Portugal 3
of Lancing, West Sussex

I had to leave my parents home in a hurry (long story but not my doing) and I eventually found a bedsit to live in. It was horrid and nasty and I didn't look after it or myself. I was far from God. My mother came to visit and told me that I either had to clear it up or come back home. Going back home was not an option and neither was cleaning up at the time. To appease her in some way I agreed to go to the meeting at The Salvation Army that Sunday evening, mainly because I felt sorry for her. The sermon was about a garden of weeds that choked all the flowers that had once grown there. It spoke to me. It became clear that I had allowed my garden of life to become a garden of weeds. I resolved there and then to clean up my life and begin to straighten things out. I never returned home but I got my flat in order and began to grow beautiful flowers in my heart and work hard to keep out the weeds. That is about it. Ever since I have worked hard to keep the weeds down and let the flowers grow


(by the abused child of Christian parents)
(Naomi Grace*)

(*Nom de plume)


What is love?
The gentle arms of a hug when I am frightened,
Or the forced experience demanded of me in a world of abuse?
Is it the warm, safe feeling from a favourite grandparent,
Or the cold, vicious retaliation when I am not as good as I should be?
Is love what happens when I achieve something, however small,
Or is it the punishment received when I didn’t do as well as expected?
Daddy loved me-
He showed me he did - That’s what he said he was doing
He gave me presents and laughed a lot on holiday
And hurt me sometimes - but it was because he loved me
He said so!
I was taught to believe my parents:
He said so - I believed him.
Daddy told me to be a good girl
And if I loved him enough, I wouldn’t get hurt.
Maybe I was a bad girl, because he still hurt, even when I thought I
was loving him enough.
Daddy told me I was special
Daddy told me we had a special secret and not to tell.
Daddy loved me
Was that love? What is love?
I need someone to show me –
Someone I can trust to lead me to the truth.

I was asked to think about writing something of my experience
with a two-fold purpose and hope: Firstly, that it may be of help
to someone who may be going through a similar situation and,
secondly, that it may also help me to come to terms with my
own circumstances.

I was brought up in a Christian family, but this was also a very
abusive situation. Over thirty years on from the initial abuse, I
still find much of it difficult to handle and clam up at the thought
of having to talk about it. I have been told that this is a ‘normal’
reaction - but I often don’t even feel that I know what ‘normal’ is.
And I am not entirely sure I know what love is. I know intellectually
what it is supposed to be, but the experiences of so-called ‘love’ that
I had when I was growing up always ended in hurt, mistrust and
insecurity - all the things that love is not.

Sometimes I feel that I am all alone in a type of “living hell” and yearn
for a way out. However, I know that I am not alone. There are other
people in the same boat; there are people who are willing to help. I was
told recently that there are around “6,631,174,475 people living in the
world…Not every one of them would want to help or could help, but
thousands would.” So, I believe that somewhere, somehow, someone
is going to help me get through this.

The Early Years
“Be a good girl!” “It’s our little secret.” “Don’t tell – You’ll be taken away.”…
These little phrases, and more, were to be the foundations on which I
was to build the early years of my life. And, even now, they are proving
difficult to change. How does one change the foundations of a building
without destroying the building itself? In the same way, how do I change
the beliefs, feelings and memories which have been with me from childhood
without pulling my whole life and being apart?

I was born over thirty years ago into a Christian family and my father was a
church minister at that time and my mother was also very involved in his
church activities. I had two younger brothers and we had the same
relationship as most siblings. We had our little arguments, but not too
many of the “nuclear fall-out” fights. I remember being really happy
around them and we loved our annual holidays with our grandparents,
to whom we were very close.

However, there was something which wasn’t quite as it seemed within
the family home. I don’t remember exactly when the abuse on my father’s
part began, but I do recollect the house in which we lived at the time. We
moved to that house when I was two years old. Dad was fun much of the
time, but there was just as much time when he really frightened me. It
was like having two separate fathers. At our church, he was everyone’s
favourite pastor. At home, he was sometimes my ‘favourite daddy’ but,
more often than not, he was my ‘scary daddy’.

As kids, we didn’t miss out on the material things that our friends had,
and we never went without food, clothes, toys, and goodies, even if
my father didn’t have the best paid job in the world. The one thing I
did miss out on, however, was my childhood and the innocence that
comes with it - the type of childhood that ‘normal’ children have.

At that age I should never have known about sexual experiences and
feelings, even if I didn’t understand them fully. I certainly should not
have known about the things in which I was being made to participate.

I was always being told that I was “Daddy’s special girl” and that he
needed to show me how much he loved me. He also used to say that,
if he was hurting me, then it was because I didn’t love him enough.

He would take every opportunity he could to “give his special cuddles”,
whether it was bath time, bed time, out in the garden or in one of
those little photo booths… There was nowhere I could go to escape
from him - After all, he was supposed to look after me and protect
me, so he wasn’t going to let me out of his sight, was he?

During my father’s years as a minister, we seemed to move house
rather a lot. Each time I would hope and dream that things would
be different and that Dad would suddenly become my “favourite daddy”
permanently. Nothing changed! But then, at least, things couldn’t
get any worse - or could they?

How wrong we are sometimes! In the next house (where I lived from
the ages of five to eight.), I had the additional horror of abuse from a
baby-sitter couple. Obviously, this aroused a huge amount of confusion.
Daddy did it because he loved me, but why were they doing it?

I used to dread them coming, and would try and make mum stay by
saying that I didn’t feel well - She never stayed. Mum always used to
put us to bed so we would already be there when they arrived. I
would hear the floorboards creak, then the door open, and would then
know that it was all going to start.

I’m not sure whether this situation was worse than that with my
father, or not. With hindsight some of the things I had to do in order
to be classed as a ‘good girl’ were certainly worse. However, at the
time, I was drowning in so much confusion that this thought process
would have been non-existent. And the fact that I believe there was
some sort of camera in the room certainly fills me with horror now.
The abuse here was from both man and wife; sometimes I was only
a spectator, but at other times I also had to participate - and that
participation became more and more intense over those years. If I
didn’t do as I was told, I was a ‘naughty girl’ and was locked in the
cupboard on the upstairs landing. It was a frightening place to be
for a young child - it was dark and, on one occasion, a spider dropped
on to my arm (which is probably why I have a fear of being locked in
small spaces and spiders today). In addition, I was never totally safe
from the couple in there, as he would often come into the cupboard
with me.

During the ordeals with this couple, I learnt to ‘switch off’ (or dissociate)
and block out what was happening. All my senses would cease to
work and my mind would go to a different place - I don’t know where,
but I certainly was not involved in the activities which were happening
to me at the time.

As a child I would often play hide and seek. If I found a really good
hiding place, I would feel safe and knowing that no one was going to
find me easily would give me a certain power over them. Maybe
these times of dissociation were similar -“No one can harm me when
I’m invisible.” In recent months, one particular person has been a
great help to me in trying to find reasons for some of the things I’ve
been through and how I have reacted. Speaking of the dissociation
as a child, it was suggested to me that “a child doesn’t have the
resources to run away and be self-sufficient…where would she run
to that she wouldn’t be brought back. Adults are too strong for her
to refuse their advances but if she was invisible…ah, that is the
answer. In later life the abused tries to be of no worth, to be
worthless (and that can take different forms, like being totally
withdrawn to the other extreme where the person becomes offensive)
thereby proving, they think, that they aren’t worth knowing.
Then, detached from people, nothing horrible can happen to them.”

I remember feeling that the toys in my room were watching and
laughing at me. The babysitters used to sing “Half a pound of
Tuppenny Rice…” during some of their rituals, and I have hated that
nursery rhyme ever since. We had a jack-in-the-box which played the
same tune and I hid it so that no one would play with it. They spoilt
something which, to a child, would have been an enjoyable part of their
play and learning experience. From this point on my childhood dreams
turned to nightmares, both reliving the experiences exactly and/or
mixing up all the different aspects and thoughts linked to the situations
I was experiencing - feelings which were scrambling for a place in my
mind, fighting to be uppermost in my thoughts, playing with my
memories and adding to the confusion which was already a big part of
me. The pictures would be flashing through my mind throughout the
nights: daddy, babysitters, soft toys, spiders, cupboards, baths … The
nightmares were a really mixed up mess.

Even now, I wonder whether my Mum knew anything. Did she know
what was happening? If so, why didn’t she do anything? Was she
under a similar kind of ‘spell’ as I was? Or was she really blissfully
unaware of what was happening under the same roof? I will never
know because I will never ask.

As we grew older and started school, things seemed to go from bad
to worse. Those babysitters were no longer around because we moved,
yet again, but Dad seemed to become more aggressive towards both
Mum and us. I would get a slap every so often, but it was usually the
eldest of my brothers who would be on the receiving end of his extreme
temper, having to suffer being hit with a belt or similar item. I did get a
few bruises from time to time, when he took the ‘good hidings’ too far,
but always managed to hide them.

This sexual and physical abuse went on until we moved to our final family
home and I was eleven years old. The full-on sexual abuse from my
father stopped rather suddenly at this point, possibly due to the fact
that thethree children had to share a room for a short time.

Even now, I actually feel quite guilty for talking about him when he
cannot answer back or give his own side of the story, as if there is a
need for loyalty, continuing to be a ‘good girl’ and keep his secret.
Maybe this feeling will pass with time but it is hard to think about a father
being this type of person rather than one who is protective and loving.

