1. What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Anita Wahawe, a mother with 3 young children ages 12, 10 and 5. I work as an Information Analyst for the NHS.
2. How did your personal experience of God begin?
I was born into a Christian family, grew up a Christian. My father a Pastor for the local Lutheran church in a village called Kagamuga in a town called Mt. Hagen in Papua New Guinea. He is still going from village to village preaching the Word of God mostly on foot, sometimes by car (from generous Christian’s who give him lifts) as he is now into his 80’s.
I remember vividly the morning & evening devotions that we used to have growing up, we lived for devotions. Sometimes we children would moan about devotions taking too long and us being late for school, but dad’s priority was devotions and a Godly living, everything else came secondary, including school. I sometimes felt bad that I was being grumpy about things of the Lord but little did I know that these very devotions were the early feeding grounds for my spiritual growth in later life. The foundations were set then, I now realise. Our family morning devotions were brief but still adequate; the evenings were much longer and detailed which included an opening prayer, bible readings, and a small explanation by dad then singing and closing with prayer. We went to church every Sunday. I did this out of duty, respect for mum and dad and of course that was the only life I knew, I didn’t know any different. But now I realise that I missed the point, which is a real personal relationship with Jesus! Recently a question was asked at West Street Baptist; – ‘which age group would you like to be if you were to have it all over again?’ My answer to that question is ‘NOW’ in my 40’s - I think I know who I am – in Christ.’
3. What does the term 'being a Christian' mean to you?
For me it means everything. It is my life – It is a way of life, a lifestyle, while here on Earth preparing for the second coming of Christ, to be united with Him for eternity. I want to be first known as a Christian, then everything else, ie a Papua New Guinean or a Computer Analyst for that matter or a single mother or a divorcee. (Note to myself: it means 'Christ-like' or 'in the likeness of Christ Jesus' as I bear the name of Jesus by being a Christian).
4, What now is your everyday experience of contemporary Christian life?
Firstly I remind myself that just because I am a Christian, I am no different to anyone else, it just means God found me earlier than other’s who are yet to come to know the Lord. It is my job as a Christian to let others know of the good life that I am experiencing in Christ. When I say I am having a good life, I am not saying I have no problems. What I mean is, God provides a way out for me each and every time. I have a way of dealing with my problems in a positive way and my problems do not overcome me. That is because I have a personal relationship with Jesus, just knowing He is with me always, everywhere under any circumstances. It is comforting, even when I am alone, I am at peace.
I experience the same problems and hardships others in the world face, maybe more so than the average person (those who know me know this about me) but the wonderful thing is as these problems come my way, I take them to the Lord in prayer and reading His word and meditating upon it and I find my problems seem insignificant. Something that seems a mountain seems to fade away and Christ becomes significant. I find myself going around wanting to tell the World about this wonderful God that I serve. I am not ashamed to talk about God and about the things that he is doing for me. In my experience, it is an exciting journey because, I find it is a two way thing; the more I get excited about God’s things, read His word and try the best way possible to Trust in God and Obey his word and tell people about God, He is faithful and does for me the things that I ask God to do for me in faith. Telling people about God, doesn’t have to be in too many words, I find, it can be in good deeds, gesture, kind words, and just in general living. I believe, your lifestyle can be a witness in itself of the wonderful God that we serve.
People think being a Christian is a hard life, but it is just a deception by the enemy, Satan. Once you search and crave for God’s things and have a real hunger for it, you will find the answers. I read the Bible a lot, once I started out, it was hard to keep at it but then something happened and any spare moment I have I find myself wanting to search the bible for all my issues and questions. People might think, ‘but that’s hard work’. My experience is - it is not hard, God will Himself put the hunger for His things in your heart. It will be difficult to begin with but keep at it by reading the Bible and praying and it does get easier even in extreme times of need and problems. My problems don’t go away, but I have peace dealing with my problems. I’d rather I have peace than no peace. Peace in time of trouble is something money can’t buy and is something I can truly say I find only in having a personal relationship with Jesus. I have literally seen God do things for me that I can’t explain any other way. They are too many to name.
5, Why is West Street Church special for you
West Street is special for me because, before stepping foot in the door, I'd been to several churches in Crawley where we lived before. Coming from a Lutheran background, I was looking for a Lutheran church but couldn't find one. I went to a Church of England church for a good while, a Trinity United Reform church and even went to a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall for an entire year, partly because some my Siblings are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Even Jehovah’s witnesses didn’t satisfy my desire for a true meaning of life in Christ. When we moved to East Grinstead in 2009, although having been to other churches, I felt something was still missing. There was a hunger for the word of the Lord and every church I went to, I'd go to service and come away feeling 'hungry still' for the things of the Lord and hungry still for His word’.
When I stepped into West Street that first Sunday in early September of 2009, Graham Scott was preaching. I felt my eyes swell with tears and I left feeling ‘this is what I have been looking for…’ the word was being preached in this church!
West Street is special for me firstly because the WORD of God is being preached in a very contemporary way, very relevant to this day and age, to the young and old and it is spirit filled and well researched with the aid of modern technology.
We have a young group of musicians who are committed and also our own Graham, Hamish and John preach the word in a wonderful relevant way. Even our visiting preachers (regulars and occasionals of whom are many) preach the word that keeps me going back to West Street again and again.
Last but not least, it is a family away from family. I am from Papua New Guinea so immediate family is scarce but I don’t feel that because West Street is my family. West Street has a truly family feel to the church.