Crossing the great gulf
At the age of fourteen I made a Christian friend at school, who invited me to a youth club run by her church. As my family were not Christians and I had always witnessed Christians being mocked for their faith, I did not particularly want to go.
However, on the third invitation, something compelled me to say I would go, so I did.
I did not particularly enjoy my first week at the youth club, but my step-mum encouraged me to keep attending, in the hope I would be able to make new friends.
Over time, I started enjoying the youth club, but I usually switched off during the Bible message at the end. However, one evening, the youth club was being held on a field and the leader giving the talk caught my attention by mentioning ‘long jump’, as this was one of the sports I had represented my school in.
The Bible passage he was speaking from was about ‘the rich man and Lazarus’ (Luke 16). He compared people’s vain efforts to get themselves into heaven to attempting a long jump over the width of the entire field — something that I knew was obviously impossible!
The leader said that a great gulf has been fixed between us and God, and the only one who can bring us back to God is the Lord Jesus Christ. All we have to do is ask him to forgive us and to trust in him to take away our sins.
Until that point, I had always been told that if God exists, he will let people into heaven for living good lives. But, after hearing that message, I knew that could not be true and I felt scared. I left the club that evening knowing that I was far away from God and that I deserved to go to hell.
After that, I started attending church on Sunday evenings. I still often found it hard to concentrate, but one evening, I remember the preacher saying that salvation is full and free. And he asked the question: ‘Are you going to take it?’
It seemed like the question was directly aimed at me. So, when I got home, I began to pray that God would forgive me all the wrong I had done.
A month or so later, I went on the church youth club camp, and, as yet, knew no peace with God. One morning, I was talking with one of the youth club leaders and a friend who had only been going to the youth club one week longer than I had.
My friend said to the leader that she wished Jesus would return during our lifetime. I kept quiet, but I knew that I did not want that to happen yet — I knew I was not ready for Christ to return! From then on, I prayed all the more earnestly to be saved.
I am not sure when exactly I became a Christian, whether it was on that camp or not, but I know that shortly afterwards I had a real sense of peace within me, that God had forgiven me.
I wanted to use every opportunity to learn more about God and to spend time with Christians, so I stopped going rowing on a Sunday morning and started going to both Sunday church services.
I had been very depressed and ill for quite a while, and I suddenly found myself filled with joy and with the determination to get better. My attitudes and the way I lived my life changed — some things immediately, and others more slowly. I wanted to tell others of what God had done for me.
My life has not always been easy since becoming a Christian, but God is always faithful. He has been with me and upheld me in everything I’ve been through. He has also blessed me with great Christian friends, something I appreciate all the more now that I am living abroad as part of my degree.
Being the only Christian in my family is difficult, but he has given me opportunity to witness to them and I pray earnestly that they will come to know the Lord Jesus Christ for themselves.