Matters of Life and Death – Fran’s story by Ann Marie Broadhead-Palmisano


Posted on November 17, 2018 at 2:31 pm



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It seems that we only have to switch on the news to hear of war, destruction and the mass loss of lives worldwide.

Yet in the last 4 months it seems that this has never resonated more with the UK than now, as the threat towards human life grows stronger in our country. 3 terrorist attacks in 3 months and now the horrific incident at Grenville Tower in Kensington. In fact, I have only just switched on the news to hear about  yet another terrorist attack on UK soil, this time outside a mosque in Finsbury Park!

It was after the loss of her good friend Wendy, who died at the Manchester bombing, that Fran Parkinson could no longer hold back her fears for her friends and family- in fact the whole of mankind! She felt that she had to speak out!

Below is one woman’s testimony  (and part of her life story) which I urge you to read. Share this story with friends  and pass it on as Fran’s message has the ability to save lives in what has become an uncertain and dangerous world.

So without futher ado, get yourself a hot drink, make yourself comfortable and read………

Fran’s Story

Wendy was a kind loving and thoughtful AfterSchool Club leader and friend
Wendy Fawell was a kind loving and thoughtful After School Club leader and friend

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this.  Please bear with me.  I’m grieving.  The loss of a friend does that to a person.

Last week a friend of 5 years, a lovely leader of my daughter’s After School Club died in the Manchester terrorist attack. She was right in the heart of the blast.  Her death naturally greatly upset me and I’ve been taking time to come to terms with it all.  But my heart is also heavy because as my family and friends there is something I have to tell you.  I need you to know this.

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You know I’m a Christian right?  But do you know why I’m a Christian?  I’ve never really taken the time to tell you.  But you’ve never really taken the time to ask.  Maybe its because you don’t really mind, as long as I’m happy.  And that’s a lovely and kind thing to think.  Maybe its because you think well that’s all well and good for her but it really isn’t for me.  Or maybe to be quite honest you’re not that interested and that’s fair enough.  You might even think ‘Well maybe she needs it as a crutch’ and my story certainly might make you think that.

But today I’m asking you to suspend all judgment and just to please listen to what I have to say.  I would greatly appreciate just a few minutes of your time to hear me out.

When a friend you have known for 5 years goes to a concert to collect their daughter and they get blown up by a bomb set off by a man with destructive and suicidal tendencies it changes you.  It makes you realise that life is very short and precious.  It makes you realise that none of us knows what tomorrow holds. It makes you realise that there might be something you wanted to say to that friend or family member but you didn’t get the chance to.  I’m sure the relatives and friends of those lost in the Manchester attacks regret not saying things to their loved ones.  I don’t want to live with those same regrets.

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That’s why I’m taking the time to write to you.  To tell you what I haven’t told you before.  So that you know.  What you decide to do with that knowledge is up to you.  But I have to tell you.  Because I love you and I need you to know.

So please bear with me.  You can put it down to grief if you like.  All I ask is that you please hear me out.

I’m not sure if you know this but I believed in God as a kid.  We had religious assemblies then.  Plus we went to Brownies and that included the odd church service.  And even though we as a family didn’t go to church I just believed in Him.  I didn’t really question it.  But I saw Him as just someone out there somewhere.  A bit of a Father Christmas up in the sky type figure.  It didn’t really mean much to me except that I believed He was there.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever considered if there is a God?  These days we are in a very different world.  And I know Christianity isn’t the flavour of the month.

When I was about 12 my friend’s parents started taking me to church.  I heard some lovely messages about God’s love and I remember really enjoying going.  I liked the lessons in Sunday school and I liked the stickers they gave me!  But I was a bit embarrassed about it all then.  So I didn’t tell anyone.  I went but I kept it to myself.  You probably wish I would do the same now!  But please do me a favour and hear me out.

Many of you know I grew up in a single parent family.  My mum did a fab job and hats off to her. I know how hard it is raising a child on your own.  I remember enjoying my childhood immensely.  Mum did baking with us and craft activities.  Mum where on earth did you find the time?!  I recall you working full time as well.

