Yugadi Habbada Shubhashayagalu! (Kannada for “Greetings for the festival of Ugadi”)

What is Ugadi?

Ugadi is New Years Day and falls on 18th March (in 2018) and is a public holiday. Ugadi literally means “the beginning of a new age”. It falls on a different day every year because the Hindu calendar is a lunisolar calendar so signifies a change in the moon’s orbit.

How is it celebrated?

It is celebrated with gatherings of the extended family with lots of food and feasting. The day begins with a ritual shower or ‘oil bath’ followed by prayers. Mantras are chanted and predictions are made for the new year.

What are the preparations for the festival?

Preparations begin a week before the festival with houses given a thorough wash, shopping for new clothes and buying other festival items. On the morning of Ugadi people wake up before dawn and take a head bath after which their house door / entrance is decorated with fresh mango leaves (to signify good crops and general well being). People also splash fresh cow dung water on the ground in front of their house (can you imagine the smell!) as well as drawing colourful floral designs.

On the day of Ugadi

People perform the ritual worship to god invoking his blessings before they start off the new year. They pray for health, wealth and prosperity and success in business -it’s a good time to start new businesses.

There is a symbolic eating of a dish with six tastes called ‘Bevu-Bella’. It symbolises that life is a different mix of different experiences: sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise. These experiences should all be accepted equally throughout the new year. The six tastes are: sour (tamarind juice), sweet (jaggery), salt, bitter (Neem buds), astringent (unripened mango) and spicy hot (green chilli) or pungent and are called Ugadi Pachhadi. It is only served during this festival.

In Karnataka (the state in which Bangalore is) there is a special dish called Obbattu (or Holige) which is a filling of jaggery and boiled sugar to make a paste which is stuffed inside a roti. It is eaten with ghee, milk or coconut milk and can be eaten hot or cold.


Women of Destiny Conference 2018

When was it?

Saturday 3rd February 2018 from 9:30am to 5pm. At 9:30am there were less than 10 people at the conference. Nobody arrives on time here, not even for God it seems!

Where was it?

The First Assembly of God Church, Bangalore. Right next to the highway flyover so difficult to see from the road. Lovely building with an underground car park.


How much was it?

INR 150 which included tea and biscuits and a hot lunch. We also received a beautiful blue scarf at the end of the day.

Some pictures from the day

The ladies receiving the blue scarves (or mantles) at the end of the day.

The dance troop interpreting a hymn.

The start of the conference at 9:30am.

A coat stand put to alternative use.

Who were the speakers?

As we were not given a conference agenda or timetable or speaker notes, this was a bit tricky. There were several ladies speaking and leading the worship and one man, Pastor Gavin Cunningham of the First AG Church, at the end of the day. The main speaker of the day was Pastor Peggy Kennedy from Canada who talked on 1 Kings 19 and who was followed by Pastor Sharon talking on the book of Ruth. Both were extremely good speakers.

Jack & Peggy Kennedy have been serving the Lord and His Church in many capacities over 35 years. Their journey of obedience has taken them from the west coast ministry among First Nations (Jack is a member of the Tsimpshian First Nation of northern B.C.) to ministry at large among the Body of Christ across Canada and to the nations. Their “assignments” have been varied: pastoring in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, coordinating Aboriginal Ministries for the PAOC British Columbia & Yukon District, leadership of the Canadian Native Bible College, Vancouver, B.C. and more!

Thoughts on the day

It was my first time at a women only conference in India so I didn’t quite know what to expect. Registration and payment took place outside at the front of the church. We were welcomed in by several ladies before I had rewatched the top of the steps for the church itself. It was lovely be greeted by so many happy ladies.

The worship was great and the speakers, and subjects, both interesting and inspiring. I learnt a lot.

There were no morning breaks at all and tea and coffee were brought to everyone at their seats as they listened to the speakers. Lunch was served downstairs in the underground car park and there was plenty of food; I avoided the spicy stuff!

The prayer time at the end with the distribution of the scarves was new and unusual for me, so I watched and waited until near the end so I could take in the process.

Tea and biscuits was also served outside at the end of the conference.

In some ways it was very similar to christian conferences in the UK but some of the practicalities were completely different. I thoroughly enjoyed my day and despite it being a long day I came out refreshed.

Manifesting the Gifts of the Spirit – Christian Leaders Conference 2018

What is it?

