Dotha Blackwood is assistant minister of a church in Dulwich, south London, and is a graduate of the Jamaica School of Music, where she studied, played and taught drums and other percussion instruments. She supports Arsenal and is currently lecturer in biblical studies at Moorlands College.
1. Why is Jesus important to you?
Because I’ve discovered that God sent his one and only son to die a death that I should have died. My heart is filled with unending gratitude. Although I still have problems like everyone else, I find that with Jesus in my life I have a calmness and an ability to go on. I’m able to smile, regardless!
2. How did your faith begin?
I was brought up in a God-conscious home in Jamaica. As kids, we were expected to go to Sunday School, but when I was about 11, I decided I’d had enough and stopped going.
My sister kept going, and one day she came home and told me that a guy had come into the church yard, starkers and wielding a pipe iron, smashing cars. The deacons of the church caught him, put clothes on him and brought him into the service. The pastor prayed for him and from that moment he was as sane as they come. I didn’t believe the story, so one evening I went to church to hear him tell his story. He also sang a song; ‘It is no secret what God can do’ – what a voice!
From then on, I started visiting church regularly. One night, the preacher spoke about judgement, asking what would happen if we died that night. He asked whether we would be going to heaven or hell. I thought, I’m not sure. I asked God to forgive me and for Jesus to become part of my life. That was 25 years ago.
3. Have you ever found faith hard to keep?
I’ve had crises of faith when I’ve wondered whether or not God was there, and if he was, why wasn’t he doing something about the situation. And I’ve told him as much. In those times he often (and very annoyingly!) keeps quiet until I’ve finished my tantrums and then brings about either a solution I did not expect or a peace to accept the situation as it unfolds. He gives me strength to cope.
4. What does believing in Jesus mean to your everyday life?
I live by the moral code taught in scripture. I know that no matter what I face, I’m never alone. I don’t know how else to explain it other than to say that there is usually joy in my heart, a spring in my step and I am always smiling.
5. What encouragement would you give someone looking for faith?
I’d say, give Jesus a try. If you don’t believe it will work out, feel free to tell him so – he can handle it! Just be honest. It might feel a bit like you’re talking to yourself at first, but tell him what you think and feel, and see what happens. You won’t necessarily have an earth-shattering moment, but ever so gently he’ll come to you and bring the difference that he always does.
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In these pages, we take a down-to-earth look at religious faith by asking people about their experience. Some people have a rock-solid sort of faith, while others seem to cling on by their fingernails. What’s your experience? How would you answer our five questions (see below).
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