Hi. My name is Jonathan Widdess. I am a 35 year old theology student and Church In Wales ordinand who’s training at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford for a few more months until I’m ordained and start work as a curate. I’m married to Amanda and have a beautiful daughter called Elizabeth who’s 1 month old.
I grew up in a Christian home and went to church pretty much every week till I got to University but there my faith took a bit of a back seat to my social life. So much so that by my late 20’s I was basically an atheist.
About 5 1/2 years ago I was made redundant. I was out of work for about 6 months in total, gradually getting more and more depressed, as interview after interview resulted in rejection. Just as I was about to give up hope a great job offer materialized. Later I found out that my parents had been praying for us throughout that period. This answer to their prayers wasn’t enough to bring me back to God though. I remember thinking during this period that maybe I should try to read the Bible but felt that turning to a God I no longer believed in in despair, was a bit weak when I hadn’t felt the need to before.
That Christmas we went to visit my Grandma, who was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease in a nursing home in Blackpool. It was really upsetting to see how far she had degenerated. A few weeks later we were back for her funeral. Dad gave the eulogy and I was amazed at his strength and hope, in the midst of so much grief, a strength and a hope that I just didn’t have. On the way home afterwards, we decided to find a church to look into Christianity properly.
We found a home at our local parish church in Devizes. I began to accept that there was a God but wasn’t really sure why we couldn’t get to Him by living decent, moral lives. One week our vicar, Chris preached on a passage from Romans and how we had to let Jesus do it for us and suddenly things made sense. How had I missed this before?
In the time since my life has changed dramatically. I have new hope, and strength that has helped me deal with the inevitable knocks that life throws at us. I also have renewed purpose in life and my faith has really grown, especially as I’ve been exploring God’s call to serve the church in ordained ministry.
But more than that, I really feel like I’ve come home. Come home to a family, and come home to a Father who had helped me to find a life that’s worth living.