Manifesting the Gifts of the Spirit (‘GOTS’) was the title for the 2018 Christian Leaders Conference held by All People’s Church (‘ APC’) in Bangalore. It ran from Wednesday 17th to Friday 19th January from 9:30am to 5:30pm, with a morning coffee break, lunch and afternoon tea break ( food and beverages provided). The cost was INR 500 (£6) for all three days.

Pre Conference

I am at the APC Bible College in Bangalore studying for a Theology Diploma. All students were required to attend the conference and there would be no classes at Bible College for the duration of the Conference. Boarding students were required to serve and assist at the conference.

Bible college is usually from 9:30am to 1pm and in Hennur, around 30 minutes journey in the morning traffic. The conference was being held centrally at the United Theological College in Benson Town. That’s a 45 min to an hour journey in the morning. Logistically its a nightmare as we have one car. Thankfully we have carpooling arrangements with our friends and neighbours for the School run (drop off and pick up for those of you not from the UK!). The easy part was arranging for Zahra (and the other children) to be collected and looked after whilst I was at the Conference.Rez goes to work at 7am but our driver could not take him and get back for me to get me to the conference on time (the usual crappy Bangalore traffic prohibits this). Thankfully a neighbour lent me her car and driver to get me there on time. (We have super expat neighbours in this complex – they’re all fabulous and kind.)

The initial logistical nightmare dealt with, I could think about the Conference. The first thing that struck me was how incredibly cheap it was. INR 500 is roughly a days wage here for the upper working or lower middle class. So actually quite expensive for local wage earners. The accountant in me still can’t get me head around how the church can hold such a huge conference, fully catered, for such a small fee. Obviously it is heavily subsidised by the church, but even so, APC has about 470 adults in 5 congregations spread over all of Bangalore. It’s a huge amount of money coming in from the congregation to subsidise this and make it accessible.

As the conference approached I wondered what it would be like. I have never been to a conference here. How big would it be? What would the facilities be like? (They are very basic a Bible College). Are the toilets useable (it’s like playing Russian roulette using toilets in Bangalore! Always have tissues and hand sanitiser with me.)

Conference Day 1

After arranging for Zahra’s forgotten locker keys to be delivered to school by our helpful neighbour, I set off with her car and driver to find the conference. It’s at the United Theological College in Benson Town in the city. Google maps was rubbish. It took us 30 mins of driving around the area to find it. We stopped several times and asked for directions- the final time we were actually outside the college. It was across the road from where we had stopped. Both me and the driver looked around to see the smallest sign ever for a large college which could only be viewed if you are driving in the right direction. Useful. (And that’s British sarcasm in case you don’t recognise it!)

I was dropped off outside the hall at 9:15am and was pleased we had left plenty of time for the journey as I was able to register, find the wash room (more on that later) and settle in before the conference started at 9:30am.

9:30am and the conference is a quarter full. The band played and we sang worship songs as the rest of the delegates drifted in on Indian time (ie always late).

The conference is on the UTC grounds in a building which is truly an old style church hall. The entrance has the washrooms and where the registration desk and (free) book stall was. The hall itself sloped down to the front of the stage. The floor is tiled in beige with a strip of maroon carpet running down the centre. Each side has plastic garden chairs for seats. (These are used widely in India as chairs- they are lightweight and easy to clean and transport).

I sat with my college colleagues. After some very short announcements Pastor Ashish took to the lecture to deliver the first session on Supernatural Ministry. At 11am we had a tea break and at 11:30 Pastor Ashish continued with Introducing the person of the Holy Spirit and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. 1pm was a lunch break with rice, roti, chicken curry and curd served. At 2pm we reconvened for a short time of praise in Hindi and English. Then Pastor Jeyakumar jumped from the stage from playing guitar to talk to us about Concerning Spiritual Gifts. Pastor Ashish continued with The Love of God our Motivation and How the Holy Spirit Initiates the release of the gifts. 3pm was afternoon coffee and the final session at 3:30pm was a practical session. This is were the pastors of APC gave a practical demonstration of listening to the Holy Spirit and delivering what they heard to the congregation. People were also immediately healed of ailments. It is amazing to see God at work. Seeing really is believing.


