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

I’m Eric, well known here. Born 1926 – no prizes for guessing my age. At the age of 14 I joined the Post Office as a messenger boy delivering telegrams: that’s up the West End. Then at the age of 18, just three weeks after my 18 th birthday, I was called up. The Government decided they wanted to shorten the war, so I got my calling up papers. I was very lucky to get in the RAF because when I went to the Recruiting Office he said to me “What do you want to join?” I said “the RAF”; He said “Oh no! We want you in the Army”. But as it happens at 16 years of age I had joined the Air Training Core so they accepted me. That was June 1944. In September they sent me to France, without any leave. We went through France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany with the RAF and after VE Day we came back to this country. No respite for me because then I was put on Far East draft so I finished up in Singapore though the war was over. I must tell you, one of the jobs I had in Singapore, was they gave me charge of a dozen Japanese prisoners; imagine that – me and another chap. We were given designated duties around the camp. One of them was a barber in Civvy Street, so, anyway, I declined his services. I mean, I didn’t mind the haircut but I didn’t trust him with a razor! So then I was transferred from Singapore, transferred to India at the time of the riots. I was very lucky, it was August 1946 I think and there were big Hindu/ Muslim riots there which I managed to avoid. And so I got my de-mob in 1947, I got my release papers – my de-mob. Then I rejoined the Post Office in 1950. And then I met my wife at a dance hall in Ealing in 1950. I made a date for the following Sunday but never turned up. Can you imagine that? I never turned up. I never saw her for 18 months and then at another dance hall. But from then on she said I waltzed my way into her heart. From then we went on and we got married in 1955: a wonderful wife. Then one day my wife met a lady at a bus stop near where I live and said would we like to come to Deane Avenue, here; at one of the meetings here. So we went along. Now at this point of time I was not at all religious. My Sundays were at The Bell, Ruislip Gardens, a few pints, and my paper, and maybe, come Sunday afternoon, maybe the TV.
Anyway, I comes into the hall here with my wife, and I hear this man speaking. And really, you know, I thought I really wasn’t a bad sort of person, a bad-living sort of person. But you see, this man, he told me that in God’s sight we are all sinners, and that’s why He sent Jesus, His son, to die on a cross, that we might have forgiveness if we trust in Him. Well, I thought about it, I think I heard him for three or four evenings and the last evening he was here all the people had left, and maybe God stuck some glue on my seat, because I never left. He came down to me and said, “Well, all the others have gone and you seem interested in what I have been saying.” I said “I believe I am a sinner. I believe Christ died for me.” I didn’t know how to pray but I said, “Will you pray for me to accept Jesus into my life?” Which he did and I realised then that I was spiritually blind because, you see, before I was converted I must confess to you, I thought that church was a bit of a religious bore; being honest.

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But, you see, with the Lord Jesus Christ in my life, it’s made all the difference because, you know, I enjoy coming to church, in fact sometimes I even get a taxi here, believe it or not. I’m on my own now, my wife died in November. I wonder what the taxi driver thought, bringing me to church in a taxi, he must be keen, you know: a wealthy congregation! Well, so then, I’m in the Post Office, and as a Christian, I must admit it wasn’t easy for me – a lot of leg pulls, you know. One chap said to me “Sid, don’t get cross with me!”; and I was in the lift one day, and this man looked at me; there were two or three in the lift, he looked at me and said “You see that chap there?” pointing at me, he said, “He used to go to a betting shop, now he goes to a Bible shop.” Well that‘s the difference that Jesus has made in my life. So here now, really I just praise the Lord because He’s opened my eyes to see His love for me, I love the fellowship here: people here have been wonderful since my wife died. Real Christian love: Christianity in action. And so, I think I remember that hymn, putting all that the preacher was saying into one hymn, “There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin, only He, Jesus, could unlock the gates of Heaven and let us in.” So you see, religion to me, alright, it sounds boring, but we know different – it’s a relationship, a relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what we need, not religion, relationship. I can look up and say “My Father who art in Heaven” I can say that. And so in conclusion I just want to say this, in the words of the song, “It is no secret what God can do, what He’s done for others, He can do it for you.” Amen.

Eric Clarridge

I wish to give an update to all who have read Eric's testimony. In May 2006 Eric had his 80th birthday party at our fellowship. It was a really special time for all of us as he rejoiced in his love for his Saviour and shared again how he was a changed man. During this time he had mentioned that he didn't feel particularly well so he went to the doctor and from there for a scan which revealed Eric had pancreatic cancer and it was inoperable. Eric, being the man he was asked how long he had left on this earth and was told approximately a year, or less.
During this time Eric prayed and prayed that he would be a great witness for God, which he was. Eric had some bad times to do with not being able to eat, which did cause him distress but the hospital were able to combat this with drugs. Eric never stopped trusting his Saviour, and anyone who visited him had a wonderful time while they were there. Eric passed away on 16th October 2006 very peacefully and went into the presence of his Saviour. May I say it was a real pleasure knowing Eric and he showed me just how to serve lovingly, those around you. If you are fearful of dying and don't know Jesus, please don't leave it till it is too late. God loves you and sent His Son to die for you so that you might know and experience freedom from sin and fear and have new life in Jesus. This life continues when you die and go into His presence. Eric knew that life doesn't cease when you die, but your spirit lives on either in Heaven or Hell.
Sue Wenger.

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