“One of the biggest things for me has been letting go of control. It’s frightening at times because we’ve felt like we’ve lived on the edge a lot. Once you give your life to Jesus you’re surrendering everything…”
Generosity isn’t easy. There’s lots of competing pressures in life, all sorts of good reasons not to give. But when you’re following Jesus, when you’re stepping out and taking risks, you’re making space to see God work in amazing ways.
Sarah was invited to Kings as a kid back in 2002. Seventeen years later we see three generations of her family all following Jesus. What God can do through one child is amazing. A big thank you to all our incredible kids workers! You’re impacting whole families and future generations.
Here’s a story that’s come out of our 24-7 prayer room at Hampden Park:
My husband was diagnosed with another illness on top of everything else that he’s got, which is going to affect our future a lot. And I couldn’t really see how we were going to cope with the future, with what it would bring.
So last Thursday, which was 6th September, Terri said to me “why don’t you go in the prayer room and talk to God”.
We went to the group meeting feeling very low still. Terri persuaded me to spend an hour in the prayer room. At first I said no, but then went in.
As I entered I felt a real presence of God. I sat down facing a wall and said “okay God, speak to me”. I prayed for about half an hour for family etc, then I had this picture (or vision) appear in my mind. It was a bit like a dream, but so real:
Ruben and I were walking along a path, hand in hand. A man approached us. He was quite young, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.
He said “the path ahead is very rough. It’s full of brambles, rocks and thorns. I will help you.”
He took us both by the hand and walked along the path with us. When I looked down, all our feet were bleeding. None of us had any shoes on including the young man.
Soon we came to the end of the path and a smooth road was ahead. The man let go of our hands and said “you will be okay now” and walked away. We continued on our way. I had a real feeling of joy as I sat there.
At first I didn’t understand why all our feet were bleeding, but I think it was to show that Jesus suffers with us, and he knows how we’re suffering.
Two days later during my quiet time at home the picture came back again. This time there was a difference. At the end of the walk I asked the man who he was. He said “some say I am nobody. But to you I am everybody.” Then he walked away as before.
I feel a load has been lifted from my heart. I see a future now that I didn’t before: hope and joy.
— Lynn, Hampden Park Venue
If you’ve got a story from our 30 days of prayer, we would love to hear them! Let us know at: www.kings.church/forms/your-stories
Before the iPhone, SnapChat or the Internet, there was Kings! Planted in the 80s, in the age of the Rubix Cube, Ceefax and the Commodore 64, Kings Church began in Old Town, in a house, with just 18 people.
Many things have changed, but one thing hasn’t…
I’m a proper Hampden Park girl. I went to school at Parklands, bought my penny sweets in Paper Lane and have been feeding those ducks in the park since I was born!
I’m one of four kids, we lived with my mum and went to my Dad’s on the weekend. Church wasn’t part of our lives, it was just something our grandparents did because that’s what grandparents do.
As a teenager, I struggled with anger and depression. I was rebellious and sinking into some dangerous habits. I had no motivation for life. Although I didn’t know at the time, I was craving acceptance, belonging and purpose.
One night, some mates of mine dared me to knock on the door of a house we walked past with an Alpha Course poster in the window. We had no idea what it was about and were greeted by a very excited, jolly Belinda who explained it was about God!! She was really nice, but church and God was not for us.
“I was a pretty dodgy and intimidating teenager and yet I was welcomed with open arms.”
I lived just up the road and for about a year I’d bump into her out and about every so often until one day she invited me to help paint the local scout hut as part of an outreach weekend. Something intrigued me, so I went along.
I was 16 at this point and off the back of painting the scout hut, Belinda invited me to Kings. After about a month of coming on Sundays, meeting some very lovely people and quizzing Belinda on what this was all about, I chose to follow Jesus.
This decision changed the course of my life. I had nothing going for me, I had given up on myself and yet He pursued me, redeemed my life from the pit and crowned me with love and compassion.
I’ve had some amazing blessings and times of pure joy, I’ve also had some really dark and tough times too. There are no promises that the Christian life is easy, but He has always provided me with exactly what I’ve needed to get through, and always in such a personalised way.
Kings was a great environment to figure out what this all meant, equipping me for life and laying the foundations of my faith that still hold strong today.
“This decision changed the course of my life. I had nothing going for me, I had given up on myself ”
It felt like I was involved in every part of Kings life. I was loved and cared for by so many people of different ages and backgrounds. I was a pretty dodgy and intimidating teenager and yet I was welcomed and embraced with open arms.
