Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Easter, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing

Jesus will meet you at your point of need – Mary Magdalene’s story

I have spoken before about some of the losses our family has faced. In the immediate aftermath of a bereavement, without God’s help, it can feel as though life cannot continue without that loved one. However, thank God for His Word that sustains and holds us together during the very darkest times of our lives.

As we prepare to celebrate Easter, I have been trying to put myself in the shoes of the friends of Jesus: the disciples, the people who were his companions during his life on Earth. I have been wondering what they must have felt after he was executed? What was it like after Jesus was resurrected? How did they feel when they saw him again for the first time since the atrocity of his death?

Mary Magdalene was one of those friends. She was a woman with a dark past whose life had been changed forever after an encounter with Jesus. Although she must have known he was the messiah, did she experience any doubt after she witnessed his death? Did she wonder if Jesus was really coming back? Did she experience despair and grief? Even when we know the truth, in the dark experiences of our lives, it can be easy to focus on the circumstances of what we see.

Whatever she felt, whether it was hope or hopelessness, we know that on Resurrection morning, after Jesus rose from the dead, everything changed. Matthew 28 says ‘Suddenly, Jesus met them.’

This word ‘suddenly’ is very important to me personally because it reminds me that just at my point of need, just when I need him most, that is when Jesus appears.

For Mary Magdalene (and the others who saw the risen Christ), when Jesus met them, in an instant, hope and peace was restored: they could see a future. They knew they would get through this. In that moment, they experienced the resurrection for themselves.

This is what Easter means to me. The resurrection was not just an event in history – it was an event which brought hope to the friends of Jesus, hope to all who witnessed it, and hope for today’s world, thousands of years later.

Whatever you are going through, even if it seems like an impossible situation, the death and life of Jesus reminds us that there is a future, and that because of the resurrection, whatever life brings our way, we can have hope and peace. When Jesus meets us, everything changes.

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Forgiveness

How to have hope

Our country has been rocked by a terrorist attack.

Although I am from France, I have lived here for more than 40 years, and my wife and I raised our family here. The UK is our home.

I was in France in November 2015 when terrorists attacked Paris. I was in the middle of an exciting week of mission at my brother’s church, and we were seeing incredible miracles, lives set free, and people commit their lives to Christ.

We were full of excitement at what God was doing, and then we heard the horrific news. Our hearts were broken, just as they are today, for the people of London, for all those who have been injured, for all those who have lost someone.   

We have seen some incredible acts of bravery, a MP who fought to save the life of an injured police officer, doctors, nurses, police and ordinary members of the public who have put their own lives at risk to help protect ours.   

We are so thankful to live in a country that is able to respond quickly and with deep compassion in the face of a tragedy.

As Christians, we sometimes wonder what to say in the face of such a terrible situation. But on the Sunday morning after the attacks in Paris, our church in France took great comfort from God’s Word in Psalm 37:

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong 

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.  

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. 

Let us always go to God’s Word for our answers. His Word (John 1:5) says that the darkness in the world will get darker, but that darkness will never extinguish light. In fact, that light (His light) will continue to shine brighter, and the darkness CANNOT overcome it. 

That is where I get my hope.

Let’s pray with passion for our world and all those who are suffering and grieving today.   

And may God’s light, His inextinguishable light, shine ever brighter in the middle of the darkness we see.

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing, Hope

Heaven is real

Last year, I told the story of losing our son Jamie when he was 13 months old. Our hearts were broken, and as I cried out to God and asked Him to bring Jamie back, I felt God speak into my spirit: ‘He will not come back to you, but you will go to him one day.’

I learned later that these were the words God spoke to King David after the loss of his own son. Over the years, those words have given me great hope and comfort because they remind me that there is a world beyond this one.  I believe we will see Jamie again one day.

If you have lost someone you love, I would like to encourage you to know and believe that Heaven is not a myth. Heaven is real.

