For the first 18 years of my life, if anyone had asked me if I believed in God, my response would have been a firm, ‘No!’
I had no religious upbringing, having only attended a church a few times in my life. What I knew about Christianity, I had been taught at school and, to be honest, thought that it was a lot of rubbish and the Bible contradicted itself.
In 2002, at 18 years old, I left my home town of Watford and went to Cardiff to university. It was here I met and became friends with Miriam, a Christian. We had several discussions about being a Christian, but my thinking really was, ‘Well, that’s nice for her, if that’s what she wants’.
But I did attend church a couple of times with Miriam and remember the pastor talking about the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. Learning this, made me realise what it was that Christians really believed.
This was that God created a perfect world, but then sin entered the world and tainted it. Human sin is now unfortunately very much part of human culture, and it only has one result and that is condemnation to hell. We do not know what hell will be like, because its horror is unimaginable. The only answer to this is to be saved, and the necessary work for this was done when Jesus Christ died on the cross and sacrificed himself for our sins.
Knowing this got me thinking, but I was still happy with the way my life was going and felt I did not need Christ in my life.
In December 2005, Miriam became really ill and was in hospital for a month with what turned out to be viral meningitis and encephalitis. Throughout this period, Miriam was inundated with people from all over the world saying they were praying for her and her family. Their faith in God gave them such strength and support that I myself lacked. The whole episode made me think a lot more about God and I even went to church on my own.
Thankfully, Miriam did get better and, when she was well enough, I started attending Emmanuel Baptist Church, Gabalfa, with her and reading the Bible for myself. I thought the Bible would be hard to read, but I know God helped me to understand it, and reading it answered a lot of questions I had.
It was clear that all my previous understanding of being a Christian was totally wrong and that I now understood the true foundations of the Christian faith. Even though I knew these foundations, it took me a little while to put my trust in God, because I was scared of being different to all my family and friends.
However, one morning I woke up and knew that what scared me most was the fact that, if I died that day, I wouldn’t have made things right with God. There and then I confessed my sins to God and was forgiven.
I was reconciled with God and immediately knew I had done the right thing. I had formed a relationship with God that would last forever. I was baptised a few months later and became a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church. Since then, I have been actively involved in the church congregation, assisting with its youth work, outreach and general service within the church.
I have now been a Christian for seven years and am continuing to grow in faith. Things are not always easy and I still make mistakes and do things wrong, because I’m not perfect. But I have the assurance that God loves me and will forgive me.
God has definitely challenged me in the past six years and made me grow as a Christian. I lacked a lot of confidence in myself, but, through God, I am given the strength to do things I never thought possible — for example, going to Cameroon, Africa, by myself to carry out some medical missionary work.
In 2012 I completed a second degree in nursing. My training took me to Finland for three months, where God truly blessed my time, as I met my, now, husband Miska at the church that I attended.
I felt God was preparing me for a life abroad, and it was not until he brought me together with Miska, who had it laid on his heart to become a pastor in his own country, that I knew this country would be, God willing, Finland.
I look forward to a life of service for God there, knowing that it will not always be easy, but with God at the head of our family, we will be doing it in his almighty power and strength, and not our own.