Who we are

Why ‘Turn the Page?’

Augustine of Hippo, a 4th century bishop, once famously wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you, O God.” He wrote from his own personal experience: as a young man he longed to find meaning and purpose in his life, constantly dogged by the thought that ‘there must be more to life than this.’ His search for an answer led him to explore many of the religious systems and philosophies of his day, as well as seeking happiness in relationships. None brought him the peace and purpose in life for which he was searching. Eventually he discovered that in the Christian faith there was a message of forgiveness, reconciliation and the certainty of a personal relationship with God, which finally satisfied the longing of his heart. Having turned this page in his life he never looked back.

A famous writer and columnist of the 20th century, Bernard Levin, wrote openly about his own spiritual quest, conscious of the fact that material things and human relationships could never by themselves satisfy a deeper longing in the human soul. He described this longing as an ‘ache’ and wrote on one occasion, “Why do I have to know why I was born? Because, of course, I am unable to believe that it was an accident; and if it wasn’t one, it must have a meaning.” (Life’s Great Riddle and No Time to Find It’s Meaning). He spent many years ‘turning pages’ in his search for an answer, but never declared that he had found what he was looking for.

It’s this longing for meaning and purpose, this restlessness of the soul, that drives so much of what we do in life. We are constantly ‘turning pages’ in the hope of finding something that will truly satisfy. It is with this in mind that ‘Turn the Page’ has been created, as a resource for those who acknowledge this longing in their lives and who want help on the journey.

The power of story

Everyone loves a good story. From the beginning of time civilizations have used stories to record, reflect and pass on their story to the next generation. A good story, well told, grabs our attention from the start and sweeps us along; as we get caught up in the characters portrayed and the events of their lives. Within families younger members love to hear stories from their older relatives, and the search to find out where we came from grows every more popular, hence the popularity of the BBC programme ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ It’s a question we all want to know the answer to!

Jesus was a master storyteller and 2,000 years after He lived on earth many of his stories are still embedded in our culture and collective memory – The Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, The Wise and Foolish Builders, The Parable of the Sower. Jesus would often use a story to make people think differently about a situation and challenge their assumptions, often with a surprising twist at the end. But the stories encouraged people who were searching for the ‘more’ that life might have, and helped them to find it – not by ramming it down their throats, but by explaining the world in such a way that they decided for themselves that what He was saying must be true.

Our hope at Turn the Page is that the stories we tell may also help others find the answers to life that they may be searching for.

Who is Simon Allaby?

One of my clearest childhood memories is of being taken to the local library to choose books to read. I remember the excitement of starting a new story, not knowing how it would develop or where it would end. As I grew older I realised that my life itself was telling a story, and that that story was meshed together with the stories of those living around me. In my teenage years I started to wonder if the story of my life would have any ultimate meaning and whether there was a much bigger story that my life was supposed to fit into and which would make sense of it all. That questioning led me on a journey that ended in my finding faith in Jesus Christ, through whom I discovered the love and forgiveness of God.

Since the mid-1980’s I have used stories as a way of sharing the good news that I had found in Jesus with others. I love stories because they provide an opportunity to travel along with the storyteller but not necessarily agree with them. They allow us to question and explore and come to our own conclusions. It is, of course, my conviction that the story of the world that the Bible tells, and that hinges upon the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, makes the most sense of the way the world is, and gives us the most hope for the future.

I was ordained in the Church of England in 1990 and have served in a variety of churches in the North East and South East of England. In 2009 I set up the 6:19 Trust that seeks to encourage and equip followers of Jesus to become more effective in telling the story of their faith, and the difference that it has made to their lives. Since 1999 I have lived with my family in West Sussex.