’t use my arm much so couldn’t dress or wash myself.
It’s true that in times of trouble we as Christians and non Christians turn to God for strength but I can honestly say that without God's loving care and faithfulness I don’t think I would have survived the following months. There were times I didn’t want to get out of bed to face the day and when I did I was sometimes so frightened and traumatised I couldn’t stop shaking. At these times I would kneel by my bed and pray out loud or read Psalm 91 over and over, it was a great comfort to me and I would immediately feel God's presence and his peace flow over me. I started to recover slowly over the next 6 months and returned to work 5 months after it happened, which in hindsight was too soon.
Before my stroke I was very unhappy in my job as a Beauty Therapist but I’d done it for 27years and didn’t know how to do anything else, I felt trapped in my career. I went back just two days a week. As you can imagine the money was really tight by now. I’d only received statutory sick pay and now I was earning even less than that, also Darren was on short time again at work. Then one day Mum came over with an envelope saying someone from church had said God told them to give us some money. Then the week after, we received an envelope through the post with an anonymous card with money i nit saying the same, then again the week after. All three envelopes had the same amount in and all had different writing and were from different people. God was providing for us.
I finally realised how much God loved me and wanted to take care of me. I had never felt so close to him as I did then. I knew from then on, if I just put my trust in him we would always be alright and I felt so safe.
Six weeks after leaving hospital I had rehabilitation at a local day unit. I attended for 6 weeks and they helped me a lot in my physical recovery and a year later I returned to see if they could give me advice on how to get into working in rehabilitation as I was very unhappy in my job. I’d been praying for God to help me get out of my line of work somehow. The same OT was there and he said I could do some volunteer work with him there one day a week. I did and I ended up being there 10 months I loved it and I eventually got a paid job working as a rehabilitation support worker in a hospital in Belper working with people who’d had Strokes amongst other things. God got me that job and created the opportunities that led up to it. I’m doing a job that I love and we are financially secure all down to God’s blessing.
If any of you are in terrible dark situations just look to God and pray and trust, read your Bible and stay close to him because although you might not understand why it’s happening, God IS with you and he loves you, and he WILL bring you through! "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" – Philippians 4:13
I’ve always been a Christian from an early age, I went to Sunday school at 6 years old, wore my Sunday best, pressed shorts, blazer, shirt and tie. I Attended all the services at Easter, Whitsun, Harvest Festival, Christmas, I went to all the garden fetes, beetle drives, parish events. I even grew up going to the 1st Teversal, St Catherine’s scouts attached to the local church. I always knew God had a plan for me and He has shown me a few miracles along the way.
Growing up, I was a very introverted individual, always avoiding crowds and unfamiliar situations. I was labelled as ‘a shy little boy’.
In my last year at Secondary School the Careers Officer gave me a choice of local factories or the mines, I wanted neither. So, the day after school had finished, I left home for Harrogate to start an 8 year apprenticeship as a chef in a 4* hotel. I Left before the 8 years were up to become a Chef De Guard (head of larder) and Chef Pâtissier (head of sweets, baked goods, etc.) in top hotels in the U.K. Later in my career I went from strength to strength and became an I.T. Specialist and Consultant.
When I was 16 years old and away from friends and family, I started going to a local Youth Club in Harrogate. I met a girl there, her name was Pat, she was 14 and still at school but it was love at first sight. 6 years later we married. We bought a house we couldn’t afford (a real miracle), moved in with nothing but a few family donated items and made our first purchase together, an Old English Sheepdog puppy. We had everything we needed.
Time went on and I hadn’t been to church for a few years. One Sunday Pat and I were talking about going to a local Church as we wanted to be more involved in the community. As soon as I had finished the sentence there was a knock on the door, it was our neighbour. Looking nervous she said, “I was wondering if you would like to come to Church with us on Sunday?” talk about perfect timing!! We went to that Church and became Born Again Christians. We stayed for 40 years before we joined the Rock Church where we are still serving God today. Still married to Pat with 3 amazing children. We are getting closer to God each day.
