Sample Chapters! Led to the Banquet Hall

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A Relentless Nightmare 


Imagine a married couple renting a two-bedroom terraced council house in the 1950s in a dilapidated neighbourhood, with five young children all under the age of six. The children’s parents were holding down different jobs to bring in enough money for food and payment of bills. Dad was a telephone engineer and Mum worked in a ‘pot bank’ (a colloquial name for a pottery factory). At times they also took on cleaning jobs in the evenings.  

In quick succession my parents had a son and a daughter and then, as their third child was born (at home), there was an announcement from the midwife, ‘Hang on, another one is coming.’ That ‘other one’ was me; unexpected and, as time was to demonstrate, not wanted. I became the scapegoat at an incredibly early age, in fact probably from birth, for all my parents’ struggles and frustrations. Incredibly, my parents went on to have a fifth child, who was born eighteen months after my sister and me.  

Without any exaggeration, I have no recollections of receiving any love, affection or nurture from my parents or any other adult. I have no memories of the early formative years of my life and can only recall a few incidents while attending the local infant school. On a regular basis, my mother ensured I was late to school by keeping me at home. I have no idea why she did that and can only conclude it was to ensure I was criticised and labelled as an ‘undesirable’ by the teachers. Fears and anxieties were constantly present inside me as I desperately tried not to be late by running the distance from home to school. No matter how fast I ran, I knew I wouldn’t be successful, but I still tried!  

I only have blurred memories of those early years and vaguely remember all five children sleeping in one room. As I try to recall the place there is a sense of it feeling very dark, intimidating and fearful – there was certainly no sense of it being a family home. I rarely spent any time with my siblings inside the house as I spent days, nights and weeks (during school holidays) isolated in cold, dark places of the house. I can remember spending long periods of time outside – sometimes playing with my siblings, but often on my own.  

The back of the house led on to a pathway which many people used first thing in the morning to get to work or to a junior school. There were times when my mother would throw me outside with no clothes on, and you can imagine the embarrassment and fear I felt as a young child, desperately trying to find a place to hide so no one would see me as they walked past.  

My parents’ marriage was often stormy, with my mum repeatedly throwing accusations at my dad of having affairs (I have no idea if they were true or not). I vaguely hoped life would improve when my parents bought a three-bedroom house in a slightly better neighbourhood. Far from it: the relentless misery and abuse continued throughout the entire time I resided there. My ‘bed’ would consist of sleeping either in the bath or in the downstairs cloakroom, and sleep was often fitful as I was so cold (I have had sleep problems throughout my life, probably as a result of this). Physical violence was inflicted upon me at regular intervals. I ate ‘meals’ on my own which were appalling. Cold porridge with salt on it, bread soaked in water, raw eggs, cold meals coated with sugar.  

Moving to a new neighbourhood coincided with the transition to junior school, and my mother escorted my younger brother, my twin and me part of the way before she went on to her place of work. Those journeys were a daily nightmare as my mother would wait until there were a lot of other people around us before shouting deeply personal insults at me. The few subjects I showed any promise in, my parents discouraged. I was picked to perform in school plays, which Mum and Dad allowed me to be part of, but on the actual performance nights they banned me from attending. It was awful having to go in to school the next day to face the repercussions of their actions. I loved to play hockey, but they refused to buy me the proper uniform; so, I was always the odd one out, and it became easier to stop playing. I probably had the intelligence to take O levels but my parents didn’t engage with the regular open evenings where that kind of conversation could have been raised. Only one teacher saw potential in me and insisted I join his history O level class. I took CSEs for the rest of the subjects I studied.1  

At times I feared for my life as I was subjected to endless cold baths, with my mother ducking me under the water until I was certain I would drown. I vividly recall the time she came close to strangling me.  

In among all that misery, my bullying older brother sexually abused me with regular frequency. I was powerless to stop him, and being physically isolated from the rest of the household made me an easy target for him. I recall the unbearable tensions within me, fearing, as I became a teenager, that he might make me pregnant. I had no one I could talk to about these fears.  

When all of this became too much, I would run away, even though as I escaped I knew it was futile. I had no money, my clothing was threadbare and there was nowhere to seek proper refuge. I would wander through different fields in the neighbourhood. My parents became familiar with the places I would go to, simply came and collected me and, of course, meted out more punishment.  

The only relief came from the presence of the family dog, a Golden Labrador called Rufus. He meant a lot to me in the unspoken therapeutic ways that animals silently provide. The day I came home from school to discover he had been given away to my uncle because we lived near a main road, without any warning or discussion, switched another emotional light off inside me.  