Some of the things we were taught in Sunday School and church about
God being our loving father, caring for us and protecting us were
obviously in harsh opposition to the ‘truth’ I was being bombarded
with at home. I found everything so confusing and difficult to
understand and piece together.

Now I’m a teenager
Dad taught us that the better we did things, the fewer mistakes we
made, and the prouder he would be. If I got an ‘A’ in some subjects
at school, I always had to explain why I hadn’t got ‘A’ in the others.
If my report wasn’t good enough, he wouldn’t sign it for me to take
back to school, so it had to be good. Or my handwriting was too
untidy… I thought I was doing my best, and really tried hard at school,
but it was never quite good enough.

I think I felt that I would do anything to gain his approval and then
maybe everything else would stop. I have only recently learnt that
nothing I did was ever going to lead to approval and that if I had been
100% perfect in everything, fault would have still been found.

This is the foundation on which I built and from which has resulted the
lack of self-esteem, the belief that nothing I have ever done in life is
worth anything, I am useless and feel a waste of space. I always
used to expect bad things to happen (and still do) and it seems that,
every time I thought life was better, the abuse returned. Maybe this
is what life is like!

And this wasn’t the last of it…

I had a friend who was a boy, and we did like each other as friends,
but not in a romantic/love-sick way, or so I thought. A group of us
used to go out together to the cinema or bowling etc.,. I was fifteen
and was supposed to be revising for ‘O’ levels but one of the boys was
having a party at home and I went there instead of working…We were
playing a type of hide and seek in the dark, and had to hide in couples.
(The couple doing the seeking had to guess who was with whom and
where). We went to hide in one of the bedrooms and sat behind the
door so that it wouldn’t be easily opened. We could not stop laughing.
It was hilarious! But, one thing led to another…and my mind, once
again, sped into oblivion. I was hurt, both physically and mentally,
because I thought that all that type of abuse was in the past. The
same thing happened again when he came round to my house to
apologise. A few weeks later, and following a couple of tests, I realised
that I was pregnant. This did not last long … and I have felt so guilty
and ashamed of that situation that it has only added to my lack of self-
worth and self-esteem.

Maybe he doesn’t think he was to blame and that I led him on. That’s
the question that often comes to mind. And if he thinks the same, he
won’t have a problem with what he did. Maybe I should have worn
trousers instead of a skirt; I should not have been so close to him behind
the bedroom door where we were hiding; I should not have laughed into
his chest when we were laughing so much; I shouldn’t have let him
kiss me; And should have stopped him from going any further. All these
things constantly run through my mind when the situation comes to
the forefront. I may not have contributed to it, but I can’t help feeling
that I could have done something about it (although, intellectually, I
know it wasn’t my fault, the other part of
me won’t let me believe it properly.) Yet another battle to fight!

Did I tell anyone? No! One of the problems was that his family and mine
were very close. I couldn’t do or say anything that would cause so much
disruption in the lives of several people. It was bad enough that mine
was a mess, and I couldn’t do that to people who did not deserve it.
Secondly, I do not think I would have been able to tell anyone, no
matter how hard I tried. Even if I had wanted to say something, the
phrases which were drummed into me as a child kept forcing me to
keep the secret and remain silent. The other reason was that I had
no proof: I had bathed and bathed and scrubbed myself ‘clean’ (although
I still felt dirty inside); I had disposed of the pregnancy tests and had
not consulted the doctor; and the ‘illness’ I suffered with at the time
was put down to the usual female complaints.

So, now I had a third batch of memories to squash down inside my
mind, never to be retrieved intentionally. However, like trying to
force things into a container, there comes a point when there is
so much to handle that some of it will inevitably leak out and become
difficult to handle.

This has been the case on several occasions, and I have felt the
situation to be too much … so much so, that I have tried to stop
everything by ending my life. The first time this happened, I sneaked
some of my father’s medication out of the house and took it on the
way to a church rehearsal. It was inevitable that I would end up
having to go to the hospital and having my stomach pumped. (Looking
back, as well as thinking that this was my way out, I wonder if it was
also my way of punishing him - i.e. if I took his tablets, it would be
his fault). This resulted in me having to see a child psychiatrist. My
father attended with me but, after the first visit, he told them that
I was not going any more. The second time it happened, he would
not let me go to any appointments at all. However, one of my
teachers at school did arrange for me to see someone there (I believe
she was an educational psychologist). We talked about where I grew
up, my friends and family - but I remained loyal to my father and said
nothing about any form of abuse. On both these occasions, it was my
grandfather who was there for me and who spent time with me, while
my own parents just ‘swept the incidents under the carpet.’

There have been other attempts, and the most recent ended up with
me staying in a mental health unit at the local hospital for around five
to six months. I am not going to tell you that this was one of the most
helpful times in my life because, although it did occasionally give me a
sense of safety and security, it did nothing to help me understand my
thoughts or feelings. I was ‘locked away’ where no one could hurt me,
but it was quite a lonely place to be, and the staff were too busy to be
able to spend time talking. They were not to blame for that: it was the
normal NHS situation with too many patients and not enough staff.
However, there was one positive which came from that hospital stay.
Over the months, I very slowly learnt to trust the psychiatrist to whom
I had been assigned. She was so understanding and never disregarded
anything I said, and she was to continue to be my consultant when I
was discharged from hospital. I thought that, at last, there was someone
I may be able to trust enough to actually talk about the past.
Unfortunately, this was not to last, as there was a major change in the
mental health services and she was moved to another department.

This leads me to another issue with which I have been battling. It seems
that, every time I feel that things are improving - whether the
nightmares are fewer, or I get to know someone well enough to feel
that I may be able to talk, or just feel better in myself - something
seems to bring me back to earth with a bump, so much so that I spend
my days expecting bad things to happen. Most of the time these things
would have happened any way, and nothing I did/did not do or say would
have made any difference. But the mind can be a very strange thing, and
I began to link my behaviour, actions and feelings to events, often
believing them to be the cause of those situations. Over the years I
have believed particular situations to have been my fault, when there
has been no link whatsoever!

A little older
More recently, following an extremely bad few months and a very stressful
visit to my GP, it was thought that a course of psychotherapy would be
helpful to me. All I had to do was to talk to the therapist and she would
have all the answers - so I thought. I would just tell her what happened,
bringing up each incident as it came to mind, and she would help me deal
with the memories and feelings surrounding it. But it wasn’t that easy!

After the first few sessions, I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder. I didn’t really know much about this, but have since learnt quite
a lot about the effects stressful incidents can have on one’s mind and
reactions to other events, whether or not they are related to the particular

Now I sometimes find it really difficult to separate what happened in the
past from what can happen in the future, to find some release from the
past, so that I actually have a future to look forward to. This is something
I’m finding really hard and have been trying to work through it with
the therapist The problem is that the things which happened to me
when I was younger, were at different points in life, and at specific times.
Something only has to happen, however small, to remind me of the past
and the result can be a nightmare. For example, the situation with the
‘boy friend’ was during my ‘O’ levels and now, every time I have to sit
an exam or test, it really affects me badly. I have made conscious
decisions in the past not to let all this stuff intrude on the present,
and it does work for a time until another reminder ‘slaps me in the
face’. Let me explain a little: The childhood abuse was buried way down
deep for years and years, then the assault happened during my ‘O’ levels
and everything exploded to the surface, resulting in a lot of stress and
confusion. After a couple of years, everything became buried again and
I was doing fine until my ‘A’ levels. That then brought up all the old
feelings with the additional feelings from the more recent events -
Another mess! Again, I consciously pushed things away, determined
that they weren’t going to affect me. College came, along with a
mistrust of new people, along with exams! Another gigantic explosion
with additional feelings and hurt being added on top and things just
went from bad to worse. Do you get the picture? Every time I
consciously make that effort not to let things ruin my life, something
comes along, adds to the mess inside and an even bigger explosion
than the previous one results. Every time this happens, I seem to be
less able to handle the situation. My mind is very good at playing
tricks on me. I think things are going well, then it gives me a nudge
or reminder to let me know that the ‘bad things’ are still there in my
head and can still ‘get to me’. Sometimes the reminder would be
almost negligible in ‘normal’ circumstances (like subject matter on a
TV programme); other times it almost bowls me over and I find it
hard to get up again.

My sessions with the psychotherapist have often been quite traumatic,
but I have been told that in order to deal with things properly, I will
go through a bad period of time before things begin to improve.
However, these sessions have not been without their interruptions:
It took me a very long time to trust the first therapist to whom I was
referred. I had a long break between some sessions because of my
time in the hospital then, at some point, she was due to start group
therapy sessions with around six women who had similar experiences.
I knew that, if I was to improve, I needed to talk to her before these
sessions began because I knew that I would not be able to talk about
my abuse in front of other people unless I had brought things out into
the open with the therapist first. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and,
although I felt I was not ready to be part of such a group, I continued
to be a ‘good girl’ and do as I was told. I was, once again, plunged into
a situation where I was surrounded by strangers I could not yet trust.
During the first weeks of this group therapy, I did considerably more
listening and thinking than I did speaking, but it did help to know that
I was not on my own. Unfortunately, a few weeks after commencing
the sessions, the therapist was taken ill and would be away for several
months, and a second therapist took over the group. Again this was
difficult for me, although I appreciated the fact that the therapy was
able to continue. As the weeks went on, the other group members
stopped coming to the sessions until I was on my own. Now I had
the situation of beginning one to one sessions with a new therapist
with whom I had never shared anything and had to build up trust
before I did so.

