TREVOR AND JENNIFER (JENNY) HAIGH
I was born on the 16th of October 1944, into a working class environment. My parents baptized me as Jennifer and my family name was Chappell. We lived in the town of Mexborough, which is a town in the county of Yorkshire in England. Yorkshire was a large county which was divided into three parts. These parts were called "ridings." That word was derived from the old word "thirding." They were called North Riding, East Riding, and West Riding. Mexborough was in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Quite a few years ago boundaries were redrawn and Yorkshire was divided up differently. Mexborough is now located in South Yorkshire.
Our house was a very small terraced house. There were just two rooms downstairs and two upstairs, with the toilet outside in the back garden. Even though I left that house when I was four years old, I remember those days very clearly. I remember those cold trips to the toilet, and getting washed in the bath in front of the fire. The bath tub was hung on a nail outside of the house, so if someone wanted to take a bath, we had to bring the tub inside. The water was heated in something called a copper, in the corner of the small room.
I had a sister who was almost eight years older than I. We used to take turns having our baths. When I was four years old we had an opportunity to go into a new house being built by the Council - I imagine you would say a corporation or the city. It was being made for people
who couldn't afford to buy, but were able to rent them. This house was brand spanking new with three bedrooms, a living room, a big lounge, a kitchen, pantry, and upstairs a bath and toilet.
Outside there was a place where we put the coal because we used coal for fires, and a toilet outside. There was also an outside wash house where my mother did the washing, and a copper boiler and a sink. I remember thinking it was like a mansion after being in the small terraced house.
While I was a very little girl, while my mother was still carrying me, she took a correspondence course to become a chiropodist. There are tales about how she put me in one room with lots of pacifiers around my neck. We called them "dummies." When I cried, my mother used to say to people, ''Never mind. She'll soon find a dummy." That was a family story. She qualified to be a chiropodist in that little house before we moved to the bigger one. When we moved to the bigger house, which was called a "council house," she wasn't allowed to establish a business in that house. She had to take a room elsewhere for what she called her surgery. She found a room a little way away from our home where she could do that. I remember those days very clearly. Mother would say, "I am going to the shop." She used to work in the shop in the morning, and in the afternoons she went to homes to visit people who could not get out. She did this from 1944 to 1954, pedaling a bicycle for miles and miles. She worked very hard.
My father, who was a guard for the railway, was very active, very fit. He used to play Cricket a lot. In those days there was a mobile x-ray unit that came around to check peoples' lungs to see if they had tuberculosis. I remember one day when I was eight years old, he went to have the x-ray done just as other people were doing, and it was found that he had tuberculosis. Immediately he was isolated and sent for bed rest. I used to run home from school, sit on the top of the stairs and talk to my father in his bed. We had soda pop wagons that came around and I could have a bottle of pop while I spoke to my father. After a few months, he was sent to the hospital and had a lung removed, and then to a sanitarium. The only time I saw my father was if someone took me to the hospital gate or the hospital wall so that my father could see me through the window and I could wave to him. Those are my childhood memories.
At that time my sister went to grammar school, and it was very difficult for her to get her certificate, but she did get it and went on to a training college to be a teacher. That left just me and my father and mother at home. My father got well, and he started work on what they called light duty on the railway. So we had a normal life after that. My mother worked very hard and my father and I kept the house in order. He and I became very close. In time Mother bought a car, which made life easier for her and Dad.
My association with the church began when I was very young. I often went to a chapel just across the road. It seemed really big, but when I think back on it now, I know it was very small. We went to something they called Sunshine Corner, where very often they had guest speakers from the Bible College, which was actually quite a long way from there. We sang little Christian songs and things like that. I also went when I was a little bit older and we had a wonderful Sunday school teacher, Miss Granger. She was a little, bent old lady, who made her way with a walking stick. She walked the length of the town to teach our Sunday school. We used to play with Plasticine, a substance like molding clay, and make models. As I got a little older I went to the Sunday school and I remember very clearly taking a penny to the church.
Mother and father didn't go, even though in her early life my mother had been confirmed in the Anglican Church. She would go on Christmas Eve or to the Anniversary services.
Every year we had something called a Chapel Anniversary when the children would learn little stories and poems and sing songs. I enjoyed that. However, my sister who is eight years older than me told me when she was about 16, that you went to chapel when you were little and to church when you were bigger. So we started going together to the Anglican Church which was at least a couple of miles from where we lived. We got dressed up for it. Our mother bought us some nice new clothes - we didn't have a lot of clothes but all my clothes were expensive. I was confirmed in St. Margaret's Anglican Church, but attended a smaller Anglican Church, St. Michael's. When it closed, I had to make the journey to the bigger church, St. Margaret's. I used to go every Sunday morning, walking all the way. When I decided I really should go to a church that was nearer, I started going to another church called St. George's Church.
I started to go to St. George's Church when I was about 14, and I enjoyed going there especially for the singing because I used to like to sing. But I didn't have a good voice. It was in a deeper register. While I was a child at the Junior school, the Head Master, Mr. Smith, used to walk up and down the line to hear the people sing. One day he stopped in front of me, and said, "Jennifer, if ever there is a need of a fog horn you will never be unemployed. " I have never forgotten him saying that, so I never tried to get on high notes.
A reason I went to church was that I didn't believe anyone would criticize my singing, but one day I realized that I didn't really believe what I was saying, and didn't understand a lot of it. I made a conscious decision not to go to church anymore. Nobody ever came to visit me to see where I was. Nobody made any contact with me at all. It was a little more than a year after that when I met Trevor. He had a connection with the Wesleyan Reform Methodist Church because his father had been caretaker at a different chapel in a different part of the town. So Trevor had grown up going to the same church. He was in the RAF (Royal Air Force) and I met him when he came home on leave from Australia.
