Excerpt for In My Father's Hands by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




























In My Fathers Hands

© 2007 Bunty Bunce


All rights reseved.

Any part, or all, of this publication may be reproduced in an unaltered form.


Cover Illustration: Carol Hall (email: pahall@gol.com) Book Design: Paul Kjoss

Printed by: Aotearoa Design & Print












Dedication

,

I dedicate the words in this book to my Heavenly Father who has never given up on me. Also to Faye Cheeseman, Norma Prowse, Ruth Martinez, and Olga Chepeda, that through my hard times and troubles, He stayed faithful...and so did they!!

May He be given all the praise and glory!










Acknowledgements

,

I thank Patty Roehr for all the many days she spent with me editing and simplifying this story! Thanks Patty! Also Susan and David Bishop, Jenny Van Rensburgh, Jackie Goodes, Laura Cloutier (TC), Judith Wall, Jackie Harding, Tamra Farah, Wendy O’Brien, Nelda Campbell, George Thaw, and Fran and Richard Dawson, Maggie Yancy and her family.

Thank you all for encouraging me! May God bless you!


Foreword

It’s not often in a lifetime that one has the privilege of meetingsomeone as uniquely gifted and anointed as Bunty Bunce. From the moment I first met her several years ago in New Zealand, Bunty challenged me, mainly by example, to love God more deeply and passionately and to walk in His anointing.

‘In My Father’s Hands’ is an amazing story of how God reached down into Bunty’s own life as a very young girl living in an orphanage, and revealed Himself to her in spite of the many difficult circumstances she faced. As Bunty grew in the natural, she also grew in her understanding of a Heavenly Father that loved and cared for her. Over the years, God formed in her His character, revealed His purposes for her life and confirmed her calling. Today, Bunty travels extensively in a dynamic ministry that takes her to many nations of the world. Whether speaking to “kings or paupers”, to the young or old, Bunty is bold in the proclamation of the Gospel.

I encourage you to read this book. You will see the faithfulness of God in taking a young woman who had little chance of a decent life, and instead gave her a rich and fruitful one because she dared to entrust herself into His hands.



Linda Cowie

Deborah and Associates Tauranga, New Zealand

About the Author

Bunty Bunce has been sent out from her home church, New Life Christian Centre in Croydon, England to minister to children and parents all across the world. For twenty- five years she has been travelling the nations bringing the message of God’s love and hope to an aching world.

Because God is alive, He is her hope, and with this conviction she has been able to spread this knowledge to hundreds of children from orphanages and hard backgrounds, throughout the world. She is still travelling today and wants every child to know that there is a Heavenly Father watching over them. He cares for them and wants to get to know them! What He has done for her He can do for them. This she truly believes. Bunty’s testimony of God’s goodness to her is found in the pages of this book. May His testimony be in your heart also.

Marie 9

Babyhood 11

Orphanage Days 12

Junior School 17

Gran 20

Home Life 21

Salvation 22

Church Life 24

Hearing God’s Voice 25

A Special Prayer 27

Mum 28

Led By The Spirit 28

Books, Books, Books 29

Growing In God 30

Family 31

Senior School 32

Traumatic Days 34

Javelin Days 37

Leaving School 44

Growing Up 45

International Athletics 46

Back-sliding 48

God’s Call 49

The Struggle 53

Mum 54

God’s Blessing 54

Heaven and Earth Meet 57

His Word 58

Lifesaver 59

Motorbike 60

A Choice Made 61

Gifts 62

Whatcombe House 63

Surrendering 66

Val 68

Bible College 70


Eviction 76

Sermon Preparation 77

Compassion 78

Answer To Special Prayer 79

Evangelism 79

Children’s Ministry 81

My First Assignment 84

Uncle Bill 85

Camp Cherith 87

More Of Uncle Bill 88

George, God’s Call, And My Motorbike! 90

Being Released! 94

Zimbabwe 95

Bugs 97

Membership 99

Communication Barrier 100

Anointing 101

Hampton Court 105

Farewell To Zimbabwe 108

Vision For Nairobi 111

Nairobi 112

Obedience 116

Ethiopia 119

A Willing Heart 122

Mum 125

Israel 127

Russia 131

Mum 134

Nigeria 135

Mum 143

Victory In Death 145

A Dream 155

Answers To Life 155

My Liberty 156

The Challenge 157

Marie

A long time ago there lived a little girl in a downtown area of London, in the South of England. This town was a noisy suburb, being only twelve miles from the city centre where many of the local people daily commuted to work. Amongst the hustle and bustle of daily life, this little girl learned and grew.

