How faith helped life take off

TabithaBanks09_JimHTABITHA BANKS has just succeeded in becoming a cabin crew member with a leading Airline.  A great achievement for the 24-year-old, a Christian who at one time turned away from the Church and dabbled with drink and drugs. Tabitha shares about how it was her faith that helped her back on track.
Tabitha lives with her parents Jane and Gordon and her brother Joseph, 23, in  Hove, Sussex. 
She loves her work as a flight attendant based at Gatwick, but only a few short years ago it seemed she was going nowhere.
Her father's job as church army evangelist took the family to Bodmin in Cornwall. They lived in the tiny village of Luxulyan, which is where things began to go wrong for Tabitha, who was then a teenager.
She said: "I would like to say my faith is strong, which it is to some degree, but it has been a bit of an uphill struggle at times. I was brought up as a Christian, but when we moved to Luxulyan I got in with the wrong crowd and got involved in things that were not good for me physically or spiritually.
"Instead of getting involved in the Church, I got involved with the other side, if you like. It was drink and drugs, nothing heavy, but I was drifting.
"It was my parents who pulled me back. My father became the Chichester diocesan evangelist and so we moved to Hove in 2005. I was still in touch with my friends down there but Mum and Dad helped me see what a destructive cycle I was on, where they were leading me and where I would end up. I came to realise it was not a good idea and I broke away."
At 19, never having been away from home for long, she flew to the States to take part in Camp America. Tabitha said: "On the day I flew out to New York I sat on the plane and said 'OK God, if you really do exist please look after me and bring me home safe'. I had an amazing time and God did bring me home not once but for the three summers I took part. He continues to watch out for me."
Tabitha then started working as a barista at Starbucks in Hove, a move that was to help change her life.
She said: "A customer mentioned that she was a cabin crew member and thought I seemed like the kind of person who would enjoy it. I was looking for a career change so I gave it some thought and decided to do an online course to see where that might take me.
"I then received an invitation to an interview with an airline based at Luton. After prayer and thought I accepted the offer, however I was unsuccessful.
"I was really disappointed but a small voice kept saying 'in my time not yours, it will happen I promise' and this gave me hope and kept me looking."
In February , Tabitha did a training/interview preparation course at East Midlands Airport.  A week later she found out an airline was holding open days which, after more prayer, she decided to attend. She was offered an interview and, to her delight, was accepted and is now on a six-month contract working on short-haul flights.
She said: "I have no doubt in my mind this is where God wants me to be and prayer has been a really big part of it. I am happy to discuss my faith with some of my colleagues if the situation arises but my big thing is to show my faith through words and action. So what I say and do on a daily basis will hopefully let them see my faith in action.
"The airline is very accommodating to all faiths and religions. This is shown in the tolerance and understanding everyone has for each other. Gatwick has a chapel and the Anglican chaplain is Jonathan Baldwin. It is comforting to know I have somewhere to go for services pre or post flight."

Tabitha is eternally grateful to her parents as well as her faith. She said: "It may sound corny but I do have to say my parents are amazing. They have stuck by me - especially during those dark times.
"In regard to this new adventure I'm starting, they have been behind me from the beginning. We have prayer times together and I really feel this has been a big part in getting to where I am now.
"I love the challenge of the job, I love doing something different every day and being somewhere different - even if you just stand on the tarmac I still think, 'oh, I'm in Egypt - and I love it'. My parents are obviously delighted. At the end of six months the airline could offer me a permanent job or another summer contract - or just say 'bye bye'. I am praying for permanent."

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