My name is Diane and from a young age at school I often used to wonder what some of the strange words meant that we sang in school assemblies… Holy, holy, holy,.. God in three Persons,.. Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,.. Though the eye of sinful man. Words like these caused me to have many questions but living in a home where family didn’t know the Lord I found no answers there. However next door there were two sisters living who were Christians and I believe they prayed regularly for me and my family. They must have often heard my tears of a traumatic childhood and God answered their prayers.
My first encounter with the Bible was being given a Gideon’s New Testament at school as a teenager, and from time to time I read some bits of it. At school I remember there was a Christian teacher ‘Mr. Jones’, our R.E. teacher, and he very clearly explained the nature of God in such a way he had the whole class riveted every time. So I grew up and married and have a beautiful daughter. Tradition called for a christening – got in touch with the local vicar and he came to the house one evening for an informal chat. Really nice man, but he began to speak of serious things, clearly speaking to my husband and myself that we needed to repent of our sins, otherwise young as we were, if we died that night we would face an eternity outside of God’s heaven which is torment. Wow, when that man left the house my husband was so angry he said I was never to let him in the house again. Couple of years passed – marriage broke down, husband moved in with another girl, then one day while they were both out fishing, an enormous tree fell over in a freak gust of wind on a sunny July day and John was instantly crushed to death aged 29.
A year before John’s death I had seen an advert in the local paper which said “Want to know the Truth? Then contact the Catholic Truth Centre in London”, so I wrote them a letter. Months later when I’d forgotten all about that I received a reply…. It said… “Contact your local priest, his number will be in your local phone directory.” That was all it said – one sentence! It took a number of calls to arrange this visit, but I was determined. After finding the door to the priest’s house next to the church I was knocking and ringing for quite some time (almost giving up) before the door slowly opened with a horrible creaking noise. There in the doorway was a small bearded old man smoking a cigarette who said, “What do you want?” I explained about the letter and he took me inside. I asked him what the truth was about God. He said “you need to become a catholic.” I had so many questions and this man was clearly not answering any, and yes the answer to each question was – you’ve guessed it, you need to become a catholic. That year I became a catholic and from then on I went to church every Sunday but I was none the wiser, I hadn’t changed and none of my questions were answered.
A couple of months following John’s death I started some voluntary work in the local ‘Life’ office where a lady called Liz started training me to do pregnancy tests and counsel women facing difficult/unexpected times. Liz is an opera singer, such a bubbly character; we had some ‘screaming’ moments as she tried to teach me to sing opera. The problem was that in most quiet spare moments she had her Bible open and she just kept reading it, and that bothered me. Such a lovely lady, and a really good friend, but she was ‘religious’. The next time I visited my mother I asked her if she had a Bible in the house. Finding my nanny’s Bible at the back of some cupboard I blew the dust off it and took it home.
Initially it was hard to get to grips with the thee, thy, thou language but I pressed on through Genesis. I started asking Liz many of my questions and to my surprise her answers made some sense although I didn’t agree with all she said. You see I was reading the Bible to prove to her that she was wrong. When Liz realized I was reading the Bible myself she kept urging me to read the gospels at the beginning of the New Testament so eventually when I couldn’t get through any more Exodus I turned to Matthew. The gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, I was reading these books over and over to a point where I became familiar with the stories and the things Jesus did. I believed Jesus was real, after all Roman records prove it, but I wasn’t so sure about all those miracles. I had to find the logical evidence to show ‘in the kindest way’ to my friend Liz that religion wasn’t the answer. But…“the Lord sees every heart” (1 Chronicles 28:9), and “God is wiser than the wisest of human plans” (1 Corinthians 1:25). Having read Matthew yet again, I moved onto Mark and in chapter 8 after more miracles Jesus said, “Whom do men say that I am?” The disciples answered and then Jesus said, “But whom say ye that I am?” Well I couldn’t read any further although I tried…those words “who do you say that I am?” filled my head and now I was being asked a question. I quickly remembered the story of the demons (Luke ch 8 and Mark 5) asking Jesus not to be tormented or be sent to the deep, and that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:16). I considered for a moment that if everything Jesus said and did was the truth, what did that mean? “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13). I took a deep breath and put my hands over my mouth almost not daring to breathe another breath! If I died without calling on Jesus to save me I’d go to the deep (hell) forever. This Jesus has all power over demons. This Jesus is Who He said He is. This Jesus came from heaven to die so I wouldn’t have to go to hell, and He rose from the dead. This Jesus loves me more than anyone else on earth could possibly love me and I confessed my sins to Him – the ones I knew about. Then Jesus began to heal me from many hurts and teach me the truth from the Bible. I began in Genesis and the thee, thy, thou language wasn’t a problem anymore! God tells us there in that Book, the Bible, Who He is, what He likes and doesn’t like and what we are like, and He explains His great love for us.
I read how new disciples were baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) and Jesus baptized me too. Since that time in 1986 life for me has never been the same. My neighbors and my family knew I was different! Being filled with and knowing the love of Jesus Christ does change you, but life still has its problems. You still make mistakes, but what a difference it makes knowing that the One Who made you is there to help, comfort and sometimes correct you – what loving parent doesn’t correct their children? “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
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