On this particular street where she lived, there were only fifteen terraced houses on each side, and not very much traffic. This proved to be a blessing, as it provided a safe haven for the children. In this part of London it was very rare to find such a quiet and pleasant street. Often, she would play with her friends out in this very street, and be found there with the local children and sometimes with her cousins who lived nearby. She had five cousins, but their interests differed from hers. Marie, the little girl, loved to go home and play the piano, and she longed for her cousins to join her but they showed no interest. They ignored her and played with other children instead. Because of this, Marie grew up very isolated from friends and family. Even her two stepbrothers, Tom and Cyril, were much older than she was, and so her piano became her best friend.

She wasfiveyearsoldwhenshebeganthisquietlifestyle. Soon, shebegan to attend infant school where she would learn how to read and write and grasp the essential lessons relating to life. It wasn’t long before she began to excel in her studies; in fact, she was something of a genius. Schoolwork was very easy for her, and if the Second World War had not interrupted her studies she would have been allowed to stay in school and continue with her education. At the age of thirteen, she had to leave London and her schooling to join the multitude of children being evacuated to the South of England for safekeeping from Germany’s bombs. Here, they lived with different families who were willing to care for them during the war years. Marie was assigned to stay with a Mrs. Burrell, who became her

adopted mother. Mrs. Burrell was elderly and God-fearing, with a caring heart. Marie was drawn to her love and never lost touch with her until the day she died, always counting her as a dear friend.

While living with Mrs. Burrell, she was allowed to go back to London to visit one of her brothers. One day, a very unusual thing happened. She came running into the house shouting, “Someone is following me! Someone is following me!” Her brother hurried outside to see if he could catch the person, but upon searching, found no one. The whole street was deserted. From then on Marie began to inhabit a second world – paranoia: one world with her piano, in which she withdrew from the company of others, and the next consumed with the fear of the unknown; that there were people “out there” wanting to hurt her. Her whole being began to take on a new dimension. She withdrew into this world and it eventually became her only reality. She would often be seen talking to herself. Sometimes she would dance around the room as if someone else were dancing with her. Her mental state began to become more and more troubled and she was unable to look at life in a normal way. Her brothers protected her, but they could not understand her way of thinking. She became an embarrassment to them.

Five years later the war ended and Marie went back to London to find work. Her mother and father were employed in a theatre in London, so she travelled to the city to seek employment. She found a job in a card shop as a manager but soon she moved from there and found other work. She matured into a beautiful woman. She was polite and courteous, dressed nicely and was appreciated by many. Her sense of humour was contagious and people began to invite her to different functions.

When she was twenty-six years old, she was invited to London to visit a club. There was dancing and drinking and many rowdy men milling about in a drunken state. On this occasion, one of the men insisted on escorting her back to her house in Balham, South London. They took a bus home, but by the time they arrived, the last bus for the city

had departed and there was no way for him to make the return journey. It was decided that he should stay the night. It was on this evening, in March 1954, that this man seduced Marie. Her cousins said that the man must have realised that Marie was not normal and took



Mr & Mrs Burrell and Mum (centre) -1942

advantage of her. In fact, that is exactly what happened. He sexually abused her and she became pregnant. The baby girl she was going to deliver in nine months time was me.

Marie was my mother.


Babyhood

My mother and grandmother were going to call me by a nickname, Bunty. They themselves were both called by this name, but they thought it was inappropriate, and so waited four days to decide what my real name would be.

Over the hospital radio they heard the song, “Every little breeze seems to whisper Louise.” This is what they named me, Louisa Mary Bunce. Of course, when they took me home, Bunty was the only name they called me and this was the name I associated with throughout my life, except for a short period in school when ‘Louise’ took preference.

I was taken home from Camberwell hospital to Mum’s four bedroom council house in Balham. My address was 6a Beira Street, located in the middle of the terraced houses. There was a little candy shop on the corner, where my friends and I would often spend our pocket money.

Next door on my right was Mrs. Wilkinson, an elderly widow whose husband had been a sailor and on my left, Mr. and Mrs. Barrows and their two children.

There were other children livingin the area who later became my friends, but little did I realise, that there was Someone much bigger and much greater than all these, watching over me. He saw the circumstances that surrounded my entrance into this world and without my knowledge, decided that one day, He was going to share a secret with me that would change my whole destiny – He was going to place His Story within my life.

Until that day, He just watched and waited patiently.



Orphanage Days




















Bunty’s early orphange days

I can’t recall my baby days, but I do remember my mother saying that when I was one year old she took me to the doctor because I never cried and wanted to know if I had a medical problem. The doctor said, “I can cure her body, but not her soul.”

When I was two years old my mother’s psychiatric illness greatly intensified, and she was unable to work. The doctor prescribed medication that made it difficult for her to look after me. My grandmother was out of the house most of the day, so the government thought it best that I be put into governmental care. I was

placed in Tudor Lodge, an orphanage in Wimbledon, South London, which became my new home.

