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I was born in 1983, I was christened because my parents are both 
Christians and they went to a C of E church. However I don't agree 
with infant baptism myself. When I was two years old, I started to 
develop a skin condition called eczema. It was treated with various 
forms of medicine and although it became controlled, it didn't improve.
By the time I was four years old, I was covered from head to foot 
in eczema that had become infected and so I was continuously 
weeping and sore. It hurt me to do anything - sit, walk, stand, 
sleep etc.

The doctors didn't know how to treat me anymore other than do what 
we had already been doing for two years which wasn't helping. There 
were very few places on my body that was not effected. I don't 
remember a lot of what happened before this but this is what I have 
been told.

My GP didn't know what to do so I was sent to the specialist at the 
local hospital. He was and is one of the best skin specialists in 
the country which I didn't know until recently but I believe that
that was God helping me. This doctor saw that the cause for all of 
this was a matter of allergies, which no one had realized before so 
he began tests to find out what I was allergic to.

It was at about this time that I became a Christian. I don't remember 
much about what exactly happened but I remember thinking that it was so
simple, God exists, I'd always believed that, I understood about Jesus 
and how he died for me so that I could be free from sin and pain and
sickness. I knew that if I already believed all that then all I had to 
do was ask God to come into my heart and life and everything would fine.

Of course being only four I thought that it would happen with a bolt of 
lightening BAM I'm healed in no more than a week. That does happen for
some people but it didn't happen for me. Anyway, the doctors found that 
I was allergic to almost everything - dairy products, wheat, chicken, 
beef, tomatoes, fruit, grass, dogs, cats, etc. This meant that I had to 
cut all these things out of my life, which sort of restricted me, a little.

I had to go on a diet and I had to start having regular injections to 
try and start imunizating me to all these things. I hated injections 
and I blamed everyone for all the things I had to go through. Sometimes 
I blamed God because I couldn't understand why he would let me suffer but
most of the time I blamed doctors as I saw them as the ones inflicting 
pain onto me.

My family and I were being prayed for continuously by friends and 
family but at the time I didn't see any improvement and considered 
the continuingtreatment that I had as torture.

When I went to school I was picked on because I had to be different 
but I still had a large group of friends who understood about me so 
I was able to ignore the people who were nasty. My skin was improving 
all the time and when I was eight I realized that I wanted to be 
baptized. The people in my church kept asking me if I was sure but I 
think they just wanted to make sure I was doing it because of the right 
reasons. I knew I wanted to be baptized because it says in the Bible 
that you should be baptized as a symbol of commitment and covenant 
between you and God.

By this time I was starting to improve with my eczema but it was still 
noticeable. Then we moved house. I had moved house before but I hadn't 
moved schools at the same time before and so I was not looking forward 
to it. When we went to visit my new school we were told not to worry 
about how people would react to my eczema because lots of other people
in the school had eczema. However we found that the scale of eczema 
that they meant was so small it was practically non-existent. It was 
like saying to someone with glasses that lots of people in the area 
needed glasses and then finding that lots of people needed them but 
the need was not big enough for them to have glasses.

Eczema is very noticeable to someone who has perfect skin - which is 
most people. My confidence suffered a lot and I became extremely quiet 
and reserved. I was also very sensitive to what people thought about 
me and for a long I hated it if I found that my Mum had been talking 
to someone about me even if it was just saying how well I was going. I 
also stopped going to church for various reasons as I didn't feel 
comfortable there.

Then we moved house again and so again I was leaving all my friends 
who knew about me and understood me to go to some place where no one 
would know how to react to me. When we moved here people were quite 
alright with my skin, it hardly showed at all and so unless I told 
anyone they wouldn't really know it was there. However people were 
much more aware of how I behaved. I was incredibly shy and I hardly 
ever spoke to anyone. This was all because of my confidence or lack 
of confidence. My parents told me that when we had moved I would have 
to go to church so I was going back to church and I didn't mind that 
because everything was different here but I still didn't have any 
confidence. I was fourteen then and so people were very surprised at 
how I acted. This went on for just over a year by which time we were 
settled into the church I go to now.

Then about a year after we had moved my brother had an accident - sort 
of. In the night he had what appeared to be an asthma attack. I woke 
up and heard him trying to breathe. This was strange enough as it is 
because I am an extremely heavy sleeper and although he hadn't had an 
attack for at least three years, this was the first 'attack' that I 
witnessed. Being half asleep I just thought "Oh yeah, he's having an 
attack, I'll go back to sleep" quite casually as if he had attacks every 
night. Anyway next thing I know I hear this scream and I wake up properly 
then, although I'm still a bit dopey and this time I think "Oh well, may 
as well go and see what's going on". So I go downstairs and find that my 
Mum's going hysterical on the phone and my brother has collapsed on the 
kitchen floor and has stopped breathing. My Dad's there as well, trying 
to tell my Mum what to say on the phone and my sister's still asleep. I 
just stand there like an idiot and think "Oh great what now" but then 
I hear this voice that was quite clear but it was in my head and it said 
"Don't worry, he'll be fine just help your Mum". So then I'm fine, I 
didn't say anything I just calmly got a blanket and a toy for my brother 
in case he was conscious of what was going on. My Dad was on the phone 
now so I made my Mum and Dad a cup of tea (very helpful). Then the 
ambulance, which had come from ten miles away, arrived - the doctor had 
already been and had tried to help him but hadn't been able to because 
his windpipe was blocked up all the way down - and they took him to the 
hospital. I then calmly tidied the house and waited for my Dad to come and 
collect me in the morning. My brother was fine and was back at school 
the next week. This was when I think my faith began to be strengthened. 
It was always there but it had fizzled a bit. Along with my faith, my 
confidence was also strengthened over time, it still is and my faith 
will go on being strengthened throughout my life. 

I am now 17 years old and will be finishing school next year. I have 
very little eczema at all which only comes up in certain situations. 
I am now allergic to nothing except for peanuts, which I wasn't allergic 
to before but is quite easy to cut out of my diet without too many 
difficulties. My confidence is getting better all the time and I am 
heavily involved with my church youth group and have participated in 
mission trips, dramas, retreats and other events. I know that this
would've been very unlikely without God's help and I know that for 
all of it to happen God has been continuously helping me and my family 
protecting us from so many things throughout my life.

Rachel K



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