Trevor and I started dating, and when he wasn't going back to camp on a Sunday night, sometimes we would go to chapel. I think at that time the purpose was to take his father. A little while after that Trevor's father had a stroke and so I took it upon myself to take him regularly on Sunday mornings. Sometimes as I was driving home, I would be quite tearful, and I came to realize that something was going on deeper inside.
Of course school was a large part of my growing up years. Our school system is a bit different from yours. From age three to five we were in nursery school, from five to seven we would be in infant school, from seven to 11, we would be in Roman Terrace Junior Mixed - all in the same school building. It was "Mixed" because there were boys' schools and girls' schools, but ours was for both boys and girls. Because my mother had an occupation, I was allowed to go to nursery school before I was three years old. I remember clearly going to school as a tiny child and in the afternoon we had to lay on a blanket and go to sleep. We all had a picture to recognize which blanket was ours. Mine had a whip and a spinning top. The top was a piece of wood, conical shaped. We wrapped the whip around the top, pulled it, and the top would spin. It had a flat top and on it we put colored chalk pictures so when it spun it made a pretty picture. That was the picture on my blanket.
I stayed at that school until I was 11 years old, when we were required to take an examination called 11+. This was to determine whether we would go to grammar school or a secondary modern school. I was fortunate to pass my 11+ and went to grammar school. That year I was the only person in that school to pass, and it was fortunate because my sister was there. However, because she was almost eight years older than I, in my first year there she left to go to training college.
At the junior school there was a playground and over the wall we could see the steam engines going by. This was very interesting particularly to the boys, who would stand at the wall to watch. Trevor used to be a train buff.
It was an interesting school and I was very happy there. Being the only person who went to the grammar school, I had to meet a lot of new friends. I wasn't very clever then. I wasn't in the top grades. We had something from 11 to 16 that we called the "O" level. I passed two subjects. One was cookery (domestic science) and the other was mathematics. I decided I wanted to go to secretarial college, called a technical college, in the same town. There I learned typing, shorthand, and accounting. I got lots of typing certificates and two more "O" level certificates, which took me to four.
Trevor was at that same junior school although we didn't meet until I was 16. Meeting Trevor was probably the reason I only got two subjects at grammar school. While I was in secretarial college, when I was 17, we became engaged to be married. So I was at school with an engagement ring which seemed very grown up. I left with a good certificate from there and went to work in a local factory called General Electric Company (known as G.E.C.) which made Domestic Appliances like irons and cookers.
In 1962, I took an examination for the Civil Service, was notified that I passed the exam and went to work in the post office. The postal service in those days was divided into two parts - postal and telecommunications, which was the telephone manager's office. That was an interesting job which I enjoyed. Every time somebody made a telephone call through the exchange, an operator would make what they called a ticket. It was a little slip of paper that said where the call was being made to and who was making the call. Every day all those hundreds and hundreds of tickets came into my office. I had to sort them into numerical order and they all had to state which exchange they were for. There was a big machine to record all the call charges and I had to put them on statements. So that is what I did in telephone accounts.
In 1963, we asked my mother if I could get married. At that time I was only 18, and in those days we had to be 21 before we could get married without permission. My mother said, ''No," and she was the boss. We just wanted to go to Registrar's office and get married. Neither of us was very much involved in church - in fact, I had kind of a hit and miss relationship with the church. My mother finally relented but she said, if we did get married, we would have to do it "properly'' - in a church, and I had to put on a white wedding gown. We didn't have any money at all, so since she was paying for everything, we agreed. We were married on December 26, 1963,
when I was 19. In April 1965, when I was 20, my father had a heart attack and died suddenly. My mother was 52 and it was a very big shock to all of us.
When Trevor and I were first married, we knew people who were involved in a drama group. They wanted to recruit new people, and they planned to do a children's play called "The Snow Queen." They wanted people to fill in, and asked if we would go. We joined their group and were in the "The Snow Queen." After that we were in all the productions. We enjoyed the drama and the producer liked to do musicals, so we were in the second production of the Pygmalion story, "My Fair Lady" that was done on the amateur stage, after it was taken off the professional stage. Trevor was Colonel Pickering, and I was Mrs. Einsford-Hill.
It was there that I opened my mouth and tried to sing, and I found that I had an acceptable voice. In fact, people thought I sang quite well. The more I tried the more I discovered I could reach the notes, so I enjoyed that time with the shows and the music hall type of entertainment. I used to sing the bawdy stuff and it was good fun. We were in a musical called, "O, What a Lovely War." I did a lot of singing in that.
In 1969, our son, Jonathan, was born. During this period, before I had my daughter, we joined another drama group of semi-professional people - we were the rookies. We were acceptable players, and acceptable singers, and we had a very enjoyable holiday one year when the producer of our shows was the producer of one of our local radio stations. He went to an area called the Yorkshire Dales in North Yorkshire, and arranged for us to play in church halls, in barns, in the Catterick Military Camp, in the Georgian Theater in Richmond, which was a very, very old theater. We were very privileged to play there. So for 10 days we were a touring company and we did a melodrama "Mariah Martin and the Murder in the Red Barn." We did a more serious play, "Billy's Last Stand." We had some professional musicians with us, teachers - a cellist and a pianist, and they would give a recital, and we had some folk singers who were quite well known. Trevor has a cousin, Kenneth Haigh, who is a very well known film star. He was in "Cleopatra" with Elizabeth Taylor. So I think there is something in the genes.
