Divorce and health issues had left Mike in a bad state. Depressed and anxious, even leaving the house caused him anxiety.
Though he had never stopped believing in the God he met as a young teenager, Mike had stopped attending church, stopped reading the Bible and his prayers consisted solely of crying out to God for help. Life had got complicated. There came a point where he remembered the story Jesus told of a prodigal son who at his lowest moment realised he would be better off if he returned home to the Father. In a sense this is what happened for Mike. God really had heard those prayers for help.
“I would make excuses to friends who asked me to go out, because I couldn’t face people. The only people I felt I could cope with for a period of time were my mum, sister and my kids. If I had an appointment, I had to have my sister with me. Even taking phone calls was really difficult.
Mike Vayro first walked through the doors of TVC Church six weeks before the start of the first Lockdown. Even though he knew a couple of people at the church it still took some courage.
Mike talks about the day that he first came to Church in The Oakwood Centre and of how the people greeting him made things less intimidating. From the community group he joined he felt love and acceptance. There was none of the judgment he had expected because of his divorce, or because of his mental health and other health issues. Rather, he felt accepted and encouraged by everyone. Through the worship and talks, God worked to increase his zeal for Him and Mike began to feel that his prison doors had been unlocked.
Mike describes anxiety as prison doors; as walls built around him, that he thought would keep him safe and secure but actually he found that they only locked him up on the inside.
“That’s what anxiety does, it locks you up on the inside. You erect walls all around yourself to keep yourself in a false sense of security, but the trouble is, you block yourself in at the same time, you exist in a cell you created for yourself. But God is able to break down walls, and set free captives, he did it for me.”
God, who is able to free captives, did that for Mike and he started to experience this new freedom, step-by-step. This, Mike says was a wonderful change in his life.
“Who would have imagined, after 4 years of extreme anxiety, that when I came to TVC Church, God would miraculously enable me to attend gatherings of 500 people at the Oakwood building, and do zoom meetings and community group meetings.”
Mike would call himself an introvert and admits there are still difficult moments in his life. He puts it that he’s “still not out of the woods” (how many of us are?) but he recognises the difference that knowing God has made in his life. He’s challenged to be little bolder and less timid in living out his faith. A Holy Spirit “prison brake” has taken place in his life.
Mike currently volunteers for a weekly shift at the Community Grocery in Redcar and has joined the Safe Families team as a befriender. He is part of the Wednesday praying community online and he enjoys making art. He has joined a community group and is a key member, who is not only able to attend regularly (due to this new found freedom) but is a constant source of encouragement to the rest of his group and an inspiration in his growing faith. He acknowledges this is a long way from not being able to be in a room full of people and thanks God for setting him free.
14 Sep 2021