There are a few hundred people at this conference and the Building has two toilets for women, one western and one Indian. They were basic and dated but usable, (unless the previous occupant decided to shower with the toilet hose and wet the floor, walls and toilet seat – I’ll never understand this behaviour). The western toilet had a tree growing through the open window and was constantly wet, due to the dripping tap at calf height. The church provided toilet roll and hand wash. There was a filthy dirty mop (no bucket) and a sink that was dirty and falling apart but useable. A dirty curtain covered the entrance to the washrooms which also had a filthy cloth mat. At least they didn’t smell but the church had also provided a can of air freshener just in case. (I provided a towel and some soap the next day.) Now this is a conference facility which is paid for – why are the toilets so basic and dirty? I just don’t get it. Why did the church have to provide toilet roll and hand wash? Another #IncredibleIndia moment.

Day 2

This was a bit of a blur as the speakers were great, good practical sessions and really demystifying the gifts and work of the Holy Spirit. Pastors Nancy, Ashish and Brian spoke today. The lectures were on words of wisdom, words of knowledge, discerning of spirits, kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, prophecy, gifts of healing and working of miracles.

The practical practice session at the end of the day was working miracles and the gift of healing. We prayed for several individuals, all of whom had physical ailments needing treatment. All were healed. Now I know the majority of readers will scoff at that statement and ask for evidence. Seeing really is believing. I won’t be able to convince anyone who wasn’t there that physical healing actually took place, but it did. It was miraculous and it was unbelievable but it happened.


Lunch was provided for the delegates each day, outside. Lunch was chicken, rice, roti and curds with biryani served on Friday. Everyone who had registered and paid for the conference was given a meal voucher each day to collect our meal. There was an orderly queue (surprising for India) and people sat and chatted whilst eating.

This is when I was cornered each day by a couple of elderly gentlemen preachers telling me about their ministry and asking me to pray for them. They did this at the tea and coffee breaks to and never left my side. It was quite unnerving. On the last day I was given a business card and a medical report. Both wanted contributions. I was an easy target being white. The assumption being that every white person is loaded. I was saddened and disheartened that this happened at a Christian Conference when there was ample opportunity to seek assistance from the many other delegates in attendance.

Day 3

I arrive early and sit in the gardens drinking my flask of tea (how British!) listening to the variety of birds singing and chirping and squawking whilst the band practice “Come now is the time for worship”, one of my favourite songs.

As usual, the conference started with a period of worship promptly at 9:30am and allowed those adhering to Indian Standard Time to drift in. Expectations were high after yesterday’s miracles; God was really moving in this place.

Pastor Ashish and Pastor Brian lectured today on the gift of faith (rather than ‘normal’ faith), developing the gifts of the Spirit, proper foundation for releasing the gifts, being a channel for the spirit’s power, flowing with the anointing (and what ‘anointing’ actually means) and unusual manifestations and how to respond. All the lectures were super useful, plain speaking and again demystifying the terminology.

The last practice session today was letting the spirit flow through us to hear from God. Pastor Ashish requested that those who heard from God to go to the front and validate it i.e. tell everyone what you heard and see if anyone could relate to it or if it was about them. This is a very scary and risky thing if you have never done it before, but that was the point – getting us all to practice in a safe non judgmental environment where mistakes could be made. As it happened all those who spoke had their words and pictures confirmed by someone else in the room. It was fascinating to watch.

Then it happened. I was sat quietly concentrating and praying, when words flashed into my mind clear and strong. I picked up my notebook and pen and wrote them down, closed my eyes and it happened again. Then again and again and again. I had a poem. I showed my college colleagues who insisted I go up to the front with it. With a pounding heart and shaking hands I picked up the mike and sat down on the chair (so no one could see me) and read the poem. I delivered it and scurried back to my seat.

Others continued with words and pictures. At the end of the session Pastor Ashish asked us to explain how it happened and what we saw so others could benefit. How do you explain that these words just popped into your head? So that’s what I said – I can’t explain it, the words came and I wrote them down.


This was the end of the conference. There was a final tea break and those requiring prayer from the pastoral team queued and queued. There was a lot of delegates requesting prayer.

I was asked to record ‘my testimony’ for the conference. This means a different thing from the UK – they were asking me to give feedback on the conference and what I enjoyed about it. I was filmed telling the audience about my first Indian Conference and my experience. They then asked me to read the poem to the camera too, which I did. I have no idea what it is going to be used for.

