Braehill Baptist Church

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Wilma Pic

This is my Story by Wilma Johnston  

As a child I was always sent to Sunday School.  Our family was a very happy one, and although we were not ‘religious’ we believed in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  At school, however, I used to dread the visiting minister coming to R.E. class – he always seemed to zoom in on me and ask questions I couldn’t answer.  This experience in my youth left me feeling apprehensive about matters of religion.

 I have always been a deep thinker and as a child I would ponder on the marvels of creation and my thoughts were always brought back to God.  I came to realise the wonder of Him, how marvellous He must be, that there was none like Him, and in my childish mind I knew only He held the answers to all my questions. I feared God and wondered what would become of me when I died.

 Then as time went on, like so many young people, I gave myself to partying and a busy social life.  All thought of God was put to the back of my mind.  The ‘Troubles’ had erupted in Belfast and in 1970 our family moved to the Ballysillan area.  It was here I was to meet my husband, Robert.  I thank God for blessing me all these years with a very happy marriage and two lovely children, but as the years passed by I knew something was missing in my life.  In spite of the happiness I had in my personal life, there was still a nagging emptiness in my heart which I could not understand.  Robert and I always enjoyed our busy social life; we had an interest in Country & Western music and made many good friends whilst pursuing our interest.  I also enjoyed a ‘wee drink,’ but I could see that every social occasion was becoming more and more drink centred.

 Around this time Braehill Baptist Church opened its doors.  My home was just a stone’s throw away from the church building and each Sunday morning (as I would be hanging out my washing) I could hear church singing and wonder how these people could be so happy.  Although I had always a great respect for Christians, I still couldn’t help thinking that they were missing out on life!

 One evening, whilst I was sitting at home, two ladies from the church called to my door and invited me to the services.  I began attending on a regular basis and soon that feeling of inner emptiness returned.  Also the preaching was beginning to annoy me and I stopped attending altogether.  I didn’t know it then but I know now, that the preaching of God’s Word was bringing me under conviction of my sin.

 All of this was in 1987, a year which was to bring much sadness to our community.  Three dear people whom we knew, one a child, met with early deaths.  It really brought home the Scripture: “Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1).  The truth of life’s brevity was brought forcefully home to me….on Monday 7th September I attended the funeral of that little boy and it broke my heart.

 The following Sunday I was back in church.  I had known all along the truthfulness of the messages which were preached.  I agreed that Jesus was God’s Son, that He had died on the cross for the sins of the world but I didn’t realise that He had died for each and every individual person; for you and me!  On Sunday 13 September 1987 I finally said “Yes” to Jesus.  I wanted to be saved, and so I asked Him into my heart and life as Lord and Saviour.  There and then the burden of my heart was lifted, the void filled.

 It’s now over 23 years since I gave my heart to Jesus and my life has been blessed and enriched so much.  I thank God that my two children accepted Jesus as their own personal Saviour the same year as me, and over the years I have seen many of my beloved family members also giving their hearts to Jesus.  Some of these dear loved ones are now in glory and I know that one glorious day I will see them all again.

 In the years since I was saved, my family has been touched by some terrible tragedies and heartaches, as so have many other families in our troubled province, but I can honestly say that but for the grace and love of God in my life I don’t know what I would have done, how I would have coped.  My Lord is a constant source of love and guidance and it was His strength that carried us through the sad times.

 God has blessed not only in my personal life but also He has blessed us at Braehill Baptist with a beautiful new building, and I believe He is far from finished in our area of town and that His Spirit continues to work in people’s hearts.

I  pray God will work in your heart and life and that you too might know the joy of knowing Jesus!

 Wilma 1/2011