Testimony of Mandy Stinglehammer
Well, I have been a Christian for over 40 years and a member of this church for over 40 years too.
I was not brought up in a Christian home. It was a good home but there was no Christian influence, yet somehow if anyone asked me I always said I believed in God, and because of that I thought I was a Christian. But I had no teaching about the things of God.
When I was about 13 or 14, the age when your life is before you and you are thinking about what you want out of life, I was playing at my mum’s typewriter one day, and wrote down what I hoped to find in my life. Among other, worldly things, (like wanting to have a nice husband!), I wrote that I wanted to know God, not just in a far off way, but to really know Him in a real way. I did not understand what that meant, but God had seen that desire for Him, mixed as it was with purely natural things and over the years He has refined and purified that desire.
I knew nothing of the Gospel. In fact I thought that people who went about preaching about God were fanatics and seriously weird. However, when I was 16 I came into contact with someone at school who was a real Christian, and he was not odd: he was a prefect at school and liked and respected. Anyway, to cut a long story short, one day he invited me to his church to see a film of a Billy Graham crusade, and it was here for the first time that I heard you were not a Christian just because you believed in God, but you had to make a definite commitment to Him, you couldn’t just sit on the fence.
This really got through to me, but I was too shy to speak to any of the elders in the church, they all seemed very old! However, I went for a coffee afterwards with the person who had taken me and he talked about what it meant to him to be a Christian. I can’t remember anything that he said, I just know that I suddenly saw that Jesus was real, that everything He said in the bible was true. It really was that I ‘saw the light’ and I felt a tremendous joy.
I went home that night and locked myself in the toilet (as it was the only place where I knew I could be undisturbed!) and I gave my life to Christ. It was very real and I really felt His presence. My friend had given me a little red booklet of verses from the bible about salvation and every one of them spoke to me.
The next day when I went to his church everyone was so happy, shaking my hand and congratulating me, telling me it was the best decision I would ever make. I didn’t really understand why. I do now!
However, after a few months that reality that I had felt the night I had been converted started to fade and it troubled me. I remember asking one of the older Christians in the church about this and he said to me that you hardly ever feel the reality of Christ again as you did at conversion. So I thought, hmm, ok, I suppose he must know.
Then shortly after that, for reasons I won’t go into, I started going to another church. I had no complaint against the church I had been going to. I just started going somewhere else. This went on for a year or two. I was aware that I had no power in my life - I still got angry, felt jealousy, but, and this may sound strange, I had come to the conclusion that that was just the way it was, that everyone was just pretending.
Now this church I was now going to had a youth meeting on a Sunday night after the normal service and some of the young people who used to come to Struthers went along there too. One Sunday night there I literally bumped into one of them and we got talking. He began to tell me about the baptism in the Spirit and the reality that people had found in God through it. I was amazed and immediately wanted this, so I started coming to meetings. However it was a while before I received my baptism. Lots of people prayed with me but I was not very spiritual and very caught up at a mind level. One night Mr. Black, after praying with me, went to the front and said he was going to stop praying with people if they would not move out in their spirits to God. I realised he was speaking about me, and thought ‘Uh-oh, I’d better do something about this!’ You see there had been some words going around in my head, but I was too busy questioning in my mind what they were and I suppose not looking to God enough when I was being prayed with. So that night I decided to say them out and - I was baptised in the Spirit. Spiritual things definitely become more real to me after this, but I think I slowed my progress down quite a bit by being caught up at a mental level and not listening properly to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
A year or so after this, as part of my course at university I had to spend a year abroad in Germany and I am sorry to say that during that time I backslid quite badly. When I came back home in the summer I went to a camp run by this church, and it was there that I came under real conviction of sin. I had never really felt conviction of sin before. When I was saved it was more the love of Christ that had won me, but this was terribly real, like an awful, terrible weight on my spirit that I just had to get rid of. And I knew I had to speak to one of the leaders about it. It doesn’t always happen like that, but in this instance I knew it was what I had to do, so I spoke to Miss Black and with a few sentences all the mental barriers I had put up to stop myself admitting my guilt were dealt with and that night I recommitted my life to God at a deeper, more real level.
Now that was quite a while ago! Over all these years He has always been faithful, even although I have not always been faithful. There have been good times and there have been difficult times, and it may sound strange but I think I can honestly say that it is during the difficult times that I have found God most deeply.
Recently, a few months ago I was sitting in this meeting; Diana had been preaching, and it suddenly became really clear to me that there was a deeper place in God for me, and I knew I had to speak to Diana about it. Again it was so terribly real: there were no doubts or questions about it. So Grace and Diana prayed with me and it was wonderful. There have been wonderful times before too, but this was, it was just so real and so wonderful. That is what I love about Christ. He leads us step by step into deeper places and He always makes the way so clear.