It was such a good conference and I learnt so much about the Gifts of the Spirit and practising using them. It really did demystify things. Now I need to practice, and keep practising.

The Poem

My heart is leaping

Bowing down to you

You made me new

You made me new.

You are God

You are Lord overall

You shine anew

You shine anew.

Your gifts are free

Free gifts for me

Accept and see

What I can do, in you.

You are God

You are Lord overall

You make me new

Anew in you.

Some of my Bible College colleagues


The APC website has loads of free resources – books, sermons, videos, tv programs – take a look:

Bible college

Wow! I am exhausted. I have just finished the first semester of Bible College. Ending with 8 two hour exams in one week. (That’s been a test of endurance I can tell you!). It has been a blast. It is also why my blog has been a bit quiet of late. Study and assignments has taken up most of my time. Trying to fit all that into the daily challenges of life in Bangalore has not been easy. It has meant my time for reading and writing has been squeezed out. However, I am now on holiday until January. Time to catch up on all things.

Daily Life at College

For now, I’d like to give you a glimpse into life at Bible College in Bangalore. Obviously I have nothing to compare it to so I have no idea how it contrasts to other Bible Colleges. I am also a Day student and not a boarder. The boarders have a set daily schedule they have to adhere to from 5am (yes that’s right, 5am!) until 10pm. Their lives are literally mapped out for them whilst they are at Bible College. By comparison the handful of Day students have it easy.

This has been an amazing journey. I still can’t believe I am at Bible College. It is great and I am really enjoying it. I am learning so much and despite being there from 9:30am to 1pm Monday to Friday I feel as though I don’t have enough time to study. It’s amazing what you learn when you start studying again.


Finding the college at first was difficult. It is in a residential area on the ground floor of a three storey multipurpose building. It is unmarked. There are no signs directing you to the college and no signs outside the college to alert people what the building is used for. I have no idea why this is as I have not asked but I do wonder if it is for safety and security reasons. This is a very nationalistic Hindu country and attacks on Christians are not rare.

The college itself is very basic. The desks are old and falling apart and our chairs are a variety of plastic garden chairs. The space is one large L shaped room, two classrooms and a book warehouse with a sink and kitchen table. The one toilet is outside around the corner. (More on that later.)

The L shaped room is used as a music area and the main area is used for daily morning meetings. The meetings are held from 8:30am and consist of praise and worship followed by one of the students delivering a sermon, in English, on a portion of the Bible. A safe place to practice for those going into the ministry.

After the morning meeting the chairs are moved into the classrooms and tables arranged in rows. We share desks, two to each desk. There’s not a lot of space. There is a white board on the wall. The windows at the rear of the classrooms have bars on them (usual in Bangalore). The classroom door has a lock on each side. (Can you see where I am going with this?) I was quite alarmed when every teacher entering the classroom locked the door behind them. Nobody else seemed alarmed. I was at the back of the classroom near the windows. My exit route was locked. I requested the door be kept open at all times. It took a few days before everyone got used to having the door open.

I open the windows and switch on the fan every morning to circulate the air. We keep the window open throughout class and whilst it is noisy (even in a residential area the noise is incredible), it is worth it to circulate the air and avoid a stuffy classroom. One of the teachers once closed the door and asked for the windows to be shut because of the noise.The small classroom quickly became hot and stuffy and we were all falling asleep in the heat. A quick break and reopening windows for the entire session afterwards solved that problem.

There were no fire exit signs, no first aid box or signs and no fire extinguishers. Considering one of the rooms was a storage area and full of books, I found this to be an incredible oversight. The safety of the students just didn’t appear to have been considered (although I am sure it had). I ordered and placed all the above in college. No one said anything directly to me but I could see that they were bemused. That’s not quite true, one lady student laughed at me thinking I was ridiculous. I ignored it.

The next thing I did was buy a welcome mat, washing up liquid and hand soap. They were drinking out of cups that were being rinsed under a cold tap before being reused. I also started supplying biscuits to go with chai (tea) at the morning break. This was a very welcome addition.


