I think sharing my testimony with you is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Not because you’re scary or anything like that but because how I became a Christian is one of the most important things that happened in my life. Sharing this is basically sharing the thing that means the most to me.
However, when I was younger, I didn’t think that I would ever view being a Christian like that. Going to church was something I did on Sundays because my parents took me and learning things in Sunday school would be done out of habit or for the pride of learning however many memory verses. I didn’t really think about what being a Christian really meant and I thought that just going to church would mean I would be OK with God. I believed that God existed but I never thought about it much more than that.
When I was 11, I went on a Christian youth camp where, for the first time, I found I was being challenged to think about what becoming a Christian really meant for me. Each evening, we would have a talk and on the last evening the talk was on a passage from the book of Luke speaking about how God has invited us all to his great feast, he has invited us all to be part of his family, and all we need to do is accept the invitation before it’s too late. Anyone who ignores his invitation or tries to get in by their own way won’t be able to go but anyone who accepts his invitation can be saved. This really got me thinking about all I had been taught before. It made me think about how Jesus had died for our sins and how just knowing isn’t enough. I prayed to God that he might forgive me for my sins as I knew I had to respond but the moment seemed to pass and I hadn’t really changed. I was expecting some sort of big experience or realisation but I just felt the same, only this time I realised that I needed to respond.
Over the next year, I thought a lot about how I needed to respond to God’s offer of forgiveness and I prayed to God about this but I was never sure if he had listened or if he had accepted me. I doubted if trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross is enough and I wondered if I had to do anything else. I started to listen to what I was taught at church a bit more in the hope that I would find an answer.
The next summer, I again went on the same Christian youth camp and on the Sunday, the preacher ended the sermon saying that if anyone was doubting whether they were a Christian, they should remember this verse from John: “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” As I realised that I didn’t have to do anything else, that Jesus’ death on the cross was enough I also realised that if I just asked, God would save me, forgive me and accept me. I prayed to God and an amazing sense of peace and joy came over me as I realised that God had saved me and that I didn’t have to do anything else and I was free from the punishment of sin.
Immediately, I started to change. I wanted to read the Bible and go to church to learn more about God and I wanted to spend time praying to him, thanking God for the amazing things he has promised me in Jesus and asking him to help me live my life for him, not to earn anything, but as a thank you to give God the glory.
Having been brought up going to Church and seeing other people get baptised, I knew that it was the right thing to do to get baptised to tell everyone I was a Christian. The sermons seemed to be about baptism as did what I was reading in the Bible at home and in particular, a verse from Acts stood out. "Repent and be baptised, every one of you.” I had already repented and now I knew I needed to get baptised. Eventually, I plucked up the courage to talk to my parents about this and in the June of 2006 I was baptised.
Of course, things didn’t just stop when I became a Christian. A lot has happened in the past five years and God has used them to teach me more about him. It’s not easy being a Christian and don’t believe anyone who tells you it is, but if you trust God, he will be there for you. There were times when I was forced to choose between my friends and going to church and there have been times when I’ve made some bad decisions but God has been with me throughout. There have been times when it’s felt like everything is against me, that nothing makes sense and that God has abandoned me but God was actually using those times for my good to teach or remind me about something important about his promises. In those times, God has prompted me to look in the Bible, talk to a Christian friend or spoken to me through a sermon and he’s shown me that, although we may not understand how he’s working now or why he’s letting the things happen, he has promised that “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” It may not be easy being a Christian but God has promised that he is working in our lives and I am convinced that facing these trials as a Christian now is worth it as God has promised each and every person who follows him that they will be with Him in heaven for eternity.