The Scriptures give us quite a lot of detail about Heaven. Heaven is where God lives (Psalm 23:1) and Heaven was designed for us. God does not need a place to live. He is self-sufficient, but He made Heaven for us. God’s heart was to create a home and a family, and God loves us so much that He has adopted us into the family so that we can spend eternity with Him. But He also gave us a choice. Where we spend eternity will be determined by the choices we make in this life, whether we choose to accept the free gift of Jesus or not.

What is Heaven like? 

Jesus said that He would go to prepare a place for us (John 14:3) and in Revelation 22, we are given a beautiful picture of a place with trees and a river ‘clear as crystal’ which flows down the middle of the street. Heaven is also described as a place where God’s people will live with Him forever, and where all tears, grief, pain and death will be wiped away. It is a place where the ‘old order of things has passed away’ (Revelation 21). If you are like me, sometimes you might think: ‘Lord, it’s dreadful down here…’ But the thought of a perfect world to come with no pain gives us great hope.

Living for today

Although we look forward to eternity with great expectancy, it is still important to live with our purpose while on this Earth – to be fully present in the life we have been given. It is ok to dream and look forward to a day when we can take off our ‘suit’ of flesh and blood, but we should not forget that God has a purpose for us now.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul says that we are ambassadors of Christ. If I were a political ambassador, it would mean that I had an important purpose, but that ultimately I was the citizen of another country. The same is true when we are Christ’s ambassadors. Our appointment and purpose is from God, and we have a heavenly assignment to speak God’s heart to the country and situation we are currently in.

If you are in a difficult situation or have lost someone you love too, can I encourage you: Heaven is real. As believers, it is a place we can look forward to with expectancy. I believe that I will one day be reunited with both my son and grandson, but until that day, let’s live for the here and now.

Let’s make it our goal to share this truth, this hope, with as many people as possible, until the day God finally calls us home.

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Healing, Hope, Miracles, Spiritual healing

God will get you through it…

I would like to tell you about my grandson Emile. Emile is 8 years old and is so loving and caring (especially with his new baby sister), and I believe God has a great purpose for his life.

My daughter Natalie had a normal pregnancy with Emile, and as a family we had no idea there was anything wrong. Emile surprised everyone by arriving two months early, and at first the doctor thought he might have a blockage in one of the tubes leading to his stomach.

However, as the doctors did many more investigations, they discovered that Emile actually had Vacterl Syndrome, a genetic condition which affects multiple areas of the body. Emile had a hole in his heart, problems with his spine, his oesophagus was fused to his lung (instead of his stomach), and he had only one kidney. In addition, he had a problem with the thumb on his hand and one of his eyes remained shut, as there was no nerve in the eyelid.


At the beginning of his journey, when we were first told of Emile’s diagnosis, our family was devastated. Having lost a child of our own, my wife Jackie and I did not want to see Natalie and Antoine go through a similar heartache. I remember spending a lot of time with God, and I felt Him tell me clearly that He would not lift us out of the situation, but He would lead us through it. All around the world, other ministries and friends were praying for Emile and his parents, and we felt so lifted by their prayers, knowing that we were not alone.

Emile was finally released from hospital, and Natalie and Antoine had a wonderful first day as a family at home with him. For the first time, they felt like real parents, but that evening, Emile choked and had to be resuscitated and rushed back to hospital. It felt as though we were facing yet another setback, and yet through it all, we sensed that victory was coming.

Emile remained in hospital till he was four months old and had many operations during that time and over the following years.


The doctors said that Emile would probably never sit unaided, and if he did, he would probably never stand. And if he was ever able to stand, he would never be able to walk or run. And yet, Emile has done all of those things and much more.

We wondered if he would ever be able to eat normally. At the time he had a button fitted in his stomach to allow tube feeding. When he was five years old, Emile started to eat and finally this year he had his button removed, as he is now eating enough on his own. I remember the weekend that Emile came to stay with us and ate a whole plate of spaghetti. For Jackie and I, it was an incredible event, and even now when I sit at the table and see him eat, there is a silent cry of thanks that wells up inside me. Thank you God, thank you Father for ALL you have done in his life.

