By Yvonne Martin, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral
How God transformed my life
You might have seen on Jubilee’s Facebook last week, the comment I added to the question “Has God transformed your life?”
The post happened to coincide with it being our 19th Wedding Anniversary, so I said that God transformed my life by fulfilling His promise to wait for His timing; resulting in Vernon and I getting married.
When I was 13, a friend introduced me to a couple who were planting a church in my rural part of Leicestershire. I was brought up in a Baptist Chapel, and became a Christian aged 10 but when I started going to these house church meetings, I met the Holy Spirit and my life changed. I was baptised and as I came up out of the water I was filled again with the Holy Spirit. The feeling was so fantastic I said “I want to do that again!”
It was during these years that I developed a love for Africa and its people and started to feel that I would go there one day. I suppose I was starting to feel called to missionary work, so I attended a ‘Missionary’ conference. During the weekend we were encouraged to think about where we thought God was calling us to. I heard God’s voice say to me "Mozambique". So as I ended my school life, I was looking for a way to be useful in Africa, and to that end, I undertook nurse training. I read everything I could about Mozambique, the world's poorest country at the time.
My nurse training was in Newcastle upon Tyne. Not having any connections with churches there, I went into the Christian bookshop and asked if they had a list of churches in the city. Another customer overheard and asking what type of church I was looking for, I replied “a house church type”. He invited me to Kingsland. It wasn’t even on the list! Kingsland, which soon became City Church Newcastle, was a New Frontiers church.
The 7+ years I spent in Newcastle were wonderful. I grew in confidence and skill in my nursing; I grew in God as I spent my time involved in CU and church life. I had a lot of fun with house mates from my church. One by one however, my friends started to get married, but I was still single, aiming for Mozambique. Deep down though, I had a longing for a husband and felt lonely sometimes.
I found out about a couple who were planning to start a church in Mozambique and would allow me along to help but God had other ideas. I am so grateful for wise leadership and counsel from my church elders who advised me that they would rather I went to Africa to work with people who New Frontiers have a relationship with.
New Frontiers were in South Africa by this time and the “Frontier Year Project” was suggested to me. This was only going to happen in 2000 though and I was getting restless. My elder learned about a missionary lady in Portugal affiliated to New Frontiers and for most of 1999, I was living in Portugal.
I worked as the only Registered Nurse in a Salvation Army Nursing Home, trying to improve the bit of Portuguese I had learned in night school. It was a tough year to say the least! I had to make a decision about whether to spend the following year in South Africa and eventually decided that if I was in SA, at least Mozambique was within touching distance, so to speak!
The year I spent doing the Frontier Year Project was amazing. I was posted to Somerset West, 40 kms from Cape Town, to work in “Choices Pregnancy Centre”, a counselling centre for women in crisis, and a home for those choosing adoption instead of abortion.
During this time, I kept getting drawn to Psalm 37:
“Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and he will act… Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…Wait for the Lord and keep his way; he will exalt you to inherit the land…”
In the NF church that I was posted to, was a young youth leader called Vernon Martin. He also sang in the worship team and was generally around the place a lot.
The pregnancy centre and my home for that year was on the same plot of land. Our friendship developed throughout 2000. I stayed for a second year continuing to work in the pregnancy centre and church and our relationship deepened in 2001, resulting in our engagement late that year.
In July 2001 I went to Mozambique!! It was a 2 week mission trip to help the local YWAM do Aids education. It was an incredible experience in so many ways but I knew that my life wasn’t going to be in Mozambique after all, and my God ordained path was waiting for me back in Somerset West.
Matthew 7:11: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
I knew God was giving me the good gift of Vern, because He knows what I need.
Now, in 19 years, it hasn’t always felt like the gift is good! We still have challenges and upsets… but we made a decision to stick together, to work out our differences and honour God’s plan, even though that’s sometimes the hardest thing to do. Love is a decision, not a feeling and that’s why Jesus went through with his horrific death for us.
I hope you can find some encouragement in my story; Be baptised! Be filled with the Holy Spirit! Wait patiently, He knows your needs. Honour wise counsel and accountability. He will give you good gifts. Decide to love as Jesus loves us.
Yvonne Martin, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral, with her husband Vernon