Earlier I mentioned that God has shown me some miracles along the way, here is a brief list of a few of the amazing things that God has done in my life:
• Our neighbour turning up at the door with an invite to Church, just as we were discussing it.
• A complete change of character. I went from a shy introvert to a lecturer, speaking at a convention in front of more than 250 people.
• Having an expensive pedigree pet stolen and after praying for her to return within seven days, she appeared on the doorstep on the seventh day.
• While smoking 40 cigarettes a day, making a bargain with God and stopping overnight with no withdrawal symptoms.
• Getting a job in I.T. with no formal education or relevant skills, rising to delivery manager for a £5m contract.
• While travelling from Scotland, a car travelling at over 100mph hit my car pushing me into a bridge wall at 60+ mph. My car was wrecked, but my work PC was unharmed as was the gift I had with me for my family. The passengers of the other car were unconscious, bleeding from their ears and convulsing. The driver screaming “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!!” to which I calmly replied, “It’s O.K., we’re all alive”. When the police interviewed me, the constable said, “I don’t understand, looking at your car YOU SHOULD BE DEAD!!!”. All I had was a couple of bruises from the seat belt and a scratch on my nose.
Hi, my name is Chris and I want to tell you something about my life. It didn’t start too well because at the age of four my mum died of cancer. My next door neighbours whom I called aunty and uncle used to look after me as my Dad worked away.
By the time I was eight my aunty had introduced me to a Baptist church. She took me in the morning and the evening. Eventually I went to a children’s meeting on a Thursday night called Christian Endeavour. It was here I started to really learn about Jesus. I went every week and enjoyed it.
One Thursday I will always remember, that was when the leader of the group asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus into their life. We all had our eyes closed and I knew with all my heart that I wanted to. I plucked up courage and put my hand up. I remember saying a prayer and the leader putting his hand on my head and praying for me. I was nine years old. For many years I went to church and in my teens I changed to the United Reformed Church nearer to where I lived. Like most teenagers I didn’t like getting up early on a Sunday morning so it was a bit of an hit and miss. I went to the youth meetings and enjoyed those but eventually I stopped going to both.
Over the next few years it was an emotional roller coaster for me as I lived with my auntie and uncle in the week and went home at the weekends. They had moved by this time. Life wasn’t easy as my auntie was a very controlling person and tried to turn me against my step mum and dad.
During all these years I used to pray to God and sort of knew that he was listening, but I only prayed if I needed help.
My uncle died and I went to live back home as my auntie went to live in Wales.
At 22 I married Paul and we started our married life in Clifton. After several years of marriage and two daughters I began to think about going back to church. I remember very clearly praying to God and asking him to find the right church for me that was within walking distance from my house. I thought that was a tall order but three weeks later, I was doing a crèche at the community centre (5 minutes away) when I got talking to some one who went to a Pentecostal church based in the community centre. She told me all about it and invited me along to the children’s club on a Wednesday night. I took my daughter Debs and she really enjoyed it. I went with her every week because she was so clingy.
One Wednesday I was invited to the church service, so that Sunday Debs and I went. As soon as I walked in and heard the music I knew it was right for me. It didn’t take me long to rededicate my life to God. Seven months later, Paul came in and accepted Jesus into his life. We were now a family going to church.
God changed my life dramatically over the following 23 years, he began to give me confidence to do things I never imagined I could do. I got involved with the children’s club and eventually ended up leading it for 11 years. I went into several schools in Clifton and did assemblies, I ended up heading that for many years. I also got involved in the worship team and became worship leader for a number of years.
I could never have achieved any of this without Jesus in my life, he changed me from always wanting to be at the back, into a confident person able to do things in front of many people. Most of all I have learnt that God never lets you down, he has never failed me. Over the years people have let me down badly but God never has. I have grown to trust him in all things, I know he loves me like no one else can. Being a Christian doesn’t mean life is going to be easy, but it does mean you have a God who will help you through all things.
Joining The Rock church is the next part of our Christian journey, we are very excited about what God is going to do. I know once again that God is going to take me into things I never thought I would be doing.
Real Christianity is never boring!
The Rock Hub
13-15 Wellin Lane
Notts NG12 4AS
Tel/Text: 07913 426051