Hemlington Baptist Church

Pointing people to Christ

Changed lives

Thousands of people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ every single day around the world.    Here are some of the testimonies of how some of our people came to know Jesus Christ personally.  


Ray Chester 


Picture of Ray

When I came out of the Army after 10 years service, I was 26 and living at home in Stockton with my wife. Having already attended Sunday School and Bible Class as a youngster, I already knew God was holy, good and just. I also knew that – having lived in the Army for ten years – I was not in any condition to meet Him; in fact, it filled me with dread. This was despite the fact that when I was 15 or so I “asked Jesus into my heart”. I was happy to have Jesus as my Saviour, but not as my Lord.

So, sitting beside Carol in our front room, I felt the weight of my sinful life bearing down upon me and had to go upstairs to settle matters with God (Matt 11:28). I knelt by our bed in prayer and it was as if I was at the foot of the Cross of Jesus, God’s Son. I knew in my heart that the reason He was crucified was to be my sin-bearer (Heb. 9:28), even though He was sin-less. I knew at that moment that God loved ME and sent His Son to bring me into a right relationship with Him.

I confessed all my sins and turned to Jesus Christ, who not only died but rose again on the third day to show His sacrifice on my behalf was acceptable to God the Father (Rom. 1:4). I made Him Lord of my life and He came to live in my heart by His Spirit. At that point I knew that my sins were forgiven and I had a deep, inner peace that God had forgiven me and my burden of sin was taken away (Rom.5:1).

I found I had a desire to know God and His Son more (2 Pet. 3:18). His Holy Spirit gave me a hunger for God’s Word, the Bible, and I read and meditated on it daily. Prayer was something that I looked forward to because I spent my time in the Lord’s wonderful presence.

Worshipping with the Lord’s people on a Sunday and going to Bible Study were times of great blessing, and telling others of the greatness and kindness of God in sending Jesus Christ into the world to save me was something I wanted to share with others. That was 39 years ago, and all of these things are still true.

There is no greater privilege than to be His child and I have sought to love, worship and serve my Saviour in my personal life, my work life and my church life.

Sometimes life has been hard. Carol and I have been through ‘many dangers, toils and snares’ but I have never regretted the day He called me and I answered. I have always had His deep abiding peace and joy in every circumstance I have found myself in. Once I was lost in sin and on the way to Hell. But now, through God’s grace – my sins have been taken by Christ on the Cross and I am no longer under God’s condemnation (Rom. 8:1). There is nothing in this life more wonderful than being reconciled to God, and nothing more fulfilling than being one of His children, and serving Him as Lord. When I had my heart attack a couple of years ago I had no fear of dying or death because in Christ I have One who will never leave me or forsake me (Heb. 13:5) and I live each day with a sure and certain hope in this life, and glory waits for me when I die.

We now consider Hemlington our spiritual home and worship the Lord with them on Sunday morning and evening, as well as at the Prayer and Bible Study meeting on Wednesday. Come along and meet with us and the Lord will make His Presence known to you if you humbly seek Him (Jer 29:13).

Simon Brownsell

 

Some conversions happen quickly, others over months and years... some even over decades! I’m in that last camp.

I was brought up going to church, but all this meant to me was I couldn’t play football for the local Sunday league team. I had no personal interest in going to church. But despite my lack of interest, God had other ideas, and I have felt his presence many times in my life. 

However, I couldn't break free from my sin and therefore doubted not only if there was a God, but whether saving faith was something I could attain. As such, I’ve spent many years struggling with the difference between actual faith, and assurance of faith; wanting undeniable proof I was saved, and not believing I could be. 

So how did I ultimately find assurance of faith:

 

1. Observable evidences.

Many years have been spent going down the wrong path - trying to prove God. 
I have read many books on apologetics (the study and arguments for a rational basis for the Christian faith). But logical proof doesn’t help you get a personal relationship with Jesus. Proving someone exists doesn’t help you know them. Despite this being a blind alley to some degree, I have found assurance in the archaeological evidences demonstrating the bibles truth. I have also been amazed at predictive prophecy and the archaeological findings that demonstrate the truth of the bible.

I’ve heard it said that, “facts lead to faith and faith leads to feeling of God’s presence when acted upon.” This has been true for me.

2. A greater understanding of faith and assurance

How do you know you are first saved? Well this question I struggled with for many years. However, I came across a sermon that pointed me to the book of 1 John 2 v 3 which says ‘And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments.’ This is not “did you pray to God and ask him into your life”, even if that was sincere. It is talking about you know you are saved if you keep his commandments. Now this does not mean a sinless, doubt free life, but a style of life that seeks to follow Jesus Christ.

 

I had been doing this for many years, and the trajectory of my life was one of reliance on God, despite my doubts, fears, and repeated failings. Other passages also support this, one of these is the last few verses of Matthew, known as the great commission. Here, the disciples are gathered together, and it says some worshipped him, and some doubted. Yet it is these people who had experienced so much and saw so many miracles who still had periods of doubt.


So, based on scripture, it is possible to be saved but also to have doubts and fears. Since I realised this, the great thing is that my doubts are getting smaller and my faith is getting stronger.
 

3. A better understanding of me!

 

The people who knew me best believed I was saved and just didn't know it! In this final period of coming to an assured faith, God graciously provided further help in the form of a bible believing girlfriend, who, despite my flaws and insecurities at the time, saw in me a Christian man who she could fall in love with, and for my part, I was quickly head over heels too. However, I realised that despite my love and longing to marry Jen, I still had doubts as to whether she was the girl for me and whether everything would work out in the long run. Don't misunderstand me, I love Jen and was delighted when she agreed to marry me. It just made me realise I was someone who doubted more than most!