God has been so faithful, and although Emile faces many challenges, we know that God has been true to His word when He said he would not take us out of the situation, but He would lead us through it.

Did I ever doubt? I can honestly say I do not think I did. However, there have been times that have been overwhelming. Seeing someone you love in so much pain is devastating and stressful, and yet even through pain, God has been there.

On one occasion, I felt God tell me to ‘talk to the mountain’, and so sitting with Emile as he was in his hospital bed, I asked if he could feel any pain. He said yes, and I told him that in Jesus’ name, he could tell the pain to go. As we prayed and Emile told the pain to leave his body, I wish I could have taken a photograph, as a huge smile lit up his face. Even now, several years later, our daughter tells us that Emile will shout out ‘Pain, go, in Jesus name!’

His simple faith has been such a blessing to us, and God has spoken to us so many times.

On another occasion, I was with Emile at a physiotherapy appointment to help correct a malformation in his thumb. The physiotherapist explained that in order to get the thumb into the right position, they would need to ‘stretch and pull’. This would be a repeated process until eventually the thumb stayed in a more natural position. It would not be pleasant, but as the physiotherapist explained, ‘when the thumb stays in the right position, we will know we have won’.

It spoke to me so clearly of how God works in our lives. Sometimes our lives and purposes need to be realigned, and we need divine physiotherapy to put us into the right position. It is rarely a pleasant experience, but God uses this stretching and pulling to shape us into the people He wants us to be.

Today, as we look back on all God has done in Emile’s life so far, we are overwhelmed and so very grateful. There is much physical healing still to be done in Emile’s life, but we know that the God who has brought us this far will continue to see us through.

     

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Faith

Why is Christian Media important?

At the beginning of a new year, we are finalising our plans for the next 12 months and looking ahead to all we believe and trust God will do. It is always good to keep ourselves accountable and even ask difficult questions. I have been asking myself: why is Christian media so important? Can it really impact people’s lives?

What do you believe?

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are surrounded and saturated by messages from the media. Whether that be TV, radio, adverts, newspapers, Facebook, or other online messages, on a daily basis, we are always absorbing many different kinds of information. Some of those messages may be good, but we need to be wise to the fact that the enemy also uses media to pollute our minds. It is not just the ‘obvious’ things like pornography or images which do not glorify God, but it can be subtle messages which make us believe things which are contrary to God’s will.

The alarming part is that often we do not even realise we are being influenced! We are even influenced by different brands. I see many people walking around with big logos on their clothes and possessions. Although there is nothing wrong with that, it can be a way people find their identity. How much better if we knew our identity was only found in Jesus.

Jesus Christ (JC) is the biggest brand in the world, and that is what I want to be ‘branded’ with.

This is why I believe good, accountable Christian media is very important. And in a world where we are surrounded by constant information, it is so important that God’s Word and positive, encouraging, and faith-building messages are also ‘out there’ for people to find and listen to. If the enemy is using media for his own good, how much more should Christians rise up and say ‘No, we want to reclaim media, reclaim the airwaves for something positive, something transforming that can change people’s lives.’ Let’s use Christian media to show people that their lives CAN be changed for good, forever, by the power of God’s Word.

Get in the boat

A much loved charity in the UK is the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute). They do not receive Government funding and are staffed by volunteers to help save the lives of people stranded at sea. They offer a 24/7 life-saving service, working selflessly to help save physical lives each day.

This to me is a great picture of what Christian media can do. Christian media is also a 24/7 service. No, I do not believe we are ‘the church’, but we are here to support the church and to help provide an important service, going into places and homes which the church cannot initially reach. I see what we do very much as a ‘rescue service’.

