My name is Athena and I would like to share my story with you. At the age of 2 my mother who was 20, died quite suddenly, as a result of this my grandparents stepped in and despite their grief at the loss of a daughter, they brought me up. I had a happy childhood, I was loved, looked after and all my needs where met, my Grandparents became like my parents.
I went to church every week, with my granda, but I got bored of church and didn't return, I wasn't aware that I needed to receive forgiveness for the wrong things I had done. Until I started to go to a church youth club on the Shankill Road, here I heard about how I could have Jesus as my Saviour and Friend, by saying sorry for the wrong I had done and asking Jesus to be Lord of my life. At 16 years of age I asked Jesus to forgive me and from this point on I put my trust in my Saviour, my closest friend - Jesus.
At 18 I headed away on holiday to Spain with my family, whilst in Spain, great tragedy hit our family again, my Uncle drowned, I returned home, stricken with grief for the loss of another member of my family. I did not know what lay ahead of me, but looking back, I thank God he was in control and has been there with us through our highest and lowest points of life. Weeks after this great tragedy, I received a letter to say I had been accepted into Bible college in England, the course was starting in a week's time. I jumped at the chance and within a week God had provided the finance needed to get me through 3 years at college.
At Bible college I had an amazing time, I met my husband Matt there. After completing my degree, Matt and I returned to Belfast, I studied for a further year and became a teacher, for the past 12 years I have been a teacher in a primary school in Carrickfergus, both my girls attend this school. So Matt and I made a decision to move to a lovely town Carrickfergus. We had been living very peacefully in Carrick for the past five years, that was until, we where subjected to a number of attacks on our home, and as a result our oil tank was engulfed in flames, we had to leave our home on several occasions because of a number of pipe bomb hoaxes. During March a further two oil tanks where set alight, next to our home an oil tank had a gas cylinder attached to it and was ignited by fire, the gas cylinder exploded of another home and set a house beside ours alight. The fire then spread to the a-joining house, both houses were uninhabitable because of the damage done. Again God was looking after my wee family and those around us because not one hair on our heads was damaged. We are thankful to him for looking after us in both the good and difficult times in our lives!
I thank God everyday for giving me a purpose, He directs me and leads me to places I thought I've never go, my God he protects me and I love him for sending his Son to the cross just for me. I am continually reminded that on the cross Jesus stretched out his arms showing how much he loved me!