miracles and healing testimonies

rita ferns

Rita Ferns

When mother-of-four Rita Ferns had five people close to her die in the space of I4 months, she spiralled into a deep depression. But the new Christian clung to her faith during that dark time and is now able to look back and see that even in the hardest periods God was with her.

“I used to cry day and night, but God has dried my tears,” the -55-year-old says.
“I had two brothers and a niece commit suicide, then my cousin died from mouth cancer and I just broke down. I didn’t think it was possible to feel that bad and still live. I locked myself away and the only thing I had was my Bible. I didn’t even have the strength to read it but I would cling to it every night.

“Every morning I would pray to God to take me, then one morning as I cried out to him I heard the words, ‘I’m going to take you out of the mud and set your feet on the rock.’

“Then Psalm 40 came to me where it says, ‘I waited patiently on the Lord and he heard my cry.’ I knew then that God was with me. The days started to get better as he poured out His love.”

But Rita’s faith was to be put a further test when tragedy struck again as her son died from drug overdose last year.

“I just felt myself being lifted’ she says. “Despite what I ‘as going through, the love of God was there – I felt loved and precious and I knew that Jesus
was with me — even through that.

“Now, even though I have the memories, the pain that goes with them isn’t there. Jesus has taken it away and now I can look back on my life and see God at work, even in the dark times. I used to just cry constantly but now I am totally set free. God is an awesome God.”

That’s quite a statement for Rita, who attends Bathgate Elim in Scotland, as her whole life was characterised by abuse and poverty.

“I was abused from the age of five,” she says. “My dad had a drink problem and it wasn’t uncommon for him to spend evenings in the cells. There were nine of us and I was the eldest. My mum struggled to cope, so I took on that maternal role.”

As Rita grew older, things got worse as her father’s drink problem increased and periods of homelessness followed.

“When I was eight my mum just ran away and left us in a social worker’s office. In those days they had no homes for men and children so even though my dad was willing, we were put into foster care and those are some of the happiest memories in my life. We were placed with an American family in Dunnon near a naval base and life was good.”

But after social workers tracked down Rita’s mum, the children were taken back home. With seven children in a one-bed-roomed flat, a cycle of drink and despair soon returned.

“We lived there for five years and dad started to be violent towards my mum, even when she was pregnant,” Rita

“He was constantly in the cells. There were quiet periods when he was trying to come off the drink but they never lasted long.”

Throughout her childhood, Rita suffered regular beatings and left home at I6.

“I got straight into a relationship with an older man who was quite controlling,” she says. “I was just desperate for love. We were together for ten years then the relationship broke down.”

Looking for a new start, Rita — who now had children of her own — moved to Livingston where she concentrated on bringing up her family.

“I was determined that they’d have the childhood that I never did,” she says. “I made sure that they were always clean and fed.”

Then four years ago her daughter told her about an Alpha course at the local Elim church and Rita decided to go

“Pastor Jimmie Vowles at Bathgate was running the course,” she recalls. “I’d been brought up as a Catholic where it was all about rules and regulations. I’d always believed in God but thought of him as a scary God who would never want me because of all the things I’d done. l carried around all this guilt because l blamed myself for what had happened. But here I was being told about a Jesus who had died for me and loved me. It was incredible and l got to know him through relationship, not religion.”

But life wasn’t easy for the new Christian as she came to terms with her past. “l would still cry every day when I thought about my mum, dad and brothers, then I had the four suicides of my family members,” she says. “I just wanted to die. L was in agony inside.

“But then God spoke to me and my life started to turn around. I went to therapy and they couldn’t understand why l wasn’t angry after all I’d been
through but God has allowed me to look back on my life and see the blessings along the way and understand my parents’ pain. Every trial and challenge l face I’m able to cope with,” because of all the responsibility l had as a child.

“I believe that God has put me in Bathgate Elim so that l can help others. Every day l wake up and thank God that he’s taken the pain away.”

Pastor Vowles has seen Rita’s transformation first hand. “I have known Rita for several years now,” he says. “When we first met, there was so much pain and brokenness in her life.

“The greatest privilege of being a pastor is watching a person transform from old pain and hurt to healing and forgiveness. Rita is one of the most dramatic transformations l have witnessed. Jesus does what he says — he heals the broken-hearted.”



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