Our daughter, Rachael was born in 1972. When she was one year old, nearly two, our son was four, nearly five, we were told that he had leukemia. The day I was told this, I was in the restroom crying and a lady came and asked why I was crying. I told her and she said that she would pray for him. I thanked her and I was sincere. I wasn't a praying person then. It was before we became involved in the church. However, I believed I was a Christian. She came back immediately and asked what he was called and I told her Jonathan. She said, "I will pray for Jonathan."
When he started his treatment, he went immediately into remission, and never lost his remission. For two years he was in treatment, took pills and injections, and radio-therapy when his hair all came out. He was in the program for two years but never lost his remission, and he lost schooling only when he had to be taken by the ambulance to the hospital. I believe that time was used by God for Jonathan. You know that everything works together for good for those who love the Lord (Rom. 8:28). Jonathan became a pastor, and I believe that is the reason he is a good pastor now because when we were in the ambulance he used to chat with people. They were nearly all old people, because most of the people who went to the hospital didn't go in the ambulance, mainly the elderly. He would chat away with them and I think God used those times because when he was 12, he came to know the Lord and was very spiritually aware from the beginning. I have often thought about the Wesley story, when John Wesley was "plucked from the burning." I believe Jonathan was plucked from the burning to do a great work for the Lord.
I mentioned that at 18, I was not very involved with the church. Things began to change after our children were born - Jonathan in 1969 and Rachael in 1972. One day in 1977, when Rachael was four, she came home from school and asked if she could go to a Sunday school. The children used to come with us sometimes to this other church where we used to go in Mexborough where there wasn't a Sunday School, but coincidently (or God-incidentally) in that particular week I met somebody from the local Methodist Church just down the road from where we now lived in Swinton which was the next town from Mexborough. The lady told me about a very active Sunday school in St. John's Methodist Church and that Sunday I took my daughter Rachael to St. John's Methodist Church and that was the start of our real walk with the Lord.
We went week after week. Trevor had a little difficulty at first because he was taken away from the church he'd been brought up in, but the lay people told us we were doing right to be taking our children to Sunday school. That year, 1977, we became very involved in the church. We went to Bible study and a discussion group that dealt with social issues. In 1979, both Trevor and I became members of the Methodist Church. Because I had been confirmed, I simply transferred my membership from one church to another. At that time we started a Bible class and met in a small room in the church and studied the scriptures together.
In June 1980, I had what you might call a Damascus Road experience. I went to church one evening when there was a very small congregation, and during the service I had an awareness of something happening that I couldn't understand. The speaker was a lady, a local preacher, not fully accredited but a wonderful woman who became a great mentor to us. She was preaching that evening about the valley of the dry bones and how the spirit spoke to them and they came alive.
At the same time, I felt compelled to refer to my Bible, to a verse we had been reading at Bible class, Romans 1:17: "The person who is put right with God through faith shall live."
At the end of the service she said the Lord had woken her very early that morning - understand, this was all new to me - and the Lord gave her words to say. She didn't know to whom, but she was to say, "Don't be afraid. Only believe." Those words reverberated through my being like a bell clanging, and I knew the words were for me. I had never experienced anything like that! At the end of the service, she said if those words had meant something to someone, they should respond. I went forward and gave my life to the Lord. This was a new experience for the church.
A few weeks earlier in our Home Group meeting, we had talked about there being times during our worship service when we would like to pray for each other but we weren't brave enough to do it. From time to time I would say to Trevor, "Will you pray for (so and so)?" but I wasn't brave enough to say it. We decided that we should ask the preacher to have a time during the service when people could speak out their prayers of intercession, so the very next Sunday morning we asked the preacher, who became a very evangelical, spirit-led person, if he would leave a space. In that space, I said a prayer.
It was the first time I'd ever opened my mouth to pray, and it was a very short prayer, but it was like the flood gates had opened. I started to cry and couldn't stop. During that week we had a Bible study and because I had done it once, I wasn't afraid to pray again. I feel very fortunate that I have a date that can look upon as my birth date, the day I was born again, June 15, 1980. That was the day when Jesus became very real to me. Everything changed. My demeanor changed; my speech changed, because I sometimes used words a Christian should never use. Everything seemed clearer and brighter. I was a changed person!
Trevor didn't quite understand what had happened because I was getting up at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, reading my Bible and praying. It was something very new to us. I didn't understand it and not many people in our church knew what happened to me. The lady, who was preaching at the time, would have recognized this as being filled with the Spirit. I remember Trevor getting up very early one morning and saying he didn't understand, but did that mean I was going to become a missionary? I said, "No, I don't think so," but as I walked into the kitchen and made a cup of tea, the words came to me very clearly, "Tell Trevor that it can only be better." I came into the lounge and said, "The Lord just spoke to me." Now, where I came from if someone said that we would think they were cuckoo. If these kinds of experience ever occurred, they weren't talked about. But I knew it was God speaking to me. I knew I had both feet firmly on the ground and I'd not gone mad. I said this to Trevor and he didn't laugh, he said, "Well, I hope that's true." I prayed every day that somebody would come to speak to Trevor and explain to him what had happened to me. All I knew was that I wanted to devour the Scriptures and spend time with the Lord.
Not long after that a man came from South Africa. His mother used to go to the chapel we went to and after he was saved, he came to England because he wanted to introduce his mother to the Lord. Sometimes people can be very presumptuous, thinking they are the only ones who know the Lord. He ended up in our house one evening, and I knew he was the person God had sent to explain to Trevor what had happened to me. He didn't do that but instead he led Trevor to the Lord. Trevor will tell more about that. It was in September 1980, so I was very fortunate. I didn't have very long to wait before my spouse became a believer. Many people go through their lives without the spouse knowing the Lord, and I think it must be very difficult.