Eventually, I did grow to trust her and gradually began to talk about
the past, piece by piece, bit by bit and ever so slowly. I stumbled at times
when things became too painful to talk about. So often I tried to talk
- I wanted to talk - I needed to talk - but my defence mechanism would
immediately set to work again and blocked everything out.

I realised that I could not go on like this forever and I would need to start
talking openly and without fear. I knew that I didn’t have too long left
before the sessions would need to end and, for me, that was extremely
frightening. I did not want to be left with all this ‘stuff’ in my head
waiting to burst out when no one would be there to help. If everything
‘bubbled over’ I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it on my own.

It’s strange but, once I started, it was difficult to stop some of the things
from coming out - like when you have a pan full of spaghetti and you
can’t pull out one strand at a time. You pull on one strand and it pulls
out some of the others with it. I know there are still some ‘strands’ left,
but it seems to be like the spaghetti which sticks to the bottom of the
pan and needs to be scraped out

However, I would almost get to the point where I should be saying what
happened, instead of saying ‘when stuff happened as a kid’…and nothing
more, but then my mind would race on to what happened next and
would clam up and ‘go to my other place’. Sometimes I didn’t even feel
it happening…Sometimes I was too scared to go any further. This, I felt,
wasted the therapist’s time and I felt guilty because someone else could
have had my place. I would build up to my session, determined that the
next time I WILL SAY THIS and THAT, but then I didn’t. Then I got so
angry with myself at finding it so hard to say just a few words. Then all
the feelings of guilt, disgust, insecurity, hurt and wanting it all to stop
came flooding back. It was like a vicious circle.

Furthermore, because I had not been doing too well with the therapist, she
thought that ‘talking therapy’ was not the right course of action for me. I
felt that I just need a ‘good run’ at it. It just takes me so long to trust
someone enough that, by the time I get around to actually saying anything,
my time is up!
I was getting desperate. I just wanted everything to be over with, although
I knew the memories will never go away completely.

My time did run out. I had my final therapy session, and the despair and
sense of failure I felt that day, almost drove me to the end of the road again

…I started writing this a few days after that final session!

I know that the therapy I have had has been of some help, but I still do not
feel ready to face the fears, memories and feelings and my reactions to
them on my own. I get annoyed at myself for allowing them taking over
my life and the every-day decisions I make. I’m tired of making excuses
for not going to different places and turning down invitations. For
example, I often won’t go out with friends in case there are too many
people around; I stand up much of the time on the train to/from work
because I don’t want people to sit too close; I certainly won’t go to the
cinema and sit in the dark with people I do not know; and sometimes I
won’t even go shopping in case I panic or have a flashback. There have
been many times, on bad days, when I have really missed my Grandma
and have been out and ‘seen’ her face - but then when I have looked
again, it has been someone else. Much of the time it feels as if I am
walking around with a label on my head and that everyone is watching

Do I think this is normal? Yes and no. It does not feel normal at the
time but, I have been told that these are totally normal reactions to
have. Physical proximity is something I have learned to fear, so I don’t
sit on the crowded trains. Sitting in a darkened room with people I don’t
know (like the cinema) is a two-fold horror. I was shut in a darkened
cupboard without knowing when I would be let out. And I was abused
by ‘strangers’ (despite them being friends of my parents). ‘Seeing’
Grandma is a way of saying, without using words, that I am looking
for someone to trust.

I see things when I get flashbacks or when I dissociate, and then I blank
them out again. I know they must be quite bad because of the things the
therapist has said when it happens during a session, including the fact
that I tense up and start scratching my arms quite badly. I do not
know what is happening in my dissociative state - To me, it’s just a
missing piece of time, and I don’t even know whether it lasts a few
minutes or longer.

I hope I’m going to make it. I want to make it. But there are some
things about my dreams, nightmares and flashbacks I’m not liking at
the moment and I just hope they don’t get any worse before I learn
to deal with them properly. I have to try and remember that
anything can be dealt with if it’s reduced to small enough bits. It’s
when we try to deal with everything all at the same time that it
gets overwhelming. The problem I have is that some of them are so
frightening that, even though I know they are not actually happening
now, it feels so real, even down to the pain and difficulty breathing.
Sometimes I remember a part of something and not the rest, so am
held in suspense until the next part ‘resurfaces’. A bit like watching
one of those TV dramas which makes you wait until next week after
a really dramatic or frightening climax. It just seems that the more I
say, there are worst things just around the corner. I get a full picture
of one thing, then something else seems to start to take its place,
not as a whole memory, but in parts - like another puzzle that I have
to piece together before getting the full picture. It is getting so hard,
and it feels that I have no way of ridding myself of it all.

Quite recently, I was told that because these things didn’t happen to
me overnight, they will take some time to piece together, and I just
need to accept the bits as they come and slot them in as they fit into
the overall picture. I should not try to force the information out
because I have spent years trying to keep it in at all costs. Now suddenly,
I’m trying to reverse the process and, not surprisingly, my brain is

Believe me, I do try to keep all these things in mind but, it is so
difficult to try and remember when there are so many other things
crammed into such a small space.

Beliefs: True or False?
There has also been another major effect on my life: How do I merge
all my thoughts and feelings with the beliefs I have as a Christian,
when they are obviously totally opposed to all I should believe. The
confusion which began when I was a child still continues, with the
added complication of the feelings, hurt and anger I now feel as an
adult. The questions began to multiply - “Why could God let this
happen to a small child when He is supposed to be a loving Father?”…
“Why didn’t he keep me safe and prevent the hurt and distress I
went through in my teenage years?” …”Why am I still suffering now?”
Although I do know the answers to these questions - the fact is that
we are all given free will, and it was the choice of those people carrying
out the abuse to do so - the questions still bombard me when I am at
my lowest ebb.

There are times when I have argued with myself about attending the
church services or activities: times when I have felt too disgusting,
ashamed, dirty or even too evil to go; times when I have not wanted to
be anywhere near other people who were more ‘religious’ than I felt; and
times when I thought that, if God didn’t care about me, then why should
I care. I will be honest and say that sometimes I have stayed away
from the church because of these very reasons. However, because
the church I now attend is quite small in comparison to others, there
are only a few people to carry the various responsibilities, and I often
have to force myself to go and fulfil my commitments. Again, I am being
the ‘good girl’ who does not want to let other people down.

There is also the problem that I have really had to look at the things
I was taught and led to believe were right as a child and compare them
with the things I know to be right and true now, from a Christian
viewpoint. Some of the principles I grew up with are totally at odds
with those I am now beginning to realise are more firmly grounded.
For example,

* my ideas about the love of a parent and God’s fatherly love - In

Church we are taught that God loves us and cares for us just like
our own father, but I grew up with a father who hurt me;

* the respect one shows to parents - when we are taught to

“Honour your mother and father” and, although I tried to do that
as a child, it is very difficult for me to do so now;

* the relationships between children and their parents - Obviously,

I now know that the relationship I had with my father was not
‘normal’ and should never have happened, but my belief as a child
was that everyone’s daddy was like that;

* the belief that it is fine for other people within the church setting

to ‘love’ a child in the same way as the parents love the child - Even
though the encounters with my baby-sitters ‘felt’ strange, I assumed
that this was right because mum and dad must have known. I now
know that things are very different.

Obviously, some of these beliefs have had to be destroyed and replaced
by those which are more consistent with true Christian values and

And now…

Now I’m left with so many questions:

Why? Why me? Why not? On my bad days, I wonder why something
like this could happen to someone so small and helpless - a child who
had no childhood, a child whose view of love was that love hurts. Why
didn’t I do something? Why didn’t I say something? Intellectually, I
know that a child of that age had no chance of doing anything because
I had neither the knowledge, experience nor ability to do so. However,
there is a continuing battle going on in my head with the other part of
me which still feels guilty, dirty, unworthy and useless.

My dreams are often extensions of the nightmare which was reality.
Thoughts of the past so often intrude my present thinking and distort
my view of the future. Some days the pictures are rolling through my
mind like a continuous film reel, jogging my memory of every situation,
every bad thought and feeling, bringing pain and hurt with every single
memory. My life seems to be constantly ruled by the past, affecting
decisions I make about where to go, what to do, who to trust…
At worst, I feel desperate for everything to end and want to find a way

The dissociation still happens at times, but it is no longer a nice, safe
place to be. There is often a sense of fear attached to it and, in the
panic which follows, I tend to hurt myself without even realising that
I am doing so. As a child the dissociation was helpful; now it is very
much a hindrance in my recovery.