I was at Kings for about two years before I moved to London to do Impact (a Christian discipleship gap year) and serve on projects with local young people and the homeless.
I still live in London with my husband Ben. We’re involved in church planting in Lewisham borough, with a real heart for the community, particularly the issue of serious youth violence.
When I was younger I found it hard to stick with anything for very long, but by the grace of God, who has been not letting me go for nearly 15 years, I’m approaching my 10th wedding anniversary, have had quite a successful career as a quantity surveyor working for award winning companies and got myself one of those fancy university degrees.
As a teenager, I never could have imagined the experiences that God has brought me through and the adventures He takes me on. I’m thankful for His consistent provision and pursuit of me.
75 of our 11-19 year-olds went to Newday, a major Christian youth festival that takes place every summer over six days at the Norfolk showground. 7000 youth attended and it’s always a real highlight of the year.
Friendships are made, there’s lots of life and a lot of laughter. There’s great times of worship and tons of fantastic Bible teaching. It helps grow the faith of our young people, and for some it’s life changing. We often hear stories of salvation and stories of healing. Here’s just a few snippets of what God is doing in the lives of our young people:
“It got to the point where my life was dependent on drugs. I began to hate myself and blame myself… I started taking this out on my weight as it’s the only thing I can control. I kept turning to drugs as it was the only thing that made me happy. I asked God to fill me with the Holy Spirit… My anxiety immediately went and I feel comfortable in my own skin. I will never turn my back again, He is real. I’m ready to start my new journey with God. Knowing I have a Father who loves me for who I am no matter how many sins I have caused is incredible.”
“I had a knee problem for two years. A microfracture meniscus tear causing pain all the time when walking, jogging, running and trying to undertake basic actions or activities… then everyone prayed… I realised I was pain free and could touch my toes. The feeling of being able to walk was overwhelming. I am really thankful for what God has done for me and how much he has got me through.”
“Unfortunately, I am very easy to get hurt. In 2016 I had an accident on the go karts. My knee was swollen for three days and then later in 2017 I was pushed into the lockers and once again hit my back and once again I went to the doctor. He said that because of the hit my liver was damaged. I felt terrible, I was in unbearable pain and I cried a lot…
On the fourth night of Newday the main objective was healing and I couldn’t believe it! I placed my right hand on my upper back and my left hand on my lower back. I got a sudden stroke of pain. I felt pain on all my back and my knees and I fell onto the ground. I was crying. The pain had gone. I felt new. I was new! God the Heavenly Father listened to my prayer and he, the great I AM took all my sins and my pains away. Now I feel no more pain. Thank you”
“We were having a night focused on the Holy Spirit. The preacher Francis Chan was speaking about how God may show himself. I started praying for my friends. I had a conversation with God!”
“There was a call for anyone who wanted to go up and give their life to Jesus. At first this didn’t appeal to me. But then I knew something had changed and I wanted to be a Christian. We went out and prayed. I had taken that last step. I was now a Christian.”
“I prayed for healing for my depression and for my scars to disappear. As I finished my prayer I looked at my wrists and ALL of the scars and blemishes had disappeared. It feels completely brand new!”
“Newday this year has really helped. Through preaches I could relate and understand God more. I have now learnt to carry on going for God, even when you feel he’s not talking to you.”
Find all the talks from Newday online at soundcloud.com/newdayevent
Mum didn’t have much money on benefits with five kids. More times than I could remember we would sit around the table at dinner, with nothing on it. Mum would say grace, and then there would be a knock at the door, and someone had brought us food. No lie!
Mum had a great faith for this sort of thing. She would pray about a bill she couldn’t pay and the exact amount would get posted through our letterbox. It was just part of life.
Seeing all these little magical things that God did for us I thought ‘he’s just so good’. When I was 14 I asked Jesus into my life, and got baptised. But I didn’t know much about the relationship side of things. I sort of thought ‘God’s just going to make me perfect now, my sins are gone’. But it’s not that easy.
I was at school in Harrow, West London. Being dyslexic I found school hard, got in lots of trouble and was put down a year. I found it difficult not having a dad around to guide me, to show me the way and how to get things done.
At 15 I was introduced to marijuana. School was hard. Half the time I was bunking, and it was just something to do.