The three of us met together - me, Trevor, and the lady who had been preaching when I went to the altar and gave my life to the Lord. We prayed and prayed many long hours, about the people in our church, and one by one people came to the door and asked if they could join the group. One by one people made new commitments to the Lord, became zealous for the Lord, and we began evangelizing. Most of the people who came went through the experience of receiving the Holy Spirit and most of them started speaking in tongues. We had words given, we had interpretations. We laid our hands on people and they became well. It was a very dramatic time in the life of that church. Many people like Trevor were called out to be preachers, eight people were separated to become Christian ministers, more were called to preach and other gifts were coming to the fore.
In 1984, Trevor went to the Cliff Methodist Bible College in the county of Derbyshire, the
village is Calver. It is a very small village but people come from all over the world to this college. Trevor went there just one year. We were sought out by some people who came from Northern Ireland who were looking for a lay pastor. I was working but when he finished college we knew we were going on into full time work for the Lord. Our work then took us to Northern Ireland, where we spent two years. Trevor then went back to Theological College and afterwards we were sent to the North of England to minister there.
I took my preaching exams at this time and became what we call a fully accredited Local Preacher. I preach five or more Sundays in each quarter. In 1995, I was privileged to spend a year at the Methodist Bible College - Cliff College. I asked the Lord why he was allowing me to go at this period of my life (51 years old). He simply referred me to the Scriptures: Psalm 37:4: "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Trevor and our son Jonathan had spent time at Cliff College and I always wanted to go. The Lord knew that, and a wonderful Christian man paid all my fees so that I could go. My mother gave me a car so I could go home to Trevor each weekend. Praise the Lord!
At this time, Jonathan is a very evangelical Methodist minister, very involved in outreach, and he loves the Lord. He has two children, our granddaughters. Rebekah will be 13 in December and Naomi will be 11 in July. They both are Christian girls. His wife is Christine, she
likes to be called Chris. She is a nurse in Chesterfield. Our daughter Rachael, three years younger than Jonathan, made a commitment to the Lord when she was younger, but I would say she is in the "far country'' at the moment. But I have also been there and much has happened since I returned. Rachael doesn't go to church at the moment. We have a wonderful grandson, Zachary, who is only six but he is a Christian boy. He knows Jesus is his friend. We pray with him, and Rachael prays with him, too. He often sings with Trevor and his guitar when he stays with us. He has a lovely voice. We're praying that Rachael will come back to the Lord and the church, perhaps through Zachary. We heard from her yesterday that she was taking him to Beavers, which is our youngest level of Boy Scouts. They attend a church service to which parents are invited every month. Rachael is a very hard-working young woman. She works for Crown Prosecution Service. Two years ago Rachael got her law degree and has been working for two years to become a lawyer. She is waiting for her final exam results.
My mother died two years ago when she was 92. Her maiden name was Blanche Rodgers, the hardest working woman that I have met so far. She worked all her life, as a chiropodist when I was a baby, and during the war she worked with a lathe, making the holes in the bombs where the explosives were put in. It was a very precise job.
Mother was to marry twice more. All her husbands died and she was led to the Lord by Trevor. It was due to her industry that she helped us financially to travel. If it was not for her we would probably not have been able to travel to Osceola to meet new friends. One day I will see her again!
And so our story will continue. So far it has been a great adventure and "the best is yet to come."
My name is Trevor Haigh. I was born May 16, 1940, in the town of Mexborough in what was known as the chapel house, because my parents were the caretakers of Oxford Road Wesleyan Reform Methodist chapel. I am the eldest of four children - I have a sister and two brothers in various parts of the country.
I went to infant school in Mexborough. I started when I was 2 ½ years old and I think that was probably because of the war, when as many adults as possible were required to put in work for the war effort in some way or the another. I went to infant school and junior school, the same junior school as Jenny, which was Roman Terrace Junior School, but instead of going to grammar school, I went to a technical school. I did take the 11+ exam but in our junior schools, everyone had to sit the 11+. It was a way of screening out the children who were going to a grammar school or onto a secondary modern school. In order to get to a technical school, I had to go to a secondary modern school for two years and then take another exam. The difference between the grammar and technical school was that the grammar school concentrated more on the classics whereas the technical school, as the name implies, befitted students to become skilled in some way or another in industry. There were four main streams - engineering stream, building stream, nursing stream, and commercial. I entered the commercial stream, stayed there for two years and left school at the age of 15. If I had stayed on for a third year, I, too, would have attained all levels, but I wanted to go out and start work Money was tight and I wanted more freedom in my life. By earning and contributing to the family budget, I could claim a modicum of emancipation.
Having left school, I wanted to contribute to the family income, which was low. My father was a steel worker, and my mother eventually went out to work again when the children were old enough to be left. We didn't need child-minders in those days, and she went to work when my father foresaw a downturn in the steel industry - what we would call a slump. He changed his job and became the superintendent caretaker of the technical school at half his normal wage. But at least at the end of the time, when he retired, he did get a pension. And we received a pension on his behalf when he eventually died.
I followed my heart which was to go on the railway. If I'd had my way, I would have been in the engineering stream and not the commercial, because I'd always wanted to be an engine driver on the railway. As it was, I entered the offices, and the wages were miserly. Another job I did after awhile, because I was fed up with that and eventually rebelled, I went to work on the engines, on the local, the motive-power department. I passed out as a fireman, but as a cleaner, and the yard foreman told me in these terms, "Haigh, when you are out on Friday or Monday you will be on the junction pilot (which meant I was to be fireman on the local shunting yard engine). You will be on days and you will start at 12:00 to 2:00 a.m." I said, "That's nights," and he said, ''No, its days." I said, "Well, I shall be finishing work when the mates are going to work." And he said, "Well, aren't you lucky?" So I went back into the offices. I decided that those funny shaped hours weren't for me at all.
