Thumb (December 2012)
I really enjoyed coming over and it was encouraging when Sarah prayed for my thumb. I didn’t explain anything to her but she prayed exactly the right words which perfectly described the sensation in my thumb at the time. The amazing thing is that all the twinges and odd sensations disappeared and the only thing that remained was the aching which was not what was worrying me.Praise God that he still heals today! I mentioned this to a couple of guys at the pub the following week including Oli – who doesn’t have a faith but used to be dragged along to a church in Cheltenham by his girlfriend. He was obviously challenged and said “if God heals my toe then maybe I’ll start to consider his existence”. I’m still praying for that!
Nathan’s Story (November 2012)
Nathan is a member of our church. He was a miracle baby. Here is his mother’s account of the pregnancy:
We had been married for 10 years and for 8 of those years, we had regularly asked God for a baby, but the longed for baby did not come. One morning my husband, Robert, prayed “Lord, whatever it takes, please give us a baby” . I believe the ‘whatever it takes’ was the key. Within a few weeks, I went to our GP who told me that I was 5 months pregnant. However, a scan the next day revealed that in fact I had an ovarian cyst the size of a large melon plus there was a ‘black dot’ in my womb which could indicate a very early pregnancy. The doctor told me that I would need urgent surgery to remove the cyst and that the baby would ‘just abort itself’ around that time. Heartbroken, we went home – it seemed that what might be our only chance to have a baby had come and now was about to go. Devastated, we prayed (as did our family and friends).
The surgeon rang us the next morning and suggested that, as we’d been trying for a baby for so long, he would not operate immediately but would give the pregnancy a chance and then remove the cyst when I was around 16 weeks pregnant. He said that, although there would still be heavy risks, it was the safest time for the baby. I had had a number of very early miscarriages and so was extremely worried that it would happen again. A further scan was arranged for two weeks later. The day before this, I started to bleed heavily. My heart sank again but the scan revealed that the baby was growing normally. I was 5 weeks pregnant, and I was told to continue to rest.
From then on, I had regular scans at which I was told all was well with the baby, but because I was pregnant the cyst was growing at a very fast pace and would have to be removed as there was no room for the baby to grow.
Many people prayed for us at that time, many of whom we didn’t even know. That really kept us going. I was afraid to get excited about the baby as always in the back of my mind was the worry that something would happen and I would lose him. I saw the surgeon at 12 weeks and he said that the cyst was now the size of a very large rugby ball but that he would take it out when I was 16 weeks pregnant as originally planned. He warned me that the risks to the baby were great but that there was no option – if the cyst wasn’t removed, the baby wouldn’t make it anyway.
The due date for the operation arrived – I was in my theatre gown ready for the operation with the pre-med tablet on the bedside cabinet. The operation was scheduled for 3pm. I was in a state of panic. I knew that God always shows up in time and I was very aware that He was with me then but I must admit that I did question why He hadn’t removed the cyst Himself rather than let me have an operation and risk losing the baby.
During the morning, the surgeon came to examine me. He declared that he could feel the baby – something that none of the medical staff had been able to do before. He said that ‘something has been going onâ’ and an immediate scan was arranged. An hour or so later, I was told that the cyst had shrunk down to the size of an orange and was on one side. Tests were carried out to make sure that I was okay as the contents of this cyst had (in the medical staff’s words) “gone somewhere and probably into my bloodstream, and I could die” . But all was completely clear and I was allowed to go home. I left that ward at 3pm that afternoon (the scheduled time for my operation). God always shows up on time!
We are so thankful to God that, on a beautiful summer’s day, our son was born safe and well. We named him Nathan which means ‘Gift from God’. Tests afterwards revealed that had I not had that very large cyst, I would almost certainly have lost him in an early miscarriage as I needed the hormones that the cyst released in order to maintain the pregnancy. We had prayed “whatever it takes” – the cyst was what it took!
