I grew up in a family of ten children; there were six girls and four boys. We lived in a “two up, two down” terraced house in Lurgan. I was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith and I tried to be a “devout” Catholic. As I grew up I attended Mass and Confession every week and during a Mission Week I would go every night. I always enjoyed the visiting Monks and Missionaries who came to speak at the Mission.
Times were very hard back then and work was very hard to find. We lived basically on a day to day basis, and feeding a family of twelve was quite a challenge! Daddy was often out of work and sometimes he had to go to England to find employment. I loved school but at sixteen I decided that I wanted to leave school and find a job.
Around that time I met someone from the “other side of town.” This was the way we described someone from another religion. My parents were not happy about this; they said I was too young. We later married but I soon discovered I had made one of the “bad choices” in life.
My life became very unhappy and while I was going through this very difficult time, a friend called Joe invited us along to the Busmen’s Mission Hall, in Market Street, Lurgan. I was first introduced to Joe when I was a younger teenager. There was a large group of boys and girls who went about together and my cousin and I became part of that group.
In my twenties I had become more interested and open minded about different faiths. I would discuss my faith with Joe who claimed to be “born again.” I had no idea what that meant but I was still determined to defend my Catholic beliefs and I debated the issue quite strongly.
I went to the Busmen’s, a Christian meeting in Lurgan, for a couple of weeks with my husband. He soon decided to opt out of going but I continued to go along out of curiosity even though I knew my family would not be too impressed.
The Busmen’s Mission Hall was a whole new experience for me! Everyone made me feel very welcome and I found the music so enjoyable. The most important thing was that for the first time in my life I heard the Gospel in a way I had never heard it before.
I started to attend the Meetings in the Mission Hall regularly. I was so hungry for the Word of God and enjoyed the lovely uplifting music.
A few weeks later I was invited along to Lurgan Baptist Church to a Sunday morning Service. The Service was different from the Busmen’s but I was really drawn to the way the Gospel was preached and it was also very comforting to me during that difficult time in my life. I was still nervous about how my family would react but I was being strongly drawn to the services and was determined to go.
The night that changed my life was Thursday 4th June 1970. I had decided to go to a prayer meeting in Lurgan Baptist Church. I didn’t even realise back then that normally only born-again Christians attended the prayer meetings, but I had a strong desire to go to that meeting. I had never been in a prayer meeting in my life and was a bit nervous about going in to the church!
When I walked in through the door, there were people sitting in the pews, all very quiet. I sat down and then individual people began to pray out loud and I found this so strange and unusual. I was only used to repeating a prayer out of the Catholic Catechism. These people were praying in a way I had never heard before; they were praying to God from very sincere hearts using their own words. They were praying that their families and loved ones would come to know Jesus as their Saviour and be saved from a lost eternity.
Then a man stood up in the seat in front of me; he began by praying for all his family and then he prayed for Roman Catholics. He prayed that the scales would be taken from their eyes by the Holy Spirit, and that they would be saved.
Something inside me stirred and I began to think about what Norman was praying. I always believed as a Catholic that if I went to Mass and confession and prayed and did good works then I had a pretty good chance of going to Heaven when I died.
What I was hearing in the Busmen’s and in the Baptist Church was that all the focus was on faith in God and his Son, Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
I sat in the pew and began to think it all through. I realised and believed that God’s Word was true and that He says in His Word that the only way to come to God is through Jesus Christ, His Son.
God’s Word in John 14:6 says: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
As I was sitting in my seat, I realised with horror that if I died that night then I certainly wouldn’t be going to Heaven and that I would be going to a lost eternity.
There and then I decided that I wasn’t going anywhere until I had made things right with God. On the way out as I was shaking hands with the Pastor, I asked if I could speak with him.
He invited me back into Church and sat with me while I explained my thoughts and what was going on in my head. Pastor Mullan then read from God’s Word and showed me where it said about needing to be saved.
I bowed my head and prayed and admitted that I was a lost sinner and I confessed my sin to God and asked Jesus into my life as my Saviour.
At that moment I felt elated and FREE from all my sin. I knew that whatever happened to me from that moment on, all was well with my soul. I just “floated” home, and although home was an unhappy place to be at that time, yet I still had joy in my heart and I had peace with God.
The above is extracted from Colette Turner’s little book, Life in Lurgan. Colette has walked with the Lord all these years since, some of them very challenging years and still facing many challenges. Yet her faith, and the faith of her husband Joe, shines brightly and her burden and prayer for others to know the Saviour is only increasing.