Personal Stories: Andrea Lees' story
I Started To Understand More Of How The Jewish Part Of Me Could Work With The Christian Side
Andrea Lee expressing her Testimony on the occasion of her Baptism.
Good morning all, it’s really lovely to see all my family, friends and Colleagues in my church on this very special day.
My Uncle once said to me “You were born a Jew – you will die a Jew, but you have chosen your faith.”
I was born on 24 April 1956 at Charing Cross Hospital to Jewish
parents. When we were old enough my sister and I were sent to Sunday school to learn Hebrew and Jewish custom. As far as I was concerned it was something I had to do because mum said so.
I don’t particularly remember enjoying it, and I probably messed around most of the time. We went to Passover at grandma’s with our dad, uncle and cousins and joined in as best we could, but mostly just took the mickey out of the boring food that was always the same.
We both went to Royal Russell School in Croydon, where we attended chapel every Sunday. The alternative of synagogue meant losing Saturday privileges (i.e. shopping in Croydon). I remember enjoying the singing but switching off during the rest of the service.
When I left school I left the church behind, and have been totally non religious for 34 years. I told my three kids they could choose their own religions when and if they wanted to. The only time I got anywhere near God, was the hatching, matching and despatching times.
Three years ago my ex-husband died suddenly. It affected my youngest daughter quite badly, and despite all the help given to her by me and various organisations, her behaviour got worse and worse.
I found it difficult to cope with her; my emotions were all over the place. The bad days fast took over from the good days.
At that time I was quite involved with West Durrington Phoenix Youth Group, so I immersed myself in that. Anything to get out of the house, away from all the rubbish.
Then came Northbrook Neighbourhood Community Interest Company, and Northbrook Project. On the committee was Graham Jefferson. One evening, just after the opening day of Northbrook Project we were talking on the phone about the day, when I was suddenly completely overcome.
I couldn’t even speak for the tears. Graham talked to me for a long time that night, and at the end he asked me if I would like to go to the Alpha course taster session the following week. I agreed.
That taster evening I sat there with tears flowing from my eyes as I listened to Phil Gilbert and two ladies give their testimonies, and I realised that what was missing in my life was God and Jesus.
For me to begin doing the Alpha course took a lot as I knew nothing of God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. So at the beginning of the course I sat there completely overwhelmed, and each Wednesday evening came home with my mind buzzing with this new found knowledge.
After the session on Why Jesus, I started to understand more of how the Jewish part of me could work with the Christian side. After all, Jesus was also born a Jew and when he died he was still a Jew.
As each week at Alpha came and went I felt more and more at peace with my life. I began to pray each day, and read the Bible, and although there were chapters that I couldn’t make head nor tail of, I found some verses that made perfect sense.
I began to feel Jesus in my life making me whole again, healing the pain and the anguish in my mind. I found it easier to cope with my daughter and her problems. When I told her I was going to church I thought she would laugh at me and take the mickey, but she didn’t.
I had prayed to God to help me when I told my family of my new-found faith and He was there with me on those occasions as no one laughed, and even my mum has accepted that Jesus is playing a very important part in my life.
My colleagues at work have noticed the difference in me, and will ask me questions about how I pray, and how I can be a Jew and a Christian. I tell them that all the first Christians were also Jews, so I’m in good company,
After Alpha had finished I did a course called Freedom in Christ, which bought me closer to today, as although I wanted to be Baptised I was not yet ready to commit my life to God. On the Away Day I was able to ask Jesus for forgiveness for all my sins. To take away all the spiritual baggage I have been carrying around for most of my life.
Earlier this year I went to Passover at May Whittington’s house. This time, there was no micky taking or messing about as I knew exactly what I was doing and even said part of the prayers in Hebrew! The whole ceremony made perfect sense. I am now learning Hebrew with my sister and her husband, and I will be learning more about Jewish custom as the year progresses.
I now help on the Alpha courses and have said to Phil that I want to become more involved. At the Big Church Day Out I sat in on the Alpha talk, listening to the words Global Alpha training, this means taking Alpha abroad to under-developed countries – and I realised that this is the natural progression for the future for me. Not wanting to run before I can walk, I will be getting much more involved with Alpha in Durrington first. The next course will be starting in September. Details to follow.
This is what God wants me to do, pass on the knowledge of His love for everyone, and remind you all that Jesus WILL return to Jerusalem and on that day we will all be given eternal life.
Thank you for listening; now I give my life to God and Jesus. The old life has gone, a new life has begun.