There is really no joy like being in that place of reality of communion with Christ; it’s just wonderful. It’s reality. It’s Christ
Testimony of Ronnie Henderson
My name is Ronnie Henderson, I was brought up in a typical Glasgow family. We were fairly poor most of the time, but somehow my mother managed to provide a stable environment for us even though it broke her heart at times. There was only a year gap between the four of us then a six year gap and the youngest two children were born. She brought us up mostly on her own, but she always had a smile on her face, she just got on with it working hard and earning little to just scrape by. My dad was rarely home and when he was we all went out because he was always moaning. The only good thing I can remember him do was bring us home a large padded white children’s bible. He was away working for months in a pub for a friend and came home at Christmas and this was our Christmas present. We took turns to read these great stories and sometimes we would read them to each other. That was when I started to think there was a God. I remember that I started talking to God every now and then, asking him why did this happen, why did he do this and that. Sometimes I was angry at him e.g.( why he would let me get frozen going to school, why he let me get soaked in the rain and why did he let my dad beat up my mum when he was drunk and even when he wasn’t drunk). When we were very young we moved down to Chester for a couple of years, I started school there. We moved back up to Possilpark in Glasgow and by then I had found out the reason for all these moves....my dad was running away from the money lenders. It was here I experienced my first religious encounter in the school playground. Suddenly loads of rubbish came down on top of us from a very high wall. I soon discovered from one of my classmates that it was the Catholics who went to the school next door and didn’t like us because we were protestants. My wife Janice has just told me she had the very same experience as she went to the same primary school, I left when I was nine, so we didn’t know each other at that time. Anyway I asked what is a protestant and was told we hate the pope, as I asked,” what’s a pope?” the bell rang so I didn’t get an answer.
We moved to Drumchapel when the scheme was new, we were getting a house with a bath-this was great as we wouldn’t need the tin bath that we hated so much anymore. I started my new school and soon had my second religious experience. I was on my way home which was over the top of a hill where St Pious Primary school was. I was walking up the hill when about a dozen people from my school ran past me. I just stood there wondering what was happening, when next thing I knew I was being battered black and blue by four boys who ran away and left me just lying there. I then realised the people from my school were shouting, “ the Catholics are coming”, well now I knew who the Catholics were!
We had just settled in Drumchapel when my dad took us to a place called the orange hall which we thought was some kind of club, little did we know! We started going there more often and there was something about this place I didn’t like i.e.( the anger and hatred which seemed to be pack and parcel for these people especially at parade times). During the parades our parents forced us to put on the orange sashes and walk behind the bands. I loved the bands, this was the best part of it. After a couple of years doing this I decided I didn’t want to anymore because I had made a few friends who were Catholics “ the hated ones”. My dad didn’t like this one bit. He tried forcing me and slapping me but I resisted and didn’t go back. My friends were supposed to be doing the same by going to mass and were taught not to hang around with Protestants. They stopped going and got into a lot of bother. I started supporting Celtic and my dad burned my scarf. I never thought much about religion, I believed it was all rubbish and caused a lot of trouble and hatred in Glasgow never mind Belfast!
I left school and started working, this is where I met Janice who later became my wife. We got a flat together in Maryhill. In our early twenties we had our son Lee who was just great. Janice took unwell in her late teens and was eventually diagnosed with post viral fatigue syndrome (ME). She didn’t keep well during her pregnancy and got progressively worse after Lee was born partly because Lee suffered terrible colic and we walked the floor with him night and day. I was so strained, I would come home from work and see Janice very ill. I stopped working for a while to help us all. One night I lay on my bed and just started crying, I didn’t know what way to turn and found myself talking to God who I hadn’t spoken to in years, asking Him to help Janice, me and Lee. I fell asleep but soon after this cry for help, Janice was helped by our Christian neighbour Margaret McLeod.
One morning Janice was getting Lee ready to go to crèche, he reached up to the worktop to get his juice cup. It was filled with boiling waterand he spilled this all over his arm and hand. She was so distressed she got our neighbour Margaret to come and help Lee.Margaret bathed him in cold water, prayed constantly and there was not a mark on Lee except a couple of little red scalds on his hand. We all believed this was a miracle. When Lee settled down, Janice broke down and said to Margaret, “I need to go to church”. She got her niece Linsie to speak to Janice and she went to a Saturday night meeting at Struthers church in Greenock with her. The following Monday Janice was looking out the window and I remember her turning round to me her face shining and saying I think I’ve been saved. I said, “whats that?” I can only describe it as a miracle what happened from that night forward. She began getting happier and stronger day after day, I watched as she was being transformed. All the time she kept saying to me you need to be saved too. My reply was, it was good for her but I wasn’t ready to make a choice. As Janice changed so did our whole way of living. One day she came home and told me I needed to come to Jesus or I would have to move out. I couldn’t understand what she was telling me. I said, “why don’t we get married?” She said a Christian couldn’t marry a non Christian. I was asking if she was serious and she said she was. I know if I’d said okay and given my life to Jesus that everything would have been alright, but I wasn't ready and I knew I would be doing it for all the wrong reasons. So with a very heavy heart I agreed to move out. We could see an empty flat just up the hill from us. I said it would be great if I got that flat. There must have been prayers for us because I moved into it weeks later. We used to wave to each other when I was on my way home and see each other from our windows, Lee had just turned two and he loved this and we made it fun for him.