Turning sixteen and going to sixth-form college did make life more tolerable. I had been offered a place at the college as I had gained grade ones in enough of my CSEs and had passed my history O level.  

As I got older, I somehow managed to find ways to stand up to my parents when they were attempting to order my life in ways I knew would have an even more detrimental impact upon me. Attending college was one of those key moments. My father was insistent that both my twin and I had to do an apprentice-style job which would equip us with employment after the training. My twin went to do hairdressing at another local college (which she gave up as quickly as possible). I refused to acquiesce and, amazingly, they grudgingly accepted my standing up to them. However, as they were so against me continuing with my education, my parents made no attempt to encourage my studies. If I didn’t have enough money from my Saturday job to catch the bus to college, I would walk the three and a half miles each way.  

Life had also been eased by my parents having a sixth child, thirteen years after my younger brother, which was not planned (she was referred to as ‘an accident’ in the early years of her life). By this stage my parents were financially better off and my older brother and sister had left home, so there was more room in the house. My parents were more relaxed and enjoyed having their sixth child. They treated my younger sister almost as if she was their first child; they seemed to finally get what being a parent meant. A lot of the physical abuse towards me stopped as I was probably at that independent stage where they knew I could have reported them to the authorities.  

Given my parents were so against me going to college, I vowed to prove them wrong, which was made more difficult with the reputation my older brother had gained while there. He had spent most of his time playing poker instead of attending lessons! I was constantly reminded of this fact by various teachers who had had the misfortune of trying to teach him and were now tutoring me. I took history and French A levels and Spanish O level, though the step up from CSE grade one in French to A-level standard was massive. I also had to juggle homework assignments while babysitting my younger sister, as my parents worked in the evenings and she would not go to sleep on her own. That meant having to physically stay with her in my parents’ bed trying to get her to sleep, some nights for hours at a time.  

I guess it was no surprise that when it came to the exams, my brain seemed to go on strike. I had endured so much emotional pressure and worked incredibly hard at trying to prove I was capable of undertaking A levels over those two years, there was mentally nothing left in me to combat the usual exam pressures. I struggled to find the necessary momentum to revise and was therefore surprised to gain one A level in history, albeit a low grade. I failed to gain the required grade for an A level in French but was awarded an equivalent O level grade.  

I had no friends while at college, as I was too caught up in studying and babysitting. Boyfriends were few and, quite frankly, nightmarish. I didn’t know how to relate to boys and struggled hugely when they wanted to get more intimate. My father would be so derogatory during those times I had a boyfriend that it simply wasn’t worth listening to his tirades; it was easier not to bother.  

I wanted to go into nursing after finishing college and was offered a place at Wolverhampton, but in those days there was a year’s waiting list to get into a training college. I had been working in the food department of British Home Stores on Saturdays. This was in the days when food was all freshly produced and prepared on site. It was therefore a natural progression to go full-time with the aim of staying there while I waited my year out. Of course, this was frowned upon by my father; shop work was beneath his idea of suitable employment.  

When British Home Stores offered me the opportunity to train as a manager, I jumped at the chance. This was despite an incident around my eighteenth birthday when my colleagues decided to take me to the pub at lunchtime. They encouraged me to drink vodka, which, of course, has little taste to it. After downing a few of those, we returned to work and I was heard singing upstairs in the food preparation area. My line manager was not impressed and, I belatedly realised, he could have sacked me. Instead, after a severe telling-off, he put me in one of the walk-in freezers to quickly sober up! I dread to think what he said to my colleagues, who he knew had led me astray.  

Normally a management training course with British Home Stores involved spending a year going around every department within a store, but I was unusual in wanting to specialise in food management. The food training course was only for six months and involved being trained in a London store before being sent to Watford. As I was only eighteen, it was decided at head office level that I was too young to be in London on my own for the six months, so they paid for me to stay in a hotel in Ealing. Looking back, I can see God’s hand in that unusual factor, as British Home Stores had never offered anyone else that kind of opportunity. I greatly valued their protection over me during that time as I was far too naïve and could easily have been overwhelmed with all that London offered. 

I do not share these awful things about my early family life easily. I am not seeking to embarrass my family members, nor am I looking for revenge. Frankly, I would prefer not to divulge the levels of abuse I was subjected to, but it has been an essential part of my personal growth to own and embrace those first eighteen years of my existence. Far more importantly, the ultimate reason for disclosing them is to testify how God can turn the most horrendous events of our lives around with His transforming, compassionate grace, mercy and love. My hopes and prayers are that you will glean how He has achieved that in so many areas of my life in the ensuing chapters. 



