I was brought up in a Christian home and taught to go to church, and became an altar server. But like the saying, "Being in a garage doesn't make you a car", so this didn't mean I was a Christian. But no doubt some foundations were laid which God was later to use.
By the age of 20 I was suffering depression and on 'Purple Hearts' (legal in the 50s) and suffering guilt and (somehow or other) fears of hell. It was in September 1957 that I went on a weeks holiday at Lee Abbey (a Christian holiday centre) in North Devon. IN the epilogues that week I heard (properly) the preaching of the Cross. On the Thursday I knelt in the Chapel and prayed though Psalm 51. I felt clean and free.
It wasn't all plain sailing! I returned to a 'dead' church and over the years my new life faded: the flame became a 'smouldering wick'- and barely smouldering by the late 70s. But God had his mark on me and when a new vicar came to Hawton church (which we attended) I went to see him to explain my often absences. He guided me through the next months. I read 'When the Spirit comes' by Colin Urquhart. Finally I asked the vicar to pray for me for the Spirit to come. This he did on Sunday 13 June 1982 at 3pm. At the ninth hour the Spirit came in an experience which beggars description. I felt a bit like Paul who had seen things that could not be uttered. I became an actively involved 7-day Bible-hungry Christian. Life has never been the same since.
(Ian Lyall)

I was brought up to go to church in a God-fearing family, and was in fact Chapel Prefect at school.
When I left school I worked in Northampton for about 6 months before going to university at Leeds.One evening I went to see T.S.Eliot's play "The Cocktail Party" at the local Repertory Theatre. I am not sure of the message of the play, but it left me with a very strong impression of the two ways through life - one of people making allowances for each other, and generally making the most of an earthbound life, the other the Christian way with an eternal perspective. When I was back at my digs, I thought about this and became aware very forcibly of the words of Jesus "I am the way, the truth and the life". I realised that that life was the one Iwanted, and I prayed it might be true for me.
At the same time things were happening at church at Barton Seagrave, and I went to an "Enjoy your Bible" campaign.When I went to university a little later Mr. Fothergill, the Rector, encouraged me to go to the Christian Union meetings and introduced me to a young couple, the Hamiltons,who gave me hospitality. When I went to the Christian Union I recognised that there were people there who had "something" which I did not have - which I now realise was a knowledge of and a joy in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In April 1955 Billy Graham was in this country conducting one of his missions, of which the press was rather derogatory and critical of "emotionalism".There were landline relays of the meetings and one was at St. George's Leeds. A friend mentioned this to me, describing it as "a golden opportunity" which I thought as rather extravagent language. However I decided to go and my digmate came with me.At the end of the meeting we were invited to "get up out of our seats" and I knew I could not sit on the fence any longer; I went forward to commit my life to Christ. In the succeeding weeks I experienced a great sense of peace and joy, and I remember cycling down to St. George's singing my heart out: "Thine for ever! O how blest they who find in thee their rest". At times I would wonder "Am I really a Christian? How can I be sure?" And the reassurance was in Revelation 3 v 20"... if anyone opens the door I will come in.."Jesus can be trusted.
Since then I have sought to walk with the Lord and do His will, and He has answered my prayers in all sorts of ways and helped me to grow - in the CU at Leeds, in work in Northampton and later Corby, and particularly in Neville Russell where I found fulfilment in my work as a partner in what was for many years a Christian firm. Likewise I have found satisfaction inmy involvement in the church at Harold Wood and now, following retirement, back in my old church at Barton Seagrave. Family and friends have played a great part in all this, surely provided by God. But all praise is due to the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved me and gave Himself for me!
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