They looked so different
Jean shares how a New Testament and an encounter with Christians helped her move on from a dysfunctional family to a successful career in nursing.
I am the youngest of three children. My father was a railway signalman, my mum was from a travelling background. My father was a good man bringing us up to be truthful and he had a good work ethic. He was a big guy and had been a bit of a fighter in his younger years; he was a regular at the working men’s club and taught me skills such as darts, cards etc. Mum suffered from depression for most of her life and, through small in stature, was feisty.
The family home was not peaceful with two strong personalities, a shortage of money and a rift between the two families. Despite being cared for practically, the volatile home situation had a significant impact on me as a young child with my parents fighting continuously and having violent rows and not speaking to each other for weeks and weeks. I was the go-between for messages. I can remember the impact of laying in bed at night, wondering if Mum would leave or, when I was at school, if she would be there when I got home.
It was pretty rough in the neighbourhood but I made friends with the local youths. They accepted me and being with them was better than being at home. I was scared of my parents and that fear kept me from deep trouble particularly if the police were involved.
In my first year at senior school, I received a GOOD NEWS for Everyone! New Testament. The gentleman who presented the Testaments to my year explained about the Helps section and the guidance notes. He said that if you were scared or anxious you could find a Bible verse to help. I took the Testament home, thinking that it was really nice but it would not have any help for me or my life problems. I put it under the bed and forgot about it.
A few months later, when things were kicking off again at home, I remembered the Testament and got it out from under the bed. I looked up the Bible verses for things like being discouraged or afraid. I didn’t really know what it meant but it was the seed of the Word of God being dropped into my heart which would produce fruit years on.
Fast forward to 1973. I was a cadet nurse and I had a friend who was also a cadet nurse who sang in her local church choir. One night I was meeting her to go out in the town and I was sitting on the church wall when she came out, followed by two older girls. They looked so different and I couldn’t explain why. They walked towards us and had a polite chat. I noticed one of them wore a badge that said: “Jesus Saves”. I thought about how different they were and wondered what it was. The following week the same routine, and, when they talked to us, one of the girls gave me a card and said any time I needed anyone to talk to, day or night, to get in touch with her.
The following week was pretty rough and I thought I would call this girl and talk to her. We talked for about an hour, she explained she was a Christian and what it meant to have Jesus in her life. She invited me to a church service which I went to and wept all the way through it. The following Monday they invited me to tea and, while I was there, they explained John 3:16 to me. I remembered reading the verse before in my New Testament. I became a Christian that night. I was 17.
I moved out of home and into the nurses’ home for the next five years. I went on to train as a Registered Nurse, specialising in critical care and God really blessed my career. I held several senior roles; I was the Assistant Director of Nursing and the Associate Director of Governance. I gained a lot of clinical qualifications in my nursing, despite only getting one GCSE at school. I gained an MBA and LLM in medical law. From that I got a job with the Department of Health in London for four years, helping to keep patients safe. At the latter part of my career, I took a job in Health and Social Care in Sunderland.
I had married in 1989. My husband was an itinerant minister at the time. We travelled a great deal during itinerant ministry, involving mission work, prayer missions, youth work and in various church leadership roles. We have two grown up sons who love the Lord with all their heart. I am now a Doctoral research student at York St John University, studying practical theology.
I say all these things not for you to say that I have a nice CV but so that you might be truly encouraged there is a power in the Word of God. You are placing a seed in giving a New Testament. All the things I have been involved in is because somebody put a New Testament in my hand as a young rebellious teenager and I will always be grateful to this ministry.
Jean shared her testimony at National Convention