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Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Being a Christian isn’t easy…

By Jen Gerritsen, Jubilee Church Wirral

…but then what is?

About three years ago I did the Alpha Course at Jubilee.

I was quite reluctant to do it at first but I was feeling pretty low, had nothing to do on that Tuesday afternoon and thought “Why not?”

My mind wasn’t open, my body language wasn’t open, my heart certainly wasn’t open and I felt it was all a bit blah blah blah.

Then we did the Holy Spirit day. Oh my goodness. That was quite challenging – people laid hands on me and I ended up sobbing like I’ve never sobbed before.

Everyone was saying, “oh it’s wonderful!”  And I thought “it’s not wonderful, I feel absolutely rotten!”

And then I was walking along the prom, sobbing about something that I’d done that went against all my moral codes and was something I wasn’t happy with. I got in touch with a friend and asked if the church was open. She said it normally isn’t, but today Rick will be there.

So I went to church and poured out everything that was bothering me to Rick, brought it out into the light, and Rick said “I want you to go and tell people that you’ve become a Christian.”

I said “I can’t do that, people will think I’m bonkers!” He said, “Are you bothered?”

I said no, actually I don’t care, I’m not bothered.

A while after that Rick organised a walk to Hilbre Island and I went along on my own and walked over to Hilbre. Then on my way back – I walked back early, on my own, because I wanted some time to myself – I was struck by a great sadness. I thought: “Daisy [my daughter, who has bilateral hip dysplasia, heart failure and Down syndrome] won’t ever be able to experience this.”

It saddened me greatly and it was like a lightbulb moment coming on because I had not long come back from Spain where they had beach wheelchairs and we were able to take Daisy in the sea with the help of the beach wheelchairs and the lifeguard.

I thought: “I’m going to make this happen.”

On my way back, my tyre had blown out and this guy was flashing me. He was an amputee, a good Samaritan who had seen my tyre had blown out and thought: “I can’t just let her drive on.”

He drove me home, and told me his story about how he had lost his leg in a really bad motorcycle accident and had to rebuild his life. I started talking about the idea that I’d just had. He said: “You’ve got to go for that,” which was like the affirmation I needed.

I started to talk to people about the idea and one of my friends, Amy, said she would put me in touch with a local councillor, Yvonne Nolan, who is a mover and a shaker.

So I had a meeting with her, and she said: “Leave it with me. You’re so passionate about this and you want it to be Daisy’s legacy and we’ll get the ball rolling.”

Then, of course, Covid hit and everything sort of stopped – then I mentioned it to someone else who I’d become acquainted with and who, without my knowledge, had set up a Go Fund Me page and eventually enough was raised to  buy a beach wheelchair.

Cllr Nolan had got the ball rolling but because of Covid everything had got put on hold. Then everything just came together and it was decided that the crowdfunded beach wheelchair would be donated to the fleet that the NHS and Wirral Adult Services and other people had worked hard to create – Beach Wheelchairs Wirral.

I really felt that I was guided. It is free to use – I was insistent because people with mobility issues or disabilities shouldn’t have to pay to get on the beach – and we’ve had so much feedback about the difference it has made to people’s lives. We had a lady who managed to get her elderly mum on the beach; simple pleasures like walking the dog, having a bag of chips, feeling the fresh air on your face.

It’s great too that it’s in the hands of statutory agencies who can take care of the fleet and make sure it is looked after properly.

So from doing the Alpha Course, to going to Hilbre, to having that lightbulb moment, to speaking to people and having the belief that it could happen – and it did happen – I believe it was divine inspiration.

Daisy is quite poorly and is termed “life limited” due to her poorly heart but with prayer and love she continues to strive and enjoy life.

I was talking to a friend the other day and I said Daisy was life-limited and she said, “aren’t we all!” and I laughed and thought yes, aren’t we all – so let’s make the most of the time we do have here.

Daisy with the Daisy Wheelchair

Daisy and Jen with other beach wheelchair users

Gerry Mellors and Arlo Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral

Jen Gerritsen of Jubilee Church Wirral

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