Many of us at Crabtree Church have had amazing experiences of God's goodness to us. You can read some of our testimonies here

Hughie Blackford

My story begins... how our God has been so good to me.

I was born in Watford in 1941, and lived in that town until 1960 when my mother bought a hardware shop in Wheathamstead. In those days I was not a Christian.

My story of how God started to work in my life started many years ago, in October 1985. I got up in the morning about 6am, cleaned the rooms downstairs, made tea and called my mother as she liked to get up early in the morning on a Sunday. She didn't like to stay in bed. However, when I called her I got no answer, so I knocked on her door, still no answer, so I called her again and again without success. So I obtained a crowbar from our shed and broke the bedroom open. She was laying unconscious in bed. So I immediately telephoned for an ambulance, and she was taken to St Albans hospital. They told me she had had a very bad stroke in the night.


She was placed in Churchill Ward for two months or so, and then transferred to the Stopwell ward and then to Breakspear ward where she stayed for the rest of her remaining life- about another two and a half years. In the hospital there was a male nurse named Jeremy. He came down to work in Breakspear ward from time to time, particularly when there was a shortage of nursing staff. We first met about 6 months before my mother died, and over the course of several weeks he told me about the Upper Room prayer group in Beaconsfield Road, St Albans. Jeremy had been attending that group for about 18 months.

So about 5 months after my mother's death I started going to my prayer group in St Albans and I have found so many kind friends, so many lovely people there. My mother died on 30th November 1988, on a Wednesday, and the funeral took place on the 7th December. Three weeks after her death I went to Israel.

A taxi from Tel Aviv took me to Jerusalem, and the kind taxi driver took me to a hostel where I might stay, in King George street, Jerusalem. The people were so good to me there, so kind and helpful. I got to know a lot of people there. God's love seemed to have followed me to Israel that Christmas week.

On Christmas Eve I went to Bethlehem. I was standing in Manger Square when some other people spoke to me. They talked to me for a while, and then they asked me to go to their home, the House of Hope, in Bethlehem. So on Christmas Day in 1988 I found myself having a meal in the house of hope. I got to know my new friends very well; and even took a blind man to the church of nativity. My friends from the house of hope asked me to come and see them the following year, and I have done so at Christmas time each year since then.

The following June 1989 I went to Billy Graham live in St Albans city hall, and was invited to go down to be prayed for. I was given a pack which contained Luke's gospel and a counselor for my name and address. He then prayed with me and told me a local church near where I lived would contact me in a few days.

A few days later I received a letter from Roger Rowe, an elder of Crabtree Lane Chapel. I telephoned him, and later he came round to my flat and told me where Crabtree Church was. So the following Sunday I went to Crabtree and met some very kind and friendly people; through them I was introduced to other Christian people in Harpenden and Wheathamsted.

This is why I love God so much and I love his son Jesus.

Even after my mothers death, God had taken great care of me. I received my flat within days of her stroke and all I had to do was move in. Everything was made ready for me, even the new central heating! My neighbours are so kind to me and I have made friends with a lot of people round where I live.

God has been so kind to me, I praise Him so much.