Praise God He always shows up exactly on time. I questioned God on many occasions during the pregnancy, especially during the first four months. But He’s a loving God and He understands everything we’re going through. He assures us that He’s in control and He will bring us through – we just have to put ourselves in His hands and trust Him. He may bring us to the brink, as with me while I was waiting for the operation that day. There seems to be nowhere else to go – we feel we’re at the end of ourselves and we don’t know what to do. We can’t escape or get out of the situation, but it’s then that we have to trust Him and we discover that He’s already there with His arms around us, taking us through.
My prayer for you would be that whatever burden you may be facing at this time or in the future – whether it be ill health, problems in your Church, your family, in your work or whatever, that you will be able to trust God completely, knowing that He will show up and bring you through.
Maggie’s Story (November 2012)
Maggie reaffirmed her baptism last Sunday at Mariners by being totally immersed in water! It was quite an occasion! Here’s her story…
My walk in faith has been a rocky one. I was christened and confirmed as a child and attended church regularly until my mid-teens, when I started to find it uninteresting and no one else my age seemed to go. Some years later, I had a failed marriage and 3 children; I used to dread what problems would be thrown at me each day and couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. As time went by, I started to think that if there was a God, he was punishing me for all the things I’d done wrong and I didn’t want to believe in a God who did that.
A couple of years ago, the church I had attended as a child was threatened with closure and I wondered whether I should start to attend again, but pushed it to the back of my mind.
Last year God sent a messenger to me in the form of a new dance partner. We talked a lot about Christianity but I still had my doubts. One night I was having a bad dream in which I was begging for someone to help me but no one would. Just when I thought there was no hope, I saw a vision of Jesus; I shouted out to him “I believe!” I immediately woke up. I saw lights on one side of my room and was overcome with emotion. My faith was renewed from that moment and I now know that He has been there for me all along; He just needed me to invite Him back into my life and ask Him for help.
I thank the Lord that I have been blessed in so many ways. I have 3 beautiful daughters and a granddaughter and am so much happier with my life. I know that when I have a problem I can ask my Heavenly Father to help me through it and He does. I feel more positive about things, my self-confidence is growing, I am more calm and I smile a lot more.
Encountering God (October 2012)
From a member at Mariners on Sunday 21 October (used with permission)… “I was very blessed by both the worship and Mal on Sunday. I could feel the Holy Spirit vibrating on both of my hands, which I’ve never felt before. I felt completely tired and drained going into church and totally refreshed and energised as I left church! It was a supernatural experience unlike any I’ve ever had and I am grateful for it”.
Encountering God (October 2012)
A visiting preacher told us this first hand story last weekend –
An Afghan Muslim was sitting in his car parked by the side of the road. A man dressed in white came over and tapped on the car window. He wound down the window and the man told him to move his car from where it was to a place he directed him to on the other side of the road.
In Afghanistan, you usually do as you’re told : otherwise, you might get shot! So, the man dutifully moved his car as directed. He then fell asleep in the car. Later, when he woke up, the whole side of the road where his car had been parked had disappeared! The road had been swept away by an avalanche and, if he had not moved, he and his car would have been swept away!
He later told the Imam what had happened and asked him who the man in white could possibly have been. The Imam replied “It was probably Jesus, but don’t tell anyone!” The Muslim has since become a Christian.
Financial Provision (October 2012)
A member of Mariners tells this story…
I’ve had a problem with one of my teeth for a while now, but I never went to the dentist out of fear. Not just the ‘usual’ fear of all things dentist, but the cost. I was so scared that they said I would have to get all this work done at an astronomical cost that I just couldn’t afford. So today at work I was munching on a biscuit when I felt a crack – lo and behold my troublesome tooth had cracked! It was ok for a few minutes, but then it started stinging. I felt like I had no choice but to get to a dentist.
I started calling around, and everyone was saying that they weren’t taking on NHS patients, but they would happily take me on as a private patient (‘I’m sure you are!’ I thought!) I reluctantly made an appointment for tomorrow with one of them, not knowing how on earth I was going to pay the at least £60 just to get seen and the tooth taken out. I also called the emergency dental centre by the docks and they said unless I had a serious facial injury they couldn’t see me. I felt like giving up…….
