One lunch-time at school, when I was 12 years old, I was sitting at a table in the canteen just minding my own business, when a group of 5th year lads came and sat with me.
I was quite shy and embarrassed, and just wanted to get up and leave as quickly as possible. I’d never spoken to any of them before, but they were friendly and good fun to be with, so I began to sit with them regularly.
As time went on, we became quite good friends and one week they invited me along to a Christian fellowship meeting. The day was mostly spent playing various sports, which have never been my favourite activity, but thankfully that didn’t put me off and I continued to go along each week.
In the evening we would split up into groups for Bible study, then hear a sermon. This was the first time that I’d really been confronted with the message of the Bible. I listened and began to read the Bible for myself and pray each day.
I genuinely enjoyed the meetings and wanted to learn more about God. However, now I can see that this was just an outward change; I was trying to please God by becoming religious and hadn’t understood that it was impossible for me to earn my salvation.
I actually remember thinking that I would be okay on the day of judgement, because I had started to read and pray. Looking through my old notebook, it’s clear that I knew the truth that I was a sinner and needed to repent and trust in Christ for forgiveness, but I hadn’t experienced it. It was as if I thought I could parachute into the middle of the Christian life without getting right with God.
I started going to this fellowship regularly and soon it was time for the fellowship’s holiday together in the summer. It was there that the Lord opened my eyes to my true condition and showed me my need of Jesus Christ.
Throughout the holiday, we received clear, systematic teaching from the Bible about the way of salvation. For the first time, I began to realise that Christianity was not about me doing things for God, but God saving me through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.
I realised that I was the enemy of God because of my sin, and that I needed to turn away from my sin and trust Jesus Christ.
This all came to a head during one of the evening meetings. God spoke to my heart about my sin and I was gripped by the fact that, if I died that night or Jesus came again, I would be lost and punished for ever.
I could think about nothing else. But God did not leave me in this despair. He pointed me to the wonderful Saviour Jesus Christ, who had suffered the punishment for my sin on the cross.
That evening I put my trust in Jesus Christ and he saved me. God brought such peace to my heart and ever since I’ve had the joy and assurance of knowing that I’m safe in my Saviour for all eternity.
I had no idea how life-changing that seemingly chance meeting at school would be!