I don’t recall missing my dad but I do recall feeling like something was missing.  I couldn’t put my finger on it though.

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When I was in my late teens my mum and sister will tell you, I went through a rebellious time.

Lots of partying, drinking, boyfriends.  My poor mum!  I thought it was the norm.  If I’m honest I enjoyed a lot of that period of my life!  But then when I was 21 I had a bit of an identity crisis.

I started to get quite panicky and fearful for no reason.  It came out the blue.  I went through a bad time of stress and anxiety – you will remember it mum.  I had to come and stay with mum for a while.  I kind of pulled myself out of it but I wasn’t really the same after that.  I had always been a ‘worrier’ but it was like stress and fear had taken over my life.  We all go through times like that but for me at that time I was sort of preoccupied by it.  Not very nice.  I have my theories on what caused it, a combination of uncertainty over my identity, work pressure, the lifestyle I was living and some strange things that had gone on in the house I was then living in before I moved there all contributed towards this kind of meltdown.

This went on for a few years.  I managed to study and work and keep going but every now and again I would get panicky. It wasn’t a very nice time in my life. I tried a few things like yoga, self-help tapes and even medication for a time although I didn’t really take to it.  Nothing helped deal with the deep rooted fears and anxieties.

I had a few friends who were Christians but I honestly thought that was a really boring and irrelevant lifestyle and not really for me.  I still believed in God in a kind of distant way but any talk of Jesus I found really off putting.  I didn’t want to know.

But meanwhile my life wasn’t going how I planned.  I wanted a job helping people but couldn’t quite find the right thing.  I was in some not great relationships and finding it hard to find fulfilling work.

When I was 24 I met a lovely lady Louise through work who was a bubbly person – my kind of person you could say.  Well Louise was a Christian and she used to talk about Jesus as if He was her best friend.  I remember thinking who is this nutty lady?!  But I really liked her.  She was warm bubbly and fun.

I liked listening to her talk and hearing what she had to say.  It’s weird.  I had been to church and known Christians but I felt like I was hearing about God for the first time.  I remember feeling this excitement about what she was telling me.  I went along to a prayer group she went to and everyone was very kind and lovely.  Again I was finding it all very interesting.  Shortly after this time I prayed and asked Jesus into my life.  What a difference.  All I can say is I felt this incredible feeling of love and peace like nothing I had felt before.

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I also felt forgiveness towards anyone who had ever hurt me and like I was just full of love. It was an amazing feeling.  I need to say here that this wasn’t just fluffy feelings because of people being kind.

It was a genuine real and very powerful experience of love on the inside of me that I cannot fully explain to you.  I wish I could but I’m not sure you can experience anything like this outside of experiencing that love for yourself.

It was like the best day out imaginable or like falling in love or like when you get the best news but far far better.  So powerful I can still recall it now.  There is nothing on earth like it.

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Me and Louise at Spring Harvest, a Christian festival at Butlins of all places!  A few months after I became a Christian

I felt like I was on Cloud 9 for a while afterwards.  Shortly after that I was baptised in water which basically means being fully immersed in water.  It symbolises leaving your old life behind and rising up to a new way of life.  Christians do it because that’s what Jesus was telling people to do when He walked the earth – if you check out Luke and Matthew in the bible you will see it right there.

When I came up out of the water I had a vision of a newborn lamb all shaking, sleek and wet and I knew that lamb was me.

It says in Psalm 23 of the Bible the Lord is our Shepherd and we are His sheep and I knew that little trembly shaky newborn lamb I could see was me!  I haven’t had many visions since so this was definitely a unique experience for me.  And I knew I wasn’t making it up because if I was going to imagine a lamb I would imagine it all woolly and cute – not newborn, wet and shaky on its feet!

