Personal Stories: Kenneth Rainey's story
My World Fell Apart, I Felt As If My Life Ended There
My parents married in 1940, shortly after the start of the War, so when they discovered that I was "on the way" they were very worried indeed. It seemed almost certain that the German Army would invade, and that Britain would be defeated. Mum has told me since that they feared that Dad would be sent off to a factory or a mine in Germany, and that she would be given to a German soldier, and that I would be brought up in a German household. She also told me that they were so worried about all this that when they discovered I was on the way, they tried to "get rid of me". Failed. God intended me to be!
Anyway, I was born, and grew up in a normal sort of home. Went to school, passed exams, and started work in the local tax office working for the Inland Revenue. I had a group of friends and we used to go out drinking, playing darts and cards in different pubs most evenings, and so on.
My friends always seemed to have girl-friends, which they changed with the weather. I didn't. I was quite shy and backward where girls were concerned, and although my friends fixed me up with girls a couple of times, it wasn't a success. Then early one Spring a girl was transferred to our office from the neighburing office in Shrewsbury. She was quite attractive, but it wasn't until November of that year that I plucked up the courage to ask her to go out with me. To my amazement she said yes. That just didn't happen with me! Anyway we went out together and over the next few weeks love blossomed. I felt so lucky, this girl was so perfect, and all mine. I was proud to be seen out with her. And then one evening we were sitting in the car when she dropped a bombshell. She told me that the previous year she'd been going out with an older man, and had had a baby with him. She couldn't marry the father as he'd already got a wife and two children, so her parents made her have the baby adopted. This was a massive shock for me. I felt completely devastated. The girl I loved so much was no longer "perfect and all mine". Pat has said since that when she told me, she was giving me the chance to walk away. I didn't see it like that. I still loved her. So we carried on seeing each other and in January the following year we got married. With hindsight I feel I can say it was God who kept us together at that time.
Our first house was a new-build starter-home on an estate in Wellington, and as soon as we moved in, Pat started going to the local parish church. This didn't surprise me too much as I knew she'd had a church upbringing and I expected her to want to go. What did surprise me was the effect it had on her. Besides going to the Sunday services she started going to mid-week evening meetings, Bible studies and so on. And then she told me that people there were praying for me! A couple of her friends from Shrewsbury who had moved to Derby had become Christians and Pat told me they and their friends also were praying for me. I was amazed at all this attention. Why was this happening? Anyway I started going to church with Pat, and it was after one of the evening services that I got the feeling I ought to look into this more deeply, so I started to read the Bible. And, as one does with books generally, I started at the beginning. I used to read just three or four pages each evening, and I must admit I enjoyed the language of the King James Version. It took me almost three years to get to the end, and it was during this time that I felt I had to decide: is this for real? And if so, what do I do about it? This can't be ignored. Jesus was a definite historical figure, so the facts being what they were, I had to decide. Either for or against. Any middle ground would be "against". So I had to decide "For". After that I started to take more of an interest in church matters. The sermons at the Sunday services suddenly made sense, and the mid-week Bible Study and Prayer meetings I started to go to were quite interesting and enjoyable. Pat had been a bell-ringer for some years, so as there were bells at the church we started that as well. The ringers were a group of young marrieds, I'd been to school with a couple of them, and when we were invited to join them at their home for Saturday evenings, we said yes. They had informal Bible studies, prayer, and fun. We also went on holidays with them, where the Bible studies and prayer continued.
Then I passed a Civil Service exam, gained a promotion, and was transferred to Kidderminster. We bought our second home in a tiny village in South Shropshire, and it was while we were there that our two boys were born. Although our new home was seven miles from the nearest town, we were able to meet up with a small group of people each week for prayer and Bible study. We were there for about six years when I "changed sides", left the Inland Revenue, and joined LLoyds Bank Executor and Trustee Department (now Lloyds Private Banking)in Shrewsbury, looking after the taxation affairs of their wealthy customers.
We moved house again, this time to Shrewsbury which was Pat's home town. We found a house in the Meole Brace area of Shrewsbury and settled in, and started going to the local church. We made good friends with the vicar and his wife, and this was to stand us in good stead a little while later when they stood beside us in an hour of need. This was when the second big shock happened. For it was shortly after we'd moved into our new home that an old boyfriend of Pat's came to call. He'd come to the house every morning as soon as I'd left for work, visiting Pat. He kept this up for a couple of months until she started feeling a little uneasy about their relationship, and told him to stop coming. And it was a year or so later that Pat confessed to me all about this, and the fact that they had made love together. That shook me to the core. My world fell apart. I felt as if my life ended there. Again, I had a big decision to make: should I let her go back to him? He was married, and had a daughter, and Pat didn't really want to. The next option was for her to go back to her parents and take the boys with her. But I still felt that I loved her, and again, didn't want to lose her. And this was where our vicar and his wife came up trumps. Stan had several prayer and counselling sessions with me, while Judith spent a lot of time with Pat. A great deal of prayer and many tears flowed, and a great deal of healing between us. Again, it was God who kept us together.
During this time I had also been swotting for a fairly big professional exam, which I passed, and this led to yet another promotion and house move, this time to Richmond, where we found a home in Twickenham. Our first priority though was to find a church, which we quickly did. This too was at a time when things charismatic were coming to the fore. So I wrote to Fountain Trust to see if they could suggest a church. I received a reply from the secretary who said "I live in Twickenham and belong to a church there. Come and have a look at us". We did, and decided that St Stephen's Church in Twickenham was to be our new spitiual home as the Holy Spirit was clearly evident in this church. However, it was in Twickenham that we started to have rows and arguments. Pat felt that she wanted to be telling folk about her past, and I didn't like being reminded that she'd made love with other people. But of course this, like many of the other problems of life, just didn't go away.
More promotions, more moves. In the first six months of 1982 I worked in four different offices. The last of these was Watford, where we moved in 1983. We still had our arguments, but Pat found a great deal of healing through our curate Roger and his wife Jean.
Then more moves. After a period working in Guildford, I was moved to Worthing. We settled into our new home and started going to New Life Church. We were still having rows and arguments, some of which hurt terribly.
It was also while in Worthing that Pat at last managed to trace her son, the baby she was forced to have adopted, and this contact has brought her so much joy.
So what about now? When Pat's talking about her past, either to me or to anyone else, it's just a reminder of all that she's done. Now she's "gone public" with her affairs, I'm feeling quite humiliated deep inside. I know its been good for her to be able to tell others her story, and I'm pleased for her that she's managed to trace the son she had to have adopted. But this does leave me feeling quite bereft of the girl I'd loved and married. Feeling too that I'm having my face rubbed in the mud. So why don't I just walk away? As on the previous occasions when, humanly speaking I should have done just that, again I feel it is God who is keeping me here. Keeping us together. Thank you, God.