Jean V. John

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On Spring Bank holiday, May 1987, I left home to walk the short distance to catch the Coach to Derbyshire to attend a convention at Cliff College. It never occurred to me that anything could happen to change my way of life.

 I was a broken and sad person feeling inhibited and unable to move forward towards my goal due to a lack of self-confidence. As the years crept up on me, I often felt that any chances I had towards my dreams coming true were evading me, but I still kept dreaming of finding fulfilment.

That Spring Bank Holiday Monday, however, I was given an awakening to the realities of the Christian way of life. I was in a place where the worship was exuberant, and people praised God in a way that was completely new to me. It was as though heaven had come down to earth as God’s presence was felt everywhere I went. Something supernatural was also happening as I could hear a voice in my head making a demand on my life. This form of worship was new to me, and I became afraid of the sacred atmosphere, and the urge to escape was overwhelming. I was very critical of those who gave their testimonies. I wondered why they were talking so much about Jesus even giving Him credit for healing them and wondered whether they were genuine or not.

However, as I listened, I began to relate to some of the things that were being said and wondered if Jesus could help me also. But somehow the feelings of scepticism kept returning, and I could not wait for the meeting to end to make my exit. I decided not to attend the final service and went to the bookshop. There I met a friend who had previously heard Rev Colin Urquhart preach and recommended that I come with her to the Lower Tent where he was due to speak that afternoon. Reluctantly I went along to that meeting, and it was there that I finally made a new commitment to God.

On the return to London, my life was wonderfully transformed. I found the confidence to move forward towards my goal and I’m now a fully Accredited Local preacher and the founder of an organisation which has been serving the community here in London and internationally, for the past twenty-seven years.

After overcoming my personal experiences, I started a prayer meeting in my home. Through this meeting of openly sharing our life experiences, I realised that my personal circumstance was not isolated and I wanted desperately to help restore the lives of those suffering the effects of stress. I decided to set up a support network for the lives of the vulnerable. I opened up my home and began by offering counselling and befriending sessions. Later on, a helpline was introduced to provide support to the shut-in.

As more people began to tell others of the service my home became a drop-in, and it was then that the need for a community centre arose. Some others who were also committed to the local community shared the same vision. We set up an organisation.  Provided a programme of activities that would help to heal the lives of those suffering the effects of mental stress .

 We started out without any funds. Daytime activities, outings to places of interest and a lunch club was provided. However this was not accepted by my family and others who criticised me for associating with people termed “Outcast of society”. Several acquaintances discouraged me and asked if I knew what I was getting myself into. Their scepticism did nothing to hinder me but made me stronger and more determined to succeed in the task of caring for people. In the process, we have witnessed vast changes to personal circumstances, to attitudes, and to improvements in health. For over 27 years this charity has managed to survive as well as thrive on only a shoestring budget which has been well manage with a proven track record.