While serving as a submariner in the Royal Navy I often ended up drinking and secretly taking drugs – available from a ‘fence’ on board my sub. This seemed to fill the emptiness inside me for a time.
But no matter how much I drank, or how many drugs I took, the emptiness would always return. At this time I had some very confused ideas about God, but in my heart I wanted to know more about this famous person – Jesus Christ.
God so ordered it that I was transferred to a new submarine. On board was a born- again Christian and I was allocated a bunk directly above his. I had such an appetite to know the truth about Christ that it wasn’t long before we were regularly discussing the ‘pros and cons’ of Christianity.
Soon I was convinced that the world really had been created by God.
However I was still taking drugs and was unconverted. But now God began to trouble my conscience. Then someone, out of concern for my welfare, reported me for drug taking. After 40 days in Colchester prison, I was discharged from the Navy.
The day I was released, I went straight round to my dealer’s house. That was a terrible night. The drugs closed in and nearly crushed me. The friend with whom I took drugs that night is still in a mental hospital, nearly three years later.
After that night, I couldn’t touch drugs again.
I had no self-confidence and sought refuge by going to a local church. However, after a time, I felt they had little to do with the God who could free people from their sins.
I decided to try somewhere else, and ‘by mistake’ ended up at a church where the Bible was believed and preached. It was here that God really began to lead me to himself.
The Bible says that we obtain faith by hearing the gospel – and as I listened in the months that followed, God painfully sharpened my conscience. I had been trying to overcome my sins by my own strength. I felt that if I became more ‘righteous’, God would save me.
But eventually I realised that my efforts would achieve nothing. I discovered the truth of Ephesians 2:8: ‘For by grace you have been saved, through faith and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast’. Salvation can’t be earned. It must be received as ‘the gift of God’.
Shortly before my conversion, God spoke to me through a Bible verse from John’s Gospel. It reads, ‘The one who comes to me I will by no means cast out’ (John 6:37). Not long afterwards, God gave me the assurance that he had forgiven my sins through Christ and that I shall be with him in heaven when I die.