Right, toilet facilities. When I first arrived (late in the term due to holidaying in the UK), I was directed to the ladies boarding house for the toilet. It was about 100 yards away from the college, we needed a key and one of the boarding ladies to accompany us there. Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out that with Bangalore Belly being a feature of my life that this was a very dangerous arrangement for me. The risk of having “an accident” was high and very unwelcome. The risk of total humiliation in front of my fellow students was not appealing. Nevertheless, I complied with this arrangement for weeks. I also supplied the ladies boarding house with hand soap and a towel as there wasn’t any. I was also told not to use toilet tissue as it wouldn’t flush. The crux came when I needed the loo and I had to wait for one of the boarding ladies to exit the wet room as she was having a shower (I use that word in its widest sense). As she stepped out into the bedroom, wrapped in a towel, I thought enough was enough.

I asked the class ‘Captain’ (elected student representative) where the men went to the toilet and was told that there wasn’t a toilet available for ladies on site and I had to use the boarding house. After pressing her, I was told there was a toilet on site for the men but it wasn’t suitable for the ladies. I asked why and wasn’t given an answer. The class Captain said she would have to as the college director whether I could use the men’s toilet. The incredibility of the situation was lost on her.

I asked one of my male classmates to direct me to the loo they use. It was outside around the corner at the back of the college. It had a functioning toilet and a tap, bucket, a hose / douche but no sink. The floor was a lake but it was perfectly usable. I was dumbfounded as to why I wasn’t allowed to use it.

Now, those who know me will know that I would see that as a challenge, and indeed I did. I started using the toilet. The men were bemused at first but got used to me queuing for the loo with them. I also upgraded the facilities with some easy and obvious additions. I bought a plastic three tiered veg tray stand and placed it in the toilet with hand soap, soap dish and antibacterial gel. I placed a towel on the hook and bought (a much needed) air freshener. (I wash and change the towel weekly). I also supplied mosquito spray and toilet roll. I placed a loo block in the cistern. The toilet was transformed. I now use it all the time. The other ladies still will not use it.

The Syllabus

So, enough about the facilities, what have I been studying for the last few months? The syllabus has been interesting and varied. The subjects covered in the first semester were as follows:

Minister’s Foundation – we studied a book called ‘Code of Honour’ which contained some basic guidelines about what to do and what not to do in ministry. It covered personal life, family, people, conduct, preaching, anointing, results, fellowship, money, women and fame. Yes, fame. Apparently in India this is a thing. Who knew!

Old Testament Survey – literally a gallop overview of the whole of the Old Testament in one semester. Learning about history, authors, themes, purpose etc of each book. It was a good grounding in the background to each book of the Old Testament. I did feel it was rushed though and the sheer volume of information was daunting in an exam scenario.

Praise and Worship – and the difference between the two. I found this to be the most difficult topic. I am not musically talented or gifted in any way and whilst I enjoy singing, the right note or key is an aspirational thing for me. Thankfully there was no ‘practical’ side to this. We did learn about what the worship team does mid week, about auditions and the probation period. They really have no idea how fortunate they are to have so many gifted and talented musicians and singers within the church. It’s normal to them. Rather unlike the small churches in the UK who scramble around to find anybody with the slightest musical talent to beg them to play. (Don’t take that personally, it’s not about you!).

The Holy Spirit – The person of the Holy Spirit, work of the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible, baptism of the Holy Spirit, gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Trinity etc. This was a real education and fascinating.

Who we are in Christ – understanding our union with Christ. This class was taught by Pastor Kenny who is a gifted speaker and frequently went off topic to tell us about events to illustrate points. It was very interesting.

Faith – literally everything to do with our faith and what helps and hinders faith. Very useful.

Prayer and Intercession – I found this the most enjoyable subject and was taught by Kala who is also a gifted teacher as well as an amazing prayer warrior. It really has transformed the way I pray and my prayer life. Don’t know how to pray? Start with the Lord’s Prayer folks. It’s a great way to start praying if you never have.

Soul Winning – pretty much lessons on how not to be a dick! Nobody likes a Bible Basher after all. That’s not the way to do it. There were some interesting insights into the biblical foundations of evangelism as well as some basic principles.

We had exams in all of these subjects which completed the first semester. January sees the start of a whole new bunch of subjects which, I am sure, will prove equally fascinating.


This is the diary I kept when I took my first set of mid term exams in September:

Day One I’ve just sat the first exam in literally decades.  It was weird going into the classroom, with the desks laid out in rows and our names on the desks. First year students were sat next to second year students so that there was no temptation to copy. At the start of the exam the teacher handed out the double sided question papers and people immediately started to look at them and write on them before some of us had even received a copy of the paper. The teacher then waited a few minutes before giving out blank pieces of paper and telling everyone NOT to write on the question paper and write all the answer on the plain sheet, and no one was to start yet. A little late for that announcement!

