Claire Bokenham: a Dramatic Conversion
While I sit here feeling the absolute awe and wonder of Jesus, I’d like to take a moment to share with you how my life has changed.
I’m going to tell you the truth which isn’t always pleasant. From the age of four to fourteen I was sexually abused by people close to me. At the age of eleven I started doing drugs at school. By the age of fourteen I was taking heroin, at fifteen ‘crack’, at seventeen I was a prostitute and by twenty five I had served lots of prison sentences. All I wanted to do was die!
Then, three and a bit years ago I was introduced to London Road Baptist Church. I only went to get this woman off my case! I felt so alone, paranoid, frightened, worthless, unlovable and useless. But people were kind and it seemed like they actually cared about me, which felt odd because of what I was used to. I love music and without fail every week this song ‘This is Our God’ would play and I’d sob from a deep place inside of me. I couldn’t understand it, I hadn’t cried since about the age of ten, it was like my heart was defrosting.
After the service a lady told me about a worship event called ‘Ablaze’. She was adamant that I needed to come. At the time I was confused about what she was talking about, but I now know that she was trying to explain to me about how the Holy Spirit might move and what it may or may not feel like. I didn’t believe her but just nodded anyway. Surely the Holy Spirit wouldn’t wash over me, as I was far too bad to be a Christian. A man called Sandy Millar was talking about how anyone can come to Christ. He said whether you’re a tidy mouse or a messy mouse Jesus loves you. At this point I thought, “well, I’m definitely a messy mouse so maybe just maybe there’s a little bit of hope!”.
Later on the band began to play, but Sandy (the preacher) stopped all the instruments and said, “just make the sound of what’s in your heart, don’t compare yourself to the people around you, just make your own sound”. To this day I haven’t a clue what sound I was making, but I’m sure God loved the fact that I tried. Then, all of a sudden, I felt and heard God say to me, “you’re safe now child”. I felt a tingly warm sensation inside me from the top of my head, down both arms to my fingertips and across my back. I said to my friend, “I’d better go, I think I’m having a stroke!”. She just smiled and hugged me and tears just ran down my face.
I feel my life has a purpose and I feel love, I feel hope
From that day I’ve had a hunger for more of God, to learn His word, that I still can’t explain. I became a member at church and got baptised. Yes, that was funny, this couple was saying, “If you believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you need to do what the Bible says, meaning get baptised”. I was nervous, thinking they can’t hold my weight etc etc. I said to myself, “I’m going to get baptised when there’s a sign”. How funny, the next week there was a notice read out saying baptisms will take place Sunday 26th July, which is my birthday. My friend leaned over smiled and said, “... think that’s your sign”.
So, on my birthday, I got baptised. It was a beautiful, emotional day where I made my commitment to stay clean, walk with Jesus and help as many people as I can. Instead of being a taker I wanted to become a giver. I soon moved to Norwich where I came to City West. I was invited along to a LIFE group and made to feel very welcome. Jude, Paul and the others have emotionally held me, encouraged, nurtured, supported and loved me in my life, day to day, week to week. I’m a single mum, they told me God’s word but I didn’t listen and left the church. When I came back I was still welcomed and loved and they have also welcomed my son and we totally feel part of a family.
I pray regularly, I read my Bible (which is helped greatly by people teaching me at LIFE group). I love worship music, I believe the power of the Holy Spirit has defrosted my heart and is healing my traumatised mind. I love Jesus, he is my friend, I live in his abundant love, grace and mercy. I know I’m loved beyond measure. God sent his son to die for me, how amazing! I’m saved, sealed and forgiven. I feel my life has a purpose and I feel love, I feel hope, and I know that if Jesus can do this for me then he will certainly do it for anyone - we just have to ask. On Feb 19th 2019 I will have been totally abstinent from drugs and alcohol for three years. All glory to God, how awesome is He!!