Norfolk couple’s adventure of faith after losing all
One morning in January, Noel and Rachel Alexander stood in their Hellesdon living room and, over Skype, led a church service in Pakistan. It is one of many unusual things they’ve done in the nine years since losing everything to bankruptcy and becoming more dependent on God. Jenny Seal reports.
In 2010, Noel and his wife Rev Rachel were stripped of everything when Noel was forced into bankruptcy with his Mid Norfolk property consultancy. It was a devastating blow. They lost their home, car and savings. The couple were in their 50s, didn’t have a job between them and had four grown-up children.
What Noel and Rachel did have was faith. And they would increasingly learn that if they were obedient to God, he would look after them.
Noel said: “It turns out, I think we’ve had the best nine years of our lives. And had I not been bankrupt, we’d never have had that.”
Shortly after the bankruptcy, Rachel set up a website called ‘Prophetic Lighthouse’ offering Christian mentoring and prayer. The couple have since grown the ministry which now encourages people both in Norfolk and around the world.
“That was how we met up with the church in Pakistan (pictured right),” said Rachel. “The minister asked, ‘can you preach on Skype and lead worship?’ I thought ‘this is going to be a bit nutty,’ but we are open to whatever God wants us to do.”
Rachel, an ordained Church of England minister, has always been drawn to prayer and listening to God. For a decade after her ordination in 1999, Rachel chose to live what she calls a ‘contemplative lifestyle’.
She remembers: “People would come and join me and with gentle worship we would sit and listen to the Lord and share what we felt he was saying. It was really exciting.”
This was put on hold in 2010 when Rachel took a job as an Assistant Minister with the Diocese of Leicester in Loughborough. The job came with a house and the couple moved to the Midlands. Noel retrained in drug and alcohol rehabilitation and found a new career working in the voluntary sector.
It was not long after moving to Loughborough that they experienced an enormous lesson in trusting God. Through their website, a pastor in Haiti contacted them and asked them to lead a conference. Haiti was in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake of 2010 that had killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Rachel and Noel couldn’t afford to go but felt God was calling them to. Not knowing how they would pay for it, and with authorities saying it wasn’t safe to travel to Haiti, the couple chose to go.
Noel said: “We had the most wonderful conference. Rachel preached and I’d taken my guitar and was leading worship there. It was just an amazing time.”
He continues: “Just before we left to come home, I said to Rachel, ‘do you know how much this has cost us?’ I’d written it down. It had cost us £4,010 so far. I said: ‘We haven’t got £4,010, I don’t know how this is going to work’.”
When they got back to Loughborough their mail included a letter from Breckland District Council. It had been two years since they had lost their house in Dereham, but the letter informed them that the council tax on the property had been wrongly assessed back in the 1980s and they were due a refund.
Noel said: “So, there were 24 years’ worth of refunds which came to £4,005. And that was paid into our bank account the day we landed from Haiti. Extraordinary! God was teaching us that when he says something listen because you’ll be okay, he’ll look after you.”
This lesson stood them in good stead five years later, when the couple felt God calling them back to Norfolk. They still had no savings and their jobs were in Loughborough.
“I had the best job I’d ever had in my life,” Noel said. “I was a manager with a wonderful homeless charity called The Exaireo Trust. I’d set up this thing called the Ethos Project where I was getting guys who had been homeless back into work. I loved it.”
They struggled with the decision but chose to obey and in 2015 moved to East Tuddenham. Noel said: “The first day we were there we got the furniture in and thought, ‘what do we do now?’ We had absolutely no idea. And it was just such a walk of faith, which we are still walking.”
They have since had three addresses and now live in a house rented from the Church of England overlooking the River Wensum in Hellesdon.
Noel continues: “Coming back to Norfolk was right. We had to do that. Rachel was consumed in her ministry with the church in Loughborough and coming back here freed her from that responsibility. Now she can be fruitful where God has gifted her.”
Their typical week involves leading a meeting of prayer, prophecy and worship in Weston Longville every Wednesday morning. On Thursdays they lead an hour of prayer and worship in St Stephen’s Church in central Norwich followed by an afternoon of mentoring. Rachel is the Community Spiritual Director for St Stephen’s Church and the couple are part of the congregation there.
Noel also leads worship at the North Norfolk Filling Station. He writes songs and is working on his second album. His first album ‘Love Song,’ a collection of 12 beautiful worship tracks, was released in 2017 thanks to a grant from Dreams and Visions.
The rest of the time is taken up with clients who approach them via the website. On Skype Rachel has mentored and prayed with people in Switzerland, Germany, France, Bermuda, America, Africa, Pakistan and India.
“The other day I had a phone call, out of the blue, from a pastor in Ethiopia,” Rachel said. “He said: ‘would you pray and prophesy for me?’ I arranged a day to call him back and it completely changed everything for him. He had lost his hope I guess, and just speaking right in from God changed that and he was encouraged, and re-enlivened, and full of God and so grateful.”
Rachel continues, “I don’t think we’re anything special. We’re just living a normal, Christian life.” Noel bursts out laughing. “I think I’d argue with that,” he said, “I think our life is bonkers.”
Rachel agrees: “It is bonkers, but what I’m saying is we’re not any different. We are just ordinary people. And anybody can get revelation. It’s just the Gospel. I want to encourage people that the adventure is there. Everyone’s adventure looks different, but it’s there.”
You can find out more about Prophetic Lighthouse at www.propheticlighthouse.com
The couple would love to support the church in Pakistan mentioned in the article. The End Times Revival Ministries runs an orphanage, a school and care for vulnerable women in the Punjab district of Faisalabad. If you would be willing to help this ministry, please email email@example.com
Pictured above are Noel and Rachel Alexander in Hellesdon.