Karen's testimony: God works out all things for good

Karen Whiterod was baptised at Ipswich Road United Reformed Church in August 2012. Here Karen shares how God has been at work in her life, bringing her to faith in Christ.

KarenI decided to become a Christian on 1st November 2011.  At that time the rheumatoid arthritis from which I had been suffering for a year had gone into remission.  I had a Christian friend, David, whom I had met at my dance class.  My grandparents had been Christians and ran a Mission Hall in Hingham, where my grandfather was a lay-preacher and I attended Sunday school. None of this alone made me a Christian but the effect has been cumulative.  I believe Jesus Christ has been working in my life for a very long time (a life-time probably) as many things have created a drip drip effect which in the past few years have increased their effectiveness resulting in me welcoming Jesus Christ into my life.

When I was ill the activities and means to earn my living were taken away from me.  I worked as a self-employed community artist, having pain in my hands, not being able to use my right arm meant I couldn’t work, pain in my knees, ankles and feet restricted my mobility, so driving and my hobby of dancing was out, I couldn’t invite friends or family round for a meal as cooking was difficult.  When I recovered somehow just picking up my life in the same way didn’t seem appropriate.  That experience needed to be transformed into something positive.  I learnt so much from that experience – God has blessed me with a family and friends who supported and cared for me in their own ways (and still do).  He gave me the skills to problem-solve and work-out ways to help myself.  I can now empathise with those whose lives are shaped by illness and disability.

I had known David for two years and had experienced his kindness and seen how he helped others and his selflessness in being a Street Pastor once per month even though he would only have one & a half hours sleep due to working early the following day.  I had occasionally attended services at this church with him and Josie.  I had been to a New Years’ Eve party in Wroxham and made a cross in a clay workshop in Princes Street church. 

P8120418On 1st November everything “aligned” itself, you might say.  It started with a walk with David on Marston Common, the simple appreciation that I could walk and see the God-given beauty of the natural world.   Then we visited Jill and Paul.  I heard about Paul’s life as a creative person and I knew he was a Christian.  Being able to identify with a person has a powerful impact and sets you thinking.  Following this David and I talked about Christianity for possibly the first time, he was about to attend his Alpha course and had his book with him.  Alone later in a state of great agitation I felt I had to “jump” over this barrier and say I wanted to know more, in fact, maybe I really knew at once that I wanted Jesus Christ in my life, reading “Questions of Life” (which Matt gave me) was just a fact searching exercise not a need to convince myself.  Going on a retreat at Clare Priory on 19th November strengthened that conviction.

What does this mean to me now?  I am not alone in my struggles, that is a huge comfort – I can pray, I can pick up my bible and read.  I know I am loved by my Father God and he has plans for me, he will guide me.  Faith has replaced uncertainty and anxiety.  I know there is another way to live – the goals of our society to acquire money and prestige are not relevant, that is very liberating.  Knowing you can be kind and considerate to others and if your motives are questioned, you can just say, “I’m a Christian!”  Many of my concerns about environmental issues and the selfishness in our society have been given a framework; it is all part of who I am as a Christian.  I don’t have to “fit in” with the rest of society if that doesn’t feel right.

I think the gradual way that I became a Christian is an example of how the Holy Spirit can work through us to bring others to know Jesus Christ, but we must accept that the result may not be instantaneous.  My grandmother, Dora Whiterod, always prayed and hoped I would become a Christian, she took me and several of our family members to see Billy Graham at Carrow Road, but it didn’t have a result at the time.  The final stage of my journey to having a relationship with Jesus Christ has been through meeting a Christian at dance class and recovering from a life-changing illness.  This supports our recent sermon that our “mission-field” is out there in our world, where we meet and interact with others and are visible Christians.

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