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Freedom in Christ

December 2016 | by Demi McCallum

My name is Demi. I’m 25, from Bulgaria, but have been living in London for five years. I graduated from Middlesex University and since then have been working as a guitar and piano teacher.

I was raised in an Orthodox country, where the majority of people identify themselves as Christian, but have no idea what the resurrection of Jesus means, neither what his commandments are.

The Jesus of the Bible

The focus in the Orthodox church is entirely on rituals and superstitions. More attention and honour is given to Mary and various saints, while the name of Jesus is avoided. Those who preach Jesus and reach out to people are considered scary and brainwashed, and avoided like the plague.

The practical outworking of Orthodox Christianity is going to church for five minutes every now and then, lighting a candle, praying to a saint or two, and kissing the icon of the saint. This is the ‘Christianity’ I knew for a long time.

However, when I was little, my mum gave me a children’s Bible distributed by evangelicals. I was fascinated with what I read and fell in love with the Jesus of the Bible. I still had no idea what he had done for me, but I started praying to him all the time.

Around the start of high school, I started reading the real Bible. It was in old Bulgarian and all I understood were the commandments. So, instead of focusing on Jesus’ redemptive work, I focused entirely on God’s commandments and law (including the Old Testament ones) and for years lived in fear of breaking any of them and losing my salvation. I used to endlessly re-confess my faith in Jesus without knowing what that meant.

Since a very young age, I struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), also known as the doubting disease. Because of this illness, I was tortured by doubts of my salvation and a terrifying fear of hell. Without any idea of what it actually meant, I was convinced that I had committed the unforgivable sin and that I couldn’t be saved. I was tortured by obsessive thoughts and ruminations.

By faith alone

I kept asking God for help and for a revelation of real Christianity, because, by that time, I knew the teaching of the Orthodox Church was false. Then, in summer 2013, I was led to the online blog of a Canadian Christian who had gone through the same struggles as me.

He shared a lot of advice and knowledge, recommended some books on OCD that helped him and advised me that I should study theology and know the biblical teaching on salvation really well, so as to be rid of doubts.

Through those books, I learned that Martin Luther and John Bunyan had gone through similar struggles and had overcome them by realising that salvation is through faith alone and not by any efforts on our own.

I finally understood what the death and resurrection of Jesus meant for me. For the first time, I felt secure of my eternal salvation and felt a peace that I’d never felt before. I also started reading the Bible in English and understood it a lot more.

When I moved to Finchley in October 2013, I felt strongly drawn to Kensit Evangelical Church as I was passing by, and this is the first church I ever joined. I continued studying the Bible and learning more about God. My heart, thoughts and priorities have drastically changed and I continue growing in faith, knowledge and love for God daily.

Demi McCallum

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Evangelistic