Hi there, my names Jill, formerly Webb now Eckersley. I was brought up in a good Christian home, my parents attended an Anglican Church and a new Vicar started teaching on The person of The Holy Spirit, this led to many people getting radically converted and a mini Revival began in our village.
My Mum, it’s said went from a shy, quiet person to a very bold Christian witness and lady. I had a good Christian upbringing therefore and new nothing else other than that and the local Church. I gave my life to Christ at age five and enjoyed all that that brought.
We then moved Churches a couple of times and we then ended up in a local Church in Sheffield that was again experiencing Revival and growth with The Power and Gifts of The Holy Spirit, by now I was working in retail and one of the Worship Leaders and team at Hope City Church.
This was an exciting time of Church growth and expansion with many mature Christians being awakened and many Christians being added, saved, delivered and healed. One of these was a natural and effective Evangelist called Terry Eckersley.
If anyone had said to me that I would be married to ‘Terry Eckersley’ many years ago I would probably have laughed in disbelief.
I first met Terry in a church in Sheffield when I was about 21, Terry would have been 31 then, we both have a different memory of our first meeting, I remember being introduced at the end of a church service, some one said let me introduce you to Terry he’s got an amazing testimony…… I thought he’s a bit full on !!!!, waving his hands and waxing lyrical about how Jesus had changed his life. Terry thought that this was everyone’s experience and that Jesus was worth getting excited about and sharing this with everyone he met!
Terry also became very good friends with my Mum, she looked after a single mums group in our church and with Terry’s work with young guys from Sheffield YMCA and Pastoral Care within the Church worked well together with his passion and action with Evangelism- they were a great support to one other with there people and in prayer. Mum also became a surrogate Mum for Terry whom hadn’t had the Privilege of being brought up within a caring, loving Christian home, quite the contrary, his Dad died when he was a child and he experienced much pain, loneliness and needed up in the care of the local authority, on drugs and finally gangs and Prison and hopeless case.
Now at this time there was no connection between Terry and myself he would occasionally be invited for Sunday lunch, and would turn up eat lunch,then fall asleep on the sofa !! Cheek !! By now he had been promoted at work, bought a house been through Bible School and university God was prospering him and he was maturing with a rich and full life. He then moved city’s in 2000 onto Southampton and Portsmouth growing in his career and calling and went onto to do bigger and great things in the YMCA, Church , Authoring books and music and becoming very successful, his testimony and stature and effectiveness kept growing and growing.
I continued my work within retail, worship leading and also worship leading within Church plants. I did also enjoy a shift to head hunting within retail management recruitment for a season. My life of contentment within this, Church and family life of many years did seem to becoming to the end of a wonderful season. I never yearned for a boyfriend Husband like so many of singles did and do. I never liked the idea of potentially dating someone else’s Husband of the future.
I was in my early 30’s at this point, and serving on worship team in the Leeds church plant.
My family and I had been invited to a dinner party at one of the leaders home, conversation began to come up around dating and future partners, Eddie said ‘Judy and I have recommended that people write a list of ‘Ten things’ they are looking for in a future partner, everyone we have encouraged to do this has met there partner within 6 months’. wow that seemed very specific and very quick !!! I thought this was very interesting and may be I should give it a go.
Now the list I wrote didn’t contain complicated things, everyone’s will be different. but what I would say is, what are there most important lasting things you would be looking for? Mine contained things that were important to me. And it really helped me focus rather than be general.
Terry always kept in touch with Mum and was invited every year on Boxing Day for a second Christmas, not much had changed he ate, talked and slept on the sofa. He had continued to grow in stature, effectiveness and influence in many arenas and spheres.
It wasn’t until my Mum became very ill in December 2005 that really things began to slowing change in our friendship, instead of my Mum and Terry talking it was me and Terry talking.
Terry was now a CEO of a thriving, growing Christian Charity in Surrey and I became very impressed with the work he was doing.
Everything changes . . .
There had been so many changes in my life, and one of the biggest and best was the change in my relationship with Terry.
I went to serve at the YMCA in Woking where Terry was CEO. An opportunity came up to do music workshops with disadvantaged Youth. It was amazing that I had known Terry over ten years, but now I was seeing him in a different light. We were getting on really well; we would chat regularly on the phone and He would come up north to see me (not just the family); we’d go out for meals and we were getting closer. By now he had become very successful and had all the trappings. Terry had bought a BMW sports car and a flat in Surrey.