A Damaged Adult 


You can probably imagine some of the pitfalls awaiting me during those six months I spent in a London hotel during my training course with British Home Stores! The hotel was a family-run one, so thankfully was quite small in terms of the number of occupants. I was very grateful and touched by how the staff took it upon themselves to ‘look after’ me. I remember one memorable occasion when they banned me from coming downstairs, as the hotel had been taken over by a rowdy group of rugby supporters! Instead, they brought food to my room and kept me out of harm’s way.  

During the time I was there, I became part of the small number of regular guests, predominantly male, who were resident during the weekdays and over the weekends. I was introduced to the drink Martini, and we would while away the evening hours creating the longest straw possible to drink with. I certainly learned how to use alcohol as a useful aid in numbing the memories of my past whenever they floated to the surface.  

As I finally escaped the clutches of my dreadful family home, I mentally adopted a new identity. With every fibre of my being I cut off and disowned as much as was humanly possible all that had happened to me in those formative years of my life. As ‘successful’ as I was in this outward, ongoing survival mechanism, I struggled with many things most people take for granted in general day-to-day living.  

It was no surprise to realise I had no concept of love or trust. I found it an incredibly difficult and sometimes torturous process to learn the skills I was having to absorb as an adult – skills that children in their developmental stages of growth spontaneously grasp. Attempting to form friendships was fraught, and being shown any kind of affection was deeply uncomfortable. I coped with day-to-day life by following a rigid rule of routine; I had no understanding of spontaneity. My sole ambition and achievement for many years was to work hard at my job. I possessed few decent outfits of clothing and initially I couldn’t afford a new pair of shoes, so had to wear some with holes in them. I felt awkward and very unsure of myself. 

We know how events in our formative years shape our lives, and I recognise as I have got older how those abusive years had an impact on how I behaved as a young adult. It may seem astonishing to hear how I vowed very early on in my adult life never to marry or to have children, as a result of the abuse I had suffered. Even though I knew I would never abuse a child, I didn’t want to ever put myself into a position of vulnerability, either with marriage or with bearing children.  

As time went on, I understood many of my reactions and habits were linked with what had gone on in my childhood. Having an awareness helped on one level, but I seemed powerless to know how to overcome them, even though I desperately tried. I have always ensured I am never late for meetings and will usually be early. I became proficient at avoiding many activities which I knew would trigger flashbacks from my past – for instance, swimming.  

I recognised I continued to repeat the patterns my parents had inflicted upon me as I struggled to see new things through – things wanted to do, but quickly gave up on. One example of this was going to Ceroc dancing with a group of colleagues from work. I wanted to enjoy this social activity, but it became too much for me on an emotional level and I dropped out. Eating certain foods was a non-starter, and I struggled to be around big groups of people. I had to grit my teeth when I felt I had no choice but to conform and forced myself to endure those occasions. 

would remain silent and withdrawn when people shared about their early lives, their childhoods and their families. I feared if anyone discovered what my background had been like, I would be judged and found guilty and others would not want to know me any more. It was far safer to stay with the ‘identity’ I had adopted, even though there was little substance to it. Even to this day I rarely share details of my childhood, as it feels almost impossible to bring those awful memories into an ordinary conversation. I have often heard people describe me as being very private and didn’t really understand what they meant by that. I now, of course, realise how little I let anyone in on the hidden side of who I am.  

Internally, I recognised I was an emotionally empty shell. I had faced death so many times during my childhood from the numerous times my mother seemed to be trying to drown me and came very close to strangling me. For a long period I lived with the belief that I would be better off dead. There was little meaning to my existence, but that didn’t mean I was in any way suicidal; it was more a reality of the emotional starkness within me. Life felt like a dirge; empty, with an enduring daily monotony, even though I was now able to live in freedom from emotional and physical abuse. I avoided being angry at all costs, to the point where I did not regard anger as an acceptable emotion. It took many years before I was able to shed tears and to feel OK about doing so.  

I was nonplussed regarding how to relate to my brothers and sisters once I had left home, as there were too many unspoken secrets between us. There is often an assumption that siblings from large families relate well to each other and have a lot in common. That certainly wasn’t the case with my family members; we were all totally different in our interests and life choices. Even my twin and I were poles apart. We had been put in different classes at school to ‘encourage individuality’, so there were none of the usual emotional ties that twins can have. For a long time, I avoided a deeper emotional connection with her.  

