God’s work in the lives of Paul & Jan

April 2, 2019

in Testimony

Paul shares: I was brought up in a small village near Swansea in South Wales. The name of the village is Llangyfelach (see me for the pronunciation!). As a child I attended the village Anglican church. I went to Sunday school, as did most of my village school mates, and joined the church choir at 8 years old. Most of the choir boys were school mates too. We were no angels and I remember on one occasion we dared each other to steal sweets from the village shop on our way to choir practice! We also dared each other to jump through stacks of dried ferns which we’d set on fire! Somehow, my mother got to know about both incidents!

When the family moved to another village when I was 13, I stopped going to church but never stopped believing in God. However, I also started studying science in earnest and stopped believing in creation.

As an older teenager, I had a school friend, also called Paul. One day, I caught a glimpse of a wonderful young lady who turned out to be Paul’s cousin. I told my school mates “I will marry her one day”. The wonderful young lady’s name was Janet Rigby.

On April 17th 1980 I had my first date with Janet Rigby. If you’re impressed I remember the date, it’s because it’s also my youngest brother’s birthday! We dated for sometime, during which my friend Paul (Jan’s cousin – please keep up) became a Christian, after a summer holiday in Bournemouth. He and I would have fervent (angry) debates, as I disputed with this “jonny come lately, born again” who was challenging whether I too was a Christian, and that I needed to repent of my sin and turn to the Lord to be saved. How dare he!
In the run up to my exams the following spring, he invited Jan and me to church. Hedging my bets, and hoping for good exam results, we agreed to go. Jan and I sat there bemused and amused by grown men in “the big seat” shouting “Amen!” and “Hallelujah” whenever the preacher said something they really liked!

Sadly, Jan and I broke up (my fault) and spent the summer apart. During that summer, and after many more debates with Paul, the Lord finally broke through with me. A group of us boys went camping in Cornwall. Paul persuaded us all to attend a Pentecostal church on the Sunday. If I thought the Congregational church men of Swansea were wild, these Pentecostals were off the scale!
One night, in the tent, I could see Paul was reading his Bible. “What are you reading now?” I asked in something of a mocking tone. “Romans chapter 8” came the reply. I wasn’t really sure I was aware the Romans had their own book in the Bible. Seemed a bit rich seeing as they had killed Jesus, I thought.

Sometime later after returning to Swansea I decided to find out more about these Romans. I read chapter 8. These words hit me between the eyes “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
At that moment I knew I didn’t have the same conviction that the writer of this book could testify to. I also knew I didn’t have the same confidence that Paul had come to know. I knew I wanted it, though. So I prayed, really prayed, and I was honest with God for the first time. I asked God to forgive me for the wrong things I had done – first of all for giving Paul such a hard time over him sharing his new faith with us! I felt a deep reassurance that God had heard me and that he had always loved me, was waiting to forgive me, and he came in to my life by his spirit. I read Romans 8 again and I knew that I knew it to be true for me for the very first time. “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” I said…just like those wild congregationalists!

Soon after, I was working at one of the Swansea hospitals as part of my biomedical student placement and Jan was working at the DVLA. One day, I drove past the DVLA bus stop and I saw Jan standing there. With much trepidation (and a little inward excitement!) I stopped my car and asked if Jan wanted a lift home. I was delighted when she said yes. We soon realised that while we’d been apart, the Lord had brought us both to faith, deal-ing with us independently but in order to bring us together – for his glory and honour.
We had been attending the same Congregational church but not at the same services! So we now started attending together. We started attending Sunday school, Youth meetings both at our church and in other churches and eventually started helping run the youth group.

We became church members and were married at the church in May 1985. One of the ministers who officiated at our wedding was Spencer Cunnah who now happens to be Calix’s pastor and visiting lecturer in Evangelical Preaching at The London Seminary. The Lord blessed us with our first child Martyn just over a year later and in 1990 we moved to Horsham and started attending Rehoboth………via Saudi Arabia…..and that’s a whole new chapter to the story!

Jan shares: I was born in a small town in the Welsh Valleys. My parents weren’t Christians but I was taken to the local Baptist church, where I attended Sunday school. I was familiar with dedications and baptismal services, every Whit-sun each church in the town would march through the town singing hymns, which I loved. I had a bible and was regularly read bible stories. My father had his own business as a butcher in the town, which meant he worked six days a week. So when he bought a car, Sunday became our family day and my attendance at Sunday school became less frequent.

At the age of eleven my father sold his business and we moved to Swansea.( We actually moved to Loughor, where the Welsh revival started in 1904.) In 1980 my cousin introduced me to his friend Paul Phillips! We started dating in the April. My cousin went on holiday that Summer and on his return announced that he had become a Christian. At this time if asked I would have said that I was a Christian as I believed in God, but I would not have agreed that I was a sinner. By the Christmas of that year my cousin rounded up our group of friends and took us to a carol service at the church he was attending. I enjoyed singing the carols, and was amazed (and amused) by the passion of the men sitting at the front of the church.
1980 came to an end and in 1981 so did Paul and I. It was during the Summer of 1981, that my cousin asked me to go with him to church again. I started going with him each Sunday morning that summer.

I slowly became aware that I WAS a sinner , and in fact it was because of MY sin that Jesus came and died, because he loved me so much. I started reading the bible that I kept in my bedside table ( a Gideon’s bible ). In the June of that year I asked the Lord into my life.
After a “chance “ meeting with Paul, in the Autumn of that year we discovered we had both become Christians and started dating again. The rest is history!
(Those passionate men at the front of the church, were to become Godly influencers and dear friends of ours.)

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