As I look to the year ahead and I see a lot of darkness online and in our media, I know that we need to continue to offer a ‘rescue service’. I believe there is truly a crisis at sea, but thank God that He never slumbers or sleeps.

God has given us media platforms available 24/7 to reach every person, everywhere, every moment of the day and night, who need help more than ever before.

Let’s work together to throw a lifeline to people who need it more than ever.

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Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith

Let’s pray and believe for our breakthrough

Recently, we had our Prayer Breakthrough Day on UCB Radio. We invited anyone who was listening to contact us with their prayer requests (or praise reports), and we dedicated the whole day to sharing and praying for those needs on air. It is a sobering day for our team as we receive many requests from people desperate for a breakthrough in their circumstances. But it is also a great privilege to be trusted with these needs and to be able to stand together in prayer.

I am sometimes asked: why is prayer important? Is there a particular way I should pray?

I feel so passionate about prayer. It is such a wonderful way to engage with God and with each other and to see God’s power and grace released in our lives.

In the early days of UCB, the ministry was soaked in prayer. The situation our founders faced was so difficult that every breakthrough, every month of finance, had to be ‘prayed in’. We are so grateful for the army of people who, over the years, have faithfully prayed for UCB’s ministry, and days like these are our way of ministering in return to our listeners.

We know that many of our listeners will have key difficulties and issues in their lives and will need someone to ‘stand in the gap’ for them. We receive hundreds of calls and emails from people who are struggling with poor health or facing financial difficulties or marriage problems. Each time we pray for the individual, we are praying for everyone who is facing those situations too.

I visualise the day of waves of breakthrough as a result of those prayers, of our phones lighting up with listeners telling us they have been set free or healed. Prayer works, and it is incredibly effective (I have seen this many times in my own life), but we do not always understand the importance of prayer or how to pray effectively. Prayer meetings at churches are usually the least attended of all services, but if we truly believed that prayer works and that through it, God can deliver and set us free, then we would never miss a prayer meeting again!

Prayer is an invitation

If we go back to Genesis, we will read that God gave man the authority to rule the Earth. He delegated the authority and His power to us. As a leader, I know that when you delegate authority to someone, you should not interfere unless you are invited.

I believe that prayer is an invitation. We are asking God, inviting Him, into the situation, into our lives, into whatever we are facing. When we invite Him in, that is when we often experience His presence most powerfully. This is the structure God has given us. But how many of us fail to invite God to manifest himself into whatever we are facing?

Prayer is a trigger for God’s grace

In many senses, prayer is like a weapon and a bullet. Prayer is the trigger to release God’s grace in our lives. If we look at how God’s grace was released in the lives of people Jesus prayed for, there was often a step of faith, an action required. He told a disabled man to ‘pick up his bed and walk.’ In other parts of the Bible, people are told to stretch out their hands, to dip in a river, to do something. To see God at work, we need to take action, and that action is prayer. As we step forward, do something, and invite God into our circumstances, His grace, His healing, and His provision is released.

Pray for us as we pray for you

UCB is growing, and because we believe so much in the power of prayer, we have increased our prayer on air. We now have Prayer Breakthrough Days four times a year, and we are committed to praying for the needs of our nation.  But as a ministry, we need prayer too. We face many exciting opportunities (especially as technology advances), but we are not immune to sickness, problems, or attacks from the enemy. Just as it took 23 years for the founders of UCB to see the breakthrough of national Christian radio becoming a reality, we know it can take time to see breakthrough in other areas too. But I believe that for you and me, breakthrough comes when we pray and invite God into the problems, issues and situations we all face.

Let’s stand together to see a breakthrough in this nation. Would you be willing to pray for UCB? Click here to sign up for Prayer Emails, and we will send you ministry updates with different prayer needs. Tell us too, how we can pray for you by contacting our Prayerline Team. Together, let’s release the power of God in our lives by inviting Him into all we face.

*(Prayer requests are passed on to UCB Prayerline who will pray for your needs. If you would like to pray with someone on the phone, please ring 01782 36 3000)

dlh-blog-dec-16

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Healing, Hope

Don’t trust your feelings. Ignite your faith.