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A joyful experience, I felt wonderful after being baptised   

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Becoming a Christian really changed me in lots of ways.  They might not have been ways you could tell or see.  But I felt different in myself.  I thought differently and I felt like I was seeing the world in a new way.

The Bible says we must be born again to see the Kingdom of God.  Honestly this is what happened to me.  When I gave my heart to God it was literally like being reborn and seeing the world through new eyes.

Its hard to describe to you what that was like.  But I just felt so very different.

Around the same time I also reunited with my dad after many years.  It was like finding the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle.  We have gone on to have a really good relationship.  I think (and there’s no blame here, particularly as I myself am divorced!) that divorce does have a detrimental effect on children, it can affect your world view and your identity.  So being reunited again was a very powerful thing.

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I went to church and I read the bible and I did all the things you’re meant to do to grow in the Christian faith.  But 2 years after becoming a Christian something awful happened.  9/11 took place.

It utterly shook my world like it did many people.  All the security I had felt disappeared and I became more anxious and fearful than ever.  I started to have the most awful panic attacks and had to take time off work.  I believe in a God who heals people and who can set people free from fear.  At that time God sent a friend into my life who really helped me to get free of that fear.

Since then I do still sometimes feel afraid and anxious like we all do at times,  but nothing like I encountered back then.  I deal with stress and anxiety very differently these days and it has never paralysed me like it did in my early twenties before I became a Christian.

Sadly at this time I walked away from my faith for a time.  I stopped going to church, I met Steve and we had a long and turbulent relationship.  I did go to church sometimes over the years but I wasn’t so close to the Lord back then.

After we split up I went back to church for a short time but it didn’t last long.  I didn’t feel very close to God at that time and I went through another rebellious period, behaving really like I did before I became a Christian.  All I can say is that was an unhappy and very low time in my life.  I think the people around me thought I was just having a fun time but actually I was trying to make myself feel better and heal a broken heart from another bad relationship with someone I was with after Steve.

Then 3 years ago everything changed.  My friend Debbie’s nephew John took his own life (Debbie was like my sister growing up so it really shocked me), that same weekend I had a bad fall down my stairs.  Fortunately I didn’t hit the front door but fell to the side so my lip was bust.  But I wasn’t knocked unconscious.  I had stitches and the swelling fortunately went down fairly soon.  That same week my then boyfriend Toby ended our relationship.  Not the best of weeks!

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I was lowest of the low and I did the only thing I knew to do.  I called out to God.  I asked Him to help me.  And He did.  Once again He just overwhelmed me with His love.  In a very real and tangible way.

The other thing that was so lovely was that I didn’t feel in any way condemned for having not followed Him and been living ways I knew weren’t right.  I just felt very loved, forgiven and accepted.  Just like I had when I first turned to Him.

Since then my life and my faith have gone from strength to strength.  I have built up my faith again.  I go to a lovely church with very caring and lovely people who are there for you when times are good and when times are tough.  Bless them they have been amazingly kind and supportive after this awful week.

So why am I taking the time to write this to you?  Because very simply I know Jesus.  I know Him.  I don’t just know about Him.  I know Him.

I could tell you so much more than this.  I could tell you about the many incredible things He has done in my life.  Amazing things like a couple of years ago when I was having a bit of a, for want of a better term, faith wobble I heard these words in my head ‘You need to get on track, you need to be determined, ‘you need to press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of you’.  Those words are from the book of Hebrews in the bible.  I then went to a Christian meeting and the speaker said ‘I’m a very determined person, you need to be determined as a Christian don’t you’.  She then said ‘I would like to share a scripture for you that I was given when I was baptised.  It’s this one’ You need to press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of you’.  I’m not kidding this happened.  Coincidence?  I will leave that one up to you.

So again why am I telling you this?  Because it doesn’t just concern me.  It concerns you.  It does.  The bible says:

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life’.  John 3:16.

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I honestly believe this is true.  It also says:

‘Whoever believes in him is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son’.  John 3:18.