On my good days I can be prompted to look on the bright side and think
that going through these experiences will help me in the future. Maybe
I will be able to help someone else to understand their own fears and
feelings. And maybe I will find that one person with whom I can truly

I know that I may never find the answers to the questions which are
continually causing me to argue with myself. I know that I may never
be 100% better, with the past no longer hurting me. But, deep inside,
there is a little part of me that continues to dream of something better,
hoping that there will be some way that I will be able to deal with the
hurt and stop blaming myself for the past, and enable me to live my life.
And there will be some way of learning to trust enough to be able to find
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My Testimony – G.P. to Shop Assistant

This is how this came about. For fifteen years I worked as a
General Practitioner in an inner-city neighbourhood. What a lovely job!
But hard,long hours. I used to say-What other job is like this? you come
into the surgery at nine a.m. , sit down, and in comes the first patient,
who, as often as not, cries all over you!
General practice has always been eighty percent psychological care,
and I enjoyed this aspect. Every patient was unique, and as a Christian
I suppose subconsciously that I was aware that every person was
“Christ standing there”. For everyone has the spark of Christ within them.
So, when I retired, as you have to when you reach a certain age, the
pace of innovation in medicine being ever more relentless, and not
wanting to give out-of-date advice to my dear patients, there was a gap
that everyday life couldn’t fill.
So what did I do?
Become a shop assistant!
Only part-time, as I owed some time to my husband and large family.
But strangely, working in the sort of shop that I do, it’s very much
the same as General Practice. We are in a small church (Catholic) shop,
and everyone who comes in is welcomed, and if they want to chat or
unburden something, with no time limit, -and often a clue is gained
when they ask for a sympathy card, or a Mass card, the stories they tell
are sometimes as poignant as any I have heard as a G.P.
When it’s quiet I look up at the “plaster saints” and remember my
other sort of customer. As a Catholic I believe in the intercession of
the saints and I’m sure they used to aid me in the hectic life I used to
lead before. But of course ultimately it is God who directs your life, and
I’m glad he has led me to be a shop-assistant now.
P.S. –as this is given for those who can’t get to church-I would just
say that visiting patients at home was the most rewarding part of my
former job, as I could see the person in their own setting, just like God can!

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We welcome Pam Thomas of Maidstone (England, U.K.)
to the web site as she shares her personal experience of God.Pam has
Yet, as I reflect on the differences of the day I can but think
that the standards that were inculcated into me have stood
the test of time and brought me through the many trials and
difficulties that life has presented to me.
That is not to say that life has been hard, difficult and
unyielding. Far from it, for I have had a wonderful life of rich
blessings and fulfillment.

Although I was brought up in a Christian home there came
a time when I had to make my own commitment to Christ and
live a life in keeping with the demands placed upon His
Over the years, my knowledge, understanding and spiritual
awareness has varied in consequence of the experiences
that have come my way.

Although blessed with a happy family life with both my
husband and my family finding satisfying employment both
in the workplace and in the corps (church), there have been
low times when my faith has been sorely tried.
Although health problems within the family worried us greatly,
we were gifted with so much of God’s presence.
My husband suffered a major car accident in which for a time
it appeared as though his life was in the balance. Again
through the powerful support brought about from his friends,
colleagues and corps fellowship, he has made a sufficient
recovery to allow him to continue in his role as Bandmaster
at the corps.

And now to me, for as we were beginning to recover from my
husband’s situation and beginning to make plans for our
retirement, I suffered a major stroke, which although, again
through much prayer has improved sufficiently for me to
enjoy a reasonable measure of recovery, I was forced to
retire from my post as head teacher of a large and progressive
infant school.

So life has not been a ‘bed of roses’. But am I downhearted?
Not at all, for during all these seemingly insurmountable
situations those lessons learned in those tender years have
held and continue to hold me in good stead at the other end
of the spectrum.

Through it all, the times of joy and exhilaration, the days of
sadness and anxiety, I have been aware of His presence
providing me with just the right word for the situation at hand.

I continue to be busy visiting elderly friends and
acquaintances in my village, helping in the leadership of an
interdenominational Emmaus house group and assisting
with the Parent and Toddler group at the corps. Oh and
there’s also the grandchildren!! Who’d have it any different?!
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The old me, the one that had no God, Jesus or The Holy Spirit wasn't really very nice. I was very sceptical and cynical about everyone and everything. My moods would change at the drop of a hat. I could on occasions be very aggressive. Reality was, that some people were scared of me and if I am honest, I was scared of myself too. It didn't matter how hard I tried to put things right, in every part of my life, things simply got worse.

All of the way through my adult life I had, from time to time heard a voice saying, "I'm over here. Come on over, let's talk." But I would always say, "No thanks, I'll manage. I'll be all right." The voice that I had been hearing and ignoring was God. Jesus had been outside of the door and I had been refusing to let him in. I really did need to be taught a very important and fundamental lesson.

Then reality started to hit home! I could not cope on my own! I desperately started to look for God! I pleaded with him for help but the more I pleaded the farther away He seemed to get! I thought that had He had turned away from me, when in realty it had been me that had been doing the turning away. I had until then, been unwilling to hand it all over to God. I had wanted to keep control of some part of my life. What a fool I was! The only thing I could do was to make things worse, and I did!

On February 19, 2002 at about 3.00 am I could not cope! I had tried to put things right and had failed quite dramatically. I was in free fall! Fear? I had never known anything like it! Any one of my problems I could have probably dealt with, badly more than likely, but I would have muddled through. Nonetheless, when God said, "Steve, here they are. All of them! All of them together! All at once! Now let us see if you can you really cope without a some help from a friend who really does cares?" I didn't stand a chance - Thank God!

As soon as I let Jesus through the door and into my life, the pain started to ease and things have started to get better and better! I have got my life back. I have experienced at first hand the presence of God through the Holy Spirit. He
has been in my lounge! He has spoken to one of my cats! He has been with us every time we have met together on the Alpha course and, when I asked for the Holy Spirit tocome and live within me, he literally knocked me over! And praise God; he has been with me every day since.

My whole life has changed. Everything around me has changed. I cannot stop speaking to people about God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and what they have done for me and to me. Ask my family and friends they have taken the brunt of this.
The whole experience of what it means to be born again through the Holy Spirit is quite incredible. If this is what being a Christian is all about? Yes please! I'll have some more thank you very much.

One very real truth that I have discovered is this: It really does not matter who stands against you; when God stands with you, Jesus by your side and the Holy Spirit living within your soul, there is nothing that can really do you any harm. It says in Romans 1:16, "… I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the Salvation of everyone who believes…" I used to be ashamed ofspeaking about my beliefs, about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Not any more. Never again will I deny Jesus. Because I been saved through Him and by Him.

Since completing the Alpha course at Chatham Salvation Army Corps and asking that the Holy Spirit come and live within me, I have found a new way of living that I find
difficult to put into words. Alpha opened my eyes wide. It asked me questions and more importantly it gave me answers. It made me think and it pointed me in the direction of how I could work towards having a truly loving relationship with God through Jesus. I still make mistakes and go off the deep end, saying and doing things that I shouldn't. I still suffer doubts, anxiety and sometimes very real fears, but my faith in Jesus and the Lord always bring me around. I now feel genuine concern for those, whoever they are, who are worse off than me and I am finding that I wanting to help others more and more.

I have found that the first casualty of becoming a Christian was that my pride had to go. Not as easy as it first sounds. I have had to try to get things in my life in the correct order. I have just read "A life worth living" by Nicky Gumble. In the book it explains the way in which Sunday schools try to get this message across by using the word JOY, i.e. Jesus - Others - You. It is such a simple principal, but so hard to put into practice. Nonetheless, when you do get it right, what a difference it makes.

I never thought that I could feel as content in my own heart as I do when I meet with the Lord. To know, and I mean know, that Jesus is always with me, even when I am down, is out of this world. Every time I feel the Spirit in and around me my
emotions go out of control and I weep for joy.

When I accepted Christ as my Saviour, I tried to rationalise it all and understand why I had to be with The Salvation Army and more importantly to me why Chatham? Having just completed the Alpha Course, I followed the guidelines that
it sets out. It says that you should put things to test. Prove beyond all reasonable doubt that God is really speaking to you. So I did and sure enough God spoke to me. A coupleof the questions that I asked were these: (1) Why Alpha at Chatham, a round trip of over 70 miles from where we live?
I could have easily walked 500 yds up the road to where the local Baptist Church run the courses! And (2) why was Malcolm Westwood, made available to Mel and I when I had my breakdown? I had been attending my local Anglican Church
at All Saints, Belvedere, for over two years and could have very easily called on Irene - The Parish Priest - at any time! She really is such a lovely person. The answer that came to me was really quite simple and very straightforward; and that is this: The Salvation Army in general and Chatham Corps in particular, is where the Lord wants me to be. And who am I to argue with the Him? I've tried that one before and boy did I come off second best. I have no real idea why the God wants us here. Neither Mel nor myself has any family background within The Salvation Army. But I know that this is where both Mel and I have got to be.

God has worked through so many loving people, both withinand outside the "Army", to bring me to this point in my life and if you will bear with me for just a little longer I would like to thank them for what they have done for Mel and myself: My mum, brothers and sister and all of the rest of the family that have been there for me and have supported both of us when things were really difficult. I love you all.
Vivienne and Graham, what would Mel and I have done without you both? Angela, Jean, Verna, Brenda, Tracey, Steve and by no means least, Murray: You are all living
examples of Gods' Love here on earth. He must be so proud of you all.

