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I’ve recently been thinking about what it is that draws people to become christians and stay christians during times when it might seem easier to just ignore it all. Then I realised it’s been a while since I actually talked/wrote about why I am a christian and why I believe it is the best way to live life so thought I’d write this down as my testimony or reminder to myself later on in life!
One of the driving factors of me having this train of thought is the rampant, almost militant, atheism that is happening in this country at the moment and it feels like a challenge to actually think on why I believe these things. Not going to get bitter about those views, just going to make sure I know why I believe what I believe!
I’ve always found this hard as it’s not like I’ve had some dramatic conversion experience that people sometimes talk about. I’ve grown up in a christian home and grown up with church being at the centre of life. I was baptised when I was about 8 and haven’t really looked back. Some people claim that sort of upbringing is “indoctrinating” kids into believing anything. I don’t feel that at all. I feel grateful to have known nothing else as I’m certain that it saved me from pain and having a lot more baggage in life.
However, it’s not like I don’t have baggage and it’s precisely that reason why I believe in Jesus. When I was 7 I was diagnosed with a Wilm’s Tumour which is a childhood cancer that forms in the Kidney. I had that kidney removed and underwent chemotherapy for several months. Everything was fine “health-wise” for a few years….then cancer came back. This time it was in my lung and the doctors were talking in terms of a 50/50 chance of survival (not that I knew that at the time as my parents thankfully shielded me from that). I went through a much harsher form of chemo which did it’s job but it had the potential to cause other health issues further down the line which fortunately I am not suffering from now at the age of 32.
A few things happened during this time which I always hold onto no matter what doubts might creep in as I believe they are proof of God. As I had been taken into one of my major surgeries my parents left the hospital to get some air and take a walk just so they wouldn’t go crazy cooped up in a hospital while I was under the knife. They had been praying like crazy before I was in, along with everyone in the church and others connected to it, so imagine this as an answer to this prayer: As they looked back at the hospital there was a massive, completely formed, rainbow directly over the hospital! Like God saying “I’ve got him – promise”.
Back in the hospital, I went into major surgery on the cancer in my lung and the doctors knew that the tumour was inside the lung and that I would lose some, if not all, of my lung. So they cut me open and you know that tumour inside my lung? Well, it had somehow moved outside of the lung so they were able to remove it entirely without damaging my lung at all and then they tested it; The tumour was completely dead after nowhere near a full course of chemo. Miracle! These two things are the things I will remember forever about that whole experience – no matter how bleak things look, God will look after me.
So that’s some pretty amazing things that God did in me but I’ve always been determined to not let the fact that I had cancer as a child to define me so it’s not going to define my testimony either. God’s always doing new things!
In 2007 I tore my ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) while playing football. This story doesn’t involve a miraculous healing or anything but it does have God moving exactly how I needed him to then!
In that time I had just left Uni and started working for the church. Now the thing about working for the church is, whilst it is such an amazing privilege, it’s also very tough for me. I haven’t always had the highest self-esteem and often thought the worst of myself (it’s something that God has grown me in and doesn’t hold me back as much anymore!). The trouble with having that combination of personality traits is that you assume everyone is thinking the worst of you too and when you are getting paid from money that people have given to the church you assume they are judging everything you do (stupid thoughts based on my own issues!). I thought I was doing everything wrong and letting God down. That’s the backdrop to this anyway!
I went to Soul Survivor as a leader for the first time that year, was doing my best to get about and not hurt my knee anymore than it already had been. Discussions were being had which left me feeling like I was doing everything wrong again during the day but then we went to the evening meeting. During this meeting people were asked if they wanted prayer for healing to stand up. I don’t usually respond to these things (unless it’s something that I absolutely KNOW is for me) as I prefer being prayed for in more personal settings but as my ACL was such an obvious thing that I really wanted healing for, I stood up. People proceeded to pray for me for what must have been only 10 minutes or so. I thought I felt some warmth in the knee but it certainly didn’t get healed. I sat down and just prayed and worshipped on my own.
10 minutes after that one of the people that prayed for me (someone I had never met and never met again) came over to me and said “Sorry but I’ve been looking at you and I just feel God want’s me to give you a word.” I thought this is well weird, I’ve never had this from a stranger before but I’m excited to hear this but I never thought it would have such a profound impact on me. The word was…. “Thank You. I see all that you do for more and I notice it. Thank You”. I was blown away – I’ve never had a specific word like that before but it happened exactly when I needed it and just reminded me that God has my back all over again. I ended up having a little cry because suddenly I knew that I was worth it. I was doing the right things and God saw it even if I didn’t!
Since that time God has grown me massively as a person. I’ve taken risks and tried things well outside of my comfort zone. I even appeared on an episode of “The Chase”! I’ve developed gifting and discovered passions I didn’t know I had back then. Every small step that I’ve taken in trying something and trusting God for the outcome has always been rewarded and moved me onto something bigger and better.
I really could go on but I don’t want to ramble! Those examples summarise what God has done in my life and what he does in lives of so many people. He healed me physically, looked after my family in times of unbearable stress, gave me encouragement just when I needed it most and helps me with every step and risk I take in life and he continues to do all those things today.