Philippa Hempson’s Testimony
Many a testimony is how God has saved someone from an impossible life situation, headed for hell.
He is God Almighty so such a miraculous testimony is possible for Him.
I used to consider my testimony to be boring in comparison.
Then I realised that I was a very blessed child of God.
You see, I grew up in a home with God fearing parents who brought my sister and I up in the knowledge of Jesus from the moment we were born.
As a result, when my mother put me on her lap one morning and asked me if I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart, I said “yes!” because I knew who he was and that he loved me because “the Bible tells me so…” I was 3 and a half years old.
From that moment onwards I shared all my thoughts, fears and dreams with my friend Jesus. He was my best friend at times when my school friends didn’t want to be, when I spoke out for Christ against their blasphemy and swearing.
I grew up in a Presbyterian Church, where our pastor believed in water baptism by full immersion. So at age 8, I asked to be baptised and since the pastor was not allowed to do baptisms on the church property, I was baptised in my pool at home.
After some time, my family moved on to a charismatic church and later found ourselves at the Full Gospel Church on Currie Road.
I was blessed to go to ballet from age 3 and continue dancing throughout school.
As much as I loved my ballet, I was never going to be a ballerina, so I finished classes when I reached matric.
In November 1999 the Lord gave me a vision;
It was me, as a little girl, dressed in a white dress.
I was in a moonlit clearing in a forest.
Jesus was there in bright white light, with His hands stretched out, beckoning me to dance with Him.
I merrily did so, with childlike confidence.
It was at the Full Gospel Church that I then joined the interdenominational Expressions Worship Dance team, which I am still a member of today, 13 years later.
At the 2004 Baptist Ladies Camp, God reminded me of this vision, and I felt the Lord was calling me to dance in the Baptist church.
I also felt God’s urging that it was the childlike attitude of confidence in Him that He wanted when we dance our offering to Him, because this pleases Him.
This meant that the dance need not be perfect (ballet dancers strive for perfection, which was my background), but must come from our hearts as a pure and spotless offering to our Lord.
When I was young, I wanted to learn the flute, but I was told that I would have to learn to read music first and play the piano before attempting the flute. At age 10, I started piano lessons when my family was babysitting an old piano for another family that had moved to Scotland. Since I was an avid sportswoman, ballet dancer and academic, the piano teacher was warned that I would barely have time to practice or do any piano exams. I was a diligent piano student in my once a week lesson, but after a few years my piano lessons had to make way for my Natal Hockey commitments. I probably only reached a grade 4 level of piano proficiency.
For my 30th birthday my husband gave me a flute. I love playing it, even with my grade 4 music knowledge.
I never knew then that God would take an average ability in piano and dancing and say, ”I can use that for my Glory.”
My parents also invested time and money in sending me to drama classes and elocution lessons in primary school. It taught me confidence, how to pronounce English properly and how to convey my message correctly. Without realising it, my parents groomed me to become a leader and a public speaker in my future career and ministry.
All these skills have since been used in my leadership roles for my career, putting the Christmas pageant together and presenting God’s Word for ladies conferences. God said, ”I can use that.”
Throughout school I sang in the choirs, simply for the love of singing.
I do not have a pop star or idols quality voice to be signed up for any album, but I learnt to control my voice and sing true and on pitch. God said,”I can use that”.
When I was 14 years old, I prayed to Jesus before I went to sleep one night and asked him not to allow my heart to be broken by lots of boyfriends. I asked that my first boyfriend and first kiss would be the man I would marry. I then also gave God my wish list of qualities I wanted in my ideal husband and left my prayer at that.
At 19 years, after completing my first year of University, I went to the church pastor and told him I was ready to serve in the church, wherever he felt I should. (I thought they could do with extra help pouring the tea after services), however pastor told me he wanted me to be the assistant youth leader for the church youth. My heart sank as I knew that was lots of hard work and dealing with young teenagers was not my strong point.
I was obedient and that Friday night I duly went to youth and there I met my husband, Paul, who was helping the youth leader move in pool tables and lounge chairs for the youth to use. (And yes, I got my first kiss on my 20th Birthday by my future husband!). God remembered a little girl’s prayer.
With our novice ability, Paul and I started a youth band together and my sister learnt to play the drums with us.
Paul was a member of another church when we were dating and I was then a member of the Full Gospel Church. We agreed that once we were married, we would find a church together as a married couple. We joined Bulwer Road Baptist which is now called Glenwood Community Church. That was 10 years ago.
After 2 years of simply attending services at Glenwood Community Church, the pastor’s wife at the time asked me to please help by doing the screen words at the computer for services. I never let them know that I could play the piano or sing, as I thought the team on the stage was far better than I could ever be, so they didn’t need me. I was comfortable to do the screen words.
But I later felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit, telling me to join the worship team. I told the Lord “I can’t leave the screen post, there are not enough people doing it” (Truthfully, I was still too nervous to play in the worship team.) God heard me, and the next month there were 5 new people rostered for the screen duty. I was humbled, and got the hint to join the music team.
Because of my piano background, I asked Katia (an ex-Hillsongs trained worship leader) to help me convert my poor classical training into a version that I could play with the band. She gave me lessons for 1 year in both piano and singing, teaching me tips and tricks which I use to this day. 7 years later, Paul & I felt God calling us to lead the worship team at His appointed time. We count it such a privilege to be able to serve God together in music and we love playing together.
I realised that God gave me a unique testimony. One where I have walked beside Him all my life and in following Him closely I have not experienced brokenness, heart ache, trauma or mistakes I could regret.
I realise that if I could have such a happy life testimony, it is a light of hope that it is possible for others, and I certainly would love such a testimony for my own children. Therefore as a parent I strive to introduce my children to Jesus at a very young age, before they make mistakes in their own thinking or actions that could harm them later on.
I also pray for Ruth and Caleb’s future spouses and their ministry. I pray for God’s wisdom to give them the experience they need with their chosen extra murals, that one day God can use them for His glory too.
My testimony is not finished yet, God is still writing it.
He is writing yours too!