My Uncle Tom (Mum’s stepbrother) often visited me on weekends at the orphanage and would take me out for walks on Wimbledon Common. Even though I was a little child and he was a tall man, I remember looking up into his caring face as I stretched out my hand to reach his. He became my regular playmate, taking me to get ice-creams from a wind-mill that was now a shop, pushing me on the swings and letting me kick piles of dead leaves that had settled, after the wind had finished its journey. He released me to have fun, while all the time supervising my freedom.

In my fourth year, the government transferred me to a different orphanage. This one was in Streatham, South London, on a busy main road opposite Tooting Bec Common, a popular place for people to retreat to at weekends. It was a big, red-bricked house, situated between two other mansions, with a large garden full of many green gooseberry bushes.



The Orphange

Upon entering this orphanage, my eyes grew wide! It had a massive staircase that went up the middle of the house and an enormous lounge and dining room. The bedrooms were huge - every room was so big, that I felt so small by comparison! It was overwhelming and I felt very inadequate. I didn’t know how to fit in to such scenery, so I became quiet. Hence, if I had a question I would never voice it; if I needed help in some area, I would never ask for it; so I watched and pondered everything that went on around me.

However, there were times when I joined in with the other children’s activities. One night, we had all been put to bed with strict orders not to get up! Ten of us in the dormitory decided to have a pillow fight, so we were jumping on the beds and making a lot of noise. We were laughing and shouting and throwing pillows everywhere! Suddenly, Mrs. Walloper – well, that’s the name I gave her! – flung open our bedroom door. She ordered us to go down to her office and wait for her. We stopped laughing, hung our heads, and silently made our way down the corridor to her office. One by one we were called in and given a firm warning. If we got out of bed once more we would get a wallop! I thought quickly, Bunty, don’t get out of bed. If you do, you will get walloped! (And who in their right mind would want to get a hiding?) So the evening progressed. There was silence for a while, but soon some of the older children began to whisper.

In no time, the pillows were flying, and once more the children were bouncing on their beds! I was wondering whether to join in, when suddenly, I saw a shadow comingfrom under the bedroom door. I knew someone was standing outside listening. I couldn’t raise my voice to tell the others so I just waited quietly, withdrawing into myself again. The door opened and there was Mrs. Walloper! This time she was like a bull in a china shop! She shouted out commands to the kids that were not in their beds. She marched them down the corridor to her office, but instead of talking to them she gave them a hiding. Silence soon

marched back to the dormitory! That day, I learned that if you obey, you don’t get corrected, but if you disobey......Ouch! Hence, I observed this “lesson of life” from my quiet world!

My quietness affected other areas of my life. A year later I was playing with some of the children in the lounge. A tin drum came hurtling through the air and caught me on the forehead! I was shocked as blood began to trickle down my face. I slowly made my way to the kitchen door where I knew the helpers were getting supper ready. I stood outside, not wanting to tell them that I had been hurt. About ten minutes passed, when someone reported the incident and I received treatment. I bore my pain quietly.

Saturday mornings, many visitors came to the orphanage to see if they wanted to adopt any of the children. I would hide behind a big post near the lounge and wait to see if my name was called, but it never was. Many of my friends would go into the lounge with their prospective parents and discuss their future together. Once they left the home I would never see them again. At times I would ponder this situation, asking questions in my mind but never airing them.

The staff were friendly and I got on well with them. Sometimes, to see them laugh, I would hide behind a door and cry, “Boo!” as they passed by. They would smile as I ran off. There was a lovely rapport between us, which made my orphanage years fun. I especially looked forward to my seventh birthday as the staff had promised me a gift of a bicycle.

My Mum and grandmother never visited me in the orphanage, but my Uncle Tom came every week after work. He would bring me sweets, sit me down and have a chat. He was always there for me and I got to know him well. Two weeks before my seventh birthday, Uncle Tom arrived at the orphanage and explained he was going to take me back to Balham to live with my mother and grandmother. It made things very difficult for me as I was expected to enter into family life and function like an

ordinary child. It was strange at first. My Mum and grandmother were quiet people and distant. There weren’t any other children now in the house and the rooms were small. It was a dreary place, with dark brown wallpaper and carpet, the same décor that had been there during the war years. It was very different from that which I was accustomed to at the orphanage. I was afraid to break any rule and lived in fear of doing so.

On the morning of my seventh birthday, I woke with an anticipation of the bicycle to come. But as the day progressed, that which had been promised at the orphanage was not fulfilled at home. My excitement dwindled. I withdrew into myself, never sharing the loss I felt. Mary Howard, one of the staff from the orphanage, sent me presents two years in a row for my birthday, which was something I have never forgotten.