At 16 I was smoking cannabis every day and later went on to speed, ecstasy and a bit of cocaine. I started several courses at college but dropped out, not being able to concentrate because of the drugs I was taking. At 18 we used to sell pills at Camden Palace in London making £10,000 on two nights work. But we’d be eating them like Smarties and one night I landed in hospital.
“You don’t realise when you take heroin that it grabs you and there’s no way out.”
I got married to Joanne at 21, but she didn’t realise the extent of it — how messy it was when I went clubbing. One night we came back and I was rushing off my face. My brother and his friend had some heroin, which does the opposite to ecstasy. After rushing all night at the clubs on pills they would use it to relax back down. So that was my first encounter.
Heroin is incredibly addictive. After taking it for three or four days in a row you become hooked. Your body stops making what the heroin is giving you, which is endorphins. And without them you just feel ill. Within a few months things changed, from going clubbing to sell pills to just “I need heroin, I need heroin…”
Things kept disappearing from our flat as I’d take them down Cash Converters. I got nicked a number of times for shoplifting, where I would sell items on to punters. After about a year of marriage Joanne legally separated from me. I got kicked out of the flat and lived in a shed for six months, and then slept out of my brothers old car. I did a lot of sofa surfing and went to rehab about six times. But I could never get more than a day through cold turkey.
I wasn’t a comfortable heroin addict, if that makes sense. Because I’d been baptised and seen God’s goodness, there was a real conflict and struggle within me. It was like the drugs and the addiction didn’t fit. But I had got into something I didn’t know how to get out of.
“I’d seen people overdose so it wasn’t unfamiliar. But I put it in my arm and nothing happened. Nothing at all. I should have passed out.”
You don’t realise when you take heroin that it grabs you and there’s no way out. And if you’re sleeping in a freezing shed with the rain pouring, half the time you need heroin just to help you crash out, to get you through the day.
Life got very complicated and hard. One time I got very low and decided I’d had enough. Normally you would put £10 worth of heroin in your arm, but this time I put £50 in to see what would happen. I thought ‘If I go, at least I’ll go high.’
I’d seen people overdose so it wasn’t unfamiliar. I knew this was good stuff as I’d been using it for the last few days. I knew it worked. But I put it in my arm and nothing happened. Nothing at all. I should have passed out. I know that something should have happened. I can’t explain it — and there’s been a few other occasions since where God’s just blatantly saved my life.
Because I got so desperate and was in such dire straits, the Drug and Alcohol Service in Harrow said that if I stayed off heroin for two months, and just took methadone, they would send me to Ealing Hospital where I would be medically detoxed — a very expensive treatment. So it was my one chance.
I managed to stick with it, but it took months before my body recovered. I felt like a baby, my body was so weak.
From there I went to rehab where you talk about ‘issues’. I talked about how I hadn’t had a dad to bring me up, but soon realised the extent of other people’s problems. Like backgrounds of abuse and violence — some very major stories — and you think ‘grief, I’ve got no excuse for being here’.
The question came: “so you’re a heroin addict, at the same age as your dad when he left your mum with five kids… what makes you better than him?”. And I realised history was repeating itself. I had become just like my dad.
“All through the drugs it was like I was trapped behind a pane of glass. I could see God but I couldn’t get to him.”
I knew I couldn’t go back to Harrow, because all I knew was drugs and addicts. So I packed my bags and went to work in Scotland at the Abernethy Trust, a Christian outdoor centre where my sister worked. I worked for two years on general jobs: cutting hedges, mowing lawns, that sort of thing, and then learnt to cook in the kitchens.
Every morning they would have a prayer meeting, and we would have to take it in turns to say something. So that got me closer to God and I would say that it was there that I started having a relationship with him.
When the drugs had cleared it was like God said “there you are”. All through the drugs it was like I was trapped behind a pane of glass. I could see God but I couldn’t get to him.
I stopped worrying about not having a dad around, and realised that God would be my dad instead. As soon as I made that link it transformed my life.
When you realise God’s your dad, you realise he feels just the same way as you do about your kids. Whatever they do, good or bad, you love them anyway, and you pour yourself out for them.
I was eventually reunited with Joanne, and we went on to have our two daughters and also foster other children. I’ve always loved kids, and I’ve been helped so many times that I thought ‘let’s help some others’.
When I was 14 I believe my faith was real and I was a Christian. But you’ve got to take that next step, to ask for the Holy Spirit and develop a relationship with God. That’s what changes your life and gives your faith that depth.
