The Joy of Hope
by John Kempton
My journey to God wasn’t always as plain sailing as it is now. It started when I was a child, I grew up in an ultra-religious home, but that broke down and I then moved around different foster homes, some the same and Jehovah’s Witnesses like me some not.
I studied the Bible in depth with an Elder and a ministerial servant then progressed in the Kingdom Hall. I did this until I was 20 years old when I found this way of life wasn’t for me and was disfellowshipped. Because of that I am now shunned and have lost my family.
After this I moved into my own house and started a new life. With this new life the trouble began, I made friends and mixed with the wrong crowds and started taking class A drugs. This went on for nearly 10 years; I lost my home ending up on the streets homeless. All through these tough times my love for God was always there, (James 4 vs 8) I would always pray in times of need.
Skip forward a few years and I’m walking into a treatment centre in Burnham on Sea; I was given the chance to start a new life. I have now been in Somerset for nearly 4 years. When I got clean and sober my relationship with God became strong again.
I worked through the 12-step program where we had to hand our will over to a Higher Power of our Understanding, and I made this God. I wanted to help people just like I had been helped, (This is also what step 12 teaches us to do) as without people helping me and showing me kindness, I would probably be dead. In the early days of my sobriety, I started working at the Foodbank, as when I was homeless, they helped me.
I have now been there over 3 years and now am a Trustee for them! Part of my foodbank work took me to Hope Baptist Church, the first time I’d been in a church for 5 years. I also help run the local AA meetings and had the privilege to join a zoom one in Ukraine. The message stuck with me even in a war-torn country that their Love for God is keeping them sober. How amazing is that and a huge Praise to God.
The work that goes on at Hope is such a blessing and I felt so comfortable being there, the warm welcome I got is one of the reasons I’m now a member. During working there, I got talking to Jade and Lyn about so many things and about God (Matt 24 vs 14) and I got invited to a service, at first, I was reluctant but after time, and Jade pushing me, I attended.
Wow!! I’m so glad I did. I loved it and have been a regular ever since. After my first Church meeting, I asked to become a member because I felt God’s love at Hope. The other members made me feel so welcomed I wanted to become a part of that. I’m so glad I did.
On Pentecost Sunday I got baptized in front of church members and my friends, some who don’t come to church. I love being part of the wider Baptist family, The joy I feel when I leave church beats any drug any day.
I guess the reason I’m writing this is to say It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone is welcomed in God’s House. The work I do in the community with people is an expression of God’s love, I am proud to say I am a Baptist when people ask me, I am proud of the work we do and love being part of God’s plan for us all.
May you all feel the Joy of Hope as I have!