I was recently reading 1 Kings 19, which tells the story of Elijah and the enormous personal battle he fought after winning a great victory against the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.

Elijah had called on the name of the Lord and saw fire fall from heaven. The disbelievers in the crowd fell on their faces and worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The one true God had been glorified, and the Godless prophets of Baal had all been killed. This extraordinary day of miracles shook the country, and without a doubt, Elijah was operating out of the anointing of his calling. He was serving God and was at his very best.

But then Elijah received news that Jezebel was after him. She was enraged by Elijah’s ‘rebellion’ and sent a messenger to say: ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life, like that of one of them’ (1 Kings 19:2). Elijah had been full of faith, sure of his identity, and yet, those few words plunged him into fear and into an identity crisis.

At this point, a few things happened:

He became deeply emotional and fearful – his mind was affected.

He became physically tired and exhausted – his body was impacted.

He could not hear God’s voice – his spirit was drained.

A few days before, he would have sought God for the answer, but now he was depressed, despondent, and Scripture says he’d had enough and wanted God to take his life. He was being attacked by an unseen enemy which wanted to steal the victory, kill him, and ultimately destroy all of God’s work.

As I look around me, I see this so often in our churches. I believe that one of the biggest attacks of the enemy on the church today, is the attack of depression and despondency. The Word tells us that the enemy’s weapon is to steal, and there is no greater way to make an army ineffective than to steal their joy, their confidence, and their identity and replace it with fear and exhaustion. This often happens too, just after a big victory.

The story of Elijah shows that the enemy often works through our feelings. The enemy tries to mentally suck us dry and create a battle ‘between our ears’ of being overwhelmed. I believe if the enemy can win the battle ground in our mind, he knows he will successfully distract us from God’s plans and get us to focus on the problem and how we feel about it.

If you are in that place of feeling despondent, depressed, overwhelmed, or in fear (just like Elijah), you might be wondering if there is a way out. I have been there, and I know it can be a difficult journey, but there is a way out, and there are many great guidelines to be found in God’s Word.

Deal with the physical

Firstly, on a very practical level, God dealt with Elijah’s physical needs. I love that God is a God of practicalities! Immediately, God sent Elijah some food and water (delivered by an angel) and then allowed him to sleep. Once Elijah had been strengthened on a very physical level, God began to speak to Him. He did not give Elijah all the answers, but He asked him questions and allowed him to experience His presence. If you are feeling overwhelmed by situations in life, it is first good to check all the physical, practical causes such as lack of rest or proper nutrition.

However, it is also important to deal with the spiritual causes, and here is some advice based on things I have learned in my own life.

Instigate disciplines

Discipline is a part of discipleship. If you have the discipline of regular devotionals in your life (so that it becomes a daily habit), you will be able to continue reading God’s Word even when you are in a dry patch. If you create frameworks of discipline in your life before you experience despondency, you will find that you have a ready-made oasis just when you need it.

Phone a friend

Find a friend you trust and ask them to do the journey with you. For many years (until he passed away), I had a wonderful friend who knew me so well that he could detect even a change in my voice and understand if something wasn’t right. He was great at provoking me to speak out and to share what was going on. He and I were often able to travel the journey together and support each other in prayer when the other was going through a difficult time. Having good, strong friendships is very important.

Practice the presence

Jesus was led into the wilderness for 40 days and was tested in many different ways before His work could begin. Often, the enemy will try to attack our identity (just as he did with Jesus: ‘If you are the son of God…’ he said). Jesus knew His identity and He knew God’s Word and He was able to stand firm against the test. At the end of the test, He experienced God’s presence, and He left the wilderness refreshed, anointed, and ready for His assignment. Often in church, we work first and rest later, but I believe that God wants us to operate from a place of rest. When we work and live in God’s presence, we can act from a position of faith rather than what our feelings tell us.