The bible says ‘It is appointed to man to die once and after that to face the judgment’ Hebrews 9:27

The truth is that unless you believe in Him the bible says you stand condemned.  That basically means that when you die you will be judged for what you have done on the earth. Even if you believe this you might say ‘Well so what, I’m a good person? I don’t kill.  I don’t do the awful things those terrorists do.  I’m a loving person.  I don’t hate people.’

The Bible says ‘There is no one righteous, not one’ Romans 3:10 .  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’.  Romans 3:23

There is no one good enough to be acceptable before God.  Honestly I know this is true.  When I came back to God a few years ago in His wisdom the Lord showed me that something I had done, that may not seem much to you, was actually worthy of death.  It’s hard to explain this to you but God is so so holy that we can’t possibly live up to His standards.  I’m sure you will have heard of the 10 commandments and have some idea at least of the ways Christians are meant to live.  Its very difficult doing those things and some of them you might not even see as wrong.  Ask any child – trying to be good is very difficult!  We all do some things wrong.  Even if it’s just, I don’t know, gossiping about someone.  Do you know the Bible has more to say about gossip than murder!  The truth is we can’t be good enough to be acceptable before a Holy God.  So what on earth does this mean?

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Well the Bible says ‘The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’. Romans 7:23  Jesus was perfect.  He never sinned (which basically means to miss the mark – it’s an old term used in archery.  We all miss the mark of perfection because none of us is righteous, not one).  In some way that is even harder to explain when Jesus went to the Cross he took on the sins of the world.

John the Baptist described him as ‘The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’.  John 1:29 A kind of exchange took place whereby He took all our wrong things, the things we sometimes feel ashamed of, upon himself so that we could receive his goodness.

How does it work?  I have no idea.  I just know it does.  He became a substitute – He died in our place – he took that punishment upon himself.  The wages of sin is death and He paid those wages for us by His own death.  So that we could go free.

Its a bit like in a courtroom – a man guilty of a crime can’t repay what he has done.  He can’t afford to.  But the judge who is ready to condemn him for that crime steps down and pays it for him.  Now that man can go free.  Its the only way I can explain it.

You might say ‘Great if He has taken my sin I don’t have to do anything’ but it doesn’t work that way.  To have eternal life the bible says you need to accept and believe what He did for you, you also need to say sorry for the things you have done wrong and to ask Him to forgive you and to receive what He did for you.  Only when you do this, can you have eternal life.

The Bible talks a lot about hell.  Hell is a real place.  Yes I do actually believe this.  People say they don’t believe in hell but when something happens like a child gets murdered or a terrorist attack happens you see a lot of people saying ‘I hope that person rots in hell’!

Maybe it’s just a saying but I think we are all born with a sense of justice and injustice.  We all believe bad acts deserve punishment.  What is harder to accept is that people who haven’t done those things might go to hell.  I want to make something clear. God absolutely doesn’t want anyone to go to hell.  Hell was created for the devil and his angels, not for people.  But we cannot go to heaven on our own merits because we have this sin problem and only by accepting what Jesus did can we receive His goodness instead.  Then we are acceptable before God to be in His holy presence.

You probably don’t like hearing this.  You might think well I was finding this story fairly interesting up to this point.  Now I think Fran’s flipped her lid.  But the truth is I have known this all my life.

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I became more aware of it when I became a Christian at 24 but what I haven’t done is be frank and open with you that this is the truth.  Because it is the truth.  Jesus said ‘I am the Way the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Me.’  John 14:6.

I am telling you this because I love you.  It might not feel like it but I do.  I’m telling you this because I honestly believe hand on heart that it is true.  I’m telling you this because lets face it, the terrorist threat is real.

I’m not scared because in Jesus I have peace and that’s the truth.  But what if you are somewhere and something happens to you like what has happened to my friend Wendy?   What if I had a chance to tell you all this but I didn’t take it?  What if what Jesus had to say is actually the truth?  And I never gave you a chance to hear this, to hear my story and respond.  So I’m doing this because I love you.

