Gary Saunders 


presented to the congregation during the morning worship service on Sunday 24/04/2016

How I came to Jesus, or how Jesus came to me
It was New Year's Day 2002. Once I had made the decision not to do the North Sea swim (the same decision I made every year), my day was pretty free. I was 49 years old. I had a lovely wife and son, a nice house, a good job, and all the family were healthy. I was not a Christian. I had not participated in a Sunday service since I had been at school
Then a thought came into my head from somewhere. "there's something missing isn't there?" I considered that thought and realised, "Yes, there is". What that something was I had no idea. And come to that who was putting thoughts into my head without my permission
That evening Elizabeth said "You know when Mike goes to Spring Harvest at Easter, do you think we could go up for the day?"  To her utter astonishment, and I really do mean that, I said, "Why don't we go up there for all of it?"
I had started to get an inkling of who was putting thoughts in my head.  So we booked for Spring Harvest, sharing with Nic and Kim
My comfortable existence began to get a little more uncomfortable. At the end of February I went to the doctors with a lump on my bottom. Apparently it was as big as an orange. From the doctors I drove quite uncomfortably to hospital and was admitted. The consultant said it was as big as a grapefruit. Too much fruit growth in half an hour for my liking. I had an operation to remove the lump the next day, and acquired a rubber ring
My daily dressings from the district nurse had just finished, when we set off for Skeggie, free from my rubber ring at last. We had a wonderful time. We went to loads of informative sessions, including a set called "Just Looking", and met many truly inspiring people
We had started to attend Park, and Elizabeth went on an Alpha course, and we used to talk about it for hours after she came home.  Then I had a heart attack. I had figured out who was putting thoughts into my head, now I had some idea of why. I was going to need help to get through this
Elizabeth and I had a wonderful day at Papworth when I had my angiogram, full of smiles and laughter. I had prayed for myself for the first time. And the voice told me "Don't worry, you'll be fine, there are lots of people praying for you", and I felt a warmth spread through me. I knew people were praying for me. My true faith began that day.  I had my quadruple bypass a couple of months later, and by the end of the year felt better than new
We went to Spring Harvest again the next year to continue our journey of faith. I went on an Alpha course when we returned, and I first began to think of myself as a Christian
I don't really know the cause, whether it was the devil attacking me, or just an after effect of my brush with death, but I had a breakdown
It was horrendous. It was more than I could bear alone. I was not me, I was not someone that you would want to know. I wasn't alone, I had the strength of the Lord to support me, and the love and understanding of a wife who couldn't possibly have understood. We got through it together, again with the prayers and support of our wonderful church family
We went to Spring Harvest again the following year, went down the front (separately) to commit ourselves to Jesus, and got baptised together in July 2005. When I first came to Park I was as needy as anyone in this church, now I just love to serve others. I like to think that with God's help I've turned from someone who looks away to someone who now looks to see how they can help