But I leave Malcolm to the last. He, by Gods grace, power and mercy, literally, saved my life. Malcolm has never judged me. When I was hurting so very badly and thought that God had abandoned me, Malcolm showed me how wrong I was and that God truly does love me and will continue to love me no matter how bad everything appears or how many times I mess up. Malcolm showed me how forgiving God is and that He loves me so much that He sent His one and only
Son to earth to die for me. I don't know how I can ever repay Malcolm for his love and kindness. Malcolm is a top, top man and I love him to bits.

I nearly forgot. I have left out one very important person. Melanie (The wife). She has been truly sent to me by the Lord. Every day I pray the "Prayer of Jabez" - asking for God's Blessings. Melanie is the answer to that prayer: And I can prove it. Melanie is love. She loves me with out doubt or measure. Love can only come from God. Therefore, she has come from God to me and I give him thanks and praise for every day that I can share with her.


If anyone had told me that I would be enrolled as a member of The Salvation Army, I would have said, “sorry, you’ve got the wrong person!” But God didn’t listen to me. He had other ideas.
I do not come from a church-going family. As a child, the only time I ever stepped inside a church was for a wedding. My secondary school was St Martin in the Fields, at Tulse Hill, andit naturally had strong links with the Church in Trafalgar Square.
We attended services there as a school, at Christmas and on Founders Day. It was part of school life, but nothing more.

At sixteen, my friends and I started to attend a church youth club, for the sole purpose of meeting boys. This was where I first met Steve. One of the conditions of membership of the youth club was attendance at a Sunday service once a month. This was my first real encounter with Church as a place of worship. A strong youth group developed there and we took part in lots of youth activities, regular Bible Study and holidays. It was on one of these holidays that I first met Jesus. I asked the Lord to comeinto my life, and he did. For a couple of years, things were great. Steve and I married and had our first son. We named him Simon Peter and hoped that he would grow up to have some of the strength of his namesake. We have not been

Then Steve joined the Police. We needed security with a new baby, but this meant a move away from the Church we had been attending. The Lord didn’t seem as important to us as he had been and we let life get in the way. We had two more
beautiful sons, Andrew James and Mark Thomas and life carried on, with its problems and worries. I never forgot that God was there, but I never had any time to give Him. I only ever talked to him when I needed help- never to say thank
you or to worship Him.

The last few years had been particularly hard. One problem seemed to follow another and it often felt as if we were going round in circles, not getting anywhere. Steve had a health scare and was very frightened. He started to reach out, looking for God, and began attending our local Parish Church, but he made sure that he went to the early morning service where there was no singing as he always said that he hated music in Church! I rarely went with him, preferring to stay in bed a little longer on a Sunday morning.

Steve asked me if I would go to an “Alpha” course with him. I didn’t have any idea what it was- I was scared that it was some sort of brainwashing! I was reluctant, but he kept on and on and eventually I said I would go to keep him company.
He duly enrolled us both in the Alpha course, with me still not at all sure that I wanted to go.

Things at home got worse and worse and it all came to a head on February 19th, the day before the Alpha course was due to start. Steve could not cope any more and I was really out of my depth, never having seen someone suffering in that way
before. I telephoned the doctor, Steve’s mum and our friend Graham whom I knew would contact Malcolm to let him know that there was no way we could attend Alpha the following evening. Within hours, Malcolm was at our door, giving us both
the comfort and help that we could never have dreamed of. He was literally a Godsend and he persuaded us that it would be helpful to us both to attend the first meeting the next evening.

The rest is history! We found friendship and love from people we had never met before. We attended a Sunday service and found that the whole place was filled with God. We were welcomed with open arms and we both looked forward to Sundays and Wednesday evenings. There were times when worship here seemed very strange- all that clapping and tunes that just made us smile! Then there are the songs that we think we know-Wrong! The music is different, the last line is repeated
- it’s very confusing! I don’t think we’ve yet seen a meeting that has accurately followed the printed Order of Service! Surely church wasn’t supposed to be fun!! . But the presence of God here, in this place, is never in doubt. That is why Chatham Citadel is so special .The Holy Spirit is working through so many of you, in the music, in the prayers, in the sermons and in the fellowship.

The Alpha Course continued. With each passing week, I learnt more. About God, about Jesus, about Christianity, about the incredible honesty of the other people on the course and also about myself. Then came the Alpha away day. Wonderful food,
a beautiful venue and the opportunity to meet the Holy Spirit. To be filled to the brim with the love which can only come from God. I asked for forgiveness and in return I was given the promise of eternity in Heaven.

I cannot thank God enough for the love and the blessings that He gives to me. Through all those years when I had turned my back on Him, He never once gave up on me.

My life has changed and it is much improved. There are the practical changes, like learning to drive, because I don’t want to be in a position where I am unable to get here. And there are the more fundamental changes, in the way I see the world.
I am still as weak and foolish as I ever was but I know that the Lord’s hand is in everything around me, and if I look to Him inall things, He will always be there for me, leading me, guidingme and loving me.

God brought us both here, to Chatham and we know that he wants us to be soldiers. He has worked through so many of you to bring us here. We do not know what the future holds, but we know that our lives are so much richer than they were before. It will probably take us a lifetime to learn the things about life in The Salvation Army, that many of you take for granted, but with God’s help, we know that the future for us will be a good one.

Captains Steve and Mel Scoulding…….Steve and Mel were commissioned and are the Corps officers in charge of the St. Helier Corps of The Salvation Army. Steve's mum has also become a Salvationist at Evesham Corps. Steve and Mel's son, Mark, entered the training college a year after his parents were commissioned. He is now Lieutenant Mark Scoulding and is the Corps Officer at Watford Salvation Army. Steve's brother, Paul and his wife, Wendy have also become uniformed Salvationists.

th God’s help, we
know that the future for us will be a good one.


Steve and Mel were commissioned as Lieutenants in the Salvation Army and have been appointed in charge of the St. Helier Corps of The Salvation Army.They have since been promoted to the rank of Captain. Steve's mum has also become a Salvationist at Evesham Corps. Steve and Mel's son, Mark, entered the Salvation Army Training college the year after his parents were commissioned and is now Lieutenant Mark Scoulding and is the Corps Officer of Watford Salvation Army. Steve's brother, Paul and his wife, Wendy have also become uniformed Salvationists.

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David works as a Manager in the Insurance world and is based in Delaware, USA.

Health Problems and God

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on thine
own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and
He shall direct thy paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6
When I was asked to write my testimony about coping with
health problems and my faith I was not sure what I could
write that would help anyone but the more I thought about
it the more I realized that perhaps someone might find my
testimony of help so here goes.
From the age of 18 to 34 I lived with a progressively
degenerating back problem that got to the point where if I
coughed or sneezed I would loose feeling and use of my legs.
This naturally limited what I could do and even simple things
like playing in the church worship group became hard as I
couldn’t stand long enough to get through the praise and
worship session. Through this time people had prayed for
me to be healed but that never happened and I did not
understand why if everyone was praying for my healing that
I was still suffering. I finally came to realize that I can not
dictate to God what to do and when to do it as he has far
greater plans and better timings than I could ever imagine
and so Proverbs 3:5-6, which is a favourite verse of my
Grandad, started to hold real meaning for me. We like to
control our lives, to map out our own direction and to make
the choices but that is not what God wants, he wants us to
rely on him, let him shoulder our burdens and that has been
a long process for me to learn. Finally in 2004 I had a spine
fusion operation and for the next two years everything
seemed normal until July this year.
In July things started to go wrong for no reason. I started to
get major pain in my lower back and started to loose strength
and use of my right leg followed a couple of weeks later with
both knees starting to give me problems. I have to admit at
that point it knocked me for six and I was left thinking “Lord
what has happened, what is the reason for this”. This rapidly
got worse so that even walking up a flight of stairs was my
limit and I got dependant on narcotic prescription painkillers.
I was referred to a back specialist and a knee specialist but
the result was that they weren’t sure what was causing the
problems as the MRI and x-ray did not show any problems
and so I was to try physical therapy and medication. I have
to admit I went through a period where I was frustrated with
life and my faith took a hit just from knowing that just doing
a normal activity would cause me pain and not knowing what
the cause of the problems were. But again Proverbs 3:5-6
came back to me, reminding me of what I should do and while
it was hard to get out of the rut of frustration when I looked at
my life I could see where God had always been with me,
helping me, even at times when I felt alone. With my initial
back problem he was with me and healed me through surgery.
After spending 4 years trying to find a job locally with no joy
he gave me a job in my home town in the same building as
my wife which cut back my daily commute from 6 hours to
1 hour.
So I’ve come to realize that by acknowledging that I didn’t
have to deal with these health issues on my own and by putting
my trust in him then things are a lot easier to bear. I know
there will still be days when I feel low and frustrated because
I can’t do something I used to find easy and I’ve been told that
I will eventually have to have both knees replaced but I know
that I can just turn to the Lord and ask for his strength at those
times to get me through the bad patches and focus on him. He
has promised to always be with us and certainly looking back
over my life I can see how true that is so I have no reason to
doubt that it will be the same in the future.
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I asked God to forgive my sins and come into my life when I was
quite young and all my life have regularly attended my church,

Chatham Salvation Army. This doesn’t mean, however, that I fully
experienced the blessings of the Holy Spirit during those years.
I did try to be a good Christian and Salvationist.