Go back to God’s Word.  

I love Psalm 13. To me, it sums up a feeling of despondency and downheartedness so very well.

How long Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day, have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13)

This Psalm is wonderful because after David has poured out his heart to God, a switch happened. Something changed. By verse 5 and 6, he says ‘But I trust in your unfailing love. My heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for He has been good to me.’ 

As he wrote and cried out to the Lord, his heart started to move toward praise. One minute, here we have a guy who feels forgotten and forsaken, and then as he cries out to the Lord, he moves into the realm of praise.

It is ok to feel forgotten, forsaken, despondent, depressed – none of these things are a sin. But it is important to not rely on these feelings and instead go back to the reality of God at work in your life. God has never failed you (or me!) in the past, and He will not fail you now. Ask Him today to help you move beyond your feelings and instead into an atmosphere of praise and faith.

It is in His presence that we can find true rest and also once again begin to find God’s purpose in our lives.

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Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Healing, Hope, Miracles, Spiritual healing

The Power of a Story – Sid’s story

Once a year, the UCB team (staff and volunteers) gather together to celebrate all that God has done and share some of our thoughts and hopes for the future.

Our Staff Away Day was last Thursday, and what a wonderful day we had. We had a great time of worship together, led by our friends from CfAN, followed by a great word from the Chairman of our Board, Alan Scotland, who heads up Global Horizons. We themed the event ‘The Power of a Story’ to coincide with a new book we have published for UCB’s 30th anniversary. The book tells the stories of 30 people whose lives have been changed by the power of God’s Word.

Two of the people in the book, Sid O’Neill and Margaret McGuckin, came to join us (as a surprise for the staff) at the Away Day. We shared their stories on video and then invited them to talk in more detail about how God has impacted their lives.


This is Sid’s story in his own words:

When I was 12 years old, I went to live with my grandmother. The house we lived in had a lot of strange spiritual activity and, as a child, I used to see and hear spirits. That was my only experience of anything ‘spiritual’. Years later, I was working in a print factory and one of the bosses, Neil, was a Christian. I think I made his life a misery as I used to tease him and try to embarrass him. I’d never met a Christian before – I thought it was really amusing. I wondered why he always read his Bible rather than the newspaper like the rest of us.

Although I knew there was a spiritual world (because of my childhood experiences), the only thing I now did religiously was go to the pub on a Friday night. One night, a group of us were heading off for some drinks when we were involved in a terrible car accident – one of my friends in the car was killed. I was seriously injured and spent a long time in hospital with broken legs and a broken back. I had a lot of time to think, and I blamed God for what He had done to me and to my friends. When I got better, I took off to a new job in the Middle East. I made a real mess of things there, started drinking and ended up breaking my contract in order to get back to the UK. When I returned, Neil, the supervisor from my old factory, was now running his own busy printing firm, and he was printing this little booklet called the UCB Word for Today.

He offered my wife a job, and one day when I went to pick her up, the printing press was broken. Neil was distraught and at the point of tears as he couldn’t find anyone to fix it, and the UCB Word for Today needed to be urgently printed. I don’t know how, but I looked at the machine, and I was able to fix it… and the printing continued. Even though I wasn’t a believer, I believe that God helped me to fix that machine.

Somehow, I knew that I needed to be there, working for Neil. It meant a 50% pay cut, but I was drawn back there, and I used to read the UCB Word for Today as it came off the presses. One night, Neil gave me a CD with a man singing a song from Psalm 23, and as I sat there, alone in the factory, I raised my hands and I was crying. I knew that God was speaking to me, and I knew that if I asked for forgiveness, God would set me free and He would heal me of all my pain. That was the day I stopped running from God, and since then, I have not looked back. Today, I am working with the Christian Motorcyclist Association. I can’t say how thankful I am to God for all that He’s done in my life. He’s fixed my hurt and pain, He’s stopped me from running, and He’s given me hope. In my life, God has worked through so many different means: through Neil, through the bikers, through the Word For Today, and through everyone who prayed for me.

