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Sholing Baptist Church, Middle Road, Sholing, Southampton, SO19 8FS

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Jesus said, “I will build my church“
Matthew 16:18

Alan Speake

Hi my name is Alan Speak, I am one of the leaders at Sholing Baptist Church where I met my wife Lorraine at the young peoples’ meeting on a Thursday night back in 1966. She lived next to Spring Road Evangelical Church who started a Sunday School in 1959 on Weston council estate which my sister took me to. They taught us about the Bible and how it had changed their lives. They believed in it, but I found it too hard, perhaps one day?

I was 10 years earlier in a prefabricated bungalow put up to replace the bombed houses in Woolston. Apparently the midwife emptied a dressing table draw and put me in it, my parents had very modest means. I went to Weston Infants, Junior and Weston Boys School which became The Grove and now has just been renewed by a £15m school called Oasis Mayfield. There was no such word as dyslexic in the 1950’s just thick, stupid, not paying attention, unable to learn, which resulted writing many lines, getting the slipper and the cane. At 15 the school told me to leave and get a job. I applied to the Southern Gas Board, they said they would advise when interviewing. When I enquired again I was told that they had the required numbers so my dad spoke to them, they agreed to interview me. After the 3rd interview I was accepted on a 4 year apprenticeship as a Gas Fitter. Five years later my best friend Gavin secretly arranged an interview to work with him at British Olivetti Ltd, repairing office machines. 43 years later I am still in this profession. When I went to my first funeral, the vicar said that we all will meet again in heaven, this was contrary to what Spring Rd and Middle Rd churches taught from the Bible. So I asked myself who was right?

Friends of mine said that they knew for themselves that the answers are found in the manufacturer’s instruction book, which says “seek and you will find” Luke Ch 11 v 9 and Jesus said that you must be born again, John Ch 3 v 7. So I went to all the meetings and was questioning in my mind asking God if he was real, help me understand, what was the truth? I sought the Lord and He heard me, Psalm 34 v 4. About three months later I looked out of my bedroom window, I saw the same garden, trees and birds, but something inside me had changed, I felt differently about everything, I realised that the birds, trees and myself had a maker and provider.

Before that day I felt it was a lie to sing many of the hymns and the Bible was full of unbelievable stories, but on that day God’s Spirit came into my life, I had a new understanding that God’s word was true. The first hymn I sang was “Earth around is sweeter green, something lives in every hue that Christless eyes have never seen”. I sang it believing, knowing and understanding for myself, what on Earth we are here for.

The Bible changed from being irrelevant, to becoming the manufacturer’s instruction manual. When something is designed and made, instructions are written so that everyone can know how best to use it, avoid making mistakes and get the most out it. How does a microchip work? How can you have a video link to Fiji? The designers have given us instructions of what best to do, we may not understand, but can know that it works by obeying the instructions. I worked at British Olivetti for 13 years, before I left I was troubleshooter and an instructor of office equipment, I know how much I needed good instruction manuals to get things working as they should.

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