I was brought up to go to a Church of England church in North Yorkshire, but stopped going when I was about ten to play football.
Although I do not remember the gospel being preached there, I did believe in God, and God was good to me. He allowed me to experience various things that would not only bring me to the end of myself, but direct me to him.
Although I consider myself to have been brought up well from one perspective, I became increasingly rebellious and abusive at home and school. Outside of school, around the age of thirteen, I began rollerblading and this became my life’s passion.
I spent the majority of my time rollerblading with my skating friends, who were normally older than me, and consequently began doing what some of them were doing – smoking cannabis, drinking, partying, etc. I loved this life. I was carefree, and enjoyed the cycle of skating and partying.
However, this outward rebellion began to turn inwards. I became increasingly depressed, paranoid and socially anxious. This took its toll at school. I became more reclusive, preferring to miss lessons. I was depressed, unhappy, empty and even wanted to end my life; and as a result ended up receiving counselling.
Ironically, it was through skating, the one thing I lived for, that the gospel was brought into my life during the summer after my GCSEs. During a regular session at the skate park in York we noticed a guy there that we recognised. We realised he was off one of our American skating DVDs.
We got talking, and he told us he was at a Bible college in York. He began to ask us questions about what we believed. I told him I believed in God and thought Jesus was a good role model, to which he replied, ‘That’s not enough’.
These words penetrated me, and it dawned on me that I was going to hell. He took me back to the Bible college and continued to share the gospel with me. I went home that evening knowing that I needed to be forgiven and needed to get right with God.
In my room I pleaded with God to forgive me, acknowledging I was a sinner and asking him to change me. I became very aware of a choice I had to make.
I would have to stop doing the things I was doing. Sex outside of marriage came to mind in particular (something I had never really recognised as being wrong). Although I was in a desperate situation emotionally and mentally, I still liked my sin.
But I had nothing to lose. Life, it seemed, was as bad as it could get, and none of it satisfied me anyway. So I pledged, albeit reluctantly, that I would try to stop sinning and allow God to change me.
During the subsequent days and weeks, I had the joy and peace of knowing that my sins had been forgiven, and a satisfaction and completeness I had never known before.
I was drawn to read the Bible (which previously sounded like another language, completely irrelevant for me). I wanted to go to church, and when I got there it had come alive!
I understood what the hymns and church worship were about; God had given me spiritual life and sight. May he get the glory for his work in me. I’m just as undeserving as the next person.