I was born and raised in Northern Ireland. Initially we lived on a farm, although I was too young to remember that. (I have seen photos!) While Dad was a farmer Mum was a city girl and so we moved first to a market town and then finally into the suburbs of Belfast. I was always brought up to go to church, attend Sunday school and so on. Thus, while I simply believed that there was a God and did my best to behave, it had no real impact upon my young life. But God was about to challenge me in a striking way. And He would use a death to do it.
When I was twelve my grandmother was taken seriously ill. I wasn’t told any details other than Nanny was in hospital and was likely to be there a while. My response to this news, in my naivety, was to pray to God that Nanny would get better. Mum next told me that the doctors had said Nanny had only a few weeks to live. So I prayed harder. The weeks became months and I started to think the doctors didn’t really know what was happening. So I stopped praying. Less than a week later Mum came home to tell me Nanny was dead. I was stunned. Not just at the death but also feelings of guilt because I had stopped praying. Some might say it was coincidence but it didn’t feel that way to me. I was burdened by what I perceived as my failure to save Nanny. I started paying more attention to preaching. I was now attending a church which preached about what the Bible had to say about Jesus. I had all these questions and now they were being answered. What it boiled down to for me was I could not save Nanny from death. How could I when I couldn’t even save myself? Death is inevitable because of sin. Everyone is a sinner so everyone must die. It was hopeless. Until, that is, I heard of another death and this one offers life! The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth to die. While here He lived a perfect life but that was so He could be a perfect sacrifice that would pay the penalty for my sins. That penalty was the horrible death of crucifixion on a cross where He also bore the brunt of the Father’s anger upon sin. But He rose again on the third day and now offers forgiveness of sins to anyone who simply kneels before Him and turns away from their sins. And Jesus did that for me a month or so after my thirteenth birthday.
Out of my grandmother’s death came feelings of grief and guilt. But out of Jesus’ death came joy and relief. Praise His name!
You can be the nicest, sweetest little boy and still not go to heaven, and I am proof of this. I grew up in a Christian family, went to church every Sunday to hear about Jesus, and did my best at school. My hope and reliance was in myself, and everyone thought I was a good boy who could do very little wrong! But there was one place they could not look – my heart. Inside, I was a mess. I didn’t love God. I didn’t do what he says. Instead, I was living for myself and for everyone else to say that I was great, when in reality I wasn’t at all. But there is One who does look at the heart. In the Bible it says, “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Ouch! I realised I could be the nicest guy in the world, but it meant nothing because my hope wasn’t placed in anything solid, anything real. It meant nothing unless I trusted in Jesus and what he did. He died on the cross so that all those wrong things I’d done were washed away…forever! Now I am going to heaven, but not because of anything I’ve done. Not because I was a sweet little boy growing up. But because of Jesus, who is my Saviour! He is where my hope now lies – not in myself, not in what I can do, not even in what my family can do. Not in happy Christmases, not in sad Christmases, not in difficult Christmases. Because whatever sort of Christmas I have, good or bad, Jesus is there with me. He can help you, be with you, and save you this Christmas, too, if you’ll come to Him and rely not on your own strength, but His strength!
My name is Naomi . I was born into a Christian family. I attended church regularly and learnt all about what the Bible has to say about God and having a relationship with Him. I knew that I was a Christian because I had asked Jesus to rescue me from my sin and its consequences, but there were lots of things in the Bible that I didn’t understand. I thought Jesus’ death on the cross only affected me in terms of whether I went to heaven or hell, but that I still had to live a perfect life until then.
The Bible talked a lot about joy and peace, but I didn’t understand how people could enjoy reading the Bible, or take pleasure in God- I thought he was always angry with me, because I was never a good enough Christian. When I read the Bible, I felt guilty because I didn’t come up to scratch. I had read biographies of Christian people and had seen how good God had been to them, but I hadn’t really tasted it for myself.
Over a period of about 10 years, God started to show me that He loved me, and that he only ever commanded of me what was good for me. I began to see that God had done everything for me, and that He knew I would never be able to live a perfect life and that I would mess up. He didn’t hold it against me, because Jesus had died for me. Instead of reading the Bible and seeing how I didn’t match up to God’s expectations of me and His standards, I began to see how good God’s plan was, and how good his commands are. There is life- both in terms of quality of life (now) and quantity of life (in heaven)- in God’s way of doing things, and a peace and a joy. I started to enjoy God and his ways of doing things! The guilt was dealt with and disappeared. I was free! I had finally tasted Him for myself!
I was not born into a church going family. I went to Sunday school as a child- I don’t remember much about it or how long I went for. I remember asking for a Bible for my 11th Birthday and going with my father to buy one. I got married and had 3 children. During those years I questioned many things (to myself) of what I saw happening around me. I later came to realise that God has given us a conscience which tells us what is right or wrong. My son went to live with his father when he was 13 and I was left to bring up 2 girls alone, the youngest was 2. During the following few years I visited church services and meetings but I was left unmoved.
On moving to Cynwel Elfed in 1984, I eventually met a Christian lady and after talking to her at great length I asked if I could go to her church. The following Sunday we went. As soon as I went through the door of the small chapel, I could sense a presence there- I cannot explain any better. But it was as if God was saying to me ‘This is the place I want you to be’. This was the start of an amazing journey. Over the next 3 weeks I learnt a lot from Christian people, books and I started to look into the Bible.
On April 17th 1985 in the stillness of my bedroom, I asked God to come into my life. He did as He promised, He saved me, came into my life and has been with me ever since. Life has not always been easy but I know He is there. A verse in the Bible says ‘For your maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name.
When I look back, I can see my coming to live in Wales was all part of His providence in my life. He has guided me all the way, unbeknown to me and I know He will continue until the day I meet Jesus face to face.