Catherine-Ann's story

I had always considered myself to be a Christian but came to realise that, really, I knew nothing about God.

I started Sunday school at the age of seven, at St Nicholas Church, King's Lynn.  I didn't come from a religious family, although my mother and grandmother did believe in God.  I was sent to Sunday school more to give mum a bit of respite, having three other children under the age of five.

I learnt that Jesus was my friend and that he loved me, and I enjoyed hearing the parables and about the miracles that Jesus performed.  Having recently lost my father and grandfather, I was in need of a friend.  Having no father figure, I ignored God the Father, and as my grandmother was a spiritualist, and in those days, the Holy Spirit was called the Holy Ghost, I ignored Him, too.

I also attended a group called the King's Messengers - we embroidered linen to sell in order to raise money to help missionary work, mainly in Africa - and this was also a religious group and so we read stories from the Bible and sang hymns.  My favourite painting in the church hall was of Jesus with a lantern knocking at the door, but the significance of this was lost on me.

At school, I was (and still am) hopeless at maths, so had to take another subject for my GCE.  I chose Bible Knowledge, and so continued to study the Bible in more depth for the next 2 years. Most of it was the familiar stories - Adam and Eve, Moses and the Exodus and the Gospels.  All reinforcing for me that Jesus was the only one.

I was confirmed at thirteen at Norwich Cathedral and continued to attend St Nicholas church every Sunday through my teenage years, and up until I moved away from my local area, at about 26 years of age.

I met and married John and we lived in Germany before moving to RAF Cottesmore.  However, I had grown out of the habit of attending church and only attended at Christmas, Easter and special occasions.

Really, it wasn't until I retired 8 years ago that I started to go to church regularly, here in Cottesmore.  I still clung to the fact that Jesus was my friend, but in reality my faith was still that of a child.

Last year I attended the Alpha Course at the Rectory.  Unfortunately, or maybe God's purpose, most of the other members were unable to attend for the last meeting, so it was just Rev Marcus, Jane and myself.  After a lovely meal, we went to talk and pray.  Marcus and Jane stood either side of me, put their hands on my shoulder and prayed for me.  I felt a warmth creeping over me, and such happiness in my heart.  I realised that for the first time in my life I had experienced the Holy Spirit.  My journey had just begun!

I am learning that God is my Father, that the Holy Spirit can uplift me and guide me and I know that Jesus is still my friend.  I am working my way through the Psalms, (so much easier to understand now, than the King James version of the Bible) and followed Marcus' Lent challenge.  I realise that I still have a long way to go, and often forget to pray - I was taught that you didn't ever pray for yourself, only others - but now I try to ask for guidance, which helps me in my dealings with other people.  I realise that I need to overcome my reticence in speaking out during the more relaxed services.

I count my blessings, which are many and too numerous to recount, thanks to our bountiful God.

Catherine-Ann  2016