I married a Christian Salvationist in 1960 and our two girls were
born in 1964 and 1969. I really felt that life couldn’t be happier
and was satisfied that God was blessing us. I had no idea what
the future held for us and so it was quite devastating when my
marriage failed in 1982. It won’t be helpful to anybody for me
to go through the details but I can remember asking God to not
let me be bitter and resentful. There were many times when all I
could do was place my burden on His shoulders and lean on His
everlasting arms. The amazing thing was that, despite my sorrow
and crying, He gave me grace to carry on with my life. I had
doubted whether I could continue to regularly attend church without
my husband but I did, although sometimes the services were a blur.
God is truly remarkable – He sends friends to help, He teaches us to
be content with our lot, He provides, He gives us hope for the future
and He overcomes our tendency for bad thoughts and feelings with
His boundless grace.

All this was over twenty years ago now and God is still there, loving me.
There have been changes in my life that I am certain have been
brought about by the Holy Spirit. During the Alpha courses I have
attended both as participant and leader and supporter, I have been
really blessed and filled with the Holy Spirit. I feel as though my eyes
have been opened to a new world that I never knew before. I am
so much more aware of the way God is working in people’s lives.
I have seen how, in placing their lives into His hands, people have
been changed completely from the inside. Their whole thought processes
have altered and from leading lives of unhappiness and discontent they
are brimming with a deep joy found in knowing Christ Jesus.

My prayers are answered. One specifically was that God would place
in my heart a longing to read the Bible daily. Through my life I have
fluctuated in my daily readings but it was through a Sunday morning
sermon that I was made aware that to have this habit was not enough.
I had to put my heart into it and allow God to make His word real.
I knelt before Him and asked for the Holy Spirit to do this work in me.
Nothing tangible happened there and then but since then I have been
attending the weekly bible study sessions, I have helped to prepare and
lead a ‘Christianity for Life’ nurture course which really blessed me and
I feel that I just want to know more about God, to worship Him and love

The question is: why didn’t I feel this way before? I can tell you the
answer. Although I came to God many times over the years and asked
His forgiveness and for Him to cleanse my heart, I didn’t trust Him
enough to let Him into all the corners of my life. What if He wanted
me to do something I didn’t like or couldn’t do? What if He took over and
made me a different person? What if .?
It dawned on me eventually that if God made me, formed me in my
mother’s womb, knew all about me and loved me then He would not
want to do anything to hurt me or cause me pain. Even though I had
saddened Him, He still loved me. So, I could trust Him implicitly. His
way would be the way of love. If there was a special work He had planned
for me then He would put a desire in my heart to want to do this and He
would equip me for it. So, I put my trust in Him and gave my heart to
Him completely. What a relief and inner peace He has given me.

Just evidence of this is that I felt there was an urgent need for a nurture
course to be developed for new Christians and Salvationists at the church.
I did not feel capable of leading this but what did God do, He put the same
thoughts into the heart of an experienced trainer and well respected
Christian leader at the church. He has been the driving force for
developing the ‘Christianity for Life’ course but I have been his very
willing assistant. I believe that God blessed the course and those who
took part in it.

I can testify to the truth of the words of Proverbs 3 v 5-6 ‘Trust in the
Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In
all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths’. I just thank
Him for loving me and for the grace He continues to give me day by day.
God bless you.
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I was born into a home with Godly parents and four siblings
following dad’s service in World War 2. My father, Clifford Nichol,
was raised on the Canadian prairies, and my mom, Nellie, was
from Kent, England. We lived in Thunder Bay and then in Brampton,
Ontario where my brothers and sisters played in a Salvation Army
band. Dad had been and officer in Saskatchewan and mom had
worked in the S.A. Headquarters before coming to Canada.

In the early ‘50’s the Lord called dad to go into full time service,
this time without the uniform, so we set off in a car with a small
luggage trailer for parts unknown. We traveled throughout Canada
and the United States, preaching, singing and telling the good
news of salvation. Many people were saved and touched by God’s
power, and we saw many miracles of healing and provision over
the years. In time we graduated to larger living quarters, and
were soon traveling in a converted bus with texts painted on the
sides and a sign that read “Mobile Soul Winners Clinic”. Looking
back I remember the strong faith of my parents – especially of
my mother, who would look at trouble as if it were nothing, and
to the Lord who was everything. Nothing seemed impossible.
What an adventure we were on.

One by one our family members left to go their own way, and
soon we were all in the ministry, scattered (or I should say
planted) across the nation. In the early 1960’s mom and dad
went back into the Salvation Army as officers and were happily
God and man, speaking the Word in faith and power.

In 1964 I married Vic Munshaw and we went directly into Bible
College. At the time Vic had no intention of going into the ministry,
but the Lord has a way of revealing His will to the most unwilling!
We found ourselves in the Northwest Territories ministering in
Fort Simpson along the banks of the McKenzie River. From the
city to the far north was quite the switch, but we loved the beauty
of the land and the opportunity to minister to the aboriginal people.
Two of our sons, Stephen and Kevin, were born in the north, and
the third, Robin, was born in Alberta at our next place of ministry.
We pastored in seven churches in 34 years and saw God move
in remarkable ways. I wish I could tell of the miracle of the “little
church that could”, and did. Or about the dry well that was drilled,
and after much prayer and a dream in the night, water burst
forth! Or about the young men and women who caught the vision
and are in ministry today! The Christian school that was started
and today is bursting at the seams; the church that gave up hope,
but hope was birthed again; the missions trip when a Salvation
Army officer was healed of cancer; the Korean connection – the
precious young people who were hungry for more of God; the
fully paid trip to Korea and the privilege of meeting Youngi Cho
and speaking in Prayer Mountain. The many dramas and plays
written and directed to spread the message of Christ and to
bring the church together in unity – and the souls brought into
the kingdom because of it - all in His plan and purpose. So
many experiences, so many miracles, so many blessings.

So the years have passed and with it many changes have come.
My three sons and their families are all in ministry – each one
fulfilling the plan and purpose of God for their lives. They are
realizing for themselves the faithfulness of the Lord. But the
biggest change was that my precious husband, Vic, was called
home to be with Jesus on May 4th 2000. What a difference that
makes in one’s life! After years of a wonderful marriage and
ministry together, and all the adventures, all the miles traveled,
then, within just four days of a heart attack, he was gone. This
just wasn’t supposed to happen! However, underneath are the
everlasting arms, and I was in His care. We were pastoring a
church in northern British Colombia at the time, so of course,
as much as I would have loved to, in my heart I couldn’t stay.
With great support from my family, I sorted, packed, sold and
moved. It’s really something to do that for the first time
without your loving spouse beside you!

My sister, who had been in the north ministering for forty years,
asked me to come north – back to the Northwest Territories
where we had begun so many years before – to teach in a Bible
College. So with my belongings in storage I came, and for nearly
seven years I have been living in Fort Smith, teaching and leading
worship in the winter months, and traveling over the spring and
summer, preaching and visiting my family. I have eight
grandchildren, which of course, is another whole adventure.

Just a few months ago, after a very short time in the hospital,
my mom, Nellie Nichol, went to be with her Lord. She was over
97 years of age and very healthy until a fall put her in the hospital.
She played the piano in the church, and led a Bible study for
seniors well into her 96th year. What a life of faith she lived!
She didn’t believe in carrying a worry, as that was the Lord’s
business. Even when my brothers were taken home suddenly
as a result of accidents, and my father passed away at the age
of 70, all within 5 years, mom walked in faith asserting that the
Lord had everything under control. She trusted fully in Him and
rested on His promises daily. In fact, each morning she would
read nothing before she read the Word and prayed for us all. Her
prayer list filled several brown envelopes, as for years she lifted
up people from all walks of life from the Queen to the child on
the street, from the mayor to the town trouble maker. There
were names and pictures of prime ministers, pastors, actors,
officials, taxi drivers, Christian friends, and agnostics in those
envelopes. We are still hearing how she touched countless people
throughout her lifetime right up to her last day on earth. Mom
had a vision of heaven just a few months before she left us.
Jesus told her He was going to take her home on a Sunday,
and so on November 26th 2006, He did. Her life of faith will
continue to influence and inspire us.