Today, Sid works with the Christian Motorcyclists Association, and he brought some of his biker friends from CMA, who also shared how God was working in their lives.

Hearing stories like these blesses me so much. I know that it is not because of anything UCB has done but because of God at work in people’s lives. Sometimes, God allows UCB to be part of that journey. And we are so thankful!

This week is a very busy one for our team as we launch our National Appeal on UCB 1 and UCB 2. It will be three days of inspiring radio, and we will share many more testimonies of God working in people’s lives.

I hope you will be able to listen in.

P.S. If you are able to support the work of UCB this week, it is very easy to get in touch. You can click here to donate or call us on 01782 911 911.


Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Faith, Hope

A God of miracles: Sarah’s story

In the blog last week, I wrote about learning to listen for God’s voice. I believe that when God speaks to us, we know, that we know, that we know that it is His voice. Some years ago, I felt very strongly compelled to go and pray for a friend’s daughter who was very sick.

Michelina and Nigel are friends from church, and their baby daughter Sarah was critically ill in hospital. I have asked Michelina to tell the story from her perspective.


Michelina writes…

It was January 1988, and one morning, I became aware that our 10-month-old daughter Sarah didn’t seem like herself. She had a small sore on her ear, and she was lying like a little rag doll, with no energy or interest in what was happening around her. I rang for the doctor, who said she had a virus, but when she was no better the following day, we rang the doctor again. This time, she was admitted to hospital, and that’s when we realised how seriously ill she really was.

sarahasababy
Sarah, as a baby

I remember standing by her bed, and several doctors asked us to step back as Sarah started to convulse. I have never felt so helpless in all my life, watching my baby so ill and not being able to do anything to help her. The doctors did not know what was wrong with her, but they told us it was likely she had a very serious virus. In my helplessness, I was crying out to the Lord, ‘Lord, Lord, help her… please help her.’ It was like our whole world had stopped. I remember also praying: ‘Lord, if you’re going to take her, please take her… but if you’re going to restore her to us, please let her be whole and healthy.’ I asked God to give me a sign that if she was going to be well, she would sit up. If I saw that, I would know that God would heal her.

Over the next few hours, the doctors were able to settle Sarah down, and a prayer chain was set up so that our church could pray. Over the next few days, Sarah was very sick and was put into isolation while the doctors tried to find out what was wrong. One day, I was sitting by Sarah’s bed when our friend from church, David, suddenly walked in. I said to him, ‘How did you get in here? They won’t let anyone but family in?’  David said he had just walked in and was there because he knew God had told him to come. He laid hands on Sarah, prayed, and then left the hospital.

I am not joking when I say that by lunchtime, Sarah had gone from being critically ill to sitting up. I had prayed for a sign, and there she was, just as I had prayed, sitting up! I wanted to take her home right there and then, but the doctors said she was still very sick. I knew in my heart though that God had heard my prayer. I knew he was going to heal her.

Sarah then had to endure a painful lumbar puncture. I had to hold her while they put a needle into her spine to test her spinal fluid.

We were then given unbelievable news – Sarah had Meningococcal meningitis.

newspaper10 days had passed since she had been admitted, and it is almost unheard of for children to fight this strain of meningitis without antibiotics.

In fact, just a few weeks earlier, very sadly a 12-year-old boy who lived in the same local area had died from the same illness. The doctors immediately gave Sarah antibiotics, but they told us they couldn’t believe that she had survived. I said that we believed in God and we believed that He had healed her. The doctors told us they didn’t know what had happened, but it was clear something had. We were told that Sarah might have hearing problems or other development challenges, but I said, ‘no’. I had prayed that God would restore Sarah completely, and I knew He would be faithful to what He had promised.

Sarah was in hospital for a few more days, and after two weeks, she was allowed home. Even the local newspapers called her a ‘miracle baby’.