I likened the first eighteen years of my life to that of someone who had been held in captivity as a hostage, even though they were totally innocent.  

I may have been physically freed from that awful environment called ‘home’, but, unbeknown to me at the time, the hellish baggage that abuse forces you to carry internally continued to weigh heavily upon me. I recognised I was now outwardly free from all those years of imprisonment as a child, but inwardly I still felt locked away. In fact, many times it felt safer to stay confined to a prison cell within my own mind rather than to step outside and face a world with so much choice and opportunity.  

It has taken me an incredibly long time to own the horrendous legacy inflicted upon me by my parents and brother, which included torture, poverty, relentless physical, mental, sexual and emotional abuse, nakedness, overwhelming fear, emptiness, abandonment, shame, hate, death and imprisonment.  



Coming to Faith 


After I had completed my six months of training in Ealing, British Home Stores transferred me to its store in Watford towards the latter end of 1978, which became home for me for the next twenty-eight years. About eighteen months into my time at the Watford store I was sent on a management course to Lindley Lodge, which was based in Nuneaton, Warwickshire (it is now a Youth With A Mission training base).  

Indirectly, this event was to radically change my life. I have no recollection of how many people were on the course, but we were all split into groups and came under the direction of a trainer. During the week’s programme, the trainer working with the group I was attached to was instrumental in changing the attitudes of young ‘know-it-all’ business-orientated people. We started to look out for each other and be supportive. We were all intrigued as to how the trainer had managed to achieve such transformations in a short space of time. The drastic change had only happened in our group, and others had noticed and were discussing it among themselves.  

At our request, the trainer took the opportunity to share his Christian faith with the group on one of our free afternoons. As he talked, I sensed seeds of searching beginning to be sown within me. I mentioned to him that I was interested in hearing more about his faith. However, I hadn’t banked on him phoning me up at regular intervals during work time, and I felt like I was being ‘Bible bashed’ during the next few months! In the end I decided the only way to stop the phone calls was to go on one of Lindley Lodge’s exploring the Christian faith weekends.  

So there I was, some months later, wondering what on earth would happen over this weekend. My boyfriend at the time drove me to Nuneaton and I was somewhat surprised when I was able to give him specific directions of where to go (anyone who knows me will be aware that this is an unusual feat!). Having driven me to Lindley Lodge on the Friday night, my boyfriend hotfooted it back to Watford, leaving me on my own with a couple I had never met before. I spent most of the Saturday making the couple work quite hard during our discussions of the merits of the Christian faith.  

The gift of being called 

What I hadn’t expected was God’s verbal intervention into the weekend. During the sleeping hours of Saturday night, I was awoken several times by my name being called. Each time I sat bolt upright in bed and then fell back to sleep. The next day, as I took the step of asking God into my life, I realised it had been God calling my name as I had been sleeping.  

Even at that stage of my new-found faith, I was aware that this experience was unusual, and I wondered why it had occurred. As the years went by, I realised more and more the generosity of God in the way He spoke personally to me that Saturday night. I linked this experience with the words from the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament, and they have always held a special place in my heart: 

But now, this is what the Lord says –  

he who created you, Jacob,  

he who formed you, Israel:  

‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;  

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  

When you pass through the waters,  

I will be with you;  

and when you pass through the rivers,  

they will not sweep over you.  

When you walk through the fire,  

you will not be burned;  

the flames will not set you ablaze.  

For I am the Lord your God,  

the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.’ 

(Isaiah 43:1-3) 

I have needed that solid reassurance of God calling me by name, and I have held on to the immense knowledge that I am His child. I am in no doubt that without the experience at Lindley Lodge my Christian walk would have been so much more difficult and probably, at times, impossible. God has drawn me back to these significant verses countless times during my journey and they have helped me to go deeper in my relationship.  

realise, as I write this book, that this was the first gift God generously offered me from His banquet place as described in Song of Songs 2:4. As God calls, so He invites all His children to join Him on an individual, lifetime journey of transformation at a pace He knows we can manage. He is far, far more patient with us than we probably are with ourselves. He will never force Himself on His people; He always waits to be invited. The journey we start with God is a wholehearted 100 per cent commitment on His side. God actively seeks, calls and invites each one of us into a personal relationship with Him.  