Time and time again Janice would ask me to a meeting or outreach. I went to a few. The first time I went to a Saturday night I was moved by the singing and praying in tongues. It was very real and I felt Gods’ spirit. During this time I began changing myself, I also watched Janice become a different person a better person, she was a walking testament of what God could do. I started believing, but still not able to make a decision. I would lie on my bed at night weighing everything up and say, “tomorrow God I’ll do it tomorrow” but I’d wake up the next morning and wouldn’t.
One day I had an argument with Janice so I slammed the door and went to the pub to get drunk. I ordered a pint took one drink and walked out the pub, that was me finished drinking.
At the same time Janice was saved I had joined the orange order again, don’t ask me why. When I spoke to her about it she was very upset. After a few meetings I decided not to go back. One of the biggest hurdles for me was what would my mother and family do. Would they not want anything to do with me as they’d already turned against Janice? I went to an outreach in Glasgow in June 1993. I had began to feel an urgency, a knowledge that I might not get another opportunity and this made me go that night. I had seen Mr Black giving a call for salvation on previous occassions and I was getting impatient for him to make the call for anyone wanting to give their life to Christ to put up their hand. I’m sure my hand was up first. Mr Black came over to me and I told him I was worried that I’d left it too late... he just smiled. I was as high as a kite for days and had no problem telling my family. They were actually happy for me especially my mum whom God in his mercy a few years ago took home to be with Himself.
Not long after I was saved, Pauline Anderson approached me in a meeting to tell me God wanted to baptise me the Holy Spirit. My thoughts were, if God wants to give me more then I want everything there is. I was still enjoying being saved, I had been fighting with myself for so long that it was great to feel such freedom. That night I was baptised in the spirit, I was just like a kid. I let go and trusted to a level I had never experienced.
Finally all this was only the starting point in my Christian walk. There have been lots of unexpected events in my life, some difficult times but God has been so faithful to me. Also I am very aware that there is a much deeper level for me in my relationship with him and he’s so patient with me, still encouraging me to move on and commit more to him. I am so thankful for everything he’s done for me. Amen
As I start writing this testimony, I feel like I'm starting my own obituary which, in a way, is what this is about. However, my death resulted in a new and wonderful life.
I came from a happy and loving home in a typical middle class environment. I had a good education, was lucky to travel afar on family holidays, enjoyed rude health and generally had a happy, safe childhood. My college years were fun without being excessive and I graduated with flying colours before starting my job. Within a few years, I had bought a flat, owned a car and was living the "upwardly mobile" life of the Eighties. It was very shortly after I had started my new found career that I had this unnerving worry within. I didn't think it out loud to myself but it was there. It was the feeling that now that I had made it, starting my place in the rat race after years of education, I had this deep concern that "this was it". This was my life now until old age and death and, frankly, it depressed me. Surely there was more? Possessions, status, interests, lifestyle - they all seemed so quickly tiresome and pointless. My work involved me visiting many different workplaces where I saw what years of employment and general life did to people. It was not encouraging to say the least. I instinctively knew that no amount of wealth, travel or social life was going to fill that void within me.
Throughout childhood I never really took an interest in spirituality or religion. Any time I looked, it seemed to be for loonies, con artists or hypocrites. A friend at school who was a Christian invited me occasionally to Scripture Union, even a Christian rally, but the "Christian" guys seemed no different in their living standards than to non Christians. Despite this however, I was not closed to the possibility of God's existence.
It was while I was worrying about my future that my friend started talking about this new church he had contact with, and of "receiving the Holy Spirit" and "speaking in tongues". Alarm bells rang in my head and I was concerned for him but as time went on and he spoke more about his experience, he certainly seemed different, happy and talking logically. I waited for the bubble to burst but he just grew in his new life. Over time, I listened more and more and read the book "The Incomparable Christ" by Hugh B. Black during a holiday, a book that explained about Christ more clearly and logically than I had ever heard. After time, I found that I was hungry to know more and eventually took the decision to give my life to Jesus during Billy Graham's crusade at Parkhead Stadium in June 1991. I was baptised in the Spirit several weeks later.
Now, I was 25 when I was saved. 25 years of living as anyone else does with no or little thought towards an all seeing God. 22 years later, I have never once regretted that decision. I have quickly recorded my salvation and baptism in a couple of sentences here, purely because of limitation of space. The years since cannot possibly be fitted here. Life is full, glorious, peace filled and happy. I have known miraculous answer to prayer over the years. God has given me provision despite lack of continuous employment, He has given me strength and peace during both my parents' passing and He has blessed me with a wonderful family. Above all, I know Jesus. I did not find myself in my belief because it "ticked the right boxes for me". I am a Christian because Jesus is real and alive! Until you meet Him yourself, you cannot understand the difference between belief and knowledge of the risen One. Jesus guides, strengthens, changes and upholds me every waking day and I am in no way ashamed to give Him all the glory!