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This is the transcript of Ann's testimony at church on Palm Sunday 2006:

Jesus is a gentleman. When I was first introduced to Him, He didn’t tell me I was a sinner right away. Others did, especially my Mum They used other words, but I knew what she meant. I didn’t measure up to her standard any more than she measured up to her own. And what I found is that hers and others words did not change me; not for the better anyway. But Jesus, He drew me gently to Himself because He knew I needed answers and He had them as well as all the love and all the help I would ever need. From a young age, my question was what’s the point? I know I am going to die at some point and my Dad used to say to me “Well, whatever you achieve, you will be able to pass that on to somebody else.” I thought, “That’s no good; they’re going to die as well: I’ll be dead; what’s the use?” But He persisted. When Jesus first came into my view I fell in love with Him. My hunger was insatiable and He fed me. And when I drew closer, that is when I began to make comparisons: Him and me. And that’s when I started to want to change. You know the story of the man with the overcoat, and the wind and the sun arguing about who could get the overcoat off, and of course it was the sun. The warmth of the sun that took the overcoat off, and the wind just made the man pull it in more closely. I do think that is certainly what I am like. As I say, He’s such a gentleman, He always knocks, He never barges in, and it’s extraordinary that He allows me in such hallowed company. I get to talk to someone who knows about all the components, and structures of any and everything. Just try Him: is there anything He doesn’t know? And He doesn’t explain it in a dry and nerdy sort of way. Smell a freesia – if you think He manufactured the scent: so forget Cardin and Chanel. And how did all those Gerbera petals come out of a tiny seed? How did we sprout arms and legs? And even better a head? Look what is in a head and he knows everything that’s in that head. Amazing. And best of all, He knows what makes me tick. ‘The thoughts and intents of my heart’, that’s what the Bible says, and something we’ve been looking at in our studies recently: ‘the thoughts and intents of our hearts.’ And He’s been able, without snuffing me out, to unravel me and change and clean me up, renew and transform me; slowly, admittedly. Because change is difficult, and especially when it’s from the inside – it’s painful, however gentle the Lord goes, but bit by bit I’ve conceded to His love. He never messes up when He operates, He never pulls out the wrong tooth, or worse: I’ve heard some people having the wrong leg taken off. I grew up in a small mining village and my life was small, like the village; but my imagination was not. That’s all we had, our imaginations, and excitement for us was a day-trip to Cleethorpes; anybody been to Cleethorpes? Armed with a bucket and spade and a bubble swimsuit that used to sort of swell and expand when you got in the water and I remember passing mine on to my brother who was so embarrassed at having this bubble swimsuit that went down to his knees. And our excitement was a dish of cockles steeped in vinegar at the end of the day. And maybe a doughnut, a hot one and excitement at home was sharing a pair of very tinny skates with someone else and then balancing on one skate and going down a very steep road into oncoming traffic; fortunately cars were scarce in those days otherwise my story may have been very different.

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I went to Sunday School and all I remember about Sunday School was a book of stamps: we were given stamps with Jesus, pictures of Him, and you only got one if you remembered to bring your book, which I mostly forgot. It’s a whole week to remember and I used to say to them, “Can’t I just leave my book here?” “No you have to take it home.” Depending on how many stamps you got at the end, you get a book, and I remember at the end of one year my sister and I getting a book and I went home and I said to my Mum, “I’m not going to church ever again.” She said, ”Mm, OK.” She asked the Vicar to come round. “What’s wrong?” and I said, “Well, my sister has been coming here as long as I have and you’ve given her a smaller book.” In those days, quantity was more important than quality. I was eventually confirmed and all the girls wore white, but my mother, being practical said, “Royal blue’s much more practical.” So I got a royal blue suit and I think that that’s why The Light didn’t shine in that moment and I blame it on the suit and my mother!” My imagination eventually got me my dream and I worked in a theatre abroad. But I don’t know if you’ve been behind the scenes in a theatre: it’s all colour and light at the front, excitement and shiny stuff, and you go behind and it’s hardboard and it’s men running around changing bulbs and what-have-you, and a whole lot of seediness behind as well. I came back to England disillusioned and stayed in a hostel where I met Bo, which is short for ‘Bovril’ – don’t ask. She read her Bible and I asked her questions and demanded answers actually. One thing I remember she said to me, she said “Jesus is alive.” And I said, “Well, where is He?” and she remained my friend amazingly. And I remember thinking, I don’t mind being a Christian, as long as I don’t look like one. She took me to a large auditorium where hundreds of people were gathered and they were singing ‘O Happy Day’ and I just wanted to cry, it was so emotional and the man at the front said, I don’t remember everything he said, but he said, “What should it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” I said ‘that’s it’ because I wanted to be famous but where was it going to get me if at the end of it I was going to lose my own soul - I was going to die? And that just did it for me. I went up to the front; it was quite scary, because there were hundreds of people there and there was a girl standing next to me trying to talk to me and I thought, Please, this is the moment, don’t disturb me. But afterwards, I sort of gathered that she was someone supposed to be there and to talk to me. And I prayed whatever they asked me to pray and I have to say I don’t remember what it was, but as I went out of that hall I knew that the sky was no longer just the sky, that Jesus lived up there and I was safe now and I was saved. O Happy Day. The road has been an African one, full of pot holes. Have you been to Africa? You know, phew. But Jesus is there with me, the wise, exciting, adventurous, dangerous prince on a white charger. That was always my dream, that someone would come on a white charger to rescue me. And he did. Life is never dull and will never be the same.

Ann Saville

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