My name is Sarah Baigent, and I am taking online minister training at CLI – the Christian Leaders Institute – for free. I am from Cambridge, England. In my early 30s, I went to university as a mature student to do a foundation degree in Public Service. It led to a BA (Hons) then a Learning and Teaching Accreditation and eventually a Ph.D. at the University of Kent.
The city of Cambridge is a diverse place and very cosmopolitan. However, in terms of sowing seeds and being evangelical – the ground is hard. Historically, Cambridge University came into being when splitting from Oxford University. It was partially due to the idea that Oxford was too church-centered.
My Early Years
I grew up in London within a working-class family. My parents were racist, so I spent a lot of time on my own. I missed out on a lot of friendships and social learning. My parents were very detached from me as a child growing up. My father was a disciplinarian, and my mother indifferent to my company and busy being a wife and practical mother of three children. I spent many hours playing on my own with not a single memory of running up to my mum or dad and being given a big hug.
It was during this time that I began a fascination with ‘spirits’ – an interest shared by my mother and elder brother. At about ten years old, I was reading tarot cards and training myself in clairvoyance. Sadly, it gave me a false sense of power and identity. This interest continued on and off for many years along with bouts of severe depression. I got married at 19 and over the next ten years had four children.
Saved By Grace
At around age 30, I was approached by a Christian mother at the school who began a conversation about Jesus. She was gently trying to tell me clairvoyance was not of God. I agreed to go and meet the minister who lived next door to her so that I could argue my case of defense. After some exchange of words, the lay minister told me about Jesus’ love for me, His sacrifice, and what it means to follow Jesus. I could not deny the piercing of truth and awareness of His love for me in that instant. I had a Damascus experience and became a Christian, and I changed dramatically.
After that, I went to a Baptist church. My books were all gathered together in big sacks and burnt at the minister’s farm. In its place, one book was on my shelf, the Bible. I was baptized by full immersion and was discipled by various people in the church.
While I would like to tell you it has all been plain sailing from this point in time, it has not. My husband had an affair when I was pregnant with our fourth child. Our relationship was strained. Even though I was struggling to overcome earthly trials, on the other hand, it was the happiest time of my life. God became real to me because I had a close relationship with Jesus. I listened for His voice to do His bidding in many situations in which I have many wonderful testimonies to share.
However, over time, a bitterness grew up in me towards my husband and coldness in my heart. So shortly after starting university, we separated and eventually divorced. By this time, we had both been unfaithful to each other. I fell down a spiritual pit, though Jesus never left me.
Ten years ago, I got remarried to a non-Christian while studying for my Ph.D. I had been struggling with depression, agoraphobia, anxiety, and periods of physical weakness. Eventually, I prayed to God to help me and repented of my sins. Presently, Jesus is faithfully restoring me. Thankfully, my new husband is encouraging me to study at the Christian Leaders Institute. He witnesses the way my faith heals me and forms an integral part of my heart, soul, and identity.
In terms of my spiritual dream, I hope for Jesus to commission more Spirit-filled evangelists to emerge in Cambridge. As they are led by the prompting and power of the Holy Spirit, they will breathe truth and life into the community. More is needed to provide a place to talk about worries, problems, anxieties, and needs to people who remain hidden and hurting in the everydayness of life.
More specifically, I dream that churchgoers from surrounding churches have a drop-in place to meet, talk, and learn. The living stones of the church, the body of believers, need to unite and become more connected. Then, we can strengthen each other and move forward together as the Holy Spirit directs us to witness and evangelize the community. God led innovation with one joined-up team – our own Solomon’s Portico!
Online Minister Training at CLI
Free minister training at CLI will help me grow as a Christian and strengthen me to minister. First and foremost, I want to minister to my own family especially my children and grandchildren who are all at different stages in their life. The divorce was difficult for them in different ways. I ask Jesus to help me become a Spirit-filled mother so that in some way to “repay the years the locusts have eaten.” Two of my children are practicing Christians and two are not.
Free training offered at CLI gave me the opportunity to act immediately on the promptings of the Holy Spirit to train and discipline myself in the Word and wait on God for the next step. This time is a crucial turning point for me. One day, I hope to give back to CLI as I have a gifting for developing teaching materials and a heart to support and mentor others in their ministerial journey.
God bless you all!