When Julie bought a car, she turned on the radio and was annoyed to realise it was tuned into Premier Praise. Not a Christian, and not remotely interested in listening to worship songs, this was the start of an amazing journey for Julie.
For many years I was an organist and choir director in a church, but I had no faith at all. Then 20 years ago I walked away from the church, determined never to return.
In April 2017 I changed my car and, as I set off to work on my first long journey in it, I turned on the radio. It seemed to be stuck on a station called Premier Praise. As I left the driveway, I said to my husband, Pete: “This radio’s stuck on some sort of Christian music station. I can’t think of anything worse.” Trying to change the station didn’t work; I just couldn’t get rid of it. I ended up listening to the music, prayers and Bible readings all the way from my home in Lancashire to Lincolnshire and then later on to Birmingham.
Even though, over the following weeks, I reluctantly admitted that some of the songs weren’t too bad, I was certainly not going to be drawn into any sort of ‘religious stuff’. I told myself I didn’t need it and definitely didn’t want it. Even though I resisted, I began to find myself wondering what it would be like to be a Christian.
I remembered that I had been given a Bible back in 1979 – a ‘Good News Special Edition’. I’d never read it but I remembered that it had some nice photos and maps in it. I searched the house high and low but couldn’t find it. Then I realised: four years ago when my daughter was a student, she’d asked if I had any old books she could sell to raise some funds. I gave her a box of books; the Bible was in that box so was gone forever.
I decided that I wanted another Good News Special Edition. Pete did some research and told me that it had been discontinued many years ago; there were a few second-hand copies for sale in the United States and just one copy from a book dealer in Lowestoft, which I bought. When it arrived I recognised it immediately as the exact same Bible I’d given away four years earlier. It had come home!
Some weeks later I was driving, listening to Premier as usual, but I was feeling scared of commitment and determined to resist Christ when the hymn ‘O love that will not let me go’ came on the radio and it took my breath away. I pulled over into the lay-by and wept. I realised that Jesus wasn’t going to let me go. By the beginning of June 2017 I opened the door to Christ and I knew things would never be the same again.
So many remarkable things happened since then: I have joined a church, been baptised and am genuinely part of a family. I am truly blessed that Pete made the decision to join me on this journey. Also, after 40 years of suffering from clinical depression, I have experienced true healing. In the past, even when I felt relatively happy, I was never far from the edge; every day I was fearful that I might break down. Now, for the first time, I am able to live my life without the cloud of depression over my head and no longer have that awful sense of fear in my life.
And the car radio is permanently tuned to Premier!