One of my favourite verses is Matthew 18:2-4, that we must become like little children. The people Jesus used weren’t great scientists, mathematicians or anything. They were very normal blokes and the gospel is a very simple story: Jesus died for you, for your sins to be forgiven, so you could walk with him and have new life.
“What Alpha offers, and what is attracting thousands of people, is permission, rare in secular culture, to discuss the big questions — life and death and their meaning” — The Guardian
The Alpha course is an opportunity for anyone to explore the Christian faith. It’s relaxed, low key, friendly and fun. We asked 12 people who have been on the course to share their experience. Here are their stories:
The Alpha experience was just brilliant. No question was dismissed as ‘silly’ and I felt completely comfortable being there and not being a Christian. I didn’t feel pressured at all to change that either. Alpha definitely helped me to understand Christianity but it let me do that at my own pace. I didn’t know what to expect but I got so much more from the experience than I could have ever imagined.
I did Alpha on the recommendation of friends at Kings. I came with an open mind and no preconceptions. Over the weeks I discovered Christ and I left a Christian with a thirst for more knowledge.
I was intrigued to see what happened on Alpha. So I went along and made some great friends. The course helped answer some of my questions, but ultimately understand myself and the feelings of my soul. Towards the end of Alpha I became a Christian and gave my life to Jesus. I was baptised the same year!
I was encouraged to try an Alpha course by my wife and daughter, who are both practicing Christians. I was unsure about the idea at first and only agreed to go to get some peace and quiet at home. To my surprise I enjoyed the whole experience, met some lovely people and gained a useful insight into both Christianity and the working of King’s Church. Alas, I, personally, remained unconvinced. But I would encourage anyone with questions about Christianity to go on an Alpha course.
I found Alpha was the perfect platform to ask questions about Christianity from a very basic level. It was an opportunity to question my beliefs about the very existence of God and the accounts of Jesus and the Bible itself. We tackled those perceptions and with the help of friendly and extremely patient group leaders we could talk openly and I felt completely at ease. I was so inspired by the experience I have continued in my learning and have made long term friends.
I attended an Alpha course after seeing an advert on a church building, “Find the meaning of life” it said. I was looking for something, but just not sure what it was. I now believe in Jesus, but I’m still figuring out all the other stuff. One thing I do know is that I feel better for attending Alpha.
Since falling away from the church and losing my way I was led to Kings and then Alpha as a way of understanding Christianity again. This time I made the decision on the Alpha Away Day to become a Christian. Alpha has led me to some of the most beautiful friendships; it has allowed me to grow as a Christian and has encouraged me to accept new gifts from Jesus.
My husband and I had only just made a decision to become Christians so Alpha was a great introduction in getting to know what Christians believe. Week by week we made new friends and heard more about how God speaks to people. It was the most significant decision I have made in my life.
It was a very special experience to meet with people who had found great strength and comfort in their faith, and also others who were searching for some meaning in their lives. The course showed me that God’s love as a heavenly Father is eternal, unconditional, forgiving and supportive in all aspects of our lives.
I always thought of myself as a believer but never committed to why or how I believed. For me, Alpha at Kings welcomed me from day one and their malleable approach meant that knowledge gaps were filled, facts replaced fiction and the message became clearer.
I was intrigued to find out more about Christianity and if indeed it was for me and to dispel myths and find the truth about Jesus Christ. Alpha answered numerous questions I had, whilst building relationships with Christians and non-believers. Each week built my trust as questions were answered and in November 2014 I put my life in God’s hands and became a Christian.
I’d felt that there was something missing, that I had a hole for most of my adult life and tried to fill it with relationships that never worked. Coming to Alpha I was welcomed with open arms, I felt at home, and I learnt so much from everyone about Jesus, his teachings and about the sort of person, and parent I wanted to be. My Group Leader prayed for me each week and slowly but surely the hole and that feeling of emptiness disappeared. I knew, with certainty that Jesus was Lord and I wanted to follow him. I was baptised on Easter Sunday, and it was the most amazing day of my life.
There lots more information on our Alpha web page where you can sign up online. For dates of our next Alpha Course see our events page. You can also get a great taster of what Alpha is all about through episode one of the film series:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I was given this verse in the first few years of being a Christian. I became a Christian when I was 18 and I had plans. Plans to find a nice guy, get married, have kids and settle down. However God had other plans for me and little did I know what these were over 20 years ago.
