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Karen Jefferson

I was born into a loving Christian home in May 1975 in the town of Stornoway on the Island of Lewis. I was brought up having family worship morning and evening, being taken to church both ends on a Sunday and attending Sunday school in the afternoon. My distinct memory from Sunday school was myself and my pal Diane having to learn not only the Shorter Catechism but Isaiah chapters 53, 54 & 55 off by heart and all for a packet of Polo Mints! The joys of having your dad as Sunday school teacher!

I guess that I can say I have always believed that God exists but really had no idea just what that meant despite being taught all about Him. As a teenager I really rebelled. Like most I did not worry about the consequences of my actions not to mention the worry I must have put my family through at times.

However, in 1994 I left home and started training to become a Nurse. Indepedence was great but looking back I am thankful I was still under a Christian influence as I shared a flat with my sister. I guess to keep my parents happy and to appease my conscience I would go along with my sister to Buccleuch Free Church of Scotland in Edinburgh most Sundays. I think this was the first time I appreciated what the church was. There was always a warm, supportive and friendly atmosphere not to mention a minister who smiled when he preached the good news!

In a big city like Edinburgh where you can feel lost this was a kind of haven but I still continued on my rebellious route. Just before finishing my training myself and 2 friends headed off to Romania for 6 weeks elective placement, split between a sick childrens hospital and an orphanage. This had a real impact on me for many reasons, so much so that I decided this was where I would love to nurse. However as Isaiah 55 reminds us I was soon to learn that my ways were not His ways.

I was given the gift of a son in 1997 and can only say that the Lord knew the plans He had for my life (Jeremiah 29 verses 11-14 which has become one of my favourite verses). Although doors were opened to allow me to move back home to the Isle of Lewis, get a job and marry William in 2000, I continued to refuse “the call” of the gospel.

Life was good until 2002 when I miscarried. My anger was immediately directed towards God. Why would He allow something like this to happen? I stopped attending church for a couple of years at this point and wanted nothing more to do with it. However The Lord remained patient. In 2003 when I gave birth to Rachel on the same birthday as my dad, I guess The Lord started softening my heart again.

I started attending Kenneth Street Free Church of Scotland in the town of Stornoway on most Sunday evenings. Many a time I remember having 'goose bumps' listening to the preaching but it was no until a Sunday night in 2006 when Rev Iver Martin preached a sermon on “Heaven” that my heart was really opened to God's voice. 'Are you going to be there?' was the question and I knew I would not be unless I believed in the Lord. I left the church in tears and for the first time in my life I poured my heart out to the Lord.

In the words of my favourite psalm (Psalm 116) 'I love The Lord because my voice and prayers He did hear'. With wise counsel from my dad I professed The Lord publicly at the following communion.

Although that is the story of how I came to know The Lord, my testimony of His work in my life is ongoing. Undoubtedly I am so thankful for His long suffering with me, during my stubbornness in refusing to believe over the years and in my falls and failings since becoming a Christian. I am so grateful to Him for having godly parents who brought me up in the ways of The Lord and I only wish I could turn back time to appreciate them more.

I am now in the privileged position of nursing in the Emergency Department of the Western Isles Hospital. Of the 16 years I have been nursing for the last 6 years have been among the most rewarding yet challenging and I never tire of witnessing Gods amazing grace, often in the hardest of situations.

There have been many trials along the way. Losing my dad suddenly in 2009 whilst I was abroad on holiday was one of the lowest times in my life. Yet even when making that journey home I was never so aware of the presence of the Lord with me. Another major blow was on Christmas Day last year when I miscarried again, this time at 12 weeks. Devastating as this was to us as a family, having Jesus as Lord helped me to view things entirely different this time and has given me the strength and hope to say 'not my will but yours be done'. I trust one day we will all be together once more.

Despite the knocks along the way, having Jesus as Lord and Saviour has given my life a meaning and a purpose. Yes, living and witnessing for Him is challenging but nothing compared to the gift of eternal life that He has given us. My prayer is that I will become more like Him each day and that all who I know and love will come to put their trust in Him.

If anyone reading this is not a Christian, I urge you to choose Jesus. Do not let 'religion' put you off or issues with the church, or even what people think....these things mean nothing when it comes to your eternal life...and this is between you and Him, no one else! All that matters is knowing just how much Jesus loves you and responding to that love while there is still time. As one of my favourite authors Max Lucado, in his book The Gift, writes "On the eve of the cross, Jesus made His decision. He would rather go to hell for you than go to heaven without you". Now it's time for you to make yours…..why would you not choose Him?