I was recently reminded of the powerful influence of a personal testimony, so I thought I’d share mine in the hope that it will show how God has worked in my life.
I have always been in a Christian family and attended Bible teaching churches, so I think from the beginning I took Christianity almost for granted as part of my life. Though I know I was born a sinner and not a Christian, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in and love God. I think when I became a Christian I was around 3 to 5 years old. I remember asking my mum how to become a Christian. She said something like ‘repent and believe’ i.e. you need to turn from your sinful ways to God and say sorry for the wrong things you have done, and have faith in Jesus Christ to save you. After she said that I remember praying to God and saying I was sorry for doing wrong and asking Him to forgive me and save me. I kept repeating it just to make sure! I also used to keep my monkey with me every night so that he could come with me to heaven if Jesus came back suddenly! When I was in infant school I used to tell my classmates about God. Unfortunately I got put off doing this by primary school since I was bullied a lot and called ‘Bible basher’, so I kept to myself more.
When I was 9 I heard a sermon preached on baptism, saying that Christians should get baptised. I then asked my Dad if there was any chance of getting baptised because it was obviously something I should do. As a result of that, my brother and I had several classes with the senior elder, where we went through the meaning of Christianity and of baptism. At the age of 10 I was baptised. Around that age I started going into the main church service in the mornings, instead of the Sunday School. I used to always take a notebook and write notes from the sermons to help me to listen and give me something to do. My aim each service was to get our visiting preacher to smile at me, so I would sit in the front row and grin widely at him whenever he looked my way – I usually managed to get a smile back!!
When I was about 15, a young people’s Bible study was started up. It was very practical, and although I knew I sinned, I don’t think that I had previously realised quite how much. So I began to make a real effort to improve spiritually in my everyday life. When I was 16, my mum came back to church and I started going through the M’Cheyne Calendar with her – we would both read the 4 chapters a day and then write down our favourite verses and compare, which was always fun. We also moved to Kent and went to a church where there was really good preaching and fellowship and a lot of Christian young people. It was wonderful because I started to really look forward to every Sunday. Instead of God being just one part of my life, He became much more central.
When I was 18 the most major turning point in my Christian life happened. I was reading some easy-to-read biographies of Christians and gradually progressed into ones that had more depth to them. I read Isobel Kuhn’s biographies, Hudson Taylor’s and then Amy Carmichael’s. This last one really inspired me, and I resolved that I wanted to give every part of my life totally to God, to try and do His will in everything. I also started to really want to do fulltime Christian work when I was older. Well I wasn’t perfect from then on of course, but my whole attitude to life had changed – I wanted to please God in everything I did and really tried to put that desire into practice. This change also resulted in me having a big sort-out! I looked at different things I did, and tried to think whether they were pleasing to God. I threw a lot of novels out, lots of films, and lots of CDs. I decided I was spending too much time thinking about how much I wanted a boyfriend, and the romantic music I was listening to, the films I watched, and the books I read were not helping – so I got rid of them all!! And it had a great effect, as it really did help me to get my mind off that way of thinking. As a result of reading Isobel Kuhn’s biography I also committed to spending an hour with God every day, which again had an enormous impact on my life.
The scary thing about my story is that I have been so blessed by being brought up in a Christian home with loving and prayerful parents that I have more responsibility as a result. ‘For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.’ Luke 12:48