My name is Rachel; I live and work in East Grinstead.
My personal experience of God has been rather convoluted. I was brought up in a church-going family; I did not appreciate this and when I left home I didn't go to church for a long time, just now and again to make other people happy. However, by the time I got married (my first husband was not a Christian) I was going to church most weeks, for appearances' sake if nothing else. I kind of wanted more but didn't want it either.
Shortly after this, we moved to Herts and I looked for a fresh start in a church where no one would know me, I could go on my own terms. Of course, I didn't realise that I was going entirely on God's terms – and during the three years we lived there He drew me closer. I listened and learnt and eventually took some classes and was baptised.
When we moved to this area, I found a church and transferred my membership there. However, my fledgling faith didn't cope when my marriage fell apart. My “earthly” relationships took over from my relationship with God, and I again stopped going to church completely. I didn't want to think about God, I knew I wasn't doing the right thing and thought He wouldn't want to hear from me.
Eventually, although still not keen on having the “God-factor” in my life, I knew my son ought to have the option and so we started coming to West Street. He loved Sunday school and so we carried on – at first we scurried out straight after the service, but in time we started to get to know people and join in, and during this time I started actually listening again and asking God to forgive me my selfish foolishness and to come back into my heart and life. Happily, He is a forgiving Lord and the last 3-4 years have been some of the most settled and content of my life as I've felt at peace with myself, my family and most of all with God. A particular moment was before a communion service – I wondered maybe I shouldn't really take part, but I was filled with a feeling of peace and belonging, and it was as if God was telling me it was ok, I was his daughter and welcome.
My everyday experience of contemporary Christian life – I count my many blessings and appreciate all the goodness God has shown me – that he was there all the time when I didn't want to know and is always around to show me the right way to go. This has been amazingly true over the last year or so, during which I got together with and married my perfect partner (see my blog for the details!) who is a true provision from God. It would be utter ingratitude not to be thankful every day for all that I’ve been given so undeservedly.
I try to apply the Bible's practical tips like a soft answer turning away anger. Also, rather than “what would Jesus do”, I try to think “What would Jesus think about you doing/saying/contemplating this?” and it has helped me make better decisions. I'm definitely a work in progress, and I’ve been given a Christian husband for mutual encouragement in our spiritual as well as our everyday lives.
West Street Church is special to me because I feel at home there, the people are like one big family and I'm part of it – I can be involved and help out. There is a joyful feel to our worship and the knowledge that God is here among us.
My name is Peter
I was brought up in a christian home where going to church each Sunday was normal. I went to Sunday School: which I enjoyed.
As I grew, I was involved with the F.O.Y. group (Fellowship of Youth) which was good and I also enjoyed.
I remember at an early age (maybe 11 onwards) that I realised I was not saved, and I needed God’s forgiveness. It did worry me on occasions that I was going to face hell and an eternity without Christ. Obviously Gods’s Holy Spirit was working in me from an early age!
At the age of 14 I went to a summer holiday run by Christians for kids called ‘Pioneer Camp’. It was there that that God spoke to me through a Sunday evening talk as I remember. I was convicted of sin and asked for God’s forgiveness that evening and certainly knew my spirits lifted that night . . . an incredible thing.
Even though I am so undeserving, I have certainly known, and continue to know God’s leading in my life and His dealing with me through many difficulties since my conversion. Through marriage, work, accidents and travel I have known and experienced God’s amazing grace in my life.