I stayed there for awhile and then noticed a lot of my friends who were working for the National Coal Board in different jobs were earning a lot more money than me. Jobs were 10 a penny in those days, and being unsettled, I also went to work for the Coal Board and went down into the mines. But I didn't become a collier, a face worker; one hacking coal up the coal face. I joined a mine safety team. I still had to go along the coal faces testing for the various types of gas and noxious gases, and if they were at the wrong level, I had to inform what we called the Deputy, the one in charge of that coal face and we had to pull off the face until the gas disappeared.
My time underground did not last more than two years and it came to an end shortly after I saw a man injured, when a lump of rock hit his back. It was no more than the size of a trumpet case, but I never saw him work again. I decided that working in the bowels of the earth was not for me, so I moved into the offices of the Coal Board assigning rail wagons full of coal to their various destinations.
I got a little bit bored with that and joined the RAF (Royal Air Force). I did this because at that time in England, there was conscription; everybody had to do two years of national service. It was coming to an end, but I knew I was at the top end of the age group, where I would have been called up. Some friends, who were my age, were doing apprenticeships, which were four and five years long, escaped what we called "call-up." They never went into the forces, but I was unsettled, and I joined the RAF.
To use a nickname, I became a "shiny." That means I worked in the offices and the seat of my pants got shiny through sitting down. I worked in what today would probably be called logistics, or stores of camps. It was interesting, some of it boring but at least I got as far as Australia when our government decided to stop doing nuclear tests in Woomera and Maralinga. I was sent as part of a team to close down a unit at the Australian Air Force Base at Edinburgh Field, which is just outside Adelaide in South Australia, where we could enjoy a wonderful Mediterranean climate and the Aussie way of life and the Aussie way of socializing as well. Men were men and women learned their place very quickly. That's how it was.
I came home and while I was on vacation leave prior to going to an area in north Yorkshire, I met Jenny when I revisited my old youth club. I think perhaps it was partly the time and partly a slight Australian accent that I had but not much. But we got on together and we got courting and while I was at RAF Leeming, a base 40 miles north of the City of York, during the last six months of my five year term, we got married. We did this partly because in those days in the forces of England, you were actually paid to get married. They gave a marriage allowance but much to the chagrin of Jenny, to get married I also sold my motorbike which she never thought I would do because we had some marvelous times riding around on that thing. If we got wet and cold, it was horrible, but the first sunny day on the bike, we forgot all about those wet, cold days. We both loved the bike; it gave us freedom to roam. It was a Triumph 200cc, fitted with a full "dolphin fairing." It looked good and drew admiring glances wherever we went.
It was time to come out of the forces, I needed another job, and I sat the exams for the
Civil Service. When I passed those exams, I was sent a list of all the Civil Service Departments in England. I was amazed at how many there were. I wanted to find a department fairly near to
where we were living at that time. I looked down the list, and decided the bottom three on the list were the Army department, the Navy department, and the Air Force department. Guess what - I found only ten miles from where I lived there was a Navy department in Sheffield. I was sent there. They made gauges, all kinds of gauges for the Navy. There were a lot of skilled men there and a lot of characters, too. One of the characters who had worked there, but before my time, was a double bass player named Johnny Hawksworth, who wrote a treatise on the double bass, which became accepted world wide as an authority on bass playing. He played mainly with the Ted Heath band in England, during the big band era.
Again it was interesting, sometimes boring as it can be in an office, and eventually I transferred into something I found more to my liking. That was in social welfare. In those days it was called the National Assistance Board, but it became known later as Social Security.
People in our country who find themselves out of work would apply for unemployment benefits and they thought if the benefits ran out they would come to the Social Security office, which was at the bottom of the pile. Often when they came to us, there would be steam coming out of their ears because they had no money and had a wife and kids to support, so the first thing we had to do was pacify them in order to be able to process their claim. I enjoyed that work and for a number of years that work sustained Jenny and me even to raising our two children. That, on the economic side of my life, sums things up until it dovetails with the Christian side of my life. Looking back it seemed that I had done a variety of jobs and I used to wonder what I was doing with my life. But God has a plan for each of us and I didn't know it then; but I was amassing experience and knowledge of how other people lived and worked; knowledge that would later be put to good use.
I was brought up as a Wesleyan Reformer. My parents were the caretakers of the church, and I used to have to go to church twice every Sunday. I had to because my dad was bigger than me, he was an Oxy-acetylene burner and welder in the steel works, and he had hands like leather. So I did as I was told. When I started work I decided if I was going to be contributing to the family income, I had a right to say what I was doing with my life. I stopped going to church and like "The Prodigal" I headed for the far country, so that was part of the economic side of my life as well.
I enjoyed the youth clubs. It was during the time of the skiffle and rock and roll era of the middle 50s onwards that I became part of a group that we started. My hero was Lonnie Donegan, who died two or three years ago. I followed his format for a group. There were four of us -two guitarists, one person playing a tea-chest skiffle base and a genuine washboard player. The skiffle group was modeled on the groups that used to play in the house rent parties in the New Orleans area of America during the Depression, when our work musicians would hold parties to help pay the rent of colleagues, by using what they could to make music -such as a suitcase and a small hearth brush for snare drums, and a tea-chest with a broom handle and window sash cord to make a double bass sound, and a comb and paper to make a kazoo sound, etc.