On my way home, I felt the Holy Spirit directing me to go to the emergency dental centre. I tried to reason with the argument presented to me earlier, but the push was strong so that I went. It turns out that the lady I had spoken to earlier was at the reception desk. ‘Well that’s my chance gone’ I thought. I told her my story again, and she reiterated that she wouldn’t be able to help me. She decided to take my details anyway, and when I told her my name, she exclaimed what a wonderful name it was. I smiled (well I tried! Lol). She then said that someone was definitely watching over me because one of the dentists was now free (as if by magic?!?!?) She then asked me to fill out some forms, and asked if I was on benefits. I said no, and then waited for her to tell me how many millions of pounds my treatment was going to cost…… ‘Well lets start off with £17.50 consultation fee and then we can take it from there…..’
So I went in, and the tooth was taken out as I expected. When I was done, I went and waited at reception to find out how much I had to pay. The receptionist asked me if I was all done and if I wanted a taxi. I said ‘no’, to which she replied ‘well, off you go then!’ I waved my debit card at her, feeling a little confused. She told me to go home, and that I didn’t have to pay for anything else! God is so good! I had spent the whole day trying to calculate how I would pay for the treatment, while he was warming the heart of the lady at the centre to show me favour by the time I got there!
Mike’s Story (September 2012)
Mike is a member of our church. He has now been a Christian for a year. Here, he tells a bit of his story…
I’m ashamed, when I look back, of where I was in my life. I had left my wife and small lad. It was a thoroughly “Godless” thing to do, but I knew no better. I was hedonistic and a thrill seeker. But, I wasn’t happy. Well, I was superficially happy; I earned well and bought “stuff” to cheer me up.
I was at a family Christening in Rotherhithe with my little boy. He’s been a constant for me in the past year. I wasn’t particularly interested in going to the Christening – churches are boring right? My Mum is a committed Christian and her faith seemed to be helpful to her, but it was absolutely the furthest thing from my mind. However, as I entered the church and sat down, the sense of calm and acceptance seemed palpable. I could almost taste the calm. It was a “high Anglican” church, incense and candles aplenty! I enjoyed the service. I felt calm and I spoke with the priest afterwards. Despite my many failings, I really felt welcome. As I drove home, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that perhaps I was wrong, perhaps God was there after all. I reasoned (and I am a completely logical person – too many years of computer programming!) that there was nothing that I could invent today that would be remembered (let alone practiced) in 2000 years time. Was I wrong all along?
I decided to go to a local church where I had gone 5 years earlier for a Christening; all I recall was that it was charismatic. I just sat and wept through the first service; it was as though the speaker was talking to me. That sense continued at the services – as though the speaker each time was talking just to me when I went.
I started an Alpha course after two weeks (again, amazing timing, perhaps God was lining this all up!) and I can honestly say my life was transformed. The most obvious sign I got was the healing I received on the Alpha weekend. I had arthritis in my left knee. The pain was daily and debilitating. I was seriously giving thought to getting a stick for the days where the pain was too bad. A church member on the Alpha weekend noticed me hobbling and asked if I wanted healing. Naturally I did but was slightly dubious, as we had just done the Saturday afternoon part of Alpha where we invite the Holy Spirit to come and I had experienced no noticeable change. But I figured it couldn’t hurt. The healing was almost instant. I can now walk and bend the knee; I have had almost no pain since then. I am not given to over egging things, I’m not prone to hyperbole but to me, this was God saying “Ok Mike. You want a sign from me, try this!”. I’m hearing you God, loud and clear.
I have now surrendered my life to Jesus and I am trusting God to help me forge a new life. I’m happy for Him to lead and I will follow. He knows what is best for me. I would NEVER have thought that I would become a Christian; it’s just not something that the old me would have done.