When it was time for me to start my new school, Mum asked our neighbour, Mrs. Wilkinson, to take me. Even though it only took twenty minutes, Mum never walked me there herself. She wanted me to get used to the area so that I could get there on my own, even though I was only seven years old.














Bunty’s first school photo

It wasn’t long before children in the street began knocking at my door. Lorraine, an older girl living nearby, offered to introduce me to all the other children. She took my hand and walked me down the street to where her twelve friends had gathered. (In the orphanage we never played in the street and never had friends knock at the door to ask us out to play, so this was a new concept for me). Mums and dads

would be chatting outside their gates as the children played. Sometimes they would even play with us! One father pushed us in a go-cart that he had made for his son! There was always a game to play, such as “Hide- and -Seek”. A lovely atmosphere built up in the street, as we gathered every evening and at weekends. It was fun. A sense of belonging filled my heart as the friends and families in the street accepted me, but when I entered the door of my house, the quiet, lonely world returned.


Junior School

Miss Scott was my first year school teacher. She was a gentle lady and had just recently graduated from college. During a mathematics lesson, she wrote many sums on the blackboard for us to copy and solve. While the children were doing this, she began to read a newspaper. As I pondered this situation I made a negative comment to my friend. Miss Scott overheard and asked me to go to the front of the classroom. She picked up a ruler, told me to bend over and smacked the back of my legs! I went back to my seat trying not to cry, but slowly the tears came. For the next four years, I was often in trouble for talking and disobeying. Many lunch hours I would be standing in the hallway during break times as a punishment.

In my final year of junior school I had a teacher named Miss Hart. She took the whole class on a school holiday down to the beach. When Sunday came, she wanted all of us to get dressed for church. For some reason I refused to go. She begged me to get ready, but I was stubborn and would not budge. I folded my arms and sat in the hotel room. Everyone left except me. Because of this incident, Miss Hart and Miss Scott decided that they were going to pray for me. I didn’t know Miss Scott had been lifting me up to God in prayer since that incident in her first grade classroom, but now her prayers were going to be joined with those of Miss Hart. They were both Christians.

Even though my school teachers were praying for me, nothing changed my day-to-day existence. At home I felt isolated and unaccepted. My Mum never bought me the required school uniform, and I had to wear second- hand clothing until my last year of junior school. Then unexpectedly, she took me to a clothing shop and bought me a new blue school uniform. In my blue jersey, grey skirt, and long white socks, I looked so smart! The next day I ran to school and knocked on the headmaster’s door and with joy in my heart said, “Do you like my new uniform?” He looked at me and smiled. During assembly that morning, he had a boy student and me stand up in front of three hundred children, to show off the uniform. From the platform, I stared at the children and suddenly realised that now I was like them. No longer did I have to struggle to fit in. A sense of satisfaction filled my heart that now my new school uniform blended in and so did I. It felt so good!

During this time Miss Hart took me to a large auditorium in Earls Court, London, to hear evangelist Billy Graham speak. He asked people who wantedto give their lives to Jesus to go down to the front of the platform and pray a prayer. I did this, but it meant nothing to me. I even won a school prize in English and was asked to pick a book from many in the school hall as a reward. For some reason I saw a Bible and decided that is what I wanted. On picking it up, another student wanted it as well, and we actually began to fight over it! We started shouting at each other while pulling it back and forth until Miss Hart hurried over. She eventually gave it to me, and the other girl picked something else. Even though I began reading the Bible, it didn’t mean anything to me, but my teachers continued to pray.

My days at junior school had come to an end, and at the age of twelve, it was time for me to attend senior school. My Mum asked her cousin, whom I called Auntie Eileen, if she wouldtake me for my school interview to see if they would accept me; Mum would not take me herself, and was rarely seen in public with me because of her illness. During the

interview, I informed the headmistress that I wasn’t going to like her school, because I wanted to go to the one where my friends were going, the one nearer to my house. This school was far too far away! I was defiant and did all I could to be refused entry.

A few weeks later, a letter arrived stating I had been accepted. I was extremely angry! I made up my mind that when the school term began; I was





















Bunty’s second school photo

going to hate it. I determined to give my teacher a rough time, hoping the school would release me to be with my friends. But because my teacher, Mrs. Harman, spoke nicely to me all the time, I was unable to speak badly back! My heart began to soften. She was so caring, that by the end of the first week, I realised that this school wasn’t so bad after all. I began to change my thinking and so allowed myself to be taught.

Although I attended a different school, I still met with my neighbourhood friends. I was twelve years old and decided to join their street gang so that I could be one of them. The children from my area would fight children from a neighbouring suburb. About fifty kids on each side would rumble and roll down the street. My job was to walk in front and swing a rope at anyone who got near. I was terrified, finally panicked, dropped the rope and ran! Such were my gang days!

