Norwich couple thankful for second chance
2010: A Norwich Christian couple tell of how God helped them overcome personal trauma when their first marriages fell apart and of their recommitment to Him years later.
Adrian and Doreen Lee felt happiness had passed them by when their first marriages ended, but they are now closing in on their 25th wedding anniversary. Convinced God’s hand was on them all the time, the couple also feel prayer brought the local Salvation Army band literally to their doorstep to bring Adrian back into church membership.
Seeing the sixty-somethings getting cosy on their settee, resplendent in their Salvation Army uniforms in the front room of their suburban Norwich home, one could be forgiven for thinking Adrian and Doreen Lee had escaped life’s trials. Anyone who drew such a conclusion would be very wrong.
Both were raised in Christian homes, but by the 1980s their first marriages had fallen apart.
“It was a very difficult time, one that I didn’t think would change,” says Doreen, 61, now a school canteen assistant. “It isn’t easy being single among many married people and not knowing how or where to meet other single Christians.”
“It was the same for me,” adds Adrian, 62, a self-employed tradesman. “Try as they did, a lot of my friends, just didn’t understand what I was going through.”
They both took a step few Christians take in joining a singles’ dating agency in Norwich in the prayerful hope of meeting another Christian looking for marriage.
“I didn’t see anything wrong with joining the agency,” says Preston-born Doreen, who has two children from her first marriage, and two grandchildren. “I was keen to meet another Christian, a man who shared my beliefs and could be an encouragement to me in faith and me to his. Relationships can be so much harder when you start off with someone with a very different outlook on life.”
Adrian, a father of one who hails from North Walsham, continues: “The agency was good for me for a while because I met lots of people who understood what a person who had gone through a divorce felt like and had to deal with. The only thing is that it didn’t totally fulfil my expectations – I didn’t meet anyone that could be anything more than a friend – until I met Doreen that is!”
Introduced early in 1987, the pair hit it off immediately and was married later that year, though regular church attendance was still a problem.
“I wanted to start going to church when we lived in Sheringham but we could never get around to it. Adrian was working long hours in a property maintenance firm, travelling all over the country. I always hated working on Sunday. For me personally, I just felt there was something wrong about it. Doreen was working in a department store at one time, so the way never seemed clear enough for us to go to church on Sundays because at least one of us was working which really didn’t help me renew my commitment to God.”
On getting together, Doreen began going to The Salvation Army, while Adrian would only go every now and then. A combination of personal reluctance and professional commitments continued to keep Adrian away from church. Several of Doreen’s Christian friends promised to pray for Adrian, which gave her a lot of comfort despite her worry about his continued aversion to going back to church.
That changed when, in June 2005, Adrian was alerted by a strangely familiar sound coming from outside their house – the sound of the Norwich Mile Cross Corps Band! The 15-strong group was conducting an outdoor service on a patch of land just yards from the Lees’ front door.
“I had not seen or heard of the Band playing in my street before and I knew what I had to do,” says Adrian who responded to the call and rededicated his life back to God. “The funny thing is I don’t think they have played there since. I certainly don’t think that this happened by chance. I really feel that God came to get me Himself in the guise of the Band, saying ‘if you won’t come, I’ll come and get you!’
Keen to fully commit to the Lord, Adrian soon started attending church at Mile Cross and by Christmas 2006 he had become a full member, bringing an end to a near 20-year hiatus from church.
“We are really enjoying ourselves at The Salvation Army,” says Doreen, “with the more modern songs and music and the friendliness and support of the people. But having Adrian there with me makes it extra special.”
Adrian, who will soon become the corps’ band sergeant, continues: “It is great to be back, especially as there are people there that we know, many of them had been praying for me. In many ways, I owe my re-conversion down to their prayers.
“God has a plan for all of us and I know he had His hand on me, even when I felt He wasn’t there. For a long time I rejected church but I am so glad God didn’t reject me.”