From ashes to healing
From ashes to healing is the story of an Irish couple, Betty Burke and her husband Tom. As so many did, they moved to England in the 1970s in search of work. Betty tells how then, even as she started to search for God, He revealed Himself to her in an amazing way.
Our son Jonathan had always slept in exactly the same place at the window in his room … But this night I felt the overwhelming need to move him away from the window. In the morning as I entered his room … I was stunned to see the floor covered with huge pieces of glass, and a large brick in the room that somebody had thrown at the window the night before. I was so shocked … as I looked at the big chunks of glass that could have sliced through his little body. I was shocked too that I could hear the Lord and that He would speak about such down to earth matters …
Tom & Betty got work in London running a newsagent. Then after some years, they were able to buy their own little confectionery and tobacconist shop in north London. Gradually they found that they wanted to share about their growing faith, so they added a single Christian book to their window display, and to their surprise it sold, so they replaced it. It was followed by more and more Christian books and Bibles. Then God challenged them to give up selling tobacco once and for all, which after all was their main source of income, and now they had three small children to support. But they took the plunge, God met their needs in many ways, and I’ve actually visited their thriving Christian bookshop.
But there’s more to the story. Betty had had a pretty difficult start to life back in Dublin, and gradually she realised that shame was holding her back, and fear was crippling her. She recounts the many ways Jesus met and healed her. Hence the title, From ashes to healing – not just from the ashes of tobacco sales, but from the ashes of Betty’s own life, to her own healing.
But the story doesn’t end there. More and more customers were not just purchasing Christian books, but were sharing their heartaches and their ailments. So little by little Betty and her bookshop team started to pray with them to receive healing, and even in some cases to meet Jesus for the first time. As more and more people came to them for help, the prayer team grew, with people from across the denominations. They set this up as the very first ministry with the name Healing Rooms in England, right there on the premises, and they soon had to extend out the back. So not only does the title, From ashes to healing, refer to Betty’s own healing, but to the powerful healing ministry into which Jesus led them.
I’ve met Betty & Tom, and despite years in London, they haven’t lost their Irish accents, and are such lovely down to earth folk. I learnt a lot from her book, and I found it both challenging and encouraging. Because it’s written as her story it’s really easy to read, and so I’ve also found it a great gift to give to someone who needs encouragement.
Betty Burke and her husband Tom are the owners of the Good News Book Shop in Leyton in the East of London. On the same premises, they also set up the London Healing Rooms, the first Healing Rooms in England. This is now linked with other Healing Rooms through the International Association of Healing Rooms.