Gran

I wasn’t very close to my grandmother (Gran). Actually, I wasn’t close to anyone! I followed orders in the house and lived silently. I was not often corrected and everyone spoke quietly to each other. My mother spoke with a very upper class London accent (which I understood to have come through my grandfather who had died before I was born), whereas Gran had a South London accent very similar to Cockney, like Eliza in the film My Fair Lady. She was a hard worker, often to be found on her knees cleaning the cement doorstep with a red polish to keep it shiny. She would wash clothes on a scrubbing board in the kitchen sink and then hang them over the back yard on a pulley. Gran enjoyed playing cards with her relatives who came over to the house every Saturday. My job was to polish the cards with wax so that they would be slippery and last longer. I enjoyed seeing everyone trying to win, even though I never joined in.

Each week Gran would bet money on the football pools. One Saturday I had gone fishing and somehow had lost my door key. When I came home, I rang the doorbell, and because no one answered, I kept ringing! Gran, very annoyed, came down the stairs and shouted at me for not letting her hear the football results on the radio. As I walked past her she whacked me around the head with a folded newspaper – Ouch! That was the only time I saw her angry. Normally she was quiet, controlled, and in charge of her emotions. I loved my Gran!

When I was eleven years old, we had a television delivered to the house. It was a wonderful surprise! I ran down the street shouting to my neighbours, “We have a telly! We have a telly!” Everyone saw how happy I was! One evening while watching Z-Cars (a police programme), I had just reached an exciting place in the story when Gran told me to go to bed. I looked back at the telly, and then at Gran, but I obeyed. I couldn’t understand how someone could be told to go to bed when they hadn’t

seen the end of the story. It confused me, but I never asked if I could stay up, as I didn’t question authority.

A few months after I started senior school, my grandmother had a stroke. Because she was hospitalised Mum went to visit her often while I stayed with my Aunty Eileen.

Two weeks later Aunty Eileen said Gran had gone to Heaven. I just said, ‘Oh!’ A few tears fell, but I didn’t really know what it meant for someone to go to Heaven, as “Bible talk” was not a part of my family history. I knew it meant that she had died and I wouldn’t see her again. As death was an experience I had never been through before, I just watched and listened to see what my next step would be. After Gran died, Mum never spoke to me about her again. Her sickness and death were not discussed. I suppose she had a funeral, but I was never told nor invited to attend. It was as if she had never been alive.

Life for me took on more silence as Mum continued to live in her world and I had to adjust. My mother and I now had to relate to each other. Up to this time Gran had been my primary caretaker. She was in charge of the home, got me ready for school and cooked my meals, but now she was gone and a new scenario began.


Home Life

I continued to attend school, but things were different after Gran died. My school uniform and sports clothes were stretched out of shape, and when I got home the food was often burnt. I realised that Mum wasn’t used to doing the washing or cooking as Gran had always done it. With a sense of helplessness, I would silently sit in the corner of the lounge, pondering the situation. Mum and I never brought up issues to discuss, so we hardly said anything to each other. She began to live in the kitchen and I lived in the lounge. I would come home from school, and a bar

of chocolate and a packet of crisps would be on the table waiting for me. This was nice, but Mum would stay in the kitchen so we never sat down and talked about my day at school. She would sit in front of the cooker singing and talking to herself, and I would eat my crisps and do my homework. At six o’clock every evening Mum would come out of the kitchen with some cheese on toast, egg on toast, or beans on toast for my supper. This would be my meal from Monday to Friday for many years. I became interested in athletics and so would be at the running club until 9:00 p.m. most days. I then came home and went to bed. Mum would go to work as a cleaner early in the morning, so I would get my own cereal and then make my way to school. This is how life was for me until something incredible happened.


Salvation

I was twelve years old when Miss Scott, my former primary school teacher, invited me to a Christian children’s camp called the “Surrey and Sussex Girls’ Camp.” All the children were invited to a tent meeting one evening. As the children were singing I walked down to the front and sat on one of the benches. Afterwards, a lady rose and began speaking.

She said, “All of you who know Jesus stand up and say what He has done for you. The rest of you, pray.”

One child stood up and said, “Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying for me.” “Thank you for forgiving me of my sins,” a voice sounded behind me. Another said, “Thank you for rising from the dead.”

A fourth child said, “Thank you for being here in the meeting.”

When I heard this, I felt someone sit down beside me. I slid along the bench and turned to make room for them, but no one was there! A big gap was between the next person and me. I quickly began to assess what was

happening. I mulled over what the last child had said about Jesus Christ being here in the meeting. My heart began to pound and my mind raced! Bunty, Bunty, what are you going to do? He’s here! He’s here! I jumped to my feet and shouted, “Lord Jesus, forgive my sins and come into my life.” It felt like this “presence” beside me stood up and entered into me. Suddenly, warmth saturated my being as I was stilled by His presence.

