The little brick built chapel was a thriving place of worship back in the early 19th century but now it was being used as a place for the local playgroup for the under fives. Swarming with children, the place had once again come alive.
I took my own children to the playgroup and it became a popular meeting place in the village for mums with small children - a place where young mums could feel free to chat and make friends. All who came along - lone mums - and some dads found a place of friendship. This little chapel had its own special appeal to me although at the time, I couldn’t work out why, but all was soon to become clear.
The chapel grounds had a number of very old and unkempt graves just outside the front and a few around the back where the children played. There was always a wide selection of toys spread over the small lawn but naturally, the children thought it as much fun to jump on to the gravestones to play, as they did to play with the toys!
One day, my own children were playing in the sandpit inside the church hall. I had always thought it curious that the sandpit had been built to fit beneath the floorboards - or why there would be a sandpit in the chapel at all!
Besides the Playgroup, the hall was used for other village events - jumble sales and tabletop sales. I can remember before one such jumble sale that I made up lots of little ‘Humpty Dumpty’ dolls, which I had knitted, to sell on one of the stalls. Looking back now I realise that they were not really very good dolls, but amazingly they all sold! I guess small children don’t have much discernment when it comes to things like that - poor kids!
One particular person that I fondly remember from those days, was a lady named Pauline, who helped out at the playgroup. She was the one who set up a sale in the hall. She seemed different from the other mums and she was a very kind and particularly understanding lady - well liked by everyone. But I just couldn’t put my finger on why she was so different.
Children’s clothes sale became very popular events. Mums could take along clothes that their children had grown out of and sell them on at very low prices and this was ideal for the young families in the village and there were bargains to be had for a very small amount of money.
As time went on I got to know Pauline better and also made friends with many of the mums who came along to events at the little chapel. Coffee mornings were often held in one of the mums’ houses, but due to difficult circumstances, I usually declined the invitation to attend. But one day I decided I would go along and I happened to overhear a conversation about a Billy Graham meeting that was being held in Ipswich. It seemed that nearly all of the mums at the coffee morning were going along, but I just closed my ears to what was being said.
It was some years later – after I had found the Way, the Truth, and the Life in Jesus Christ that I also found out that Pauline and those mums who had crossed my path were all believers - born again of God’s Spirit.
Pauline and I became good friends and I owe a lot to Pauline from the early years of my walk with Jesus. It was about the same time that I found out about a well-kept secret. Pauline and her husband, Clive and a group of local Christians had been praying that the Lord would restore the little chapel back to a thriving worshipping church again in the village. One evening they gathered at the chapel and sat around the baptismal pool (which was what had been used has a sandpit) and prayed that God, through His Holy Spirit would revive that church again.
With every eye closed they began to pray. After their gathering each one present testified of having seen angels around the pool.
The chapel had been up for sale for many years but nobody came forward to buy it. And on this night God spoke to those faithful people that prayed. Pauline told me that God’s word to them was “I have set my angels to guard and watch over this church, for I have plans for it.”
God’s word is true and just a few years later that little chapel had become a thriving church again. The Lord used Pauline and Clive in the restoration of this chapel and He used them as instruments for His work in other ways. Many times they took people into their home and looked after them. The Lord just sent sad, lost and lonely souls to their doorstep and they took them in.
Pauline encouraged me greatly in the faith in those early days - to go on each day and to serve Jesus. In 1992 Pauline went home to be with her Lord. Her work was finished and it seemed that God wanted her home with Him. At the funeral service for Pauline there was much rejoicing in celebration of her life.
My husband came along with me and although sad at losing a friend to death - we agreed that the service was just so full of life. A young girl aged about 16 danced beautifully to the Keith Green version of the song “The Lord is my Shepherd.” I had never ever been to a service quite like it”
You see being a Christian isn’t the dull experience that some might imagine. Even in death there is life - and everlasting peace. The secret behind that little chapel was a happy and long lasting service to God that was evidenced in the lives of those who by faith prayed to Him and obeyed Him.
Do you know of any secrets that will last and bring happiness into the lives of other people?
We serve a mighty God whose power and might is equalled by none.
O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what god is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? (Deuteronomy 3:24)
It is no secret what God can do!