I CAN STILL BE ME AND WORSHIP GOD!
BY CHERYL HAZELL
Hi, my name is Cheryl Hazell and I have been a part of Middlesbrough Community Church (MCC) for just over a year.
So what’s my story? Well I grew up in Stockton-on-tees in an area known as Fairfield with my parent’s. This wasn’t always a happy household as my parents used to argue all the time and shout at me for what appeared to be no reason as well as I was bullied at school for many reasons such as, not having brand name clothing, shopping in charity shops, being a tomboy and because I did well in some of my classes I was even picked on for that.
Growing up I was brought up to believe in God and saw many answers to prayers even from a very young age. Despite being brought up in the Mormon Church from the age of 3 and knowing some amazing people my parents weren’t the greatest role models. My mam smoked and both my parents drank alcohol occasionally as well as tea and coffee which as a Mormon you’re not supposed to do. As a child I used to have a lot of fun pinching the missionaries badges, hiding and then looking at the stickers on the back. As a child I used to find church relaxing as I always usually ended up falling asleep on my mams knee. We had a lot of friends and I was spoilt rotten by various people and loved the attention. I can’t really remember my Mormon baptism I know I was 8 and was baptised by one of my mam’s friends and someone else. I went to all the girls camps and although enjoyed them because I was bit of a tomboy I found it difficult to make friends.
I stopped going to Church around the age of 16 and went to live independently in “the world”. Through this time I saw many answers to prayers including healing of minor illnesses and extra financial support so I knew God was still there and heard everything I said. During this time at the age of 18 I thought I had met my Mr right despite our ups and downs. During this time I developed depression and despite being on anti-depressents and planning my wedding I had attempted suicide more than once. During this relationship I had a beautiful little girl but developed post natal depression. The relationship broke down after 3 years so I moved back to my parents with my daughter.
I very quickly ended up with someone else whom ended up keeping me so isolated I wasn’t even allowed to my neighbours house for a cuppa. This was another unstable relationship where my parents ended up calling social social services for various reasons and this added to my mental health issues. This relationship ended on my birthday 2008 and I tried to get on with raising the kids.
My mental health was so bad that in Jan 2009 I lost custody of my children, ended up in a bed and breakfast, and by the march I was a drunken depressive and just wanted to end my life. I also knew I had to find a way to sort myself out. A friend of mine who’d been through all of this with me since I was 17 dragged me to an open day atMiddlesbroughcollege in June 2009. I enrolled on a foundation degree in business management and even had some friends to house share with. I had also been to see my GP about getting my medication changed and this was achieved and it really helped me control my emotions and I was able to focus a little better.
In march 2010 I started working at subway and after about 1 month I was on shift one sunny day with a full restaurant and serving customers by myself. 4 young lads were in the queue with shorts n skateboards and by the time they had sat down I had noticed the restaurant was empty. I took the opportunity to start sweeping the floor and as I started the door closed and I very quickly realised these 4 young lads were Mormon missionaries. They had arranged to come visit me in my home and after 3 visits in that week I was back at church that very Sunday. Part of there “rules” is you confess all sins to your Bishop which I did and very quickly gained a lot of friends. Anytime I was in need of anything all I had to do was ask and there was always someone able to help. As the months went by and I progressed with obedience to Mormon scripture I found myself entering the temple and doing baptisms for the dead.
On this day a friend of mine was meant to be delivering a wardrobe to my flat I gave him the keys and his wife drove me to the temple and chaperoned me with another church member. Doing baptism for the dead was an awesome experience as I felt peaceful and felt a huge sense of achievement as your only allowed in the temple if you are following what the scriptures say. When I got home that evening my entire living room had been decorated and I was overwhelmed with this amazing provision. However, despite this amazing support, some amazing friends and progressing into the temple I knew something wasn’t right and there was still a big hole in my heart that needed filling and although doing baptisms for the dead was awesome I didn’t feel like it was doing any good for anyone except me as I just love any excuse to be in warm water.
I often found Church robotic and boring and my peers and I would often sit at the back messing around and getting told off for not paying attention. Despite this though more than once I bore my testimony at the front of church and was asked to speak at various events and even ended up temporary being the Young single adult representative. This achievement of people trusting me with responsibility was an encouragement but I still wasn’t happy.
In February 2011 I was at one of my regular Thursday evening classes with the 18-30’s at the Mormon Church in Billingham and I went downstairs at the end to visit the adults as I always had done. Sitting there was Bobby Gilpin who I had met once or twice before at other Mormon events and he was with one of his close friends. After hanging out with them on n off for a week or so I then met Vicky Gilpin Bobby’s wife and one night of monopoly turned into the 3 of them sitting on one side of the room me on the other and them talking to me about being born again in great depth and quoting scripture “at” me.
I left that evening thinking ‘oh my life I’ve just been Bible bashed’ but the next 2 days I couldn’t stop thinking about it and everything they said stuck in my heart. I got in touch with Vicky and said something like I have to come to Church with you. So that very Sun April 2nd 2011 I went to the Oakwood Joint meeting and heard a sermon about a scripture I had heard many times before but because of what was said and the fact it was being explained differently something in me told me I was home and I had found the truth. I cried the whole service, could hardly move and at the end of the service all I could say to Vicky was Thank you because, I was speechless (which those who know me know that doesn’t happen to often).
From that Sunday to the next my depression was gone completely. I was off my medication and I felt different. This happened without prayer. I did my first Alpha course at St Barnabas with various people from MCC and saw people’s lives change including various aspects of mine changing drastically.
My Baptism July 3rd 2011 on that day I was able to walk away from something which I felt trapped in despite doing Alpha and saw a whole new me starting to emerge.
My relationship with God is now amazing and I have gone from being a loud, tomboy who swears and drinks to a more mature , more feminine daughter of the king. I have been healed of minor illness, my heart for people is huge, I am servant hearted and through this past year have discovered what some of my spiritual gifts are which I am eager to develop. I very quickly realised that the testimonies I had given in the Mormon church were of God not of Mormonism itself and also quickly realised that doing the baptisms for the dead wasn’t doing anything for anyone except me. Because I have found the truth I no longer fear my past and am able to deal with challenging life situations with Jesus and amazing people by my side.
If it hadn’t been for Bobby, his wife and other people involved I don’t even want to contemplate what my life would have been like. I truly believe God would have still led me home but it probably would have taken much longer.
I know who I am in Jesus and I know I am safe, never alone and always listened to not only by Jesus but by the amazing people in my spiritual family who are there for each other know matter what. I encourage all of you to be a witness at all times weather it be to people of other faith’s or just everyday friends and family because you never know who Jesus will rescue through you.
As an update to this Cheryl has been Baptised on the 3rd of July at Middlesbrough Community Church, here is a pic and a video.