I left the meeting dazed! It was night time, and I looked up into the dark sky. Because I didn’t really know what had happened to me inside the tent, I began to talk to God. The greatest knowledge I had of Him was the Lord’s Prayer, as we said that every day in the school assembly. So, gazing up into the sky, I prayed, “God, if you are the God of the Lord’s Prayer

– “Our Father who art in Heaven” – and you have something to do with Jesus who was in the tent, please show me a sign.” Slowly, bright stars began to appear in the form of a circle above the camp. I stared in awe at them and said, “Okay, God. Only You could do that.” I then began to think of what Jesus had done for me. I whispered, “Lord Jesus, You gave Your life for me, I’ll give my life for You!”

A precious secret from heaven was revealed to me that day. God, because of His love and mercy, had sent His only Son, Jesus, to this earth to die for my sins. If I came to Him in repentance, He would hear my prayers, forgive my sins, and come and live within me! That is exactly what happened. A miracle took place! I had just begun a relationship with the living God!

The next day the camp ended and I excitedly travelled back to my home in London. Instead of sitting in the lounge alone, I now had a Friend and Saviour named Jesus Christ who accompanied me. Mum would stay in the kitchen talking to herself, but Jesus, my new Friend, was with me in the lounge! I began to trust Him and share with Him the quiet places of my heart.

Little did I know that He was about to transform my mundane path into an extraordinary journey. It wasn’t until years later that I realised that He had

plans for me even before I was born! He witnessed my Mother’s situation, and the circumstances surrounding my birth. He heard the prayers of my school teachers, patiently waiting until I was twelve years old to answer and make Himself known to me. God revealed His presence to me in the tent, and showed me the circle of stars in the sky because He wanted me to trust Him with my life. He wanted to get my attention and train me to live for Him. He knew, through my curiosity and quiet thoughts, that I would diligently seek Him.


Church Life

I began to meet my schoolteacher, Miss Hart, at her church on Sunday evenings. To get there, I walked down a longroad passingseveral pubs on both sides. In the daytime it was quite safe so I took my picture Bible (the one I gained as a prize in my last school) and made my way to church. I sat in the middle of the church, ready and eager to hear what the preacher had to say. Many times I didn’t understand the sermons, but if anyone ever spoke about Jesus dying and rising again, they got my full attention! Because I knew He was alive, these sermons were adventure stories that kept me on the edge of my seat, but when the speaker spoke on some other Bible-related topic, I lost interest. I joined the junior Bible study group, but when they began to teach about Daniel, I asked who he was. They told me he was a man in the Bible.

“Is he alive today?” I asked.

“No, he’s dead,” they replied. I didn’t want to hear about dead people, I wanted to hear about Jesus who is alive, so I left the junior Bible study. I later joined the senior Bible study and the same situation occurred.

“Who are we studying today?” I questioned. “Jehoshaphat.”

“Who’s he?”

“He’s a man in the Bible.” “Is He alive?”

“No, he’s dead.”

“I don’t want to learn about dead people I want to learn about Jesus,” so I left the senior Bible study also.

Because of my behaviour, the church struggled with me. As an individual I found church life hard to adjust to, and I didn’t fit in. You had to wear smart clothes to look the part, and on Sunday mornings you had to wear a hat. I was twelve years old, and I remember sitting on the church wall watching elderly people come out of the morning service with their hats on and asking Jesus, Do you really want me to look like that? It just didn’t seem right to look “funny” when one goes to church; however, I was told that if I wanted to go to the morning service I would have to wear a hat! No hat, no church! Hmm.

Hence, church and I were not good friends, but I loved Jesus! I wanted so much to learn about Him and follow Him. His presence was within me and I knew He was watching over me, but how could I know Him better? I didn’t understand the rules and regulations of church and I didn’t understand the Bible, other than John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This verse became my substance, but church confused me. So I prayed, Lord, please teach me what I need to know to follow You. Church is hard and the sermons are difficult to follow, but I know You can teach me.


Hearing God’s Voice

When I was 13, a church speaker talked of the message in John 10:3 that we are God’s sheep and His sheep hear His voice and follow after


















Another school photo!

Him. How could this be? How can we hear His voice? The Bible says the Holy Spirit leads and teaches us. I wondered if God’s Holy Spirit would help me in this area. God was placing within me a desire to talk to Him. Until now, I had attended church and asked questions, but to no avail. I went back to my quiet world and began to share my questions with Jesus.