Following Donegan's format, we started playing skiffle in the local pubs and clubs, and enjoyed a modicum of success. I enjoy folk music and I listened to what Donegan said; that skiffle really is folk music played with a jazz beat. That is nothing more than a hop, skip and jump from country western music, which is also the kind of music I like, apart from what I call traditional English folk. So that is part of my musical background. The only other part is that I did take a few guitar lessons with a very devoted Welshman, who worked with my father in the steel works and was a classical guitarist. But there were only a few lessons before I went into the RAF.
I had one music lesson when the RAF had the V bomber force - the Vulcan, which was the Delta wing, the Victor and the Valiant bombers - (The Concorde owes a lot of its design to the design of the Vulcan.) These were all used during the Suez crisis in the middle 50s. Whenever there was an exercise, a squadron of these V-bombers would come to our camp in North Yorkshire, a place called Leeming, the RAF base, and they were dispersed here as if they were being attacked by the Russians because this was the time of the cold war. Anyone who was caught on camp by RAF police were thrust a big wooden stick in their hand and told to guard that
Vulcan. I couldn't see much sense in guarding against the IRA (Irish Republican Army, who were the real threat then) with a big wooden stick when they had bombs and rifles. The only way out of this was to join the Commanding Officer's Station Band, which was exempt from guard duties.
So I did. I went to the Sergeant Band Master, who was a dedicated comet player, told him my background and he said, "That's great. Would you like to play a drum?" I said, "Yes, but I've never played one," and he said, "I'll teach you, don't worry. Here are your sticks, here's your drum, here's your sling, here's your laniard, and here are the two pieces to learn to play - 'True and Trusty' and 'Thin Red Line."' When I protested that I couldn't read music, he said, "It's easy with a drum. Where there is a dot, hit your drum." That was the only music lesson I ever had in the RAF but at least it got me around, it kept me from getting bored on parade because I was playing a drum in the band, and I enjoyed it. I came out of the RAF married to Jenny and working in the Navy department for awhile, then Social Security, and raising our children Jonathan and Rachael.
Jenny told about Jonathan's illness. I think that hit us harder than we realized at the time because we were told he would be on treatment, I think for three years, and then there would be a trial. We didn't know which children would come off treatment and which would carry on, and Jonathan was one of those who came off treatment. I remember feeling the pain for him as much as I could when at one time he had to have five lumbar punctures in the space of two or three weeks. Here he was a five-year old kid, having lumbar punctures and there was no anesthetic for them. It was a painful experience at that time and I can appreciate it more now than I could then.
Jonathan survived. We were told he would survive for five years and then most likely die.
That is what we were told and I appreciate their forthrightness. Eventually, Jonathan had come off treatment and I remember sitting in my easy chair one night just musing. By that time I had been born again, and I will come back to that experience, but I heard the Lord clearly saying to me, "I want your children, Trevor." I argued, "You've got them. I've had them christened, had them baptized." "I want your children!" "You've got them!" "I want your children, can't you listen?" And then I realized, Jonathan had come off treatment. We'd had him much longer than the five years that the hospital said we would have him. That reading from Luke's gospel came to mind, straight away. "A full measure, pressed down, shaken out." So I prayed, I thanked God that we'd had him longer than we expected, and "We'd be very disappointed if you took him, but he's yours. Thank you for the life we have had with him."
It was an arduous time. First it was every day, then every week, then every fortnight, and finally I think it was about every month that we were going to the hospital. But the very next time we went to the hospital with Jonathan the consultant of the team of hematologists called us into his office. We thought the only time he took people into his office, was when it was bad news, but he said, "Whilst we cannot give you a written guarantee, we can tell you that Jonathan is now cleared of lymphoblastic leukemia." That was wonderful news! We also told him at that time that I had received a call to preach and he said, "Then I will monitor both your futures from this moment on." Looking back and looking forward since then, Jonathan, who is now a Methodist minister, has gone back to the hospital several times as a minister, where he is on the outskirts of Sheffield, and he's addressed the parents who are grieving and hurting because their children have leukemia. He has been such an inspiration to them, I know. As he puts it, "It is payback time," and he's happy to do it.
I always thought I was a Christian and I went to church with Jenny when we felt like it - not like those hypocrites that go every week. But then this man came from South Africa, from Johannesburg, to visit his mother in our church. By then Jenny had been born again and I had been a bit puzzled by it all but certainly she had changed. I knew that! This man had come to lead his mum to the Lord. He knew she didn't know the Lord. He was in a Baptist seminary in Johannesburg. He had been very high in the Masonic order but when he was born again, he had burned all his regalia. When I say "very high" I mean much higher than Grand Master of the
lodge. He burned it all because the scriptures told him quite clearly he couldn't be a servant of the Lord as a born again Christian and active in the Masonic order. He taught me all this and that particular night he spoke to me in our house, at first he flattered me and I thought, "What is he after?" But then he told me he was only practicing his evangelism on me and apologized for that.
Then we got down to a good old "natter" (chat) and Jenny supplied us with tea and biscuits, and eventually he said to me, "Well, now Trevor, after all we have said, do you think you are a Christian?" I said, "No, Les, I don't think I am." He said, "What do you want to do about it?" I thought, "Where's the harm in trying? I know where I am here, I can always not be a Christian if I don't like it, and so I said, 'Yes, I'd like to become a Christian."' So he led me in a simple prayer of confession and repentance and he led me to the throne of grace . And I
remember thinking at that time, if this is being a Christian, what is so special about it?" The earth didn't move, there was no angelic choir and no thunder and lightning. So what is so special about being a Christian? I was to find out later.
I remember that evening on September 30 of that year, and I can remember some months later, February or March of the following year, 1981, I was sitting in my chair, thinking about time and the Lord allowed me to look back six months. I was shocked and amazed to find out how far
I had moved and how much I had changed. My choice of words had changed. My petty gambling had stopped, and my attitude towards others was changing.
