Sorry mate, I’m not interested in religion
At 17 David Fraser embarked on a journey that changed his life.
‘All the best, son, and remember, don’t get involved in religion’. These were the last words from my father as I ventured through passport control and onto my flight to London. I remember them clearly despite them being uttered way back in April 1973.
I was just seventeen years old and embarking on what I thought would be a life-enhancing journey from Perth, Australia, to the mega-city of London. In the event, it turned out to be a life-changing journey.
Dad had often warned me about money-grabbing religionists and forearmed was forewarned. This was my only motive for reading the whole New Testament given to me (along with all the students at my High School) by the Gideons organisation. I persevered through a very small print King James Version so that if I were ever challenged I could honestly say, ‘Sorry mate; read it – and not interested’.
Career at sea
I was following my father’s footsteps by preparing for a career at sea. Unable to join the Royal Australian Navy due to a medical problem, I flew to London to enrol on a course to qualify as a Marine Radio Officer in the British Merchant Navy.
My accommodation was one small room in a YMCA hostel in Stockwell, South London. It was quite a change from a relaxed ‘Aussie’ lifestyle to be living on a street with the reputation of having the highest mugging crime rate at the time. I grew up fast!
What I didn’t count on was meeting so many young men in the YMCA hostel that believed in Jesus Christ as their Saviour. My past church experiences had been limited to WCFs – weddings, christenings and funerals – all presided over by men in dresses!
To meet so many young men, mostly students like myself, who spoke to me of their personal belief in Jesus Christ got me thinking. I was able to frankly discuss my reservations and doubts about the whole subject with these new friends. Not all my questions were answered but I was challenged to think more deeply about the claims of Jesus Christ and not just write him off as a deluded crank.
Pursued by God’s love
My friends at the ‘YM’ would always direct me to the Bible in order to answer my questions. One Sunday night a number of us had coffee in my small room. Five or six crowded into a hostel room designed for one person.
It was an evening I will never forget. We continued our discussion about the claims of Jesus Christ into the early hours. As it was getting late, I drew proceedings to a close and tried to get some sleep. For an hour I tossed and turned, the evening’s deliberations going round and round in my head.
I was being pursued by a God who loved me and would not let me go. At 2.0 am on the morning of 28 October 1973 I hesitantly but simply prayed, ‘Lord, if you are for real, I need you’. I cannot describe the joy that overwhelmed me. I knew what had happened … I was forgiven and had received the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
I qualified in 1976 and met my parents who came over from Australia on holiday. Dad happened to ask what I was doing the next weekend and I told him I was being baptised. ‘That’s religion, isn’t it?’ he queried. I had some explaining to do.
Kim Fraser tells how she was delivered from bondage to superstition.
Buddhist rituals, beliefs and superstitions surrounded me as a child during my upbringing in Malaysia. As soon as I was of school age, I was taught to place joss sticks twice daily before ancestral and other altars around the home – including those of the ‘kitchen’ god and the ‘sky’god.
I attended temples during festive times – some dedicated to Buddha and the Goddess of Mercy. All this was done to appease the gods, with a sense of fear that if I did not take part in these rituals bad things would happen to me.
In the mid 1970s I arrived in London to pursue a career in nursing. While boarding at the nurses’ home I was visited by two ladies whose purpose was to befriend foreign students, especially from South East Asia. They were Christians from a Chinese Church based in Baker Street and sought to form friendships and to advise and help people like me adjust to living in a foreign land.
Jesus is Lord
Their care, concern and sincerity touched me. One night, after many visits and having become friends, they explained the Christian gospel to me. I had heard of Jesus before because I studied the book of Luke for my ‘O level’ in Religious Knowledge at a Catholic School in Kuala Lumpur.
Then, Jesus was just a text-book character to be studied for an exam. Now I have a clear understanding that Jesus is Lord and that he died for my sins.
Before I understood that Jesus is the only way to God, I had an unbearable dread of being separated from God when I died, because of my sins. But now I heard that Jesus had already died for my sins to bring me to God – and I needed to respond to his claims from my heart. After prayer asking for forgiveness, I was truly joyful and a huge burden was lifted from me.
Despite being taught as a child to bow down to idols, a part of me always felt that there was an unseen God above. Now I know there is one true God and that he sent his Son to save his people from their sins.
No other God
Although my new life in Jesus had begun I did not feel completely at peace. I realised later that I was still hanging on to one thing from my old life – a paper Buddhist prayer, folded and wrapped in red cloth, that I wore at all times to ward off evil spirits.
This seemingly innocent superstition had a vicious grip on my mind and will – a reluctance to give up entertaining ‘just in case’ and ‘what if’ scenarios. But the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ says in the Bible, ‘I am God and there is no other’.
Trust and obedience were required, so after prayer with my Christian friend in my small room I burnt the idol. Such peace filled my heart that fear seemed literally to fly out of the window.
I told my mother about my Christian conversion. She accepted this as she understood that I was living in the West and thought it would be a passing phase. However, when I informed her that I was going to be baptised she realised that I was absolutely serious about following Jesus for the rest of my life.
That was many years ago but it remains vivid in my memory. This is really a testimony about a gracious God who, through faith in a crucified and risen Christ, set me free from bondage to fear, superstition and appeasement to idols, and gave me a new life of liberty encompassed by his love and mercy.