Back pain (August 2012)
Mike came to the midweek service. He asked for prayer after the service. At the weekend, he had swivelled round on a chair and stooped to pick up a reference book off the floor, as he was preparing a talk. He could not get back up again! That morning, he needed help getting his socks on! He could not bend forward very far at all.
We prayed for him and he tested it out. He was able to reach down and almost touch his toes!
Back (June 2012)
Rachel got back from holiday. Her back was really bad because she sustained a whiplash type injury from a ‘death slide’, a high speed slide at the leisure pool while away on holiday – apparently it happens a lot! Rachel had aggravated a previous lower back injury that resulted from a car crash several years earlier. A poor bed while away hadn’t helped either.
She was in a lot of pain and worried about how she was going to manage Zumba classes. We prayed for her back and she was able to move it much more freely immediately. The next day it wasn’t so good, so a couple of us went to pray for her back again. Rachel later reported that her back had withstood two vigorous Zumba classes during which she used some back support but no painkillers. The following day, she reported that there was some stiffness but no serious pain! It has since improved with each passing day.
God’s Presence (June 2012)
Someone who attended last Sunday morning’s service said, “…enjoyed the whole experience; always lovely people to chat to. I always encounter the Holy Spirit when at Mariners and today was no exception. Good sermon…a very timely talk and, combined with the prayer time, fruitful (I hope). I love the way you lead us to applying it in our lives. Thanks”
Crohns Disease (Apr 2012)
A member of our church went to a school reunion weekend about two years ago. One friend (Linda) was unable to come downstairs as she had celebrated with her friends the night before and now could not move much due to her illness. Linda described it as, ‘crohns with a side order of something they [doctors] could not put a name to!’ Crohns is an inflammatory bowel disease causing a wide variety of symptoms but, typically, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and weight loss. The experts say, “There is no known pharmaceutical or surgical cure and treatment options are restricted to controlling symptoms”. Linda had suffered with it for many years and said, “I had been to about 5 specialists and had had so many tests” .
Rachel went up to see her in her bedroom. She quietly prayed for Linda’s illness (and Rachel continued to do so after she went home). She did not think much more of the weekend until she posted a Christian rap on Facebook recently, and Linda was the first person to ‘like’ it. In the course of conversation, Linda said she was now a ‘Closet Christian’ and went on to say, “Remember I was ill at the reunion? I have suffered for years and I don’t know what you said to HIM but I haven’t had a single attack since – could be coincidence but who knows – My husband is an atheist but he said I was meant to be ill when you were there!!!”
Eye Injury (April 2012)
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in May 2011, I was tying the mast of our sailing dinghy to the roof of my car. Not feeling the need for my large ratchet straps, I decided to use elasticated bungey cords with metal hooks on the end – often referred to as monkey straps. I placed the mast on the roof and secured one end of the cord to one of the roof rails. I then stretched the cord over the mast and was in the process of attaching it to the opposite roof rail when the first side sprung free at full stretch and flew across the full width of the car with the metal hook hitting me square in the right eye.
It felt like I had been shot in the eye, and the pain was extraordinary. I put my hands over my eye and ran through our courtyard and collapsed on my knees on the lawn cupping my eye in complete agony. I knew I couldn’t see anything, so the temptation was to panic but amazingly I found myself repeating over and over “Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!” Interestingly, my wife Steph came to try and comfort me, and all she could hear was a deep groaning, the likes of which she had never heard before. All I knew at that time is that blood and a clear liquid was pouring from my eye socket, and that I had been completely blinded.
Because I was on the verge of passing out, Steph and our neighbour called an ambulance which duly arrived and took me to the A & E in Cheltenham. My two young boys were so traumatised by my appearance, that they went to friends whilst Steph followed in my car. When I arrived at the hospital, Andy (friend from Mariners church) very kindly turned up having been called by Steph and prayed for me there and then in A & E. I specifically remember him praying for renewal rather than repair of the eye, which I felt was significant.
