BlogsThoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral
How God transformed my life
By Yvonne Martin, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral
Recently I commented on a post on Jubilee’s Facebook page, which posed 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.
Newcastle upon Tyne
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!
Table Mountain in South Africa
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 of Jubilee Church Wirral
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Helen on the importance of Friends and what God has to say about them in the Bible.
Andrew on evangelism, how we are all evangelists whether we like it or not, and how to evangelise easily.
Dawne on the parable of the lost sheep and the lessons we can take from it as followers of Jesus and members of His flock.
Yvonne on loss and how God has helped her deal with the loss of her mum and the impending departure of her eldest son to his first job
Nicki on serving at Newday and the impact it has had on all three Frodsham children and many, many others
Simon on the frustrations of not being able to get to sleep properly, and the Bible verses that help him stand firm against sleeplessness.
Gerry on how easy it is to be drawn into gossip. “If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all” isn’t just good advice, it’s Biblical wisdom.
Sylvia on being an encourager: “God knows our troubles. When we open up to Him, He’ll use other people to encourage us through His word.”
Lynne on doing what God wants us to do even when we really don’t want to do it – and why it’s important
Chris on the power of our words and how having a relationship with Jesus can give us the power of the right word at the right time.
Helen on why Psalms have taken the place of Proverbs as her favourite book of the Bible
Andrew Greenhalgh on being much better at giving advice than at taking it – and what happens as a result.
Chantal Robertson on how God and the gospel of Christ has never changed over time – even though the way we package it has.
Nicki on how she was planning to work in the marketing and advertising industry until God led her in a different direction.
Dawne challenges us to look at life with the enthusiasm, joy and exuberance of her Macedonian dog Floki and find joy in the everyday.
Jen on how taking the Alpha Course because she had nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon led to a life-changing wheelchair for her daughter Daisy and many others.
Gerry on how her ideas of what love truly is have changed over the years, and how love can be so much more than a feeling.
Matt Wilson on how God is weaving a tapestry – and knows what that looks like. He can see the big picture. Our part is to trust him with the threads he has given us.
Denise Griffiths on resolutions and why she has resolved not to make the usual New Year’s resolutions such as giving up chocolate, eating healthier or doing more exercise!
Vernon on the transience of life, and how, through all suffering, God’s steadfast love has the capacity to satisfy us every morning.
Andrew Greenhalgh on how he ended up going to church on Christmas morning for the first time at the age of 11 – and what it has taught him.
Helen on how preparations for Christmas vary from family to family and country to country. And what happened to Helen’s Lindt advent chocolates?