It was around this time that Jenny and I with a friend had gone to Sheffield, to the church called "The Church of God of Prophecy," which is an American denomination that found its way to England through evangelism of the West Indies. And when the West Indians, the Caribbeans, came to England after the war, the church came with them. They were so spicy in their worship. I remember going there and seeing something very dramatic and hearing people praising God in tongues, which I'd never heard before. It made me quite angry because I didn't understand it and I thought it was of the devil at first. Now I know a lot better, but it was during a very dramatic experience there in one of their outreach evenings that I realizd God was calling me to something far more, calling me to preach, and this friend of ours, Eileen, who I thought at times was a bit too pushy, a bit too bumptious, and I told her so. She just smiled. As we were driving home she said, "That was for you. That was the Lord telling you, he wants you." I said, "But the only experience I've got is next to nothing." She reminded me, "You've been in the skiffle group, you've played in front of hostile crowds in bars and clubs, you've also been in plays and on stage, you've trod the boards, you've produced plays, you are used to speaking in front of people, in crowds. He wants you." I sat on that call for a few weeks, then after a Sunday service, I spoke to my minister, twiddling my tie like Ollie Hardy, and I said, "Peter, I think I've got a call to preach." He looked at me, took a step back as he usually did, smiled and laughed and said, "I've been waiting for you to come for weeks." I looked around and thought, "Who's told him," because I haven't said a word to anyone. Well, we know who spoke and the rest is history.
At the next local preachers' meeting, one or two comments were made by some of the more liberal preachers which clearly hurt. I tried not to say anything and I didn't. But one old preacher noticed and in his broad Yorkshire accent said, "Trevor, I want thee to come and see me." So I went to see old Ben who has long since been promoted to glory, and he told me of an experience he had when he was a young preacher way back in the 1930s. And he'd been planned to preach at this little chapel on the Earl Fitzwilliam estate between Rotherham and Sheffield. It was a farmers' chapel and he'd gone there with his hymns to give to the organist who played a harmonium, a pedal affair, a Canadian piece of furniture as he described it. And he gave these hymns to the organist, a retired teacher, and she looked at them, "The first one I don't like, we don't know the tune to the second, and I'm gonna have to change the third." He said, "She ruined my service so much so that a farmer leaving the church said, 'Thars preached, a reight load o twaddle." So the next time I was planned there, I chose five Wesley hymns, long ones with choruses." And I took them to the organist, and said, "Miss (so and so) these are my hymns today and we are having them!" At the end of that service they had to lift her off that organ but she never complained again. I learned from that simple illustration and his experience that when you are called by the Lord and put into the pulpit, you have all the authority of heaven with you. You have guardian angels watching over you and if you are prayerfully prepared, you are on solid ground.
Those are some of the experiences I've always tried to pass on to others when they, too, have been called to preach. That brings me to where I am now, in Osceola. Currently I am a minister in Heywood in Lancashire, which is a former textile town - cotton was the industry.
Heywood is 12 miles north of the center of Manchester. It has now been embraced over the last 30 years by the metropolitan borough of Rochdale, which has a population of 95,000. Heywood has a population of 30,000 and it has had to diversify because the textile industry has moved over to the Far East, I think as far as China. And so other industries have popped up in Heywood.
I have two churches there, Trinity, which has a membership of just under 100 and Jericho which has a membership of 21. Jenny felt the Lord telling her to put her membership and attendance at Jericho, which was originally called Moulding. I never did like that name and I'm glad it's never been called that whilst I've been their minister. The former church building had problems and had to come down. It was over 70 years old and was full of dry rot and other things. The new church, opened in 2004, is much smaller, about the size of the Osceola United Methodist Church fellowship hall.
During the rebuilding, the church was allowed to worship in the local public house, but the publican would not allow children there, so sadly all the Sunday School was lost and basically the church itself now consists of people who are faithful to the Lord and one or two who work or have worked at the local hospital just half a mile down the road. It is getting an international flavor
because the two ladies who are there now - one a retired mid-wife, are both from Malaysia, which is rather nice. And they are a very open and gentle and loving community at Jericho. With a name like that you would guess John Wesley had some input, and during his time he preached twice in that district. In fact, just up the lane from the chapel there is a place called Preacher's Rock where it is said John Wesley stood to preach to the people. One of the farms is called Ninevah so I suppose you can guess what he preached on on one of the occasions.
Also, in his Journals, John Wesley described the people of that area. He said, "The people of Rochdale are lambs compared to the people of Bolton." So he, too, had a very hard time in that area. Bolton is the largest town about eight miles west of the Jericho church. It has a population of about half a million people there, maybe coming up to a million. Trinity Methodist Church in the center of Heywood, is a combination of five churches historically in the town. It is the one that is left. It was built on the site it is on now and opened in 1989. It has an evangelical ethos although most of the people now are rather set in their ways and getting quite old. We have an international flavor there, too, because the Sunday School which for reasons only previous ministers can explain, was stopped but now we have three girls, one six, one five, and one three whose mother comes from Burundi, a small state in the middle of Africa bordering Ruanda. They are asylum seekers. People will remember there was a great deal of killing in Ruanda, genocide is the word, and they escaped Burundi because they were of the wrong tribe. They are now worshiping with us regularly. Trinity loves to sing a few modem songs now and again, though not too often. That is where I am called to serve the Lord at the moment until he decides I should move on somewhere else.