Both before and after I came to Eastbourne God put older women in my life to help me, guide me and become spiritual mums to me. I still value this today. This journey started about eight years ago when I felt the nudge from God to return to youth work. To my surprise I was welcomed with open arms and started serving in the 11—14’s. I went to my first Newday and on the way to an outreach event in the back of the coach Jez asked me if I wanted to “look after” the younger girls, take them under my wing.
At the time I wondered what I could offer these girls. I had loads of doubts, what do I talk about, do they actually like me. However, after trying to find a way out by looking for another job in another part of the country I embraced the opportunity and arranged for them to come round for lunch.
To my surprise they came, ate my food and didn’t get ill. We watched DVD’s, played “lets dance” and they sat in my bath! Meeting up together continued for about a year and as they were about to go into year nine we set up a girls group as part of ID each week.
“I can honestly say without someone like Ann, I don’t think I would be this far in my Christian journey.”
For about an hour we would spend time getting to know each other better and talk about issues that were important to them. My heart was for them to grow into young ladies who knew and loved God, who had an identity and security in God and not in how they looked, in social media or in relationships. The world puts so much pressure on young people to conform to the norm and loving God is “not cool”. At that age knowing who you are is not easy anyway.
I pulled in other people in the church to help me and we had some good evenings discussing what it is to be a young Christian lady in today’s world. One memorable evening was the wedding dress night where we all dressed up in loaned wedding dresses and talked about what marriage is and staying pure until our wedding night. Over the year I got to know the girls so much better spending quality time with them.
At the end of year nine they were due to move up to the older group True. They didn’t want to go, wanting to remain in what was familiar to them. However, I knew they were ready and I agreed to go up with them at their request to help them settle in.
I was going to return to the younger group, however, God had “plans to prosper me and not to harm me”. After first being really unsure I would fit into this group as a leader, I loved it. I kept my girls and we continued to meet as a group for the next two years as part of True.
I remember one evening following a talk about God the Father in church I felt God wanted to show the girls what this means practically. So I asked the mums of the girls to get the dads to sit down and together write a letter to each of them which I gave out next time we met. It was another of those stand out nights for me. A good gage for me is tears, and we had a few damp eyes that night.
There have been many memories…
I’ve baptised 3 of them
I’ve cooked for them
I’ve been to Romania with some of them
I’ve watched DVDs with them
We’ve shared meals together
I’ve done 7 years of Newday with them
We’ve made cards together
We’ve drunk loads of tea together
We’ve toasted marsh mellows together
I’ve played “lets dance” with them
We’ve shared experiences of Africa together
We’ve shared ice cream on the beach together
We’ve done car treasure hunts together
We’ve laughed together and we’ve cried together
By being part of their lives and other young people’s lives I have stepped out in spiritual gifts and God continues to teach me and challenge me.
I have been with my girls and their families both through the good and the not so good times. There have been many challenges over the past few years and at times I’ve wrestled with God about some of the situations that have arisen. I’ve prayed for and with them and basically “done life” with them.
“I would like to thank her for what she has done in my life and many others. When I’m older I definitely want to do the same thing”
They have all flown the nest now having travelled to the other side of the world to serve God or starting their second year at University.
I was reflecting on what God has taught me by being part of these young ladies lives and I see it as a journey, from being an older sister, to a cool aunty to actually a little glimpse of what being a mum is like.
I can’t profess to say I know what being a parent 24/7 is like at all (well apart from Newday when I am checking they have drunk enough water, slept okay, encouraging them to go to bed a little earlier, giving them a hug when they are all emotional), but I do feel proud when I see what they have become; and how they are developing as they become more independent.
I am still in contact with them (social media and text messaging isn’t all bad) and still continue to be part of their lives albeit in a different way. I got my first Mother’s day card this year. So what does the future hold? Well I now have my new girls and it’s exciting to see what God is doing in both their lives and mine.
I want to say thank you to the girls for loving me and being part of my life, their parents for letting me be part of their daughter’s lives and to God for putting people in my life who I can learn from and have shown me what it is to be a spiritual mum. I don’t think I have done too badly at this. My plans may not have worked as I expected, instead God has given me a hope and a future in a way I could not have imagined.
Q: What’s the single, most influential factor in keeping our teenagers at church? A: When the adults spend time getting to know them.
Serving in the youth can change the whole course of our teenagers lives. Contact us to find out more, or come and chat at the Info Point on a Sunday morning.