Thousands of miles, to receive Jesus!
I was born in Zimbabwe of devout Roman Catholic parents and attended Catholic schools. I was baptised and confirmed at an early age and started serving mass while at primary school.
Church attendance was compulsory during my primary and secondary school years. However, it was just a formality really. Immediately after completing ‘O’ levels, I joined the Zimbabwe Republic Police, who became my employers for the next 22 years. During this time I stopped thinking about God.
I was a young lad working for the first time in a newly independent country, in a job that came with a lot of responsibility and lots of benefits as well. Life was ‘fulfilling’, but it never occurred to me that all this was happening because of God’s will and not because I was clever or anything of that sort.
All the time thoughts of God were conveniently pushed to the back of my mind. I met my wife in 1982 and we got married four years later. Zoe was from a Seventh Day Adventist background and aware of my Catholic upbringing, but unfortunately we never took religion seriously. It was much later in our lives that Zoe started attending a Charismatic church.
Her fellow worshippers would come to our house for prayer meetings and tried to help me reconnect with God, but I would conveniently disappear from home, under the pretext that I had work to do at the office.
In fact, most of the time it was to join my friends for drinks. I would drop off my wife and kids at church, but always have an excuse for not attending. One of my drinking partners at that time was my late father-in-law.
But sometime between 1990 and 1992, he and his wife (he was divorced from my wife’s mother) met with God and became devout believers in Christ. He stopped drinking and, instead of phoning me up for a drink, would now phone asking me to attend church or a prayer group with him. But still the devil got the better of me and I refused to attend.
Promotion was not forthcoming at work and I became increasingly frustrated and started having lots of problems with my employers. I was keeping bad company after work and this did not help my situation at all. Believing in God was not seen as ‘cool’, and instead of praying for things that I needed I would network with my unbelieving friends and often get what I wanted by devious means.
Jesus did not have any role to play in my life at that stage. But each time I went to drop off Zoe and the kids at church, I noticed their fellow worshippers were people of high standing in business and other walks of life. Some of them I had known, through my work, to be criminals and was pleasantly surprised to see that having received Jesus Christ as Saviour they had done away with their criminal past.
In 1999 I attended a prayer meeting at our house and on that day a Christian attending donated his Bible to me. Prior to that, I had been wrestling with my inner self and feeling guilty about my lifestyle. From then onwards, I started reading the Bible on my own and attending all the prayer meetings.
My colleagues noticed a difference in me. Some were pleasantly surprised and others mocked at the change in me. But I do not think I was yet fully converted. We were soon to leave Zimbabwe through the widely reported problems of that country.
We lived briefly in London and then were told we would be moving to West Yorkshire. We were apprehensive because no one seemed to know where that was! When we were told that it would take six hours by coach, we became even more apprehensive!
But our first visitor at our new home in Halifax was the pastor of the Grace Baptist Church there. We soon warmed to him and that was the beginning of my finally coming to know Jesus Christ as Saviour. What has happened to me since then is just unbelievable!
I have made it known to all who know me that I have received Christ. I am not the finished product yet, but believe I am now going in the right direction.
Fellowshipping with members of the church has been a wonderful experience. Because of my personal circumstances, I have at times had doubts about God’s love for me. But I am now convinced that everything – leaving Zimbabwe and being relocated in West Yorkshire – has been the work of God. If it is has taken me a journey of thousands of miles from home to receive Jesus, then I am even more grateful.
I reflect on the time I wasted in ungodly living, especially when I thought things were going well for me back home. I feel guilty and will always ask forgiveness from God and pray for the young lads who looked up to me as their role model at work, but whom I led astray.
Some of them have since lost their jobs, while others carry on sinning, believing it to be ‘cool’. I still have a long way to go as a Christian, but I believe I have people around me who will lead me in the right direction.