“My mother was a Methodist. If ever I was having a problem as a child, she would say to me, ‘We have to talk to Jesus about that.’ I went to Sunday school and I was confirmed at age 14. But I was always a questioning person. I remember being told as a teenager, that we mustn’t go to the pictures, or the theatre, and we mustn’t wear lipstick. It was very restrictive and I found it hard to accept.”
“Then I went to university and I studied science. It was 1944, during the war. There was a Christian group on campus and I went there a few times, but they told me how bad I was. So I stopped going there, and instead I went to the Free Thought Society. It suited me intellectually. Then I finished my science degree, I got a job and I just drifted along for a while. I went to church occasionally but I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. After three years, I took a ship to England, with a girlfriend. It was 1950. During that time, church became a much lower priority for me. I was working and we did a lot of travelling together. Then my friend went home and a new person joined the laboratory where I was working. His name was Alan. He and I became quite friendly. He took me to visit his mother and his village and his church. It turned out that he went to church every week. So I went to church with him.
“I can’t tell you when it happened. I never had a lightning bolt or anything, but I became a Christian. I trusted Jesus. It was a gradual process, rather than a sudden revelation.
“I went back to Australia, and then Alan and I got engaged and married. We ended up living in a small town 600 kilometres west of Sydney. We had all the babies there, and we all started going to church. It was another turning point for me. We had Bible studies and we went to conferences and my faith began to mean a lot more to me. We joined an organisation that had an emphasis on seeing Jesus in the other, being the first to love, through loving the forsaken Jesus on the cross. Some years later, I was at a conference and the reading was from 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” At the end of the service, I went forward for prayer. I realised that I had always been timid in my faith in Jesus. But I didn’t want to be like that anymore. They prayed for me. It was a powerful experience. I was 70 by then! I had to hang on to the altar rail otherwise I might have fallen over.
“It’s still my favourite verse … and I’m 92 now. I live in a retirement village. Alan died five years ago. Of course, it’s hard at the moment because we’re all on lockdown. We can’t go to church or play Scrabble together. But the services are all online and we ring each other on the phone. I try to think one day at a time, and I read my Bible in the mornings.
“I’d quite like to live a bit longer, but I’m not fussed. I know where I’m going. I’m confident that there is life after death. I don’t know exactly what it will be like but I know that it will be better than this. Meanwhile, I sit here in the sunshine, and I look at the roses. Every day, I go for a short walk. And I sing my favourite hymn. “All glory, laud and honour, to thee, Redeemer, King …”