Today, I am trusting in the power and grace of the Lord,
confident in His love, and walking in great expectation and
excitement as I continue in the legacy of believing God for the
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Coraine Carney

I am a 45-year-old housewife happily married for 24 years to
a fantastic man with one wonderful son aged 23 and I’m a
I started my walk with God when I was christened at 1 month
old in a little Catholic church in Dinnington in South Yorkshire
called St Josephs. My parents where Catholic but didn’t go to
church and 3 out of 4 of my grand parents where Catholic too.
The other was in the Salvation Army. We had Anglicans, Jehovah
Witnesses, atheist and many in between in our extended family
but mostly Catholic. I was sent to a Catholic junior school where
I was taught more about God and Jesus and all the stories of the
Bible and went through the usual things that a Catholic child
would do like making my First Holy communion and Confession
at 7 and Confirmation at 10 never really understanding why I
was doing these things. It was just the done thing with pretty
dresses and parties. The thing I did understand in all this was
that God was with me and loved me but not why or to what
extent or why He sent his only son to forgive my sins.
I used to go to church every Sunday and went through the
motions parrot fashion. I could say the words in my sleep and
backwards but I loved going to church and didn’t like to miss
it as God was the only one that I could talk to and I used to
pray so hard for him to help me understand everything. I was
one of those people that needed signs so I used to pray and
pray for one of the statues to move for me or some other sign
to let me know I wasn’t alone which is how I felt but of course
nothing ever moved- only me from my knees to walking out
the church door. Mum used to make me take my little brother
with me to church and I hated that. I loved my brother but she
always trussed him up in Sunday best and we sat at the front
of the church with the rest of the extended family and the
moment the priest swung the incense or he got hot he would
pass out and I’d have to drag him to the back of the church then
take him home so missing my chat with God for that day, so I
I passed my eleven plus exam and an entrance exam to Notre
Dame High School (for young ladies, it said on the brass plaque
on the door) a convent school in Sheffield and travelled daily 20
plus miles to school and 20 plus miles back each day. Some of
the nuns were wonderful and very inspiring but no one ever
encouraged me to read the Bible and I never owned one until
about 5 years ago. My path with the Lord went on with me still
asking question but by this time out loud and with opinions that
the nuns didn’t like. I used to go to the school chapel at lunch
times and plead with God to show me a way to go or some sort
of understanding, but he was silent, yet I still knew he was there.
In my mid teens some things happened that made me question
God and the church in a big way and I can’t really talk about
them. They are too deep and too painful but I eventually did the
typical thing and left the church that I loved and tried to end my
relationship with God, thinking that he didn’t love me any more
and that he had abandoned me. I stopped praying and was going
to be an atheist if it killed me, but the analogy that I like to use
is, that although I no longer swam with the Lord I liked to dip my
toe in the water now and again. My battle had started at this
point and I was not going back so there! He had a different idea.
I met a guy that I fell in love with; he was Catholic… but didn’t
go to church. He had issues too and felt he had been forced to
be an altar boy and forced to be what he didn’t want to be. We
got married in the Catholic Church even though I was pregnant
with a full nuptial service, which we thought was hypocritical
but family pressure forced the choice, as is often the case.
I had my son five months later and had him christened at seven
weeks old in the Catholic faith as I still, even though I fought it,
believed in God and wanted him to have some relationship with
Him too. I sent him to a Catholic junior school so that I didn’t
have to teach him about God and other than taking him to Mass
when a parent was required, I stayed distant. When he’d made
his First Holy Communion he too stopped going to church as we
gave him the choice and didn’t want to force him.
Life went on as it does with my health going up and down as I
have Crohn’s disease and other health troubles. I have had ill
health most of my life but never blamed God once, even through
the many trips to surgery and months, days and hours of pain.
I always told people when asked, “I’m a Christian” but was I?
NO I was just person that tried to be nice to people did charity
work, helped anyone in need and only went to church to see
the architecture and attend weddings or funerals. I didn’t talk
to God any more either. I was lost.
About five years ago, although many what I called Bible bashers
had come to my door and though I’d politely chatted I had then
sent them on their way until a man called at my door and asked
“Do you know Jesus?” This man was very tanned, in shorts
(It was July). He had a very strong Liverpudlian / Australian
accent; aged in his 50’s with a beautiful serene smile. (I later
got to know him through his visits to the UK and his name is
Dave Sansbury and I thank him with all my heart.) I said,
“Well I’m a Christian and a Catholic so yes” and he said “Yes
but do you know Jesus?” and I had to say, “NO, I don’t think
I really do.” He asked me to watch a video so I said I would
but by the next week when he called back for it, I hadn’t; it
was still where I’d left it when he gave it me. I said I did want
to watch it so he said would I return it to the little church up
the road the next Sunday morning as he was going back to
Australia so I said I would. Sunday morning came and I’d
watched the film, a typical documentary type film, interesting
but not mind blowing, so I got ready and left for Swallownest
Baptist church. I hadn’t told my husband where I was going,
just that I was returning the video. I nervously walked into
what I came to know is the schoolroom as the church was
being renovated. I felt so, well I can’t explain, but welcome!
I saw a couple of faces that I had met in the village before
but didn’t know they where Christians. I stayed for the service
which I enjoyed and quietly left but although there where no
tongs of flames or claps of thunder and lightning, I felt different!
For two weeks I silently struggled with this strange pull, I
couldn’t sleep well and my mind was a mess. I was arguing
with myself and felt strange. I didn’t go rushing back but battled
trying to get my head together as they say, then the Pastor
from the church called Malcolm Purdy came by whilst I was
helping my husband build a wall in our garden and asked if I
was ok and would I like to go back to the church some time
and without hesitation I said yes.
I started attending regularly and was welcomed like a family
member who had just been away a while. God was and is
evident in every single person in that church in some measure.
It was- is- amazing. They encouraged me to start to actually
read the Bible and answered every question I ever asked them
to the best of their ability and if they couldn’t answer straight
away we just prayed about it till the answer came through.
I was like a kid in a sweet shop! Asking questions with a thirst
for knowledge you just can’t imagine. Later that year I did an
Alpha course and asked yet more questions till that Christmas
I asked Malcolm if I could be baptized as I wanted Jesus in my
life and accepted him as my Lord. I was baptized on 23rd
February 2003.
My family and close friends thought I’d gone potty but never
once tried to turn me away or put obstacles in my way. Since
then I have had many trials enough to send me away from the
Lord again like my dad dying suddenly a few weeks after I was
baptized leaving me with a very sick mother who became an
alcoholic and a brother that I didn’t get on with or trust as he’d
been a, lets say, a very bad lad on more than one occasion.
My husband although he is not a Christian and is adamant that
there is no God, is very supportive of my walk with God and
helps with things at church and or the people from church if
they need him. My son is still taking a rain check, I think the
Americans say, but both as well as extended family have seen
just what Jesus is doing in my life and have commented just
how different I am for the better. My sister in law (I call her
this even though she never married my brother, she’s more
like the little sister I never had) let me start to bring her
daughter (my brother’s child) to church and eventually came
with us with her baby daughter, as she said she wanted to have
what she saw I had from the Lord. She was baptized last June
and now I take other nieces and my nephew (my brothers
children, 4 to 3 different mums-it’s complicated.) My relationship
with my brother has grown back to what it should be and I can
honestly say I am one fortunate lady. It’s so true what it says
in the Footprints poem, “I never left you, it was then that I carried
I admit, I still have moments when the evil one tries to attack
me but now my feet are firmly planted on my path with the Lord
so I just put on the armour of God and brush him away with
prayer and my faith in the one true God.
My aim as a Christian is to help ALL Christians to work together
and to witness so that others know the power of the living Lord.

I am blessed and I hope that you will be, too, through this

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Charlotte's mum and dad, Bernard and Val

