I gave my testimony this morning at Ashbury, that is, the story of how I became a follower of Jesus. I got a bit teary towards the end! But at morning tea, people kept coming up to me and thanking me for telling it, and being so honest about my life. Well it's just my story, I don't know how else to tell it! But I'm really glad people found it helpful, and it's why I've always wanted to be upfront about my background, and my current situation, so that it might help others in similar situations to remember God's love for them. One guy said, "that was basically my story...only I'd never have the guts to get up and say it", and a woman said, "me and my husband have depression too, and i was just so encouraged by what you said".
So I thought i may as well share it with you too!
I'm Bec, and I'm working my way part time through Bible college. I've been part of the team from Moore College that's been around the church this past week, helping out, meeting people in the neighbourhood and talking about Jesus.
I know it isn't always easy to talk about Jesus, and there have been times in my life when I was embarrassed to be called one of his followers.
But back to the beginning. I grew up in a Christian home. I can't remember a time when I didn't know who Jesus was, and that he loved me. We moved around a lot in my childhood, living in PNG and Singapore and going to all sorts of different churches. It was in Singapore, when i was 11, that I decided to give my life to Christ. Wanting to make a public declaration of faith, I got baptized.
And I lived happily ever after? Well not quite. Not yet, anyway.
We moved back to Australia, and i settled into high school. We went back to the church id grown up in, but i never really felt like i fit with my peers there. And slowly but surely, church began to lose its appeal, and my interest slipped away from the things of God as I found more acceptance and fun in the more worldly pursuits of my school friends.
Sadly, by the time I started uni, my family had disintegrated and my parents divorced. It was a time of huge upheaval for my brother and me, and we started to see church and Christianity as a relic from our former family life. although I never doubted God's existence, I pushed him further and further into the back of my mind until I was barely aware he was there. Sure, if anyone asked, I said I was a Christian, but I never willingly volunteered the information and I hoped no one would actually ask.
I moved out on my own and got involved in a culture of hedonism - sex, drugs, rock n roll. I was looking for something to satisfy me, but found nothing much but dissatisfaction, loneliness and emptiness. I began to be aware that there was a God-shaped hole in my life, but try as i might, I couldn't fill it with anything. I didn't want to admit it, but living life my own way wasn't working out as well as I'd hoped it would, yet i was still too proud to turn back to God.
A long term relationship I was in dissolved, and I took it hard. This was the final prop that God removed from me, to bring me to my knees, and make me look up at him. And instead of anger and disappointment, I saw love. I saw a Father who lifted me tenderly out of the mess I'd made, and said "I've been here all along, and I never stopped loving you. There is nothing that you have done that could make me stop loving you, because Jesus has dealt with it all."
What a breathtaking, life changing realisation.
I started to go back to church. I learned that my mother had been praying hard for me all that time. God put some incredibly godly men and women in my life to help water the seeds he had sown, and he began to change and mould me.
It hasn't been a fast or easy process, and i still think God teaches and shapes me the most through suffering. For example, I've struggled with depression for a number of years, which is debilitating and kind of scary sometimes, but through it God is teaching me to trust him, to lean on him, and to find my only peace and satisfaction in him. I have no doubt now that God is the only answer and i can't wait to be with him in the new creation, where,as it says in Revelation, there will be no more suffering and no more tears.
But until then I am so grateful that he saved me from that life of despair. And now I'm not ashamed or fearful to tell people I'm a Christian, to talk about what i believe and how God is working in my life. In fact, I'm excited about it!