When he said we could start there was frantic writing all around me, whilst I read through section A of the paper and turned over to section B, where I found some questions I thought I could answer. Section C was memory verses (I knew one of the eight listed – oh dear) and section D was a true or false section; so a 50/50 chance of getting them right. We were half way through the exam before I realised the time. As we were only given one piece of paper to write on I had to keep asking for more. Some students had finished 45 mins into the exam and stood up, walked to the front and handed in their paper before walking out. That was a distraction for me as in the UK people generally sit till the end of the exam and they certainly don’t get up and walk to the front – you have to raise your hand and wait for the invigilator to collect your paper.

Time up and people kept on writing. We were asked to hand in our papers at the front. As we did so some were still writing. Eventually the last lady handed in her paper. I was disorientated. This would never have happened in the U.K. In exam halls everyone has to put their pens down and wait for all papers to be collected by the invigilators and wait to be dismissed by them. It was really strange.

Final exam week

Exam week two, just completed, was pretty similar but with the exam being two hours long a lot more people got up and left early when they had finished their papers. For some exams there were only one or two individuals sat writing exams at the end whilst the rest of us enjoyed a cup of tea and biscuits. One exam, the second years finished early whilst the first years were still writing away, so they brought us all tea and biscuits to our desks. It was very welcome. Can you imagine that in a UK exam hall?!

Christmas Break

The final exam saw the end of term. We are now on a break until January. Students have returned to their villages across India, back to their families for Christmas. I have given each of the first year students an Advent Calendar (imported from the UK) together with an explanation of what it is and how to use it. They had never heard of them. I hope they all enjoy the countdown to Christmas, Our Saviour’s birth, as much as we do.

Now, time to start preparing for Christmas.

St Mary’s Feast

What is it?

St. Mary’s Feast celebrates the birth of Mother Mary is the most important festival celebrated in St Mary’s basilica and is attended by thousands of people. 

St. Mary’s Basilica is a basilica located in the Archdiocese of Bangalore. It is among the oldest churches in Bangalore and is the only church in the state that has been elevated to the status of a minor basilica. It really is a beautiful piece of architecture and is busy with visitors all day.

 When is it?

The festivities go on for 10 days beginning on Tuesday 29th August and end on Friday 8th September; the day on which the Mother Mary was born. The first mass began at 5:30am with masses every 30 minutes in three different languages. At 6:30am the Archbishop offered a thanksgiving mass.

How is it celebrated?


The festivities begin with the masses. In the evening of the first day, the first novena flag is blessed and hoisted (it’s a traditional flag). The flag with the image of “Our Lady” was blessed by Archbishop Bernard Moras and was hoisted by Sri KJ George (a former Home Minister for Karnataka state).

A Novena ( a form of worship in the Roman Catholic Church consisting of special prayers or services on nine successive days) is held on the first nine days from Tuesday 29th August to Thursday 7th September. 

On Friday 8th September, the day on which Mother Mary was born, a Holy feast is celebrated. Holy Mass is offered in different languages and mass marriages are conducted for those in need. A thanksgiving mass is also organized for couples who have completed 50 years of marriage. Eucharistic celebrations (mass with bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus Christ) are held on the day of the feast. The day culminates with a grand chariot procession with a decorated chariot with the image of Mother Mary drawn by devotees along the various streets of Bangalore. 

Afterwards food is distributed to the thousand of people who have joined in the celebrations. This throng of people consists of all religions with Hindus joining Christians in the celebrations. It is a great time of enjoyment and feasting together.

Bible College in Bangalore – my story of how it happened

This is a post I never thought I would be writing. My friends will tell you that I am the least likely person to go to Bible College. (In my opinion, I am also the most likely to get kicked out at some point!). So how did this happen? How, after 33 years of being a (pretty crap) Christian, did I end up going to Bible College? How did I get here? Obviously it’s all in God’s great plan for my life, but I can tell it from my perspective.