4. What I’d describe as a shove!

As the wedding approached I felt more and more uneasy, regarding not obeying the command of baptism and verbally acknowledging Christ as my saviour. I felt increasingly uneasy at the prospect of standing at the front of the church, before God and taking the marriage vows without first acknowledging him through baptism.

Then our Pastor preached about the need to obey the biblical commands we liked, as well as those we didn’t. Since baptism was very much on my mind, this was the final encouragement I needed to make a stand for Christ and be baptised.

Well, that is my story, my testimony. When was I converted? I couldn't really tell you. The exact timing is not a fundamental issue, the key question in life is whether you, and I, have a personal relationship with Christ. After many years of heartache and struggle, as a consequence of the grace of God, I can now answer that question with an affirmed YES.

The story of course continues; my faith in Christ continues to grow. There is still a battle with the old self and sin, but there is also a growing peace and joy in Christ.

 

Connie Meekings

 

My name is Connie Meekings and I’m a member of Hemlington Baptist Church in Middlesbrough. When our Pastor asked for volunteers to share their testimonies on the Church website, I was pleased to support this request and I hope and pray that my experiences will help others to come to faith in Jesus Christ.


Photo of Connie


 As a girl, I was brought up in North Ormesby (just east of Middlesbrough) and my Father worked as a fitter at British Steel. I went to school at Derwent Street Primary and Juniors and then transferred to Lawson Street Seniors followed by Southlands School.

As a little girl I attended the Salvation Army at Nelson Street North Ormesby (I know I was little because I have a vivid memory of slipping through the middle of the chair and falling on the floor!). I was in the singing company and then I joined the band as a cornet player. 
  
I sometimes played the tambourine but this caused havoc as I was left handed and confused the rest of the group!

For a short time I also attended The North Ormesby Central Mission and some readers might remember some of those ladies who worked for the Lord in this little mission hall. How many of you remember Miss Davies, Miss Kay, Miss Jones, Miss Turner and Miss Bellamy?

Between ten and eighteen I regularly went to the Salvation Army and although I enjoyed the fellowship, I made no personal commitment to Jesus at this time. 
When I left school, I worked for a couple of years at a local GEC factory, but when I was eighteen years of age I decided to join The Woman’s Royal Army Corps. My reason for joining the army was to enjoy life, to “do my own thing” and see a bit of the world. I suppose I really wanted to get away from home and get away from all the restrictions of home and I suppose I was also trying to get away from Jesus Christ.

Well, if I was trying to get away from the Lord, The Lord was not intending to go away from me! Looking back, I give the Lord thanks for two girls called Judith and Andrene. When I arrived in Guildford for my Army training it was these two Christian girls that took me under their wings and introduced me to other Christians in the Guildford area and in the band.

I went with them to Guildford Baptist Church each Sunday and during the week I started to go to a meeting at the local Guards Camp for Christians in the armed forces. During a band concert, I first met Phil, my husband, and we really hit it off from the start. I can remember saying to Phil that if he wanted to go out with me, then he had to go with me to Church on a Sunday!

It was during my time in Guildford that I really came to faith in Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and over the years he has never left me both in the good times and also the rough times.

Phil was posted to Cyprus in 1969, we wrote regularly to each other and in 1970 we were married. Following our marriage Phil was posted to Germany, so I went with him and we started our married lives in private accommodation which we didn’t really enjoy. Things got even more difficult when Elizabeth, our daughter, was born.

Eventually our prayers were answered, we got some living quarters away from the main army camp and we really enjoyed our time in Germany. We continued to go to church while we were in Germany, we even met up with other Christians each week for Bible study. It was also during this time that Jonathan, our son, was born.


We eventually came home and Phil came out of the army and initially we started going to the Salvation Army I had attended in my younger days. However, when our car was off the road, we were unable to get to the Salvation Army so we started to go to the local Baptist Church in Hemlington. We were given such a warm welcome by everyone in the church and we really enjoyed the ministry; the Pastor at that time was Pastor Fred Stone. We eventually settled into regular attendance at Hemlington Baptist Church, Middlesbrough. Both Phil and I got involved with the youth work where we had some really happy years. We were baptised on the 12th November 1982 and It would be lovely to say “and we all lived happily ever after” but the Lord never promised that our road would be an easy one. 


By 1996 we were living in Stockton and I was a caretaker at a local school. I started to experience numbness in my hands and eighteen months later, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 

It was in September 2001 that my life was really turned upside down. I was rushed into hospital with a burst bowel and at the same time a number of my organs shut down. I ended up on a life support machine for six weeks and I know that during this time many people were supporting me in prayer as my life was hanging by a thread. I was in North Tees Hospital for six months and I am so grateful for all the love and care that was shown to me by family, medical staff and lots of friends. I really felt the presence of the Lord during these difficult months and it is amazing how the Lord has provided for Phil and I as most of my time now is spent in a wheelchair.  
We have had our house redesigned to accommodate my needs now that I am disabled and I also thank God for a car which is also designed to cope with my wheelchair.


As a result of my need for constant care I have now got two wonderful carers who look after me day by day and Ruth and Sue have become good friends both to me and Phil. Although my body isn’t working very well these days, it hasn’t stopped me from sharing my faith with family and friends, and I still thank the Lord that I am able to sing which is something I love; occasionally, I sing with Phil on a Sunday evening at Church.

Some might think it strange when I say ‘God is good’ but He really is. Even in all the trials and difficulties I can look back and say.....

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Philippians 4 v 13