I went in to see the doctor, who was so blown away by the mess that he called in three other doctors to have a look at the eye, as they had never seen that sort of damage before. He asked me if I could see anything, and I told him that all I could see was a sort of white light with dancing shadows out of that eye. I was given two types of steroid eye drops and told to go to bed for 7 days and to lie at a 45 degree angle so that the internal bleeding in the eye which had pooled at the bottom could drain.
The following day I had a full scan on the eye and, amazingly, the retina which had previously been thought to be detached was perfect. I still couldn’t see anything, but this was good news. I lay in bed that day and the following day watching the odd film – or at least half of an odd film out of my one good eye! I still had no sight in the injured eye at all.
By the Wednesday, I am afraid to say I was bored, and gingerly started to work from my laptop downstairs despite protestations from others. I was pretty immobile however, as I had to be very careful not to jolt my eye in any way. On Friday, Steph drove us all down to Devon, for a long weekend which I had booked as holiday prior to the accident. It was then that an extraordinary thing started to happen. I started to see throughout the day, but only in black and white. It was a very odd experience. If I shut my damaged eye, everything looked as it should. By only looking through my damaged eye, it was like looking at the world in 1924 with a black and white screen and flecks dancing across my sight! My vision got better and better from that point onwards, but with no colour at all. It was 2 weeks before I woke up one morning with all the colour back in my eye. My pupil had been very distended by the accident, but this too was reducing in size and starting to look a bit like the other one.
One of my follow up doctors told me that they had seen five eye patients following accidents with monkey grips before me – one had died (the hook had gone through the eye socket into the brain), two had lost the eye ball and the other two retained the eye ball but had lost sight. I was the exception!
I feel extremely blessed. It could have been so much worse and I know I was being protected.
Two morals to this story:
1. Be careful with monkey grips!
2. God is good and faithful!!
I enclose a handsome photo taken in A & E about an hour after the accident! The bruising looked a lot worse the following day, but is definitely not suitable for minors!!
Back from the Dead (April 2012)
This story was carried by the BBC website and by the Sun on Sunday…
Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba says his recovery after suffering a cardiac arrest has been “more than a miracle”. The emotional soccer star, 24, was speaking for the first time since he collapsed and ‘died’ on the pitch in front of millions of TV viewers.
Revealing a 3in scar on his chest where doctors inserted a zapper to restart his heart if it stops again, the Bolton and England Under-21 midfielder said: “What happened to me was really more than a miracle.”
Muamba was ‘dead’ for 78 mins – Bolton doctor tells BBC Sport’s Dan Roan. Muamba, a devout Christian, added: “I am walking proof of the power of prayer. For 78 minutes I was dead and even if I lived was expected to have suffered brain damage. But I’m very much alive and sitting here talking now. Someone up there was watching over me. On the morning of the game I prayed with my father and asked God to protect me – and he didn’t let me down.”
Muamba’s recovery has been so impressive he was able to return home from hospital last Monday just over a month since the ordeal.
He has little recollection of receiving treatment on the pitch during the FA Cup game at White Hart Lane, or being taken to London Chest Hospital, but was able to describe the moments shortly before he collapsed.
“I had no pain whatsoever,” he said. “No clutching at my chest or tightness like you see when people have heart attacks in movies. Just an odd feeling that’s impossible to explain.
“Then I started to see double. It was almost like a dream.
“I just felt myself falling through the air and then felt two big thumps as my head hit the ground in front of me then that was it. Blackness, nothing. I was dead,” he added.