Gwen Tietgen, Managing Editor of the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune, also interviewed Trevor and wrote the following for the July 26, 2007 edition of the paper. I share it with her permission:
Services at Osceola's First United Methodist Church have been infused with a British flair the last several weeks. Minister Trevor Haigh and his wife, Jenny, from Heywood, England, have been leading the church as part of the World Methodist Council's ministerial exchange program. Likewise, Osceola's Pastor Hugh Stone and his wife, Betty, are staying in Heywood, a city of 30,000 outside of Manchester, in northwest England. They're set to return July 28. Haigh said while Heywood has more people, it's in a space smaller than Osceola. Heywood is an old cotton town, he said. The Haighs arrived June 26. Their last Sunday service is July 29.
Both Haigh and Stone have participated in the exchange program before. Stone said in an e-mail that the experience 13 years ago, while he was (serving a church) in Des Moines, "was such a rich experience, I wanted to do it again." Stone spent that time in Guisborough, which is
close to the North Sea in the North Yorkshire Moors. Haigh was in Cass City, Michigan, in 2001. He said many things are the same and that Americans tend of have a very parochial outlook of life, concerning their own little town and backyard. "People don't know what's going on in the county, nevertheless the state or the world," Haigh said, adding, "That's not a criticism. It's an
observation." He said he thinks the Iraq war has helped to broaden Americans' view.
During the time in the backyards of Osceola and Iowa, the Haighs are seeing the sights.
They've been to Ruthbun Lake, Creston, Des Moines, and Red Rock Lake. (Since the time of this writing, the Duane Churchmans have taken them to the Amana Colonies.) The country out here can seem a long way from anywhere," he said, and commented on the "gently undulating" land.
At church, after three weeks, the congregation expects the unexpected frm Haigh. The congregation did actions to the opening song at a recent Sunday service. For the chorus, the congregation raised their arms to make a tower and then shook them in praise, followed by clapping. Haigh spent a year at Cliff College* in Sheffield, England, a seminary school with the World Methodist Evangelism Institute, and he said he's one of the quieter ones. Most dance during church services while he likes to say he "shuffles gracefully."
The service continued with Haigh playing the guitar. His wife, Jenny, gave the children's message on the Ten Commandments, and Haigh gave the sermon. She wrote the commandments on cards for children to hang around the church. She put the commandments in everyday words like, "One woman for one man," and "Love the Lord your God and serve him only."
Anna Frohling, the church's secretary, said Haigh is outgoing, lively and energetic. "They are accustomed to more actions in church than we are. He has tried to make the services more lively, to get us to move a little bit...It's been a wonderful experience to learn about a new way of doing things. It's been a great opportunity for us."
Steve Waterman, chairman of the church council, said the congregation has enjoyed the enthusiasm Haigh and his wife have brought to the church and its services. "It's been a great experience for our congregation ... I think it has impressed upon people that someone from another land can be so diverse in the way they speak but yet so close in the faith they have. I'm sure Hugh and Betty Stone are having the same experience in England."
In an e-mail...Stone said the churches are smaller there. He has preached at four, including performing three funerals, visiting the hospital and prison and speaking to women's groups.
Stone said he also is trying the food. He and his wife tried the Bury black pudding which is made out of pig's blood. He said he was told that it is an acquired taste. ''Neither of us cared for it,' he said in an e-mail, noting that he enjoyed the Yorkshire pudding and scones. Some of the best meals, he said, have been in pubs. "We are having a great time...Every day is a new adventure."
Haigh said the parish, or congregation, here has a more methodical service with strong
preaching and Biblical teachings. The congregation has been supportive and willing to try and
learn, he said. "They're smashing...I don't want them to sit there, you've got to get some exercise...Some may want to sit but that's not the way I was called..."
Haigh's calling came later in life. "I was born again when I was 40," said the 67-year-old minister. He spent his years before being called as a minister working on the railway in mine safety, and was with the Royal Air Force for five years, which took him throughout the world, including Australia. "To use the phrase, I've been around the block a few times ..." Haigh said he believes his calling is about spreading God's Word to all kinds in a straight-laced, direct fashion. He talked about how he can refer to his life before becoming a Christian and use it to relate to people. "I can bring the Scriptures to people as the Lord put it through me." Haigh said he plans to retire next year. "I'm not ready for retiring but I'm going to," he said, offering advice about how when opportunity comes, you should take it.
Haigh and his wife, Jenny, will "have a holiday'' before heading back to England August 14. They plan to visit a relative in Bakersfield, California, as well as make a trip to Nashville and Memphis.
* Cliff College is the Methodist Church Lay Bible College, located in Calver (pronounced Carver) in Derbyshire, situated between Chesterfield and Sheffield. It has a wonderful postal address of "Hope Valley." It was established on its present site just over 120 years ago as a place where ordinary lay people who want to learn more of the Lord could go and study and learn how to share their faith with those who have none and to see the Lord's will for them in their lives. Many have entered the college and been called to full time ordained ministry, and many have been called to serve all over the world as evangelists. The college began in Bolton and Rochdale districts of Lancashire with a gypsy type caravan toured the industrial towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire spreading the ')oyful news" of Jesus Christ for everyone. The early leaders of this mission were Samuel Chadwick and Thomas Cook. Rev. Thomas Cook and Rev. Samuel Chadwick were early Principals of the college and the door to college is called the "joyful news entrance."
Many faithful Christians have passed through this door over the years, having given up their former occupations to serve God in the way He has chosen for them: doctors, nurses, engineers have been "sent out" to serve in the Holy Land, Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe. Today people still come, from countries like Estonia, Poland, Brazil, Africa and The Orient, and from many states in America. As well as their studies, students also have to do manual labour, to help keep costs down, so there are two distinctive smells at Cliff College. The first is prayer, and the other is polish because manual duties extend from cleaning the toilets to gardening, to polishing the floors and cleaning the windows. The motto of Cliff College is ''All for Christ, Christ for all."
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