We just knew that God had saved her life.

Today, Sarah is 29 years old. She is a teacher, plays violin and piano, and is a mum to two children. We can only give all the glory to God for what He did in Sarah’s life. Sarah is literally a miracle, and it amazes me to look back and remember all that God has done.

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Sarah and her family now.

(From David)

I wanted to share Sarah’s story as a powerful reminder that we serve a big, miracle-working God. You might be facing your own ‘Sarah situation’ right now, but can I encourage you to listen for God’s voice, to pray, and to trust God with the outcome. He says that He will never, ever leave us, and He is always faithful to His word.

To God be all the glory.

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How to hear God’s voice.

Some years ago, I was facing a personal storm in my life. I asked God to speak to me, but it felt as though I could not hear His voice. A short while later, we had a guest speaker at church, and I remember he spoke on Hebrews 13:5, where God assures His people: ‘I will never, ever leave you nor forsake you.’ At the time, although I heard the words, my mind wandered, and it was only later that I wished I had listened more closely.

Almost one year later, the same speaker came back to church, and he began his sermon with the exact same words from Hebrews 13:5. This time, I hung on to every word; I did not let my mind wander, and I knew that God had really, really spoken to me. He had given me a second chance to hear His word!

At times in our lives, we struggle to hear God’s voice, but I believe God is speaking all the time. I have a TV on the wall in my office. Some days it is switched on, and other days it is not. If the screen was blank, I would not ring the transmitter and ask why I could not see any pictures. I would first check the television to see if it was switched on or defective. Serving in a media organisation, I understand that we are surrounded by invisible TV and radio waves. We cannot see them or hear them unless we switch a receiver on. I believe our lives are the same – to hear God’s voice, we have to switch the receiver on or be tuned to the right frequency.

God’s voice can be heard in the silence

I was raised in the Pentecostal tradition, and our prayer meetings were always exciting, with a lot of fervent prayers. In that situation, sometimes it is easy to think that if we are silent, we are not praying. It is great to pray out loud, but at other times, we also have to tune out the background noise and understand that God does not need to shout in order to be heard. 1 Kings 19 says that God spoke to Elijah in a ‘gentle whisper’, and Psalm 23 says that He leads us beside ‘still waters’. God’s voice can often be heard most powerfully when we take time to be quiet, ready, and willing to listen.

God’s voice is distinct

There are many voices in our lives, and if we do not learn to recognise them, we can confuse the voice of God with other voices around us. There are many voices we can tune into. There’s the voice of our flesh, the voice of our conscience, the voice of our reasoning, the voice of God, and the voice of the enemy (to name a few). There are two important distinctions. The voice of the enemy has one agenda: to kill, to steal, to destroy. The voice of God, on the other hand, is there to lead us to our ultimate destination. His voice may not always tell us what we want to hear (sometimes He disciplines us), but His voice will always be focused – like the GPS in my car – on leading us to the place He wants us to go.

God speaks in more than one way

God speaks to us in many different ways. He can speak to us through His Word, through timing and circumstances, and sometimes, He can speak to us through other people. God’s voice is always accompanied by ‘the peace that passes all understanding’. When we are at peace, we will know that we have heard the voice of God.

I have known this peace in my own life on many occasions, even during the time when we lost our son Jamie. As I went to see Jamie in the Hospital’s Chapel of Rest, I did not want to hear or believe what God said in that moment, but yet, I knew it was the voice of God.

On another occasion (a few weeks before Jamie passed away) I felt strongly prompted to go and pray for a friend’s daughter who had been taken suddenly and seriously ill. I knew, that I knew, that I knew that I needed to go and pray for this little girl. I will share more about this story soon!

If you are listening for God’s voice today and struggling to hear what He is saying, can I encourage you to ‘tune in’ your receiver. Even if you are looking for direction and cannot clearly hear God’s voice (like I was), keep believing and trusting.

God is speaking all the time.  Are we listening?

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