The generous invitation is ongoing; it thankfully isn’t a one-off encounter. There is something quite astonishing in the fact that God pursues us even when we mess up, which, of course, as human beings we will do, throughout our lives. If we go right back to the first book of the Bible, we see that Adam and Eve were created and initially enjoyed the utmost intimate relationship with God, but when they disobeyed Him, they became afraid and their natural inclination was to hide from His presence (see Genesis 3). It was God who went searching and calling for them. God knew what Adam and Eve had done when they were enticed to eat from the tree of forbidden fruit. He knew there would be consequences to their actions, but He didn’t abandon them; He remained faithful in the relationship. When we think about it, this is quite awesome and deeply humbling.  

When God calls us, He does so knowing all about our backgrounds, our personalities and what life experiences we have already gone through. God welcomes us just as we are; He doesn’t wait until we have reached a place of ‘being good enough’ to invite us to have a relationship with Him.  

We can choose to spend the rest of our life relating to God at a surface, mediocre, comfortable level, but that is not His wish. God’s calling, His desire to relate to His children, is not about a thin, surface relationship. He invites us to connect with Him at a very deep level, and as we do so, He reciprocates. The gift of being called by God has an incredibly solid, foundational, biblical depth to it.  

If you are wondering if that bequest includes you, I invite you to take some time to read Psalm 139, and hopefully, as you do so, you can grasp how God has been beckoning each one of us right from our conception.  

I am convinced that God invited me to start a relationship with Him at a crucial time in my life when I could so easily have succumbed to many other unhealthy alternatives. I recognised my initial relationship with Him was at a ‘mind’ level, which was all I could cope with. God also knew that I needed to abide by a set of good rules, which becoming a Christian gave me, not only in the very early days of my relationship with Him but also for many years after.  

I returned to Watford from the weekend at Lindley Lodge excited at my newly found faith, and shared my experience with two of my working colleagues who I knew were Christians. Interestingly, I lived next door to the local Baptist church; it therefore seemed a natural progression to attend the services there. Despite having been christened as a child, immediately took on board the biblical exhortation from Mark’s Gospel that, Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved (Mark 16:16). I demanded to be part of the next scheduled adult baptism group, even though others were encouraging me to take my time.  

On hearing the news about my faith, my parents ordered me home to explain what was going on. They thought I had joined a sect, and my mother’s only comment to me was, ‘Why don’t you become a nun?’  

Unsurprisingly, none of my family attended my adult baptism service. Publicly putting my trust in Jesus and testifying to how I had come to faith was an awesome experience. There was something profoundly important about the physical act of being fully immersed in water as a powerful symbol of confessing and repenting of my sins and knowing they were physically being washed away. There was also an underlying element of healing in this immersion in comparison with the many times I had feared being drowned by my mother’s actions when I was subjected to cold baths. Adult baptism was a solid foundational stone for me in those early years as a young Christian and personally meant a great deal to me.  

I cannot say my growth as a Christian was a smooth journey. People seemed to struggle to know how to encourage me and I was left very much to my own devices. I worked ridiculously long hours in my role as a food manager with British Home Stores. I would often be at work by five o’clock in the morning as there were not enough staff over the age of eighteen to handle the necessary machinery to prepare the fresh food. It was not unusual for the management team to be sweeping the floors and to not be out of the building until eight o’clock in the evening. My back began to complain at the physical exertion of carrying forty-pound blocks of cheese and using other heavy machinery. As a gentle aside, I was put off cream for life (no bad thing!) by putting out all the fresh cream cakes on the counters before the department store opened for business.  

I was still going out with my boyfriend, who was not a Christian, and there were increased tensions within our relationship as he wanted to become more physically intimate. I constantly ran away from the prospect and withdrew into myself. I appreciated the fact that no one from church commented on the relationship with my boyfriend or tried to coerce me into finishing with him. I suspect if they had, my belligerent, stubborn streak would have kicked in and I would have done the very opposite! As it was, I came to the natural conclusion over time that I had to end our relationship, as it was not proving compatible with growing and developing my Christian faith.  

My faith was deepened in several ways; the first was through reading Christian books. However, that wasn’t a straightforward process as Watford did not possess a Christian bookshop, and this was in the days prior to online shopping! A general bookshop did stock a couple of shelves with books on faith, which were just about adequate. Secondly, I started to attend the yearly Spring Harvest event which inspired me to seek changes to my life. Spring Harvest began in 1979 in Prestatyn and was then held in the Butlins’ holidays camps at Minehead and Skegness. People from all ages still attend the week’s teaching and worship programmes, either with members from their own church or individually. If you have never encountered Spring Harvest, it is well worth looking at its website.2 

Five years of being a food manager with British Home Stores finally took their toll on my back, which was complaining bitterly! I decided it was time to leave and in 1982 embarked on a year’s secretarial course at the local college, which gave my body time to recover. I had had no intention of taking this course and only did so on the advice of the Baptist minister who led the church I attended. His guidance was to be proved prophetically3 correct, as many years later I would need to use those valuable administrative skills. I enjoyed the course and seemed to have a natural talent in learning shorthand. I did create some mischief at times, as it got rather boring learning all the shorthand techniques! 

