When I asked for stories for the WEBA Baptist Times supplement a few weeks ago, Carole Sampson of Clarence Park Baptist Church kindly wrote down her own story for us. It reminds me of something obvious - that a simple invitation to a service may be a crucial turning point in a much longer story for the person we're asking.
|Gladys Aylward was one of Carole's||childhood heroes|
I was introduced to God by my parents, who had an active church life before I was born. They sent me to a good church school and the attached Sunday school. I learned about Missionary work through a comic, ‘GIRL’, where I met my heroes, Gladys Aylward, David Livingstone and Albert Schweitzer.
When I was ten years old, my godmother introduced me to her own church in the town; a church seeped in the High Anglican tradition. I then met The Rev. Roland Taylor, who had been a missionary in British Honduras (now Belize). He prepared me for confirmation, introduced a Youth Club to the church and fostered my belief. I became a teacher of Religious Education in a church school in the East End of London, attended the High Anglican Churches in Bethnal Green and Leytonstone.
After working for The Children’s Society, and a failed marriage, I lost my way. Church life had lost its allure and the members of the church appeared to be less than I had aspired to. So, I decided to go on alone, abandon formalised religion and pray to God on my own.
Little did I realise that my second husband had made the same decision.
His mother was a Roman Catholic, so he was brought up in that faith, attending Catholic schools and churches. He was occasionally allowed to go to services with his father who was the Church Secretary of Trinity United Reform Church in Redland, Bristol, which was better suited to his temperament. But, he too was disillusioned with ‘the church’.
Retirement had to brought us to Weston-Super-Mare and a Health Club. It was here that we met three delightful people. As Christmas drew near, two ladies invited us to the Christmas services at Clarence Road Baptist Church. When we entered the church, we were welcomed with genuine pleasure, discovered that the third ‘delightful person from the Health Club’ was also part of the church and that CPBC shared LOVE and CARE for ALL because of the love of God. We were accepted, and invited to become involved with God’s work.
We are now back in God’s fold, ready to do our mission for Him, with the help of prayers and fellowship.
Jenny Collins, who passed this story on to me, adds this:
"Carole’s account doesn’t portray the wonderful enthusiasm she and David have since coming back to God’s fold. They were excited to be part of the T4 team in the summer and we will be blessed as they work amongst us with the skills they have to offer as they serve their Lord. As a church family we are thrilled that they have made their spiritual home with as they have now been accepted into membership."