I grew up in a happy home in Malvern with a great family, good friends, and practically everything I wanted, right down to my own horse!
We attended the local Church of England fairly often, and I believed I was a good person and good people went to heaven.
I’d always believed in God and that Jesus Christ was his Son, although it never occurred to me to thank God for all the good things I had, or that he might not be pleased with the careless way I was living my life. I was confirmed at 15 years old, believing myself to be a Christian.
At 18 I left home to study at Manchester University, and immediately life was not running smoothly. I struggled to find friends and soon found myself doing things I’d never wanted to do, just to be part of ‘the crowd’.
I was discovering I was not the good person I’d thought I was, and the more I tried to stop, the worse things became. I just couldn’t change myself! After two years I was thoroughly miserable and hated the way my life was going.
Desperate to find answers, I travelled to Israel to volunteer on a kibbutz (collective farm) for the summer of 1984. I went to a beautiful place in the far north of the country.
Leaving the bus after a winding uphill ride, I noticed a distinctive group of people making their way towards me, and was unusually struck by their peaceful appearance. There was something beautifully different and attractive about them.
They were Christians from various countries, volunteering like me. I started to spend time with them and attend their gatherings for prayer and Bible reading. I didn’t understand the things I heard, or what I was reading in the Bible one of them gave me, but I could see that they had something wonderfully powerful in their lives that I did not have, and I really wanted it.
One afternoon, after I’d been there about two months, I was sitting by the pool when I overheard part of a conversation between two of these young women which would change me forever: ‘You know, the problem with Christianity in my country is that there are so many people who call themselves Christians, but they don’t know Jesus’.
This sentence was the turning point in my life! Right there, I found out what I’d lacked: I didn’t know Jesus; I hadn’t known I could know Jesus. But I wasn’t going to rest now until I knew that I knew Jesus. I found myself praying in words from a hymn we’d sung at school:
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways,
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives thy service find,
In deeper reverence praise.
I cried to God over and over from my heart, until I knew he’d heard me and I was at the start of a completely new life.
That was 30 years ago and, in the intervening years, the more I have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, the more I want to know of him: of his love and mercy to those who are going wrong; of the great work he did to pay for all the sins of his people in dying on the cross; the power of his resurrection from the dead; and the way he so wonderfully transforms the hearts and lives of all those who come to him by faith.
Jesus said, ‘And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ (John 17:3).