Alcohol Addiction (April 2012)
Here’s the story of someone connected to Mariners…
A year ago, 10th April 2011, you were speaking. You spoke again about addictions and drawing a line in the sand. You’d said something similar months back and what you said really spoke to me then, but after a while I found myself kind of smudging over the line and re-drawing it again, and again.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with alcohol for as long as I’ve been old enough to drink it (possibly a little longer!). In a very difficult home, alcohol being offered meant that dad was in a good mood so things were safe – it was a signal that, for tonight, things were going to be ok. Both my parents grew to drink quite heavily – my mum especially. She died of pancreatic cancer which is usually alcohol related. When my children were young, I stopped drinking for a couple of years and then started again – but it was only ever going to be a ‘few’. Over the years, I’ve gone through stages of lighter drinking, then drinking more, then trying to ease off, but somehow I guess it became easier to get used to drinking more. When my daughter went to Uni, I kind of fell apart – loads of difficult stuff from my past came up, and I ended up with depression and seeing a counsellor (a very messy time, perhaps that’s another testimony in the making). Alcohol became very easy anaesthetic – that blissful moment in the evening when I could open that bottle of wine and make all the horrible messy feelings and memories and thoughts go away …
Long story short – by last April I’d had several serious attempts at giving up on my own, but it never lasted – there was always ‘tomorrow’, there was always a reason to reward myself with a drink for something that had gone well, there was always a reason to comfort myself with a drink – I ‘deserved’ one ‘because of a rubbish day ‘ …
That Sunday last year several things came together. You talked about telling someone so that they could keep you accountable, but also as an act of obedience to God. I was also very excited, but aware, of the imminent birth of my granddaughter – I had a vivid memory of my mother nearly dropping my son as a baby when she’d been drinking and I so desperately didn’t want to be that woman. I also wanted to be available at anytime if needed – not having to apologise because I’d been drinking and couldn’t drive. There was also something that’s hard to put into words but it was part of actually being there with you all that Sunday, but I remember this amazing feeling of belonging – like the strength and support in being part of a team, even if they didn’t know what I was struggling with – I just remember feeling safe and supported with the rest of the team there.
Well, it’s been a year now and in some ways it’s been amazingly easy, but in others it’s been hard – I’ve felt very guilty and ashamed for ever getting in a mess with alcohol; I realised how much alcohol had cushioned my depression – anti-depressants have helped, but without alcohol it’s shocked me how quickly the darkness can bite in if I forget to take them. (Saying that, recently – VERY recently – that seems to be easing at last)
My relationship with my daughter has grown so much this year. Some of that growth has come from me not drinking and her seeing the change in me. That’s been amazing. My other daughter has also been so supportive – she’s been the one who’s helped me to turn around from feeling ashamed and guilty, and told me a different way of seeing it. She said quite recently that this last year has been my ‘story’ – she helped me to see that, without God, this could never have happened. I’d proved that with my failed efforts to go it alone.
From that day a year ago, I haven’t needed detox, I’ve had no medical or specialist help, I never really struggled – there have been times when I’ve had to acknowledge that I miss it, but then I’ve just had to accept it’s not for me and that’s been ok. I’ve never had any problems being with other people drinking. Hearing my daughter say how proud she is of me has to have been one of my loveliest moments.
I cannot get my head round how much has changed this last year. I’ve said about my lovely relationship with one daughter, but not drinking has meant I’ve been totally available for my other daughter who’s had quite a difficult year. I’ve had the freedom to build an amazing relationship with my granddaughter free from the blight of alcohol. My relationship with my husband has changed through this too.
Thank you for being such an amazing catalyst last April – your obedience in preparing your talk and listening to God, led to a HUGE turn around in my walk with him and, as my daughter said, led to my ‘story’ of what God’s done, and is doing, for me.
Macular Degeneration (April 2012)
In late February 2012, Heather went to her GP because her eyesight was deteriorating. She was referred to the hospital where she was diagnosed with macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is apparently a painless eye condition that leads to the gradual loss of central vision, which is used while reading, writing and driving. It can’t be cured.
Heather’s eyes have been tested four times in the past month. She could only read the top line of the sight chart – and even then, only 2 of the 3 large letters there.
We prayed for Heather on a couple of Sundays, after our service. She thought her sight had subsequently improved. A couple of days later, Heather had a further sight test and she was able to read the first 4 lines on the sight chart! She was overjoyed. She told the optician that she should not really be surprised at the improvement as she is a Christian and had received prayer for her condition. Apparently, the optician wished Heather luck and she thought to herself “It’s not about luck!”