Thank you to our Film Stars
Emma is 24 years old and for the first time in her life, feels she has something to live for. With a new partner, the lovely Danny, they share a flat together and are making plans. Drugs, alcohol, and self-harming have all played their part in her young life so far. She had a chaotic family upbringing and developed her own drug habit and started to self-harm in response to an unhappy and often violent previous relationship. But her darkest time was last year when she lost a baby and she still suffers pangs of hopelessness now where she questions her faith and God, but without her faith, and the family she has found at the Saturday Gathering, she firmly believes she wouldn’t be here.
“I wouldn’t have done any of this if it wasn’t for God. I wouldn’t have got close to my family again, I wouldn’t have found the perfect partner, I wouldn’t have got the perfect home, I wouldn’t even be me. I’d be a completely different person. Without God, I’d still be drinking alcohol, I’d probably still be on drugs, I don’t even know if I’d be here, because I was a self harmer.”
Rob has lived on the streets or on his wits since a young boy. In and out of reform homes, his parents couldn’t cope with his behaviour and he was kicked out of home at 15. When his older brother took his own life a few years later, Rob went completely out of control. He has lived in woods, on streets, under car parks, behind shopping centres -and drugs have been the mainstay of his survival. He found himself on the streets of Halifax after a failed relationship and intrigued by an open church on a Saturday, he walked into the Ebenezer Methodist church – and the rest as they say, is history. He came to faith at the Saturday Gathering and has slowly been lebuilding his life. And after years of being estranged from his family, he celebrated his 46th birthday in January with his mother at the Saturday Gathering Place.
“I’ve always believed in resurrection, but my mind was clouded through drugs and when I started being clear headed, I thought wow, he’s done it to me. I haven’t died but I feel like I’ve been resurrected away from a life of crime and trouble to peace and love, understanding, calmness.”
Brenda was the local white witch, heavily into the Wicca movement and its alignment with nature, conservation and the environment. But when her mother cheated death over two years ago, it was a wake up call to all the family that there was something bigger out there. Her mother died last year in difficult circumstances and all the family began to volunteer at the Night Shelter run by Christians Together in Calderdale as a way of coming to terms with the enormity of her death. It was while volunteering one Saturday night, that Brenda – a mother of four herself – dropped into the worship and found herself overwhelmed by the love and acceptance. Brenda is now training to be a leader herself and wants to be ordained into the Church of England.
“I can’t actually remember what I was like before I found my faith. I just can’t imagine going back to life with out God in it. It’s quite a scary thought.”
Howard struggles with his faith. The 40 year old from Bradford came to faith eight years ago. A former addict who was in and out of prison, he was offered a place in a Christian rehab centre for young men and it was here, as he struggled with the sleeplessness and restlessness as he was withdrawing from heroin and methadone, that he began to join in the early morning prayers. It was to be his solace. But for Howard, temptation is never far away and on the day of his baptism, he used drugs again – after eight months clean. His story of faith is a constant tug of war with real bouts of doubt that can stop him praying, stop him praising and thanking God. He has been out of prison now for over 12 months and offers support to others at the Saturday Gathering and wants to be a good role model for his teenage son.
“When I start doubting, it quickly isolates me, …Faith for me is like a tug of war– it’s one minute walking in faith and the next minute there’s a black cloud over you.”
“Where would I be without faith? I’d be dead a long time ago. Yeah, I’d be dead.”