The everyday choice of devotion to God is echoed in Pastor Emma’s life. With her passion to walk alongside women in our communities who are facing difficulties, COTS Preston is all about creating opportunities of hope, growth and change. Her own journey to finding faith wasn’t one without adversity, but perhaps one that other women can relate to, especially those who are going through similar situations.
Sitting beside her Mum and Grandma at Church on a Sunday morning is one of Pastor Emma’s fondest childhood memories and where her love for the Bible began. Although she kept the word of Jesus Christ close to her heart throughout her life, she found her early school years socially challenging which led to rebellious boundary-pushing and rule-breaking. At the age of fourteen she discovered recreational substance misuse and by the time she had reached her late teenage years she was caught in the grips of being addicted to heroin and alcohol. After serving a three year prison sentence at the age of nineteen her life became a continuous vicious cycle of addiction, rehab, sobriety and relapse.
“I knew I was broken and I knew I had hit rock bottom.”
Eleven years later during a 12 step programme she finally found sobriety and a stronger faith in Jesus Christ. Emma went on to earn a degree in Psychotherapy and achieve a career in counselling, all whilst raising her two sons. However, her journey of recovery became especially difficult after losing her Dad, the pain and grief was too much causing her to relapse into self-medication. The pressure of camerflourging her addiction from family and friends for many years became a burden too heavy to carry. With that, Pastor Emma decided to enter a detox programme. Emma remembers, “I knew I was broken and I knew I had hit rock bottom”. It was during her lowest moment that Pastor Emma developed a deeper relationship with God. A turning point in Emma’s recovery came when she began to have a deepening burden for women who were facing similar challenges to her own.
With an open and obedient heart Pastor Emma knew she wanted to be led by God, but with the difficulty of finding personal guidance and a network of support came the feeling of oppression. Nevertheless, she was determined to find a way. Along her journey she met some amazing people and began setting up recovery meetings, although it was through meeting Pastor Mick that doors to establishing a women’s ministry in Preston were opened.
During her ordination process Pastor Emma, alongside Pastor Mick as her mentor, began planting the foundations for the women’s ministry. Pastor Emma now spends her time providing opportunities for women, especially vulnerable women who have fallen through the gaps of injustice within society, to regain their self-confidence through the teachings of the Bible.
As well as outreach work in Preston she runs 12 step Christian programmes throughout the week at a local Church. Young, broken women often walk through the doors looking for guidance and support. Some of the women may be in addiction or have been forced into postitution, although they often go hand in hand. Pastor Emma is always prepared to listen, and knowing the dangerous risks the women are facing and through her own experiences of addiction Emma is able to connect on a personal level and nurture relationships based on dignity and respect. Through showing compassion and sitting beside women as equals she has developed a safe space to allow them to speak freely, flourish and grow. For some, it’s during the meetings they’re able to develop a whole new perspective on creating change in their own lives. Pastor Emma’s work has touched the hearts of many women who were once in the midst of addiction or prostitution, they have now gone on to have their own sucessful recovery journerys and joined her with a passion to help others.
“I am driven to create programmes that help other women find their own calling, to know that they are loved, beautiful and wonderfully made. This really isn’t about me, it’s about what God can do for women through me.”
Pastor Emma is passionate about creating tangible teaching resources to help women lead Christ-like lives – something that was missing from her own journey of recovery.
She recently had the opportunity to visit a women’s prison, something she holds close to her heart, to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Pastor Emma truly is an inspirational woman who leads with humility and an open heart to Glorify God through helping others. We know this is just the beginning for Pastor Emma and we’re excited to see where her journey at COTS Preston takes her next!