During the year I spent at college I decided to write to Scripture Union to pose the question about when it was going to open a Christian bookshop in Watford. My letter arrived on the desk of the regional bookshops’ manager the very same day he had a meeting with other senior colleagues to discuss where Scripture Union bookshops should expand to next! As I got to know the regional manager, he teased me about the flowery biblical paper I had used when writing to him! Our friendship continues to this day and he is a special man, powerfully used by God in many diverse ministries.  

With Scripture Union’s encouragement, I started a small group with like-minded people to pray for a Christian bookshop to be opened in Watford. As a young Christian I had no fears in praying for the impossible. It was the first time in Scripture Union’s history that it took on board opening a brand-new bookshop. Up until then, when approached by other organisations, it had always taken over established bookshops. 

The venture was almost hijacked when we discovered that the road where the shop Scripture Union hoped to lease was located was used by football supporters on Saturdays. Many other shops on the same road would close early on Saturdays, as they feared damage to their properties. To its credit, Scripture Union continued to believe this was of God and went ahead with opening the bookshop. Praying for the bookshop was one of the most inspiring activities I had been involved in.  

During this process I didn’t make any assumptions that I would be part of running the bookshop. I completed my college course and succeeded in gaining a temporary job working for a department store in Watford as a secretary. In 1984 I sensed God guiding me to join Scripture Union. I trained at its London bookshop for a few months and then joined the bookshop in Watford as an assistant.  

I saw first-hand how God provided for the shop in those early days, and it was breathtaking at times. There were occasions when we felt under ‘attack’ as the electricity would suddenly go off, and one day the lock to the front door had had superglue put in it. We proved a few people wrong by achieving our targeted financial budgets much earlier than expected. We also saw people’s lives being changed as they regularly came into the bookshop and chatted to the staff.  

I enjoyed being part of a team working at the bookstalls at various annual large Christian festivals all over the country. One year I was helping at an event in Cornwall and decided it would be fun to camp, as it was summertime. Halfway through the week I had to telephone home and ask my housemate to send me some extra socks and other warm clothing, as it was constantly raining. Eventually I had to abandon my tent and spent the last few days sharing a caravan with a couple who were also helping on the bookstall. It was still fun! 

During my time at the Baptist church, I became close to a family who lived just around the corner from me. I got to know each of the two children from a very young age. It was the only time in my life that I got broody, when child number two was born. I experienced a joy and a natural healing through spending time with the children.  

The family once threw a surprise birthday party for me and I had to seek refuge in their kitchen as I couldn’t handle the attention. Their additional gift of baking me a birthday cake blew me away as I had never received one previously. They still hold a precious place in my heart and God has used them all to initiate different layers of healing. 

I spent five wonderful years working at the bookshop, despite making little personal headway in tackling the inner demons from my childhood. I had taken over managing the shop when the previous manager left for another role. I desperately wanted my relationship with God to change from an intellectual one to a much more heart-centred rapport. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to let that happen.  

In my late twenties, a ‘freak accident’ occurred while I was playing football in the local park with my twin sister’s children who had come to spend a few days with me. This became the catalyst that God used to begin to answer my prayers. As I was kicking the football, I felt something ‘go’ in my right leg and within a week I was struggling to walk and was in extreme pain.  

The next five years of my life revolved around being flat on my back, struggling with chronic pain and starting on a long, tortuous process of inner healing. There were times during those years where I feared I had been put on the scrapheap as I couldn’t see an end to the physical pain. I was sharing a house with two other young ladies who had literally only moved in a few weeks before my accident. They were incredibly supportive and caring, no matter what my mood was like on any given day.


  • Gilana Young

    Gilana Young* started work as a food manager before joining Scripture Union Bookshops. A freak accident led her to attending...

  • Led to the Banquet Hall

    Gilana Young

    Led to the Banquet Hall tells how God brought Gilana Young out of an appallingly abusive childhood to a place at His magnificent, healing table. Over decades of faithfully sitting with and following Him, she has come to experience nine precious gifts which are available to all His children...