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Keith Chapman

February 2012

I was raised in a household with good Christian values. Helping others was what I’d always tried to do. When I left school, I applied for a job in Swansea’s clerical office, as I wanted a job where I could help people in the community. My time in the pensions and benefits department lasted 31 years.

Things started to change slowly in the civil service. I wanted to leave and they offered me early retirement. I was looking forward to a few holidays and was thinking of changing my car. On my first day of retirement I did absolutely nothing, and continued like that for a little while! I started thinking back to my working days — how long those 31 years had been — and I asked myself what I had to show for all that time.

I felt something was missing. I’d sometimes be driving in my car and pass various churches in Clydach. I missed spending time with people and thought I’d find some sort of community in a church. I knew the time the service at the Bethel Church started, but was quite nervous about going by myself. Eventually, when I did go, it was quite reassuring. There were even people on the front door to welcome me.

Listening to the preacher came as a shock though. He said no one was good enough to go to heaven, but that God sent Jesus to save us. I thought that as long as your good deeds are more than your bad you’ll be fine and go to heaven, but this wasn’t what God said in the Bible. I was terrified to know that because of my sin I was God’s enemy. I was no longer enjoying my retirement, as I started to see I wasn’t the nice guy I thought I was. God was on my mind more than ever and I knew I needed him. I started to go to Bethel regularly.

I’d always assumed I was going to heaven, but realised this was a fairy story; I had to come to God in repentance. I often thought about the wrong things I’d done in my life and wondered if God really wanted me. I carried on going to church and came to understand that if I was sorry before God for the way I’d lived and put my trust in the death of Jesus to forgive me, then I could be God’s friend. I asked him to forgive me and then I knew I was going to heaven. I had peace in my life for the first time. God’s forgiveness is what everyone needs. I want my family and others in Clydach to know this too. I’m still retired and life is not free from problems, especially with my health, but I know that God helps me to face these issues and I’m looking forward to heaven, where God promises there will be no more suffering.

Keith Chapman