You have probably heard some of this before from other people. Or a lot of it might be new to you.  You might have totally dismissed ‘religion’.  But there is a devil in this world.  You don’t believe me.  Look at 9/11.  Look at what happened in Manchester.  Look at what’s happening in other countries.  So much evil, so many people being killed.

I truly believe the devil inspires people to do these things.  Its not about being a Muslim.  It’s about the way that the devil takes hold of people and inspires them to commit evil.  And the devil doesn’t want people to know the truth.

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So he tells you ‘Wow Fran’s lost it, she was so normal before’ (well some of you might disagree there!), or ‘What is she on?’  Or ‘What a load of rubbish she’s been brainwashed.’  Or similar.  And then it’s easy for you to dismiss.  But I’m going to challenge you and ask you a question, what if I’m actually perfectly sane and I’m right?  You know CS Lewis when he started to look into the claims of Jesus seriously he said no one could make the claims Jesus made and be a good man.  A lot of people believe Jesus was a kind and good man but they don’t accept what he had to say about being God.  Please read what C S Lewis had to say below

I’m trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. (Mere Christianity, 55-56)

I know there are good things in the world too by the way.  The bird song, the beauty of nature, lots of good hearts – look at how communities have rallied together after this most recent crisis.  I lead a group at church praying for people suffering persecution in other countries, there are so many people suffering across this world today because of the evil other people are doing.  I believe all the good in the world comes from the Lord – that He created this world and its beauty, that we are actually made in His image so there is a measure of goodness in us all.  But conversely I do believe there are forces of evil at work in this world.  Hitler and the holocaust is a major example of this and there are so many wars and atrocities taking place across the earth today.  I truly believe Jesus is the hope of this world.

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You know for many years I fought with Christians. I argued with them.  I dismissed what they had to say.  But then I encountered Jesus for real and I just couldn’t dismiss Him anymore.

It would have been one thing if I had just been brainwashed by a Bible or people telling me stuff but actually the Lord confirmed his word by helping me to experience it even before I picked up a Bible and read it.  Some of the things I only realised what I had experienced afterwards when I started to read the Bible and see it written in there.  That was an amazing thing I can tell you!

The amazing thing is that having become a Christian I’ve realised what a wonderful thing it is.  The sense of being loved by God, the peace – I can’t begin to tell you how much comfort God has given me after this week’s atrocities.  The sense of hope – yes even in difficult times God gives you such a sense of hope.  And not just now after this sad week but throughout my life.  The amazing restoration He has done in my life over the past few years is incredible, Hes really given me such a fulfillment and a joy in my life. He’s enhanced my life in every way, I feel joy peace and hope and that enrichment of my life has also helped to enrich my daughter’s life.  It’s a beautiful thing.

So it’s over to you.  I’ve told you everything I need to tell you.  I’ve made very clear what I believe and I’ve made it clear that this life I’m following is not just about me and my decisions.  It affects you too.

Please don’t worry though.  I won’t force all this on you.  If you decide its not for you, fine.  If you decide it all sounds a bit weird and just to get on with your life then that is absolutely your choice.

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Jesus gave people the option to choose to believe or reject Him.  Many rejected Him, they even killed Him and hung Him on a cross (hopefully I haven’t annoyed you too much to do that to me!).  But you need to know this thing is real.  I’ve experienced way too much of God and His work in my life for me to keep silent and not share it with you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  I know its been a long letter but one I had to send.  Because you need to know.  And now you do.

If you want to talk to me more about it you are very welcome to pick up the phone, email me or come see me.  If not, that’s absolutely fine too.  I respect wherever you’re at with this news.  But losing a friend so suddenly made me realise just how much I cannot go another day without sharing the truth with you.

Thank you for hearing me out.

 

Much love and affection
Fran x

About US

It was 2006 when Ann Marie and Mindy went on their first trip to Kenya after a fund raiser they had organized in Hong Kong. From Nairobi to Kimalewa and armed with. Read More...

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