Kieron: My name’s Kieron. I’m married to Tess, and we live in Bolton, and we have five children.
Money was tight because I was a survivor of an abusive marriage. It was emotionally abusive. After a while, the marriage broke down. Our car had been repossessed. The house had been – we’d been evicted from our house. She’d moved out. I was hugely in debt with Council Tax, with the water, with rent and I had nothing. I’ve tried to pay it back, but it’s just so much I couldn’t afford it. So I fell into arrears, I got CCJs (County Court Judgements) and life just got harder. I had no money. Then when I met Tess, I was still in financial ruin. Most of it is all my fault. It’s not Tess’ financial problem, it’s mine. But she took me anyway, and we got married anyway.
We came to the grocery — we parked up outside the grocery, and I remember sitting in the car thinking: ‘Here we go. They’re going to be really judge‑y. They’re going to look down their nose at me and we’re going to just want to get in and out as fast as I can.’
Sarajayne: Hi, I’m Sarajayne and I’m the Life Skills Manager here at Kings Church, Bolton. When I first met Kieron, and Tess, he came across straight away as angry and quite shy and didn’t really make eye contact with us.
Kieron: And as soon as we met Sarajayne, she was lovely. She started talking, very approachable, very bubbly, very chatty. Wanted to talk to – about us. It wasn’t about her, it was about us, and she genuinely felt interested. We felt like she wanted to know. And it was just nice to feel like we were welcome. There was no judgement there. There was no, ‘Oh here they go, someone else with no money’, you know? It was just a really pleasant experience that left a lasting mark – when we left, they made us come back the next week, and then the next one and the next one. And then ultimately led to life skills which led to church, so.
When my wife was on the life skills course she would come back every week and she would talk about what they talked about. All these little tips, these little tricks, just to help you budget, help you save money. So, the next time they did life skills, I signed up, and again, it was great. I met some great people, I made some good friendships. I learned more and more about saving money.
I wouldn’t say I didn’t believe in Jesus, I wouldn’t say I didn’t believe in God, because I believed enough in God to blame him for everything bad that happened. So as I grew up, I had a career as a professional football coach that was ended due to injury. That was God’s fault. And then later on in life, I was a survivor of an abusive marriage, which was God’s fault. I then lost everything, ended up living at my parents’ house, which was also God’s fault.
During the life skills, I finally built up the courage to maybe try church. It was an idea. So, eventually, my wife dragged me and said: ‘We’re going this Sunday. Come on.’ Then we met the welcome team who made us feel very welcome. And from then on it was great, we went into the service, there was music. There was nothing like my preconceived idea of church. It was a huge celebration of worship, it was fabulous. And from then it was like: ‘Yes, we’re going to come back next week. This is wonderful.’
I saw everyone having this wonderful time and I thought: ‘That’s the only thing that’s different. They’ve accepted Jesus, and I haven’t. So that must be the key’. So, after one service, they asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus, raise their hand, and I raised my hand, and that was it.
Sarajayne: On the Sunday morning that Kieron actually gave his life to Christ, I had the privilege of being there watching him put his hand up. He put his hand up and you could see the tears in his eyes. It’s like he’d just realised that you could just say to God, ‘You can be my friend and come into my life.’
Kieron: It was real now, Jesus was part of my life. It was real. Jesus died for me like he did everyone else. And he’s now making my life better. From that moment on, all the little issues in our life started to fix themselves. I can sleep at night without the worries that I used to have because things are just fixing themselves, it’s just slowly but surely, bit by bit. And it’s all down to the life skills. The life skills helped us financially and then led me to church. It led me to Jesus.