One morning as I was getting ready for school, I began to whisper the cries of my heart.

“Lord, please teach me how to hear Your voice. I am going to school now. How long will I have to wait at the bus stop before the bus will come?”

The first thought that came to me was, “Ten minutes.” The bus came in twenty minutes.

I said, “Lord, that wasn’t Your voice, for you tell the truth. I am now late for school. Will there be someone on the gate to book me?”

“Yes,” was the first thought. Thirty minutes later I arrived at the gate, no one was there.

“Lord, that wasn’t Your voice either. Please teach me how to hear Your voice.”

For a whole week I prayed like this and every time I thought it was His voice, it wasn’t.

The following week, I prayed the same prayers and all my questions

were answered rightly in my thoughts. The week after, the same thing happened. Now I knew I could hear His voice. I knelt by my bed. “Lord, I won’t pray silly prayers anymore,” I told Him, “because now I know I can hear Your voice. Thank You so much for teaching me.”

A Special Prayer

It had been six years since I had left the orphanage.

My mind went back to those days and I began to think about the staff who had cared for me. Lord, where are they now? Would you please let me meet up with one of them so that I can thank them for looking after me? I prayed. One sunny Saturday morning three weeks later, I was near Clapham South underground station, when a little lady walked towards me. I studied her face closely. Was this Mary Howard, the friendly lady who used to send me birthday presents? I thought. If this is Miss Howard, how would she recognise me? I could show her that old scar on my leg but I’m much older now. How would she remember me? Many thoughts crowded my mind. While pondering, our shoulders brushed. I quickly glanced down at her lapel, and there, on an ivory heart-shaped brooch was the name “Mary” written in big gold letters! I was too nervous to say anything, so I turned my head away and carried on walking. That night I replayed the day’s events in my mind. What if that was Mary, and God asked her to get off the train and walk the half mile needed to get to the next station, just so I could meet her and thank her for caring for me? Had I let God’s answer to my prayer walk by me? Had I missed it? That evening I sadly knelt beside my bed and asked the Lord to forgive me. I said quietly, “Lord, because of my nervousness I was unable to speak to Mary today. I know you were in charge of this situation, but I lacked courage. Please forgive me and arrange another way to answer my prayer.” A few minutes passed and a lovely peace filled my heart. I slowly rose from my knees with a warm smile on my face. I knew He had heard my prayer!

Mum

As I brought the Lord into my everyday life, Mum paled into insignificance. I was aware of her, but as her world was so different from mine, I thought it best not to interrupt it. My bedroom and lounge became my sanctuary, where God’s presence welcomed me. As the goodness of God filled my heart I became thankful for my life.


Led By The Spirit

As time went by my church invited me to go to a youth group on a Friday evening. I was very nervous because there were many pubs between my house and the church so I prayed another prayer. “Would You please protect me in the dark and keep all the drunkards away from me? Thank You Lord.”

Friday evening arrived and apprehensively, I began the long walk to the youth club. I passed six pubs, three on one side and three on the other. It was still daylight while going to church, but returning was a different story. Even though the street-lights were on, I nervously ventured out with my head down. As I got closer to a pub, a quiet thought interrupted my apprehension, Cross over. I quickly crossed the road and suddenly a drunkard fell out of a doorway on the other side of the street. I had missed him! I carried on walking. Cross over. As I crossed again, another man fell out of a doorway. I had missed him, too! I was approaching another pub. I listened intently but no thoughts came, so I walked on. As I passed that pub I looked across the street where a man was staggering with a bottle of beer in his hand. I had avoided another one! All the way home I kept listening to that quiet thought. I never once passed a drunkard.

When I arrived home, I thought of the evening’s events. Was it a coincidence or had God really led me safely home? Because I wasn’t sure,

I prayed the same prayer the following week. With more confidence, I obeyed the quiet voice and was led to safety. On the third Friday, I decided to pray again. “Please, Lord, just to prove that it is You who was speaking to me, will You once again let me know which side of the road I should walk on, and I will obey You.” It was a cold winter’s night and the street was quiet. I wrapped my coat closer around my neck and watched the warm steam of my breath seep up over my collar. With my head lowered, I snuggled my hands into my pockets and began the lonely walk home. Laughter and shouting came from the many distant pubs, but I kept my ears and mind open to hear if once again those “words” would fill my mind. Cross over came the thought. A joy filled my heart! It was Him! The Lord God of Heaven saw me walking down that long street in London and led me to safety. In this busy, crowded world, He singled me out and desired so much to speak to me by His Holy Spirit. He answered my prayer! Incredible!

