Stephen is 46 years old and has been worshipping in Ashington for over a year. He tells his story here…
I grew up in a fairly typical family, although my life changed when I started primary school. For the first two years I was taught by someone who I found to be almost sadistic, who used to verbally, emotionally and physically bully me, often in front of the rest of the class.
I tried to explain the situation to my parents but they didn’t believe me. I had no choice but to continue to go to school and manage the situation for myself. This taught me to bury my feelings deep within and if anyone asked me, “How are you?” I’d always say, “Good”.
At the same time as I was trying to deal with the situation at school, my parents sent me to Sunday school at the local church. I really enjoyed Sunday School where I felt safe and secure because the adults running the school were kind and loving. Reading the bible and enjoying Sunday School activities, God showed me a whole new picture of love, and it felt good.
Eventually I moved through primary school, and the teacher who bullied me retired. However, growing up I continued to suppress all my feelings because my time at school had taught me that I must always present myself as being ‘OK’ and not having any problems.
In my teens I discovered alcohol and drugs and, for a while, I functioned as if I was in an emotional pressure cooker. I thought I had found the perfect solution to manage all of the tension that I carried around with me like a ten ton weight.
This lead to fifteen years of living a party lifestyle, trying to find happiness and meaning in my life through alcohol and drugs. By the age of thirty, I’d been married and divorced, and found myself living abroad, and badly in need of addiction rehabilitation treatment. In my twenties, I had wanted to be a Christian, but it seemed completely incompatible with my chosen lifestyle. My addiction was like a rip tide that separated me from God.
However, God never gave up on me. During addiction treatment I realised that I had a choice: either to live life with God or without Him. I chose God. Since then, every step of the way, God has shared his love for me by bringing healing: spiritual, mental, emotional, physical and material and I have been set free from addiction.
I have been blessed with a new life through Jesus Christ, and I have found a new freedom. Today, I am living a life filled with love, peace, joy and a sense of fulfillment on so many different levels.
In this journey of faith, I have found that honest prayer has enabled me to develop a close, sincere and meaningful relationship with God the Father, and my confidence has grown as I have learned to trust God, knowing that He wants the very best for me. God is so good!