Charlotte's Story

These are the words of Charlotte:
Years ago there was a song which began….’Where do I begin
to tell the story of how great a love can be.’. Well this is a
story – a non-fiction story of just that, a story of a great
love for a person, a daughter, our daughter. Her name
is Charlotte and she is now 30 years old, some of you
will have heard about her and I would imagine you have
probably prayed for her.
Charlotte was born in January 1977. The day was wild and
stormy with a snowy blizzard that affected the power and
throughout the birth the lights flickered on and off as the
power failed, we should have realised then what stormy
years were ahead for us all.
Charlotte was a very much loved and adored child by
parents, nana, aunties and uncles etc. She went along
every week to the local Salvation Army (Grimsby Citadel)
where we all worshipped. As she grew older she became
a junior soldier and I remember as if it was yesterday, a
Salvation Army flag was wrapped over her shoulders as she
was enrolled as a junior soldier. Charlotte still has that flag
to this day. She played in the junior band and timbrels and
sang in the singing company, participating in corps life to the
full. In her teenage years Charlotte began to change, she began
to ‘hang around’ with youths we would have preferred her not to.
But Charlotte was very strong willed and wouldn’t listen to any
advice we had to give. These years in themselves were very
traumatic, but far worse was to come, when she was only 17
years old she left home and moved in with her boyfriend of the
time who was into crime and it wasn’t very long before he was
sent to prison, and this is when Charlotte’s problems began to
get really serious. She refused our offer to return home and
instead turned to drugs. We saw all our hopes and dreams for
her disappearing. Charlotte herself got into crime to fund her
habit and we’ve had the police knocking on the door more times
then we would care to remember. Charlotte lost weight, lost her
self-respect, lost her dreams and lost touch with God. But we
never gave up on her, just loved her, prayed for her, fed her
and offered her a home. Charlotte has never been your typical
drug user - yes of course you can tell she’s a user by her sunken
eyes and weight loss, but she’s always showered and washed her
hair and clothes and kept herself more than presentable and she
has never stolen money or possessions from us, her family
I think it was in 1999 when she eventually broke down at home
one day and begged us to help her and get her into a rehabilitation
centre. I don’t know if any of you have been in the unenviable
position of trying to get rehab help for some one you love but its
almost impossible. You obviously need to do it when they want to
do it, but this is almost impossible, the waiting list is too long.
After a lot of prayer and enquiries we were eventually put into
contact with Teen Challenge- a Christian run centre for drug users.
They were willing to take Charlotte, so off we went on a 12 hour
round trip to Wales and back so Charlotte could begin her year
long programme of rehabilitation. I must admit it was one of the
worst moments of my life when we had to say goodbye. The place
itself is beautiful with tranquil gardens and surrounded by lovely
countryside, but I felt absolutely dreadful as though I was deserting
her and couldn’t help sobbing as we hugged her goodbye, the Staff
assured us she would be well looked after so we left to come home.
We (her family), and friends prayed Charlotte would come through
this physically painful experience as from the moment she entered
Teen Challenge she wasn’t allowed any medication to help here with
the terrible withdrawal symptoms. Also in the early days we weren’t
allowed to speak directly to her, but were allowed to speak to a
staff member to find out her progress. Of course, we did this
every day. After she had been there a few days we were distraught
to receive a call from a staff member asking us to come the next
day and bring her home. Charlotte just couldn’t cope with the
terrible symptoms and wanted to return home. Bernard, my husband,
was out for the evening and it would be very late when he
returned home. I was told to go the next day and collect her. I
felt physically sick and was crying and very upset then angry and,
yes, I will admit for a brief moment was mad with God, why
wasn’t he helping Charlotte more. But where God is at work so
is the devil, and as I sat crying alone I realised I wasn’t alone
God was with me as he always had been throughout everything
we had endured. I thought to myself ‘you can either sit here
crying feeling sorry for yourself and for Charlotte or you can
do something about it’ I decided to do something about it. This
was one battle the devil was not going to win. We just wouldn’t
let him. So I telephoned family and friends all over the country
and some abroad to ask them to pray for Charlotte to ask God
to help her through the next painful hours and to give her the
strength she needed to fight the symptoms. I was on the
telephone all evening and friends and family in turn rang
others to ask for their prayers, and so it went on all evening.
We went on prayer web sites and left details of Charlotte
asking for people to join us in prayer. When Bernard came
home I explained the situation to him and we just knelt
together and gave Charlotte and her problems to God, then
I went up to bed absolutely exhausted. The devil must have
been furious because when Bernard phoned Teen Challenge
the next morning to get details they said ‘No need to come’,
Charlotte was through it. They had never seen such a rapid
transformation, the night before she had been screaming
out with pain then the next morning had come skipping down
the stairs with a big smile singing ‘ My shackles are gone’!!
We could only praise and thank God for this. After a few
months Charlotte was even baptised !!!!!- But the devil
wasn’t finished with her yet……Charlotte was a thorn in
the side to some of the staff there as she misbehaved
and disrupted Bible classes and studies etc. and after
eight months one of the staff members rang us to ask
us to go and take her home, as they couldn’t cope with
her any more. As you can imagine, I felt bitter and angry,
she was being sent home to the very place where her drug
problems were.
She’d been eight months without drugs and her skin and hair
were in good condition and she had put on weight. More
importantly, she had a good relationship with God. But once
home, little by little we could see the changes that go hand
in hand with drugs and Charlotte was once again back using
drugs. After a while she decided she would like to go back to
Teen Challenge if they would have her and give it another go.
But sadly she only stayed five days before walking out.
After about a year another Christian drug rehabilitation
organisation (Betel) came to give talks at the church Charlotte
attended and she decided to go to Birmingham, their base and
give it a go. Again after about five days she walked out.
Since then, she’s tried several times to come off drugs herself
with the help of methadone, but as yet is unsuccessful. I would
have liked to say there is a happy ending to “Charlotte’s story”
but as yet there isn’t.
Our faith has been tried and tested so many times over the
years but has never faltered. Many times we have asked ourselves
“where have we gone wrong?” Indeed someone from our church
said this to me. It was like a knife going through my very heart
but my faith throughout all this has grown and grown, so that’s
a positive. The devil must be so angry with that. We truly believe
Charlotte is safe and secure in God’s hands. A lovely aunt of mine
once said “Charlotte is doing an apprenticeship for God – he must
have great work ahead for her to do for him” – and we believe
this is true.
In the low times some words of a chorus have helped time and
time again

You don’t have to take it on your own
You don’t have to take it all alone
Come unto me for I understand
I know how you feel, I offer my hand

And through all this we have felt God’s love for us. We have
given Charlotte to him and He has held our hands, and although
there’s not a happy ending to Charlotte’s story yet we strongly
believe that one day we will be writing a PS to the story as
Charlotte will be cured of her drug addition.
We thank and praise him for what he has done and continues
to do for both Charlotte and for us, her parents, and would
like to thank people for their prayerful support.





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This one's for the team!

By Jim Black.

Aubrey drew the short straw! She was bright, bubbly and vivacious and she signed my whiteboard when she came on duty for the 3pm – 11pm shift. She said that because there would be no certified nurse assistant (CAN) on that shift, she would be my primary care provider for the next few hours. She was so wrong!
It was Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame was playing Boston College at football on television, only because there was nothing more substantial which took my interest. Lunch was unspectacular, which is probably a compliment for hospital food, but those folks have a myriad of rules and regulations governing what they are allowed to place before patients. The day outside my window was seriously pretty in the way that only an early fall day can be. Bright sunshine, mild temperatures, no wind and not a cloud in the sky.
One of the first things Aubrey did after signing my board, was to check my “vitals” - pulse, temperature, blood pressure, oxygen content of my blood -  and then make sure I was pain free. After she administered a double-dose of morphine into my IV drip that was duly checked off the list. Wouldn't have to worry about pain for another three hours or so! She checked my incisions – not much to look at there! One of the marvels of modern laprascopic surgery is that a surgeon can remove your gall bladder through your navel without making any big cuts and without spilling a drop of blood. Five tiny holes in my abdomen was all it took to accomplish that feat, all disgustingly routine and normal.
My teenage sweetheart and wife of nearly forty years dropped in to make my afternoon complete. And it would have been, except for one little cloud on the horizon. One niggle of pain when I should have been pain-free.
It wasn't completely unanticipated, or even unexpected – the surgeon had carefully explained that in order to make room to get the gall bladder out through the navel they had to make a little space. They did this in a most ingenious way. Much like blowing up a balloon, a quick shot of carbon dioxide gas through the navel made my abdomen resemble a blown-up basketball, with plenty of room for him to maneuver. They didn't leave it that way, but there was always a little gas left over that moved around until it got absorbed and all went back to normal. Sometimes, but not always, that moving gas could give a little “discomfort”. The pain medications would take care of it. Except that it didn't!
The little cloud on the horizon had matured into a raging thunderstorm! I was really hurting! We summoned Aubrey. She nodded wisely and said the pain medications should take care of it, but she'd check with my doctor. My blood pressure skyrocketed! Maybe if I got up and walked around a little, that might help. I walked, it didn't help. Sweat was dripping off me! The thunderstorm had turned into a tornado! My blood pressure rose some more! I was starting to hurt in places I didn't know I could hurt!
I have a fairly high pain threshold and am quite good at “compartmentalizing”  issues to deal with. I stood against the wall, the pain got worse. I hunkered down on the floor, the pain got worse! My compartments all collapsed, the pain was the only thing in my whole existence at that moment. Tears welled up, unbidden, in my eyes!
Many years ago I had the unpleasant experience of kidney stones and I thought that was the most intense pain I had ever had to endure, but that paled into insignificance compared to the agony of my whole body during this episode! There was one compartment of my mind left for prayer, and I cranked it up! “Lord, I know you'll take care of this, but please could you move your timetable up a little? Please? Please?”
The answer was swift and definitely not what I expected!
For many years I have been forthright in telling folks, “I know that God loves you, but I'm His favorite!” It sounds cute, but you don't have to look very far to observe why I believe this. I lead a most blessed life in every sense. Everything always works together for my good in the long-term. I know it's not because of any inherent goodness in me, so it must be God's favoritism at work. I don't understand it, but I'm going along for the ride!
The unexpected answer I clearly heard in that roaring furnace of pain was that God was NOT going to answer MY plea at that moment, he was going to answer YOUR's! That's right, relief was going to come very shortly because YOU were praying for me! This one was a reward for my TEAM! All those Christian friends who had put me on their prayer list (as well as sent cards, made telephone calls, checked on Facebook) and had asked for healing for me – God wanted me to know that He was answering their prayers because of how much He loves them too. You couldn't knock me over with a feather because I was already so far knocked over, but let's just say that such a thought had never penetrated my experience before!
Aubrey came back and she and Marion retrieved me from my fetal position in the corner and got me back on to the bed. My doctor had OK'ed another non-morphine drug and she injected it. Within seconds the turmoil abated, and peace, tranquility, warmth, and sanity flowed over and in my body. My blood pressure returned to normal levels. The clouds dissipated, the sun shone and like the apostle Paul I thanked my God for every remembrance of you!
There is an interesting twist to this story. I am privileged to contribute some technical expertise to the online ministry of Dr. Malcolm Westwood (http://www.veilministries.org). He had been emailing me with some technical questions, to which I had replied that I'd get back to him as soon as I was released from hospital. He upbraided me for not letting him know sooner so he could pray for me. He ended his email by saying that he had just sent me a “prayer transfusion”. A little detective work deduced from the timestamp on his email that his “transfusion” occurred just as Aubrey walked in with that new pain medication!
Many people quote John Donne: “No man is an island, complete unto himself”. This experience has strengthened my faith in church, not the buildings or organization, but that team of believers each looking out for the welfare of others within the household of faith. You can be sure that I will undertake the privilege of praying for others even more seriously now. I have first-hand experience that God sometimes says “This one's for the team!” Thank you to my team of pray-ers! I would be humbled and honored if you would continue to do so. I promise to reciprocate!

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