When I arrived home, an excitement filled my heart. Before going to bed I knelt down to speak to Him. I looked up to the ceiling and with gratitude in my heart said, “Lord, thank You so much for guarding and protecting me this day. I now know it was You who spoke to me and kept me from danger. You are Wonderful! You are my Friend. Please continue to teach me more about Yourself. Thank you Father. Amen.”


Books, Books, Books

After attending the youth club for a few weeks I became very good at table-tennis, so much so that when we went away for a weekend camp, I won the table-tennis tournament! My prize was a Christian storybook, Tortured for His Faith by Haralan Popov. I wasn’t a book lover and so was not impressed with this prize! However, a few days later I settled down and read it. I was shocked! Here was a man who suffered greatly for being a Christian. He loved Jesus, but, in Communist Russia, being a

Christian was against the law so he was thrown into prison for thirteen years. Incredible! I had never read anything like it. A true story in which someone spoke to God as if He was his friend! This made me very hungry to read more true stories of people who loved Jesus. So, every morning before school I would deliver newspapers, and with the money I earned I purchased many of these books. I went to the local Christian bookshop and bought twenty adventure stories about people’s faith in God on my first ever visit to a bookshop! I was the happiest person on earth! Reading? I never enjoyed it before but I did now!

My appetite for Christian knowledge grew. The Lord was teaching me to hear His voice and be led by His Holy Spirit. I was devouring books that spoke about Him and the youth group was fun. I was growing stronger and stronger in the faith.


Growing In God

At home, Mum began to see a change in me. She knew I was attending church, but whenshe foundout I wasn’t attendingthe traditional Church of England she became very angry. She claimed that it was the only true church! Soon the table in the lounge was stacked with my new Christian books and Mum inquired as to what they were. I excitedly told her that they were the stories of men and women who lived adventurous lives for Jesus, and that I, too, wanted to live for Jesus as they did. She glared at me, and with a smirk on her face said, “You’ll get over it!” and with that statement walked off into the kitchen.

A few weeks later many of the young people were to be baptized in water. They were testifying about how Jesus was real to them, and I was very intrigued. What is water baptism? Is it something Jesus did? Should I be doing this as well? I went to the service and watched fascinated as one by one they stepped down into a miniature swimming pool in the church. An atmosphere of holiness surrounded the baptismal pool, as

the young people spoke of Jesus’ love for them. I sat on the front row, engrossed, knowing that one day I would enter that pool also. Within me I knew that I, too, wanted to follow Jesus like this; to go under the water to remember His death and then to rise again to remember His resurrection.

Six weeks later, Mum and I went to church together because it was now my time to be baptized. It was Mum’s turn to sit on the front row and look intently at everything! I shared with the congregation how Jesus had saved me and made Himself real to me at camp. I publicly told everyone that I was now a Christian and I wanted to follow Him the rest of my life. My Mum just stared at me smiling. The minister standing in the pool held on to my hands, placed his other hand behind my back, and lowered me gently into the water. I felt myself go under, but quickly jumped up because it was cold! As I came out of the water, a wonderful cleansing swept through my body from head-to-toe. Time seemed to stand still and I bathed in His presence. God was doing something within me!

After the baptism, a lady directed me to another room to change into my clothes. As I was changing, I realised that most of my head was dry, so I quickly found a cup, and filled it with water. With joy in my heart, I poured it out over my head. A smile came to my face as I realized that I was now totally baptized in water.

God filled me with His joy! On my return to the meeting, I saw Mum sitting quietly in the church smiling. I’m not sure how she felt about the service, as she never spoke of it but we went home peacefully together.

Family

Uncle Tom and Aunty Wynne came to the house often at weekends. They brought their small black poodle named Pooky and together we would go to the park and play with the dog. It was a good time for me

to get acquainted with other family members. Wynne was quiet, but smiled frequently. It was good to be with them. At Christmas time, Mum and I would travel to their house to spend Christmas with them and their two children, Jennifer and Michael.

One night, I had a dream in which my mother told me that Aunty Wynne and Uncle Tom had broken up and they were no longer married. The dream affected me so much that I woke up in the middle of the night sobbing – I was heartbroken. The next day Mum told me that they were coming to the house to visit. I looked at her in surprise. I wanted to say, but Mum, they are not together anymore. Still, a few days went by and here came Aunty Wynne and Uncle Tom with their little dog, Pooky. I looked at them and couldn’t understand why they were still together, for the dream was so real. Eight years later, while at Bible College, Mum relayed to me that they had broken up. I was sad, but I didn’t even cry. God had taken me through that grief years earlier. He knew I would not have been able to cope at a later stage in life, because my uncle was my best friend. He broke the news to me before it happened.

As the weeks went by, Mum began to talk to me about my relatives. She gave me a strict warning that I was not to see any of them without her permission. The only time I could visit a relative was if she was with me, and so as to not upset her, I did as she asked.


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