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My Testimony of Salvation

If I were to be asked what was the best gift I had ever received, it could only be one thing, and that is, my salvation. Without it, I would not even be writing this article, because I would be dead…

I wonder, if you were asked what was the best gift that you had ever received would be, what would your answer be? A surprise holiday, perhaps? A new car? Or maybe, a piece of jewellery!

If I were to be asked what was the best gift I had ever received, it could only be one thing, and that is, my salvation. Without it, I would not even be writing this article, because I would be dead. On Christmas Day, 1975, I fully intended to kill myself, and had it not been for the intervention of the Lord, I most certainly would have done so. Let me explain.

Although I was born into a home where I wanted for nothing materially-speaking, nevertheless, I myself was unwanted, as my mother continually reminded me. She always used to tell me I was an accident, and that she wished I had never been born. My younger sister Sue had been wanted, she told me, but not myself. My father loved me, and tried to make amends for my mother’s behaviour, as did Sue, but, nevertheless, I was always aware of a very deep sense of rejection and abandonment. In later years, I tried to block this out by promiscuous behaviour, heavy drinking, drug abuse and involvement in the occult.

Then, in Spring 1975, I found I was expecting a baby. To say that my parents were horrified was putting it mildly. When I refused to consider having an abortion, my parents reacted by throwing me bodily out of the family home, followed by a suitcase hastily packed with a few of my belongings, and telling me never to come back. The baby’s father could offer me no support either, so I found myself at the mercy of our local Social Services. All credit due, Social Services were absolutely marvellous, finding me a room in a hostel for unmarried mothers (as they were known in those days!), providing me with furniture and baby things, and helping me apply for benefits, etc.

However, being a single parent with no support from family and friends was very difficult. Yes, I received help from the statutory services, but my family did not care, and my friends did not appear to care either. I struggled on, but became more and more depressed as time went by.

Things came to a head on Christmas Day 1975. All the other mums and babies in the hostel had gone home to their families for Christmas, but Laura, five months old, and I were left on our own in the hostel. Never had I felt more alone, never had I felt more unwanted and abandoned as I did then.

I began to think to myself, what was the point of living? What sort of life could I, a single parent living in one room in a grotty hostel in the worst part of town on State benefit, give my daughter? The answer was nothing, absolutely nothing. Laura deserved better, I told myself, but I could not provide it for her and I could not see any hope of my doing so in future.

I decided that it would be best for both of us if I killed myself. I planned my suicide meticulously, changing Laura, feeding her and laying her in her cot to sleep. I wrote a note, asking my social worker to find some good adoptive parents for Laura, before going to the corner shop around the corner (its Muslim owner being the only person to open his shop in our area on that Christmas Day of 1975) and bought a bottle of 50 Paracetamol tablets. I timed my suicide carefully for when Carol, who had the room next to mine, returned from spending Christmas with her parents. I began to take the tablets.

However, I had only taken three or four tablets when there was a loud and persistent knocking at the hostel front door. I tried to ignore it and took another tablet, but the knocking continued. I knew that the person knocking on the door couldn’t possibly be for me, but it was very intrusive. Losing my temper, I went to the door, intending to give the caller a piece of my mind. Imagine then, my astonishment when I found that the caller was none other than my old school friend Maggie!

I hadn’t seen Maggie for over five years, and so great was my amazement at seeing her standing on my doorstep after so long that I completely forgot about my suicide attempt and let her in.

Maggie must have noticed the tablets, the glass and my suicide note when she came in, but she did not say anything. Instead, she told me that she had only just heard about what had happened to me, hence her visit.

As we caught up with all our news, I could not help but notice that Maggie had changed hugely since we had last seen one another five years ago. Then, she was like I was in 1975 – in other words, a complete emotional mess, angry, rejected and confused. Now, however, she was at peace and had a wonderful radiance about her, beautifully and gloriously reflected in her face, which was absolutely shining with joy.

I had to ask Maggie what on earth could have happened to her to bring about such a change. This was her answer. “I’ve come to know the Lord!” Maggie exclaimed excitedly. I’ve come to know the Lord, and I’ve been born again!”

I couldn’t understand what Maggie was talking about. What DID she mean, she had come to know the Lord? She WAS mixing with illustrious company! The only Lord I could think of was the one who owned the local newspaper! And as for being born again – well, it was a physical impossibility!

Maggie soon put me straight, this time without the Christian terminology. She had, I learned, been wonderfully and gloriously saved out of her previously sinful and wretched way of life, having repented of her sins and having put her faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

In the days immediately following Maggie’s visit, I bumped into two more long lost old friends, who, like Maggie, had come to know the Lord. They, like Maggie, came alongside me, and provided me with the love and support I needed and craved for so much.

A few weeks later, and I was attending church with my new found friends, Maggie, Bob and Liz. Amazingly, they all went to the same Anglican church in the centre of our town, a church where the word of God was faithfully taught, and where believers were regularly baptised in water as well as in the Holy Spirit. After hearing Roger, the Vicar, preach from Acts 2, I came under conviction, repented of my sins, and asked Jesus to be Lord of my life. Two weeks later, I was baptised by full immersion – yes, that’s right, in an Anglican church!

Over the years, the Lord has ministered His healing and deliverance to me, firstly through Roger, our Vicar, and Marguerita, our Pastoral Worker. On the first occasion, I felt like Mary Magdalene, because I had seven demons cast out!

Since then, I have had so much to thank God for – my husband and children, good friends and my family at Bridge Lane Christian Fellowship, Golders Green. Truly, the Lord has done more than I could think or imagine.

I will end by quoting a few verses from my favourite psalm, Psalm 103.

Psalm 103: 2 – 6 (Amplified Version)

“Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not (one of) all His benefits.

Who forgives (every one) of all your iniquities, and who heals (each one of) all of all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy;

Who satisfies your mouth (your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation) with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s (strong, overcoming, soaring!)

The Lord executes righteousness and justice (not for me only) but for all who are oppressed.”

Truly, this is what my precious Lord has done for me.

Be encouraged, for with God, all things are possible, and He can melt the hardest heart. After all, He melted mine!

Sally Richardson

5 February 2006