Becoming a Christian – my belief in God

Woodvale Chapel

I had attended Woodvale Chapel in Ainsdale, where I grew up, ever since my cousins Michelle and Carol had taken us at a very young age. I loved going. The folks were kind and accepted us (me and my twin) with all our challenges, having come from a ‘chaotic’ family childhood which made us aggressive, defensive and outspoken. (I know, not much has changed.) 

Billy Graham, Mission:England

The church took the youth group on a trip to the Billy Graham Mission:England at Anfield Stadium in 1984. I sat listening to this old American preacher saying things I had heard a thousand times before. God loved me. He loved me so much that He sent His only son to die for me so that I could go to heaven. I knew it and I believed it, only I had never said ‘the prayer’ asking for forgiveness and accepting Jesus into my life. Billy Graham did an ‘alter call’, which is asking people to make a public declaration of faith and saying ‘the prayer’. Me and my twin looked at each other in the stands and asked each other should we go down. We went down together and in front of thousands and together with thousands of others, asked for forgiveness of our sins and welcomed Jesus into our lives. I didn’t feel any different. I just knew I had done it. I was 14 years old. 

My Christian life

Now, becoming a christian doesn’t magically make your life perfect, and mine hasn’t been, but it does give you an assurance that your sins are forgiven. My Christian life has had many ups and downs. There have been some very deep downs, the biggest being when my father died of cancer in 1996. I was 26 years old and my father had been taken away from me. I was, and am, devastated by it. My life changed forever and God seemed very far from me. It took me a very long time, years in fact, to ‘forgive ‘ God for what had happened to my father and robbing me of a parent. 

Whatever happened in my life, when I drifted away from God, there was always something to bring me back. My faith has never wavered, ever. I know that God is there. It’s just sometimes in my life I wish He wasn’t. That’s quite bad really. I do get fed up, frustrated and angry. As I have got older, and hopefully wiser, I have realised that I am not alone in those feelings. I also know that I think I am the worst sinner in the world and God can’t possibly forgive me again for doing the same thing over and over and not learning. He does. Thankfully.

How did a crap Christian get into Bible College?

Faith Camp

So last year Zahra and me went to Faith Camp. It’s a family camping week at the South of England Showground and Peterborough Arena organised by Kingdom Faith Church. It’s a week of fun filled activities for the children, of all ages, and a week of lectures and seminar and praise and worship for the adults. It’s a great atmosphere and the teaching is great too. 

Last year there was a big advert (for want of a better word) for their Bible College. I was sat listening thinking I wouldn’t mind going to Bible College BUT, I thought, they would never let me in and it was on the south coast and the fees were out of my price range. As I sat there thinking this, friends surrounding me kept nudging me, winking, indicating I should apply, and laughing. I thought it was funny too. I thought they wouldn’t know what hit them if they did let me in. It WAS funny. I WAS the least likely person to go to Bible College (after all, I have been known to bring bottles of Prosecco to Bible studies!). There was absolutely no way I was going, even if I did fancy the idea.

Move to Bangalore

God, of course, had different plans. Fast forward a few years and here we are as a family in Bangalore, India. We moved here in 2015 with Rez’s work. It was a traumatic move and affected my health badly. I had to give up work. I’m not going to bore you with that long story, but it now meant that I was free to do what I liked. For the first time in my life I didn’t have a job. It is very liberating. I have never been out of work. I worked through college and university and went straight into work afterwards. No travel or inter railing for me. Now I had time to do something I wanted to do.


I spent most of last year working on the school PTA raising funds for the three charities they support. I baked and sold and organised and badgered sponsorship from local companies. It was all encompassing and kept me busy. When the school holidays were approaching I was considering whether I wanted to continue on the PTA or do something else. 

All People’s Church

That is when All People’s Church (APC) started advertising for applications for their Bible College. Now Zahra and I have attended APC for about 18 months now but I didn’t know they had a Bible College.

Again I thought about it and thought I might enjoy it. I also thought they wouldn’t let me in. I thought about it for several weeks before I spoke to Pastor Nancy about it. She encouraged me to apply. I finally plucked up the courage and filled in the application form and sent it in. I had done my bit and fully expected to be rejected. I mean I am 47 years old competing against 20 something’s from all over India for a college place. I didn’t rate my chances. God had a different idea obviously, and I still think this is His sense of humour coming out. I received a phone call from a number I didn’t recognise. Normally I don’t answer them but this time I did. It was the Bible College asking me to come in for an interview and arranged a date. 

