The holiday that changed my life
It all started when I was about three. I say it started then because that’s the earliest I can remember. I was a pastor’s daughter, brought up to go to church twice every Sunday and to believe in God and the Bible.
Being three was great. I got to go to Sunday school where I’d hear a little story about people that got eaten by whales and stuff, then I got to colour in a pretty picture. After that I had to sit in church for an hour.
That was fun too; Dad would stand at the front and talk while I would sit at the back. My favourite bit was when they used to ‘pray’, they would all shut their eyes so I could stand on my chair and count all the sleeping people. Even Dad (still talking) would shut his eyes.
I found this fascinating as everyone put their hands together in the same way, they all put their heads down, and at the end they said their special code word which was my cue to sit down. ‘Amen’. I had no idea what it meant.
I started to listen
When I turned four we moved house and soon after that my sister was born. This was all great and at this new church Sunday school wasn’t before the service anymore, it was half way through the service.
As I got older I started to listen more, and the stories weren’t just stories anymore. They were real! It was great when I learned to read – I could sing along with all the songs and do the worksheets in Sunday school without any help.
By the time I was nine I knew everything! You could’ve asked me anything and I’d have known the answer. Well, maybe not; but I thought so at the time.
I started going to the older Sunday school group where we went into more depth. I started to realise that, perhaps, I didn’t know everything after all.
At Easter we went on a Christian holiday. I was really excited because I’d heard there was a great swimming pool there. I went to the kids’ meetings every morning and we would sing some great songs and there would always be a talk that was quite interesting. One evening they explained to us that the word ‘Amen’ means ‘Let it be’. That got me thinking, but the speaker interrupted my thoughts with ‘We’re going to pray now but only say “amen” if you really mean it’. I said amen; I really did mean it.
I just knew
One summer I got invited to a summer camp. I thought it could be fun and a week away with one of my friends could be cool. We set off for a whole week without any parents. Excellent! We were both 11.
We had meetings in the mornings and the evenings. In the mornings we would get told all about Noah and in the evening we would learn about Gladys Aylward – a missionary who went to China.
I can’t remember everything that got said in those meetings but I do remember at the last meeting of the week one of the leaders started telling us how Jesus died for all of us and she started to cry.
I didn’t know why but I felt so guilty that I wasn’t crying. I knew I was as undeserving as she was but I wasn’t crying. After the meeting I stayed behind and asked the leader how you know you’re ready to be baptised. She told me, ‘You just know’. She prayed with me and as I left the meeting barn, guess what? I just knew!
A lot has happened since then; I went home and was baptised. I went back to camp the next year, and the year after that. Then I got too old for that camp and I found another one. As I get older my faith also grows.
We all have our ups and downs but I will never forget (or lose!) that feeling of just knowing. ‘For he is the living God and he endures fore ver; His Kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end’ (Daniel 6:26).