Sheila SpencerI was born in the East End of London six years before the outbreak of World War II, living in a Council flat and eldest of four children.
At the outbreak of war my mother and us children were evacuated to Norfolk whilst my father stayed in London in the National Fire Service. The war years were disruptive to our family life generally and our education suffered and although we were not to experience the bombing that took place in London, we lost some relatives and friends and our home was destroyed.
After the war we were re-housed by the Council and we picked up the threads of life as a family. I left school at 15 and was employed as a shorthand typist in the city of London, my first week's wages being five shillings more than my father was earning in the furniture trade! I took up various hobbies; swimming, dancing, cycling and at 21 met the man who was to become my husband.
I had never any interest in God and decided early on that religion was for weak people or more imaginative people! My parents never spoke of religion and I believed, like most of my friends and relatives that you handled life the best way you could, relying on your own strengths and abilities.
In the fifties we married and my husband shared this same philosophy, but this was certainly put to the test within the first year of marriage when my husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He was 25 and had been experiencing various problems but it was a shock to be told he had this degenerative disease of the nervous system and could become paralysed within a short time as there was no cure. By the time he was 31 he had to give up work being confined to a wheelchair and losing strength in his hands.
As the years went by he became very disabled and although we had daily help from district nurses and voluntary agencies, I found the situation more and more difficult. In the meantime I had taken a diploma course in sociology and become a social worker, also developing an increasing dependency on alcohol and cigarettes for support.
Eventually, feeling pretty desperate about the situation, we got involved in Spiritualism in an effort to perhaps find a miracle cure. No healing occurred, but in our contacts with healers and mediums I became aware of supernatural activity in the midst of some of those acting on their own. It was confusing as they had different ideas about the source of their powers (one ex-priest said his power could be from Mars!). This led us to ask a local evangelical minister to visit us and explain what was going on. He pointed out what the Bible said about mediums and spiritists and the concepts of creation, sin, Jesus and the resurrection. Here was an intelligent, reasonable man believing all this! I wanted to believe it but could not and during the following week I asked God to do something to show me He was there and really existed. He did just that! The following week after attending a meeting and being moved by the minister's sermon, I came out of the church and did not light up a cigarette as usual and the next morning I felt as if I had never smoked and did not want my usual sherry. I felt a great peace and knew that God had answered me. My husband and I both received Jesus Christ into our lives and we knew a change in our lives.
My husband's health deteriorated and he died (aged 49) a peaceful death after having a stroke. We had a thought the Lord may have healed him but it was not in the plan. We both had much assurance from the scriptures and the ministry of the Holy Spirit from the time of our conversions and I know that my husband's faith was in the One who said He was preparing a place for His own. Some years later I felt God call me to Ireland, which was a surprise as I thought I was going to retire to Norfolk! But I decided to make the move despite the misgivings of family and friends. My mother was Irish and I always felt at home when I visited. I have known God's guidance and provision all the way and am sure of His call and of His promises to all who seek after Him.