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My faith journey - a blog by Deborah Price, North East and North Cumbria ICB

I am a Christian but that has not always been the case. In fact, by the age of 21 I was a confirmed atheist.  At that time, my partner (who was older than me and divorced) began asking some of the bigger questions of life – who am I, what have I achieved, is there any real significance or purpose in life, will I end up divorced again if I re-marry, etc?)  He decided he needed to search out about God.  He was a successful company director at this point – so money, status, position, ambition was in the bag – but still he questioned. I concluded that he must have lost the plot!  I could not understand how someone in his position could be considering God when surely it was obvious that there is no God, only what we as humans achieve ourselves or make up out of weakness. I was arrogant and antagonistic at what seemed to be ridiculous, so we broke up. However, I did not really want the relationship to end so decided I needed to at least be accepting of his quest – being supportive did not mean I had to join in.

As a step towards this, one Sunday I decided to seek out a church so got in my car, drove around, and ended up in a church thinking I had gate crashed a wedding!  There was life, colour, all ages, joy, smiles and a warm welcome (not what I had expected!)  So long story short, my boyfriend and I got back together, we both returned to that church, and we joined something similar to an Alpha Course (https://alpha.org.uk/) where you can explore about God, Jesus and faith. I saw people's lives changing on that course which intrigued me, and I discovered much historical evidence (outside of the Bible) of the existence of Jesus (unlike the Santa Claus figure I had assumed God was like). Yet even though I learned much information it was the overwhelming and unexplainable experience of the love, presence, power and reality of God I encountered that really blew me away and began a transformation which changed the course of our lives.

So began an adventure that I could never have imagined and has continued to this day. Walking by faith in Jesus has been both exciting and costly. We married a year after coming to faith and there began a lot of healing, re-shaping and learning what it meant to live in relationship with God. Our culture of self-focus, ambition for material wealth, status, self-sufficiency and self-promotion changed as we sought to be God focused which led us to places and jobs that we would not have ordinarily chosen but which looked outward, served others and opened us to the privilege of walking alongside many people. Ultimately, two children later (three eventually!), we moved as a family to Bristol in answer to a sense of call into full time Christian ministry and we went on to serve as leaders in a church in Barrow in Furness for 16 and a half years. 

My faith informs every decision – small or large. It’s not a religion where rules, regulations and rituals are kept in order to reach God, but rather where Jesus came to earth in order to reach us. This makes Christianity distinctive in that all the initiative is God's, reaching out to humanity to draw us back into relationship with Him. And so that ongoing daily relationship with Jesus affects every area of my life including my work with the NHS. Whatever I am doing, I seek to “work at it with all your heart”. Is it easy? No! Is it empowering? Yes! And that has been evidenced in our latest adventure of becoming short break foster carers which is both a challenge and a privilege – another avenue that is faith inspired! 

Belonging to a church (wherever we live) has also given us a family I never knew I needed, and we are now part of Hope Family Church in Washington. As I write, we are currently in Lent (a period of 40 days when many Christians remember the events leading up to and including the death of Jesus) which culminates in Easter Sunday when we celebrate His resurrection and the new life He died to bring. It is an important time in the Christian calendar and can include fasting and prayer or taking up something new to grow in faith.  A verse from the Bible that really summarises the Christian faith is from John 3:16 – "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life". I would never have expected that I would be a person of faith – one of the 'anyone' who 'believes'. But encountering the reality of a God who knows me and loves me shifted everything I thought I knew and pointed me in a new direction. 

I am happy to talk about my story of faith so do feel free to ask anything or check out https://alpha.org.uk/..

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