The interview

I was bricking it. I have not had an interview in decades, literally decades. I know nothing about modern interviews for colleges and universities. I had no idea what to expect, whether there would be a panel and how many other candidates would be around and what they would ask. I arrived at the appointed time at the church office and waited, alone. I was met by a lovely lady who led me into a small interview room and offered me tea. I was disoriented. For the next 30 mins or so, she asked me questions, none of which I can remember and all of which I answered. She then tells me about the college and what the subjects are, the teaching is in English (a relief) and timings (9.30am to 1pm), fees and that as an “elderly student” I might “nap” during lectures but not to worry, they were there to help and support me. (I try not to laugh but fail).  I am confused so I ask when will I find out if my application is successful. She tells me immediately that it is successful and I am going to Bible College. 

I’m in!

WHAT?! Wait. How did this happen? This went far too smoothly to be real. How did I just get into Bible College? It fits with school runs too. Just too surreal.

Then the spanner in the works came. Bible College started in July. I would be in the U.K. until the middle of August so I couldn’t join. No problem! What? You’re letting me start 6 weeks after the course commences? Yes indeed. I was stunned and delighted.

I returned home in a daze. It was still sinking in. I was actually going to go to Bible College. No one was going to believe me. No one was going to believe they actually let me in! How was I going to tell people and what would there reactions be. Probably similar to those I experienced when I told people I was getting married, no one believed me then!

Bible College

Anyway, here I am at Bible College and really enjoying it. I am learning so many things about history in the Old Testament as well as prayer, praise, worship, the Holy Spirit, practical christian living… load of things. It’s great. I’ve already caught up on assignments (some of which were pretty tough) and I’ve managed not to nap in lectures! I am the second oldest in the class surrounded by young men who look likely to be pastors and ministers of the future. It’s exam week next week. A whole week of exams. I’ve not even caught up on what I’ve missed yet but who cares…this is the first time I will have taken exams in over a decade too; I don’t care what my result is, it’s the experience which will be valuable. 

I am sure I will do another blogpost about Bible College itself in future, but for now you have my tale of how I got there. Lesson? Never underestimate what God has planned for you…it may well be outside your range of possibilities but it is never outside His!

If you want to find out more…

If you want to find out more about becoming a christian take a look at CrossCheck for more information and help: 


What is it?

Id-ul-Zuha (Bakr-Id), which is also known as Eid al-Adha or Id-ul-Adha, is an important festival that many Muslims celebrate with special prayers, greetings and gifts. Eid al-Adha is called “Bakr-Id” in India due to the tradition of sacrificing a goat or “bakri”.

When is it?

It begins on the evening of Friday 1st September and ends in the evening of Saturday 2nd September. Saturday 2nd September is the holiday. The date changes every year according to the Gregorian calendar but is the same date every year in the Islamic calendar. It is usually in September, October or November. Some references state it is a four day festival. It is a gazetted holiday* in India and is also referred to as the festival of sacrifice. It is also at the end of the month of fasting during Ramadan and begins after the culmination of the holy pilgrimage ‘Hajj’ at Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

How is it celebrated? 

Id-ul-Zuha is a festival that is celebrated with traditional fervor and gaiety in India and the world. Many Muslims wear new clothes and attend an open-air prayer meeting during Id-ul-Zuha. They may sacrifice a sheep or goat and share the meat with family members, neighbours and the poor. Many Muslims feel that they have a duty to ensure that all Muslims can enjoy a meat based meal during this holiday. Large scale prayer meetings take place in areas of India with predominantly Muslim population.
National, state and local government offices, post offices and banks are closed on Eid al-Adha. Islamic stores, businesses and other organizations may be closed or have reduced opening hours. public transport operates on reduced timetables (although I’m not sure how a timetable works in Bangalore, and I have never seen one!).

Background and History

Muslims around the world believe that Allah (God) commanded Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Ibrahim followed God’s orders, but his son was replaced by a sheep at the last moment. Muslims celebrate this at Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Adha is called Id-ul-Adha in Arabic and Bakr-Id in the Indian subcontinent, because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat or “bakri” in Urdu. The word “id” derived from the Arabic “iwd” means “festival” and “zuha” comes from “uzhaiyya” which translates to “sacrifice”.

*Note: During a gazetted holiday, government offices and most businesses are closed so people have a day off work.