Kim Cooper’s Testimony
I was born in Bracken Street in the Woodvale area of Belfast, at the age of four or five we moved as a family to Glencairn. Mum and dad got the first adapted Northern Ireland Housing Executive house in the Shankill area to suit my brother Ian who was disabled. Ian had spina bifida. He couldn’t walk, so from an early age he was confined to a wheelchair. I remember my childhood seemed to revolve around Ian, and his many hospital and other appointments. Because of Ian’s disability I had to learn a lot as a child about disability. I would often babysit Ian to help my mum. I remember one night setting the house on fire trying to make bacon and toast for myself and Ian when mum was working in Stewart’s supermarket.
The only person in my family at that time who was saved (Christian) was my granny and I didn’t even know that until the day I got saved, I remember my dad telling her, “Our Kim’s good living now!”
Life was good but also hard. If I’m being honest as a young person, I was often depressed, frustrated and angry. I felt Ian got all the attention, and in a way, I was lost. I envied other kids who could just go out and play, but I felt my life revolved around Ian. I was a shy child, insecure always hiding behind Ian.
I watched my dad faithfully going out to work whether it was day shift or night shift and my mum constantly struggling with life and turning to drink for comfort. At that time, although I didn’t understand, I knew I didn’t like it. I didn’t like how a drink could change my mum and dad’s personality. Mum was so loveable, dad turned nasty. That wasn’t them!
God is amazing, I believe He is sovereign. We are where we are because God has placed us there. When we were living in Glencairn, we got new neighbours. They had just become Christians: Alan & Dorothy Graham. This stands out for me, because when they told my dad, he said, “He’d steal the eye out of your head!” It took a lot to convince my dad. I loved it, because now they were bringing me to Sunday School and Good News Club. That was the first time I heard about Jesus and what He had done for me on the cross.
I learnt my first memory verses in the Bible: Ephesians 2:8,9: For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
I remember going home that night and thinking why did my mum and dad not believe this good news. But I knew I had to. It was real and I wanted this gift. I wanted to go to heaven and not hell. I made that decision when I was seven; then made it again at thirteen in the Zion Tabernacle church; then again at fifteen in Shankill Baptist. Did I keep getting saved? No, I was just panicking in case I wasn’t saved the first time. I had no Christians in my home, so I didn’t know what to do until I was fifteen. That’s when God brought someone into my life to help disciple me and help me grow as a Christian. I think a lot of people just need help, someone to look after them and disciple them.
That was in the early 80s! Praise God. It hasn’t been an easy journey but, praise God, He has kept me as His own. “God not only keeps His promises, but keeps His people!” God has kept me!
CS LEWIS says “Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.”
Those decades weren’t easy. Put it like this; it was either rely on God or myself.
At times I thought “God, I can’t do this!” Help me. A lot happened. My brother Ian died at the age of twenty-five, then I was having to watch my mum and dad deal with the pain of Ian’s death by turning to alcohol to help with their pain. I said at times “I hate where I am!” but I never hated my mum and dad, I just hated the effects of drink and the atmosphere it caused. It wasn’t helping anyone. I knew then drink wasn’t the answer. I left school and got job in a building society and loved it. But then God spoke to me about telling others about Him. I came out of work, and started Bible College, thinking I was maybe going to Africa as a missionary. But God had other ideas and I ended up on Shankill Road, working with Baptist Missions; then in East Belfast working for the East Belfast Mission.
I got married 2015. I had my daughter Beth in 2016. Things were looking good. But I didn’t realise the next few years were going to be so trying.
I would say 2017/18 stands out for me the most. A year that was really difficult, a year where humanly, I could have given up. During the summer of 2017 mum and dad’s health went downhill pretty fast. I knew then I would have to spend more time with them and look after them more. On Sunday the 17th of September, I had called to my dad’s home on three occasions to make sure he was alright which he was, but on the fourth occasion I called in I found him dead. I then had to go and tell my mum who was ill and in Musgrave hospital at the time, that my dad had died! When my mum got home from hospital, I moved in with her to help her get back on her feet. Four months later – tragedy struck again; my Mum passed away on January 20th 2018.The pain of losing both my parents in a short space of time felt on bearable. Then in the summer of 2018, my marriage ended. So here I was with a one-year-old child, both my parents dead and now my marriage ended. Three of the main people in my life were gone! Asking where do I go from here? And obviously, suffering grief, pain, and just about standing… I had to fully put my trust in God.
I had to take each day step by step… But God promised to save me and now I had to believe He would also keep me. All I could do was stand still and keep trusting God, just putting one foot in front of the other.
I had to trust God to provide for us, to help me bring up Beth, to be our everything. Wow! looking back over the years I cannot express how much He has done for us and is still doing. Beth has now started school; God has brought me into a new ministry for The Stauros Foundation: who mainly help people with addiction. Wow! the thing that I hated growing up. My experience in the past was a training ground for where He would have us now. God has led my daughter and I to a new church. Back to where I got saved! Recently, my daughter came in and told me she was a Christian. Do I believe God can save her, of course he can, he saved me at seven? Kids do understand. It’s us older ones, make it complicated.
Since I became a Christian at seven, I can see how God has guided me and protected me. Yes, He gives us freewill to make our choices. I’ve at times made wrong choices but He’s always been there for me. If I hadn’t of trusted in God at seven, I would probably be on the same road as mum and dad, turning to alcohol to help me through life. But God saved me.
I wanted to be airhostess, but worked in a bank. Then He guided me to Bible college and kept me on the Shankill Road. God has allowed me the privilege to be involved in people’s lives since 2002 in full time ministry. I have seen a lot of those people saved and baptised, he also let me be involved in starting a new church. He has let given me opportunities to go into schools and talk to kids and parents about God. And now here I am working for The Stauros Foundation. I don’t know what God has planned for our future but right now I believe we are where He wants us to be and am thankful for that. I would say, no matter what age you are, get your life sorted with God. At the beginning I said only my granny was saved… now I can tell you, my mum, dad, Ian, and aunts and uncles are all away on to heaven. At the end of the day, they all got their lives sorted with God. Drink didn’t take them to heaven, trusting in Christ did.
Christ won’t let us down. And He won’t let you down. Please make a decision. If you don’t make a decision, you’ve made a decision to not trust Him.