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This message came as a friend

I was brought up in Toxteth, Liverpool and lived around the corner from a very active church which always had something for bored kids like me. Although my parents weren’t churchgoers, they had attended Sunday school as children and thought it would be good for us to do the same. I loved all the games, quizzes, crafts, singing and especially the Bible stories. I became familiar with the message and hearing about God sending His Son to save sinners always gave me a warm, cosy feeling, rather like a fairy tale with a good ending.

That all changed when, at the age of 12, it began to dawn on me that the word sinner might actually be referring to me. Surely this was such an extreme term? However, my tally of wrongdoing was plain for all to see, from smashing windows to fighting in the street, from swearing to being suspended from Sunday school. But more than this, I was simply going my own way. If others could see it, God certainly could. I began to understand from the Bible that there was a Grand Canyon between what God required and the life I lived and that sinner was a  description of every one of us.

There was nothing I could do to put things right. Far from this message making me feel warm and cosy, it now placed me in a seemingly desperate position. Faced with such bad news I decided to stop attending the church. But I couldn’t keep away. The force of truth, that I was a sinner, compelled me to find an answer.

On returning and listening closely to the Bible being explained, I began to understand. The perfect life I could never live, Jesus Christ had lived and the I could do nothing to save myself but Christ had done it all! He had paid my debt and torn down every barrier between God and me. I came to see that far from this message being something to fear and keep at a distance; it came as a friend, to do me the greatest good.

On May 31 1978 I believed this Gospel. I took God at His word and resting all my hopes on Christ alone; His life, death and resurrection, I prayed for forgiveness. I immediately knew a great sense of peace and the calm of being forgiven. My life changed forever.

Since that day I have never looked back nor had cause to regret what happened. The Lord Jesus Christ is real. His name is wonderful and joined to Him, I am boundlessly rich. I moved from Liverpool when I was 18 to study at Southampton, where I met my future husband Gerard, who has been Pastor of Amyand Park Chapel for the last 19 years. I don’t know what the future holds but I know it is secure. When I came as a sinner to Jesus, I found Him to be the sinner’s greatest Friend. The Bible says “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all  acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Mandy Hemmings

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And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:12