Terry placed an advert with the local Woking churches for accommodation for me as a ‘volunteer young woman at the Woking YMCA’. We’d been relying on this advert to get me a place to stay. Time was running out and Terry was just typing an email to another YMCA that provided housing, giving the dates I would be volunteering in the hope of getting me somewhere to stay, when Terry got a phone call from a local Christian couple who had a room for me. Truly a Miracle. This couple had a large, detached mansion and three spare rooms! They gave the room at no charge and became good friends to Terry and myself.
I served on team at Woking YMCA and we were starting to fall in love. I had seen another side to Terry as he had dropped everything to visit my sick mother Janet. This was a tremendous time for both of us, but equally challenging. We had known each other so long like sister and brother, now it was all changing and we didn’t want to get it wrong or hurt each other. Terry and I were both praying about this and I subsequently was to find out that God was giving Terry a green light.
Our first date was when Terry was invited to Buckingham Palace in recognition of the work he had done in the community. He was able to have someone accompany him and my mum, Janet, who was like one of Terrys best friends and had become like a spiritual surrogate mother, hinted heavily that he should take me. So Terry asked if I would like to come and I said yes! Who wouldn’t! We went through the formalities of security and being commanded by the Lord Lieutenant to attend the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
Dreams come true
Terry proposed to me just off Bond Street in London, after a sort of work review over lunch one Saturday ! I was so surprised I was laughing in shock and Terry said, ‘You’d better make your mind up; we’re booked into Tiffany’s just around the corner.’ I picked my engagement ring from my favourite jewellers and in less than nine months we were married.
Terry had a one-bedroomed flat that we moved into after an amazing wedding. The first thing Terry did was buy me a new kitchen. He did the same as I did with Tiffany’s – He gave me a budget and then let me pick.
Back to the wedding, we had a great celebration with our friends. The wedding was everything we wanted. We planned it together. We got married in a beautiful Old Village Church in Woking. I had sung at so many weddings that were almost a contemporary Christian conveyer belt that we both wanted to be married the traditional way. We had a great service.Terry arrived on a motor bike and side car, as did his best man John Bradwell. John looked very nervous which was funny as he is a well built, typical mans man! So did Terrys ushers, Dr Nick Tiffin, a top consultant pathologist and dear friend, and Wayne Leigh, an incredible charismatic businessman. Wayne met and greeted all at the church. We had a beautiful dream, sun-filled, love- and faith-filled marriage. I was marrying the Man of my dreams and best friend. After the service we then went to a local hotel for the wedding breakfast. Everyone who came was intrinsically a part of our journey, an encouragement and support to all we had become. Terry covered this in the Groom’s speech which was part stand up comedy, part evangelist giving glory to God and his people who had been so significant in both our lives. By now Terry had spoken all over the UK and the world. In Churches, Schools, Prisons, Conferences, Business meetings, in fact anywhere he got invited. Always bearing much fruit.
Over time I think we all change and preconceived ideas we have of others can be challenged, I remember forming my ‘idea’ of what Terry was like. And the person I had got to know, loved and married was a totally different person to that.
I also would say I never felt right about just ‘dating’ people in church, this may be different for other people but I didn’t believe it was right for me. I had been given the privilege of serving on then worship team and also leading worship for 12 years and I knew I wanted to be a good example for others watching my life. I do believe there is the right person out there for everyone as Terry would say their ‘perfect fit’.
I would probably say from writing the list to being engaged to Terry has about 10 months. And we married 6 months after that. I had forgotten about the list and found it one day, and Terry measured up to every point on that list ! God really does give us the desires of our heart as we delight ourselves in Him. Derek Prince has written a good book on this called ” God is a Matchmaker” . Another good point Terry also shares is helpmeat from Genesis where God says it’s not good for man to be alone translates perfect fit, and what at first didn’t seem like a fit at all, became a perfect fit in God, we have at the time of writing been blissfully married for nearly seven years – this has remained through the heights, depths and all the challenges that life can bring as we keep Christ the centre of our lives and marriage.