Andy’s Story

Sliders template.001I was born a long time ago and was brought up a Roman Catholic – this I believe gave me a good basis (it could also have put me off) for my faith although I always believed it to be a faith based on fear not love. God was real but distant and I had not grasped the real living significance of Jesus nor understood the role of the Holy Spirit.  When I went to teacher training college in 1968 I moved away from church although I was still drawn to attending Christmas and Easter services when I was at home.
I met Jo when I was in my second year of teaching, we got married and in the early 1980’s we produced two lovely daughters (we think). In 1982 Jo and I decided to apply for a teaching exchange in Australia, so we set off for Adelaide at the end of 1983 with a 3 year old and a 1 year old – it made traveling an interesting experience. Unfortunately half way through 1984 it was discovered I had cancer… it was a pivotal life changing time. Although the process from obtaining an accurate diagnosis and starting a program of treatment was lengthy it was during this time I made the decision to explore who this God really was, who kept drawing me to Him. After a number of major operations and lengthy treatment I recovered. When I returned from Australia I ‘found’ St. James (or maybe it found me) and started attending regularly …Jo and I brought our ‘girls’ and they attended Sunday school. For me, my developing faith was a slow process …it was being invited to a house group (John and Eileen Oliver’s) that helped me to explore more deeply what being a Christian is really about – serving God. By nature I am a shy person and I must admit I was a little overawed in these situations and felt a little awkward trying to praise God when singing from tape recordings (CD’s now) – we weren’t exactly a top choir…but being in that group made me realise that God chooses all kinds of different people to follow him.
One of my prayers when I was first told I was ill was that I would see Alex and Maddy grow up and also, being a keen cricket fan, to score a century…I can report that prayer has been answered, praise the Lord.
When I retired from teaching with ill-health at the age of 51 I found the transition to retirement very hard and became depressed. This is part of my story and the outcome of this has been to realise we don’t have to do life on our own (a man thing?). We can share all of our life with the God who created us and showed us how to live our life through the life of Christ. God never promised everything would be easy but He promised to be with us and walk with us when we feel lost and when life feels good – in fact all aspects of our life. And importantly I was able to share about my ‘illnesses’ with people at St. James, – their prayer and support was an important part of my recovery.
I lead a small group and, although challenging, find it very rewarding as our group explore our faith. I look forward to the future worshipping at St. James.